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The Wonderful Works Of God part 2

Acts  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  41:42
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I have two desires that I hope to accomplish in the message this morning. First, we need to understand the miracle that takes place here. We need to understand what the miracle is and why it is performed. Secondly, we need to be reminded of the message we proclaim. What is preached by the disciples on the day of Pentecost is the same message we preach today. As we understand the miracle and are reminded of the message we too will be enabled and empowered to preach.

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When I was 7 years old I started an addiction that still regularly comes over me to this day. The addiction to whistling. Now, I didn’t come by this addiction on my own. I had an enabler. My enabler was my big sister who demonstrated whistling to me and coached my until I finally learned to do it myself. Without her help I can confidently say that I would not be the whistler that I am today.
According to “enable” means “to make able; give power, means, competence, or ability to; authorize.” Acts chapter 2 is all about the enabling of the disciples to preach. Our passage today deals with them being enabled by the Holy Spirit. They needed enabling. They needed the ability given by the Holy Spirit to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. Last time we were together we looked at the first four verses.
In the first four verses of Acts 2 the event that ch. 1 anticipates and builds toward finally takes place! The disciples are together in unity when the Holy Spirit comes and they are baptized and filled with just as Christ had promised. There was a sound as of a rushing mighty wind, tongues like fire appeared, and they spoke in other languages through the power of the Holy Spirit.
In many ways Acts chapter 2 is a theologically charged passage. Because that is true, and because we will be dealing with many of those theological issues, there is a danger of losing sight of the big picture. The point of this passage is not tongues, spiritual gifts, or spirit filling. The point of this passage is the coming of the Holy Spirit Who then enables the disciples to preach the gospel! The point of this passage is the birth of the Church through the coming of the Holy Spirit. In our outline of the book of Acts I have titled chapter 2 as…
The Enabling Of The Disciples To Preach Ch. 2 The outline shows that there are three ways the disciples are enabled to preach in this chapter. Here in the first thirteen verses we find that they are…
Enabled By The Holy Spirit 2:1-13
I have two desires that I hope to accomplish in the message this morning. First, we need to understand the miracle that takes place here.
We need to understand what the miracle is and why it is performed.
Secondly, we need to be reminded of the message we proclaim.
What is preached by the disciples on the day of Pentecost is the same message we preach today.
As we understand the miracle and are reminded of the message we too will be enabled and empowered to preach.
As we discuss how the disciples are enabled by the Holy Spirit, we find that the Holy Spirit’s enabling takes two forms in this passage. We saw the first last time and it is…

1. Spirit Enabled Language vv. 1-4

I mentioned this before but I need to mention it again. It is vitally important that we understand two things about this passage and especially about v. 4. First, The miracle that we are about to see is a product of the Holy Spirit. Secondly, The form the miracle takes is that of languages spoken by the people groups present at this event.
A proper understanding of the gift of tongues hinges on these two points. Last time we noted…

a. The unity that proceeds the Spirit vv. 1-2

b. The signs that proclaim the Spirit vv. 3-4

As we get into our study for today I want to restates some of what we discussed in regards to v. 4.
The Spirit has come as promised. He has indwelt them. He has filled them. And to demonstrate the reality of these truths, He has them speak in languages they have never studied! “Other” is the Greek word ἕτερος (heteros) meaning another, other, or different. Unlike in nature, quality, form, or degree. The emphasis here is on them being tongues other than they were normally able to speak. “Tongues” is the Greek word γλῶσσα (glōssa) meaning tongue or language. Here it is used to describe a supernatural tongue or language. It refers to a language one has never studied and a supernatural ability to speak, or be understood, in it.
Today we will consider how Vv. 5-13 demonstrate beyond doubt that the tongues spoken of here were known and recognized languages. Furthermore, they are languages spoken by those present who hear the disciples.
The supernatural ability to speak in these languages is given by the Spirit. Notice that they speak “as the Spirit gave them utterance”. They were not coached, coerced, or taught. They did not spend time working up to it. The Spirit gave the ability and they were immediately able to speak.
The first form that Holy Spirit’s enabling takes is that of Spirit enabled language. The second form is a…

