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About this series
God's Agenda for Planet Earth (including you)
Sometimes it's confusing to try and figure out God's agenda for a world in turmoil, much less make sense of your unique purpose in His bigger picture. Yet God has a specific calling for each of us, and learning to walk in that calling propels us to take steps both large and small that DO change the world. This series, drawn from Acts, examines the Biblical truth about God's agenda for planet earth, His perfect timing and what all of it has to do with you. You'll learn how to recognize how God's plan unfolds in your life and in the world around you, and how to avoid the "grace stoppers" that can destroy God's work in your life.More from this series
Do you realize that you’re sitting in this seat today because approximately two thousand years ago there was a group of about one hundred and twenty Christ followers who had just seen, literally, Jesus ascend into heaven and the last thing they remember He said was, “Don’t go do anything. Go to Jerusalem and wait.”
A hundred and twenty mostly uneducated people, they’d followed Christ, for forty days they had had conversation, over five hundred witnesses had seen the scars, the holes in His hands, the miracles.
And He said, “Now, don’t go do anything yet. What I want you to do is I want you to wait.”
And I don’t know about you but I kind of read between the lines. Peter seems like a go-getter. You know what I mean? And I’m thinking, like, day one he’s thinking, “Okay.” Day two, “Mm, it’s still okay.” Day four, “Like, I got a job. Like, how long are we going to be here?” And then outside those walls, I mean, Jesus was not a popular person and His followers weren’t popular so thinking there’s fear and anxiety out there and there’s hope and expectation.
And then I bet, like, day seven or eight they’re thinking, “Now let me get this right. There’s a hundred and twenty of us in downtown Jerusalem and we’re going to take the world, right?”
And they’re looking at each other going…and then, day nine, still nothing’s happening. And then, bang, something big happens.
One of the most difficult things for me in my life and probably a lot of you is waiting. For some, right now, it’s like you’re in a relationship and deep in your spirit God says, “No, wait. This isn’t the right time. Don’t move forward.”
For others, you’re scrambling, you need a job, you’re thinking about a different job, and you’re not really sure and everything just impulsively wants to say, “You know what? I’m just going to make this happen.” God says, “No. Wait.”
For some of you, you’ve prayed and you’ve said, “Oh God, this is the time, this is the season. We kind of waited to have kids and now we’re really ready.” And apparently God isn’t because you don’t have any yet, right? And it’s been a year or maybe two and you start thinking, “What’s the deal?” Waiting is really, really hard.
I have read this over and over. It’s out of a book The Knowledge of the Holy. And he says, “To believe,” this is something to consider, this gives me perspective when I’m waiting. “To believe actively that our heavenly Father constantly spreads around us providential circumstances that work for our present good, and our everlasting wellbeing, brings to the soul a veritable benediction.
“Most of us go through life praying a little, planning a little, jockeying for position, hoping but never being quite certain of anything, always secretly afraid that we’ll miss the way. This is a tragic waste of truth and never gives rest to the heart. There’s a better way.”
And then he gives it. “It’s to repudiate our own wisdom and take instead the infinite wisdom of God.” It’s to come to the point where you say, “I believe there’s an all-knowing, all-powerful, loving, compassionate Creator who cares about me,” and here’s what the wisdom of God is. Here’s classic definition.
The wisdom of God is because He loves you and He’s in control and has all power and knows all things actual and possible, He brings about the best possible results, by the best possible means, for the most possible people, for the longest possible time. That’s His plan for your life.
God, in your situation, in your relationships and in your work and in your ministry, in the dreams that He’s put in your heart and your future, He desires for you to say, “I want to do life Your way.” And what He says is, “I will take responsibility to bring about the best possible results, in the best possible way, for the most possible people, for the longest possible time. But you need to trust Me.”
Because sometimes it doesn’t feel that way. Often it doesn’t look that way. Those apostles? I’m thinking it didn’t feel that way day number eight. I’m up in this room, I’m praying, I’m supposed to wait.
I want you to remember that God’s plans are perfect. Just write that down. It’ll do something for your soul. Just remember no matter where you’re at, you know, God’s plans are perfect.
Second, God’s timing is perfect. You may think it needs to happen now. Guess what – often He’s preparing you for something better, something bigger, something that’s really right instead of just close.
And third, can you guess what God’s methods are? You got it. They’re perfect.
Very interesting little passage is tucked in Ephesians chapter 3. And it’s one of those that, candidly, just as I was studying for this, Paul writes in chapter 3 verse 8 and it goes something like this. He says, this is a loose translation. “I can’t believe that God chose me – I’m the least deserving of all Christians – to take this message of His love to all the world. But He chose me that I could share this great message in order that even the angelic principles and power, when they see the birth of the Church would see the manifold wisdom of God.”
