Monday, November 28, 2011

From Acts to Revelation - Part 5: The Name of Jesus

From Acts to Revelation
Part 5 – The Name of Jesus
Pastor Bruce A. Shields
House of Faith Church | |

Last week we looked at the promise of the Father, the Holy Spirit, being poured out on the Disciples and Apostles who obeyed Jesus' command to return to Jerusalem and wait.

After waiting, the Holy Spirit came, and the Disciples and Apostles began to speak to the crowds of God-fearing Jews who had gathered in Jerusalem for the feast of first fruits in many different known languages.

The crowds listening had mixed reaction to this, some asking each other what it means, while others mocked, saying those speaking were drunk.

Peter will now address the crowds, and explain what is taking place, by the power of the Holy Spirit, preaching a message to the God fearing Jews of the entire world.

Today, we will look specifically at Acts 2:14-36, and see the church being born.

Three things we will see today, the coming of the Holy Spirit, the introduction of signs and wonders, and the reaction of those who witnessed the church being born.

Some things to keep in mind as we look at the Word of God today.

Acts is the history of how Christianity was founded and organized and solved its problems. The community of believers began by faith in the risen Christ and in the power of the Holy Spirit, who enabled them to witness, to love, and to serve.

The church did not start to grow on its own power or enthusiasm. The disciples were empowered by God's Holy Spirit. He was the promised Counselor and Guide sent when Jesus went to heaven.

So we will be looking at the coming of the Holy Spirit, signs and wonders, and the reaction of those who witnessed the birth of the church.

Acts 2:14-23
14 Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. 15 These men are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning! 16 No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:

 17 “‘In the last days, God says,
   I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
   your young men will see visions,
   your old men will dream dreams. 

18 Even on my servants, both men and women,
   I will pour out my Spirit in those days,
   and they will prophesy. 

19 I will show wonders in the heaven above
   and signs on the earth below,
   blood and fire and billows of smoke. 

20 The sun will be turned to darkness
   and the moon to blood
   before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord. 

21 And everyone who calls
   on the name of the Lord will be saved.’

 22 “Men of Israel, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. 23 This man was handed over to you by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross.

1.      Remember, last week in Acts 2:13, after speaking in tongues, the crowd mocked them saying they were drunk.
1.      Peter spoke to the crowds, standing with the eleven other Apostles, and assured the crowds that the Disciples and Apostles were not drunk.
2.      Peter then says to the crowd, “But this is that which was spoken by the Prophet Joel”
1.      These were God fearing Jews, who knew the scriptures, and knew the Prophets and what they said well.

1.       v17...And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God...
1.      Are we living in the last days?
2.      According to scripture here, the events which took place in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost was to happen in the end times, so the answer is YES!

2.      ...I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh...
1.      This speaks of all people everywhere.
2.      God's Spirit is available to all people, regardless of geographical location, and is not restricted by race, color, or creed.

3.      ...and your sons and your daughters will prophecy...
1.      Notice here, both men and women.
2.      Women had been made by culture a second class if not third class citizen.
3.      God set men as the Spiritual head, but that does not make women makes men responsible for the Spiritual growth and leadership in the home.
4.      Like most things, man takes something that is perfect, given by God, and over time, abuses it to fit their own needs and desires.

4.      ...And your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams...
1.      All those given the Holy Spirit, shall hear from the Holy Spirit.
2.      The original Hebrew insinuates that both young and old men will have visions and dreams.
3.      Applying to both genders, and all ages, by the power of the Holy Spirit.

5.      ...and on my servants and on my hand-maidens I will pour out in those days of My Spirit...
1.      This was said to address two classes of people

2.      Slaves and women, who had been given a low status because of the culture
1.      Slaves were originally people who did not belong to a prospering family, who would work for another family to be counted among them, and taken care of by them...and again, this was abused over time, and eventually lead to types of slavery that are both appalling and not intended by God's word.
2.      Women too had become second class citizens. Man was made the head of the house in spiritual leadership, with the responsibility of the spiritual direction and growth of the house, having to answer to God for his own leadership.

3.      But, the scriptures tell us that men and women are equal. There is no difference, and that they are to submit to one another.

4.      Somewhere along the line, Spiritual leadership turned into dictatorship, and women became second class citizens in their culture.

6.      ...and they shall prophecy...
1.      God is erasing the classes here that MAN introduced.
2.      God sets the stage and standards for servants of Christ, that all are created equal, and given the same Holy Spirit.

7.      And I will show wonders in Heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke.
1.      In the Old Testament, blood protected God fearing Jews during passover
1.      That was a foreshadowing of the protection and sealing we receive from the Blood of Jesus.

