Let’s read God’s Word. Acts 2:1-41 There is so much here. We could spend weeks or months covering all of the doctrine, getting all the angles, answering all the questions that are here in this passage. We could do that, we could stock up on lots of information; and I encourage you to do that: read, study, ask, discuss with each other. But, this morning I want you to focus on some big picture things we see in this passage. I think there are three big ideas in this passage that will help us not intellectualize this passage but get a taste of God’s greatness. Those three things are: The Character of God The Centrality of Jesus And The Foundation of the Church The Character of God God keeps His Promises This whole passage is about God keeping His promises: Jesus told his followers to wait for the promised Holy Spirit. Joel’s prophecy said that God would pour out his Spirit on His people. God promised that one of David’s descendants would rule God’s people. And here we see it! God’s Spirit poured out on the 120, available to any who would call on the name of Jesus, the Descendant who would rule. God has never fallen short on His promises, and He never will. We can be confident in knowing that everything God has promised to us His children, He will accomplish. We can totally trust Him in what he says because he has shown that what He says He will do. May that be both a comfort to us and cause us to fear the Lord, knowing that His judgment will come to pass as well. God keeps His Promises God Redeems it all Pentecost is often called the reversal of Babel. When God caused us all to speak in different languages. But, I think that isn’t quite accurate. Pentecost was the redemption of Babel. We see in the passage, not that God caused everyone there to speak the same language, but instead He allowed His people to speak all the languages, all the dialects. We need to understand something about God. God’s plan is not to start over, God’s plan is to buy it all back, to redeem it. God isn’t going to reboot, or go to the menu and load a previous save point, he isn’t going to Erase the board and have a do over. He is going to show that He is greater than all the bad and make the bad work for Him, make it into something beautiful. We see it time and again in the Bible: Jacob and his two wives (and concubines), Judah and Tamar, Joseph and His brothers, the story of Ruth, David and Bathsheba, the splitting of Israel. God takes the mistakes, God takes the horrible, and He works it towards His plan. He uses it for His glory and the Good of His people. He wastes nothing and nothing can thwart Him. The unjust and horrific crucifixion of Jesus was part of His plan and it resulted in our Salvation. Think about this truth about our God, the redeemer. If we believe that He is going to redeem everything, if he isn’t just going to take it all out with the trash and start over; how does that change the way we view our world, our job, our city, our culture, our suffering, other people’s suffering, our mistakes, other people’s mistakes people’s choices? God respects our free-will and is not worried about it, He will accomplish His good and perfect plan and will use our choices good and bad for His glory and our good. Nothign is wasted. Paul shows us one way that believing and applying this can change our lives: 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. God Redeems it all God is Merciful The passage from Joel that Peter quotes is from Joel chapter 2. It is a passage where the judgment of God is declared against His people and yet He begs them to repent so he can show mercy and then He declares to them that He will show mercy. Our God is merciful; He desires to forgive us our failings and to give us good things instead of the judgment that our actions deserve. Jesus, the perfect Son of God who did no wrong, who was God in flesh, was murdered unjustly, unlawfully. Was put through the most painful and degrading death we humans have devised, and yet God’s word to His people is one of mercy. “You have sinned, but I will forgive.” And we must not think that only those present at the time, who were there and saw God’s affirmation of Jesus through signs, and still chose to reject Jesus by crucifying Him are the only ones guilty of His death. We did not physically drive the nails, but we see Jesus, He is attested to us in the Scripture as God’s son, as the one we must turn to, the Holy Spirit convicts us of our sin and his Righteousness and we still reject Him, we still turn our own way. Our sin put Him on the cross, He died so that those who reject Him now, may call on His name and be saved, and find mercy. Even those of us who have turned to Him, still rely on His mercy, because even as Christians we still reject Him in our actions and thoughts and desires. Praise God that He extends His generous gift to the unworthy. God is Merciful The Foundation of the Church A Diverse People When I used to read this passage I would read the words “every nation under heaven” and the list of places the people were from and I would gloss over it. It was a while before it sunk in what this meant. I have a map here. Let’s see if we can find some of these places. You know what this means? There were people from all different ethnicities and countries and cultures there. Look at most American churches now, we separate into our differing ethnicities and cultures, and yet the early church from day one was mixed. Now granted they were of the Jewish faith and so there was that linking them, but not long after we will see that the church brought in those who weren’t Jewish too. We separate because it is easier to be with our own clan, others who are like us. But, what if we caught a vision of this John 17:20-23 "I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. Revelation 5:9-13 And they sang a new song, saying, "Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth." Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice, "Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!" And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, "To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!" Jesus prayed that the unity of His people would tell the World that He was from God and that He loved us. The throngs before Heaven praise Jesus for bringing in every tribe, nation, and language. I’m not saying that homogenous churches are inherently sinful. But, I am saying, we should check our hearts and we should seek God’s will for us in this city and we should ask for a change in our hearts to be open to inviting others who don’t have the same skin, or language, or social background as us to know Jesus and follow Him with us. And not in a Equal Opportunity Employer way, but in a true, loving, listening, embracing, part of the family way. Can you imagine it? Can you imagine when all His people stand around Him and all the different voices cry out in different languages declaring the mighty works of God? A Repentant People Peter’s call both through the context of Joel’s prophecy and in answer to their question of