Acts chapter two records the coming of the Holy Spirit and the birth of the church. This constitutes the beginning of a new dispensation, the dispensation of grace. The study of this great chapter in scripture is very important for us as believers today, because we too are living in the dispensation of grace. It also serves as a pattern for the ministry of the local church.
The coming of the Holy Spirit. In verses 1-13, we find the coming of the Holy Spirit. It occurred on the day of Pentecost. The day of Pentecost occurred on the fiftieth day after the first day of the feast of the Passover. It was a harvest feast. It was a time of great celebration. On this special day, there were many people in Jerusalem. Perhaps God designed it this way at a time when the most people possible would be present so that the proclamation of the Gospel would be made to many. There are some valuable lessons that we see here just before the coming of the Holy Spirit. First of all, they were all. All of the disciples were there as well as many others who were followers of Jesus. These early believers understood the importance of being ‘all in.’ We also need an ‘all in’ mentality. Everyone needs to be involved. Secondly, they were with one accord. Not only is it important that everyone be involved, but we must also be united. We are to be together with one purpose. These followers of Jesus in Acts chapter two had been together for many days in prayer. They took united prayer seriously. They agreed on what they were there to do and they engaged in prayer together. Thirdly, they were in one place. The believers gathered together in a singular location. They were not scattered throughout the city. They had a specific meeting place where they came together and united together in prayer. It is interesting how that on this day the church is birthed; they are gathered together in one place. We may have many various ministries outside the four walls of the church; however, nothing can ever replace the coming together of God’s people in one place for one specific purpose. As they were united together in one place, something remarkable happened. “Suddenly there came a sound from heaven…” This sound was ‘like’ a rushing mighty wind. There is no indication that it was a literal wind that swept through the building. There was a sound that was like the sound of a rushing wind and it came down from heaven. This was a completely supernatural event. A loud sound like a wind, yet with no physical wind, the sound filled up the room, and it came down into the room from heaven. There was no doubt that this was what they were waiting for. The promise of the Spirit has come. The emphasis here is in the word suddenly. There was no building up or gradually leading into, it happened suddenly. The lesson here is that God will move as He chooses and often times when we least expect it. Some of the greatest movements of God that I have witnessed are those that just happened. There was no planning or leading of men, it was just God. One of those moments I witnessed was at a church camp in Virginia. It was a very long week. Everything that could go wrong at camp seemed to go wrong that week. It was long and hard and we could not wait to get back home. On the last day of camp there was a final worship service. We all gathered together in the chapel just as we did every other day. The service was coming to a close when all of a sudden young people started to flock to the altar. They were getting right with God and with each other. There were young people literally crying out to God. This continued for a long time and I don’t think we really officially closed the service. It ended as suddenly as it began. I remember standing in the back of the chapel, just watching. All the other pastors were just watching. No one said or did anything. It was all God. Brothers and Sisters, we need to simply gather together in unity and pray and wait. As we do, God will move in His time and in a way that we could only imagine! As the Holy Spirit came down and into the believers on that day of Pentecost, they began to proclaim the Gospel in languages that were unknown to them. It must be understood here that this was not some ‘unknown’ heavenly language. They were speaking the Gospel and those around them were hearing it in their own language. This is the true miraculous gift of speaking in tongues. The idea that we can pray or speak in some ‘unknown’ language is not Biblical. Just read the text. Everyone heard the message in their own language. This goes to show the awesome power of God and the heart of God to give everyone an opportunity to come to faith in Jesus.
