120 to 3,120
The Apostle Peter gives the first-ever sermon of the Christian church, and the church grows from 120 to 3,120.
Morning. David Sorn. Pastor of Renovation Church.
Let me start by asking you a question: Has anyone ever mistaken your actions?
They thought you were doing something you weren’t?
It happens. People get the wrong impression.
Someone thinks you’re stealing something from the store, but it’s really something you brought in yourself
Somebody thought you were interested in them romantically but you were really just being friendly
Or someone thinks your dog is about to rip their head off, but really he just wants to lick their face.
All sorts of things can be perceived completely inaccurately by other people
For example, a few months ago, my wife’s computer screen completely went dead, but it was still under warranty, so the Dell repairman came out to fix it.
When he came, I was home (since I work from home), and when I answered the door, he looked at me and said, “Hi, I’m with Dell repair. Are either one of your parents home?”
To which I replied, “Actually I’m 28 years old and live with my wife.”
A TEMPLATE FOR PREACHING
People get perceived wrongly all the time.
We are continuing our Acts series this morning, and we are going to rejoin the story right in the middle of a massive misperception
Let me tell you what happened
The Book of Acts is the story of the early church after Jesus ascends into heaven.
Last week, the Holy Spirit came down and empowered the disciples. Here’s a quick recap
(Acts 2:1-4) – NLT
1 On the day of Pentecost all the believers were meeting together in one place. 2 Suddenly, there was a sound from heaven like the roaring of a mighty windstorm, and it filled the house where they were sitting. 3 Then, what looked like flames or tongues of fire appeared and settled on each of them. 4 And everyone present was filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in other languages, as the Holy Spirit gave them this ability.
So the believers start praising God literally in other languages, and a lot of people are intrigued, but many others misperceive what’s really happening
The last verse of our passage last week, said this:
(Acts 2:13) – NLT
13 But others in the crowd ridiculed them, saying, “They’re just drunk, that’s all!”
So we have a pretty big misperception here.
God is at work in a major way, but people are seeing something different through their own eyes.
So, what is about to happen, is Peter, the leader of the disciples at the time, is going to stand up and address the thousands of onlookers who have come running when they heard the sound of the wind, saw the fire, and heard people were speaking in different languages. This has attracted a crowd like a flash mob in the middle of times square
And what Peter’s about to say is incredibly important.
It’s really the first sermon (message/talk) that’s given about Jesus by the “church” now that Jesus has ascended into heaven.
And what Peter says today in Acts 2 really is a model or a template for talking about Jesus in the rest of the book of Acts
It’s a good model for you and me today as we talk to people about who God is.
We talked a lot this summer in our evangelism series that SO much of evangelism (sharing about God) is a process, it’s a relationship.
But our prayer is that each and every one of us is eventually going to get to a place where we can really have a key conversation with our friends about who Jesus is.
And the words Peter uses today when he addresses the crowds are a good guide for us to follow.
Peter essentially says 3 things
He explains what’s going on in his time/life/culture (connects w/ the audience)
Explains the story of Jesus (life/death/resurrection)
Challenges people to repent and be baptized
Let’s look at how he does these three things
CONNECTING WITH THE AUDIENCE
So, first Peter connects with his audience.
They have a misperception about what’s happening (they think everyone’s drunk), and he starts his message from right there.
We are going to be in Acts chapter 2 today, starting at verse 14. If you have your Bibles, you can open up to there, or the verses will be on the screen, or you can read it on your phones as well if you have that option.
We are going to be reading from the NLT today. We use both the NLT and NIV, but today we will be studying our passage in the NLT
(Acts 2:14-21) – NLT
14 Then Peter stepped forward with the eleven other apostles and shouted to the crowd, “Listen carefully, all of you, fellow Jews and residents of Jerusalem! Make no mistake about this. 15 These people are not drunk, as some of you are assuming. Nine o’clock in the morning is much too early for that. 16 No, what you see was predicted long ago by the prophet Joel:
17 ‘In the last days,’ God says,
‘I will pour out my Spirit upon all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy.
Your young men will see visions,
and your old men will dream dreams.
18 In those days I will pour out my Spirit
even on my servants—men and women alike—
and they will prophesy.
19 And I will cause wonders in the heavens above
and signs on the earth below—
blood and fire and clouds of smoke.
