Acts Bible Study

Acts Bible Study


All right, we’re in Luke/Acts for
Beginners, lesson number 14, The Ministry of Peter, Peter’s first sermon. We’re going to
cover Acts chapter one, verse one to Acts chapter two, verse 47. So today we place
Luke’s first letter to Theophilus in the gospel section along with Matthew, Mark,
and John, because in this letter Luke describes the birth, the life, the
ministry, the death, the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The book of
Acts usually stands alone as a history book, followed by the rest of the New
Testament, made up of letters or epistles in the beginning. Many times the book of
Luke and the book of Acts were together, because Luke wrote both of them,
and they circulated together. This is why I’ve chosen in this series to put them
together. So we finished the book of Luke and now we’re going to begin the book of
Acts. Now the book of Acts is also a letter. It’s the second letter written to
a Gentile official of some kind named Theophilus. We learned that back in
Luke. The first letter, the gospel of Luke was written to give this man an organized
presentation of Jesus’s life and death and resurrection, which in effect
preached the gospel to him. This second letter was prepared for the same person
not long after the first letter was written, somewhere between 60 and 68 AD.
In it Luke describes the people and events that contribute to the
establishment of the church which took place on Pentecost Sunday. Now, we hear
this word Pentecost a lot. Pentecost is the Greek word for the Hebrew word weeks.
Let me give you a little timeline here, so that we can see the
order of events that take place, of which Luke writes about in the book of Acts. So
following the Passover, if you look at the top, by the way, you have a Jewish
timeline and then you have the same timeline, but with Christian events that
take place. And we will be able to compare the two here. So
following the Passover there was a period of seven days where no
leaven was to be eaten or kept in the house. That seven days
led to another Sabbath day or Saturday when this feast was over.
Now on the next day, which was Sunday, the Jews celebrated the feast of firstfruits
where they brought in the first part of the Spring harvest, usually barley, and
made an offering to the Lord. We read about that in Leviticus chapter 23:10
and 11. They did that before they themselves ate from the harvest. In other
words, this was a first fruits, the first harvest comes in, the
first fruits go to the Lord. The next feast on the calendar was the
Feast of Weeks, or Pentecost, in the Greek language, where the Jews counted seven
weeks, seven Sabbaths plus one day, fifty days. That’s why they call it, in the
Greek, Pentecost, penta, 50. Okay, Pentecost. And they gave thanks for the much
greater harvest that occurred at that time of the year, which would be late
summer. Now, if you notice at the bottom, the graphic at the bottom, the same
time line, but with Christian events. So on the Thursday you have the Last Supper
and a Garden of Gethsemane. On the Friday, the crucifixion and burial, Saturday the
Sabbath, Sunday the resurrection, then 40 days, Jesus appears before His
ascension, 10 more days when He says to the Apostles to wait for him in Jerusalem,
ten more days go by and then on the Sunday, Pentecost, the Feast of Weeks, Pentecost, the Holy Spirit descends upon the Apostles and
they begin to preach the gospel. So it’s against this backdrop of
Jewish yearly celebration in Jerusalem. Luke, as always, always trying to
pinpoint, right? Remember I said he’s very interested in history. So he’s trying to
pinpoint the time of year, and the place, and the festival during which
time these things are taking place. And so the writer of Acts begins to
instruct his audience of one concerning the establishment, growth,
and spread of the Christian church throughout the Roman Empire. So let’s
take a look at an outline of the book. It’s very easy to outline the book of Acts,
really, two main sections. One section is the ministry of Peter, the next section is
the ministry of Paul. So you have the ministry of Peter beginning in Acts one, all
the way to Acts 10: his first sermon, his post-Pentecost ministry, persecution of
Peter and the Apostles, persecution of the church one and two, and then Peter preaches
to the Gentiles. Then the second section, as I say, the ministry of Paul, chapters
13 to the end: Paul’s first missionary journey, his second missionary journey,
and third missionary journey, and then his one, two, three arrests, and then his
final journey to Rome. As I say, the book is easy to outline because it contains
the descriptions of these two Apostles’ ministries in narrative form. This is why
it is called the Acts of the Apostles and not the thoughts of the Apostles or
the theology of the Apostles. Luke is interested in recording what the
Apostles actually did in the establishment of the church. Now
there’s teaching by Peter of course and there’s teaching by Paul and others,
Stephen, for example, in the book of Acts but these sections are subordinate and
they’re in service to the actions of the Apostles and other early church
characters as they spread the gospel and planted the church against great odds in
the pagan world of the first century. Luke begins with Peter as he is the
