Acts // Part 8 - Peter's Sermon At Pentecost

April 22, 2012 Speaker: Phil Baker Series: Acts

Topic: Book Exposition Passage: Acts 2:14–2:21

What is the main purpose of God’s church according to the Bible? Some say that it is to gather to worship God. Some say that it is to be an organization for human justice and charity in society. Some say that it is to rehabilitate the culture through educational programs and job training. Some say that it is to be Jesus in world until He comes back.

None of these things are the main purpose of God’s church according to the Bible. The main purpose of the church is to make disciples of all nations teaching them to obey all that Christ commanded (Matthew 28:18-20).

What are the characteristics of a disciple? A disciple is one who has been baptized or immersed into the life and body of the church and catechized in the commands of Christ and taught how to observe them. By what means or method does God use to make and mature disciples of Jesus Christ according to the Bible? God does it through the preaching of His holy word.

MacArthur

“Preaching has rightly held that central place in the life of the true church throughout the ages. The Reformation, which recovered the faith, was initiated and spread largely through the revival of preaching by great men like Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, and Knox. At the very core of the great strength of seventeenth-century Puritanism was it emphasis on sound biblical preaching. The Great Awakening of the eighteenth century was led through preaching by men such as George Whitefield, John Wesley, and Jonathon Edwards. The nineteenth century saw great evangelists, such as DL Moody, and great preachers, such as Charles Spurgeon, Joseph Parker, and Alexander Maclaren.

A godly man, gifted by the Spirit to preach the word, has no equal in the presentation of God’s truth. It is the God-ordained method for evangelism and edification. The weakness of the contemporary church is largely due to the decline in powerful biblical preaching.”

In light of what I’ve said and read, we have been given the special privilege and honor to be able to examine the very first Christian sermon in Acts 2:14-41. I’ve divided it up into several parts so that we can examine it carefully.

My hope and prayer for us through this is that we would not only see just how powerful God’s word is when its preached but that we would also develop deep convictions and an unwavering attitude to keep His word (His gospel) at the center of our church, ministry, evangelism, and lives. We live in era where this is desperately needed. Much of the church has sold out for lesser things. Instead of providing good gospel-centered expositional teaching week in and week out it gives 6 point sermons on marriage improvement. Instead of hour long sermons it entertains congregants with videos, hip-hop dance routines, live artist renderings, pink Floyd laser lighting, and fluffy sing-alongs led by skinny-jeaned rock-stars. The church must return to rock-solid gospel-centered expositional teaching if it is going to succeed in making disciples who glorify Christ through making more disciples. So much is at stake.

Read Acts 2:14-21

14 But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them: “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words. 15 For these people are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day.

16 But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel:

17 “‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; 18 even on my male servantsand female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy. 19 And I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke; 20 the sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day. 21 And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’

Pray

Examine

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Before launching into the main body of his sermon, Peter addresses what is immediately on the people’s minds---the phenomena of Pentecost. Last week I talked about how the outpouring of the Holy Spirit caught a lot of people’s attention and how many were marveling as well as scoffing. Peter begins by refuting the scoffers of the scurrilous charge of drunkenness in verses 14-15.

Verse

14 But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them: “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words. 15 For these people are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day.

Commentary

It says Peter “lifted up his voice and addressed them.” Peter had to speak up in order to be heard by all those present. Last week we learned that there were thousands upon thousands of people there for the Feast of Weeks which was a year-round celebration that required all devout Jews to be present. Look at how he addressed them. He said, “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem.” This covered everyone present including those that lived in immediate area as well as those from afar. He said, “Let this be known to you, and give ear to my words.”

Peter said this confidently with authority. This is a different Peter from before. Less than two months prior he had been stricken with fear when a young girl exposed his involvement with Jesus on the night of the trial. Peter denied the Lord 3 times and he cursed and swore that he had never knew Jesus. And now he’s filled with the Holy Spirit and he stood up in front of a great number of people and scoffers and he fearlessly said, “Listen up, I have something to say…” What a different Peter this is.

