The Story #5: The Spirit Brings Restoration and LifeSeries: The Story: A Big Picture View
Sin causes us to be unholy so that God cannot dwell among and bless us, but Jesus Christ, the Son of God, put on flesh and died on the cross to take away our sins. Through Jesus’ sacrifice, all can be permanently cleansed of sins so that a restored relationship with God is possible. But how can we access this forgiveness and restored relationship? The Jews committed a terrible crime by killing the Son of God. How could they be set free from this sin? Turn to Acts 2 to see how Peter answered this question when God’s Spirit was poured out on the day of Pentecost - fifty days after Jesus died.
The Apostles Speak in Different Languages (Acts 2:1-13)
Acts 2:1–13, “1 When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. 2 And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3 And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.
5 Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. 6 And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language. 7 And they were amazed and astonished, saying, ‘Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? 8 And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? 9 Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, 11 both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians—we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.’ 12 And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, ‘What does this mean?’ 13 But others mocking said, ‘They are filled with new wine.’”
What did the apostles do when they were filled with the Holy Spirit? They began to speak in tongues (i.e., different languages). Jews who spoke languages from across the world had come to Jerusalem for Pentecost. The apostles did not know these languages, but the Holy Spirit empowered them to speak these languages so everyone could hear their message. Some were amazed. Some said the apostles were drunk. Notice how Peter explains this event.
Languages Signify the Arrival of the Spirit and Judgment (Acts 2:14-21)
Acts 2:14–21, “14 But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them: ‘Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words. 15 For these people are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. 16 But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel:
17 ‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; 18 even on my male servants and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy. 19 And I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke; 20 the sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day. 21 And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’ ‘”
What does Peter say this miracle of language-speaking is? Peter says this miracle was given by the Spirit and signifies the fulfillment of the prophecy in Joel 2:28-32. Joel said people would prophesy and see visions to signify two realities. First, the promised pouring out of God’s Spirit had come. Prophecies tie the Spirit being poured out with God dwelling with and bringing life to his people. God would make a new, everlasting covenant with his people and forget former sins. The second reality signified is the coming of blood, fire, and darkness. These images in verses 19-20 are commonly used by God to describe a nation’s judgment (Isaiah 13:1-13; Ezekiel 32:2-8). Judgment was coming upon the Jews for killing Jesus (Joel 2:32; Matthew 21:33-46). Despite this coming judgment, the Spirit was being poured out and all who called on the Lord’s name would be saved. The old covenant, law, temple, priests, and sacrifices would be gone - finding completion in a better covenant, law, temple, priest, and sacrifice. But who caused these events? How could they call on the Lord to be saved? Notice Acts 2:22-36.
Jesus Is Lord and Christ (Acts 2:22-36)
Acts 2:22–36, “22 Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know— 23 this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. 24 God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it. 25 For David says concerning him, ‘I saw the Lord always before me, for he is at my right hand that I may not be shaken; 26 therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced; my flesh also will dwell in hope. 27 For you will not abandon my soul to Hades, or let your Holy One see corruption. 28 You have made known to me the paths of life; you will make me full of gladness with your presence.’
29 Brothers, I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. 30 Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on his throne, 31 he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. 32 This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. 33 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. 34 For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he himself says,
‘The Lord said to my Lord, ‘Sit at my right hand, 35 until I make your enemies your footstool.’ ’
36 Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.”
God, David, the Apostles, and the Holy Spirit Testify about Jesus. Peter says Jesus is the prophesied Messiah from David’s lineage whom God resurrected to reign as Lord and Christ at God’s right hand, but what evidences does he give for this claim? Peter gives four evidences. First, this crowd saw the miracles God did through Jesus (vs. 22). Second, David prophesied that God would not let his Holy One see corruption (vs. 25-28), but David was not referring to himself but to the Christ because David died and was still buried (vs. 29-31). Third, the apostles are witnesses to Jesus’ resurrection (vs. 32). They saw, heard, and touched Jesus (1 John 1:1-4). Fourth, they could know God raised Jesus to sit at God’s right hand because Jesus poured out the miracle of language-speaking they were seeing and hearing (vs. 33).
Jesus Is Lord and Christ. Peter’s case is clear. In essence, Peter is saying, “The miracles, the prophecies, our witness, and the language-speaking you are hearing all point to one fact: Jesus is Lord and Christ and he is sitting at the Lord’s right hand (vs. 34-36).” John the Baptizer said Jesus would baptize with the Spirit and fire. This time of restoration and judgment had come. Jerusalem would soon be trampled for murdering God’s prophets and God’s Son. How would they respond? Notice Acts 2:37-41.
What Shall We Do? (Acts 2:37-41)
Acts 2:37–41, “37 Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, ‘Brothers, what shall we do?’ 38 And Peter said to them, ‘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 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.’ 40 And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, ‘Save yourselves from this crooked generation.’ 41 So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.”
Repent (2:37-38). When the crowd asked what they should do, what did Peter first command them to do? Peter commanded them to repent. Repentance is a complete turning of our mind and lifestyle from sin. Sin brings dissatisfaction and death, but it requires serious commitment to stop willfully disobeying God. We should pause to ask ourselves if we are willing to stop willfully sinning and start living for Jesus.