first to preach the gospel in the power of the Holy Spirit. He’s
proclaiming the resurrection of Jesus to the Jews and converts to
Judaism who have gathered in Jerusalem, and then later on, the first one to break
down the walls between Jew and Gentile by bringing the gospel to non-Jews. So
the story that Luke tells moves on seamlessly to describe the dynamic
conversion of the most unlikely Apostle, Saul of Tarsus, who is a
Jewish Pharisee bent on destroying this wayward sect of Judaism
that worshipped Jesus as the divine Messiah. Because at the beginning,
Christianity was simply seen as a sect, a branch of Judaism. And as far
as Saul of Tarsus was concerned, it was a branch, it was a sect
that needed to be wiped out, because it was dangerous, it was blasphemous, it was
against the scriptures. So Luke uses up the rest of his book detailing the
incredible ministry of Saul, who then becomes Paul the Apostle, as he takes the
gospel beyond Judea and Samaria to every corner of the Roman Empire and beyond. So
let’s begin with Peter at the very beginning, Acts chapter one. Look at his
sermon. So Luke begins, he says, “The first account I composed, Theophilus,”
And we’ll just stop there. Interesting, right away, to note something.
Note in verse one, where Luke refers to his reader by his name, Theophilus, and not
his title, Most Excellent Theophilus, as he had done in the book of Luke. This suggests that this man had been
converted since the writing of Luke’s first letter. It would have been
highly improper to do so in that society. Now in that society just to call a
high official by his first name would have been improper. So in the same way, it
would have been unusual for Luke to use a title when addressing a brother in
Christ, because these things were set aside when Christians were talking to
one another. And so, for this reason we think that Theophilus had been converted. In between the two letters there, he became a Christian. So let’s
keep reading, it says, “about all that Jesus began to do and teach until the day
when He was taken up to heaven, after He had by the Holy Spirit given orders to
the Apostles whom He had chosen. To these He also presented
Himself alive after His suffering, by many convincing proofs appearing to them
over a period of 40 days and speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God.
Gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait
for what the Father had promised, ‘Which,’ He said, “you heard from Me; for John
baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy
Spirit not many days from now.” So here Luke summarizes Jesus’s life and
ministry with just a few words and he focuses on events that took place
between His resurrection and His ascension. And he mentions things like His
dynamic appearances during a 40 day period, His teachings concerning the
kingdom, His instructions to the Apostles to remain in Jerusalem and not to return
home to Galilee as they had done after His crucifixion. And He promises that
they would be baptized with the Holy Spirit in the near future. Now, they’re
neat there, there’s often confusion about the nature of what Jesus is referring to
here. So let us briefly review the topic of the baptism of the Holy
Spirit. Let’s begin by establishing and reviewing some terms that will help us
understand this idea of baptism with the Holy Spirit. First term I want to mention
is the term empower, empower. This is where the Holy Spirit enables or
empowers someone to perform something, to do something. For example, to perform
great and complex tasks. We read in Exodus 31, verses one to five, we read the
following, “Now the Lord spoke to Moses saying, ‘See, I have called by name Bezalel,
the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah. I have filled him with
the Spirit of God in wisdom, in understanding, in knowledge, and in all
kinds of craftsmanship, to make artistic designs for work in gold, in silver, and
in bronze, and in the cutting of stones for settings, and in the carving of
wood, that he may work in all kinds of craftsmanship.” So here the Holy Spirit is
enabling someone to perform great and complex tasks. So in this case it would be
craftsmanship necessary to build the tabernacle in the desert. Or, the Holy
Spirit can empower someone to perform miracles like Moses, for example. Or the
Holy Spirit empowers someone to see visions or to speak from God. Another
example of this, Second Chronicles, “Now the Spirit of God came on Azariah,”
there’s the Spirit of God coming on Azariah the son of Obed, “and he went out to
meet Asa and said to him, ‘Listen to me Asa and all Judah and Benjamin: the Lord is
with you when you are with Him. And if you seek Him, He will let you find Him;
but if you forsake Him, He will forsake you.” So in this case the Spirit of the
Lord came on Azariah and what did he do? He prophesied, he spoke in the name of
the Lord. Another example in Isaiah, “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me
because the Lord has anointed me to bring the good news to the afflicted.” So
you have another prophet saying the Spirit of God is on him. And what does the
Spirit empower him to do? It empowers him to bring the news. In other words, to
speak on behalf of God. Or the Holy Spirit empowers someone for leadership.