20 The sun will become dark,
and the moon will turn blood red
before that great and glorious day of the Lord arrives.
21 But everyone who calls on the name of the Lord
will be saved.’
So, Peter wisely starts by pointing out it’s only nine in the morning (plus on the festival of Pentecost all religious people fasted to 10am anyway), so it’s even more unlikely that they would be drunk.
He starts by connecting with them about what’s going on.
Too often when we talk to people today about God we just awkwardly jump in like a teenager on a first date.
“So…um…do you think you’re going to hell or heaven?”
“Can I ask you a question? Have you ever lied before? Have you ever sinned before? Do you need a savior?”
(Excuse me, what??!?)
But God does provide us with opportunities for entry points for spiritual conversations more than we think.
Sometimes, it has to do with what’s happening in the world.
There are events that happen in our lifetimes that just cause even the hardest of hearted to ask spiritual questions.
Remember on 9/11 when people just flocked to churches for a few weeks?
There was a connecting point. People are looking.
We could start there. Just as Peter started his message, we could start with, “Friends, we have seen that evil is real and the life can be shorter than we sometimes expect it to be, let me tell you some good news in the midst of chaos.”
That is a connecting point.
But there are connecting points in our friends and families lives for us to enter through as well.
Often, they are positive: A birth, a wedding, a move, life changes.
But sometimes, people are most open to God in the midst of pain.
People that aren’t “praying people” turn to prayer in the midst of the death of a family member, or deep marital conflict, or a friend’s severe illness.
May we be like Peter and be bold in those moments. See these as opportunities to begin to talk about the power, love, and forgiveness of Jesus Christ with the friends and family members around you.
Our job is to be like Peter and help people see God in those moments and not misperceive it as something else
I would guess that many of you in this room have some connecting points like this right now in your friends and family members lives who don’t know Jesus.
My encouragement to you would be to walk through the openings while they are still openings. Because the opening often gets closed again.
So Peter capitalizes on a captive audience, explains what’s really happening, and on top of that, he tells them that a hundreds of years old prophecy has come true right before their eyes
See, most Jews believed that prophecy had ceased after the last prophet of the OT. The prophet Malachi.
Thus, they believed that for the last 450 years that God didn’t speak through prophets.
And now Peter is saying, that this prophecy from Joel about ALL different types of people being able to prophesy and dream dreams and see visions, that this prophecy has come true right in front of their eyes.
Quick teaching note on this: When the prophet Joel says “last days,” He’s talking about the beginning of the “last days.” The “last days’ is the era in which Jesus Christ ushers in.
And in those last days (or last era), all people will potentially have the ability to do miraculous things because now the Holy Spirit will dwell in believers of Jesus Christ. (which never happened previous to this)
And then we see Joel says some other crazy things will happen (i.e. the sun going dark and moon turning to red)
Which obviously hasn’t happened, but again, when he says “last days,” he means the “last era,” and we know from the book of Revelation that this will indeed happen in the end of days
Anyway, just wanted to explain that quick rather than just pass over it
EXPLAINING THE STORY OF JESUS
Now that Peter has connected with his audience (in dramatic fashion), he begins to explain to them the story of Jesus. Peter’s message continues, and he says this:
(Acts 2:22-30) – NLT
22 “People of Israel, listen! God publicly endorsed Jesus the Nazarene by doing powerful miracles, wonders, and signs through him, as you well know. 23 But God knew what would happen, and his prearranged plan was carried out when Jesus was betrayed. With the help of lawless Gentiles, you nailed him to a cross and killed him. 24 But God released him from the horrors of death and raised him back to life, for death could not keep him in its grip. 25 King David said this about him:
‘I see that the Lord is always with me.
I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me.
26 No wonder my heart is glad,
and my tongue shouts his praises!
My body rests in hope.
27 For you will not leave my soul among the dead
or allow your Holy One to rot in the grave.
28 You have shown me the way of life,
and you will fill me with the joy of your presence.’
29 “Dear brothers, think about this! You can be sure that the patriarch David wasn’t referring to himself, for he died and was buried, and his tomb is still here among us. 30 But he was a prophet, and he knew God had promised with an oath that one of David’s own descendants would sit on his throne
In the OT, God promised David that one of his descendants would sit on the throne FOREVER
Which prob. didn’t make sense, but it makes sense now.
