Calvary Road Baptist Church

“THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST: ITS EMPOWERING”

John 20.22; Acts 1.8; 2.1-41

 

I am persuaded the Lord Jesus Christ did not establish the church of Jesus Christ in absentia, in His absence. My own conviction is that He established His church first hand and in person, when He called from among His disciples twelve men who He designated apostles. This is found in Matthew 10.1-4:

 

1      And when he had called unto him his twelve disciples, he gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease.

2      Now the names of the twelve apostles are these; The first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother;

3      Philip, and Bartholomew; Thomas, and Matthew the publican; James the son of Alphaeus, and Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus;

4      Simon the Canaanite, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed him.[1]

 

First Corinthians 12.28 seems to support this view:

 

“And God hath set some in the church, first apostles . . . .”

 

From that time on our Lord’s intensive instruction and training of those twelve men continued apace. In Matthew 16.13-18 we are informed that our Lord took those twelve men to the wicked and idolatrous Gentile city of Caesaria Philippi. There Simon Peter confessed that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, whereupon our Lord promised that upon Peter’s confession He would build His church, and the gates of hell would not prevail against it.

After our Lord Jesus Christ established His church, and after He promised to build His church, He then gave instructions for dealing with sins committed by those in His church, Matthew 18.15-20:

 

15    Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.

16    But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.

17    And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.

18    Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

19    Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.

20    For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.

 

It would be a terrible mistake to think our Lord’s embryonic church was at that point ready to take on their mission. Oh, no. Three things yet remained to prepare the church to go forth. In order, there was first the need for the church to become the temple of God and for the individual church members to become temples of the Holy Spirit. Then there was the need for the church of Jesus Christ to be formally commissioned. And finally there was the need for the church to be empowered, for apart from the power of the Holy Spirit of God the church of Jesus Christ can accomplish nothing of eternal import.

In First Corinthians 3.16 the Apostle Paul informs the Corinthian congregation that they were the temple of God, wherein dwelt the Spirit of God:

 

“Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?”

 

However, this does not provide information concerning when church congregations became temples of God in which the Spirit of God dwelt. Then, in First Corinthians 6.19 the Apostle Paul drops another bombshell on the Corinthian congregation, informing them that not only is their congregation a temple of God by virtue of the Spirit’s indwelling of said congregation, but that they as individual Christians were blessed in that their bodies were also the temples of the Holy Ghost:

 

“What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?”

 

Isn’t that interesting? Congregation is the temple of God and their individual bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit. When do you suppose that came to be, in view of the fact that Paul wrote to the Corinthians about thirty years after the Savior founded the church of Jesus Christ? I think it happened on the occasion of John 20.19-22. Consider the timeline. The crucifixion has taken place. The resurrection has taken place. The Savior’s departure is close at hand. Here is when I think each apostle was indwelt by the Spirit, making each one a temple of the Holy Spirit and resulting in the church which was comprised by them the temple of God:

 

19    Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.

20    And when he had so said, he shewed unto them his hands and his side. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord.

21    Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.

22    And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost.

 

By virtue of them being indwelt by the Spirit of God they each became individual temples of the Holy Spirit, and at the same time the church they comprised became, like other Christian congregations, a temple of God. Now that they were temples of the Holy Spirit, and (more significantly I think) now that they were the temple of God, on a mountain in Galilee just prior to His final ascension the Lord Jesus Christ formally commissioned the church of Jesus Christ, Matthew 28.18-20:

 

18    And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.

19    Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:

20    Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

 

Thus, in His presence the Lord Jesus Christ personally founded His church, promised that He would build His church, provided instruction to His church about the details of addressing sin in their midst, and following His death, burial, and resurrection and while He was yet with them imparted the Holy Spirit to those apostles so that they would by the indwelling Spirit be temples of the Holy Spirit individually and the temple of God as a congregation. This is a great deal to contemplate.

