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A Gospel Worth Telling
06/06/2004
Scripture: Acts 2:1-41
Track 2 of 14 in the Being with Him Compels Us to Go for Him series


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Sermon for Sunday, June 6, 2004
"A Gospel Worth Telling"
"Being With Him Compels Us to Go for Him"
(Acts 2:1-41)
C. Sackett

God is a gracious and good God and we have been asking Him for continued leadership and guidance as we have been looking to our future. I wanted you to know that there are a bunch of kids over here in the warehouse and back here in this back hallway who have decided that they want to help out with this capital campaign so they've taken up an offering of $160 some dollars out of our little kids to contribute to this process.

Many of you have made commitments. Many of them quite sacrificial commitments. Our total campaign at this point is just over $700,000. A remarkable amount of money from God's people and something to be celebrated. We wanted to announce to you that the elders have met and they are going to push ahead with getting firm bids. Our estimate of $1.2 million was based on that. Some, what we hope were good solid estimates. We're about two weeks away from having finalized drawings and all of the spec work that we need to actually hand to some contractors and get the firm bids. And, as you've been reading the paper, you know that the current construction prices are in flux and so we won't know any final numbers until after the contractors have had a chance to put their pens to paper and we'll find out what those actual bids are.

Many of you have made commitments. Some of you have not and been wanting to. There are still commitment forms out here in the foyer. There's a table over there where you can fill those out. Pick them up. There's booklets there explaining the campaign. If you're a regular attender here and yet not a member and you want to contribute. Please — we'll take your money. Don't hesitate to give. It's really alright.

Ah, some of you have voiced concern because of your own economic situation. You want to be a part of this and yet, you are not absolutely certain what you can do because of your job situation. And that's perfectly okay. We understand that.

What would be helpful if you would fill out a form and just write that on there. I'm behind this and as God gives me opportunity in the future, I'll give. You don't have to put anything in there in the way of dollar amounts. It just communicates to the leadership the support of the people of God who may want to give sometime in the future.

We'll be meeting in the next couple of weeks to finalize some more information and what we'll be doing is just simply bringing you up-to-date as soon as we have that kind of information available to you.

We wanted to celebrate this morning that commitment from you and ask God to continue to bless what He's doing and continue to give us guidance and the leaders wisdom. We're going to ask you to continue to pray with us. Continue to give. Continue to listen as we try to communicate where we're headed. Would you join me as we pray?

Father you are faithful and you continue to bless and we are grateful for that. It is remarkable to see the commitment of your people. To recognize that all the way from little kids up to our most senior adults, there have been great sacrifices made to see this church advance and for your kingdom to move forward. Father, we do pray, that what we're trying to accomplish here in growing deeper as believers and more faithful as disciples will, in fact, continue. And so we pray as we move forward from this place that you will continue to give your leadership and your guidance, that you'll continue to bless. And Father, we do, thank you and rejoice in this great outpouring of generosity from your people. It's the kind of thing we expect when we see your people moving forward. Father, we're reminded again, that whatever is accomplished in this place is not us but YOU and for that we give you thanks, in Jesus name. Amen

I suppose among a Preacher's worst nightmare's is forgetting to show up at a wedding or a funeral, or how about an ordination. Like on a Sunday night in May, ten or so years ago, I went upstairs, climbed into bed. Sat up immediately and said, "What Sunday is this?"

I knew that I had an ordination service in Chicago for a former student on the last Sunday of the month. I was absolutely convinced this was not the last Sunday of the month. So I flew down the stairs, grabbed the calendar, opened it up and guess what? It was the last Sunday of the month.

It was late already so I waited until the next morning to call. I called Matt, asking if he could ever forgive me for my lapse? He just laughed. He said, "I figured you were caught in traffic someplace, hoping you were okay." I should have lied and said, "well, yeah that's what happened!" Actually, I just forgot. It's one of those worst case scenarios.

I actually forgot something last week. Only, I'm not going to take all the blame for it. My son-in-law actually misinformed me and I trusted him. You should never do that, trust son-in-laws. He told me that this Sunday was Pentecost Sunday, when in fact, it wasn't. It was last Sunday. Ah, it's not a day that we celebrate a lot but we probably should celebrate it more than we do cause it's actually the birthday of the church.

