Note: These are sermon notes. Sermon notes aren’t the sermon that was given but the sermon that was planned. I’m not sure if these would be helpful in any way, but I thought I might try posting a few to see if they are of any use to anyone.
Good morning! Look up Acts 2 with me. Today, we come to a moment in history that is as relevant today to us as it was to those present there 2000 years ago. It is a moment that redefines God’s people and further establishes the Gospel message for you and for me. Let’s look at the opening scene.
Opening Scene | Acts 2:1–4
 When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place.  And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting.  And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them.  And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.
Imagine this scene for a moment!
- “Mighty rushing wind.” Doors flying open. Drapes smacking you in the face. Paper whipped and curled and blown from the table.
- “Tongues as of fire.” So, not just invisible wind, but something to be seen. It’s hard to describe. Kind of like tongues. Kind of like fire.
What would you be thinking? What questions would be rattling around inside your head? We encounter some of these questions in the next scene.
The Questions | Acts 2:5–13
 Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven.  And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language.  And they were amazed and astonished, saying, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans?  And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language?  Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia,  Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome,  both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians—we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.”  And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?”  But others mocking said, “They are filled with new wine.”
They can’t believe it! They have two big questions:
- What’s happening? “They were bewildered” (v.6) and asked “how is it” they are hearing these different languages?
- What’s it mean? Verse 12: “And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, ‘What does this mean?’”
So, what is happening? What does it mean? Did they all just get drunk as some mocked? Is this hysteria? Is it just one of those strange supernatural events with no explanation? What’s happening? And what does it mean? Peter, at last, stands up to answer these questions.
Peter answers the first question | Acts 2:14–21
 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.  For these people are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day.  But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel:
 “‘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;  even on my male servants and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy.  And I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke;  the sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day.  And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’
So, what’s happening?
God’s promise is being fulfilled (v. 16). What they’re seeing is not random or hysteria or superfluous. It is something foretold, something God promised. And God is a promise keeper. They are seeing the promise fulfilled.
God’s Spirit is at work (v. 17). These people have not been filled with wine. They have been filled with the very Spirit of God. This was the promise spoken centuries before by the prophet Joel.
God’s plan to evangelize the world has begun (v. 21). We can’t help but see here the reversal of Babel. There has always been room for foreigners and proselytes, but this marks a dramatic, aggressive shift to outreach. This is the birth of the global church.
- Different types: old, young, men, women. (Reaching across age and gender)
- Different stripes: male and female servants, everyone (v. 21)! (Across class)
- Different tongues: every nation under heaven. (Reaching across national lines)
- And all of this is for more mission. They have been empowered by the Spirit for this mission.
Wow! So that’s what’s happening. That’s a lot. But still there’s the second question outstanding: What does it mean? Like, is it significant? Is it significant to me or 2020? Or, is it, like, one of those things where someone sees the face of Jesus in toast or something? And you’re like, “Wow. Intriguing. Tongues of fire? Well, good for you guys. I’ve got to be getting back to work. Let me know if you need me to do anything”? Is it like that? Interesting but unimportant? Exciting but not super relevant? What does it mean? And does it mean anything for us today? Peter answers the second question.
Peter starts to answer the second question | Acts 2:22–32
 “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know— this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.  God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it.  For David says concerning him,
“‘I saw the Lord always before me,
for he is at my right hand that I may not be shaken;
 therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced;
my flesh also will dwell in hope.
 For you will not abandon my soul to Hades,
or let your Holy One see corruption.
 You have made known to me the paths of life;
you will make me full of gladness with your presence.’
 “Brothers, I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day.  Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on his throne,  he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption.  This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses.
So what does all this tongue-speaking, Holy Spirit stuff mean?
- First, we got a hint about what’s happening when Jesus worked miracles (v. 22). Those miracles were saying something about Jesus. Jesus was being confirmed to you by God. (Hint: Messiah)
- Second, we got a hint about what’s happening when David wrote Psalm 16 because David’s dead but he’s talking about seeing no corruption; the psalm must be about that future messiah. Well, what about the future messiah? (Hint: Resurrection)
But, Peter, what does it all mean???
Peter lands the plane | Acts 2:33-36
 Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing.  For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he himself says,
“‘The Lord said to my Lord,
“Sit at my right hand,
 until I make your enemies your footstool.”’
 Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.”
What does it all mean? The arrival of the promised Spirit and the birth of the global church means: Jesus is the risen and reigning divine king of the universe!
Jesus is the risen and reigning divine king of the universe!
Follow back the logic of verse 33. What they are “seeing and hearing” is because Jesus has poured out the Spirit. And Jesus has poured out the Spirit because Jesus has received this promised from the Father, and he has received this from the Father because he is risen and has been exalted and seated in the throne at the right hand of God!
So put it all back together. That the Spirit has come and the global church born means:
- Jesus is risen. He must be alive! How else could he fulfill his promise?
- Jesus is reigning. Clearly, he is still at work, just as Luke hints at in Acts 1:1.