There is but one thing the Lord Jesus Christ still needed to do to equip His church for their mission in His absence, which was the only matter He could attend to without being present when the thing was done. I refer, of course, to the empowering of the church of Jesus Christ on the Day of Pentecost. This He did in absentia. Remember, prior to His ascension He promised to empower His church, we are told in Acts 1.8:

 

“But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.”

 

After the Lord ascended out of their sight the apostles and more than a hundred other believers gathered back in Jerusalem to conduct some church business, and to wait, and to pray until the Lord’s promise was fulfilled. The waiting and the praying is mentioned in Acts 1.14. The church congregational business is recorded in Acts 1.15-26, when a successor to Judas Iscariot was selected in fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy.[2]

The actual empowering of the church of Jesus Christ is recorded in Acts chapter 2. With your permission, I will forgo reading so large a passage because of time constraints. Permit me to set before you the empowering of the church of Jesus Christ under three headings; the event of the Spirit’s coming, the explanation of the Spirit’s coming, and the experiences that resulted from the Spirit’s coming:

 

First, THE EVENT OF THE HOLY SPIRIT’S COMING

 

Acts 2.1 gives the setting. Acts 2.2-4 describes the event. Acts 2.5-13 gives the perplexed crowd’s reaction:[3]

First, the setting is given, Acts 2.1:

 

“And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.”

 

Two things are pointed out in this opening verse: First, Luke points out to us that “the day of Pentecost was fully come.” What does he mean by that? My opinion is that after the multiplied thousands come to Jerusalem had performed their religious duties very early that morning, Luke may be suggesting that the hustle and bustle of important duties and offerings is now done and people are settling down a bit. This, of course, would refer to the observant Jewish people. Second, and in contrast to the multitude of Jews who had arrived the previous day and who had only just completed their offerings, the second half of the verse speaks to the state of mind and heart of the disciples. They had seen their Savior ascend to the Father’s right hand after He commissioned them. They had come to Jerusalem to wait and to pray for the coming of the Spirit. And since their Lord had given them His Spirit they had come to possess a unity of spirit described as “one accord,” the Greek word homothumadon.

Next, the event is described, Acts 2.2-4:

 

2      And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.

3      And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.

4      And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

 

The reference to a house in verse 2 convinces many, if not most, commentators that this did not take place at the Temple.[4] However, Herod’s Temple is no longer the temple of God since Jesus Christ imparted the Holy Spirit to members of His church, John 20.22, and Herod’s Temple never was the temple of the Holy Spirit. The temple of God is now the church of Jesus Christ and the temple of the Holy Spirit is each of these Spirit-indwelt men and women. Additionally, where else in Jerusalem could 5,000-10,000 Jewish men have been gathered to hear Peter preach but near the entrance of Herod’s Temple? The outpouring of the Holy Spirit fulfills the prediction made by John the Baptist in Luke 3.15-16 in response to questions about him being the promised Messiah. Notice as I read that John’s prediction concerns the baptism of the Holy Spirit, which will be a sign to Jewish people that will validate the true identity of their Jewish Messiah:

 

15    And as the people were in expectation, and all men mused in their hearts of John, whether he were the Christ, or not;

16    John answered, saying unto them all, I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire:

 

Please note that the words “they” and “them” are used four times in Acts 2.2-4, with all but the word “them” appearing first in Acts 2.3 referring to the believers in Christ, the 120 disciples. They were sitting, verse 2, cloven tongues as of fire sat upon each of them, and they were filled with the Spirit of God and began to speak with other tongues. The unsaved Jewish multitudes in attendance that saw and heard these things are the “them” in the first half of Acts 2.3. Be mindful that no one saw the Holy Spirit on this occasion. The Holy Spirit is a spirit and as such is invisible. What they saw were manifestations (both visible and audible in connection with the 120 believers in Christ) that signified a profound event was taking place that was orchestrated by God, with the sights and sounds being signs to the Jewish audience. For six months before his martyrdom John the Baptist had predicted the baptism of the Holy Spirit as a means of authenticating who the true Messiah was, and now it has happened as he said it would, to the disciples of Jesus of Nazareth, the one crucified between two thieves fifty days earlier.

