THREE WAYS TO BE AN ACTS 2 CHURCH
The beginning of the sermon of Peter after the Holy Spirit had come with tongues of fire on the Apostles, on those that had followed Jesus, and they were preaching in different tongues. Now, the people that were there were hearing in different languages. They were speaking intelligible speech. This wasn't tongues of the type that is a prayer speech that was unintelligible. They were speaking in tongues that others in their own languages could hear.
In that way, they were hearing the Gospel about Jesus Christ, and Peter went on to explain in verse 22, "People of Israel listen. Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you, through him as you yourselves know. This man was handed over to you by God's deliberate plan and foreknowledge, and you with the help of wicked men put him to death by nailing him on the cross. But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death because it is impossible for death to keep his hold on him."
So they're all hearing this Gospel preached to them that the Messiah the Jews have waited on. He was the one who was crucified and resurrected and ascended, and that is the one that they were preaching. So they all heard this message. Remember, back in Acts, chapter one, the disciples asked when Israel would be restored. Chapter one, verse six. They said, "Jesus, when are you going to restore Israel?" Keep in mind that this was the expectation.
The expectation was that Israel would be restored to its glory. So when they're hearing this gospel, they're still thinking this. They're still thinking that this Messiah was going to establish this nation of Israel once again. The disciples were surprised that it didn't come with a crown and one nation's political kingdom. But the whole new age of the spirit that was launched on the day of Pentecost was for all nations, and that's why it was spoken to all those languages. That's why it wasn't just a trick. It wasn't just an interesting thing that God can do to make people speak all different languages.
It was for a purpose. It was part of an entire plan from the very beginning that God would restore Israel, and God was going to do it not just to restore Israel. All the whole world would see God’s glory. So God was teaching all people who'd gathered in to Jerusalem from different countries and languages and tongues. They were coming very temporarily for the Pentecost. They would be heading back out all over the world. So not just them, but the whole Book of Acts talks about how the Holy Spirit compelled all the disciples out to the ends of the earth.
Here are three ways to be an Acts 2 church.
1. Acts 2 churches follow the Holy Spirit
The goal is to show you how important the events of Acts 2 were then and still are today for us, and then I'll help apply it for our church today. For many years, I missed the star of the show in Acts. The star of the show of Acts, chapter two, and all of Acts is the Holy Spirit, but I missed this star because when I was younger, I was convinced along with my church that Acts was a proof text for the importance of baptism.
That was basically all that we were taught to get out of Acts, and we used it as a proof text for talking to other churches. We saw basically only this text as something to teach about baptism, and we marked those texts. I brought my Bible that I got in 1975 when I was a young boy. It was my first Bible. It's a KJV. In the Book of Acts, I looked back in Acts these last couple of weeks, and I had highlighted different texts in Acts, and there was only one thing I highlighted, and it was on baptism. I didn't highlight any scriptures on the Holy Spirit. I didn't highlight anything else that happened in the Book of Acts except baptism.
Jesus promises the Holy Spirit to empower disciples to be his witnesses, and we saw that last week in Acts 1:8. This is a theme text for all of Acts. If you want to get Acts, then you need to get Acts 1:8. I'm sending you. I'm empowering you with the Holy Spirit to go from Jerusalem, Judea, to Samaria, to the ends of the earth, and the Holy Spirit is the only way you're going to be able to do that to be my witnesses.
2. Acts 2 churches become one holy nation
The Holy Spirit comes as a sign of the restoration of Israel. This restoration of Israel, this expectation of the Jews, the Holy Spirit is a sign that God's glory is coming on them. So the Holy Spirit comes and gives languages. The Spirit does miracles. The Spirit impels them to go out, and it's a sign of the restoration of Israel. The Holy Spirit also affirms that Gentiles are also part of the holy nation of all people. Later, we're going to see in Acts that Cornelius, a Roman, and other Gentiles would receive the Holy Spirit, and the Jews were like, "What? We thought that the Holy Spirit was just for us, and you're going to give it to the Gentiles." So the Holy Spirit would be an affirmation that the Gentiles, the nations are part of God’s people. This is good news, because we are mostly Gentile descendants who are included into one nation by God’s actions in Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit.
3. Acts 2 churches have holy fellowship
The third point out of Acts, chapter two, is that in chapter two, we see holy spirit and holy baptism, but also a holy fellowship. "They devoted themselves to the Apostles' teaching and the fellowship to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the Apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need” (Acts 2:42-47).
So what we see here is another result of the Holy Spirit, present in the first church, was to bring Jews and Gentiles into a new fellowship unlike anything the world had ever seen. Jews and Gentiles together in one holy fellowship. Imagine the temple was divided between Jews and God-fearers who were Gentiles. They couldn't even come in the same temple courts. Men and women were separated. There was a courtyard of the women, and they could only go so far into the temple. They were divided, men and women, Jews and Gentiles, and now another result of the Holy Spirit was a holy fellowship of all people.
Randy Frazee has a son who was born without a left hand. Randy Frazee tells a story about his son like this.
One day in Sunday school, the teacher was talking with the children about the church. To illustrate her point, she folded her hands, and did the old, "Here is the church. Here is the steeple." I can't really even do it. Open the doors and see all the people.
She was doing that with the children. She asked the class of children to do it along with her. My son was in the class. Obviously, not thinking about my son's inability to pull off this exercise. Yet in the next moment, it dawned on the teacher that my son could not join in in making the steeple in the church and the people. But before she could do anything about it, the little boy next to my son, a friend of his from the time they were babies, reached out his left hand and said to my son, "Let's do it together."
So my son's right hand, and his friends left hand, the two boys joined hands together to make the church and the steeple.
Randy Frazee says that he learned a powerful lesson from those two boys as did the teacher that this hand exercise of the church should never again be done alone, because the church is not a collection of individuals but one body of Christ, a holy fellowship, and that's why it's important to us in our church.
It's for all people. That's why all tongues were there. So holy fellowship is applied in our way and our time. We've attempted to open our doors and be welcoming to all people of all nations, and we've attempted to give them a word of hope in Jesus Christ every time we meet somebody, and we pray with them, and we call them into a Christ-centered life. Holy fellowship.
You and me, we may not feel equal to that task. We may not feel adequate to that task. But the church has been called out to be the glory and the embodiment of the presence of God in the world. That's what was happening in Acts 2.
Yes, the Spirit is a guide for each one of us, but God's Holy Spirit came on the day of Pentecost to be the glory of God in the church throughout the world. That's big if we start getting our minds around what He's doing, and it's huge, and it has incredible implications for us here in our church. We as disciples fill with the Holy Spirit. We have a higher calling and mission, and understanding this incredible calling is what it means to be an Acts 2 church.
So as we end today, I want us just to ask the question, "What does it mean to be an Acts 2 church with the Holy Spirit, a holy nation, and a holy fellowship?"
Greg Taylor, M.Div.
Greg Taylor is the preacher for The Journey. He holds degrees in Print Journalism from Harding University and a Master of Divinity from Harding School of Theology. Greg is working on his Doctor of Ministry at Phillips Theological Seminary in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where The Journey is located. Greg is married to Jill, who is a math teacher at Broken Arrow High School. They have three adult children, Ashley, Anna, and Jacob, and of course they are very proud of each of what God has done in each one of their lives. Greg is author of several books you can order from your favorite bookseller.