Sermon on Acts 2:14, 36-47
Text: Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say.
36 “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.”
37 When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”
38 Peter replied, “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. 39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off — for all whom the Lord our God will call.”
40 With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” 41 Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.
42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
We tend not to appreciate our power until it is gone. We are talking or texting on our cell phones, when our battery runs out. What are you going to do, then? Does that mean that you will actually have to interact with people? We are driving down the highway when our vehicle runs out of gas. We end up sitting on the side of the road, trying to figure out what we are going to do next. At the end of 1999, many people were afraid that the computers that ran the power grid would malfunction. This caused a number of people to go out buy generators and food that would not spoil. As much as we depend on these various sources of power, they sometimes fail us. This morning, as we get a snapshot of the early Christian church, we see that they have been plugged into a power source that did not fail them. By God’s grace, we have the wonderful assurance that THERE’S NO POWER SHORTAGE WITH JESUS. 1. He Has The Power To Save Us. 2. He Gives The Power To Serve.
Our text begins with the closing words of Peter’s sermon on Pentecost. After preaching to the people about the fact that Jesus was the one whose arrival had been promised for all of those centuries, Peter concludes with the words, “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.” (Verse 36) This Jesus, who walked among you and taught among you, was no ordinary human being. Peter said, “God has made this Jesus . . . both Lord and Messiah.” When the people would have heard the word “Lord,” they would have thought about the way that God often identified himself in the Old Testament. Peter was telling them that Jesus was no ordinary man. He was God himself. Furthermore, Peter identified Jesus as the “Messiah.” This is the one that had been promised for centuries, going all the way back to Adam and Eve’s fall into sin. How had they received him? What had they done to him? Peter points out very plainly, “whom you crucified.” Can you imagine the horror that must have filled their hearts when they heard this? God had sent his Son into the world and these people had put him to death! You can hear the terror in their voices when they said, “Brothers, what should we do?” (Verse 37) They knew that they had sinned and that they deserved whatever God might do to them.
Does that same terror fill your hearts, when you hear this charge that was levied against the Jews? No, we did not actively kill Jesus. Yet, we are no less responsible than the Jews that were listening that day. Why did Jesus go to the cross? It was because of the sin with which we come into this world. The day that we were conceived, we were already sinners. When we are honest with ourselves, we know that we have sinned against God time and again. What sins have we committed in the last week, yesterday, in the last couple of hours? How many times have we put our will ahead of God’s? How many times have we thought ill of someone else? When we think about these things, then we are reminded of verses such as Romans 6:23, “The wages of sin is death.” How quickly we echo the words of the people assembled that day, “What should we do?”
What was Peter’s reply to this question? Was it, ‘Try really hard to make up for all of your sins’? Was it, ‘If you are really, really sorry for what you have done, God will take pity on you’? No. Peter said to them, and he says to us, as well, “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.” (Verse 38) Peter points away us away from ourselves to Jesus. Yes, Jesus had been crucified, but there was a reason for it. There was the only thing that could take care of that debt that we had before God. God punished his Son on the cross for every one of our sins. Jesus took upon his back your sins, my sins, the sins of the entire world and paid for every one of them. His death paid for our sins and his resurrection assures that his payment was accepted by his Father. Jesus, and only Jesus, could take care of the sins of the world.
Peter told them that they were to be baptized and they would receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the one who would create the faith in their hearts and through that faith receive the forgiveness of sins that Jesus won for them. We see the working of the Holy Spirit, because we are told in verse 41, “Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.” What an amazing miracle took place that day! Previous to this, the believers in Jesus as their Savior was 120 people. Now, that number swelled by 3,000 people. How truly amazing to see God’s grace in action!
It was no less miraculous the day that you were brought to faith. You were a lost and condemned creature. There was no way that you ever could have saved yourself. However, on the day that you were brought to faith, you were saved. All of your sins were forgiven. For many of us, this happened the day that we were baptized as infants. God took us, who were powerless to save ourselves, and made us his own. We can be sure that we have been forgiven, because Jesus has rescued us. There is no power shortage with Jesus. He didn’t do most of the saving, and leave a little bit that we had to do. Jesus has the power to save us and he did exactly that.
What did the early church do with this knowledge? Did they just sit around and say, ‘Yay! We’re saved!’? No, as we see from their description in verses 42-47, “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to 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. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people.” We see that they were active in their faith. I would like to highlight a couple of their activities and see how we might emulate it in our lives.
