Let us pray.
Dear Father in heaven, many people pray at this pulpit and we are praying sincerely for Your Holy Spirit to come into our midst, our hearts, our lives. May we catch the Wind, we pray in Jesus' name, Amen.
Today is part four of a ten-part series on the Holy Spirit. Today, we're going to be covering a topic that is called, "Gone with the Wind." We've had The Coming of the Wind, and we are going to have all sorts of fun with the Wind. That's what God wants us to do. To enjoy it, to benefit by it and benefit others with it.
Did you know that a negative critical remark sparked the very first Christian Sermon? That's what it was. There were scoffers there and they said, "They have had too much wine." And peter said, "No, we have the Holy Spirit." And so, Peter instead of beginning an argument preached the very first Christian sermon ever preached after the church started. This is one of the most powerful of the 23 sermons in the book of Acts.
Obviously Peter did not preach alone. The Holy Spirit spoke and they heard Him. And, you know, Peter was no longer a coward. Remember Peter denying the Lord? By the time the rooster had crowed three times, Peter had denied Jesus three time. Peter was the one who was hiding in the room in fear of the Jews. I am sure that in that crowd he preached to that day, some of the Sanhedrin were there. Some of those same people that had crucified Jesus were there. Some of that same mob that had cried, "Let His blood be on our children" were there. They were listening to that sermon. No sermon would have ben harder to preach because of the audience.
And did you know what the first pages of Acts tells us about God? As you read the book of Acts, you may miss this: Calvary was the worst evil ever done on planet earth. We killed God. That's pretty bad. God could have sent a thousand mile wide bolt of lightning to evaporate this sinful batch of human beings and start all over. Could He have done that? "I'm going to get rid of this batch of human beings and start another batch! Maybe we'll do better the next time." No. Instead of sending fire to pulverize them He sent fire in the form of tongues to anoint them. God sent His Holy Spirit to help them and empower them. Now, that tells you something about God. What a kind loving God we have!
God treats us according to Psalm 103:10. I was reading it this morning. He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. What A God we have. I read my Bible every morning and I enjoy trying to read my Bible, but I'm not alone. I want to tell you that Sam Devinich sitting in our center isle here in this wheel chair right here, has read the Bible through this year so far, four times. Now, that says a lot. I think he's going to go five, maybe, by the end of the year. What an awesome thing. Saturate yourself with the Scriptures.
The same Peter who had denied Jesus three times and hid in the upper room for fear of the Jews now stands up and in great power of the Holy Spirit, he begins to preach about the risen Savior. "Jesus is alive! You'd better believe in Him. He's your Savior." Peter sets the pace for all true Christian Churches by uplifting Jesus. That's what is on the cover of our bulletin. Our goal here at McDonald Road is to do the same thing that Peter did to uplift Jesus.
By Quoting Scripture Peter allows God's Word to do the preaching. I doubt that Peter had a scroll at that exact moment. He quotes Scripture from memory! Peter says that many years ago, the prophet Joel predicted this very day. Come to Acts 2:17. "'In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people.'" All people! Both Jews and Gentiles. Everybody is going to get the Holy Spirit. It's not reserved just for the Jews. He says, "I will pour it out on both Jews and Gentiles On your sons and your daughters, and on My Servants" and My handmaidens." Your sons and your daughters, that's the Jews. And on My hand maidens and My servants. That's the Gentiles. We all belong to Him, don't we. He's going to pour It out on everybody. Never in the history of the world had there been a more powerful outpouring of the Holy Spirit than on the day of Pentecost, never. It was powerful. And that's what happened. Again, God was stepping into the scene of action. They had twenty seven new books to add to the Bible. They had some work to do. They were going to add to the Scriptures. They were going to start a brand new church that had never existed, the Christian Church.
Acts 2:21 "And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." Do you believe that verse? That's all you have to do to be saved? Now, wait a minute. Do you really believe that? Everybody who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. Have you ever called on the name of the Lord? Well then, you're going to be saved. Do we believe that? "Everybody who calls on the name of the Lord." Never forget the awesome power of the name of Jesus.
Do you know what the church exists for today? What is our chief goal? What is the purpose of the McDonald Road church? What is the purpose of any Christian church? Do we exist to Entertain? No, a comedy theater can do that better. Is it to provide pot luck dinners? No, the restaurants have a corner on food. Is it to take up an offering? No, the lottery raises more money than we do. Is it the music? No, the symphony orchestra excels in music, although the music we have here is fantastic. So what is the purpose of the church? May I suggest to you that the purpose of the church is to connect people to Jesus. I think that's what Peter did on that day.