See, God has a wise plan for you, He’s got a wise plan for the planet. But the big thing on His agenda, after Jesus died and was risen from the dead, was this birthing of this thing called a supernatural community.
I don’t want to use the word “church” because buildings come into your mind and history comes to your mind and religious activity. I want to talk about a relationship of a dynamic group of people connected to God.
If you’ll open your notes, what we’re going to learn, we’re going to see the wisdom of God as we watch.
The apostle Paul says, “Part of the whole plan was to reveal this manifold wisdom of God by how Jesus births His Church.”
He’s sitting at the right hand of the Father. And the very first thing Jesus does, He sent the Holy Spirit. This is the game plan. The Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is going to come. Come as prophesied.
If you have your Bibles, open to Acts. Acts chapter 2. Are you ready? This is the story of the birth of the Church.
Chapter 2 verse 1, “When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound, like the blowing of a violent wind, came from heaven and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each one of them. All of them were filled with the Spirit and they began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.
“Now, they were staying in Jerusalem. God fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. And when they heard the sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment because each of them were hearing them speaking in their own language or dialect.
“Utterly amazed, they asked, ‘Are not all these men who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hear them in our own language? Parthians and Medes and Elamites, residents of Mesopotamia, Judea, Cappadocia, Pontus, Asia, Phrygia, Pamphylia, Egypt, and parts of Libya near Cyrene. Visitors from Rome, both Jews and converts or proselytes,’” Gentiles who became Jews, “Cretans and Arabs.”
And then they declare, “‘We hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues.’ Amazed and perplexed they asked one another, ‘What does this mean?’” Like, what’s going on here?
Now, there was a second group. “Some, however, made fun of them and said, ‘They’ve had too much wine.’” Now, you need to understand, this is a festival day. To get the picture, I put in your notes, when did this happen, how did this happen, why did this happen?
When this happened, right now, it happened about nine o’clock in the morning. Now, festival days, there were three major festivals. Think Woodstock that’s holy. Okay? I mean, thousands of people coming from everywhere. As you could see from all those locations into Jerusalem. It’s packed. There are animals; there’s sacrifices.
And there were three major festivals. There was Passover, there was this Pentecost, and then later it was the Feast of Tabernacles. And so it’s packed. So God waits for the perfect time, Pentecost. Penta – get it? Fifty?
So, it’s fifty days after the Feast of Weeks, which was that other one. They celebrated the harvest. And so over time, Pentecost became the time where they celebrated the giving of the Ten Commandments.
Out of Leviticus 19 they had determined that this was just about the time when Moses gave the Ten Commandments. So God’s timing and His wisdom is on the day when the city is filled with Jews and proselytes from all around the world, exactly on that day when they’re celebrating what? The first covenant.
And the first covenant, now we’re to the how. Do you remember how it came? The people were out of Egypt, they go to Mount Sinai, and then they’re on Mount Sinai and Moses brings all the people together and they rope things off around.
And then there’s this blast, there’s this sound. Oooooooo! And the horn, it grows louder and louder and louder. And things begin to shake and the people hear this sound and they’re trembling.
And then pretty soon there’s smoke that comes out and fire, right? Remember? From the mountain? Mount Sinai. And then there’s an earthquake. And then God speaks, you hear His voice.
And in the first covenant, He gives a nation His word. He gives them the Ten Commandments, Moses leads them, and the goal for Israel is to be a blessing to all the nations as God works His will through this nation, Israel.
On this day, where they’re celebrating and remembering that, did you notice what happens? It’s not that a wind blew. What’s it say? It’s the sound.
Have you ever been where wind’s blowing? I been in Texas with, you know, tornadoes and stuff outside the door. You know, funnel cloud and you just hear, Whooooo. It was the sound.
And this sound, it says, “And they heard,” it’s in a tense in the Greek that has to do with they started hearing it and it escalated louder and louder. I think what happened is they got out of the upper room and they heard this sound and pretty soon they’re looking at each other and there’s flames above them.
The sound, the fire, and then pretty soon what’s happening? Out of their mouth they’re speaking in languages they’ve never learned. And fifteen cited different countries are over there going, “We’re hearing the praises of God in our own language.”
So notice what God’s doing. He’s connecting. This is the why. He’s connecting the first covenant with the second covenant. In the first covenant the sound displayed God’s power. The fire represented His presence. And the voice was His revelation.
Using exactly the same things now, what? It’s not a nation and where’s the fire? It’s not on a mountain. It’s in every individual.