Again, in the Old Testament, First Samuel 16, “Then Samuel took the horn of oil and
anointed him,” this is David, “in the midst of his brothers and the Spirit of the
Lord came mightily upon David from that day forward and Samuel arose and went to
Ramah.” So in this case the Spirit is empowering David to be a leader, to be
king and all the skills and knowledge that he would need in order to carry out
that task. So the Bible refers to this empowering work of the Holy Spirit in
different ways. For example, it’ll say, “Filled him with the Spirit” as we read in
Exodus 31:5. Well, what did that mean, “Filled him with the Spirit”? Well, it meant
empowered this man to do certain work, certain crafting work as
a craftsman. For Moses the Bible says, “You’ll perform all the
miracles I have given you the power to do.” Well, there is empowering. Empowering for whom? For Moses. To do what? To do miracles. In
other places in the Old Testament, “The Spirit of God came upon”. That’s one way
of saying that the Spirit of God empowered Azariah. “The Spirit of the Lord
came upon David.” Again, another way of saying that the Spirit of God
empowered David to do certain things. So this empowering was given to only
certain ones for a time, to enable them to carry out a task or
a mission from God. Sampson, for example, was empowered by God
with what? With great strength. But he lost that didn’t he? Because of sin. And
David, even David asks God not to remove the Spirit from him in Psalm 51:11. So
the Spirit empowered some people to do certain tasks in the Old Testament, but it
was temporary. In other words, it was only certain people and it was only for a
certain amount of time. Okay, now the great promise of the Old Testament was
that when the Messiah would come, He would usher in a time when all of God’s
people would have a portion of the Holy Spirit, not only a few like the prophets
and the judges and the kings. This is where Joel’s prophecy comes in. Joel
writes, “It will come about after this, that I will pour out My spirit on
all mankind and your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream
dreams, your young men will see visions, even on the male and female servants I
will pour out My Spirit in those days.” And so here Joel is talking about
the time in the future when the Messiah would come and some of the things
that would accompany the coming of the Messiah. And so the promise
of the Spirit was going to be different somehow. Everyone would have it, not just a
few. Both men and women as well as old and young would know and speak God’s
Word and see the vision of heaven described there, not just the prophets.
The Spirit would always be with you. He even says slaves and
servants, they would have, from the lowest to the highest, men, women,
everyone would have the Spirit. So this measure of the Spirit that he’s talking
about would not be empowerment, it would be called indwelling, okay? So you have two. You have empowerment, the ability to do certain things; and you have indwelling.
For indwelling, the Holy Spirit is living within the believer, not
simply enabling him to do or see or say something in service to God, but existing
within a person in order to transform that individual into the image of Christ.