Peter then refutes them in verse 15. He said, “These people are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the 3rd hour of the day.” The 3rd hour of the day is 9am. This is a bit funny. It’s as if he said, “You think they’re drunk, it’s only 9 in the morning not even the drunkards are drunk at 9 in the morning!”

Look at verse 16 where he begins to give an explanation for what has happened.

Verse

16 But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel:

Commentary

Peter steers his audience towards Joel 2:28-32. This particular passage contains prophetic references for the Day of Pentecost as well as for the Day of the Lord which will occur at Christ’s return. I’ll work to draw the references out as we move through the text. Look at 17.

Verse

17 “‘And in the last days…

Commentary

This was a common OT expression. It denotes the time when the Messiah would come to set up His kingdom. Christians attribute this to the first and second coming of Christ. Jews attribute it to the one and only coming of the Messiah. In the Scriptures, however, we can clearly see that God’s Messiah would come twice. The first time he would come as a suffering servant to die for the sins of the world (Isaiah 53), and the second time as the victorious King to set up his earthly throne and kingdom (Isaiah 9:6). When Jesus came the first time, the period of the “last days” began. Hebrews 1:2 and other passages affirm this.

Hebrews 1:2

But in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son.

1 Peter 1:20

He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you.

The “last days” have now gone on for 2000 years. And during that time God has graciously called gentiles to salvation and chastened Israel for her unbelief. The complete fulfillment of Joel’s prophesy awaits the coming of the Millennial kingdom. On the day of Pentecost, and indeed throughout the church age, God has given both a preview and a sample of the power the Spirit will release in the kingdom. This is made perfectly clear in Acts 2:1-13 where 120 believers were miraculously gifted to preach the gospel and to tell of the mighty works of God in foreign languages to people from all over the world.

Look again at verse 17. It says that God will, “will pour out His Spirit on all flesh…” What does Joel mean by this? Some take it to mean that God will pour His Spirit on all living people regardless of their position in Christ. This is what men like Rob Bell and other Universalists teach. This isn’t true.

Most of what Joel declared in this prophetic text, with the exception of the miraculous gifts that were given in Acts 2:1-13 as well as what is offered in verse 21, is within the context of the future kingdom. Therefore “all flesh” is a reference to “all believers” or to “all the redeemed” or to “all the elect”, or to “all of God’s kingdom people”. The context does not allow for any other interpretation.

What will be the fruit of this special outpouring of God’s Spirit in the Millennial Kingdom? Look at the rest of 17 through the end of 18.

Verse

17And your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; 18 even on my male servantsand female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy.

Joel lists three fruitful things that will come through God’s people during that time.

1. Prophesy2. Visions3. Dreams

These three kingdom centered things are a mystery. The Scriptures don’t elaborate on them so we’re not sure what they will be. And to be honest with you, I’m glad. I view these things as a future gift from the Lord. Knowing what they will be now could take away the joyful expectation of what’s to come. When I was a young boy, I used to get so excited when Christmas came around. I would pace back and forth in front of the tree and I’d shake the presents. When I got a little older, the anticipation became unbearable and my cousin and I would sneak our gifts to his room in the middle of the night and we’d open them with a razor blade. Once we opened them to see what was inside we’d carefully tape them back up and wait till morning. When the sun rose, we’d slowly make our way to the tree and begin to unwrap our stuff. There was no excitement or anticipation because we already knew what to expect.

I suspect that if we understood the mysterious things of God, like the ones in verses 17-18, we would lose much joy, anticipation, and hope just as my cousin and I did every Christmas for about 10 years. Let me further tantalize you with an incredible verse.

1 Corinthians 2:9

“No eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”.

Peter continues to quote Joel in verses 19-20. Look at them.

Verse

19 And I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke; 20 the sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day.

Commentary

Joel lists 7 miraculous signs that are associated with the second coming of Christ.

Wonders in the heavens above is linked to Jesus’ return in Revelation 1:7.Signs on earth below is linked to Matthew 24:31 and Revelation chapters 6, 7, 8, 9, 11, 12, 16, 18, 21, & 22. Blood is associated with Revelation 6:8, 8:7-8, 9:15, 14:20, & 16:3.Fire is associated with Revelation 8:7, 8:8, & 8:10. Vapor of smoke is associated with Revelation 9:2-3, & Revelation chapters 17-18A darkened sun and a moon of blood are both associated with Matthew 29-30.