Jeremiah 31 and Ezekiel 37 both promise that when the Holy Spirit comes, He would live inside of people; take up residence in them and the new covenant would start. God’s perfect plan, His perfect timing, in His perfect manner.
Here’s the lesson: God’s timing and methods are wrought in perfect wisdom both then and now.
A passage I memorized a number of years ago when I struggle with, “God, what are You doing? I just don’t get it. I just don’t get it. I mean, as far as I know, I’m doing exactly what You told me to do and it is not going well.”
And then I remember Romans 11:33: “Oh the depths of the knowledge and the wisdom of God. How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways.”
I’m reminded that a lot of life is like looking at the back of a tapestry with all the threads and knots. And God, in His perfect timing, is orchestrating people. And sometimes, I wasn’t ready.
And then you turn that tapestry over and you see something very beautiful that He’s making.
God’s wisdom, His timing, His plan is perfect for you. But He wants you to trust Him. If any man asks for wisdom, God says, “I’ll give it to him generously.” But here’s the condition. You have to come asking for wisdom like this: “If You’ll show me what to do in this relationship, if You’ll show me what to do in this decision, if You’ll show me what to do with my future, if You’ll show me what to do in this financial issue, if You’ll show me, I’m signing up in advance to do whatever You say.” God says one hundred percent of the time He’ll show you.
With most of us, you know what the struggle is? I kind of want God’s wisdom to decide whether I like it or not. Right?
“Hey, God? Do You really want me to date this girl? And if you say ‘no’ I’m going to do it anyway.” “Hey, God? Do You really want me to get my priorities in order and get out of debt? Well, if that’s Your will I’m going to go with plan B still.”
God says when you come like that, you don’t get His wisdom.
But who could know better for you than someone who is all-knowing, all-powerful, sent His Son to die in your place, has a great plan for your life and mine? What we learn first is, He sends His Spirit and He sends His Spirit to display His wisdom.
So my question for you is in what situation do you need to trust God’s wisdom? I mean, just right now. If you jotted underneath there right in the notes. Would it be a relationship, a job, your future, timing, a big decision, healing? You know, a loss that you’ve got to work through?
What is it that you need to say part of today God’s will is you say, “God, I need Your wisdom and if You’ll show me, I’ll do it.”
Second thing He does is the Holy Spirit spoke through an uneducated failure, the message of life. Now, this is amazing. Now, remember God’s manner, His ways are perfect. I don’t know about you but I think if I was going to launch this tsunami wave of grace to reach the whole world, I’d find the best communicator, the most educated person, I’d do it at just the right time and, you know, maybe have big jumbo screens and everything.
Instead, God chooses Peter. Peter betrayed Him. Peter failed. And what we know later from this book he was very uneducated. But God’s ways are perfect, right?
He knew we would come later. And He knew that he would put His message inside our hearts and He would want us, in every walk of life, to share with people and really love them and care for them. And He knew we would say things like this, “Well, I’d really like to, you know, kind of, I really would like to share the love of Christ with some people but, I mean, if they ever found out, I mean, all the stuff I’ve done and how I’ve failed, I mean, God could never use me.”
And God says, “No, no, no, no. My first message came through a guy who blew it as bad as you can blow it.”
And then the other one we say is, “Well, I’d really like to share and help some people but I’m just, I’m not very educated biblically. I haven’t been to Bible school; I haven’t been to seminary.” Isn’t it interesting?
We’re going to hear Peter’s message. And his message is going to be about what? The resurrection. He’s going to tell them, first of all, this thing that just occurred where your eyes are open and your jaw is dropping and you’re hearing these wonderful works of God in your own language?
First, let me tell you why that’s happening. I’m going to explain that. Second, after you understand this phenomena that’s happening in verses 14 to 21, starting in verse 22, he has a message.
And as you can see in your notes his message is about the proof of the resurrection and he’s going to give four specific proofs that Jesus actually has come back from the dead and therefore, what he said really is true.
Let’s pick up his explanation, verse 14. “Then Peter stood up,” right? People are going, “What’s going on?” And others are going, “They’re drunk!” “He stood up with the eleven. He raised his voice.” This is the guy that was afraid of the servant girl. The Spirit of God makes a difference, apparently.
“And he addressed the crowd, ‘Fellow Jews and all of you who are in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you. Listen carefully to what I say. These men are not drunk, as you suppose, it’s only nine in the morning. No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel.’”
And now he quotes Joel chapter 2 verse 28 and following. “In the last days,” this was a promise God gave Joel, “I will pour out my Spirit on” who? “all people.”
