This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing. For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he himself says“ ‘The Lord said to my Lord, Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.’ 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 2:32-36 (ESV) quoting Psalm 110
Psalm 110 was written by David (Matthew 24:43, Mark 12:36, Luke 20:42, Acts 2:33-35). This Psalm is the most quoted or alluded to in the New Testament. Jesus used verse 1 to prove His deity (Matthew 22:41-46). He also used it to answer the high priest at His trial (Matthew 26:64). Jesus’ answer caused the high priest to accuse Jesus of blasphemy.
And the high priest said to him, “I adjure you by the living God, tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.” Jesus said to him, “You have said so. But I tell you, from now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.” Then the high priest tore his robes and said, “He has uttered blasphemy. What further witnesses do we need? You have now heard his blasphemy. What is your judgment?” They answered, “He deserves death.” Matt 26:63-66 (ESV)
The Acts of the Apostles: the history of the church was written by Luke. In it we see the extreme boldness of the first converts and get a taste of their persecutions. We see the generosity of the believers expressed amongst themselves, and we see the results of hypocrisy.
We open church history by watching our Savior visibly ascend into a cloud and receive the angel’s promise that He will return visibly as well. We see this promise in the Old Testament as well. (Daniel 7:13, Zechariah 14:4). Jesus had mentioned His return to His disciples Matthew 24:30 and to the high priest, resulting in an accusation of blasphemy (Matthew 26:64) and John had visions of this glorious day (Revelation 1:7, 14:14).
When we think of Jesus’ earthly ministry we think of the 12 disciples who followed Him from beginning to [nearly] the end. Judas, of course, was a disciple but not a true believer. He fulfilled God’s plan, because Jesus had to be betrayed to fulfill Scripture. There was now a hole in the leadership which had to be fulfilled. The basic requirement was that the person had been with Jesus and witnessed His entire ministry, and apparently there were at least two men. Matthias was selected, and the 12 became the nucleus of leadership for the church.
Why did there have to be 12? First, there had to be 12 to witness to the 12 tribes of Israel at Pentecost. There are 12 thrones for judgment of the 12 tribes as well.
“You are those who have stayed with me in my trials, and I assign to you, as my Father assigned to me, a kingdom, that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” Luke 22:28-30 (ESV)
When James was martyred (Acts 12) he was not replaced because the “official” witness to Israel was complete and the message was then going out to the Gentiles.
Both Jesus (John 14:16-18, 26; 15:26-27; 16:7-15) and John the Baptist (Matthew 3:11, Mark 1:8, Luke 3:16, John 1:33; John 14:16-81, 26; 15:26-27; 16:7-15) promised that the Holy Spirit would come, and He came in a visible and audible way. The 130 in the upper room began to speak in languages they didn’t know – and those who overheard them understood! They couldn’t explain it, so they said that perhaps these men and women were drunk. Peter took his leadership position and gave his first sermon, telling the people that this wasn’t drunkenness, but a partial fulfillment of Joel 2:28-32.
“And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions. Even on the male and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit. “And I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and columns of smoke. The sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood, before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes. And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved. Joel 2:28-32 (ESV)
Obviously this has not all come to pass – yet – but it will! The people received a Gospel message, showing that Jesus was part of God’s plan: Messiah and Lord. Peter’s knowledge of the scriptures plus the leading of the Holy Spirit led to 3,000 converts! (Soapbox alert: Why do we think we need to be “seeker sensitive” when it’s clear that a concise Gospel presentation will bring people to Christ? Stepping down from the soapbox now).
The new believers were so joyously focused on Christ that they voluntarily gave their possessions to the disciples, who handed out assistance to those who needed it. Tomorrow we will see the result of those who gave part of their money – and lied, saying it was the entire amount. No one was required to turn over their money; it wasn’t a commune or a socialist state. It was Christians helping each other, all working together to further the kingdom (2 Corinthians 8:1-15; James 2:14-16; 1 John 3:17). They are examples of faith producing works, and was possible only because the focus wasn’t on the things of the earth, but on Christ Jesus.
Jesus’ disciples were speaking boldly and healing the sick, and this led to their arrest. Peter just couldn’t shut up about Jesus’ grace J and even in bondage, told the council that Jesus was the reason for the healing. The council couldn’t deny the healing but demanded that they stop preaching in Jesus’ name. Instead, they prayed for boldness, and were empowered by the Holy Spirit.
How high is your boldness quotient? Are you unafraid to talk about Christ? What do you do if people tell you to stop talking about Him? There is a time to speak and a time to be a silent witness, but you won’t know the difference unless you ask the Holy Spirit to guide your mouth. Before I lead a group or teach, I always pray that God will open my mouth when it’s good and to shut it when it isn’t!
Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips! Psalm 141:3 (ESV)
See you tomorrow as we learn more about the history of our church.