2.      In the Old Testament, the children of Israel were led by God with a pillar of fire at night, and a pillar of smoke in the day.
1.      Now God's Holy Spirit which was poured out in these last days upon all men and women, still leads the children of God. Speaking to their hearts and minds with visions, dreams, and prophecies which are fulfilled.

8.      ...The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood before that Great and notable Day of the Lord shall come...
1.      This is not literal darkness and blood, but rather, what the sun and moon will look like because of the sky having been polluted with debris.

2.      The debris will come from the meteor, which will hit the earth we see in Revelation.

3.      That is before the Second Coming, or Great and notable Day of the Lord

9.      ...And it shall come to pass, that whosoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.
1.      Listen...this prophecy, written nearly 800 years before Jesus' birth, concerns salvation for whoever calls on the name of Christ!
2.      This knowledge of calling on the name of the Lord to be saved has been given to both Jew and gentile!

1.      Now that Peter has established through scripture that what everyone witnessed is the Holy Spirit being poured out in the last days, he then showed that Joel also stated that there would be one name to call on for salvation, and that name is Jesus.
1.      v22  Jesus is the theme of Peter's message, and shown to be approved by God.

2.      Proof of His approval by God was the miracles, wonders, and signs that He had done by God in the midst of these God-fearing men.

3.      Peter knew firsthand, and many others witnessed these.

2.      In v23, Peter tells the people that Jesus was delivered at a determined time by a determined circumstance through the foreknowledge of God.          
1.      Foreknowledge does not remove free-will

2.      God's knowledge of future events simple allows Him to work around the choices and decisions that He knows each of us will make, so that His will is done.

3.      Peter states that God raised Jesus up, speaking of the resurrection from the dead.

      Peter established that the church was indeed beginning and that just as God promised, and Jesus said, the promise of the Father (the Holy Spirit) would come when Jesus ascended and sat at the right hand of God, and the children of God would receive the pouring out of God’s Holy Spirit.

His children would have dreams, visions, and prophecy in His name.

And anyone, regardless of color, race or creed, who called on the name of the Lord would be saved!

And the Lord’s name is Jesus Christ.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

From Acts to Revelation - Part 4: The Church is Born

From Acts to Revelation
Part 4 – The Church is Born
Pastor Bruce A. Shields
House of Faith Church | |

We are continuing our series this week, looking at the Book of Acts, and seeing just how the church began. We have seen over the last few weeks, the Lord preparing the disciples, re-affirming the promise of the Father, which was the Holy Spirit, re-orientation to the ministry at hand, then Jesus' ascension, and predicted return.

We also saw how the Lord established the 12 apostles, and told them to wait with the disciples in Jerusalem for the Holy Spirit. While there, Peter called the first church meeting, and they replaced Judas.

The criteria for being an Apostle was explained, that one had to have been with Jesus from His baptism to the ascension, and a witness of His resurrection. They then chose a replacement by drawing lots.

Today, we will look specifically at Acts 2:1-13, and see the church being born. '

Three things we will see today, the coming of the Holy Spirit, the introduction of signs and wonders, and the reaction of those who witnessed the church being born.

Some things to keep in mind as we look at the Word of God today.

Acts is the history of how Christianity was founded and organized and solved its problems. The community of believers began by faith in the risen Christ and in the power of the Holy Spirit, who enabled them to witness, to love, and to serve.

The church did not start to grow on its own power or enthusiasm. The disciples were empowered by God's Holy Spirit. He was the promised Counselor and Guide sent when Jesus went to heaven.

So we will be looking at the coming of the Holy Spirit, signs and wonders, and the reaction of those who witnessed the birth of the church.

Acts 2:1-13
 1 When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.

5 Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. 6 When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard them speaking in his own language. 7 Utterly amazed, they asked: “Are not all these men who are speaking Galileans? 8 Then how is it that each of us hears them in his own native language? 9Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome 11 (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!” 12 Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?”

13 Some, however, made fun of them and said, “They have had too much wine.”

1.      The Apostles and Disciples obeyed the command of Christ, therefore received the promise of the Father.
1.      Jesus said, “If you love me, you will obey all that I command.” - John 14:15
2.      Jesus commanded the disciples to go and wait in Jerusalem for the Holy Spirit.
3.      They obeyed, and received.
4.      How often to we expect to receive, without first obeying?
5.      Like a spoiled child, focused on our wants and desires, ignoring obedience.
6.      Obedience to the Lords commands will always bring reward.

2.      vs.2 Describes the Holy Spirit as the blowing of a violent wind from heaven.
1.      The Holy Spirit is characterized as the wind here, Jesus describes the same thing in John 3:8, “The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”
2.      The Holy Spirit is also represented by oil and water, such as in baptisms and anointing. It is not the wind, nor the oil, nor the water itself that brings the power of God, but the Holy Spirit, which is described as being like these things.
3.      Symbolism is used throughout scripture, to help the human mind comprehend the spiritual ramification of difficult truths, such as re-birth through the Holy Spirit, the filling of the Holy Spirit, the covering of the Holy Spirit.