In the very beginning of the book of Matthew, there is a genealogy of Jesus’ ancestors (which a lot of ppl prob just skip over)
But in the genealogy, what you see is that Jesus, is a direct descendant of King David.
Now, knowing that, look at what Peter then says
(Acts 2:31-36) – NLT
31 David was looking into the future and speaking of the Messiah’s resurrection. He was saying that God would not leave him among the dead or allow his body to rot in the grave.32 “God raised Jesus from the dead, and we are all witnesses of this. 33 Now he is exalted to the place of highest honor in heaven, at God’s right hand. And the Father, as he had promised, gave him the Holy Spirit to pour out upon us, just as you see and hear today. 34For David himself never ascended into heaven, yet he said, ‘The Lord said to my Lord,
“Sit in the place of honor at my right hand
35 until I humble your enemies,
making them a footstool under your feet.”’ 36 “So let everyone in Israel know for certain that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, to be both Lord and Messiah!”
So, he’s saying, “That this Jesus who walked among you, wasn’t just a miracle worker, he wasn’t even just a prophet, he was the very messiah, the one who was prophesied about over, and over, and over again in the Bible.”
This Jesus, who walked among you, was the very descendant of David, whom God said would one day reign on the throne forever and ever and ever.
The Messiah, the Savior of the World, the one that can forgive all our sins, the one the prophecies spoke about for thousands of years, THAT PERSON…was Jesus.
He was killed on a cross, and he rose again.
Let’s step back for a moment and think about this:
Think about how incredibly rational and well-thought out of an appeal Peter just made about the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
He uses the Bible multiple times to prove that there were plenty of prophecies that were hundreds of years old that were now coming true
He appeals to the miracles they had already seen
The 11 stand up behind him as eye-witnesses to the resurrection
And he just gets straight to the point (he’s like a layer making his final appeal):
You ever see a lawyer making his final appeal before a jury?
Most of us haven’t spent tons of time in court (except for maybe defending a speeding ticket)
But we do see a lot of it in movies and TV (like one of the 47 different Law and Order Variations you can now watch on TV)
But Peter makes an appeal like a lawyer making a final appeal to a jury:
Exhibit A: Jesus was here (you saw him AND his miracles) You saw him killed
Exhibit B: He rose from the dead. We have witnesses. 500 that could testify.
Exhibit C: I like to submit for the record the hundreds of prophecies that proved this would happen. In fact, let me read some from Joel and David
And now, this Jesus has been exalted to the right hand of God. And by the way He is God. And He came to give his life for you.
I think there is something really important in Peter’s message today that we can take as evangelical Christians living in the year 2010.
Notice how little of his appeal has to do with our own needs and emotions.
I believe one of the course corrections that the Evangelical church has got to make is to stop overly playing on human emotions and needs
We’ve kind of got caught up in the, “What can Jesus do to make you feel better” mode?
Churches talk about how much happier Jesus can make you, and make your life easier, and how he can bring healing, and joy, and how he will bring love into your life.
True, true, and true….BUT….That’s just a part of the story.
It’s part of the story that we’ve come to overly focus on as a reaction to the churches before us that weren’t focused on it enough.
BUT, If the only reason you gave your life to Christ is because you thought He could make you happier, if you’re not already, you’re going to be pretty mad at Him fairly soon.
Because sometimes, He’s not all that interested in making you happier. Sometimes he wants you to learn some things. Sometimes discipline is painful. Sometimes He wants you to have to sacrifice for other people. And sometimes sacrifice doesn’t always bring a lot of immediate happiness and rainbows.
IF the only reason we are asking ourselves and the people around us (friends/family) to follow God is because He will make us happier, we are going to end up with a line of people asking for refunds.
Or we’re going to end up with a line of people exiting out the door and trying another God, another self-help book, another drug, another whatever in their continued search for happiness
Listen, Jesus will bring you joy, but it’s not just all about happiness.
How much of this first “Christian” sermon did Peter talk about that?
One of the things he for sure talked about (one of the things, he made sure not to miss) were the facts.
Which too many of us have left out and supplemented with how much happiness Jesus can give.
But Peter communicates that Jesus (God…part of the Trinity) came to earth, was crucified, rose again, and now is Lord over all, and because of that you have a choice to make.
What are you going to do about Jesus?
If Jesus really was God, and really came to earth to die for my sins, then WOW, this has a whole lot more to it than what’s currently going to make my life more pleasurable or comfortable.
