Series: Who We Are - Part Four
Pastor Stephen Muncherian
June 2, 2019
Would you join me at Acts 2:14. We are moving forward in our study of the first 2 chapters of the Book of Acts looking at Who We Are as the church - as Creekside.
To quote again that familiar quote from Allistair Begg: A church is not a homogeneous club of people like us with whom we would naturally like to go on vacation. Rather, it is a supernatural fellowship of people very unlike us in whom we are bound in Christ. (1)
Creekside is - we are - a supernatural fellowship of generally unlike people bound together by God in Christ - as members of Christ’s church and as witnesses of the gospel - empowered by the Holy Spirit to accomplish what God intends - for God’s glory.
Which is astounding to think about. That God would choose to use us in His “Big Picture” - Genesis to Revelation - history spanning - work of redeeming mankind from our depravity and the disaster of our sin and restoring us to a God made right relationship with Him through Christ’s work on the cross. Each of us - individually and collectively - we have a God given part in all of that.
This morning we are at Acts 2 - starting at verse 14 and going on down through verse 36. Which is the answer to the question we left off with last Sunday. Which was… Acts 2:12: “What does this mean?”
Brief backfill: Last Sunday we looked at Pentecost.
As the followers of Jesus met that day suddenly there was a sound like a mighty rushing wind that filled the place where they were. Which was loud enough to attract people from all over Jerusalem. Something like individual fires appeared and distributed itself on each person.
Then these people that were from all over everywhere heard - in the dialects of where they’d come from - they heard the people with the fire on them - proclaiming the working of God.
These representatives of the world - these Pentecost pilgrims - were amazed and perplexed. Meaning they had brain freeze and a lot of questions - trying to process what they’re experiencing.
Some of them asked - verse 12: “What does this mean?” Others were more sarcastic - they said - verse 13: “They’re drunk.”
What we’re looking at this morning is Peter’s answer to that response. Specifically the question: “What does this mean?” Or we might ask ourselves this morning: “What does this mean for me?”
So this is a lot of verses. Which we’re going to notice - as we read through these - is a lot of what Peter says and also what Peter quotes. So to help us read through these verses and to see more of what Peter is getting at - we’re going to divide into two groups.
Would you stand with me before God’s word and let’s read together.
But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted
up his voice and addressed them: “Men of Judea
and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to
you, and give ear to my words. For these
people are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only
the third hour of the day.
of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of
Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works
and wonders and signs that God did through Him in your
midst, as you yourselves know—this Jesus, delivered up
according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God,
you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. God raised Him
up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not
possible for Him to be held by it.
I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch
David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is
with us to this day.
Being therefore a prophet and knowing that God
had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of
his descendants on this throne, he foresaw and spoke
about the resurrection of the Christ, that He was not
abandoned to Hades, nor did His flesh see corruption. This Jesus God
raised up, and of that we are all witnesses. Being
therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having
received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit,
He has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing
“Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus Whom you crucified.”
Peter is answering the question “What does this mean?” He begins with what this doesn’t mean. They’re not drunk.
Peter is standing with the eleven other disciples - which includes the newly selected Matthias. The way that this reads in Greek gives the idea that the 12 of them looked at each other and agreed - in that moment - that Peter was the one who should give the answer.
So Peter - the always has his foot in his mouth fisherman from Galilee - Peter steps up and gives this - to the point - grounded in Scripture which he quotes from memory - empowered by the Holy Spirit - answer to the question.
Peter begins: “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem.” Some translations render it “fellow Jews.” Wherever you’ve come from - we’re all here together now. In this place. At this time. “We’re all Jews.”
The third hour of the would have been - in the way the Jews divided up the day into 12 hour time periods - would have been 9:00 in the morning. Which Peter emphasizes and his "fellow Jews" would have gotten the significance of that.
Exodus 16:8 - which is a passage these “fellow Jews” would have known - Exodus 16:8 gives the pattern of eating bread in the morning and only eating meat at night. Jews only drank wine while eating meat.