So empowering enabled certain people to do great things, and the Old Testament is
filled with stories of what these people did in service to God. Moses and Joshua
and David and the prophets, as well as a few Apostles and individuals in the
early church for a short time, all were empowered with the ability to do certain
things by God. Indwelling, on the other hand, enabled people to become
Christ-like, to become living sacrifices, to become eternal beings. Paul describes
in detail what the indwelling Spirit does for the Christian. And if you
want to read that, read Romans chapter eight and you’ll see all the
things that the indwelling Spirit does for the Christian. Now, the term indwelling is
also referred to in different ways or actually, the gift of
indwelling is also referred to in different ways. For example, receive the
Holy Spirit, there’s a term that is referring to the indwelling of the Holy
Spirit. For example, in John chapter 20, verse 22. Jesus is giving the indwelling
of the Holy Spirit to His Apostles. It says, “And when He,” that means Jesus, “and
when He had said this, He breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy
Spirit.” So what did they get there? Empowering? Well, it couldn’t be
empowering because they could not yet speak in tongues. This ability only came
on Pentecost Sunday. No, what they received here was the indwelling. In
verse – another passage of scripture, another term rather is, receive the
gift of the Holy Spirit. Again, it’s a different term, but it’s referring to the
same thing. This time referring to the indwelling. In Acts chapter two, verse 38,
which we’ll read a little later on, but I want to refer to it now. “Peter said to
them, ‘Repent, let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the
forgiveness of your sins and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” So
what did they get here, these people? What did they get? It can’t be empowering,
because none of the 3,000 people who were baptized on that day
exhibited any miraculous powers. So the confusion between the two occurs because
at times the Bible uses the same term when referring to both empowering or
indwelling and only the context in which the term is used dictates the meaning. And
so, that term, baptized with the Holy Spirit, this brings us back to
Acts chapter one, verse five. Remember we just read that a little while ago. Jesus is
talking to His Apostles. He says, “For John baptized with water, but you
will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” Okay, the question
is, which baptism is that? Now, when John the Baptist used the term prophesying
what Jesus as the Messiah would bring, it meant indwelling. He would give the
spirit to all who would believe in Him. And we read that in Acts 2:38.
Remember, if you repent and you’re baptized in the name of Jesus for the
forgiveness of your sins, you’ll receive what? The gift of the Holy Spirit. That’s
what John promised. John said, “When He comes, He’ll baptize you with the
spirit.” When Jesus comes what will He give you? He’ll give
you the indwelling, but in Acts chapter one, verse five, Jesus
uses the same term, but He uses it in reference to what would happen to
the Apostles. He’s referring to the empowerment to preach, to speak in
tongues, to do great miracles, to raise the dead, to plant and grow the church
against great persecution. It doesn’t mean indwelling, because He’s already
given them this in John chapter 20, verse 22. I know this seems a little
confusing here, but try to keep these two definitions in mind as we go on, because
it will help us understand passages in Acts that deal with the Holy Spirit. We
just need to remember indwelling, empowering. Indwelling is the ability, the Spirit dwelling in us, giving us the ability to become
Christ-like, to raise us from the dead. Empowerment is the ability to do
miracles or to do works or certain types of service in the name of the Lord.
And the Bible, Luke uses the same term to refer to both of
these. So you have to kind of look at the context to figure out which one he’s
referring to. All right, let’s keep that in mind. Let’s keep going
forward, back to Acts chapter one. This time beginning in verse six. It says, “So when
they had come together they were asking Him, saying, ‘Lord, is it at this time You
are restoring the kingdom to Israel?’ He said to them, “It is not for you to know
times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority, but you will
receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you.” See, he’s talking about the
Holy Spirit coming upon them and He says, “And you shall be my witnesses, both in
Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and even to the remotest parts of the
earth.” So here their question about the restoration of the kingdom shows
that they’re still under the false notion of some kind of glorious
restoration of the Jewish state and their place in it. Jesus doesn’t even
bother to point out their error. Instead He does two other things. Number
one, He states that the knowledge of when the end of the Jewish Kingdom and
the end of the world, for that matter, is beyond man’s grasp. Only God knows
when these things are going to happen, so stop speculating. It’s as if He says, yeah, I
hear you, but let’s not even, I don’t even want to talk about that. The Father knows when these things are going to take place, you don’t need
to worry yourself about that. And then two, He outlines and reviews their
mission. First he says they will receive what? When the Spirit comes
upon them, what will they be getting, indwelling or empowering? Well, empowering.
