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The Church Begins

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So, just to catch us up, two weeks ago, we talked about how Jesus left earth and commissioned the disciples to be witnesses and to go throughout the world and preach the gospel and make disciples, but to wait for the Holy Spirit.
Then, they had to address some organizational issues. They had to replace Judas, so they chose a man named Matthias. Now, they are getting ready for to go. There is a lot to get to this morning so lets jump in to Acts 2.
English Standard Version Chapter 2

2 When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. 2 And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3 And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.

5 Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. 6 And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language. 7 And they were amazed and astonished, saying, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? 8 And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? 9 Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, 11 both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians—we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.” 12 And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” 13 But others mocking said, “They are filled with new wine.”

So we aren’t going to spend a ton of time on this part of the passage. I did an entire series last fall called “Asking for a Friend” on the Baptism of the Holy Spirit and if you are curious about that, you can look that up in our archives and listen to that. But this was the fulfillment of what they had been waiting for. The Holy Spirit comes and fills the church in this moment.
Now, there are a few things I want to point out. First it says, when the day of Pentecost arrived. We celebrate Pentecost Sunday in a couple of weeks. We are two weeks out from that special day. And it says they were all together in one place. I’m a little jealous right now, because I can’t wait when we can all be together in one place again. That being said, this is really cool. There was a sound like a mighty rushing wind…inside the house. And tongues of fire rested on them and they began to speak in tongues like the spirit gave them utterance.
Now remember this, at this point, the church is 120 people. They were gathered in a house…which was probably just packed with people. There was no social distancing going on at that time. And tongues of fire rest on their heads and they begin to speak in tongues. As this is going on, I imagine that the party is leaking out into the streets around them and all the neighbors are wondering what is going on and they start to gather. And in verse 9 it says that people from all over the world were living in Jerusalem and when they heard these people speaking, they heard them in their own language. It was a miraculous sign to them. So their immediate reaction is: these people are drunk! Let’s look at vs 14
English Standard Version Chapter 2

14 But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them: “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words. 15 For these people are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day.

So Peter walks outside and sees that they’ve drawn the attention of a lot of people from all over the world, so he starts preaching in the streets of Jerusalem. The first thing he says is, guys these people are not drunk, it’s 9am.
English Standard Version Chapter 2

16 But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel:

17  “ ‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares,

that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh,

and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,

and your young men shall see visions,

and your old men shall dream dreams;

18  even on my male servants and female servants

in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy.

19  And I will show wonders in the heavens above

and signs on the earth below,

blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke;

20  the sun shall be turned to darkness

and the moon to blood,

before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day.

21  And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’

22 “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know— 23 this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. 24 God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it.

The greatest evangelistic message ever preached was not a cute, inspiring, or motivational message. It was a call to repentance. Peter said, this is what has been prophesied. Jesus came and fulfilled that prophecy and you killed him and God raised him.
Can I tell you something that might not be so encouraging this morning? You killed Jesus. I highly doubt that the Roman soldiers who nailed Jesus to the cross were in attendance that day. Peter is making it as plain as day. Your sins are what nailed Christ to the cross.
The apostle John uses this word in 1 John 2. He says that Jesus was the propitiation for our sin. In other words, he was the atoning sacrifice for the wrath of God. He was the payment for your sins.
That means that beyond a shadow of a doubt, what Peter said to the crowd that day is true for us today too. His death is on our hands. It was our sin that he died for and we are responsible. All of us have sinned on our own to varying degrees, but no matter what you’ve done personally it pales in comparison to nailing the son of God to a cross. That’s why there is no levels of sinners. You’re either a sinner, guilty of the murder of Jesus Christ, or you are forgiven. There is no in between.
When we get to the point where we fail to continue to recognize that fact, we place ourselves in mortal danger. I’m going to be a little bit harsh this morning because I believe so strongly in this. Now you are thinking, you’re going to be harsh, you already told me that I personally killed Jesus, what more can you say. I’m just getting warmed up. Buckle up.
When someone comes to faith in Christ for the first time, they typically have a very soft heart toward repentance. Most weeks, I will give an opportunity at the end of the message for people to respond to the gospel and place their faith in Jesus. And what I’ve discovered is that when someone makes that decision, they will often respond to that invitation multiple times over the next few weeks as they become comfortable with the idea that they are now saved and secure in Christ. But what begins to happen over time, as some of you have heard the gospel presented hundreds maybe even thousands of times throughout the course of your life, is that we begin to get calloused to the message of repentance.
Can I tell you something. Repentance is a lifelong calling, not a moment in time. So when you become calloused to that idea and comfortable in your salvation, the Holy Spirit loses influence in your life. Let me ask it this way, when is the last time you responded to an altar call. I’m not talking about one for salvation, but when is the last time you acknowledged publically that you needed God to change something in you. If it’s been a long time, I’d like to make the suggestion that maybe you haven’t arrived as a believer, but rather you need to humble yourself and admit that God still has to do work in your life.
I was listening to a message this week and the preacher said something that really grabbed my attention. He said the most free you will ever be is when you are completely exposed. That goes against everything in our nature, but it’s true because it’s only in letting go of our spotless reputation that we find the release of the pressure of pretending to be something we are not.
Peter then talks about King David a bit and you should read this whole chapter because it is incredible, but for time, we are going to skip down to the end of his message in verse 36. It says
English Standard Version Chapter 2

36 Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.”

37 Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” 38 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” 40 And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” 41 So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.

I love that, when he said this they were cut to the heart.
Let me ask you a question this morning, does the preaching of God’s word still cut to your heart? Or are you so used to it that you assume it’s for everyone else. So those listening came to Peter and his disciples, absolutely broken by the truth of God’s Word and they said, ok, what do we do now. Peter said repent and be baptized and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
And 3,000 were added that day. They went from 120 to 3,000 in a day. That is the power of the Holy Spirit. WOW!!!
At some point when we get back together, we are going to do a baptism service. Can I tell you something, it’s going to be a party. We are going to celebrate what Christ has done in your life. If you haven’t been baptized yet, stop letting the enemy talk you out of something is Jesus commanded us to do. So, what happened next. How did the early church keep focused and prevent complacency.
English Standard Version Chapter 2

42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

Can I tell you something? I’ve been really wrestling with our response as a church this past week to the inability for us to meet together. I want so badly to be done with this season. And I firmly believe in my heart that it is time to move forward. We as a leadership team are wrestling with making the right decision and figuring out what we should do. But while we are waiting, I want you to understand this. It’s in these seasons that you have to fight for your faith and the spiritual health of your family. You can’t rely on the organization of the church to do it for you. The steps are laid out for you here. What do you need to do. Devote yourselves to the teaching of Gods word. I would argue that because we have access to the Word of God in a different way than the early church did, that would include both engagement in our church services and studying the word for yourself. The second thing is the breaking of bread. If you are healthy and not at high risk, I would encourage you to open up your home as we are allowed now in groups of 10 or less. And to prayer. Friends, we need to pray. We need to pray for our leaders, we need to pray for each other, we need to pray for the lost. And the other things: signs and wonders, abundant generosity, and praise and worship, and church growth will be a natural outflow of those decisions.
It’s hard right now. It’s hard to stay committed to going to church on the internet, it’s hard to think about opening up your home know that someone might make you sick. But we believe that our God is faithful, and as we are faithful in doing what he has called us to, he will be faithful to us!
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