People often debate the question, what is the Church? In fact, it’s a question we’ve explored here before. It’s fascinating to look at when the church was just birthed to truly see our mission.
Acts 2 paints such a wonderful picture for us. Here Peter stands up and preaches a sermon. You could even call it the first sermon in the Church. This happens only a few weeks after he was caught denying he even knew Jesus. Peter goes from being afraid to standing up boldly in front of a crowd, telling them about Jesus.
Two things happened for Peter. He saw Jesus alive again and knew Jesus defeated death. Peter was also filled with the Holy Spirit. The disciples stayed in Jerusalem as Jesus told them to do and waited to be filled with the Holy Spirit.
This created quite the scene.
When Pentecost Day arrived, they were all together in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound from heaven like the howling of a fierce wind filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be individual flames of fire alighting on each one of them. 4 They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages as the Spirit enabled them to speak. (Acts 2, CEB)
The bystanders thought they were drunk.
14 Peter stood with the other eleven apostles. He raised his voice and declared, “Judeans and everyone living in Jerusalem! Know this! Listen carefully to my words! 15 These people aren’t drunk, as you suspect; after all, it’s only nine o’clock in the morning! 16 Rather, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel: (Acts 2, CEB)
Peter tells them Jesus is the very One, the Messiah, spoken of by the prophets they knew.
22 “Fellow Israelites, listen to these words! Jesus the Nazarene was a man whose credentials God proved to you through miracles, wonders, and signs, which God performed through him among you. You yourselves know this. 23 In accordance with God’s established plan and foreknowledge, he was betrayed. You, with the help of wicked men, had Jesus killed by nailing him to a cross. 24 God raised him up! God freed him from death’s dreadful grip, since it was impossible for death to hang on to him. (Acts 2, CEB)
This is very interesting to me. Peter doesn’t sugarcoat the message. He comes right out and tells them, “You had Jesus killed!”
We may have wanted him to hold back, not wanting to scare the people off or make them angry. However, the very opposite happens.
Peter even mentions it again, and yet, the people are convicted.
36 “Therefore, let all Israel know beyond question that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.”
37 When the crowd heard this, they were deeply troubled. They said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what should we do?” (Acts 2, CEB)
They ask Peter, “what should we do?” The Gospel message, the words of truth, convict them, and they know something needs to change.
38 Peter replied, “Change your hearts and lives. Each of you must be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 This promise is for you, your children, and for all who are far away—as many as the Lord our God invites.” 40 With many other words he testified to them and encouraged them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation.” 41 Those who accepted Peter’s message were baptized. God brought about three thousand people into the community on that day. (Acts 2, CEB)
It brings to mind another common phrase, “Repent and believe the Gospel!”
The rest of Acts 2 describes how these followers came together, helping and encouraging one another to live this out.
This is the Church. People who share the Gospel message, a message that when heard, convicts one’s soul. This leads those who hear it to “change their hearts and lives.” Together, we help each other live this out every day!
It’s Connecting People to Christ’s Love!
Blessings, Pastor Matt