They will receive empowering when the Spirit comes upon them. And this
empowering will enable them to be witnesses to what they have seen, to the
world, beginning in Jerusalem. So Luke repeats the description of Jesus’s
ascension, this time adding the information about the angels who
prophesied concerning His return. All right, we move on to verses 12 to 26, not going to
read that. Luke provides an intimate look at the activity that took place
among the Apostles and disciples between the time of Jesus’s ascension and the
descent of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost Sunday. A couple of things that take
place. Number one, it says the Apostles, the eleven of them, gathered
with the women who had supported and followed Jesus: Mary, His
mother, along with his brothers, to begin devoting themselves to prayer and
waiting. Secondly, Peter takes the lead by putting into context the actions and the
death of Judas, right? I mean, there could have been a doubt here, a point of
discouragement. The Apostles could have been saying to themselves, well,
what happened to Judas? Did we fail him? Did Jesus fail him? And Peter reassures
them. No, this was according to scripture. What he did and how he
ended, served God’s purpose and these things were spoken of by the prophets. It
was not a failure on their part or on Jesus’s mission, this was something that God had said would take place, and it did. And then, thirdly,
through prayer they put forward two qualified men who had been faithful
disciples from Jesus’s baptism to the ascension, in order to replace Judas. And in
the end Matthias is chosen to be one of the twelve. And so, that brings us to
the day of Pentecost beginning in Acts chapter two. So let’s read Acts chapter
two, the first couple of verses all the way to verse eight. It says, “When the day of
Pentecost had come they were all together in one place and suddenly
there came from heaven and noise like a violent rushing wind and it filled the
whole house where they were sitting and there appeared to them tongues as a fire
distributing themselves and they rested on each one of them and they were filled
with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues.” I want to stop
there. Filled with the Holy Spirit. Speaking with other tongues. There’s
the empowerment and there’s the witness of the empowerment. Okay, so “they
began to speak with other tongues as the Spirit was giving them utterance. Now
there were Jews living in Jerusalem devout men from every nation under
heaven and when this sound occurred the crowd came together and were bewildered
because each one of them was hearing them speak in his own
language. “They were amazed and astonished, saying, ‘Why, are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we each hear them in
our own language to which we were born?” So they were filled with the Holy Spirit,
meaning that they received empowerment and the visible signs of this were the
tongues of fire appearing over their heads and the sudden empowerment to
speak languages that were previously unknown to them. I mean, they were from
Galilee and they spoke Aramaic in their daily lives, Hebrew in
their religious practices, but did not know any other
languages. So Pentecost, it was an important feast for all Jews. And
proselytes to Judaism from all over the world would come to Jerusalem for this
event. So Luke records over a dozen language groups gathered and each heard
the Apostles speaking in their own native language. Now I mention this
because there is the effort by charismatic groups to claim that they
have reproduced this miracle in the modern age. However, the sounds that they
make, which they claim are tongues, are unintelligible and make no sense. And
their response to this is that, well, only God actually understands them or they’re
speaking in the tongues of angels. But in my experience in reading through the
Bible, every time angels are speaking to men, they use human languages that
men understand. This, of course, is contrary, this claim of
having reproduced this miracle in the modern era, this is contrary to the
grammar and to the context of the passage. For example, the grammar when
they say, they began speaking in other tongues, the Greek word there is glossa,
the tongue, by extension a language a human languages. The specific word for
human language, they began speaking in other human languages. So grammatically, the claim that they have reproduced what was at Pentecost, is incorrect, because the Bible says what the Apostles
were doing were actually speaking in human languages that they had not
themselves learned. And the context also. In verse eight, the crowd says that they
heard the Apostles speak in their own language, and Luke names, as I mentioned
before, over a dozen languages that were used. And so the Apostles receive
empowerment and that power is seen – tongues of fire, and heard – Jewish men
miraculously preaching in languages that they did not know. And this phenomenon
done in fulfillment of a prophecy concerning the time when the Messiah
would come. In First Corinthians 14 Paul quotes this, it says, “In the laws written
by men of strange tongues and by the lips of strangers I will speak to this