2. Spirit Empowered Message vv. 5-13

As we get into these verses we need to connect them to v. 4. An awful lot of commentaries launch into error in v. 4 and in these verses because of their commitment to the kinds of tongues seen in churches today. There are two problems with how they handle the Scripture passages that deal with tongues. First, they ignore the law of first mention. How a word is first used is a strong indicator of how it will continue to be used. The first appearance of the gift of tongues is in our passage. Secondly, they fail to interpret the unclear by the clear. It is clear here that the tongues spoken by the disciples are real, intelligible, known, and spoken languages. This understanding must then be applied to all other appearances of tongues. We cannot take the tongues used in Corinth and attempt to reinterpret what we see here. One big thing to always bear in mind is that Paul wrote to the Corinthian church to correct their misunderstanding and abuse of tongues.
Tom Constable makes a very important point related to this in his commentary,
Tom Constable’s Expository Notes on the Bible The descent of the Spirit 2:1–4

It is well known that the terminology of Luke in Acts and of Paul in 1 Corinthians is the same. In spite of this some have contended for a difference between the gift as it occurred in Acts and as it occurred in Corinth. This is manifestly impossible from the standpoint of the terminology. This conclusion is strengthened when we remember that Luke and Paul were constant companions and would have, no doubt, used the same terminology in the same sense. . . . In other words, it is most likely that the early believers used a fixed terminology in describing this gift, a terminology understood by them all. If this be so, then the full description of the gift on Pentecost must be allowed to explain the more limited descriptions that occur elsewhere.

What that means is that how tongues is used here in Acts ch. 2 is going to be how it is used throughout Scripture. Warren Wiersbe writes,
The Bible Exposition Commentary Chapter Two: Power from Heaven! (Acts 2)

Unless we are instructed otherwise in Scripture, we must assume that when “speaking in tongues” is mentioned elsewhere in Acts, or in 1 Corinthians, it refers to an identical experience: believers praising God in the Spirit in languages that are known.

One final, and very important, note before we get into the passage. This applies to the entire book of Acts. The book of Acts is historical narrative. Therefore it is primarily descriptive not prescriptive. What do I mean? Acts is a record of what took place in the early church. It is a historical account. Because that is true it would be erroneous for us to take a record of what took place and treat it as if it was a command to the church today. For example, look down at vv. 44-45. This is a description of what the early church did. It is not a prescription for what every body of believers should do. It is very important that we make that distinction as we go through Acts. On the other hand, the epistles are are primarily prescriptive and not descriptive. Therefore we don’t take the commands in the epistles and treat them as just a record of what those churches did. Make sense? Does anyone need further clarification? Okay. The Holy Spirit is enabling the disciples in these verses and in our passage today we are learning about the Spirit empowered message. There are three observations about this message given in our text that we want to consider. Observation #1: How was…

a. The message regarded vv. 5-8

Right off the bat we learn that the message was Regarded with breadth in v. 5. Luke states that present in Jerusalem, on the day of Pentecost, were devout Jews from every nation. This brings up something very important. Luke stresses that those present when the gift of tongues is first given are Jews. To again quote Tom Constable,
Tom Constable’s Expository Notes on the Bible The descent of the Spirit 2:1–4

Jews were always present when tongues took place in Acts (chs. 2, 10, and 19). It is understandable why God-fearing Jews, whom the apostles asked to accept new truth in addition to their already authenticated Old Testament, would have required a sign. They would have wanted strong proof that God was now giving new revelation that seemed on the surface to contradict their Scriptures.

God had told the Jews centuries earlier that He would speak to them in a foreign language because they refused to pay attention to Isaiah’s words to them in their own language (Isa. 28:11; cf. 1 Cor 14:21). Jews who knew this prophecy and were listening to Peter should have recognized that what was happening was evidence that it was God who was speaking to them.

