Friday 3 June 2022


 ACTS 2 v 1-21

We are looking at the 2nd Chapter top Acts this morning, one which should be read to every Christian by every Christian. It is a description of the successful first Church. This is one of two great Scriptures specially set out for Pentecost Sunday this week.   Let us go through the verses of this great Chapter.

The day of Pentecost was one of the greatest days in the history of the Church, for it was on that day the Church was born. All the believers were gathered in the one place. The Holy Spirit, the source of all guidance which moved the Apostles, came upon them as Jesus had prophesied in the signs of wind, tongues of fire, and the ability to speak other languages.

In addition, the city was filled with Jews from very nation, with those living in Jerusalem. There were three great festivals, which every Jew who lived within 20 miles of Jerusalem, was obliged to attend, and as the Feast of Weeks, this was both an historical occasion commemorating the giving of the Commandments to Moses, with the agricultural significance of the Passover, when two loaves were offered to God in gratitude for the completed gathering of the harvest.

When the various nations heard their language being spoken by people not from their country, they were startled and amazed. The more cynical mocked, and suggested the speakers were drunk, a typical reaction of those who will not accept what they cannot understand.
Peter then stepped forward and made that historic sermon, first pointing out the impossibility of drink as it was early in the morning, but telling it was the fulfilment of a prophecy of the Old Testament prophet Joel.

The prophecy was, that in last days, the days between the Ascension of Jesus and His returning to earth, the Holy Spirit would be poured out upon His people, old and young men and women; and all who call upon the name of Jesus will be saved. Being saved simply means you have been assured of your salvation when you leave this earth.

Peter then said what had happened was part of God’s plan and foreknowledge, and reminded them that they killed and crucified Jesus, and he testifies to the fact He had seen Jesus crucified and resurrected. He was an eye witness so was fully qualified to be believed.

Peter’s words pierced their hearts, they were convicted, and when they asked what they should do, he told them to repent, and be baptised in the name of Jesus for the forgiveness of your sins. This does not mean if you are baptised you earn salvation; there must be repentance of the past and have faith in Jesus Christ as Saviour.

Repentance is a word often misunderstood. Most people think it means just saying sorry for the past, but rather you are going to change your way of thinking and acting. You accept Jesus was not just a great teacher or social worker, but was the Son God and Saviour of mankind.

No Christian doctrine has been so abused than baptism. The Bible calls for a declaration of faith, commitment to the teachings of Jesus, and acceptance of Him as Saviour. It is was not meant to be the casual act as now, when anyone can ask for baptism, and be told just turn up at the Church at date and time. To baptise children of parents who have no Church affiliation is a mockery.

Peter said this promise was all, Jews and Gentiles, everyone the Lord calls. Such was the effect of Peter’s words, that 3,000 were added to the Church that day.

So let us look at the model of a Christian Church, as seen in Scripture in that first Christian Church, and perhaps find a reason for the falling off by so many people today. 

 First it was a Bible based Church.  They were devoted to the Apostles teaching, it captivated them.  It was about Jesus, who He was, what He came to do, about His second coming  to judge the world.  In other words, the whole Christian faith. 

They met and devoted themselves to the teaching of the Apostles, who had been taught by our Lord; they met in fellowship, and were filled will awe and inspiration, and such was rewarded by God who added to their numbers each day. I wonder how many congregations are filled with awe and are inspired at services in this age. It would be interesting to know.

There is a very significant sentence at the end of the passage; and the Lord added to their number day by day. Every day, there would be new converts to the faith. That should not really be surprising. The apostles were getting the gospel of Jesus Christ out to the people around them by their teaching. They told of Christ coming to this earth in a unique way; of the miracles Jesus performed; how He gave up His life for us by dying on the Cross so that our sins could be forgiven by God, so assuring us of eternal with Him.

