The First Gospel Meeting (Acts 2)
Our Gospel Meeting is only two weeks away. In those next two weeks, we have much work to do. We have prayers that need to be prayed – prayers for the lost, prayers for the speaker, prayers for this congregation. We have invitations that need to be given – invitations to neighbors, to family, to friends. We have schedules that need to be cleared. Granted, some of you will have to work late, and others of you will have unavoidable events that you cannot miss. But, most of us, if we put forth some effort, can be here, and we need to be here. Are we prepared for the work we have to do?
In order to encourage us to accomplish our work, examining the first Gospel Meeting is in order. From the account in Acts 2, we can learn much that is extremely valuable as we serve in this age. Let us examine Acts 2 and be encouraged.
A Crowd Assembled, vv 5-13
When the Holy Spirit came upon the apostles, extraordinary events occurred. A sound like a mighty wind came from heaven and filled the house where the apostles were. Tongues as of fire appeared and rested above each apostle. The apostles were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
These extraordinary events caused a great crowd to be assembled. When people heard these extraordinary events, a great multitude assembled in bewilderment. Luke makes it obvious that a great multitude was assembled when he names the various countries from which this multitude came. Because this great multitude assembled, Peter was able to proclaim the Word of God.
If we are to have a successful Gospel Meeting today, a crowd must assemble. In that first Gospel Meeting, the Holy Spirit worked in mighty fashion to assemble the crowd – the mighty noise, the tongues as of fire, and the tongue speaking caused people to go see what was taking place. The Holy Spirit will not work in that way in a couple weeks; therefore, it is up to us, the people of God, to produce that crowd. “Go out to the highways and hedges, and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled” (Lk. 14:23). You well remember the evangelism that took place at the beginning of John’s Gospel. When Andrew had encountered Jesus, “he first found his own brother Simon, and said to him, ‘We have found the Messiah'” (Jn. 1:41). “Philip found Nathanael and said to him, ‘We have found Him of whom Moses in the law, and also the prophets, wrote – Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph'” (Jn. 1:45). Why not copy that evangelistic style, and say to friends, family, and neighbors, “We have found the Messiah. Come and see”?
Will you invite your friends, family, and neighbors? Or, will you say, “We’ve got a preacher and elders. We’ll just let them do everything, never mind that the Great Commission applies to all of us”?
A Word Proclaimed, vv 14-36
The crowd assembled at that first Gospel Meeting thought that the apostles were drunk. Peter stands to defend the apostles. He quotes Joel’s prophesy about the pouring out of the Spirit, and declares that that event had just occurred. But, he goes on to proclaim the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. He quotes from David to establish the resurrection. He quotes from David to establish Jesus’ exaltation.
Peter used Scripture to establish what he taught. He didn’t stand before his audience and say something like, “Well, let me tell you how I feel about this.” No, he pointed people to Scripture. Modern preachers need to point people to Scripture. When Micaiah was told to go and tell Ahab what he wanted to hear, Micaiah responded, “As the LORD lives, whatever the LORD says to me, that I will speak” (1 Ki. 22:14). Paul told Timothy, “Preach the Word!” (2 Tim. 4:2)-not preach your feelings, preach your opinions, preach what’s popular, but preach the Word.
Peter then convicts his audience of guilt – “Let all the house of Israel therefore know assuredly that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified” (v. 36). Peter didn’t tell his audience, “What you did isn’t your fault; it’s no big deal; don’t worry about it.” He wasn’t shy about pointing out the sins of his audience; modem preachers cannot be shy about pointing out people’s sins. John the Baptist told Herod concerning Herodias, “It is not lawful for you to have her” (Matt. 14:4). Paul told Timothy to “convince, rebuke exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching” (2 Tim. 4:2). Preachers shouldn’t intentionally aim to make people feel bad, but if sins aren’t pointed out and confronted, what good has been done?
Charles Spurgeon once said, “I cannot help feeling that the man who preaches the Word of God is standing, not on a mere platform, but on a throne. We cannot play at preaching. We preach for eternity. Life, death, hell and worlds unknown hang on the preaching and hearing of a sermon.”
A Crowd Assembled in Dismay, v 37
When the assembled crowd heard that they had crucified the Messiah, they were cut to the heart. In Greek, the verb “cut” with “the heart” as its object refers to strong emotion. The meaning is that this crowd was stung to their core when they realized that they had crucified the Messiah for whom they were waiting. They were deeply convicted of their sin.
In order for true repentance to take place, there must be a conviction of sin. Jesus had prophesied that when the Spirit came that he would “convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment” (Jn. 16:8)- Now, through the preaching of Peter, we see that prophesy fulfilled. David confessed, “My iniquities have gone over my head; Like a heavy burden they are too heavy for me” (Ps. 38:4).
If we want to bring people to Jesus, they must be convicted of their sin. We cannot merely preach a “feel-good” Gospel; before people can come to Jesus, they need to understand that they have wronged God, they have sinned, and they are responsible for Jesus’ crucifixion. Without such a realization there will never be true conversion or true dedication to the Lord Jesus.
A Word Proclaimed in Hope, vv 38-41
When the crowd had been cut to their core, they cried out to Peter and the other apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” Peter replied, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins.” The crowd’s dismay quickly turned to hope. Just imagine being in their shoes – they had just learned that they were responsible for the death of the Messiah. They had to be wondering, “If we’ve done that, what can we do?”
Peter gives them hope when he says, “Repent and be baptized.” Repentance is essential to one’s salvation. Repentance is far more than simply being sorry for one’s sins, as this text shows; the crowd was already sorry for their sins, but Peter told them to repent. Repentance means to change one’s mind about sin, and then change one’s actions. If you want to be saved, you must repent of your wrongdoings. “Unless you repent you will all likewise perish” (Lk. 13:3). “These times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent” (Acts 17:30).
Baptism is also essential to one’s salvation. Many in the religious world debate whether or not one needs to be baptized in order to be saved, but Peter here declares that baptism is “for the remission of sins”; in other words, one is baptized to have his sins forgiven. Baptism is essential to salvation. “He who believes and is baptized will be saved” (Mk. 16:16). “There is also an antitype which now saves us – baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. 3:21).
“Then those who gladly received his word were baptized.” This crowd gladly received Peter’s word. What word was it that they gladly received? It could not be the preaching about Jesus. for after the sermon they were cut to the heart. This must be the message that there was hope – that if they could have salvation.
This crowd was so happy to hear that there was hope, and they obeyed that message of hope. Gospel Meetings today need to give hope. Sin must be confronted, but if we never give hope in light of their sin, what good have we done? Jesus gave us hope, and we need to give that hope to others. Do you have that hope? Do you need to come this morning and repent and be baptized?