Today we finish our series, “Love Is Always Worth the Risk.” This series is based on Jesus’ command to His disciples found in Acts 1:8, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere – in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” This morning we want to look at how this witness spread. This first Christian community is found in the 2nd chapter of Acts. There was little or no structure and yet this community became a powerful force to spread the gospel throughout the world despite geographic, racial, linguistic, religious, cultural and social barriers. Let’s take a look at Acts 2 and discover what God requires of leaders and believers in relation to those of other cultures.
Acts 2:1-4 (NLT)
1 On the day of Pentecost all the believers were meeting together in one place. 2 Suddenly, there was a sound from heaven like the roaring of a mighty windstorm, and it filled the house where they were sitting. 3 Then, what looked like flames or tongues of fire appeared and settled on each of them. 4 And everyone present was filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in other languages, as the Holy Spirit gave them this ability.
One of the first things that we discover in these verses is that this community was empowered by the Holy Spirit. I inclined to believe that one of the reasons the Holy Spirit came is because they had one purpose. They were in one accord. How many churches today can say that? The Holy Spirit made his presence known to those gathered. This presence could be heard, seen, and felt by all the believers that were gathered there.
We see that once the Holy Spirit fell on them they were filled with power. Was it simply for them so that it was a neat experience? No! It was so that they could be witnesses to the transforming power and they could be part of transforming lives.
We also see that the gift of languages was given. The believers gathered there began to speak in other languages. Again this was not some kind of random display, simply to show how spiritual they were. No, it was so that this small band of believers could quickly begin witnessing to the power of God and spreading the gospel. Accept that God care for all people everywhere and that He wants to express that through you.
5 At that time there were devout Jews from every nation living in Jerusalem. 6 When they heard the loud noise, everyone came running, and they were bewildered to hear their own languages being spoken by the believers.
7 They were completely amazed. “How can this be?” they exclaimed. “These people are all from Galilee, 8 and yet we hear them speaking in our own native languages! 9 Here we are—Parthians, Medes, Elamites, people from Mesopotamia, Judea, Cappadocia, Pontus, the province of Asia, 10 Phrygia, Pamphylia, Egypt, and the areas of Libya around Cyrene, visitors from Rome 11 (both Jews and converts to Judaism), Cretans, and Arabs. And we all hear these people speaking in our own languages about the wonderful things God has done!” 12 They stood there amazed and perplexed. “What can this mean?” they asked each other.
13 But others in the crowd ridiculed them, saying, “They’re just drunk, that’s all!”
While all this was happening, people who had heard the sound started gathering. Now there was a crowd. What were they to do? What do we often forget as a church about those outside our walls? We forget that they are loved by God. (By the way, more on this next week.) Those who had gathered heard the things the disciples were saying and understood they were loved by God. Second, believe it or not, they are looking for a church. They are looking for something to believe. They are looking at us. Those gathered there asked, “What can this mean?” As we will find out in just a moment, they are looking for answers just as this crowd did, because Peter was about to explain everything. Acknowledge the need to reach your neighborhood through personal and/or cross-cultural evangelism.
14 Then Peter stepped forward with the eleven other apostles and shouted to the crowd, “Listen carefully, all of you, fellow Jews and residents of Jerusalem! Make no mistake about this. 15 These people are not drunk, as some of you are assuming. Nine o’clock in the morning is much too early for that. 16 No, what you see was predicted long ago by the prophet Joel:
17 ‘In the last days,’ God says, ‘I will pour out my Spirit upon all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your young men will see visions, and your old men will dream dreams. 18 In those days I will pour out my Spirit even on my servants—men and women alike—and they will prophesy. 19 And I will cause wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below—blood and fire and clouds of smoke. 20 The sun will become dark, and the moon will turn blood red before that great and glorious day of the Lord arrives. 21 But everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’
22 “People of Israel, listen! God publicly endorsed Jesus the Nazarene by doing powerful miracles, wonders, and signs through him, as you well know. 23 But God knew what would happen, and his prearranged plan was carried out when Jesus was betrayed. With the help of lawless Gentiles, you nailed him to a cross and killed him. 24 But God released him from the horrors of death and raised him back to life, for death could not keep him in its grip. 25 King David said this about him:
‘I see that the Lord is always with me. I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me. 26 No wonder my heart is glad, and my tongue shouts his praises! My body rests in hope. 27 For you will not leave my soul among the dead or allow your Holy One to rot in the grave. 28 You have shown me the way of life, and you will fill me with the joy of your presence.’
29 “Dear brothers, think about this! You can be sure that the patriarch David wasn’t referring to himself, for he died and was buried, and his tomb is still here among us. 30 But he was a prophet, and he knew God had promised with an oath that one of David’s own descendants would sit on his throne. 31 David was looking into the future and speaking of the Messiah’s resurrection. He was saying that God would not leave him among the dead or allow his body to rot in the grave.
32 “God raised Jesus from the dead, and we are all witnesses of this. 33 Now he is exalted to the place of highest honor in heaven, at God’s right hand. And the Father, as he had promised, gave him the Holy Spirit to pour out upon us, just as you see and hear today. 34 For David himself never ascended into heaven, yet he said,
‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit in the place of honor at my right hand 35 until I humble your enemies, making them a footstool under your feet.”’
36 “So let everyone in Israel know for certain that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, to be both Lord and Messiah!”
37 Peter’s words pierced their hearts, and they said to him and to the other apostles, “Brothers, what should we do?”
38 Peter replied, “Each of you must repent of your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 This promise is to you, and to your children, and even to the Gentiles—all who have been called by the Lord our God.” 40 Then Peter continued preaching for a long time, strongly urging all his listeners, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation!”
41 Those who believed what Peter said were baptized and added to the church that day—about 3,000 in all.
Is this the same Peter who denied Christ three times in the courtyard? Yes, it is. See what happens when we are transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit and called of Christ. Each believer in this room this morning is called of Christ to be a witness, both individually and corporately (as a church.) We are called by Christ to communicate the message of the Good News. This is Peter preached in these verses. The other thing we want to make note of is that Peter preached this sermon in context. He was preaching to Jews. When we deliver the timeless message of the gospel we must deliver it in the most meaningful context for the listener. As I prepare sermons each week, I endeavor to do this. The message of the gospel has not changed, but our methods do. Our missionaries cannot present the gospel the same way we do. How I preach here is different in some ways than the way I preached in other churches. We are called to communicate the gospel and to cultivate the ministry. Allow God to burden you for others and start a relationship with a person of another culture.
42 All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer.
43 A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. 44 And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. 45 They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need. 46 They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity—47 all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved.
We looked at this section last week in our evening Bible study. Look at the life of the church. They demonstrated what missional faith is about:
- Connection – They worshiped together and connected to God and each other.
- Community – We spent a long time on this last week – How do we relate to each other? What are we all about?
- Communication – What we say and how we say it matters.
- Compassion – We need to meet people at their points of need, inside AND outside the church, because…
- Commission – We are to be God’s witnesses to the ends of the earth.
Act in missional ways to those inside and outside of your culture and church in loving and charitable ways. Love is worth the risk to be His witnesses in the world.