Be Baptized (2:37-39). What was Peter’s second command? Peter commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Baptism is immersion in water “for the forgiveness of your sins.” Our works are sinful, so we can only be saved by putting faith in God to remove our sins. Colossians 2:11-13 says baptism is how we put faith in God’s power to forgive us and raise us from spiritual death. Just as Jesus was buried and rose, our old person of guilt, shame, and fear is buried so we can rise to live a new life (Rom. 6:1-11). At baptism, Peter also said “you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” God promised to send his Spirit to dwell with us and give us life (Ezek. 36:26-27, 37:1-14). Receiving the promised Spirit is now possible for us. This is not something we feel physically; rather, the Spirit is gifted to believers at baptism so spiritual transformation and life result inside us (Jn. 7:37-39). The Spirit also sets Christians apart since he builds us together as a dwelling place for God (Ezek. 37:26-28; 2 Cor. 6:16-7:1; Eph. 2:22).
A New Life (2:40-41). Sin has corrupted us, but we can have a new life in Christ. We must put off our old self, be renewed in our minds, and put on the new self, created after the likeness of God (Eph. 4:20-24). The crowd’s response to Peter’s message was huge: three thousand were baptized that day and added to God’s group of saved people! Jesus is the only way to true life and joy in a relationship with God. Do you trust Jesus? Are you repenting of your sins? Have you been immersed in water so your sins may be forgiven? Notice the new life, fellowship, and purpose God’s grace brings to Christians in Acts 2:42-47.
The Fellowship of Believers (Acts 2:42-47)
Acts 2:42–47, “42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.”
Devoted to the Fellowship (Acts 2:42-47). How did these Christians devote themselves to the fellowship as examples to us? Christians in the fellowship devote themselves together to the apostles’ teaching in the Bible. Christians in fellowship are devoted to pray together and to remember Christ together in the Lord’s Supper on the first day of the week (“breaking of bread”; cf. Matthew 26:26-29; Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 11:17-34). Christians in fellowship share their possessions, time, food, and homes with one another (vs. 44-46). Most importantly, disciples share the gospel with others (vs. 47).
Gentiles in the Fellowship (Acts 10). Many Jews persecuted Christians, but the Jewish Christians scattered and preached Jesus wherever they went (Acts 8:1-4). Even the Gentiles began repenting. In Acts 10:44-48, the Holy Spirit fell on believing Gentiles and gave them the same miracle of different languages. This signified that restoration and life was also available to Gentiles by faith. All Christ-followers from all nations are part of the same body (Eph. 1:9-10, 2:11-3:13). Since creation, people have been enemies with God and enemies with one another. Previously, people selfishly gathered at Babel to make a name for themselves, so God confused their languages and scattered them. In Acts, the Spirit broke down the language barrier so God’s scattered people could hear the gospel that would unite them to magnify God’s name. By adding people from all nations to Christ’s body, God is killing the hostility and reconciling people to himself and to one another (Eph. 2:11-22). When God transforms us to serve him and love one another, he is glorified (Eph. 3:6-13). But our story is not over. One day, Christ will appear from heaven to judge both the living and the dead. Notice Revelation 20:11-21:8.
The Judgment (Revelation 20:11-21:8)b
Revelation 20:11–21:8, “11 Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. 12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. 13 And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. 14 Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. 15 And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.
21:1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.’
5 And he who was seated on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new.’ Also he said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.’ 6 And he said to me, ‘It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. 7 The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son. 8 But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.’ ”
The Judgment (Revelation 20:11-21:8). One day, the dead will be raised and we will all appear before Christ so each one can be judged for what they did in the body - whether good or evil (2 Cor. 5:10). Those who cling to their evil will be thrown into the lake of fire. Those who repent and follow Christ will be raised to a resurrection of life (Jn. 5:28-29). All things will be made new. Our lowly bodies will be transformed to be like Christ’s glorious body (Phil. 3:20-21). Our perishable bodies will put on the imperishable so we can inherit God’s kingdom (1 Cor. 15:50-55). Mourning, crying, pain, and death will cease in the glory of God’s presence. Trials, temptations, and persecutions will come in this life, but Revelation 12:7-11 illustrates how we as God’s children can defeat Satan, the serpent, when we continue to trust Jesus’ blood and not love our lives - even in the face of death.
Summary & Conclusion. God created us and gave us everything, but we have all turned against him. We deserve death and separation from God, but God sacrificed his Son to free us from death and bring us back to him. Jesus our King has conquered death and invites all to enjoy eternal life with him. When we turn away from our sin, trust Jesus as the Son of God who rose from the dead, and are baptized, our sins will be forgiven and we will be given the gift of the Holy Spirit. If we faithfully look to Jesus and imitate him, we will be transformed back into God’s likeness. Through God’s Spirit, Christians become temples for God and shine as lights in darkness. Take hold of salvation. Tell others. Give God the glory.