Look at Acts 2:23 This man (Jesus) was handed over to you by God's set purpose and foreknowledge. In other words, God intentionally died to save us as a part of an ancient master plan. I can't imagine being God Almighty and one day, sitting up there on my warm shining throne and saying, "I think I will go and be born in an old barn so that sinful mean people can insult me, hit me, and spit on me and hang me on a cross." Now, that is real sacrifice, isn't it, what God did for us, what Jesus did for us.
We don't have a lot of sacrifice in this world today. Melvin Newland shares a story about our modern unsacrificial spirit in America. He tells about a yuppie who wrecked his beautiful BMW. As he stood there, looking at the wrecked car he said: "Oh, my BMW, my BMW, my BMW. It's all wrecked! It's horrible and terrible." As he stood there looking at that car, a police officer came and said, "Sir, you must be in shock. Don't you realize that your left arm has been horribly crushed?" The yuppie looked down at the mangled stub and cried, "Oh, my Rolex, my Rolex, my Rolex."
We Americans are so very materialistic. We sit in comfort on our warm shiny thrones. We think mostly about ourselves. And God thinks mostly about us. Sacrifice is something we do for ourselves that we might have a nicer throne. When the church asks us to sacrifice for a new project we think of our BMW, we think about our Rolex and throw a dollar in the offering plate, and we think we've sacrificed. We think we've sacrificed if we give an hour a week to the Lord. And what He wants is our whole being, our heart.
A 39-year-old bachelor named, Bob McFall, suffered from aplastic anemia. Without a bone marrow transplant he was going to die. So, they started looking around for somebody who could have a tissue match for him. Finally it was found that his first cousin's bone marrow was a perfect match.
The cousin was asked to help. He was told that he could probably save his cousins life with no long term damage to himself. But he refused. He said, "I'm not going to give my bone marrow. So Bob McFall sued his first cousin to get the bone marrow. There was a trial. Eventually the court ruled that the cousin could not be forced to donate his bone marrow. And Bob McFall died 3 weeks after the trial. Sacrifice is not in our vocabulary today. (From a sermon by Melvin Newland)
What if Jesus were like some of us? What if Jesus was so totally enamored with His shiny warm throne that He didn't want to help us? What if, when Jesus heard of our dark deadly predicament, He sensed that He was the only person alive with the right type of blood, and what if Jesus refused to be a blood donor for you?. Where would you be? You can't sue God. You can't force Him, and yet Jesus willingly came down to this world and died to give His blood for you, so that you could be saved. He's unselfish. He sacrifices for you. What do you do for Him? We need to do our very best for Him. And so, Peter preaches this sermon about our self-sacrifice, our loving Savior. And I will tell you that his sermon was Christ-centered.
CROSS CHRIST CENTERED
Acts 2:23B. "...and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross." The first sermon is centered on Jesus and the cross. Peter is saying that after 400 years God is once more active in human affairs. The Holy Spirit came. God sent His Son to intervene to save the world. Jesus came, lived the perfect sin-free life and died on the cross to pay for our sins. He rested in the tomb on the Sabbath day and then Jesus rose back to life and ascended to sit on the throne with the Father. And He is coming back some day. He is your Savior, your God. If you believe in Him you will be saved. Peter was boldly preaching the cross.
The cross should be at the heart of every Christian Sermon. The old rugged cross is an illustration of the high price of sin. Sin must be paid for. "The wages of sin is death." Sin, like cancer cells, cannot be tolerated. You can't fix your sins by being sorry for your sins. Sin is an evil so bad and so awful that it took the blood of God Himself to fix it.
JESUS IS GOD
Peter proves that Jesus is really God. What was the proof that Jesus was really God? Acts 2:22 "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." In other words, Jesus was accredited by three proofs: Miracles, wonders, signs. These certified that Jesus was the long awaited Messiah. Nowhere do you read that the contemporary Jews tried to deny the miracles of Jesus. They all believed it. There are thirty-six recorded miracles of Jesus, plus many many others, because He healed whole crowds. It was about one miracle a month during His ministry. The miraculous acts of Jesus proved the miraculous divine power that was in Jesus. Then he proves the resurrection.
PROVING THE RESURRECTION
Acts 2:24-35 is all about proving the resurrection. Peter produces four proofs of the resurrection: David's Prophecy, Eye Witnesses, Power at Pentecost, and the live Ascension (because corpses do not ascend to heaven). Only live people ascend to heaven.
Peter quotes Psalm 16:8-11 which tells us where the Holy one will not be abandoned to the grave or see decay. Peter shows that David foresaw the Lord's death. David saw the resurrection of the Lord. David was a prophet - Verse 30.
David is in the Grave
Now, Peter also proves a very valid point of the Seventh-day Adventist doctrine, that is, that today David is in the grave. He's sleeping in Jesus. Did you know that almost every church today believes that when you die, if you're good, you go straight up to heaven and you're with God in Paradise. That's what almost every church teaches. They go straight to heaven. And notice how Peter's sermon disproves this. Look at Acts 2:29. "Brothers, I can tell you confidently that the patriarch David died and was buried, and his tomb is here to this day." In other words, David died and David is in David's tomb. That's where he is.