Seven Sundays after Easter every year, is this thing we call Pentecost Sunday. It's the day we celebrate when the church began. It's just in our churches we don't do a lot with it and so I was assuming it was this Sunday because Frank said it was. I'll never trust him again! (Laughter) So a belated happy birthday to the church.

Ah, what I'd like to do is take a look at that birth over in Acts 2. See, two thousand years ago this church would have been about a week old and already there were three thousand baptisms having taken place. They were looking back at this incredible opening day experience when God poured out His Spirit upon humanity and the disciples responded with the gospel and the gospel was preached and people responded. And already things were beginning to just show forth change. In a week the church was already on its way to becoming this life-changing, culture-shattering agency. I find myself wondering how that's possible.

I want to come to the end of Chapter 2. We'll get back to the beginning pretty soon, but come over to the end of Acts 2 and let's just look at what kind of a church was growing and developing so quickly out of the gospel having been preached.

Acts 2:42 Talking about these early disciples--3,000 of them on the first day according to Verse 41. They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he 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. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

This church is off to a remarkable beginning. Three thousand people on the day that the first sermon is preached and then Luke says they were adding people to this body every day. In fact, daily, becomes the most common word in the book of Acts for the church and its activity as things began to unfold. It's a learning church. They continue in the apostles teaching. Continued to hear the apostles but did more than just hear them. I continue in my father's teaching. There are a lot of things that he taught me that I continue to do. Now, he's not here for me to listen to every day. I don't have a tape recording of his voice but I continue in his teaching by being obedient to him by doing the thing that my father taught me to do. I think there's more to this statement, they continued to learn, than just they continued to listen to sermons. But they continued to carry those things out. They began to do the things that God was calling them to do. This was a sharing church. They were selling everything they had so that no one in the community had need.

A lot of these people were travelers. They were here because it was a special Jewish day. They were away from their homelands. They had come, well, we'll see the list here in a little bit, how far many of them had come. They were without anybody to take care of them. There was not a local "Best Inn". You stayed with people and you were dependent. And that's a lot of folks--three thousand people the first day. They began to sell stuff so that they could take care of the people around them. They were a sharing church. They were a worshiping church. They were a church that met together in fellowship and had meals together. This was a church that says it was winsome in its nature. People were attracted to it. Everybody found favor, it says. These folks were the kind of church that you would dream that we would be--attractive to people--winsome, sharing, generous, kind. The kind of folks that I think many of us are actually.

Well, how did that happen? Let's go back to Chapter 2 and look at the beginning as this thing unfolds in front of us. What we see in the first few verses is the setting for this occasion that we have come to call the Day of Pentecost. This fiftieth day after Passover technically. That's where Pentecost comes from.

Verse 1 says: When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Now first of all, you've got to ask, who in the world was together. It's the disciples. The question has been raised--is it the twelve or the 120 that is mentioned in Chapter 1 and there is some significant debate about that. I honestly don't know the answer. It's at least the twelve. It may include the 120. They have gathered together waiting, because Jesus had said get to Jerusalem and wait. And so that's what they've done. They've gone to Jerusalem. They are waiting for God to act. This is post-ascension, after the resurrection and all of a sudden — verse 2 it says: Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. Apparently there was no wind but there was this sound of wind. I've heard that wind. I've laid in bed on the Oregon coast and listened to the hundred mile an hour winds come in off of the ocean and it is a terrifying sound. But when you looked out the window, the trees were bent over like this in Oregon. There, there was no wind, just this incredible noise.

Then he says, They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. I don't know what that looked like. I've seen the pictures in my picture Bible of these little flames up on top of peoples heads. I don't know exactly what happened, but something caught their attention that looked as if there was a presence in the room. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages (tongues) as the Spirit enabled them. Unfortunately, your translation, if it's the NIV, says other tongues and that has a confusion to it. This is literally the word language. They began to speak with other languages. In fact, the list of languages will be given to you here in just a little bit. At least they were speaking in Aramaic and Greek--probably in Latin and then maybe several of these other languages. They were speaking languages they had never learned.