Next, the reaction of the perplexed crowd is seen, Acts 2.5-13:

 

5      And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven.

6      Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language.

7      And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans?

8      And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born?

9      Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia,

10    Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes,

11    Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God.

12    And they were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying one to another, What meaneth this?

13    Others mocking said, These men are full of new wine.

 

This passage provides no explanation whatsoever of the baptism of the Holy Spirit, but faithfully records the details surrounding the crowd’s reaction to it. Several things to notice: Notice, first, that the audience was Jewish men and proselytes to Judaism, converts to Judaism. Not only that, but they were Jewish men and proselytes from just about everywhere. Notice, next, that coming from far and wide, these many men who spoke an array of diverse languages, were shocked to hear those who were (obviously from their attire) rural Galileans speaking languages they had never before had the opportunity to learn. Their common response according to verse 11 was,

 

“we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God.”

 

Folks, that is the gift of tongues. And if you want to learn more about the gift of tongues you can select that title from my printed sermons in the rack at the back of the auditorium. We close out this passage by taking note of the conclusions some in the audience arrived at that day based upon what they had both seen and heard. They had heard the sound of a mighty rushing wind. They had then seen cloven tongues as of fire. They had also heard the disciples of Jesus Christ speaking in foreign languages they had not previously learned, languages they themselves however understood quite well. Yet the conclusion of some concerning what had happened was, according to Acts 2.13,

 

“These men are full of new wine.”

 

Forget the sound of a mighty rushing wind that had captured their attention and was responsible for so large a crowd gathering to find out what was going on. Ignore the cloven tongues of fire they each had seen when they arrived on the scene. As well, pay no attention to the ability of relatively unsophisticated people speaking languages not spoken by anyone within a thousand miles of Jerusalem. New wine. They are drunk. That’s the explanation put forth by the brilliant mockers.

 

Second, THE EXPLANATION OF THE SPIRIT’S COMING

 

This explanation is found in Acts 2.14-36, a passage that is much too large for us to read together this evening:

 

14    But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words:

15    For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day.

16    But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel;

17    And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams:

18    And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy:

19    And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke:

20    The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come:

21    And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.

22    Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know:

23    Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain:

24    Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it.

25    For David speaketh concerning him, I foresaw the Lord always before my face, for he is on my right hand, that I should not be moved:

26    Therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad; moreover also my flesh shall rest in hope:

27    Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.

28    Thou hast made known to me the ways of life; thou shalt make me full of joy with thy countenance.

29    Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day.

30    Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne;

31    He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption.

32    This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses.

33    Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear.

34    For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand,

35    Until I make thy foes thy footstool.

36    Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.

 

It needs to be pointed out that Acts 2.14-36 contains only the barest outline of Simon Peter’s actual Pentecostal sermon, which would easily have taken an hour or more to deliver. However, Luke has recorded for us the high points that I would like to summarize under nine headings:

First, the Apostle Peter and the other apostles stand and Peter lifts up his voice and calls for the attention of his audience, verse 14. I envision them at this time standing at the top of the staircase leading up to the Temple mount and courtyard.

Second, Peter diffuses the preposterous notion that he and the others are drunk so early in the day, instead asserting that what is responsible for the phenomena they have seen and heard is identical to what was responsible for what was communicated through the prophet Joel of old, verses 15-16.

Third, in verses 17-18 the Apostle Peter actually cites portions of Joel’s prophecy so there will be no mistaking what he is referring to. This is from God and has to do with the pouring out of God’s Spirit.

