In the first chapter of Acts, Jesus told the Apostles to wait in Jerusalem for the promise. He then ascended to Heaven to sit at the right hand of God the Father. In Acts 2 they were gathered in one place and the Holy Spirit filled the entire house. Each one filled with the Spirit began to speak in tongues, and they went out into the streets of Jerusalem. This event is known as Pentecost and is still celebrated 50 days after Easter Sunday. Some in the crowd that day objected that the Apostles were merely drunk and Peter responded with a turning point sermon in the history of the church.
I have written before on Peter’s speech calling it the new thing in sermons. The Apostles had been preaching for a few years now, having been given power and authority to not only preach the Gospel but also heal the sick and cast out evil spirits. They were now filled with the Holy Spirit, and on the day of Pentecost each person heard in their own native language. Recall that Jewish believers from many nations had traveled to Jerusalem for Passover. The miracle of tongues on this day was not some incomprehensible language but that each person present heard the message in his or her own language. Alan Gayton, my non-blogging friend in real life, made an interesting observation this morning. At the tower of Babel all the people of earth spoke with a single language that God confounded causing them to spread out across the earth. At Pentecost the worshipers of God gathered together and he bridged the divide of language allowing everyone to hear and understand. That was God’s Spirit at work.
The new thing that Peter spoke of was the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. He quoted from Joel and David, testifying that these events were prophesied from old to be the way God would bring salvation. We read in Acts 2:37 that those hearing the sermon were cut to the heart and asked “What shall we do?” Peter responded “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.” Three thousand did just that and the New Testament Christian church began that very day. The Apostles continued preaching and teaching and more were saved and added to the Church daily. As those gathered returned home they took the message, and the Holy Spirit, with them. The Ethiopian eunuch in chapter 8 is just one example.
What shall we do?
The spread of Christianity and the growth of the Church began that day. We live in the Age of Grace or the Church Age still, and the message Peter preached is still repeated. Our response should still be the same. Those that have not received Christ still need to repent and baptized in his name and be filled with the Holy Spirit. And those of us that have been need to follow the example of those first believers. As soon as those gathered together in Acts 2 were filled with the Spirit, about 120 believers in all, they went out into the streets to tell others what God had done. As soon as those 3,000 believers shared with others the church was added to daily. And as soon as all those at Pentecost returned to their home countries and families, Christianity spread to all the known world. What shall we do? We shall respond to the Gospel. Our first response is to repent and put our faith in Jesus to save us. The next response is to follow in believer’s baptism. But that’s not the final response. We then go into our own cities and finally the ends of the earth sharing the Good News. We have an obligation to the Gospel. Freely you have been given; freely give. Our response to the Gospel never ends until God calls us home.