In addition, unbelievers were seeing the grace of God being displayed in the lives of the believers, and were impressed with what was happening, and were attracted. God was using these things to draw people to himself and the church grew. This tells us that it is God who builds up a Church. Jesus said on one occasion, ‘No man can come unto me except my Father draw him’. God is drawing people to himself all over the world.

Those first Christians were ordinary people just like you and me, with the same demands on their time, but their actions reflected their priorities. I find it insulting when people who never come to Church, never read their Bible, try to tell me a clergyman, what is necessary to be a Christian.  

Many people do not understand those words of Jesus. This, together with other Scripture, tells us people come to faith in Jesus, only by God touching their heart, and people have the free will to respond or reject Him. God brings the words of the Bible to us, and we have to choose.
Let us now consider what we can learn and apply to today’s Church.

It is in God’s plan that His Church will grow. Having seen how that early Church responded under ostolic teaching, we need to consider how the Church now in this critical time responds with its teaching of the Scriptures. Every so often some Committee puts forward some proposal to combat the problem of falling attendances in the Church. I do not doubt the sincerity of such Committee, but I do doubt the need for such. We now have different types of services; Messy Church, CafĂ© Church and whatever kind of Church, which do attract in a mild way, but such attraction does not lead to much, if any (unless some food and drink is provided)  ,nor does it increase in membership. It is the non-biblical part  should attract.

The Church at Pentecost is the model for any Church; faithful preaching, true fellowship, and tuneful hymns. We should be telling the stories of Jesus, and of the guidance left for us in the Epistles. But remaining with the King James Version of the Bible, singing chants and a quick talk, however sincerely and fondly provided will only attract committed members. We need to follow the great Christian preachers who concentrated on praise, prayer and preaching, and in response people flocked in their hundreds, sometimes thousands, and were made Christians.

The Bible states’ Jesus said no one can come to the Father except through me’, yet many preachers are dodging quoting this.  If we avoid telling these verses how are people ever to come to know the gospel.

This tells us our faith is not like other faiths which someone has made up, but rather comes from God.  Furthermore, it was given with the understanding that nothing needs to be added, amended or subtracted from.  Anyone who does so is a false teacher.   God will not ignore false teaching, and will pass judgement on such people

Whilst I have always admired Charles Wesley, I once had to study the life of Charles extensively in order to conduct a service in his honour, and that admiration has grown.  If he were alive today he would have much to say at the way the Church has failed to proclaim the message he left, that salvation was through Christ alone, the value of a person’s life was measured by their faith,  and the doctrine of heaven and hell.  How often have you heard a sermon on those subjects?

How he and his brother John, would feel betrayed at the Methodist Church  today with its rush to introduce same sex marriages in the Churches, especially without consulting all members. They preached strong messages against such action, especially John. That once great evangelical Church, which made the one national revival for this country, is but a shadow of the Wesley’s founding beliefs and principles.

 Today, no less than in any other age, it is intense biblical integrity that is needed. Fearless courage and conviction, to stand for the truth --that Jesus Christ is the only name that saves.

In effect there are three options open to preachers.  One is to avoid all contentious issues.  2 To go with the flow. 3 To be true to Scripture. The first option is most popular.

We all want to please and satisfy our audience, I can’t imagine anyone wanting to cause offence.  But if preachers are to be true to their calling, and preach with integrity and honour, there are times when I suppose some people may be upset. If, sadly, that happens, there must be doubt in the mind about the way they are living. 

My friends, it is the duty of the Church to teach the gospel and not to budge from it.  We are not to be blown by every new spiritual wind so that we drift from our moorings.  We are not to be superficial believers. Hold fast to the gospel once given by the Apostles who were taught by the Master Himself.  Today people are being drawn away from the doctrines of the Bible as judgement is becoming a censored word.

You and I are called to contend for the truth.  Do not let anyone tell you that you do not count.  You count tremendously, so glory in what God has called you to do and be faithful to His command.

May God bless His Holy Word for our lives. Be at Church on Pentecost Sunday.

No comments:

Post a Comment