And, David was a good person. He may have had some ups and downs, but he finished strong. He was a great person. Surely if anyone went to heaven at death it would be King David. He wrote much of the Psalms, and Jesus was a descendant of David. But Peter says David is in the grave. Some people might say, "Well, yes, his body is in the grave, but something of David is in heaven. Peter clarifies this in Acts 2:34. "For David did not ascend to heaven." That's really clear, isn't it. If David didn't make it to heaven, why would we ever think that our loved ones made it to heaven when that person dies? We don't go to heaven when we die. The truth is that we all sleep in the grave until Jesus comes to wake us up, otherwise why would you have a resurrection morning? If there is no resurrection then why do we even have a judgment to determine who going to be raised?
Peter proved that the same Jesus that they crucified was alive. Jesus was on the right hand of God up in heave, sitting there as God Himself. The Carpenter from Nazareth was really the Son of God. He's alive. Peter said that the Jesus you thought dead is now alive and is your Messiah.
Acts 2:37. When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, "Brothers, what shall we do?"
Those who spat upon Him wanted to make amends. A good sermon leaves you wanting do God's will. That's what they wanted. You have in Peter's sermon the dynamic duo of Holy Scripture and Holy Spirit, and when you combine Holy Scripture and Holy Spirit together, you have a powerful effect. A sermon with only one verse that is quoted from the pulpit is like a meal with only one fork of potatoes. It's okay, it's good, but you don't get much out of it. The real power is in the Scripture. Every sermon ought to be Bible-based. We don't preach a social gospel, we preach the truth from the Word.
Acts 2:38 Peter replied, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Repent in Greek is "metanoya," which means "to change your mind." "You need to reverse your direction. That's what the Titanic should have done. Change your course, you're headed for death. You need to change your mind about Jesus Christ. You hung Him on a cross, you need to realize no that He is your God. You need to turn around. And let me ask you, dear Christian, do you need to change your mind about Jesus?
Peter also said they should be baptized into the powerful saving name of Jesus Christ in order to be saved, as a remission for sins, I think the King James says. This was something brand new. For thousands of years it had been by animal sacrifice that they got remission for their sins. Peter put an end to all that. He said, "You don't kill animals any more. In order to get ransomed from your sins, you need to accept Jesus Christ as you Savior, repent of your sins and be baptized in the powerful name of Jesus Christ. Jesus was now the Lamb of God. Our loving God had turned their great crime of Calvary into the very mechanism of removing sin.
After the Baptism they were to receive the Gift of the Holy Spirit. If you've already been baptized, you should not pray for the gift of the Holy Spirit. We need to stop asking for what we already have. What we need to do is thank God for the Gift of the Holy Spirit and pray we will utilize its power more fully.
Acts 2:40. "Save yourselves from this corrupt generation." I think Peter knew that in just a few years Jerusalem was going to be destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD. He said, "You need to save yourself. This generation is going to die for their sins. They're going to be punished for their sins. You need to save yourselves out of that." Did any Christians dies when the Romans surrounded Jerusalem? They were saved, weren't they. He was saying, "You need to save yourselves from this corrupt generation because there's a bloody war coming, the holy temple is going to be burned up with fire." And Peter called on every Jew that was there in that crowd to save themselves by accepting Jesus Christ as their Savior. And the church became a lifeboat. Let us never make it into a showboat!
Acts 2:41 Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day. Peter must have been waterlogged after that big baptism! I baptized seventy-five people in one day up in Michigan at a church we were at in Hartford. I will tell you, you will get waterlogged after spending two and a half hours in the baptistery. I think maybe all twelve disciples were doing the baptizing. Or, maybe all hundred and twenty. I don't know. But the church was born. Can you see that the early church was a church of action? If you think religion is all about pew-sitting you've missed it. They were doers not pew-ers. We need to catch the wind that they had.
I think there was a little sign on Peter's fishing boat on the lake of Galilee. Instead of saying, "Gone for lunch," or "be back soon," or "Gone fishing," it said, "Gone with the Wind, I've gone fishing for men." I've changed. I've gone fishing, not with a boat but with a Bible. Not for fish but for men. Not for time, but for eternity. And, friends, we need to do that same thing. We need to catch the Wind. We need to be gone with the Wind. Peter was, they were, and we can be.
Hymn of Praise: #93, All Things Bright and Beautiful Scripture: Acts 2:37-39 Hymn of Response: #265, Breathe on Me, Breath of God 030809#538
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last updated 8/10/2003 by Bob Beckett.