Isaiah 28:10-12 is where the prophecy is given that God will speak to them with men of other tongues (S).
Isaiah 28:10–12 NKJV
For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept, Line upon line, line upon line, Here a little, there a little.” For with stammering lips and another tongue He will speak to this people, To whom He said, “This is the rest with which You may cause the weary to rest,” And, “This is the refreshing”; Yet they would not hear.
Part of this fulfillment was with the captivities by foreign nations. But in 1 Corinthians 14:21-22 the Apostle Paul applies Isaiah’s prophecy to speaking in tongues (S).
1 Corinthians 14:21–22 NKJV
In the law it is written: “With men of other tongues and other lips I will speak to this people; And yet, for all that, they will not hear Me,” says the Lord. Therefore tongues are for a sign, not to those who believe but to unbelievers; but prophesying is not for unbelievers but for those who believe.
Luke specifically mentions that those present are Jews because the Jews were the focus of this gift. While it was used for evangelistic purposes, the primary purpose of the gift of tongues was to pronounce judgment on the Jews for their unbelief. Their rejection of Christ is being judged by the inclusion of gentiles into salvation. This is very important to a proper understanding of tongues. They are for a sign.
“Every” is the Greek word pas that is normally translated “all”. In most instances it would refer to every single individual. But in this instance context would indicate that this is only a reference to all nations known at that time. The Greek terms here as well as the description of all who are present in vv. 9-11 seem to support this idea. There is a breadth to how this message is regarded. People from every known nation hear what the disciples are proclaiming. What are they proclaiming? We will get to that in a moment.
Not only is the message regarded with breadth. We also learn that it was Regarded with confusion in v. 6. “Sound” is the Greek word φωνή (phōnē) meaning sound or voice. It is the auditory effect produced by a given cause. The sound spoken of here would be the speaking in tongues. It is a different Greek word than used in v. 2 when speaking of the rushing mighty wind. In v. 2 ἦχος (ēchos) is used. The multitude comes together because they hear the disciples speaking in tongues. They are confused because they hear them speaking in their own language.
Language” is the Greek word διάλεκτος (dialektos) meaning language. A systematic means of communicating by the use of sounds or conventional symbols. This is where the English word dialect comes from. This word serves to identify the “tongues” that were spoken. V. 4 speaks of glossa, here the glossa are identified as dialektos. The tongues used in v. 4 are dialects or languages. The fact that these Jews from every known country hear the disciples speaking in their own dialects bewilders them. This word “confused” is a strong word. The idea is to be astonished to such a degree that the mental faculties are confounded and one is practically incapacitated. That is how shocking this is! Many commentators connect this to almost a reversal of the Judgment at Babel. David Peterson writes,

For one brief moment of time, the divisions in humanity expressed through language difference (cf. Gn. 11:1–9) were overcome.