- Jesus is the King/Messiah. He’s the Messiah (King) that David was talking about.
- And Jesus is the divine king of the universe! He really did sit at the right hand of the Father like he said he would (Luke 22:69).
This truth then goes off like a string of firecrackers, with several huge applications that immediately pop out of it.
1. Modifies our message: Jesus is King. And this is crucial good news. I think this is good news because people are looking for ultimate meaning. People want to know the meaning of life. They want to be lined up with things that matter. And we must remember that we do not just present people with personal, psychological forgiveness, like a religious version of a therapy session. We are offering them the true King of all. [Illustration: Kicking and Screaming… “What does that have to do with anything?”]. And it’s crucial because regardless of how you feel about it, this truth will affect your eternity. So we declare not only that Jesus is Savior but that he is King. And I wonder if we need, especially in our pluralistic society, to reclaim this part of our witness, to say, “Have you heard about Jesus? He’s the King of the universe.” This is actually where Paul starts in pluralistic Athens (Acts 17), and maybe we should start there too.
2. Anchors our beliefs: The work of the Spirit in the church, then and now, provides plausibility for our beliefs about Jesus, namely that he is risen and reigning.
This is real ancient history. This really happened. The Spirit really came, and the church really happened. Our faith is not just well wishing. It stands on history. Peter says the arrival of the Spirit and the birth of the church confirms that Jesus has taken his seat on the throne of the universe. I heard someone recently comment that our witness is not just our personal testimony, but all the history of this story. It’s real history that would stand up to any common standard. And here, in the birth of the global church, we have another brick in the foundation of plausibility of the resurrection and reigning of Christ. The best explanation of what happened to these galilean fishermen, how they turned the world upside down and died martyrs deaths is that they had seen the risen and reigning Lord Jesus.
And by the way, this is real present history. I heard somebody joke that they believe in the sovereignty of God because people got saved in the eighties. He was talking about how goofy some of the stuff the church was doing, and yet people encountered the truth of the gospel and were transformed by the Spirit, and the programming and planning certainly couldn’t account for it. So, this man said, surely the Lord is at work that people still get saved. And this is what Peter is saying. When we started to move towards planting Immanuel, I was shocked to see how many people the Lord had already prepared. Several times people said they’d been praying for this for years. And Peter says don’t you understand? When you see these kinds of things, it’s not just little random sparks of Holy Spirit static electricity; it’s the work of the risen and reigning Jesus! It would be like someone asking you, “Well, how do you really know you had a great, great, great, great, grandfather? You’ve never met him, never seen a picture, nothing.” Your simple answer might be, “Well, I’m here, ain’t I?”
3. Strengthens our Standing: We must remember that the King of the universe has granted our reprieve. If he has declared you forgiven, you are forgiven. If he has declared you significant, you are significant. This is huge! I think of our kids heading back to school this year. When some kid calls you a loser, you must say, at least in your head, “I’m sorry, are you the King of the universe? I didn’t think so. What you say about me doesn’t mean anything in the end. The King calls me lovely, important, and protected.” I think of those pummeled by sin and shame: The King of the universe has declared you forgiven. That’s the final word. You must remember that this word is not religious, psychological mumbo-jumbo, it’s the authoritative word of the King. So much so, that your incessant groveling could border on being insulting doubt, not humble devotion. And indeed, this also strengthens our standing in mission. We go into the world on mission with authorization from the King.
4. Clarifies our Response: We must bow to King Jesus. And this what Peter says next:
“ Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”  And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.  For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.”  And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.”  So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls” (Acts 2:37-41).
You will find in the New Testament that this moment of turning to Jesus is described as repenting and believing. This gives expression in calling on Jesus name and being baptized. And you’ll see these various parts emphasized at different points. (Synecdoche: Wheels) So, we should not get too hung up on Peter’s formulation here. The point is we must humble ourselves before Jesus. We must turn from our other false kings, and turn to the true King. Just as one would before a king and be knighted, so must we bow before King Jesus and be baptized. This is your invitation today.
5. Undergirds our Community: We are the church as we come up under his Lordship and receive his Spirit (Acts 2:42ff). Let me read for you the final verses of this chapter:
“ And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.  And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles.  And all who believed were together and had all things in common.  And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need.  And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts,  praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved” (Acts 2:42–47).
We often read this as a to-do list. But that’s not quite right. While it certainly is a worthy model to emulate, we must remember that it is first a byproduct of coming up under the Lordship of Christ and receiving his Spirit. We then may return to it to remind ourselves of the healthy habits of a Spirit born church, but without the Lordship of Christ and the empowerment of His Spirit, this picture will produce little.
Friends, we must get this truth. We must understand Acts 2 for what it is declaring and affirming:
Jesus is the risen and reigning divine king of the universe!
If our church has not seen and surrendered to King Jesus and been empowered by his Holy Spirit, we won’t go far. We won’t accomplish much. We won’t last long.
But if we bow before the kind King, he will graciously receive us and raise us up with his power as fearless royalty. And by his Spirit, we will make an impact for the ages.
Let us kneel before him now…