In the Old Testament, this Holy Spirit was given to certain people, at certain time, for certain jobs. That’s why, when David, remember when he sinned with Bathsheba? In Psalm 51 and he’s confessing his sin one of his requests are, “Please don’t take Your Holy Spirit from me.” The Spirit of God did not live inside of every believer in the Old Testament.
But he says, now, all the people will be filled. “Your sons, your daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams; even on My servant both men and women I will pour out My Spirit in those days and they will prophesy. I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and billows of smoke; then the sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord. And everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved.”
Peter says two major things. He says, number one, this thing that you see? Those tongues of fire? That noise? Hearing in different languages? This is exactly what Joel said the last days have begun.
The moment the Spirit comes, we are living in the last days. And then he talks about that’s what you see right now. But Joel’s prophesy has, sort of, a near fulfillment and a longer fulfillment. He starts and says, “In the last days” but at the very end, did you notice?
It says, “In the glorious day of the Lord.” That phrase “day of the Lord” all throughout the Old Testament, later we’ll pick it up in the book of Revelation, that’s the final judgment of God when Christ returns. And that’s when some of these things about the sun being dark and the moon, they will happen then.
And so first and foremost he says, “Guys? All I want you to hear is God said this would happen.”
Now he starts his sermon beginning in verse 22. Here’s proof number one. The historical reality of Jesus. He’s just going to start out and say this phenomena, this event that we’ve had, I want you to know it’s rooted in that person that about forty, forty-five days ago or so, remember?
So he picks it up, he says, “Men of Israel, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did among you through Him as you yourselves know. This man was handed over to you by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge and, 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.”
Point number one: everything we’re talking about is rooted in this historical person, Jesus, that you knew and there were eyewitnesses and everyone knew He did all those miracles.
Point number two: they’re going to say, look, this was prophesied. The Old Testament predicted that this would happen to the Messiah.
And so what they’re going to do, they’re going to say, look, here’s the Old Testament teaching about the Messiah. Over here is all the experience we’ve had about Jesus. And they’re going to take this like a film and lay it over the prophecy and their experience and they’re going to say Old Testament truth, Jesus, one in the same.
So notice they’re going to give the Old Testament prophecy from David. You know, everyone, as a Jew, David was a great hero.
And so quoting Psalm 16, David said about Him, speaking of the Messiah, “I saw the Lord always before me; because He is at my right hand I will not be shaken. Therefore, my heart is glad, and my tongue rejoices; my body also will live in hope because You will not abandon me to the grave nor will You let Your Holy One see decay. You have made know to me the paths of life; You will fill me with joy in Your presence.”
“Brothers,” Peter says. He quotes that. He goes, “Brothers, I can tell you confidently that the patriarch David died and was buried and his tomb is here to this day. But he was a prophet and he knew that God had promised him on oath that He would place one of His descendants on His throne.”
“Seeing what was ahead,” in other words, “David, seeing what was ahead, he spoke of the resurrection of Christ that He was not abandoned to the grave nor did His body see decay.” God has raised this Jesus to life and we are all witnesses of this fact.
And so he makes the point. It was prophesied in the Old Testament and then his third point is there’s eyewitnesses. This wasn’t done in a vacuum. He’s saying there were five hundred of us over the last forty days.
I mean, in any court of law, two eyewitnesses declared it’s true. There were five hundred of us. In fact, see these hundred and twenty people with the fire on top of their head speaking these languages they’ve never learned?
Every one of them is an eyewitness. In fact, I can just tell you, ten days ago we were outside and, wow, we watched Him go up!
And so he’s making a very, very strong case in this first sermon about why you can actually believe that Jesus in fact is the Messiah, that He died, and then He rose from the grave.
Now he’s going to go on. Look at verse 33. “Exalted to the right hand of God, He was received from the Father and the promised Holy Spirit has been poured out and that is what you see and hear. For David didn’t ascend to heaven and yet he said, ‘The Lord, Yahweh, said to my Lord, Adonai, ‘Sit at My right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.’”
He’s basically saying, “This event that you’re seeing, it’s the fourth proof.”
And then notice what he calls for a decision. “Therefore, let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.”
And the word “Lord” there, you might circle in your Bible, it’s a word used for God. It’s in the phrase earlier. It talks, its reference is to Yahweh. And so, they’re making this point that Jesus was in fact fully human but fully God.
The Yahweh of the Old Testament. The Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit. They’re making this point that He is, in fact, God and He is the waited Messiah. He was the hope of Israel. And so, he speaks to them and says, “Guys, you got a big issue on your hands. What are you going to do with this truth? This Spirit coming is evidence of all that Jesus taught.”
The lesson here is that the power is in the message not the messenger. You know, sometimes we feel like, If I could just speak better or if I just knew more.
