Acts 2:36-41

This text is used for the Lectionary Year A on April 30, 2017.

Have you wondered how a person becomes a member of a church? This section of Acts 2 documents how the first members became a part of the movement.

A new generation of humans was introduced in Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost. They became a new generation that morning when their prayers were interrupted by the coming of the Holy Spirit. 120 believers were gathered in a room in the Temple waiting. The Holy Spirit came with the sound of a mighty wind, and a display of fire. A tongue of fire was seen over the head of the disciples. The group was under the leadership of the surviving Apostles that Jesus of Nazareth had appointed before his return to heaven. Simon Peter was the spokesman for the group that day with the support of the eleven other Apostles. Every member was suddenly endowed with a gift of speaking in a foreign language that they had not learned.

The noise of the wind and the worship of the new generation attracts a large gathering. When the attendees want to know what is happening, Peter explains to them that the prophecy of Joel is being fulfilled right before their eyes. Then Peter gives the first proclamation of the Christian Gospel. He concludes the declaration, which included an announcement of the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, with a word about what it all means. Peter declares that the man from Nazareth that they crucified has been raised from the dead, and is exalted. He is now both Lord and Christ. The crowd was made up of Jews, many of the proselytes came from all over the Roman world, so they understand the implication of Peter’s declaration. They are involved in the death of the Lord of glory, the One sent to be the Messiah of Israel. His blood is on their hands.

The words of Peter penetrate to the heart, leaving them very troubled. The Holy Spirit is already performing his mission of convicting humans of their sins. The fear of judgment to come falls upon them immediately. They humbly cry out to the Apostles for help; “What shall we do?”

Peter has Good News for them. The God who sent his Son to be the Messiah of Israel is ready to forgive. But they must receive this forgiveness through repentance. They must turn from their old way of life that led them to reject Jesus and to approve his crucifixion. They must turn to God in faith. They must demonstrate this repentance in public immersion in water in the name of Jesus. This repentance and faith would make them a part of the new generation as their sins were forgiven. It will be a mighty regenerative work of God as he gives the gift of the Spirit, the same Spirit that took up residence in the one hundred twenty earlier.

All of this was based on a promise God gave in the Old Testament. Joel gave one expression to the promise when he wrote, “For whosoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” The New Covenant promises in Jeremiah would are in this promise. But the promise is not just to the group that crucified Jesus; it would be to their children as the call of the Gospel comes to them, and even to those were far away—Jews who had been scattered in the Diaspora, and even Gentiles to whom the Apostles would later carry the Gospel.

Stirred by the Holy Spirit who was on him as an anointing, and in him as the enabling presence of God, Peter becomes passionate in his appeal to the crowd. He warns them to break their commitments to the crooked generation that crucified their Messiah and are headed to a sure damnation! They must become a part of the new generation who make up the church of Christ.

The response was amazing! That day God adds three thousand lives to the new generation. We understand that this many person, probably men, and women, young and old, repented of their sins, confessed them to God, placed their faith in the risen Christ now exalted in heaven. They demonstrate their repentance and faith in water baptism and received the gift of the Spirit (baptism in the Spirit.) They step out from the crowd that gathered. They had heard Peter accuse them of the death of the Lord of glory on a Roman Cross. Yet through the death of His Son, God offers to cancel their sins, and give them a new life in the Spirit.

Not a bad beginning as Peter uses “the key” that Jesus entrusted to them while he was with them.

This passage provides us needed insight into the nature of the Christian movement. It had its beginning in the life, death, and resurrection of “Jesus of Nazareth.” It is not a “cult” that you must join, and follow its rules if you ever hope to know it’s secrets. When Jesus had accomplished his earthly ministry by living a life of goodness and grace, dying by the hand of the “lawless” on a Roman cross, being buried in a borrowed tomb for three days, God acts. He overturns the evil judgment of the world and raises his Son up from the grave. Based on all of this the Eternal God made him both Lord and Christ. He now heads the spiritual kingdom of God that has been planted in history like a mustard seed planted in the ground. This kingdom will in the end triumph over the kingdoms of this world. It is a spiritual kingdom made up of redeemed people who live under the rule of Christ by the indwelling Spirit.

As this powerful Gospel is preached in the power of the Spirit, God continues to use it to call others to join the new generation, and thereby to grow his kingdom. We too are people who repented of our sin, believed in the Son, received the Spirit, and bear witness to the reality of his resurrection.

D.L. Lowrie
D.L. Lowrie Ministries, Lubbock, TX
DLLow@aol.com

 

 

 

Tags: language, fulfillment, spirit, tongues

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