Mark Ellis recounts good news …
Read Acts 2! Peter’s first sermon came at such an exciting moment in church history, with the filling or baptism of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost.
120 of Jesus’ followers at a prayer gathering were filled with the Spirit and began speaking in tongues – unknown to them – but were miraculously the known languages of many of the Jewish pilgrims visiting Jerusalem for the feast.
Pentecost was a harvest festival, when the Jewish people presented to God the firstfruits of their wheat harvest (Exodus 34:22). And there were thousands of these pilgrims in Jerusalem from all over the Mediterranean region and Asia Minor.
Supernatural infilling to witness for Jesus
All these pilgrims heard the commotion and came running to see what was going on. The sending of the Holy Spirit was strategically timed by God to reach the widest possible audience, because many of these pilgrims would be changed and return home to tell about the Messiah, Jesus.
So the Spirit fell on a day devoted to harvest, giving the disciples a power to witness, and 3000 were saved as a result. Thus began a harvest of souls that continued for the last 2000 years!
That Holy Spirit ‘downloading’ on Pentecost was a fulfilment of John the Baptist’s preaching, when he said he said he baptised with water, but Jesus would baptise with fire and the Holy Spirit.
I like to start my day with a morning devotional, and usually I ask God in my prayer time for the filling of the Holy Spirit. But such daily filling of the Spirit seems to be something different from what happened on the day of Pentecost! This was something unusual. They weren’t just filled, they were drenched! And that drenching gave them a boldness they had never known – as witnesses for Jesus.
After the Holy Spirit fell, these pilgrims heard God praised in their own language and they were bewildered and amazed by the spectacle.
But then came the mockers and detractors, who accused the disciples of being drunk. Whenever revival breaks out, there will always be naysayers. Who would answer these mockers? Who would stand up and explain what was happening? Who could guide them to the truth?
A man named Peter stood up. Could this be the same man who denied he even knew Jesus three times? Could it be the same man who was slow to believe in the resurrection? Could it be the same man who had ‘inserted foot in mouth too many times’?
But impetuous Peter, baptised by the Holy Spirit, suddenly had a supernatural boldness and an authority beyond himself (Acts 2:14-21).
Peter says that even though they may appear to be drunk, somewhat giddy with joy, they can’t be inebriated because it’s only nine in the morning. He quoted from Joel 2 a section that described the promise of the Holy Spirit being poured out.
Joel describes a time when young men are seeing visions, sons and daughters are prophesying. I love this emphasis on youth. When God pours out his Spirit, young people will be playing an important role, and I believe the next great revival may be sparked by young people.
On the other hand, Joel doesn’t leave older people out either – he says they will dream dreams. You’re really never too young or too old to receive a God-inspired dream or vision for your life. Moses was 80 when God called and he led the people out of Egypt. Caleb was 85 when he said, ‘’I want to take that mountain.’ John Wesley, the great Christian leader, was still riding horseback from church to church, and preaching regularly at 88 years old!
I don’t care how young or old you are. Your age doesn’t matter if God calls you and plants a dream in your heart. Keep God’s vision alive!
Supernatural visions and dreams
More and more, there are regular reports about Muslims, Hindus, and others in restricted places having encounters with Jesus through supernatural dreams and visions.
Recently I wrote about a young Pakistani Muslim man named Ali Husnain (left), a direct descendant of Muhammad. When he was 15 he traveled to England to visit his aunt, who had become a Christian. He was very shocked and disheartened by his aunt’s conversion, but he decided to go to church with her, out of curiosity. At the end of the service the pastor gave an altar call and Ali felt compelled to go forward.
When the pastor prayed for him, a light behind his eyelids got brighter and brighter, then his legs crumbled and he collapsed. At that moment Jesus appeared to him in a powerful vision and said, ‘My son, you wanted to see me. I’m here. Obey me. I will forgive your sins and give you eternal life.’
That night, Ali went back to his aunt’s house and went to sleep. Amazingly, Jesus appeared to him a second time in his dreams! Jesus said, ‘Don’t be afraid, I will protect you.’
After Ali returned to Pakistan, he tried to keep his faith hidden, but his belief in Jesus slipped out unexpectedly. He got into an argument with classmates about the correct way to sacrifice an animal in order to be forgiven of sin. Ali told his classmates: ‘Sacrificing an animal is not the right way to deal with sin. If you want to know how to deal with sin, you have to pray to Jesus.’