Its kind of a cool thought, but it seems more likely to be God expressing His desire that all nations be presented with the gospel. Regardless, hearing their own language spoken was confusing.
Further reason for their confusion is given in v. 7 where we learn that the message given by the Holy Spirit is Regarded as a marvel in v. 7. They are amazed, astounded, and astonished. Why? Because they were Galileans.
When God is at work, all we can do is stand in amazement and marvel at His awesome works!
I love the meaning of this word “amazed”. Here is the sense of the word, to be or become astounded to such a degree as to nearly lose one’s mental composure. There is such shock and awe at what God is doing that they almost lose their minds! What is so amazing? All those speaking are perceived to be Galileans. Why is that a big deal? Galilee had a bad reputation. The people there were looked down on. This is most clearly seen in two verses in John. John 7:41, 52 (S).
John 7:41 NKJV
Others said, “This is the Christ.” But some said, “Will the Christ come out of Galilee?
John 7:52 NKJV
They answered and said to him, “Are you also from Galilee? Search and look, for no prophet has arisen out of Galilee.”
Interestingly enough, both Jonah and Hosea are from Galilee. The point is that there was a prejudice about Galilee in Jesus’ day. The Galileans had a peculiar way of talking (Mat. 26:73), they were also fishermen and considered stupid. So to hear them speaking in various languages was a big deal! Many today have this perspective of rednecks, right? There are redneck jokes and redneck fixes and an entire redneck culture. Many people would be blown away if someone they view as a redneck started speaking Chinese. That is basically what happens here. The people are so amazed that they almost lose their minds!
God takes people from the wrong side of the tracks, the last people we would choose, and uses them to accomplish incredible things for His glory!
And I am so thankful that He does! There are no limits on who God will use! My usefulness and your usefulness is in no way limited by our birth! The only limits on our effectiveness for Christ are self-imposed. Failure to deal with sin appropriately and to continually grow and be sanctified will limit usefulness. Usefulness is never limited by your background. This message given by the Holy Spirit is regarded with breadth because it reaches all nations. It is regarded with confusion because everyone hears their own language. It is regarded as a marvel because they are Galileans.
Finally, we see that the message is Regarded as personal in v. 8. After pointing out that the speakers are all Galilean, the multitude asks a question. “How are we hearing them speak in the language of our birth?” It isn’t just that they are Galileans and are speaking other languages. It is that each person is hearing their own birth language spoken! “Our own” is the Greek word ἴδιος (idios) meaning one’s own. Particular, unique, or specific to a person, thing, or category. Each language spoken is particular and unique. The hearers know it is not gibberish. It is known, recognizable, spoken languages. The personal nature of the languages being spoken would serve to make the hearers more attentive. This ensures that they hear the gospel message being proclaimed. The Holy Spirit then does His convicting work and, as we will see in the end of the chapter, many are converted.
Here’s the point I want to make in this section. The Holy Spirit gives the disciples a message to proclaim. They go out and proclaim that message and it impacts everyone present! It is confusing to some and marvelous to others, but it is personal to all. That is the message of the Cross. The message of the Cross impacts everyone! Some it makes confused, some it makes marvel, but it personally impacts all of us. God used a bunch of people from the wrong side of the tracks to proclaim the glorious truth of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection! He can and will use you as you and me as we are filled with the Spirit. The first observation is how the message is regarded. Observation #2: How was…

b. The message reported vv. 9-11

In these verses Luke reports who was present and what was said. He is demonstrating that when he says every nation, this is what he means. And so we have Luke Reporting the nations represented in vv. 9-11a.
SLIDE Parthians. Medes. Elamites. Mesopotamia. Judea. Cappadocia. Pontus. Asia. Phrygia. Pamphylia. Egypt. Libya by Cyrene. Rome - visitors who are Jews and proselytes. People who have converted from another religion. Cretans. Arabs.
15 different nations or geographical locations are mentioned here. The reason for stating these is that each person heard their language being spoken. We have at least 15 languages but probably more because there would have been various dialects which would be the language of someone’s birth. I believe that when Peter preaches later, the various disciples translated his words. God does not do things by half measures.
What a coincidence that all these people, from all these various nations, just happened to be present when the Holy Spirit comes and the disciples preach the gospel. I trust you are picking up on the sarcasm. This is no accident! This is a divine appointment! God is orchestrating events so that thousands of people are miraculously exposed to the gospel of Jesus Christ! That is what they are proclaiming. How do we know? Luke tells.
After reporting the nations present, we find Luke Reporting the message content in v. 11b. In this verse the speaker again uses glossa as in v. 4. We have just seen stated in vv. 6 and 8 that they all heard their own language. This leads us to the obvious conclusion that “tongues” here is a reference to known, spoken languages. What is super important here is what they are saying. The message that is being preached is that of “the wonderful works of God”! “Wonderful works” is the Greek word μεγαλεῖος (megaleios) meaning greatness or a great act. It is some act that is held in esteem and honor.
They are speaking of the greatness of God. His great acts. What would this be? Salvation through the death burial and resurrection of Christ! By they way, this is always what the Spirit does. This is made clear in John 15:26 (S).
John 15:26 NKJV
“But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me.
The Holy Spirit testifies of Christ! He proclaims Christ! Any movement that emphasizes the Holy Spirit above Christ misunderstands the role and function of the Holy Spirit. They do, in fact, blaspheme the Spirit by claiming that He is about His own glorification instead of Christ! Here in Acts 2 the Holy Spirit gifts the disciples with the supernatural ability to preach the the Gospel in languages they have never studied and possibly never even heard! They declare the wonderful works of God! What is that? Some view this as just generic praise, but in light of Christ’s commissioning in Acts 1:8 I believe they are preaching the gospel. After all, what can be a more wonderful work of God than salvation by grace through faith? So what did they proclaim? Maybe something like this…
Romans 3:23 NKJV
for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
Romans 3:10–12 NKJV
As it is written: “There is none righteous, no, not one; There is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God. They have all turned aside; They have together become unprofitable; There is none who does good, no, not one.”
Romans 6:23 NKJV
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 5:8 NKJV
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Ephesians 2:8–9 NKJV
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.
Romans 10:9 NKJV
that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.
Romans 5:1 NKJV
Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,
I believe that this is the message they were preaching. Probably not in these exact words, but they were preaching Christ crucified, buried, and risen! This is the same message that we preach! We preach the wonderful works of God! We have seen the message regarded and reported. Observation #3: How was…