Meaning - as every “fellow Jew” listening to Peter would have known - it was way too early to be eating meat and therefore way too early to be drinking wine - and way too early to be drunk.
The charge of drunkenness is really about these “fellow Jews” rejecting the work of God by accusing the believers of sinful moral failure - their failing to obey God’s instructions. Peter’s reply is in effect: “We are as devout as any fellow Jew in Jerusalem.”
Sadly - it’s pretty common for Christians to reject what God is doing or to discount what God maybe doing to get our attention - God desiring to show us more about Himself or God wanting to deal with issues in our lives. It is way more common for us to try and give that some lesser or different meaning - and to try and discredit the messenger - to avoid dealing with the implications of what we’re seeing.
There are tons of Christians moving sideways through life who are not coming clean before God and not allowing God to deal with their issues. Maybe that’s out of fear of what that change may mean - the unknown implications of all that - we at least understand how things are for us now - even if it’s painful. God opening up something different to us can be scary.
Which usually means pointing out the pastor’s short comings - or the weak points of the congregation - whatever excuse can be made to not allow God to deal with what God is showing us or chewing on us about or to justify our rejection of all that.
That’s just too far out of the box. It must mean something else. They’re drunk. We’re out of here.
Peter’s answer - what this is not - the attempt to dismiss this as some moral failure - being drunk - is just flat out wrong. We are as righteous and as God fearing as the next “fellow Jew.” So, you got to deal with the personal implications of what this does mean.
Verse 16 - What this does mean.
Peter begins with a “but” which in Greek is a whole lot more emphatic than it sounds in English. It’s major push back. It's not that. It's this. This is what you must respond to.
Peter’s answer has way more depth than we have time to study through this morning. So to pull this together in a way that we can work through we’re going to focus on two things:
Thing One: What God said - which are Peter’s Old Testament quotes. And thing two: What God did - which is Peter’s application of those quotes to what God did.
Let’s plunge in.
Peter begins by quoting what God said through the prophet Joel. (Joel 2:28-32)
Why quote Joel?
Joel because the “fellow Jews” present at Pentecost would have known that Joel prophesied about the last days and the coming day of the Lord.
The “last days” - verse 17 - is a phrase the Bible uses to describe the time when God begins the messianic age in which God grants his blessings to His people who repent from sin and God pours out His Spirit on His people. Last days that come before the end of history.
As Christians we understand the last days to mean the time between the first coming of Jesus and Jesus’ second coming.
For just about 2,000 years we’ve been living in the last days. Days when God is using the church to carry the Gospel to all mankind. And 100 years from now - if Jesus hasn’t come back and any of us are still here - we’ll look back and remember that these were the good old last days.
The “Day of the Lord” - verse 20 - is a phrase used in the Bible to describe a series of future climatic events that take place over a period of time as God is bringing history to a close. A coming time of destruction, famine, darkness, mourning, and war. The great final judgment when men will enter into eternal life with God or eternal death and damnation.
Joel prophesied concerning both the last days and the Day of the Lord.
So here at Pentecost - God revealing Himself at work through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit - wind and fire and tongues - believers without distinction being given the ability to prophesy and declare the works of God.
Some of what Joel predicted was what those in Jerusalem were experiencing. Or enough of it so that they were asking, “Does what this means mean that this is it?”
Which we do today. Right? Are the events happening today the events just preceding the return of Jesus? What do these events mean?
Notice - reading the rest of what Peter quotes here - not all of what Joel had predicted had taken place or has taken place - even today.
On the day of Pentecost there were no wonders in the heavens and signs on the earth. Not in the full sense of the way Joel describes it.
Which means - as Scripture often does with prophecy - we’re given a glimpse of what’s coming. There’s a present day fulfillment that points to a future fulfillment. We’re in the last days now. And the future Day of the Lord will come.
Which was a passing of time between the beginning of the end and the end itself - that these “fellow Jews” didn’t understand - that prompted their question - and why Peter quotes Joel.
Peter quoting Joel is clarify what God said through Joel about what God said He would do - what God said would lead to the end and coming judgement. What you all are experiencing now is the beginning of all that. Which is about Jesus.
