|Posted on May 25, 2018 at 8:55 AM|
Image from Freely Photos.
Read: Acts 2:1-41
Focus Verse: Acts 1:8 “ you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
In my previous church, a 5,000 member congregation of a 5-church campus, tech is utilized from the lights and music to streaming the service online live, later to be archived during the week for those who couldn’t come to church or to be shared with friends who don't attend church. You will often see teens and adults alike in the auditorium snapping photos and live videos of the praise and worship team or the pastor for SnapChat, Twitter, Facebook, and other social media outlets. What are they doing? They are sharing the message of the music, sermon, and Bible study to share with the world. Usually teens and young adults get accused of surfing the ‘net or doing social media to chat with friends during Worship or Bible Study. Some might, but many do not. Those who share the message are advancing the Gospel in an manner that reaches others in their own generation.
What’s the Deal?
Do you realize that we have to ability today to share the Gospel literally around the world without leaving our seats? Not only that, but the people on the receiving end are reading and hearing the message in their own language -- except recordings, but they can even have Google translate it? This technology-driven age affords Christians an amazing opportunity to fulfill the Great Commission from the comfort of our church pews and sofas. What if we treat our smartphones and tablets as God's instead of ours? What would happen if we teach people in our churches how to get these messages from church out on the Worldwide Web? What if we put together missionary teams to share the Gospel in a targetted way on social media to reach people for Christ? What if we stop scowling at the people who use their tech and start reaching out into the world to people we don't know? I think we would see an amazing revival.
The disciples stared into the sky watching Jesus ascend into heaven after His death. He had appeared to them before He left. One thing He told them before He died was that the Holy Spirit, the Helper, would guide them in all Truth (John 16:13) He also told them before He left them that they would receive power from the Holy Spirit when He comes upon them (Acts 1:8). The Holy Spirit had not come to them yet. Unless Jesus left them, meaning that He would die then ascend into heaven, they would not receive the Holy Spirit, the Helper, the Advocate in some translations (John 16:7). In our passage of Acts 2, The Holy Spirit comes to these faithful men in a mighty way.
Before we go on, I would like to give you a picture of Jerusalem with the temple, houses, and market. The temple sat prominently in the center. Directly in front of the steps leading up were the pools for ceremonial cleansing near the steps , a street with houses were situated on the other side. To the left of the Temple were shops and market on the square. The square was surrounded by houses of prominent people. It is in this setting the Day of Pentacost (Festival of the Harvest) that the disciples spoke in the languages of the people from several different countries who came to celebrate Pentacost. It was a crowded, busy, noisy place.
The passage states that the disciples spent their time around the temple. Scholars aren’t sure if the speaking in different languages was a one-time or a continuing event during the celebration. It does say in verses 1 and 2 they were in one place and in a house where they were sitting. We don’t know what house they were in, it could have been the Upper Room where they were with Jesus for the last supper. If that were so, they would have to leave it to go to the Temple courts. Considering the layout of the area around the Temple, if they were in a large house nearby, the wind and fire would be quite noticeable, but loudly speaking in different languages could easily catch attention. Also, it could be that they came out of the house and went into the Temple area to speak. No one is truly sure, but it is evident that Peter’s message was given in the hearing of a large crowd near or in the Temple. While all of them were speaking, people were bringing their grain offerings to the temple and ritual baptism were taking place in front of the Temple. It was a busy, noisy place with Jews coming from all over to observe the Festival of Weeks (Pentacost). The main aim of the disciples-turned-apostles was to share the truth about Jesus.
The wind is a symbol of God’s spirit, the Holy Spirit. Fire is a symbol of cleansing or judgment. The fact that that both came at the same time with tongues of fire resting above each disciple could signify each one’s words were cleansed and given by the Holy Spirit. The message they had to give was not by their own will, but by God’s.
In Peter’s message, He uses Joel 2:28-32 as the opening to faithful Jews who came to the Temple. Essentially, he told them this passage was being fulfilled. The transition verse 21, “And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” takes him into the presentation of the Gospel. He begins his message by coming from a Jewish perspective:
“Fellow Israelites, 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. This man was handed over to you by God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.” Acts 2:22-24.
These people knew of Jesus’ miracles and teachings, as well as His death. It was no accident, but part of God’s redemptive plan. He also used King David’s own words about the Messiah to come. The Jews knew the Torah well. These passages were Peter’s springboard. He tells them of Jesus’ resurrection and that what they were witnessing was from God. Keep in mind that Peter was a simple fisherman, not an educated scholar of that time. In other words, God was giving each of them, including Peter, the message He wanted shared with the enormous crowd. Effectively, when Peter gave the invitation for them to believe, 3,000 people were saved that day! People literally from all over the known world, as told by Jesus before He ascended into heaven (Acts 1:8 ). These men could never have orchestrated this event nor the message on their own.
Of course, there were naysayers who made fun of them claiming they were drunk. There always will be people like them.
The disciples became apostles that day. They were no longer students, but teachers of the Gospel. They were together in one place, one accord. One pastor I heard who preached on this passage a while ago, made the comment that as God scattered people by confusing their language at the Tower of Babel (Genesis 112:1-9), in Acts 2, He brought all believers together by hearing the Gospel spoken in his own language through the Peter and the rest of the disciples. No interpreter was present, but each person understood what was said in his own language. The Gospel was made plain for everyone present.
We live in an age when the Gospel can be shared all over the world. Other than learning a new language and travelling to one country, that means is technology. The internet brings people from almost every country and language together in “one place”. Some of us have found our ministry opportunities in this place. We can share a Bible passage, Bible study, blog post, and what our churches offer at the time we hear and see it. I believe we are in an age of amazing opportunity, if we do it for the glory of God and furtherance of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Certainly you can carry your Bible into church as you may be used to doing. But consider using your smart phone or tablet to help your pastor or Bible study leader get the message out to an even bigger audience. Use your social media account for God’s greater purposes while we still can, because someday that opportunity will be gone. Let the Holy Spirit take that message to people whose hearts are ready to hear and accept. Someone may make a decision to follow Christ because of you.
Points for thought: What if someone from another country that is closed to Christian faith thanked you for your tweet or post because they were able to learn from the Bible teaching you shared? What if your pastor ministered to the needs of someone in domestic violence whose only source of hope was that message on the internet? What if a teen contemplating suicide changed his or her mind because of a Bible passage your teen shared?
May God bless you!
NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible. Copyright © 2016 by Zondervan.
NKJV Study Bible. Copyright ©1997, 2007 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.
Zondervan Bible Commentary (One Volume). New International Bible Commentary. The International Bible Commentary. Maps by International Mapping.
The Enrichment Journal