people and even so they will not listen to me, says the Lord.” So, Old
Testament prophecy pointed to this phenomenon taking place. So
Peter’s sermon begins here in Acts 2:13. People are noticing what’s going on and
Luke writes, “But others were mocking and “saying, ‘They’re full of sweet wine.” So
Luke sets the stage for Peter’s first sermon by recounting some people’s
reaction to the miracle they had just witnessed. Oh, the Apostles are drunk. So Peter draws the crowd’s attention by
answering this charge with his powerful Pentecost sermon. And this sermon can be
broken down into three sections, it’s rather long. So we’ll just read parts of
it, but three sections. Alright, first section is the witness of the Holy
Spirit, the witness of the Holy Spirit. Peter begins his sermon by crediting the
Spirit of God for the miracle of tongues that they have just witnessed and
explaining that this is the phenomenon that would accompany the
coming of the Messiah according to the profits, and he quotes the prophet Joel, chapter two, to make his point. And we read, right? We read that
prophecy a little while back about everyone would have the spirit, everyone would display the spirit. The spirit would be given to
everyone. He’s saying, what’s taking place now is the fulfillment of that
prophecy in the book of Joel. Next, the witness of the gospel itself. And here I
want to read just a small portion of this, he says, “Men of Israel, listen to
these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and
wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you
yourselves know, this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and
foreknowledge of God you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and
put Him to death, but God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of
death since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power.” So Peter proclaims
the simple facts of the Gospel message: Jesus, proven to be God’s anointed one,
meaning Messiah, through miracles and wonders and signs. Jesus, crucified
unjustly by sinful men, all done according to God’s knowledge and plan.
Jesus resurrected by God according to prophecy about Him, and here Peter quotes
David, Psalm 16, verses eight to 11 to make his point that all of this was
according to God’s will and foretold by the prophets. Remember, it’s Jews
that are listening to this sermon. And to appeal to Jews you have to
appeal to scripture. Okay, so that’s what Peter is doing. He’s saying, everything
that has taken place in Jesus’s ministry – His life, His death, even His resurrection,
all of it according to what the prophets, according to what the Word of God
said about this particular matter. So let’s read a little further down on
his lesson, the climax of his lesson, he says, “Brethren, I may confidently say
to you regarding the patriarch David, that he both died and was buried
and his tomb is with us to this day. And so because he was a prophet and knew
that God had sworn to him with an oath to see one of his descendants on his
throne, he looked ahead and spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that he was
neither abandoned to Hades nor did His flesh suffer decay, this Jesus God
raised up again to which we are all witnesses. Therefore, having been exalted
to the right hand of God and having received from the father the promise of
the Holy Spirit he has poured forth this which you both see and hear. For it was
not David who was ascended into heaven, but he himself says: ‘The Lord said to my
Lord, ‘Sit at My right hand until I make Your enemies a footstool for your feet.’
Therefore, let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him
both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.” So Peter
fortifies his gospel message with a deeper explanation
concerning the resurrection, for this was a new element. I mean, they understood
the idea of substitutionary death as atonement for sin. I mean, they
killed a million-plus animals throughout their history in sacrifice to bring
home the lesson that sin causes death, and a death is required to atone
for sin. So they understood that idea: somebody had to die for sin. However, the
idea, not to mention, the possibility of resurrection, this was something new.
After all, none of the animals that they had sacrificed over the centuries ever
came back to life. So Peter explains in mentioning David here, Peter explains
that David prophesied about this very event – the resurrection. And he corrects
their understanding of these passages where the Jews thought that David was
referring to himself, but in reality he was referring to Jesus. So in
Psalm 6: 8-11, where David speaks to the promise of His resurrection, Peter
says, this actually points to Christ who will make David’s resurrection possible
with His own. David has written, you will not allow my body to, my flesh to decay. You won’t permit me to
remain in the grave. So everybody was thinking, Oh, David’s going to resurrect. Well,
no. Peter corrects that idea, he says, the reason that David had hope that
his body would not decay in the grave was that Jesus would resurrect and
make possible David’s resurrection. That’s how he connects those two ideas.