Because God said - verse 21 - when we finally arrive at the end - on day of the Lord - it shall be that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.
The only salvation when judgment comes - salvation on the Day of the Lord is through Jesus Christ. Those who call on His name - the name of the Lord - who have trusted in what He has done on the cross and through His resurrection. Trusting in Jesus as their Savior, only those people will be saved from eternal judgment.
Going on to verse 22 Peter points out what God did to demonstrate that Jesus really is the Savior that God used Joel to speak about.
Peter begins “Men of Israel” The way that Peter uses the phrase - emphasis “Israel” - that phrase is aimed at their religious identity and their national identity. Peter reminding them that it was God who called out Israel from the people’s of the world - God Who made them to be a people and covenanted with them - God Who made promises to them through the patriarchs. We are the nation of God. Men of Israel.
Jesus of Nazareth identifies which Jesus we’re talking about. Jesus being a common name. Tying Jesus in with a familiar location in the north of Israel. Up in the Sea of Galilee. The town of Nazareth there Jesus grew up. Worked with His father as a carpenter. Jesus of Nazareth was known to the crowd. The ministry of Jesus was known - especially the mighty works and wonders and signs.
Peter declares these all were acts of the Covenant God of Israel through Jesus. The sick are healed. The lame walk. The blind see. Thousands are fed from almost nothing. Storms are calmed. The dead are raised. Including Lazarus who was probably there with the disciples.
spectacle of Jesus’ crucifixion was public. 3 hours
before Jesus dies the sky goes dark. When He dies
there’s a rock splitting earthquake. The Temple curtain
is torn top down.
What God did.
At the death of Jesus tombs were opened and dead believers came out of the graves. Many of those recently resurrected would have been there listening to Peter. What God did.
Peter goes on - this Jesus - the One attested to you by God - by what God did - you all had Him crucified by the hands of lawless men.
Lawless meaning that the Romans - Gentiles - were not tied to the Covenant Law of God like the Jews were. And yet, law meaning that the law of the time wouldn’t allow the Jews to put anyone to death. Which meant the Jews had to collude with the lawless Gentile Romans to kill Jesus. Which is what that back-and-forth trial with Pontius Pilate was about.
The Gentiles crucified Jesus. But you all brought Him to trial. The responsibility for His death is yours. You can't duck out of that.
The spectacle of Jesus’ crucifixion was public. So was His resurrection. The empty tomb. His appearances and teaching and hanging out and ascending up to heaven.
Then there’s this mighty rushing wind sound and tongues like fire and peoples speaking in different dialects. Demonstrations of the outpouring of the Spirit. Wonders and signs above and below. What God did. God raised Him up.
God is at work here and it all points to Jesus. The Messiah. The Savior. The One Who’s name we are to call on and be saved.
Then - verse 25 - Peter quotes King David - from Psalm 16. Which was a familiar Psalm that got used in the synagogues. People knew it. (Psalm 16:8-11)
In Psalm 16 David is writing about his own relationship with God. What Peter tells us later in verse 30 is God speaking prophetically through David about our hope in Christ.
David writes that the Lord is before him. Literally in the Hebrew this is about David’s choice to keep the Lord before him. To keep looking at God no matter what. David’s choice to put his trust in the Lord.
God at his right hand is about the nearness of God. God being there with David - strengthening David - defending David - being there for David through whatever came at David in life.
David is unshaken in his circumstances. At the heart level he’s glad. He’s praising God. He’s living with hope. All because of his relationship with God.
Then the ultimate. Death.
Why? Because God will not let His Holy One see corruption - decay and decomposition.
In Hebrew the “Holy One” is a word that describes someone who’s right before God - blessed of God. Which David was.
“Holy One” is also an Old Testament title given to the Messiah. Which is a double meaning that Peter’s “fellow Jews” “men of Israel” would have understood.
David is speaking prophetically about his own death but also his hope of resurrection because God’s Holy One - the Messiah - will not remain in the grave but be resurrected.