c. The message received vv. 12-13

There are only two possible responses to the Word of God. Belief or unbelief. Sometimes there are those who want to hear it later, but indecision is still a form of unbelief so there are only two responses. These responses will be seen throughout the book of Acts. Every time the gospel is preached you have some believing and some not. Here we are told two specific ways the message of the disciples is recieved. First it is Received with amazement in v. 12. They are both amazed and perplexed by this. They have no human explanation for how this could be happening. They ask each other what this means. What does this mean? Remember, in part it is a fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy. It is also evidence of the coming of the Holy Spirit.
This is the response we want. We want people to be amazed and perplexed, not by us, but by the incredible reality of the sacrifice of Christ! Our desire is that as we proclaim the wonderful works of God, as the Holy Spirit convicts, those who hear would be persuaded by the truth of God’s Word in the hands of His Holy Spirit and that they would place their faith in Christ! This is why we preach!
The Gospel of Jesus Christ preached in the power of the Holy Spirit and with His conviction is what brings people to faith!
In the next portion of Acts we will see this proclamation, conviction, and belief.
The message is received with amazement. Secondly, it is Received with mockery in v. 13. Those who mock here say that the disciples are full of new wine. New wine is only partially alcoholic. It is wine that has not been fully fermented. So it is alcoholic, but not very. This is a particularly harsh mockery since it suggest that they are not only doing this under the influence of intoxication, but also that they are so pathetic that they are intoxicated by slightly alcoholic wine. Next time we are in Acts we will get into Peter’s response and His message.
It has always baffled me how you can mock such an obvious miracle. There is no human explanation for the things God does! The miraculous ability to speak a language one has never studied is not something that can be explained apart from God! This particular mocking is that of disbelief. Who would disbelieve? This serves as a testimony to the hardness and blindness that is present in those who reject the gospel! 2 Corinthians 4:3-4 testifies of this reality (S).
2 Corinthians 4:3–4 NKJV
But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.
So should we just give up? Quit preaching? No! There will always be some who mock and some who say later, but some will believe! We cannot control how people respond. 1Corinthians 3:5-8 does a great job in explaining our responsibility (S).
1 Corinthians 3:5–8 NKJV
Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers through whom you believed, as the Lord gave to each one? I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase. Now he who plants and he who waters are one, and each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor.
It is the responsibility of the believer to deliver the message.
We plant and water, God brings the increase. There is going to be mockery of the message! There is going to be opposition and attack! But we are ambassadors for Christ! We have been entrusted with the Gospel message! We are responsible to proclaim the wonderful works of God! 1 Corinthians 4:1-2 gives us a goal to shoot for (S).
1 Corinthians 4:1–2 NKJV
Let a man so consider us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful.
It is required in stewards that one be found faithful. That’s it. We are stewards of the gospel. Will we be faithful in preaching the wonderful works of God even when we are mocked for it? What if we proclaim Christ for years and are never assured of even one convert? Will we still be faithful?


The message hasn’t changed. We proclaim the wonderful works of God! We have been enabled by the Holy Spirit to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ! The message we preach is empowered by the Spirit. It has a personal impact on all men. There will always be two responses to the gospel. Some will mock, but some will believe. Our concern is not the response but our own faithfulness.
May we not allow any amount of mockery to stop us from proclaiming the wonderful works of God!
Christ died, was buried, is risen, and one day He will come again.
May Christ find us ministering faithfully as stewards of the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ.
Who will you tell about Jesus this week?
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