The Acts of the Holy Spirit; Acts 2:22-41

Preached @ Harambee Church by Pastor Michael Gunn on February 7th , 2010

“It was by God Jesus was sent. We may put it this way—the Cross was a window in time allowing us to see the suffering love which is eternally in the heart of God”

Intro
We are in part two of Peter’s first sermon (Actually the church’s first sermon). Last week we saw that Jesus had to leave so that the church could be born as promised in the OT and by Jesus Himself (Matthew 16:18; John 16).

This reality came at the time of Pentecost, which wascelebrated 50 days after the Passover, and was a celebration of thanks for the 1st fruits of the harvest (Deuteronomy 16:10). It became a great pilgrimage to Jerusalem over the years to offer thanks to God, the “Lord of the harvest.” The timing of this was no mistake! It insured that Jews from over 16 different ethnic/language groups would be present, and it guaranteed large “First Fruits” harvest. It was the beginning of the biggest harvest, which has been going on for 2000 years, and represents the fulfillment of Jesus’ words in John 16, which reminds us that it was advantageous for Him to go away, so the church could/would spread to the nations as planned.

Another significant find of last week was that a when Jesus left, He was sending the promised Spirit to empower His people for the task. Previously in the OT, the Spirit was given sporadically for His purposes, and sometime taken away (1 Samuel 16:14), and the Spirit of God “Lived” in the temple. Now the same fire that rested upon the tabernacle to guide the Jews by night (Exodus 13:21), took up residence in every believer (See Acts 2:3; 1 Corinthians 3:16; Ephesians 2:20-21).

Now, Peter turns to the defense of the cross, because just like our own day, the cross is a foolish stumbling block to many people. To the Jew the cross of Christ was a “Stumbling Block” (1 Corinthians 1:23). The word “Stumbling Block” (Scandalon) meant “Scandalous.” Their law taught them that a “Hanged man is accursed by God.” (Deuteronomy 21:23). The cross has always been “Foolish (See too 1 Corinthians 1:18, 23) and a sign of cursedness. This is the point of Peter’s sermon and of the cross. It is a curse; it is an abomination. Galatians 3:1-14 reminds us of this reality. Jesus “Became sin” so that we would be made righteous (2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 Peter 2:24). Let’s see where Peter takes us??

From the Head…
It is sometime taught that sermons in the first century were not logic, or propositional based, but the snippet of sermon we hear from Peter today is just that. He defends the faith with logical and propositional preciseness.

God is Sovereignly In Control (Acts 2:22-23)
The first thing that Peter wants to defend is against the idea that Jesus’ death was a per chance accident. Jesus Himself said that His death was no accident, but a voluntary action of His in order to fulfill His Father’s plans (John 10:14-19). This is precisely what Peter wants his Jewish brothers and sisters to know. This death was the culmination of the Father’s “Definite plan and foreknowledge” (v. 23; see too Acts 4:28, 29). God killed Jesus! Yet, God holds man responsible. How can that be? Well we will never fully understand it, but the fact is, God’s eternal decrees cannot be thwarted or rejected (Even though His permissive will can, and is). Throughout scripture, we have this weird antinomy; God is sovereignly in control of everything (And uses everything for His purposes), yet man is responsible for his willful actions (See John 1:12-13; 6:35 + 44). Even though it was God’s will and plan to have Jesus crucified for our sake, it was still within the framework of humanity’s sinful choice. God’s will and plan encompasses everything to fulfill it. God can, and does use evil for His purposes (Genesis 50:21; 1 Samuel 16:15; Habakkuk 1:1-11).

This is how God “Work out everything to the good of those that love God and are called to His purpose” (Romans 8:28). There is no doubt in His “Permissive Will” He allows choices to be made, but only as He uses them to weave His plan into the fabric of this finite world.

The beauty of this though is the reality that God is providentially in control of our crazy world! Everything is purposed in a greater plan that God is working out toward our own good. The killing of Jesus was the most horrid thing ever thrown on a person, yet it accomplished God’s will to save the many undeserving.

God Raised Him From the Dead As a Fulfillment of Prophecy (Acts 2:24-32)
Peter argues from a logical base here, as he Quotes Psalm 16:8-11, which appears to be a Psalm from David requesting that he wouldn’t see decay after his death, but Peter argues that David is dead and in his grace (V. 29), and that this verse speaks of the future (Now fulfilled) resurrection of Jesus Christ.

In some sense the Jews were right, God doesn’t curse His loved ones on a tree, but Jesus became that for us, but God didn’t allow Jesus to decay like humans, instead He was exalted because of His obedience on the cross (Philippians 2:3-9).

God Exalted Him and Made Him Lord As a Fulfillment of Prophecy (Acts 2:33-36)
As a result of Jesus’ obedience in fulfilling God’s plan, He was exalted and seated at the “Right hand” of the Father making both “Lord and Christ” (V. 36). Again Peter uses the Psalms (Psalm 110:1) as the prophetic reference pointing to the coming Messiah, and not to David himself. This one is clearer in that it was weird that David (Who would have had no Lord above him, since he was king), would refer to his “Lord.” It is interesting because the NT quote is from the Septuagint (LXX), which uses the Greek word “Kurios” for both of these references to Lord, but when David wrote it in Hebrew, he used the Hebrew word “Yahweh” for the first Lord (Depicted in all caps in your Old Testament), which was the personal name for the Jewish God, and then used the Hebrew word “Adonai” for the second Lord (Depicted in your Hebrew Old testament with a capital L and lower case “ord”). So what we have David saying literally is “My Yahweh, said to my Adonai.” That’s a strange statement for David to make, because his use of Yahweh would have been normal, but there was no sense that he had another “Lord” on earth. Peter is saying that this reference, was referring to Jesus, whom God placed on His right hand making this a prophecy of what would happen in the Christ.

God makes lowly the proud and exalts the humble (James 4:6). We humbly come before His, acknowledging His regency. Jesus humbly gave of Himself, for us to live in His righteousness. It has to be our guide to how we interact with one another.

Peter showed us today that the preaching (Kerygma) of the gospel is simple; He gave us a Historical Presentation of the Death, Resurrection and Exaltation of Christ, emphasizing the fulfillment of prophecy and man’s responsibility, and then he gave us a Theological Evaluation of Jesus as Both Lord and Messiah (The Christ), and finally he summoned everyone there Believe In Him, for the Forgiveness of Sins!

The last few verses are the response to this message. 3000 were added to the as the “First Fruits” of the harvest, here at the celebration of the “Feast of Weeks.”

…to the Heart
The Response (Acts 2:37-41)
Where do you stand right now? Are you trusting in the sovereignty of the Lord in the direst time of your life? Do you believe He is “Good” and that He is working everything out to the “Good of those that love Him…?”

Do you understand the magnitude of this story? Do you see it’s prophetic accuracy, and how it has culminated with Jesus’ death and our forgiveness of sins??

Do you see your sins as an affront to a holy and righteous God? Have you been playing church/religion in order to gain God’s favor?

Do you have numerous idols that take up your time and attention, leaving no time for God?

Do you need to repent of bitterness and a heart that hasn’t trusted in the sovereign work of Jesus on the cross?

Are you influenced by a culture that thinks the idea of a cross for the forgiveness of sins is barbaric and idiotic?

Are you, Like the Jews before Peter, asking, “What shall we do” (To be saved)? If so, please make today as the day of your salvation and join us in communion and make us aware, so we can baptize you, as commanded in the scriptures (V. 38 cf. Matthew 28:20).

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