Right after he said it, he knew he was trouble. The next day, his classmates attacked him. They threw him to the ground and pinned his legs and arms. An older man with a beard and turban approached him, saying, ‘You tried to make converts out of our children. Islam gives me the right to kill any infidel who does that and speaks against our beloved prophet.’
Reached into his cloak, he pulled out a knife, and stabbed Ali in the chest. The knife narrowly missed his heart, but punctured his lung. Ali lapsed into unconsciousness. Then Jesus appeared to him a third time saying, ‘You were injured because you were defending me. I will not let you die … I will protect you.’ Ali survived and has become a Middle East underground church leader.
Supernatural appearance of ‘man in white robe’
Ekballo Project’s Tyler Connell went to the Middle East to minister to Syrian refugees with Daniel a young U.S. missionary. When they entered the tent of one Muslim family, Daniel stood at the door and said, ‘Hi, my name is Daniel, and I’m here to tell you about Jesus.’
The entire Muslim family started reacting! The two visitors learned that the night before the family was having tea together when a man appeared at the door to their tent, dressed in a white robe and glowing.
He said, ‘Hello, My name is Jesus and I am sending a man tomorrow named Daniel to tell you more about me.’ Then he disappeared.
So when Daniel arrived at their doorway and told them his name, they were completely thrown. Asked to tell them more about Jesus, Daniel shared the gospel and the whole family gave their lives to Jesus!
Pentecost – a message of hope!
Going back to our passage there is a wonderful note of hope we shouldn’t miss in Acts 2:21-23. No matter how bad things may look in the world, Joel reminds us that ‘everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’
And if everything seems to be falling apart in your world, call on the name of Jesus and you will be saved. There is power in the name of Jesus.
Peter first sermon is a Spirit-filled, Christ-centered message. Peter goes on to testify about the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. He had seen the miracles of Jesus firsthand. Many of the people he was speaking to had either seen the miracles or knew somebody who had seen the miracles of Jesus.
There are people today who view Jesus as a good teacher, a prophet, but they can’t quite believe he is God. But when has anyone else in history supernaturally…
- Walked on water?
- Fed 5000 people from a few loaves and fishes?
- Given sight to someone born blind?
- Turned water into wine?
- Raised someone from the dead?
When Peter talked about the mighty miracles of Jesus he says these miracles were ‘in your midst…as you yourselves know.’ That all these things – even Jesus’ death on the cross – were part of God’s divine plan. Jesus Christ did not die as an accident of history. It was God’s rescue mission to deal with the problem of human evil.
Pentecost’s good news
Today, if you violate the law you get a fine, perhaps a jail sentence, maybe even the death penalty if you murder someone. Even something as minor as a parking ticket has to be paid for, and in God’s universe, operating under his laws, sin has to be paid for.
There is a penalty attached to sin. The more you sin, the greater that penalty becomes and the further you distance yourself from God. Ultimately, scripture says the wages of sin — what you earn when you sin — is death and eternal separation from God.
But the good news is that God made a way to pay the penalty for your sins through a substitute – Jesus, who paid the penalty on your behalf. God says that either your sins will be punished or they will be pardoned, but they can’t be overlooked.
Some might think that God’s love is too great to punish sin or allow anyone to go to hell. But if a judge in a courtroom allows a rapist or murderer to walk free, we would say an injustice occurred. God is too holy, too righteous, too good to overlook sin. No sinful person can enter into God’s holy presence in heaven until this sin problem is taken care of.
The Acts 2 events relate to the John 3:16 good news that God so loved the world he sent his only Son, to pay that penalty for your sins by dying on the cross, so you could receive a full and complete pardon.
Don’t know God? Genuinely repent and receive his pardon. It’s a free gift. You just have to open your heart to receive it.
Mark Ellis is a seasoned senior correspondent for the ASSIST News Service (www.assistnews.net), and founder of the acclaimed www.GodReports.com a website that shares stories, testimonies and videos from the church around the world. Excerpted from http://blog.godreports.com/2016/04/peters-first-sermon-on-the-day-of-pentecost/