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!”