This is the manuscript for the sermon I preached at West Bradenton Baptist Southside on Sunday February 2,, 2020.
We are five weeks into our series “Neighborhoods and Nations”. This series has been designed to help us look at and talk about the calling God has placed on us individually and as a church to both our neighborhood and to the nations. Ultimately, we will continue to discover how we can effectively be a neighborhood church (local) for the nations (global) and what that looks like.
Last week I talked about being salt and light. I talked about how God calls his people to be the salt by preserving the message he is preaching and sharing his message by letting the light (message of hope and salvation) they have shine brightly and unashamedly. I concluded with the reality that our job is to...Shine Brightly, Shine Naturally, Shine Openly, Shine Right Where You Are, the light of Christ in our Neighborhoods
Today, I am concluding this series as I talk about the church and the nations. Today’s message will be a nice segue for the next series I will begin next Sunday titled “The Holy Spirit”. In order for the church to be effective to the nations, it is important that a church be a Spirit-filled church made up of Spirit-filled individuals. Today, I aim to talk about and answer the question what does a Spirit-filled church and life look like? How do we live the Spirit empowered life? And how does living the Spirit-filled life and being a Spirit-filled church help us reach the nations for the Gospel of Jesus Christ?
Overview of Acts 2:1 -13
Before we do this, it is important for us to look at the day we consider the birth of the church in Acts 2: 1 – 13. This extraordinary event happened day of Pentecost (50 days after Jesus’ resurrection). In this account we are told about a great sound of wind rushing in the room, tongues of fire appeared above everyone’s head and utterances of praise in foreign languages were all evidence that the Spirit of God had indeed fallen on the disciples this very day. God fearing Jews who came from all parts of the known world witnessed this event and were amazed at what they saw and more specifically what they heard. They were so perplexed and amazed that the only conclusion some came to was that the believers were drunk with wine. We will see in today’s passage as Peter, filled with the Spirit, addresses these accusations and explains exactly what was happening on this strange day.
Today I want to park at Acts 2:14 – 21 and look at a part of the passage that has become known as the great sermon of the Apostle Peter. I am not going to look at the full content of the sermon, but we will look at the amazing result of this Spirit-filled sermon and what we can learn from it today.
Verse 14: This is Peter’s first public sermon and boy was it a doozy. According to author and pastor R. Kent Hughes this was his greatest sermon because, “Of the place it occupies in history of redemption, greatest by its pure results (there were 3,000 converts), and greatest by virtue of it being a model for apostolic preaching (Gospel oriented and evangelical).” In this sermon he addresses the onlookers by explaining what was happening at this moment. He also counters the claim that they were drunk with wine, since it was only 9:00 a.m.
He begins by quoting the prophet Joel 2:28 – 32 which is a prophesy describing this specific time when the Spirit will be poured out on believers. Peter informs his listeners that they are witnesses to the coming of, indwelling, empowering and filling of the Holy Spirit in the believe which was prophesied by the Prophet Joel.
Vs 17: “And it will be in the last days…” Peter tells the listeners that the beginning of the end is at hand, because here the Spirit of God is being poured out onto believers. God will Pour out is derived from the imagery of Israel’s heavy winter rains; it speaks here of abundant provision.  When the Spirit was poured out it represented the beginning of an undisclosed time frame known as “the last days” which concludes with Judgment Day. We are still living in these last days and we, just like the believers back in the early first century, are anticipating the return of Jesus Christ is near. The result of God’s outpouring on all people is that sons and daughters will begin prophesying, young men are receiving visions from God and old men dreaming dreams. All peoples refers to all of Judah and more likely on Jews and Gentiles alike. This passage could be translated as, “There will be a day when God will pour out an abundant provision of His Spirit on both Jews and Gentiles alike.”