Peter’s Sermon. After the coming of the Holy Spirit, Peter stood up and began to preach. There are several parts to Peter’s sermon that we see here. First of all notice, the explanation. Peter gives an explanation as to what was happening as the Spirit of God came down. Some were saying that they were drunk. The people appeared to be drunk due to the fact that they were losing control of themselves as the Spirit of God came into them and took control. This event is the fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy, as Peter explains in verse 17-21. Not only do we see the explanation of Peter but also notice, the exhortation. In verses 22-36, Peter preaches the Gospel of Jesus. Notice how the emphasis of the Gospel message is on the resurrection of Jesus. The message is that Jesus is alive. He has overcome death and has given salvation to all those who would believe in Him. Peter boldly proclaims that Jesus is the Savior of the world and that He is the Lord of all. The final part to Peter’s sermon is the invitation. In verses 37-39 Peter explains to the people how they can respond to the Gospel. He tells them that they are to repent. This is the first step to salvation. You must repent. There is no salvation apart from repentance. One must turn away from self and sin and turn to Jesus. As you by faith accept God’s gift of grace through Jesus, you are immediately baptized in the Holy Spirit and your salvation is secure. This can only occur when repentance is involved. There must be a change of mind, a turning around. Repentance is an act of the will. It is a choice that you must make. You must choose to turn away from the road you are on and turn to Jesus. It is this Gospel that we are to preach. We are to preach Jesus. We are to point people to the risen Savior and give them the invitation to repent and come to Jesus.
The Growing Church. As the Gospel is preached, the church begins to grow. We see this in verses 40-47. There is a lesson in that alone. Gospel preaching and Gospel focused churches are blessed by God. As we look at the early church we find some of the crucial characteristics of a thriving church. The first characteristic is the continual preaching of the truth. The early church continued in the doctrine. This was not a compromising church. This was not a seeker friendly church. This was a church that preached the Gospel without compromise and with unashamed boldness. Another characteristic of a thriving church is that of a loving fellowship. They were together, united as one family. For the Christian, the local church is family. Often times we are closer to our church family than we are to our biological family. The point here is that we need to be together. We need each other and we need to spend time together. Notice how the early church not only worshiped in the temple, but they also went to each other’s house and worshiped together and fellowshipped together. A third characteristic of a thriving church is that of common care. The scripture says that they had all things in common. They pulled their resources together to help each other. This is the beauty of a loving church family. Perhaps there is someone in the church that needs work done on their house, so, loving church family members come together to assist the one in need with his work. Perhaps there is someone who has been sick and there is a need for provision of food for the family. A loving church family will come together and meet that need. As a family, we are to have a common care for one another. Another characteristic of a thriving church is that the church was the center of their activity and life. Everything revolved around the church. They were in the temple daily, they went from house to house; it was a daily thing. It is interesting how the church has changed over the years. It used to be that coming to the physical location of the church was a common thing. People would come all the time to work together, pray together, study God’s Word together, and even play together. Unfortunately, we are living in a time when families are busier than ever. Instead of the church being the center of the community, now we have the recreation centers and special events at the schools that preoccupy our time. However, in the midst of a busy world, God has blessed us with tools that can be used in this age to keep people together and connect to the church. Tools such as Facebook, Twitter, and others should be embraced by the church in order to stay connect with one another throughout the week. There is also a place for home Bible studies and coffee shop meetings. One project that we are currently working on at our church is to have live online events. For example, people who live a good distance from the church can host a mid-week prayer meeting in their home and connect with the prayer meeting taking place at the church building. They will be able to submit prayer request and participate in an interactive Bible study. These are just a few of the tools that we can use to keep us connected. Though the times have changed, the concept is still the same. The church is to be a thriving connected and growing community. Notice in verse 47, we see that the Lord blesses the church and adds to the church daily. You see, a thriving church, that is focused on preaching the Gospel, engaged in united prayer, enjoying a loving fellowship, caring for each other, and staying connected on a daily basis is the kind of church that God will bless with fruit for their labors. The encouragement here is to just be the church. Don’t get caught up in politics and seeking what pleases you, just be the church. If we could learn to pattern the church of today after that of the early church, perhaps, we will see a great revival and the church being added to daily!
There are a lot of great lessons that we learn from Acts chapter two. But the most important of all is the fact that nothing is possible without the filling of the Holy Spirit. Has the Spirit of God indwelled you? Do you know for sure that you are saved? If so, are you living a Spirit filled life?