what they should do was to repent. To realize that we are not walking in the Way of Christ, we are not seeking God, we are not worshipping Him, we are not grateful, and to turn from our ways and follow Christ. The church started with repentance and should continue in repentance. Repentance is not just about “becoming a Christian”, it is about realizing we need Him every day. We should be a people who recognize that we choose to worship other things than Jesus every day, that our sin killed Jesus and caused him to suffer, and we should cry out to God and turn from our sin and to Him. Are we cut to the heart by our sin? Do we run to God, knowing that He is merciful? Does this change our life and the way we see ourselves, each other, and those around us? A Dependent People Now, did you notice the other big deal in this passage? There was Jesus and… How did this passage kick off? With the Holy Spirit manifesting this new relationship with Him in an explosive and evocative way. A loud wind and fire over heads! Remember that this is what they were waiting for, Jesus said don’t do anything until He comes. Peter says this is the promise we we’ve been waiting for. It’s happening, God dwelt with us in Jesus; now He dwells in us with the Holy Spirit. It was part of the call to repentance, repent so you can receive the gift. Peter said that Jesus died and was raised so He could give us the gift. Joel says that the gift will empower his people. Peter says this gift is for all who God calls to himself. Am I making this clear enough? Do you see how important this is? There is no church without the Holy Spirit! There is no mission. There is no 3000 souls saved! The Church must be dependant on the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. The point today isn’t to talk about what gifts are active and what aren’t, it isn’t to argue over whether the Spirit should be manifesting “miraculously” today. It is to say that Jesus said, in paraphrase, “No Spirit, No Church, No Mission.” It is to say that Jesus paid the price so that he could pour out the Gift on us. Just stop and think of that imagery. It is a gift, it is special, it is something we would want, it is something unearned, it is something valuable. It is poured out, not doled out, not handed out. Grab a bowl full of water and pour it out on someone and you get the picture. You know, I need to repent. There was a time when I sought the Spirit out, I sought His guidance, His working, His presence in my life; and lately I often hardly pay him a thought. I hardly base my life, or the life of our GC on Him. If we want to be a Jesus centered Church, unified in diversity and humble in our repentance, then we need the Holy Spirit, we need to be filled with the Holy Spirit, we can’t be apathetic about Him. I don’t know what that will look like, but we need Him. The Centrality of Jesus Peter didn’t deliver a philosophical tennet, or a moral dissertation. He preached Jesus. Jesus is the center of His message, the focus, the reason. The foundation that the church is built on. The Promised Jesus Jesus is Central because He is the awaited one, the prophesied one, the Messiah, the Christ. This goes right in line with God’s promises. The Jews were waiting for Messiah. Peter references this with talk about David’s descendant, and using the word Christ. Understand that Jesus was not a fluke, He was not a good man, another teacher in a line of teachers telling us how to reach God. He is the one that the Bible sings of and points to and jumps up and down telling us, God is sending someone to Rescue us. I love the Jesus Storybook Bible and how it emphasizes that every story whispers His name. All traced through the Bible is a thread, a thread saying that although all hope seems lost, a Rescuer is coming. “This Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God.” Jesus is the one. God raised Him up to prove it. “God raised Him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for Him to be held by it.” The Historical Jesus Our faith does not rest on ideas, philosophies, moralities, or fairy tales. Peter rests his case largely on the fact that the people had seen Jesus, had seen the wonders and signs God did through Him, participated in his murder, saw Him die, and that Peter and the 120 had witnessed Him risen from the dead. Paul also rests the Gospel squarely on the historicity and verifiability of the resurrection in 1 Corinthians 15: 1-8, 14-17 Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you--unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. And you know what? Many believed and no one said, “Who was Jesus” or, “What miracles?” These people had seen Jesus alive and had seen the miracles he did and the 120 had seen Him risen. If Jesus died on a cross and is still in the ground somewhere, then we are wasting our time because that means He was not the promised one and has no power to save us or bring us to God or give us the Holy Spirit or raise us from the dead. Listen, if you are here and you aren’t sure about Jesus, do some homework, read some books, think through the implications, ask questions of the Elders, of myself, of the friend you are here with, and figure out did Jesus live, did he die, and did he rise again. If He didn’t, then you should move on with your life and stop meeting with us weirdos who worship a dead guy who can’t do any of the things we are hoping for. If He did, then you can’t ignore Him or brush Him off anymore, you have to decide, will you repent and be baptized, will you follow Him? For those of us who believe He is and did what Peter said He was and did. Take confidence that we are not just another faith with some ideas of how people should live. We are following God and His man, God made Him Lord, that means He is in Charge. And our hope is not wishful dreaming, but a confident assurance because God keeps His promises. The Saving Jesus I’ve basically been saying this already, but it is worth saying clearly. Jesus is the one who saves us, He is the one who brings us to God, He is the one who gives the gift of the Holy Spirit. The people Peter is preaching to are Jews, they worship the one true God. Yet, Peter says, that God made Jesus Lord, and Joel says that Those who call on the name of the Lord. Peter is telling us that the one who saves us is Jesus. That forgiveness of sin comes from being identified with Jesus, following Him. That is what baptism symbolizes. Jesus didn’t just die or rise for no reason. Our sin killed Jesus. Our rejection of His rule and reign in our lives is why He died. He died to save us, He is the Rescuer. God’s redemption of us and our lives comes through Jesus and no one and nothing else. Stand with me and let’s say this together God is merciful and his redemption is our hope. According to His promise and plan He sent Jesus, who lived, died, and rose again so that we could be saved and brought into His church. May we, as part of his church, be a people diverse but unified by Him, humbled and repentant of our sin, and dependent on and grateful for the Holy Spirit.