What is Pentecost? (Part 2)
(This is a continuation of a study about Pentecost. You can find the first part here.)
Peter makes an argument that would be specifically aimed now at the Jewish population, which would likely be the majority of the listeners. He is pointing to the history of Israel’s kings and the promise God made to David that one of his descendants would be forever on the throne.
Acts 2:22-28- “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— this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it. For David says concerning him,
“‘I saw the Lord always before me, for he is at my right hand that I may not be shaken; therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced; my flesh also will dwell in hope. For you will not abandon my soul to Hades, or let your Holy One see corruption. You have made known to me the paths of life; you will make me full of gladness with your presence.’
Notice the confidence of his words. This was God’s definite plan and foreknown! This was not random, not the act of man against God outside of God’s will. This was a necessary thing so that God could offer salvation and righteousness to our broken world.
Acts 2:29-36- “Brothers, I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and whose tomb is with us to this day. Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on his throne, he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing. For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he himself says,
“‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.”’
Let us not forget that the 11 apostles had spent three years with Jesus and were direct witnesses not only to the miraculous resurrection but also to all the acts of Jesus done within the community, whether healings, teachings, or other miracles. And so once again Peter says with complete confidence:
Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.”
In the same way, we can have confidence of God’s saving work in our lives as we consider the things God has done for us. Although we have not seen Jesus directly as the apostles did, our personal testimony is a powerful tool given to us in order that the gospel message will continue to spread. Peter’s words are pointed, especially calling out the Jews desire to crucify Jesus. And we see a beautiful repentant response from the crowd.
Acts 2:37-41- 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?” 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. 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.” And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.
All people will respond to the gospel message. This is why we share the gospel with others, because we know the power it holds and the need everyone has (the promise is for you, your children, all who are far off, EVERYONE!) But we are not responsible for how people respond. As we see in this moment, though, we know what is required for those who will accept the Spirit’s conviction, the same thing that Jesus told before He ascended- make disciples and baptize them in my name.
And we finally get to the description of the church and the wonderful plan and blessing it is for believers to gather-
Acts 2:42-37- And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number m day by day those who were being saved.
We do our best to follow this model of gathering at Grace Life, recognizing that our modern context means some logistical aspects of this list look different today than in Jesus’ time. But we see important threads for the church here.
We devote ourselves to teaching. God’s word is at the center of all we do, as we know it is our authority on life. We also know that it’s not just a sterile pursuit of knowledge that we are called to, but recognizing that God’s word applies to every situation we will face.
We devote ourselves to each other. The awesome part of the local church is that it is a unique and diverse gathering, all centered around the commonality that only the Gospel can provide. We look different, we have different likes and dislikes, but we put aside those differences in order to glorify God together and encourage one another.
We devote ourselves to frequent gathering. Although we may not all be able to gather daily as the early church, we set aside Sunday mornings and an evening each week for LifeGroups because we know that we need to be around other believers. Some of us work at the same place or live in the same neighborhood and can spend more time together. It’s because we know the value of staying connected to the family of God.
We devote ourselves to prayer. We pray together whenever we gather. We pray for each other as we get into the messy details of life, knowing that we all have struggles. In todays’ world, we have phones that we use to text and call one another in order that we can lift one another’s names before the Lord and know that others are doing the same for us.
So as we consider Pentecost, let it be a reminder of both how powerful the Holy Spirit is and what our calling is as a church.
Love in Christ,