“Then your sons and daughters will prophesy…” His Spirit is being poured out and his people will prophesy. Let’s take a moment and pause here for a moment and look at what “sons and daughter will prophesy” means. When one prophesies, he/she speaks to the people and encourages, consoles, and uplifts “On the other hand, the person who prophesies speaks to people for their strengthening, encouragement, and consolation.” (1 Corinthians 14:3). Author Steve Thompson writes in his book You May All Prophesy, “Prophecy is not just speaking human encouragement; it is speaking divine encouragement. In simple terms, prophecy is ‘hearing’ from God and speaking what you hear in order to build, comfort, or encourage someone. To prophesy is to hear from God and speak to men.” If I may be so bold to suggest that prophesying is something the Church should be practicing more today. Now, I am not referring to predicting the future, proclaiming loudly and annoyingly end of the world judgment. I speak about the type of prophesy that involves the believer listening, seeking and hearing from God and then sharing these words with one another (not to control or get what you want) for the building up of the body of Christ. The Apostle Paul tells us Prophecy is the greater of the gifts when it comes to edification or building up the church body as a whole. It is not necessarily a greater gift, but in the church body it is more beneficial.
According to the Prophet Joel there will be no gender or age discrimination, His Spirit will fall on male and female, young and old, Jew and Gentile alike. Young men will see visions (this is noteworthy since visions were generally reserved for specific people but after God’s pouring of the Spirit it will be available to all). The Spirit will be active during the last days. God will reveal his plan, purpose and promises to his people of all ages and it will be for the building and edification of his Church. Peter tells us that this filling of the Spirit is no longer just reserved for the prophets, but it is now available to all who believe in Jesus Christ. This includes you and me; we just need to pray for the Spirit of God to fall upon us and be willing to receive it when it does come.
The sermon Peter preaches is an amazing display of the Holy Spirit empowering a believer to preach the Gospel because we he preaches with boldness and conviction about Jesus Christ. Remember, only fifty days earlier this same man denied three times the same Jesus he is boldly proclaiming. He feared for his own life just fifty days previous and now he stands before over 3,000 people publicly speaking about Jesus Christ. Another way we see evidence of Peter being empowered by the Spirit is by looking at the results of his sermon. Over 3,000 people became Christians on this day. Only the Spirit of God can pull this one off. Had Peter given this sermon in his abilities and power, it would have fallen on deaf ears and the result could have ended in a riot or death. As we see here, when the Spirit of God is actively present, great things happen.
If you are a student of history look at some of the great revivals and you will see a common thread in all of them…. Spirit-filled preaching. Look at the first Great Awakening in America which happened in the mid 1700’s when a man by the name of Jonathan Edwards gave a sermon entitled “Sinner’s the Hands of an Angry God”. Edwards stood behind a pulpit and solemnly read from his notes a sermon that could (and in many cases does) push someone farther away from God. But, the Holy Spirit was at work and the second time he gave this sermon the result was met with people weeping and crying out in repentance to God. It is even said that the bars were closed because there was no business because people were getting save. This led to the first Great Awakening and is one of many events in history where the Spirit of God did remarkable things. This revival was a result of the Holy Spirit as were all revivals in history. Many people today try or have tried to usher in revivals but are usually met with little to no response as a result. Why? Because we as humans cannot bring forth revival! This is the Spirit’s job and we must allow Him to do His work.
So, how does living the Spirit-filled life enable us to become a Spirit-filled church that brings the hope of salvation to the nations? Here are some suggestions…
Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. (1997). The Nelson study Bible : New King James Version. Includes index. (Joe 2:30). Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers.
 Thompson, Steve. (2001). You May All Prophesy p. 9 Charlotte, NC: MorningStar Fellowship Church
Jeff has been in ministry for well over two decades. He currently serves as Campus Pastor at West Bradenton Baptist Southside Campus in Bradenton, Florida.
Jeff Has authored an Advent Devotional (The Advent of Jesus) and a devotional on the book of James (James: Where Faith and Life Meet). Both are available on Amazon.
He is married to Carrie and they have four children, Micaiah, Gabe, Simon, and Berea.
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