It is a gift I've always wanted. Well, not always wanted. I only want it like on June 18, 2004 when I step into a Polish situation and wish I could speak Polish. It's the kind of situation that I would pray for actually as I crossed a border in the Czech Republic and okay Lord, it would be really nice if I could just understand Czech today. So far, it's not happened to me. I don't know if He's just wanting to make me dependent on translators or what.

. . . . .there were (he says in verse 5) in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews. . . .That's an important statement. Watch that. . . . . .from every nation under heaven. When they heard the sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard (you see what they hear? They hear) them speaking in his own language.

Utterly amazed, they asked: "Are not all these men who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in his own native language? Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs--we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own languages!" Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, "What does this mean?"

It would be kind of a strange thing wouldn't it? If, all of a sudden, in the temple ground where you expect to hear Aramaic spoken and the language of the street being Greek--if all of a sudden you were there and you began to hear English. I can tell you when you hear English spoken in a foreign land it gets your attention. You think, wait a minute, somebody who talks my language. These people are all hearing in their own language. These men are all speaking in a language they don't understand and some folks are absolutely engaged by that, which is what you would expect. Amazement!

It is an interesting thing and I just take a second for a side issue here. It is why it is so utterly incredible that Scripture be placed in the heart language of people.

There are places all over the world where there is a trade language that anybody in the area would know how to speak. In parts of Africa it would be Swahili. In other parts of the world it's English and other parts of the world it's Spanish. But even in those regions there are those individual dialects, those individual languages that are unique to that particular group of people and when they hear them, it's their heart. And they can hear things that they couldn't hear because this is their heart language.

Some of you speak more than one language and you understand what it means to speak in a second language and you can get by. In fact, quite honestly, my daughter gets by pretty well in Spanish and she doesn't speak it well enough to be fluent, but she could survive. I would want here around if I were in a Spanish culture. I'm dangerous in a Spanish culture.

But you don't hear the nuance that you hear in English. It's why we have pioneer Bible translators for example. It's why we have Wycliffe translators, where they go in--well, it's why we have friends in Papua New Guinea who will go in and spend ten years listening to a language and creating an alphabet and writing words and then teaching the people to read their own language so that Scripture can be translated into a word that is their heart language. People will come from miles. They will walk for days for the privilege of having a Bible in their language.

It's why it's so utterly important for the American church, English speaking as we are, to make sure that when we preach and teach and worship we put it in the heart language of people. It's why it's distinctly possible that worship and preaching will occur at 48th and Madison differently than it will on 6th Street, because the heart language is different.

Well, they were hearing in their heart language and some of these people were absolutely amazed wanting to know what it meant. Look at verse 13. Some, however, made fun of them and said, "They have had too much wine." That's the nature of it, isn't it? Any time the gospel is preached, any time something amazing happens in God's presence. Some people stand and go WOW!! And other people go oh pooh!! It's just the way people are. Whenever God is at work doing his thing, some people want to fall on their knees and go huh, this is utterly incredible and some people want to go Oh pshaw. . . . .it's just stuff. Some of us have those transformations.

I can remember the first time walking into a cathedral in Europe. Now, I have to tell ya I grew up in small town America. The biggest thing we have was a silo. And I was raised in conservative rural America that said, what a waste! Make it square and flat and cheap. And I walked into York Minster in England where there's a stained glass window the size of a tennis court, where there are mirrors on the floors so that you can look into the peak of the cathedral without having to do this. Any my response was literally this. WOW!! You know, that's why those were designed--to do that--because an architect thought, let's create a building that demonstrate God. Sometimes you see God and you go WOW and sometimes you see and you go ahhhhhhhh!!

Well, here's what happened. They had all these people's attention and leave it to a preacher, he's going to start preaching. Verse 14:

Then 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. These men are not drunk, as you suppose. It's only nine in the morning! Now in the world I came from that wouldn't have mattered. But in a Jewish culture that was pretty significant. It's way too early in the morning for them to have been drinking.

No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: He's going to take it immediately back to the Old Testament.

