A denominational preacher once suggested that all members of the church of Christ have a greasy spot in their Bibles at the same place. Can you guess where he said the greasy spot was? Acts 2! He even went so far as to say that if you took the Bible of a preacher in the church of Christ and just let it fall open that it would open up to that same chapter. Now, why would someone make a claim like that? Well, for the simple reason that members of the church of Christ have been known to refer to Acts 2 quite a bit, especially when explaining what a person needs to do to be saved. We do quote Acts 2:38 frequently; so perhaps the man's claims are true in some cases.
Anyway, hopefully I've got you thinking about this very special chapter in your Bible. Today we will examine the powerful message of Acts 2. In this chapter, God's plan of salvation through Christ is first fully declared and applied. In this chapter, we see the kingdom of God established. In this chapter, we see the terms of salvation given as they relate to the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We will divide this chapter into seven sections. All of the sections can be labeled with a word beginning with the letter "I." So, with that being said, let us look at Acts 2 through its "I's," and see what we can learn.
THE FIRST "I" IS FOR INFILLING.
In Acts 2:1-4, we see an infilling - "When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance."
According to the text, when the Day of Pentecost had arrived "they were all filled with the Holy Spirit..." (Acts 2:4). Who was filled with the Holy Spirit? They were. They who? Well, look at the pronoun usage. Except in rare cases, a pronoun must refer to its nearest antecedent. Also, we must remember that when the New Testament was originally written there were no chapter and verse divisions; there was no break between what we know as Acts 1:26 and Acts 2:1.
So, what is the nearest antecedent for "they"? According to 1:26, it is Matthias and the eleven apostles. Thus, the "they" doesn't refer to the one hundred twenty disciples mentioned in Acts 1:15, in spite of what some today claim. It refers to the twelve apostles. "They" are the ones who were filled with the Holy Spirit.
THE SECOND "I" IS FOR INSPIRATION.
We can see that inspiration was the result of being filled with the Holy Spirit. Acts 2:5-21 reads - "And there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven. And when this sound occurred, the multitude came together, and were confused, because everyone heard them speak in his own language. Then they were all amazed and marveled, saying to one another, 'Look, are not all these who speak Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each in our own language in which we were born? Parthians and Medes and Elamites, those dwelling in Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia. Egypt and the parts of Libya adjoining Cyrene, visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs--we hear them speaking in our own tongues the wonderful works of God. So they were all amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, 'Whatever could this mean?' Others mocking said, 'They are full of new wine.' But Peter, standing up with the eleven, raised his voice and said to them, 'Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and heed my words. For these are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day, but this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: 'And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, that I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh, your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your young men shall see visions, your old men shall dream dreams. And on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days; and they shall prophesy. I will show wonders in heaven above and signs in the earth beneath: blood and fire and vapor of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the coming of the great and awesome day of the LORD. And it shall come to pass that whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.'"
The outpouring of the Holy Spirit miraculously equipped the apostles with the ability to deliver an inspired message; that is, a message directly from God Himself! In addition, they were also given the miraculous ability to speak in languages (i.e., tongues) that they had never studied or learned before. Speaking in tongues is not some gibberish or ecstatic utterance that no one but God can understand. These verses themselves prove that point without a shadow of a doubt!
Here's the proof: Verse 4 tells us that the apostles were speaking with "other tongues." However, verses 5-8 tell us that there were Jews from all over the world present at this event, and they didn't all speak the same language. These people were "amazed" because they could all hear the apostles speak in their own language. This was surprising because the apostles were all "Galileans" and they didn't normally speak these languages. However, they did on that day because of the miraculous power of the Holy Spirit that had filled them! To speak in "other tongues" simply means to speak in other "languages."
As always, there were a few skeptics present on that day. They couldn't figure out how the apostles were speaking in all these various languages so they denied it by claiming that the apostles were "full of new wine." Peter responded to the charge that they were drunk by pointing out that it was not intoxication but inspiration that was guiding the apostles. Peter referred to the prophecy given by Joel, saying - "This is what was spoken by the prophet Joel" (Acts 2:16). Joel had predicted that the Spirit would be poured out and that inspired prophesying would occur as the result. That is precisely what happened on Pentecost!
Sometimes the question is raised as to whether or not the miracle was one of speaking or one of hearing. Did the apostles actually speak in other languages, or did they speak normally while God miraculously worked on those listening to cause them to hear it in their own language? There can really be no doubt regarding the answer to this question. Verse 4 clearly declares that the apostles "began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance." The audience had not been filled with the Holy Spirit. Thus, they were not the ones through whom the Holy Spirit did His miraculous work. Why would the Holy Spirit infill the apostles if it was not to endow them miraculously with the ability to do what the Bible says they did, namely, to speak by inspiration in languages they had never studied before?
THE THIRD "I" IS FOR INDICTMENT.
In Acts 2:22,23, we see an indictment, or formal charge, given - "Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know-Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death."
After getting their attention as a result of the miracle, Peter charged them with the crucifixion and slaying of Jesus of Nazareth. God had done miracles, wonders, and signs through Jesus in the midst of the people, which verified the fact that God approved Him. Now, think about this: Since miracles, wonders, and signs showed that Jesus was approved of God, then the miraculous outpouring of the Spirit upon the apostles showed that they were also approved of God! The miraculous outpouring of the Spirit gave credibility to Peter when he issued his indictment against the Jews. They truly had, by wicked "and lawless hands," killed God's only begotten Son!