Power is in the message. It’s not how cool you are. It’s not how hip you are. It’s not how much you know. It’s not your personality.
The power is in the gospel. If you will share it, people trust Christ. Because the Holy Spirit prepares them and the Holy Spirit is speaking to them and God loves them. He wants your mouth, He wants your heart, He wants your hands, He wants your eyes.
He just wants you and me to love people and then to have the courage to say, “Has anyone ever explained to you how to have a personal relationship with the God of heaven? Has anyone ever shared with you how you can have eternal life that it’s actually a gift? That’s not about religiosity, it’s not about a moral code, it’s not about philosophy, that God actually loves you and He made you.
You know what you’ll find? People will look at you and go, “No, no one ever has, would you?” And then you’ll think, “Well, I’m a failure and I don’t, I can’t say it very well.” And you’ll think, “Great! That’s you and Peter. You ready to roll?”
Question. What’s keeping you from sharing His message?
What’s keeping you from sharing His message? I mean, God placed you in a neighborhood, God placed you in a home, or with a roommate, He placed you in a job, or at least out looking for one.
And you are the answer to someone’s biggest need – their eternity. It’s you. It’s me. When you’re at 24-Hour or wherever you work out or when you’re sitting in a coffee shop or when you’re taking a walk with the dog in the neighborhood, God’s placing people all around you who the Spirit of God has been preparing for a fellow failure like you and me, who maybe doesn’t know all that we should know, to hear the message of life.
Some of the reasons that people don’t share is, one, your network is, if you need to be like the very best friend to some people that believe absolutely the opposite of what you believe and whose morality is the opposite, often, of what you know is right and they experience someone who loves them for where they’re at.
You don’t condone that stuff, but they just scratch their head and think, “Man, I know where you’re coming from; why would you love me?”
And I realize, it’s just…Paul said he wasn’t ashamed. I think a lot of Christians are ashamed of the gospel. They, kind of, want to have this relationship over here but, you know, I don’t want to go too public with this. I’m glad someone went public and told me, aren’t you?
Third, the Holy Spirit implanted the eternal life of Jesus within all who repented and believed Christ as Lord and Messiah.
Jesus’ wisdom – first, He sends the Holy Spirit. This phenomena occurs. Second, He places in the mouth of this failure, who is uneducated, this amazing message. And after he gives this amazing message, he reminds us that every one of us this week need to tell one person about Jesus.
At some point, wherever you’re at, just tell one person that Jesus loves them and cares for them and look for an opportunity, as ever short or long as that may go.
And then third, what happened was, those people who heard the message and repented. The words just means “to change your mind.” Classical Greek it meant, just intellectually, to change your mind.
By Koine Greek it meant to change your mind with a sense of sorrow that lead to a change of behavior. So those people thought Jesus was just an itinerant preacher. They need to change their mind. He’s the Messiah; He’s the hope of the world.
Repentance is going down and thinking, “My life goal is down 85 South.” And you’re driving 85 South and God says, “You know what? You got the wrong life goal. It’s 85 North.” You know what repentance is? You get off, go over the overpass, now you’re on 85 North. You do a U-turn. God brought some of you in this room today to do a U-turn.
And whether you recognize it or not, you think success, or just that person, or enough money, or this or that, is going to deliver the significance and security and make you a somebody and God’s saying, “I brought you in this room to do a U-turn. I have already made you a somebody and I love you and I’ll fill you with My Spirit and I’ll give you life.
“But you’ve got to repent. You’ve got to change your mind about Me. You’ve got to turn from your sin and you’ve got to believe and trust that what I’ve done…”
And then what do you do? The Holy Spirit gets implanted inside of you. And it’s the Spirit of Christ. In other words, before, it was, you know, old covenant, the Spirit, a few people. And now it’s every single person who believes, the Holy Spirit comes and the very life of Jesus, the life of Christ lives inside of you.
And that’s why in parentheses, did you see in your notes? What did I write? The eternal life of Christ.
See, if Jesus, the Spirit of Christ, is in you and Jesus is eternal, you now have eternal life from the moment you trust in Him forever and ever and ever. What the Scripture says is that the moment you turn from your sin and trust in Him you’re justified by faith.
And that means all the sin in your column gets deleted and all the righteousness of Christ gets imputed so that the God of heaven, the Father, looks on you through what Christ has done and you’re righteous in His sight and you’re born again.
So you know what’s happened here? The Church is born. The Church is born. In fact, listen, listen to what happens.
