Summary: This expository sermon series is adapted from Max Lucado's book, Out Live Your Life, and credit for most the series belong to him. In Acts 2, believers trusted the Spirit's power, spoke the people's language, and pointed people toward Jesus.
Made to Make a Difference: Acts 2
Scott Bayles, pastor
Blooming Grove Christian Church: 6/26/2011
This series is inspired by and portions adapted from Max Lucado’s Out Live Your Life.
Nearly two millennia ago on the opposite side of the planet, 120 ordinary men and women—tax gatherers, fishermen, and house wives—turned the world upside down and it hasn’t been the same since. Their story is the story of a movement that stretched from the dirt roads of Palestine to the imperial courts of Rome, the jungles of Africa, and the Great Wall of China—the Jesus movement. Their’s is a story so strong, controversial, mind-blowing, and globe changing that two millennia later we wonder: Could it happen again?
You and I are the modern-day version of the Jerusalem church. You, me and our band of believer were made to make a difference. There are roughly 2 billion people all across the planet who call themselves Christians. Most of those people look at the five billion who don’t and the devastating times in which we live and wonder: How can my effort make any difference?
But I’m convinced that if we believe what they believed and do what they did, then we too can turn the world upside down. We can make a difference for time and for eternity! Last week I outlined three core beliefs held by the Jerusalem church and how those beliefs affected their passions and priorities. They believed Jesus is risen. They believed Jesus is ruling. And they believed Jesus is returning. Those central beliefs gave them a message, a mission, and the motivation to make every day count. We get all that just from the first chapter of Acts.
Their story continues in chapter 2. It was the day of Pentecost in Jerusalem. Pentecost was a celebration of the day Moses came down from Mount Sinai and presented the people with the Ten Commandments and the rest of God’s law. And because God’s law was so important in Jewish life and culture, Israelites came from all over the world to celebrate Pentecost in Jerusalem—the Holy City. Some estimate that during this celebration the population of Jerusalem swelled from a hundred thousand to over a million inhabitants. Merchants, priests and paupers all lined the busy streets, local inns were overflowing with travelers, and the temple was filled with Yahweh-worshippers. Every element of humanity crammed within the three hundred acres of the City of David. And somewhere in the middle of it all, Jesus’ followers gathered in prayer and preparation. Today would be the day.
Let me highlight three things these believers did on the day of Pentecost, which if we do today, can make a real difference in the hearts and lives of those around us.
• # 1 THEY TRUSTED IN THE SPIRIT’S POWER
God placed his people right in the heart of one of the largest cities of the ancient world on the busiest day of the year, and then, once he had them were he wanted them, we read: “Suddenly a noise like a strong, blowing wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw something like flames of fire that were separated and stood over each person there. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they began to speak different languages by the power the Holy Spirit was giving them.” (Acts 2:2-4 NCV)
Can you envision such a phenomenon? The spirit of God whistling, rushing, roaring like a tornado through the Jerusalem house. He came as wind, and then appeared as individual flames of fire hovering above each of the disciples. Welcome to the world of Acts and the Spirit of God.
It’s important to note that two things happened here. First, they were baptized with the Holy Spirit—completely immersed in his presence. That’s what all the commotion and the fireworks were all about. And that’s what Jesus promised them would happen: “Wait here to receive the promise from the Father which I told you about. John baptized people with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 1:4 NCV). The baptism of the Spirit is an act of God by which he plunges believers into fellowship with the Father, Son and Spirit himself. And it happens, with a little less fanfare, every time a believer commits hi/her life to Jesus and is born again.
Secondly, they weren’t just baptized in the Holy Spirit, but they were also filled with the Holy Spirit and empowered by him. Jesus promised that too: “But when the Holy Spirit comes to you, you will receive power” (Acts 1:8 NCV). The Holy Spirit empowered, emboldened, and enabled the Jerusalem Christians to step out on faith, reach into people’s lives, and change the world. I love what Vance Hanver once said: “We are not going to move this world by criticism of it nor conformity to it, but by the combustion within it of lives ignited by the Spirit of God.”