Fourth, Peter’s citation now shifts to God’s activity. That verses 19, 20, and 21 make reference to “blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke,” to the sun being “turned into darkness, and the moon into blood,” which things did not happen on the Day of Pentecost, shows us that Peter is not in his sermon claiming that Joel’s prophecy was being fulfilled, but that the same Holy Spirit who would bring about the fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy in the future is also responsible for what they witnessed on the Day of Pentecost only moments before, and that now as it will be when Joel’s prophecy is fulfilled “whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Fifth, the events to which they themselves are witness show Jesus of Nazareth to be approved of God among them, verse 22:

 

“Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know.”

 

Sixth, even the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, an event still very much on all their minds, was a fulfillment of God’s plan and an indictment of their own sin, verse 23:

 

“Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain.”

 

Seventh, the resurrection of Jesus Christ, which those standing before the multitudes had witnessed, is declared to be the undeniable fulfillment of prophecy, verses 24-32:

 

24    Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it.

25    For David speaketh concerning him, I foresaw the Lord always before my face, for he is on my right hand, that I should not be moved:

26    Therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad; moreover also my flesh shall rest in hope:

27    Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.

28    Thou hast made known to me the ways of life; thou shalt make me full of joy with thy countenance.

29    Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day.

30    Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne;

31    He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption.

32    This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses.

 

Eighth, both Christ’s ascension to the Father’s right hand on high and the baptism of the Spirit with signs they had both seen and heard are attested, verses 33-35:

 

33    Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear.

34    For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand,

35    Until I make thy foes thy footstool.

 

Finally, John’s prediction has been fulfilled, the baptism of the Holy Spirit confirms the identity of the Jewish Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth who they crucified is Lord, and the church of Jesus Christ is empowered to do business for God and begin executing their Great Commission, verse 36:

 

“Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.”

 

He has both authority and anointing.

 

Finally, THE EXPERIENCES THAT RESULTED FROM THE SPIRIT’S COMING

 

Three summary comments are given to us in verses 37-41, with the rest of what is recorded in the book of Acts really being a record of the experiences that resulted from the Spirit’s coming to empower the church:

First, the evidence of the Spirit’s convicting ministry through Peter’s sermon, verse 37:

 

“Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?”

 

Second, the instructions Peter then gave to those spiritually aroused sinners, verses 38-40:

 

38    Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

39    For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.

40    And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation.

 

Finally, the responses of 3,000 who, first, gladly received his word, and who, second, were baptized that day:

 

“Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.”

 

Conversions, beloved, thousands of conversions followed by obedience.

 

Five profoundly important things occurred to the church of Jesus Christ, with four of them taking place in Christ’s presence and one taking place in absentia. The church was founded.[5] The church was promised growth.[6] The church was instructed about dealing with sin in their midst.[7] The church was commissioned, whereupon the risen Savior ascended to heaven.[8] Then, on the Day of Pentecost the church was empowered.

The result of the church’s empowerment was explosive growth, a great ingathering of spiritual fruit, the eventual establishing of other churches by the Jerusalem church, and the advance of the gospel across the length and breadth of this planet. The Day of Pentecost was the beginning of a revival, not the beginning of the church. And like all revivals, it ran its course and eventually waned. However, over these last 2,000 years God has visited His people with revival from time to time, at local levels and over broader regions. Each time revivals are poured out we are reminded that apart from the power of the Holy Spirit we can do nothing, and during times when there is no revival the harvest of souls is leaner. However, that is no reason for us to let up. The Great Commission is still our charter. As well, our own conversions are evidence that sinners are saved even when we are not experiencing revival.

__________

[1] See also Luke 6.13-16

[2] Psalm 69.25; 109.8b

[3] Darrell L. Bock, Acts - ECNT, (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2007), page 93.

[4] Ibid., page 94.

[5] Matthew 10.1-4

[6] Matthew 16.13-18

[7] Matthew 18.15-20

[8] Mark 16.15-19

Would you like to contact Dr. Waldrip about this sermon? Please contact him by clicking on the link below. Please do not change the subject within your email message. Thank you.

pastor@calvaryroadbaptist.org