Pick it up at verse 37. “When the people heard this they were cut to the heart.” Literally, it means they were stung. It was like being stunned with a gun. “And they said to Peter and to the other apostles, ‘Brothers, what shall we do?’ Peter said, ‘Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven and you’ll receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, for all whom the Lord our God will call.’
“And then with many other words he warned them and he pleaded with them, ‘Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.’ And those who accepted his message were baptized. And about three thousand were added that day.”
And so what happened was the Church is born. And if you have the Spirit of God, you’re a part of this new thing called the Church. Romans 8:9 says, “However, you’re not in the flesh but in the Spirit if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he doesn’t belong to Him.”
See, if you don’t have the Spirit of Christ living in you, you don’t belong to Him.
The second thing that’s happened is this was the Spirit’s baptism. Remember He said, “John will baptize with water, I will baptize with the Holy Spirit.” The apostle Paul would later look back and say, “For by one Spirit we are all baptized into one body, whether Jew or Greek, whether slave or free, we were all made to drink one Spirit.”
Baptism, the word, has a literal meaning and a figurative meaning. Literally, the word just means to “immerse” or “to dip.” Figuratively, it means to identify with someone.
So if you were non-Jew, before all of this happened at Pentecost, and say you were a Gentile. And you met these Jews and they said, “We serve the one true God, Yahweh.” If you wanted to become a Jew you would come, you would actually baptize yourself saying my identity of my old past, my old culture is gone. I now want to follow and be a Jew.
So when Peter is telling these people, “Repent, change your mind.” And not that baptism saved them, he is saying, “Your new identity? You need to go public.” And, man, this would have been huge for them.
And so, now they’re going to be baptized and have to declare that their former thinking was wrong and they’re going to identify and, literally, be placed into this new supernatural community called the Church.
Here’s the lesson. The lesson is that he that has the Son has life and he that has not the Son of God does not have life.
This is so clear. The apostle Paul, I mean, this intellectual. One secular historian who wrote a history of mankind describes the apostle Paul as the greatest intellect of that century.
And Paul would say, in Galatians 2:20, “I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless, I live. Yet not I but Christ lives within me and this life that I now live, I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me.”
So, the question today is do you have the Son? Not: do you intellectually believe in God? Not: are you a moral person? I’ve got news for you. Not: is there some philosophy and Christianity is one of the better ones? This is about relationship.
If you have the Son, you have life. If you don’t have the Son, you don’t have life. It’s that simple and it’s that clear.
Later, John, who wrote that in 1 John 5:11 and 12 would talk about this record. He said, “These things I have written to you so that you might know that you have eternal life.”
God wants you to know. So let me ask you. Not, do you “believe in God?” Not, are you a good, moral person? I mean, Peter was speaking to a group of people that, probably, their morality was just off the charts above most of ours.
Do you have the Son? Because you can only be made whole and perfect and forgiven, in God’s sight, by having the blood of Christ cover you and Him giving you, as a gift, the very righteousness of Christ.
I grew up in the Church for eighteen years, actually, I left when I was about fifteen because, it was just, I couldn’t take it. The hypocrisy, the junk, the religiosity, the rules. The Christians I met, unfortunately, were some of the worst people I’d ever met so I didn’t think God even existed.
But when I began to explore what it really meant to have a relationship with God instead of “church” or “Christianity” and who Jesus really was, I discovered the truth. And the truth is, God the Father, the triune, God of all the universe who made and created you and me and every human being on the face of the earth – He loves us. He’s for you. He’s not down on you. He loves you and He sent his Son to die in your place and to prove it that He would rise from the dead and He makes you an offer. And the offer is eternal life. The life of Jesus living inside of you.
Requirement on your part and mine? Repent. Turn. Empty hands of faith, “Lord Jesus, I accept Your death payment for my sin. Your resurrection, the proof that it’s true today. Will You come into my life?” For me that was 1972. Are you one hundred percent sure, at this moment, that you have the Son?
And if not, could we just stop? I mean, I’ll get the fourth point. I’ll knock it out quick. But I have to believe God brought multiple people in this room and the Spirit of God is going, “You need the Son. You need the Son, today.”
And this is how your mind is going, “Oh, man, if I need the Son and I go this direction, that U-turn, man, I got an addiction over here, or I’m living with someone over here, or I got this issue going over here and I’ve cheated over here and…”
Tell you what. God will clean up your life. Yours is a, “I’m turning from it.” You don’t have the power to change. You ask the Son to come into your life, forgive you for your sin, He’ll give you the strength, with God’s people, to deal with that stuff.
Father, right now, as we stop, You know every person that you’ve brought because You love them and You are prompting and speaking deeply in their heart and life and something inside of them is screaming, despite all the conflict, “I want the Son. I want eternal life. I need to be forgiven.”