"In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy. I will show wonders in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood and fire and billows of smoke. The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord. And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."

He says it's the beginning of what God has been planning all of these years. He's pouring out his spirit. Men and women are gonna speak on His behalf. There are going to be enormous things happen that you have never dreamed of as we anticipate the day that Jesus returns and people, anybody, all folks, anybody who wants to, can call on God's name and they will be saved.

Peter says (verse 22); "Men of Israel, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him as you yourselves know. This man was handed over to you by God's set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.

Miracles, capped by the resurrection. But don't miss something very important. That was God's activity. It was an interesting furor wasn't it that came out of "The Passion" movie? Was it antisemitic? Did it put the Jews in bad light? Did it accuse the Jews of killing Jesus? Let me put that to rest in a hurry. This text says it very clearly. It was God who put Jesus to death. As hard as that is for us to deal with. . . . GOD SO LOVED THE WORLD HE GAVE HIS ONLY SON. He is the one who ultimately put Him to death. He says, you who are listening to this sermon today in Act Chapter 2, you did it with the help of wicked men but it was God's plan all along.

And then he raised Him from the dead. Now he's going to quote some Old Testament Psalms about David.

David said about him:

"I saw the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will live in hope, because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay. You have made known to me the paths of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence."

"Brothers, I can tell you confidently that the patriarch David died and was buried, and his tomb is here to this day. But he was a prophet and knew that God had promised him on oath that he would place one of his descendants on his throne. Seeing what was ahead, he spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to the grave, nor did his body see decay. God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact. Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear. For David did not ascent to heaven, and het he said, "The Lord said to my Lord: Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet."

These things that David said, he said he didn't say about himself. He said it about somebody else. He said it about Jesus. And in Christ God has fulfilled this promise of setting Christ on the throne and making everything come in under His feet. He has not allowed His Holy One to see decay but he raised Him from the dead. Based on that, look what happens. Verse 36: "Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ."

This one you killed, God has raised from the dead and has established Him as the Messiah and the Savior and the Lord. Here's their response. When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, "Brothers, what shall we do?" Now how would you feel if you were a good Jewish listener and you suddenly realized that the Messiah that you had been waiting for, for your entire life, had come and you missed Him. In fact, you missed Him to the point that you put Him to death. This Jesus, the one who is attested by God through miracles and resurrection was the Messiah and you, this audience, who should have been waiting for Him, ended up putting Him to death and their response was, What do we do? That's the way all of us ought to feel because you see this Jesus whom God sent to earth to be your Savior and mine, our sins hung Him on the cross just as surely as the sins of those first century people. If He had waited until 2004 to send Him he would have died just the same because we were just as sinful today as they were then. And anybody whoever hears the story of sin and its consequences and how sin corrupts human life and causes God to have to send His Son to die ought to be asking the same basic question, What should I do? I'm guilty. You notice Peter's response? Really very simple, because God has not made this very. . . . . . . . END OF SIDE ONE

He says, "Repent (it's the very first step), you've got to have a change of heart that leads to a change of direction. You have to recognize the place in your life where you are doing wrong and you have to make a decision that I'm gonna stop and I'm gonna turn around and I'm gonna do right. Coming into faith in Christ is not a matter of just getting from Him all the blessings of salvation. It is not just taking upon yourself all of the good things that God wants to give you. It's the word that we give you every week. . . . . .God wants to give you life. That's true. But there is a demand to this thing and that demand is if you're doing what is wrong, you have to STOP, TURN AROUND AND SET YOUR FACE to doing that which is right. Then he says you need to be baptized. Literally the word means to be immersed. There were dozens of immersion pools there in the temple grounds because the Jews did immersions as part of their cleansing process. It would not have been an unusual thing to see people being cleansed (literally, dipped in a pool of water) on the way to the temple grounds. It must have been some kind of a site however, to see 3,000 of them responding to that invitation but the same thing happens. . . . . .well, it will happen second service here, if everything goes well. . . . . those doors will open. . . . .there'll be a pool of water. . . . .somebody will stand in that pool of water and say, I want to have faith in Christ. I want a relationship with Jesus. I want my sins forgiven. I have responded to Christ in faith. He has commanded me to turn my life around and to give myself to Him. I'm gonna be buried with Him like He was buried. I'm gonna be raised to walk like He was raised to walk and I'm gonna come out of here a new person.