3.      Spirit filled, they spoke in other languages
1.      Other known languages
2.      This was not the tongue of angels uttered by the Holy Spirit for the individual speakers edification as described in I Corinthians 13:1; and I Corinthians 14:2 For anyone who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God. Indeed, no one understands him; he utters mysteries with his spirit.”
3.      The Apostles and Disciples were speaking known languages.
4.      As the Spirit enabled them.
5.      This was not under their control, it was the Holy Spirit of God, communicating to all of those listening in Jerusalem that day, the wonders of God in their own native tongue!

1.      Why did they speak in other known languages on this day?
1.      Because the church began, and the Apostles and Disciples received God's Holy Spirit on the exact Day of Pentecost.
2.      vs. 5 tells us that during this feast day, “Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven.”
3.      They were celebrating Shavuot, the Feast of Harvest, one of the seven feasts that God had instructed the Jews to celebrate every year.
4.      This feast celebrated the first fruits of the harvest, which was a foreshadow of the first fruits of the Lord's harvest, who became the first church, the body of Christ on earth.
5.      During this celebration, Jews from all nations came to Jerusalem to celebrate, and the Lord chose this day to bring the Holy Spirit, start the church, and speak the wonders of God to all of the God-fearing Jews who were present.

2.      Each person (God-fearing Jew) heard the message in his own tongue
1.      Some teach that speaking in tongues is the only evidence that you have been filled with the Holy Spirit. But the scriptures say otherwise...
1.      There is not one scripture showing Jesus had ever spoke in tongues.
2.      Romans 12:6, “We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith.”
3.      I Corinthians 12:4, “There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit.”
4.      I Corinthians 12:28, “And in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, also those having gifts of healing, those able to help others, those with gifts of administration, and those speaking in different kinds of tongues.”
2.      There is no ONE GIFT that all have to prove they are filled with the Holy Spirit.
3.      If you do not speak in tongues (other languages, or tongues of angles), do not be discouraged...this does not mean you do not have the Holy means you do not have that gift!

3.      God allowed all of those who feared Him to hear the truth in their own tongue
1.      This has been, and is the share the Gospel with all.

1.      Some were amazed and perplexed
1.      God will use whatever it takes to get our attention so that we will hear the gospel truth.
2.      Sometimes He uses miracles, sometimes healing, sometimes blessing, and sometimes disasters.
3.      All of these things work toward the goal of eternal salvation, at any cost.
2.      Instead of seeking out the Apostles and Disciples to ask about this mystery of God they witnessed, the scripture tells us “they asked one another, what does this mean?”
1.      How many times in life do people miss out because instead of going to the source when they have a question, they ask their friends who are just as lost as they are.
1.      Jesus said of the Pharisees in Matthew 15:14, 14 Leave them; they are blind guides. If a blind man leads a blind man, both will fall into a pit.”
2.      God set leaders in place to do just that, lead.
1.      If you have a question about the mysteries of God, or scripture, go to the leaders in the church.
2.      In this church you have myself, but also, Deacon Kurt who is ordained with over three years of schooling, Lori, who also has over three years of biblical and theological schooling, and is also ordained.
3.      Then there were those who heard these mysteries, and instead of recognizing the power of God at work, and acknowledging the miracle, they made fun of the Apostles and Disciples.

3.      “They have had too much wine!”
1.      If they would have only known, the wine that they had, was the blood of Christ, poured out for the remission of their sins.
2.      If only they would have acknowledged the power of God.
1.      2 Timothy 3:5, “{they have} a form of godliness but deny its power.”

The people in Jerusalem on this day of Pentecost, were witness to the birth of the Church. The Holy Spirit came just as promised, and those who obeyed, received.

The power and miracle of the mysteries of God being witnessed in every known tongue to every God-fearing Jew who came to Jerusalem to celebrate Shavuot, in their known tongue went mostly ignored, and even mocked.

We to are witness to this truth in the scriptures today, believing the Word of those who died to bring it to us, the coming of the Holy Spirit of God, the beginning of the church, the power which comes with the Holy Spirit, including Spiritual Gifts, Spiritual Fruits, and the whole armor of God.  We have also read how those who witness this, may reject it as nonsense.

Psalm 14:1, “The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.”

Titus 1:16, “They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him. They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good.”

Jude 1:4, “certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.”

We must each acknowledge the Holy Spirit's coming, pray for the Spirit to fill us, and enable us to do God's ministry, which is to share the Gospel with all, not just those who believe, but more importantly, those who have not yet had the opportunity to believe.

Romans 10:14-16
14 How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? 15And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”