If that is you, just in your heart, would you just pray along with me? And it’s not the words. It’s you talking to God saying, “Dear Father, I admit today that I need You. I ask today that You would forgive me for all my sins. I believe and trust that You paid for my sin by Christ’s death. I believe and trust that His resurrection proved that it’s true. Will You come into my life right now? Will You make me your son, Your daughter? Lord, thank You. Now, give me strength and courage to follow Jesus. In Christ’s name.”
Literally, millions of people around the world, they prayed that prayer, they were sincere, the Spirit of God came into their life. And they heard somehow, “That’s it! That’s the big deal!” That’s not the big deal. That’s like going into labor and having your wife have a baby and going, “Okay, we got that over with!” And you leave.
I mean, the baby just got born. When you’re a spiritual baby, you need the milk of God’s Word and the love of God’s people. He’s got a life ahead of you.
And, by the way, can I tell you something instead of that stuff you hear on TV. It’s really hard. Okay? It’s really hard and it’s awesome.
And it’s really swimming upstream and it’s blessed. And the joy is unspeakable. And so, once the Spirit of God, when you pray and ask the Son to come into your life, He comes into your life and you’re a new person. The old has passed away. Everything becomes new.
But now you have to learn like a little baby learns to walk, and then learns to eat, and then learns to grow. He’s going to conform you. He’s going to make you like Jesus.
Five years from now your friends will go, “What happened to you? You used to be a selfish creep like the rest of us. I mean, you hid it well. You were very sophisticated and, you know, you went to a great school so you hid it really well but you were a selfish creep like all of us. And you, like, care for people that no one cares about.”
Leads us to point number four. Jesus’ spiritual body began doing what He did when He walked on the earth in His physical body. See, that’s the game plan. The genius, the wisdom of God was when Jesus walked on the earth, He not only revealed what God was like but here’s a need and He meets the need. And here’s some people that need to be fed and He feeds them. And here’s some truth and He gives the truth.
And He lived and He loved in such a way and the wisdom was: “I’m going to leave and go to the Father and the Spirit of God is going to come inside every believer,” so we’re not going to have one Jesus, we’re going to have a thousand, and then a million, and then five million, then twenty million, then thirty million.
And you know what their job is? Their job is to stay connected to the Father and keep their heart tender so we would live the way Jesus lived and we would do what Jesus did when He was here.
So, basically, we’re His spiritual body. And that’s why Jesus said the last night on the earth, “You will do greater works than I did.” Not quantitatively but qualitatively.
There’s a, if you’re a Christ follower and His Spirit lives in you, Jesus lives in your house. That means He’s at your work. That means He’s in your neighborhood. You are the light of the world.
Well, how does it work? Here’s how it works. What did they do? They did BIO. They didn’t call it that then. What did Jesus do when He was walking on the earth? He got before God, didn’t He? He went to the temple and He worshipped.
He said, “I need to do life in community.” Even the Son of man, so He had twelve guys that He did life with. They didn’t have some little Bible studies. It wasn’t like, “Well, Peter, what answer did you get for question four?”
I mean, they’re doing life and it was, you know, “Lord, I’m struggling with this and my mother in law is making me crazy and I’m really tempted with lust and what do I do with that?”
And Jesus would say, “C’mon. Let’s get in here, guys.” And He taught them. And then they’re on mission. “Okay, you guys ready? You’ve learned enough. Two by two by two. Ready? Go for it. You go to those towns before I get there and here’s the power. I’ll be right behind you.”
They lived before God, they did life in community, and they were flat on, on mission. Look at verse 42. This is, they just began to do what He did while He was alive. “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship and to the breaking of bread and to prayer.”
Before God; in community. That word “fellowship” we get “koinonia”. Apostles’ teaching, the Word before God. They prayed. They’re having meals together. This wasn’t some religious group. These are people who are doing relationship with an eternal God living inside of them.
Everyone was filled with a sense of awe and many wonders and miraculous signs were being done by the apostles and all the believers were together.
“And they had everything in common, selling their possessions, and goods, and they gave as anyone had need, and every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts.”
This wasn’t, like, a once a week duty. I mean, they’re doing life together. And not just big meetings. “They broke bread together in their homes and they ate together,” how? “With glad and sincere hearts and they were praising God, and thanking God, and enjoying the favor of all the people.”
Non-Christians liked them. They weren’t known for what they were against, they were known for how loving they were.
And then notice at the very end. “And the Lord added to their number daily those that were being saved.”
How did it happen? It was the Spirit’s filling ministry. They’re filled with the Spirit. We’ll develop this later, the baptism of the Spirit is a one-time event that occurs when you put your faith in Christ, pray to ask Him to come into your life, and you’re baptized or placed in the body of Christ.