THE FOURTH "I" IS FOR INTERPRETATION.
Once Peter had charged his hearers with the murder of Jesus Christ, he proceeded to discuss Jesus' glorious resurrection. He did this by referring to what David wrote in Psalm 16:8-11 and by giving an inspired interpretation of David's words.
Acts 2:24-36 reads - "Whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it. For David says concerning Him: 'I foresaw the LORD always before my face, for He is at my right hand, that I may not be shaken. Therefore my heart rejoiced, and my tongue was glad; moreover my flesh also will rest in hope. For You will not leave my soul in Hades, nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption. You have made known to me the ways of life; You will make me full of joy in Your presence.' Men and brethren, let me speak freely to you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. Therefore, being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that of the fruit of his body, according to the flesh, He would raise up the Christ to sit on his throne, he, foreseeing this, spoke concerning the resurrection of the Christ, that His soul was not left in Hades, nor did His flesh see corruption. This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses. Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear. For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he says himself: 'The LORD said to my Lord, "Sit at My right hand, till I make Your enemies Your footstool."' Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ."
Peter interpreted David's words as they pertained to Jesus. David talked about the Holy One and how God would not allow His body to decay or "see corruption"; God would not leave the soul of His Holy One in Hades. Was David talking about himself? Peter said no! David's body had long ago decayed in his tomb--he had not been resurrected. But Jesus had! David's prophecy was a foretelling of the resurrection of Christ from the dead. After the resurrection, Jesus then ascended into heaven where He sits on His throne. Jesus conquered death and assumed His rightful position at the right hand of the Father. Finally, Peter interpreted David's words to show that God had made Jesus "full of joy" by making Him both Lord and Christ!
Are you still with me? We've seen the infilling (as the apostles were baptized with the Holy Spirit), the inspiration (as the apostles began speaking God's words to the people in other languages in fulfillment of Joel's prophecy), the indictment (as Peter charged the Jews with murdering Jesus Christ), and the interpretation (of David's prophecy relating to the resurrection of Jesus).
THE FIFTH "I" IS FOR INQUIRY.
And now in verse 37 we see an inquiry. Listen carefully for the question the Jews asked the apostles. "Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, 'Men and brethren, what shall we do?'" (Acts 2:37). Peter's doctrinal declarations concerning Jesus pricked the hearts of his hearers so much that they inquired as to what they should do. What did they need to do in order to be relieved of the guilt of having killed God's anointed Son? This is the greatest question of all time: What shall I do to be saved? It is the same question the jailer asked in Acts 16:30. Similar questions were asked by the rich young ruler (Mark 10:17) and by a lawyer (Luke 10:25). No greater inquiry can be made than the one that was made by these hearers in Acts 2.
THE SIXTH "I" IS FOR INVITATION.
Now, in Acts 2:38-40, we see an invitation given to them - "Then Peter said to them, 'Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.' And with many other words he testified and exhorted them, saying, 'Be saved from this perverse generation.'"
Upon hearing their inquiry, Peter immediately invited them to obey the command to "Repent and...be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins." Isn't it a little bit ironic that Peter invited them to come to Jesus that He might give them life? This was the same Jesus they had brutally put to death less than two months earlier!
We should all be grateful that this invitation wasn't just for them. It is for the whole world (cf. Matt. 11:28-30; 28:18-20; Mark 16:15,16; John 3:16; I John 2:2)! The Lord has graciously extended His invitation to all mankind. It is up to us to respond to it and then to extend that invitation to others! How did the people on the Day of Pentecost respond to this invitation? Let's look at our final point for the answer.
THE SEVENTH "I" IS FOR INCREASE.
Acts 2:41-47 states - "Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them. And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all as anyone had need. So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved."
Those who received Peter's inspired words repented and were baptized! There were about three thousand souls who obeyed the gospel on the Day of Pentecost. What happened after their conversion to Christ? They increased in their knowledge of the "apostles' doctrine." They increased in their love for God as they worshipped Him properly--they broke bread together and prayed together. They increased in their love for each other as they had fellowship together and as they sold their possessions to aid their less fortunate brethren in Christ. They increased in unity. Their favor in the eyes of others increased. And, their numbers also increased on a daily basis as more people obeyed the gospel and were saved. Wouldn't it be wonderful if the Lord's church, in all of her locations, would have the same increases today in all of those areas?
Dear listeners, Acts 2 is indeed one of the most important sections of the Holy Bible. As we looked through the "I's" of Acts 2, we saw the infilling of the apostles with the Holy Spirit. We observed the inspiration in the apostles as the result of this infilling. We noted Peter's indictment of his hearers for crucifying Jesus and his inspired interpretation of David's comments concerning the resurrection and ascension of Jesus. We looked at the inquiry of the crowd and Peter's invitation to them. Finally, we gazed upon the tremendous increase in the infant Jerusalem church. As we seek to take the gospel to people who are blinded by the god of this world (II Cor. 4:4), let us do so with a clear vision of God's will by looking through the "I's" of Acts 2! Thank you for listening, and may the Lord bless you as you strive to do His will.