And then in Psalm 110:11, which Jews saw as a promise God made to David
concerning his reign and power over his enemies, “The
Lord said to my Lord, ‘Sit at my right hand.” Jesus Himself
corrected them of this idea when he asked the Pharisees a
question about this passage that they couldn’t answer. If David calls
Him Lord, How is he His son? Matthew 22:45, Peter provides the answer in the passage,
he provides the answer, he says, in this passage the father is talking to the son,
not David. He’s talking to the Son, Jesus. And so God said to Jesus, ‘Sit at my right
hand.” Which represents power, “and I will make your enemies your footstool. You
will win over the devil and death and unbelieving Jews through your
resurrection.” So he summarizes his argument with a damning conclusion. He says, this Jesus, anointed by God, spoken of by the prophets, witnessed by miracles,
seen resurrected by us, ascended to heaven, and who has now sent the Holy
Spirit to do what you have heard and seen in us today, this person has been
declared Lord and Christ by God. Oh, and by the way, you killed Him. You’re
responsible for His death. And so, let’s keep reading what happens, “Now
when they heard this they were pierced through the heart and said to Peter and
the rest of the Apostles, ‘Brethren, what shall we do?’ Peter said to them, “Repent and
each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of
your sins and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” What are they going to
be getting here? Well, we’ll see in a minute. Okay, it says, “For this promise is
for you and your children and for all who are far off as many as the Lord our
God will call to Himself. And with many other words he solemnly testified and
kept on exhorting them saying, ‘Be saved from this perverse generation.’ So then
those who had received this word were baptized and on that day there were
added about three thousand souls. So those who accept or believe the witness
of the Spirit and the message of the gospel they respond. And Peter, according
to the instructions given him and the other Apostles, what instructions? Well,
back in Matthew 28 Jesus came up and said, “All authority has been given to
Me in heaven on earth. Go therefore, make disciples of all nations,” to do what?
“baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit.” And in Mark 16
he said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation, he
who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved, but he who has
disbelieved shall be condemned.” So Peter, according to the instructions
given to him and the other Apostles by Jesus, which we read Matthew 28, March 16,
they tell the crowd how they are to obey the gospel. They express their faith
in Jesus as Lord and Christ by repenting of their sins
and being baptized. The word baptize means to immerse, being immersed in water.
Someone says, well where is the water? They’re not near the Jordan
river. Well, there was the pool of siloam nearby, in the temple
complex. As well as a large water basin near the pilgrim gate. When I
say a basin, I don’t mean a basin you can carry. Like a pool, if you wish, where the
pilgrims would clean themselves and purify themselves before they would
enter the holy city of Jerusalem. So plenty of water around. Peter teaches that
at their baptism these people would receive both the forgiveness of their
sins and remember, the gift of the Holy Spirit. What are they
getting? Indwelling or empowerment, which one? Well they’re
getting indwelling. How do we know? Because none of the three thousands
displayed any miraculous gifts and there are always miraculous gifts that
accompany the individual who is empowered by God. And you’ll see, as we
work our way through Acts, others receive the spirit and we see cases of
empowerment, if you wish. So it’s good that we know the difference between
what’s going on – empowerment or indwelling. So 3,000 are baptized by the
twelve on that day. And since that day we continue to preach the same gospel with
the same instructions to those who believe. Those who believe and
repent are immersed in Jesus’s name for the forgiveness of sins. And what do they
receive today? They receive the indwelling of the Holy Spirit at that
moment. So I said, three sections in Peter’s sermon: witness of the Holy Spirit,
witness of the gospel, then finally, witness of the church. So let’s keep
reading. “They were continually,” they, meaning the people who had just been
baptized. “They were continually devoting themselves to the Apostles’ teaching and
to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone kept feeling a
sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the Apostles.”