The filling of the Spirit happens multiple times. In fact, in Ephesians 5:18 where it says, “Do not be drunk with wine, for that’s dissipation but be filled with the Spirit.” Don’t think of a cup and water being poured in it. Think of a sponge that is filled with something so when you push on the sponge, it’s what comes out.
The word “filling” here means “but be controlled by the Spirit.” Allow the Word of God and the truth of God and the Spirit to have His way so that instead of being selfish, and self-centered, and right-centered you become like this group.
They were generous. They were kind. They were sharing. Why? Because it was the Spirit of Christ living in them and the life of Christ living through them. So they were filled with the Spirit. We’re commanded to do that.
Here’s the lesson, is God’s agenda for His people has not changed, and His power is no less available today than it was then.
You know, but if I could give me and you a gift it would be that we would actually believe that. “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you,” Jesus said. “And you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, to the uttermost parts of the earth.”
We’re sitting in this room today because people actually believed it, and did it, and many of them gave their lives throughout the centuries. Now, think about this. Just do the math.
God, the Holy Spirit raised Christ from the dead. God, the Holy Spirit, when you prayed to receive Christ entered your mortal body. Now, He doesn’t necessarily have control. You can shut Him off and you can quench it.
But if you’ll let Him, as you renew your mind with His Word, as you do life in community with people, He will fill you and give you the same supernatural power that the early disciples had.
And He then has an agenda for you. I mean, isn’t life more than just being successful, and being self-fulfilled, and getting a good job, and being upwardly mobile, and hoping everything turns out, and only to get to the end of your life and going, “I worked really hard, I did this, I had this crazy schedule, I did this, my kids got in these schools, I finally got married. You know what? I got buffed up in my body and I had money for surgeries later when I got older so I still look kind of good. And, you know, I’m crazy and I’m, well, I’m either plugging or watching or doing and…”
And get to be, like, eighty years old and go, “Wait a minute, what a waste. This was all supposed to bring security, and fulfillment, and joy. And I had to have pills to get up and pills to go to sleep and…”
Do you really want to do that? Or do you want to do what God made you to do, and placed you on this planet to do, to change the world?
Well, what’s your dream? Shouldn’t you have something where if the Spirit that raised Christ from the dead is inside of you, shouldn’t you expect Him to do something supernatural in you and supernatural through you that you would, like Peter, go, “I can’t believe this happened through a regular person like me.”
What’s your dream? I want to challenge you if you don’t have one, ask God. As we close, let me share mine with you.
I have a dream, Lord, that one day churches will be filled with warm, caring, non-legalistic, non-self-righteous, authentic, passionate followers of Jesus. That the broken, the irreligious, the fallen, the different, and the unlovely would be welcomed there.
That churches would measure success not by the size of their budgets, the numbers in their flock, or the beauty of their buildings but by the depth of their love.
I’m dreaming of a day when Christians would stay married when times are tough, when forgiveness is sought and granted, and predictable struggles would result in humbly coming to God and His Word and a wise brother or sister for wisdom and help.
I’m dreaming of a day when parents model holiness and purity, and set boundaries for their children to protect them from the seductive world system that promises everything and delivers death.
I’m dreaming of a day when parents eat together, and laugh and tell stories of God’s love at bedtime. Tickle each other to tears. Spill popcorn on the floor. Pray about tests, and lost friends, and lost neighbors, and make their house the most exciting, fun place to be on the block.
I’m dreaming of a day when Christians know their neighbors’ names and eat hamburgers in the backyard, a day when we’re known by our love.
I’m dreaming of a day when churches work together to paint schools, and clean parks, and build houses in the tough parts of town, and refuse to care who gets the credit.
I’m dreaming of a day when Christians will be known for what we are for more than what we are against. A day when prayer would be viewed as more powerful than politics, and that people would be valued and treated with dignity, even if what they believe is antithetical to all that we stand for.
I’m dreaming of a day when Christians would cease to be so concerned about being cool and hip and cutting edge and relevant and simply be consistent and caring and committed to be like Jesus and do what He says.
I’m dreaming of a day when nine out of ten Christians would think it abnormal and strange if they didn’t come before God daily, do life in community, and be on mission 24/7.
This is a dream I can’t shake. It’s a dream that Christians everywhere, in every culture, in every church, in every expression of Christ’s Church would simply live like Christians.
Maybe it’s because it isn’t my dream at all. It’s Jesus’ divine will and prayer for His Church. It’s what He meant when He taught us to pray, “May Thy will be done and Thy Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.”