Tuesday, April 26, 2016

It's All About Jesus

Part 2 of Witnesses

Text: Acts 1:41

“Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified” (Acts 2:36). 

The Start of Something New

Jesus told his followers that after he ascended to heaven, the Holy Spirit would begin to do a new thing. [1] The Holy Spirit would “come upon [them]” and give them power to be witnesses (Acts 1:8)—witnesses of what God had done through the death and resurrection of Jesus. 

The events of Acts 2:1-41 took place on the Day of Pentecost, fifty days after the start of Passover (during which Jesus was crucified) and ten days after the ascension.

Confusion About the Holy Spirit

Luke writes that his “first book” (i.e., the Gospel of Luke) was about what “Jesus began to do and teach” (Acts 1:1). The book of Acts is about what Jesus continued to do and teach through the church in the power of the Holy Spirit.

There’s a lot of confusion about the Holy Spirit. Many people think the Holy Spirit is merely a force, not a person. But the Bible refers to the Spirit as a “he,” not an “it.” He’s the third person of the Trinity. [2]

And there are different views among Christians on the gifts of the Holy Spirit (also known as spiritual gifts). A spiritual gift is an ability given by the Holy Spirit for service. The two basic views about spiritual gifts are cessationism and continuationism. Cessationists believe that some of the spiritual gifts are no longer in operation today (e.g., the gift of tongues). Continuationists believe that all of the spiritual gifts are still in operation today.

In Acts 2, we read about how the followers of Jesus “were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance” (v. 4). What was the main purpose of the Holy Spirit’s activity on the Day of Pentecost? And what is the main purpose of the Holy Spirit’s activity in our lives today?

Pointing People to Jesus

On the Day of Pentecost, Jerusalem was filled with people who were visiting the city from other countries (vv. 8-11). The people were “bewildered” (v. 6), “amazed” (vv. 7, 12), “astonished” (v. 7), and “perplexed” (v. 12) that the followers of Jesus (“Galileans,” v. 7) were able to speak in many different languages. Some thought they were drunk (“They are filled with new wine,” v. 13). The apostle Peter explained to the people that the gift of tongues was the fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy (“And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh,” v. 17; cf. Joel 2:28-32).

What Peter really wanted to do was point people to “Jesus of Nazareth” (v. 22). [3] He proclaimed to the people six truths about Jesus.

1) Jesus was “accredited” (v. 22, NIV).
2) Jesus was “delivered up” (v. 23).
3) Jesus was “crucified” (v. 23).
4) Jesus was “raised” (v. 24).
5) Jesus was “exalted” (v. 33).
6) Jesus was made “both Lord and Christ” (v. 36).

 After hearing what Peter had to say about Jesus, the people ask, “What shall we do?” (v. 37). Peter answered, “Repent and be baptized [4] everyone 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” (v. 38). Sometimes what people need to hear is not what they want to hear.

The Main Purpose of the Holy Spirit

During the Last Supper, Jesus declared, “[The Holy Spirit] will glorify me” (John 16:14). Charles Spurgeon, in his sermon “The Holy Spirit’s Chief Office” said, “It is the chief office of the Holy Spirit to glorify Christ.” [5]

The Holy Spirit’s main purpose is to point people to Jesus. 

We can point people to Jesus through both our words and deeds. Acts 2 is mainly about the words of Jesus’ followers, but Acts 2 also says that the followers of Jesus had “favor with all the people” (v. 47). They were pointing people to Jesus through the kind of lives they lived. Our neighbors or coworkers should say of us, “He/she is a good person.” If they say, “He’s a jerk,” or “She’s a gossip,” they’ll disregard any words we say about Jesus.

The new thing that the Holy Spirit is doing in these days is all about Jesus.

[1] This doesn’t mean that the Holy Spirit was inactive prior to Acts 2. The second verse of the Bible says, “The Spirit was hovering over the face of the waters” (Gen. 1:2).
[2] A person is not necessarily a human being (e.g., an angel is a person but not a human).
[3] Preaching is not really Christian preaching if it doesn’t point people to Jesus. If someone from a different religion can agree with everything a preacher says, it’s not Christian preaching.
[4] Baptism is not something we must do in order to be saved. “The willingness to submit to baptism is an outward expres-sion of inward faith in Christ” (ESV Study Bible).
[5] C. H. Spurgeon, “The Holy Spirit’s Chief Office.”

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