All of these things are associated with Christ’s second coming as well as the judgment and devastation that God will bring upon the earth. Notice how Joel calls the day of the Lord, the great and magnificent day. What would possess him to call it that in light of all the devastation and destruction that is going to come?

This is like calling the day Hurricane Katrina hit, the great and magnificent day; or like calling the days the earthquakes turned Haiti and Japan into rubble, great and magnificent days; or like calling 911, the great and magnificent day. But it’s even worse because the Day of the Lord will be way more devastating than all the others combined times 10,000. How can Joel call it this? It’s simple.

The Day of the Lord is the day where the unjustly tried, condemned, and murdered Son of God, Jesus Christ, will be vindicated. It is the day where His enemies will be made his footstool. It is the day where every saint who has suffered at the hands of sinful men will be given justice. It is the day when every wrong done unto the Savior and His bride will be made right. It is the day where Christ will take for himself what is rightfully His on this earth; His throne, His kingdom, and His people. This will be a great and magnificent day for Christ and for his church but it will be a terrible day for billions that are not in Him.

But not all of the lost will be slaughtered and cast into hell. There is some hope.

Look at verse 21.

Verse

21 And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’

Commentary

Things will be so incredibly bad that many will cry out to God for mercy. They will call upon the name of the Lord to be saved. Verse 21 paints an amazing picture of the grace and mercy of God. During the time that He pours out His fierce wrath and judgment upon a world that is completely worthy of those things because of its sin and rejection, He will still extend His merciful arm out to rescue folks through the gospel.

Verse has a dual application. It is tied directly to the tribulation period that will begin at the Lord’s return and it extends to the time of Jesus’ first coming and maybe even beyond that. Peter goes on to explain this in detail in the rest of his sermon, we’ll look at that in the coming weeks. This is great news for us and for the rest of the world. We currently exist in an era grace. We dwell in an era where God rescues sinners from imminent doom and eternal destruction through the person and work of His Son, Jesus Christ. We do have to be careful not to misinterpret verse 21. Look at the word, “Lord”.

People must recognize, affirm, and submit to the Lordship of Jesus Christ in order to be saved. They have to call upon Him to be their Lord. The title “Lord” denotes the kingship and sovereign rule of Jesus over the hearts and lives of His special kingdom people. When a person receives Jesus as Lord they must humbly submit to His rule and governance over their lives. There are thousands upon thousands and maybe even millions of people in the world today who have called upon the name of Jesus and yet live in a fashion that is contrary to the Scriptures and His kingdom. They don’t live lives of submission to the King, they live for themselves. They claim to follow Jesus and at the same time indulge in all forms of immorality, debauchery, and wickedness without batting an eye. Is that what true salvation looks like? No.

Failing to recognize, affirm, and submit to the Lordship of Jesus is a fatal mistake. It is to fall short of biblical salvation. Even Jesus himself claimed the title of Lord. Before His ascension He announced His Lordship by telling the disciples “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” Only the Lord has the ability to exercise this level, the highest level, of authority over all creation and the Bible says that Jesus is He. Acts 2:36 confirms this.

Acts 2:36

36 Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.”

Let me ask you this: Have you made Jesus Christ the Lord of your life? Have you surrendered yourself to His kingship and care? Are you trusting in Jesus who exercises authority over the heavens and the earth for your present and future salvation? Are you an ambassador of kingdom? If you have yet to call upon the name of the Lord Jesus, might I suggest that you do that now? Why would you wait any longer? Your life is like a vapor, it can be gone in a flash, and then it will be too late. Call out to Jesus in your spirit and confess your sins to Him. Ask the Lord to cleanse you by the power of his blood. Ask Him to be your Lord and Savior. The Lord’s ear is ever open to all who cry out for mercy and grace and His arm is not too short to pull you out of darkness into His marvelous light. Acts 16:31 says:

Acts 16:3

“Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved.”