First of all, it says, “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching.” (Verse 42) Later, it says, “Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts.” (Verse 46) These early Christians eagerly got together to hear what the apostles had to say. They were familiar with all of the Old Testament prophecies about the coming Savior. The apostles could show them how Jesus had fulfilled every one of them. Peace filled their hearts as they saw the love of God in Jesus. They also received power from the Holy Spirit to live a life that thanked God for all that he had done for them. Also, they were not content to hear what the apostles said once a week. They got together every day with their fellow believers to grow together in their common Christian faith. A natural outcome of this is that they devoted themselves to prayer. The more that they were reminded of God’s love and promises, the more that they came to him in prayer to ask for those things that they had need of and to thank him for all that he had done for them. No doubt, they also prayed for one another as they met together, as well.
What a wonderful example for us to follow. God gives us many opportunities to grow in our faith. He gives us his Word, which we can read and meditate upon in our own homes. There, he fills us with the sure knowledge that Jesus is our Savior. He reassures us that he is with us every step of the way. He tells us that heaven is waiting for us. However, God doesn’t just want us to grow in our faith by ourselves. It pleases him when we get together with our fellow Christians to learn more from him. There are great reasons for doing this. We can help to answer another’s questions. We encourage one another as we grow together in our faith. While we may not get together every day, as the early church did, we look for those opportunities to thank God as we grow together in our faith. We grow in our fellowship, that is, our unity of faith. As we grow in our faith, we will also grow in our prayer life. We are encouraged to come to him in our every need. We are reminded of all that God has done for us, so we thank him. As we grow in faith, we are also moved to pray for one another, as well.
We note another activity of the early church in verses 44&45, “All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need.” God’s love for them and their love for God moved the believers to love one another. The believers willingly and freely pooled their resources and helped out the other believers, who were in need. It wasn’t a requirement to do this to be a part of the church. Faith and love expressed themselves in their lives as they helped one another out.
Here we might think about how we can help others out who are in need. Maybe, since we live in country with several assistance programs, we feel that there is no need for us to do this. We pay our taxes and that takes care of our obligation. However, are there places, are there people that we can help out? It might be that we know of someone personally that could use our help. Rather than turning a blind eye to them, we see what we can do to be of assistance. There are many charities that we can support. In our church body, we have a group called “Christian Aid and Relief.” Offerings that are given to this go to help people who are in need both in our country and around the world. Jesus’ love for us gives us the power to help others as best as we can.
I would call your attention to one other activity that is mentioned about the early church. In verse 42, it mentioned, “They devoted themselves . . . the breaking of bread.” Later on, it says, “They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people.” (Verses 46&47) For these Christians, their relationships with God and one another were important. Their lives were not compartmentalized into one or two hour segments when they got together at church for worship, coffee and donuts. They got together in each other’s homes. They enjoyed getting together with their Christian brothers and sisters, which built up their Christian community.
What can we do to enjoy each other’s company? What are things that we can do to get together to build our relationships with one another? There are many benefits in doing so. It gives us an opportunity to get to know each other better. When we do this, we can be more comfortable coming to each other when we need Christian support. It also reminds us that we are not alone in this world. We have dear brothers and sisters who care for us and are praying for us. We have the wonderful opportunity to do the same for them, out of love for our heavenly Father. Jesus gives us the wonderful power to serve one another in so many different ways.
I would call one final thing to your attention. It says in verse 47, “The Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” As these early Christians lived their lives out of thanksgiving for what God had done for them, the people around them took note. They wanted to find out more about this group. This gave them the wonderful opportunity to tell them about the reason they were living this way. It was out of thanksgiving for all that Jesus had done for them. May the same be said of us. May God give us the opportunities to witness to others when they see what a difference Jesus has made in our lives. May we take to heart Peter’s words in his first epistle, “Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.” (1 Peter 2:12)
In order for things to work, there has to be a source of power. Vehicles don’t work without gasoline. Cell phones don’t work without batteries. Our bodies don’t function without food. The same is true with us, when it comes to salvation. We cannot do it on our own. We cannot serve God on our own. However, Jesus has come to be that everlasting source of power. He has saved us and will keep us with him throughout our lives until we are with him in glory. He, also, gives us the power and the motivation to serve others. May God help us to always be plugged into him. Amen.
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