God speaking through David - what God said. What God has promised - made known to David and though David. Even in death - the end point of the path of life - what is a common experience for us all - there is gladness in the presence of God. Hope that God will bring to life to the righteous. Because of Messiah Jesus. We will live.
Then - verse 29 - Peter goes on to apply what God said to what God did. Peter applying Psalm 16 to Jesus.
Peter addresses them as “brothers.” Notice that we’ve gone from “fellow Jews” gathered in Jerusalem from all over - to “men of Israel” - meaning same religion and nation - to “brothers.” Same blood. Same nation. Same issues. Same experiences. There’s deepening affinity here. Not top down finger pointing arrogance. But Peter identifying himself with his listeners.
What this is about is about us. What convicts us. What we are guilty of.
Peter identifies David as the “patriarch” - which is a reminder of Israel’s golden era. David the great king. Respected. Revered. Currently dead.
Who’s buried in David’s tomb? David. His tomb was known - just outside Jerusalem to the south. Some have even speculated that an early gathering point of the church was at the tomb of David. They might have been able to see it from where they were.
Peter identifies David as a prophet. Meaning that David - even though speaking of himself - David is speaking prophetically of someone else - Jesus - God’s Holy One - the Messiah.
Verse 30 - Peter says that God had sworn an oath to David. Recorded in numerous Scripture passages is the declaration of God that He would place a descendant of David on David’s throne forever. (Psalm 132:11,12; Matthew 5:17; Luke 1:32,33; John 18:36; Romans 10:4)
That oath - that promise - was a promise that the nation was hanging on to. Especially during the Roman occupation. That they are were waiting for - praying for - hoping to see the day that God would fulfill His promise.
The Messiah was to fulfill that role of forever King - which Jesus did - for us “brothers.” Which is Peter’s - what God has done - application
Jesus’ arrest and trial and death are all according to the plan and foreknowledge of God. Jesus’ resurrection is according to the plan of and foreknowledge of God.
Jesus is alive because the God of the Covenant did not abandon His Righteous One to Hades but resurrected Him. Jesus couldn’t be held by death because God is at work here fulfilling His covenant promises. God raised Him.
That Jesus had claimed to be the Messiah was a claim that they all had heard. That God had attested to the truth of that claim was a reality that they had all had seen. That God had raised Jesus from the dead was fact that they had all had witnessed.
David’s tomb is occupied. Jesus’ tomb is empty. He’s alive because the God of the Covenant did not abandon the Righteous One to Hades but resurrected Him. Jesus couldn’t be held by death because God is at work here fulfilling His covenant promises. God raised Him up.
Peter says we’re all witnesses of that. You all are seeing and hearing the Spirit poured out. Joel’s last days are here.
For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he himself says, ‘The Lord said to my Lord, sit at My right hand, until I make Your enemies your footstool.’
David hasn’t ascended to heaven. But Jesus has. Peter’s quote here is forcing his listeners to think for themselves about the implications of that reality.
Everyone agreed that the Messiah - the Christ - would be a descendant of David. The Messiah will sit on the throne of David because the Messiah - the Christ - is a descendant of David.
In Psalm 110 - under inspiration of the Holy Spirit - God - David writes of a conversation between “the Lord” - which in Hebrew is the name Yahweh - God. Yahweh saying to “my Lord” - which in Hebrew is the title “adonai” - meaning “lord” or “master.”
Which here is the title given to the One that Yahweh designates as ruling over God’s people on the thrown of David - the coming Messiah - because everyone agreed that Psalm 110:1 is talking about the coming Messiah.
“My God said to my Lord...” God had promised to put the Messiah’s enemies “under your feet” - under the feet of the Messiah.
Which - in Old Testament battle imagery - meant forcing a defeated enemy - a commander or king - to lie down in the dust in front of whoever had defeated them - so that the conqueror could put his foot on the neck of the defeated enemy - a position of total humiliation and subjection - usually before decapitation.
Reading on through Psalm 110 - the descendant of David - the Messiah - is described not only as all conquering - but in apocalyptic terms as crushing the kings and rulers of the whole earth on the day of God’s wrath - the Day of the Lord. And in spiritual terms as being a priest forever - an eternal priesthood not tied to the Levitical priesthood. And as someone who will judge all the nations.