Peter says to those folks that day. "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of your sins." That guilt that they had inherited can be forgiven. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. His presence, the one He promised in John 14, who would come and take His place to live with you permanently and come into your life. He will be among you, with you, beside you, in you, on you, around you constantly. You'll have forgiveness and His presence and then he makes this interesting comment.

The promise is for you and your children (for the Jews, but notice he says) and for all who are far off (that was the Gentiles, that was the language of the Old Testament). There were those that were near and those who were far. Paul picks up on that language in Ephesians 2 when he says that God has brought through Christ, peace to those who were near and those who were far off. He has taken that wall of separation between Jew and Gentile and he has made it clear that salvation is for everyone. Remember verse 21: Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. Jew or Gentile.

Now it was fascinating back in verse 5, there were God-fearing Jews in Jerusalem who are hearing this message and it was a Jewish messenger because the disciples were all Jews at that point. And they honestly believed that salvation had come to Israel but they were having a hard time getting past that door being opened any wider than just to the Jews.

When we get to Chapters 10 and 11 later in the Book of Acts, we're gonna discover that God was not satisfied with a Jewish church. That door was supposed to have been opened to everyone and so Peter is praying. God says to him, I want you to Cornelius (Cornelius happened to be a Gentile), I want you to preach there. Peter reluctantly went and preached. The Holy Spirit came. Cornelius and his family responded. They were baptized into Christ. Peter went back to Jerusalem and guess what happened? He got in all kinds of trouble with his Jewish colleagues because he had opened the door to a Gentile.

Look at Chapter 11, just quickly, over in Chapter 11:15. As he's making this report back to the rest of the disciples. He says in Chapter 11:15 "As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit came on them as he had come on us at the beginning. Then I remembered what the Lord had said: ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.' So if God gave them the same gift as he gave us, who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to think that I could oppose God?"

When they heard this, they had no further objections and praised God, saying, (Now look what they say.) "So then, God has granted even the Gentiles repentance until life."

Chapter 2 the door is opened to the Jews. Chapter 11 the door is opened to the Gentiles. God says, what I want for you to understand is that anyone can be saved. Anyone. . .through Jesus Christ who is willing to turn their life over to Him. To repent and be baptized will be filled with His Spirit. They will be granted forgiveness of sins, to walk in a new life, to be a part of this body (the church) that moves into the community with a message worth telling. Because that is the gospel. The gospel is just that simple.

Jesus Christ came into this world so that He could save sinners like us. He did it by dying and being raised from the dead and in that resurrection, God has established that He is both Lord and Christ and just as surely as the sin of that early first century put Him on a cross, the sins that you commit and that I commit put Him right there as well.

The only legitimate response to the gospel message can be on my own personal responsibility. What do I do? Well, here's what you do. You turn your back on sin and you turn toward God. You start walking in His direction. My guess is that if you're here this morning, you've already started that. Otherwise you wouldn't be here. You are at least moving in that direction. And you be baptized as a statement of your submission to God's demands. It's a funny thing, this baptism thing. You come in here all dressed up for church and then the next thing is somebody wants to stick ya in a pool of water and make you look absolutely foolish in front of all of these people, because there is no other way for you to be a disciple than being willing to look foolish in front of the whole world. To identify with Jesus in such a way that it says it does not matter what the world thinks. . . . I WANT TO FOLLOW HIM!

This message, the gospel of Christ, that anyone can be saved, is a message worth telling and that is our commission. . . . to tell it. To neighbors, friends, family and co-workers and enemies, to tell them, that they might have life in Christ. This Jesus, whom you crucified, God has made to be both Lord and Christ and if you need for your sins to be forgiven, you need to repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. You need to make Christ your passion in life just as He made you His passion in life.

If you have a decision you need to make and you're ready to make it, we'll take it right now. If not, please look us up between services. Let us have a chance to talk with you today before you leave.

Let us stand.