Notice here it didn’t say, many signs and wonders were taking place at the
hands of the 3,000 that were baptized. No. No, it was taking place at the hands of
the Apostles. Why? They received the empowerment, not the other 3,000. Let’s
keep reading, “and all those who had believed were together and had all
things in common and they began selling their possessions and
were sharing them with all, as anyone would have need. Day by day
continuing with one mind in the temple and breaking bread from house to house,
they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart,
praising God and having favor with all the people.” So Luke summarizes the early
activity, the organization, and the enthusiasm of the first Christian church
located in Jerusalem. Note carefully, the outline of an inspired biblical
pattern laid out for church ministry, organization, and growth in these few
lines of scripture. Now if you look carefully, you will note five different
ministry areas begin and develop as well as the relationship between ministry and
church growth just in this passage. And very quickly I will show them to you,
five biblical ministries. We begin with evangelism. They were preaching the
gospel to the lost and they were baptizing the repentant believers, that’s
the essence of the evangelism ministry. Next, the education ministry. It says, they
were continually devoting themselves to the Apostles’ teaching. And what did Jesus
say to the Apostles? “Teach them to obey all things that I have commanded you.”
Okay, so that’s the ministry of teaching, teaching God’s Word. Number
three, fellowship. “And they were continually devoting themselves to the
Apostles’ teaching,” comma,” fellowship.” Fellowship. They were integrating
these new Christians into the body of Christ, that’s fellowship.
Number four, worship. They were continually devoting
themselves to the Apostles’ teaching, to fellowship, to the
breaking of bread, and prayer. That’s worship. They were organizing the
church for Christian worship, taking the Lord’s Supper. And number five, service.
The church began to pool its resources in order to care for the needs of the brethren and the needs of the community.
And there you have it. Those are the five biblical ministries.
Anything you do in church work fits within one of these ministry areas. Now
Luke doesn’t provide details on how all of this was done, only a brief overall
sketch of the early church’s five areas of ministry. In the final verse of this
section the inspired writer reveals the biblical approach to church growth. Look at
this, it says, “And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who
were being saved.” So when you take the entire section together you see that
when the church is active in preaching to the lost, teaching the saved,
practicing fellowship and worship and service, while the church is doing these
things, Jesus adds to His body, the church. In other words, when the church ministers,
the Lord adds to its numbers. All right, a couple of lessons that come from this introductory material here. A couple of lessons that we
can draw. First lesson, I would suggest that we pray while we wait.
The Apostles remained in prayer while they waited for the Spirit and this
kept them focused and ready for the time that they would be empowered.
Waiting on the Lord is not a passive thing. We need to be doing positive,
productive-type of waiting. And this kind of waiting needs to be accompanied by
prayer and worship and service, to keep us focused, to keep us from foolish
complaining or giving up prematurely. Lesson number two, some people just don’t
get it and some people just don’t want to get it. I mean, 3,000 were baptized on
Pentecost Sunday, but there were more than 3,000 people who were actually
there. And so, in the face of disbelief and rejection from people who understand
the gospel but who just don’t care, do what Peter did. It says here,
he kept on exhorting them, verse forty. So keep proclaiming the message,
keep telling the message, somebody will eventually respond. And then, lesson
number three, focus on ministry, not growth. Our task is to minister in the
five areas of ministry and learn how to do these more effectively and how to
keep these ministries operating simultaneously. Jesus is the one who
will add to the church. Now, if you’re interested in church growth development,
understand that more effective ministry equals more growth. The more effective
that we minister, the more growth that we will experience. I do have another series
and a book on this topic of growth called, Unlimited Growth, and if you’re
interested, you can just go to the BibleTalk.TV website and just type in
Unlimited Growth, and you’ll get all the information that you need on that
particular topic. Okay, so that’s our first lesson, quite
a bit of material to cover. Well, Acts is a lot of material to cover.
So we need to compress a lot of it. The next reading assignment is Acts
chapter 3:1 to Acts 4:37. I encourage you to read ahead, that way our lessons will
make a lot more sense to you because you’ll have read the material and know
what we’re talking about, even if I don’t read the passages during the lesson time.
Alright, thank you very much, we’ll see you next time.

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