A Meeting with Power (Acts 2:1-11)
There are a few gospel meetings I remember very well. I vividly remember a meeting at the Mars Hill church in Florence in April 2012. We were “part-time” members at Mars Hill. We would be away on Sunday mornings because I was preaching, but we’d be at Mars Hill on Wednesday night. I don’t know how many nights of the meeting we attended, but we were there on Wednesday night. A family friend was doing the preaching; RJ and the preacher’s son were best friends. I don’t remember exactly what Chris said, but it greatly pierced RJ’s heart. RJ said it was time for him to become a Christian. So, we went to the Mars Hill building after school on Thursday, and RJ was baptized into Christ.
I remember a meeting at my home congregation when I was in college. There were two meetings I was in town for, and I’m not precisely sure which one this was. That doesn’t matter. What matters is that it was the very first time in my life that I ever remember my grandfather entering that church building. He would eventually submit to and obey the gospel.
There might be meetings that you remember vividly. Maybe you remember the meeting because the preaching was beyond horrible; I’ve been to a few of those. Maybe you remember the meeting because some word was spoken that pierced your heart and you obeyed the gospel. Maybe the preacher shared a nugget of truth that you needed, and you’ve treasured that truth because it spoke so powerfully to your heart.
Our gospel meeting is rapidly approaching. I sometimes hear that the “age of the gospel meeting is dead.” It is a very different time from the 1950’s when we could put a sign up that we were having a meeting and have a packed house every night. I have absolutely no problem with thinking about changing methodologies to reach the modern world. We cannot change even one iota of truth. However, if we can do things differently and reach people with truth, I’m all for it.
But, sometimes I wonder if people who claim that gospel meetings are totally ineffective ever put forth any effort. I believe any time the gospel is preached great things can happen. “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes” (Rom 1:16). “The word of God is living and powerful” (Heb 4:12).
We’re getting ready to have the gospel preached here in a gospel meeting. The question is: “What kind of work are we willing to put forth?” To think about that question, we’re going to explore how events unfolded on the Day of Pentecost. In the past, I have referred to the Day of Pentecost as “the first gospel meeting.” Of course, that’s somewhat tongue in cheek, but only so far: It was certainly a revival. It was certainly the first time the gospel was preached. It was certainly the first time that people were baptized into Christ. I believe, therefore, that we can learn some lessons from the events of Pentecost as we frame our thinking about the upcoming gospel meeting.
As you look at the events surrounding Pentecost, you readily learn that God was involved in that assembly from beginning to end. If we want a great gospel meeting, we need God active from beginning to end. We need God active from beginning to end because “Churches grow when God is involved.”
Scripture (Acts 2:1-11)
The Day of Pentecost had fully come. Pentecost was celebrated in the spring of the year, and Jews would bring the first of their wheat crops to the Lord. Eventually Pentecost would be connected with the giving of the Law at Sinai. The evidence is a little iffy as to whether or not the Jews in Peter’s day would have made that connection. Whether the Jews then would have thought of Sinai on the Day of Pentecost, it’s a “neat” idea because God gives His new law on the Day of Pentecost.
They were all together in one place. “They” here refers to the apostles; the antecedent “apostles” is in 1:26. It’s important that the apostles were in Jerusalem. Of course, that’s where God had said the church would begin (Is 2:1-3). But, the apostles are obeying the command of Jesus by being in Jerusalem. “Stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high” (Lk 24:49). The apostles would begin their testimony to Jesus in Jerusalem (Acts 1:8).
A sound came from heaven: I believe Luke is purposefully saying that the events about to transpire have no human origin. This is the work of God from beginning to end.
It’s interesting that the wind is making a sound, for the Spirit will enable the apostles to speak in languages they had never studied.
Tongues like fire sat upon the apostles, another clear indication that the apostles will be able to speak in languages they had never studied.
Twice we’re told that the apostles spoke from God. The apostles were “all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance” (v 4). The crowd seems to recognize that the apostles are speaking for God; they say, “We hear them speaking in our own tongues the wonderful works of God” (v 11).
You know that for men to be converted, the gospel must be preached. In the Old Testament, the word of God was highly valued. “The LORD put forth His hand and touched my mouth, and the LORD said to me: ‘Behold, I have put My words in your mouth'” (Jer 1:9). As God sent Ezekiel to preach, the Lord said to him, “Son of man, go to the house of Israel and speak with My words to them” (Ezek 3:4).