Let me make a loop around the subject for a moment if I may
Listen, Jesus did not fear death. He did not look forward to it. He knew it would be painful. It was painful. But ultimately He did not fear it, because He KNEW that through his Father he would overcome it. And He did.
Yet, There are many people in this world who fear death
People get to the end of their lives, and even though so few ever admit, the majority of people fear what it is to come. They’ve lived their entire lives saying God doesn’t exist, or I hope I was a good enough person, or hopefully this earth was all there was, and there is no punishment after death, or I kind of believe God exists and I hope that works.
But with the unknown comes fear.
And then sometimes you meet those people who are on death’s doorstep but have no fear.
A few months ago, legendary college basketball coach John Wooden died at the age of 99. Wooden, who coached UCLA to a record 10 national titles, was also a serious follower of Jesus Christ.
I want to show you a quick video of him reciting one of his poems about his oncoming death
PLAY JOHN WOODEN VIDEO
It’s powerful to watch people like John Wooden. People who know that their time is short, and yet they say they have no fear (and you can tell they mean it) because they know that they KNOW that Jesus Christ has conquered death and by putting their trust in Him, they TOO will conquer death.
There is NO need to fear.
And THAT…that is life. To live like that. That is life. Life in its fullness. Life without fear.
In our youth, we think life is about the pursuit of happiness, but with wisdom, people learn that life is about accepting God’s pursuit of YOU! And just TRUSTING HIM. No matter what.
Don’t be fooled into thinking that the greatest thing Jesus offered you was a better life before death. The greatest thing Jesus offered you was to conquer death!
Let me ask you a bold question: Would you be okay with dying right now? Are you ready to die?
I’m not talking about the pain of death or illness or an accident or the pain of leaving loved ones behind. I’m talking about, are you afraid of the unknown of the other side? Is there fear in knowing, fear in wondering if what you’ve done is enough?
Do you have confidence what will happen on the other side?
Listen, it’s worth being confident about.
Too many of us fool ourselves by thinking we have decades more to come, and yet God often has other plans for some of us. Plans even for a shorter life for some.
Are you ready? Are you ready to die?
Tough questions I know. But who asks you these questions? Probably nobody. That’s what’s great about going to church.
We can get asked tough questions that we’re all too afraid to ask our family and our friends or even to ask our own selves. But questions we NEED to ask ourselves.
And if you’re not sure about what is to come after this life, I want you to know that Jesus Christ isn’t just another option on the buffet table that might bring you some joy.
As Peter said, He is God’s son, chosen from the beginning of time to come down and die for people like us.
TO REPENT AND BE BAPTIZED
So what do you do with information like that?
Peter gives the answer in his final few verses of his message
(Acts 2:37-41) – NLT
37 Peter’s words pierced their hearts, and they said to him and to the other apostles, “Brothers, what should we do?” 38 Peter replied, “Each of you must repent of your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 This promise is to you, and to your children, and even to the Gentiles—all who have been called by the Lord our God.” 40 Then Peter continued preaching for a long time, strongly urging all his listeners, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation!” 41 Those who believed what Peter said were baptized and added to the church that day—about 3,000 in all.
Jesus Christ died on a cross for messed up people like us. And the Bible says that if we believed that he died for us, took our place, took our punishment, and if we repent (say we’re sorry and turn), and trust in Him, that He will forgive us (everything) and offer us eternal life with him, and save us from the eternity of hell.
Jesus didn’t just die to create some sort of cosmic divide, He died FOR you. To forgive YOUR sins.
God’s ability to forgive is unparalleled.
Think about this. To the VERY people who just murdered his own Son, he now offers them His Holy Spirit.
That is the ultimate redemption.
And I would guess there are some of you in this room right now who are ready to give your life to Jesus Christ.
I encourage you to put your faith in Him today. Tell him so this morning. Then tell someone else.
Receive his life. His forgiveness. His Holy Spirit.
And if you’ve already given your life to Him and you’ve been wondering about this title behind me the entire time…know this.
When the church started in Acts 1, there were 120 believers. After Peter’s message: 3,120.
How? The Power of God. The Truth that Jesus Christ came, died for our sins, and lives today.
120 to 3,120…just like that.
No gimmicks. No 7 steps to happiness. Just the power and truth of God.
Let’s be bold again and trust in His message instead of ours.
Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN
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