So in Psalm 110 - pulling all that together - which everyone agreed was about the Messiah - what God is promising the Messiah is the complete defeat of his enemies - absolute pre-eminence, power, authority, majesty - emphasis lordship - mastery that can only be appropriately descriptive of God.
The conclusion that Peter is leading His listeners to come to is what God declared through David - that the Messiah - the Christ - in the flesh and blood of His humanity is not merely the Son of David. But in realty the ascended into heaven Messiah - the Christ - is greater than David. And, in fact - the Messiah is God. And if Jesus really is the Messiah. Then Jesus is… God.
Jesus sits on the right hand of God - meaning Jesus has the power and authority of God. He - Jesus - is that forever King - the King of kings and Lord of lords - the forever potentate not only of Israel but of all His creation.
Peter’s bottom line point of application - being convicted - guilt and desperation for grace that cannot be dismissed or explained away. That each of us must deal with. Each of responding to the personal implications of what this does mean.
Verse 36: “Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus Whom you crucified.”
“God has made Him…” does not mean that God created Jesus or that Jesus earned the position. But that the big picture purposes of God have been accomplished - fulfilled - in Jesus. God has made Jesus of Nazareth to be both Lord and Christ. And you crucified Him.
You may have forced the Romans to do it. But, you crucified Him.
You knew what God had said. You knew what God had promised. You saw God at work. God fulfilling His promises. God attesting to Jesus as Lord and Christ. And you crucified God in the flesh - your Lord and Christ.
Lest any one of us fall into some kind of spiritual arrogance let’s remember... so did we.
We pierced Him. We bruised Him. We crushed Him. He bore our sins upon Himself. He was forsaken for us. As we deserve to be. Our sin condemns us. God's verdict upon our lives is just and deserved.
Jesus went to the cross and was resurrected for all our individual sins. Brothers and sisters that is the between the eyeballs reality that demands our response. Heart level ongoing brokenness and surrender to God.
Next Sunday we’re going to look more at responding to the Gospel - Conversion. But before we come to conversion we need to be convicted of our sin. To be the church means we are convicted.
Processing all that…
The Gospel is not the good news that we’re okay. That God is love and that Jesus wants to be our friend and that God has a wonderful plan and purpose for our lives.
Too often we get the benefits of the gospel confused with the gospel itself.
Quoting Mark Dever: “Fundamentally, we don’t need just joy or peace or purpose. We need God, Himself. Since we are condemned sinners, then, we need His forgiveness above all else. We need spiritual life. When we present the gospel less radically, we simply ask for false conversions and increasingly meaningless church membership lists, both of which make the evangelization of the world around us more difficult.” (2)
The gospel is not the good news that we’re okay. The gospel is the good news that convicts us.
To live convicted before the cross - personally convicted of my sin and guilt - is to see that the man dying on the cross is dying there because of me - for me. That being convicted changes everything about life now and forever.
To be convicted means living daily before the cross - broken - contrite - crying out to God - deeply appreciative of His grace. Living in the daily awareness that life is truly a gift of God’s grace to be lived out according to His purposes and for His glory alone.
There is no room for arrogance or pride or avoidance in that depth of being convicted. To be convicted will radically change our attitude and actions towards loving God and loving others and serving others and serving the world.
1. Allistair Begg, Sermon: Membership Matters - Romans 12:1-10, September 6, 2015, truthforlife.org
2. Mark Dever, What Is A Healthy Church? (Wheaton, IL, Crossway Books, 2007), page 77
Thabiti M. Anyabwile, What Is A Healthy Church Member? (Wheaton, Il, Crossway Books, 2008)
Mark Dever, What Is A Healthy Church? (Wheaton, IL, Crossway Books, 2007)
Charles R. Swindoll, Swindoll’s Living Insights New Testament Commentary, Volume 5: Insights on Acts (Carol Stream, IL, Tyndale House Publishers, 2016)
Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.