The New Testament connects hearing the Word of God with our faith. John 20:30-31. “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Rom 10:17).
“Churches grow when God is involved.” That principle runs throughout the New Testament. “The hand of the Lord was with them [men from Cyprus and Cyrene who were preaching in Antioch], and a great number believed and turned to the Lord” (Acts 11:21). “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase” (1 Cor 3:6). Let’s think about ways that God can be involved here over the next couple of weeks as we prepare for our meeting.
One: You need an assembly.
We discover that the apostles were all together in one place. It would be difficult to think of Holy Spirit baptism occurring on the apostles without their being in one place. That’s what caused such a commotion that a crowd assembled.
We have a real need to assemble and be together if we expect this church to grow. There are some reasons I say we need to assemble for growth to occur. One: Jesus is with us when we assemble. “Where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them” (Matt 18:20). If you want to be where Jesus is, you need to be in the assembly of the people of God. Two: Worship can turn unbelievers into believers. 1 Corinthians 14:23-25. The context involves the miraculous gifts of tongue-speaking and prophecy. I believe that the miraculous gift of prophecy corresponds quite well to the modern work of preaching. Prophecy was proclamation of the word of God; preaching is the proclamation of the word of God. Make a commitment now to be here at the meeting. Can you do that?
Two: You need a fullness of truth.
The Holy Spirit absolutely filled and overwhelmed the apostles. In Scripture, this is called the baptism of the Holy Spirit. John the Baptizer said, “I indeed baptized you with water, but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit” (Mk 1:8). “Baptize” in Greek means “to immerse.” The apostles were overwhelmed–immersed–in the Holy Spirit.
Therefore, they could speak for God. That was the promise of Jesus: “When He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth” (Jn 16:13). That was the reality of Peter as he stood on that Day of Pentecost and proclaimed, for the very first time, the blessed gospel of Jesus Christ.
You have in the Bible the lasting benefit of the apostles’ baptism in the Holy Spirit. Every word of Scripture came from God through the Holy Spirit. “These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches” (1 Cor 2:13). “Prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (2 Pet 1:21).
The conversion of sinners only comes through the proclamation of that word! We might use different methods to preach that truth. However, if we do not teach the gospel of Jesus, people cannot come to Jesus. Because the apostles were full of the Holy Spirit and taught truth at Pentecost, people came to Jesus. “Those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them” (Acts 2:41). “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes” (Rom 1:16). “It pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe” (1 Cor 1:21).
If God is to use us to bring people to His Son, we need a fullness of truth. “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another” (Col 3:16). Commit to spending time in Scripture that you may be able to teach others.
Three: You need a crowd.
“When this sound occurred, the multitude came together” (Acts 2:6). Why was there such a crowd at Pentecost? Pentecost was one of the three festivals that Jews were required to attend. God brought this crowd together–the commotion caused by the baptism of the Holy Spirit caused curiosity seekers to gather. The obedience of the apostles cannot be overlooked. They had been commanded by the Lord Jesus Himself to remain in Jerusalem. If the apostles had scattered, there would never have been a crowd at Pentecost.
What does that have to say to us? There is no law that would require all males 12 and over to come. God will not act as He did at Pentecost. However, we can have a great crowd because of our obedience.
The Lord expects us to seek a crowd. The Old Testament predicted that we’d extend invitation: “Many people shall come and say, ‘Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD'” (Is 2:3). In the Parable of the Banquet, Jesus urges such invitations: “Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled” (Lk 14:23). If the Lord wills, we’ll have postcards and flyers prepared by Wednesday. I want to urge you to take at least five that you may invite five people to come to the meeting. Let us bring a crowd to hear the Word of the Lord!
What would happen when if we really came to understand that “Churches grow when God is involved?” I believe churches would quit trying to find just the right worship fad to draw an audience. It’s about God, not a performance! I believe we’d be far less concerned with having just the right preacher and more concerned in serving the right God. I believe we’d walk in paths of obedience as we served God as coworkers with Him in His vineyard. “We are God’s fellow workers” (1 Cor 3:9). “We then, as workers together with Him also plead with you not to receive the grace of God in vain” (2 Cor 6:1).
Are you a coworker with God in His vineyard? Are you in danger of having accepted the grace of God in vain?