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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
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.”