The disciples did as instructed and waited until the Holy Spirit filled each of them in the upper room on the day of Pentecost. Beginning on the day that they were filled, they began the mission of witnessing. Jesus had stated in
But you shall receive power after that the Holy host is come upon you . . . Acts 1:8
Peter preached the gospel under the unction of the Holy Spirit and 3,000 were saved.
The Holy Spirit is necessary to carry out the mission of God. It is not just an haphazard occurrence. The bible lets us know that the disciples, along with other followers of Christ, united together in the upper room in prayer and supplication. Along with prayer there must be earnest expectation or expectant belief that what you are praying for is going to come to past. Modeling the disciples, our collective prayers should be backed by:
Ø Persistent in our prayers
Ø Unity; being on one accord
Ø Dependence on our Lord
The day of Pentecost! While Pentecost was a well-known feast, what happened on the day of Pentecost far surpasses any of the other celebrations for Pentecost. On this day, as the disciples and other followers of Jesus were gathered in an upper room; all on one accord, their minds focused on Jesus, the Holy Spirit descended from above and all in the room were filled with the Holy Spirit. It came as a rushing, mighty wind and cloven tongues of fire and set upon each of them. They began to speak in unknown tongues by the Holy Spirit. Their hearts were ready for the transforming power of the Holy Spirit. Their wait was over; what they were hungering for had finally come. The bible tells us that:
Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. Matthew 5:6
What a wonderful experience! This was evidence of the receipt of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Ghost gave them the power that was promised to them by Jesus before He was crucified. No longer were they the same. They were no longer vying for the chief spot; they were now in subjection to one another. Peter who once denied Christ was able with the receipt of the Holy Spirit to witness Jesus to a crowd of 3,000 onlookers.
The rejoicing and thanksgiving that took place was heard outside of the upper room. Jews from all parts of the world were attending the celebration and when they heard the commotion coming from the upper room they wanted to know what was going on and how were these common people speaking in different languages. Some supposed they were drunk, but Peter, being the unspoken leader of the group spoke up and gave a powerful sermon regarding what had just happened. His sermon was so powerful that 3000 souls were added to the body of Christ that day.
I am in complete awe at Peter’s first sermon. First of all, we call it a sermon, but I am sure when Peter stood up before that crowd of 3,000 plus people it was not in his mind that he was getting ready to deliver his first sermon. He spoke the word of God out of his love for Jesus and the working of the Holy Spirit within him. What added to Peter’s sermon was the fact that several weeks prior, Peter had vehemently denied that he knew Jesus, let alone a follower of Him.
Then began he to curse and to swear, saying, I know not the man. And immediately the cock crew. Matthew 26:74
The bible states that when he realized that he had denied Jesus just as he was told he would, godly sorrow began to work in his heart right then and there.
And Peter remembered the word of Jesus, which said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And he went out, and wept bitterly. Matthew 26:75
He could have given up; called himself a failure; said he wasn’t sorry, but he didn’t do any of those things. He stayed in Jerusalem and waited as Jesus had instructed for the promise of the Holy Spirit.
And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. Acts 1:4
Once the Holy Ghost descended and Peter realized that he had been infused with power from on high, he was able to speak boldly before the crowd of spectators.
Here are the components of Peter’s sermon that made it so powerful that it convicted the hearts of 3,000 of the onlookers:
Ø It was simple
o The apostle answered their question
o He told them about Christ
o He enlisted commitment
Ø It was scriptural – spoken from the book of Joel
o Joel 2:28-32
o Palms 16:8-11
o Psalms 110:1
Ø It was Christ-Centered
o Spoke of Jesus
Ø It was convicting
o Hearts were touched to action
Ø It was practical
o Addressed ‘what does this mean’ and answered ‘what shall we do’
Ø It was attention getting and relevant
o He spoke straight to the point
What made it so great is that Peter explained what happened and he explained about Jesus. In summary, Peter’s sermon was full of Christ, full of the scripture and full of the Holy Spirit
Trying to imagine 3,000 souls being baptized on the same day is hard to fathom and yet it happened! Now the task of the apostles is to shepherd those who were born again. Like infants, they had to be nourished. With the guidance of the Holy Spirit they rose to the challenge through and by:
o Teaching governs the other characteristics of the church where the Spirit reigns. It denotes a steadfast an single-minded devotion to a certain course of action.
o Fellowship comes through giving. True fellowship costs. True fellowship exists only when we make it a practice to reach out to others and give something of ourselves.
o Everything working together to bring about a profound sense of God.
This is what the early church experienced and what the body of Christ should be experiencing today – a church where the Spirit of God reigns.
In chapter 3 of the books of Acts, we see the church move beyond the 3,000 and begin to openly do the works of God:
o Peter and John heal a crippled man
Ø Acknowledgement that power comes from God
o And when Peter saw it, he answered unto the people,
Ye men of Israel, why marvel ye at this? or why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or holiness we had made this man to walk? Acts 3:12
Now, even as then, we must remember that power comes through God by faith in Him.
We have to believe in Jesus’ name; it is through Him that power is derived. Faith is a gift from God that He bestows on us. All that is done is for the glory and exaltation of God.
The persecution begins!
If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also. John 15:18-20
Just as Jesus had forewarned. It is not for the church to back down or cower in fear.
After Peter and John healed the lame man, there was opposition ; the Sadducees were ‘greatly disturbed’ over this occurrence and put them in jail. Before the Sanhedrin, Peter and John remained unflinchingly resolute in their faith in Jesus.
Even after the Sanhedrin commanded Peter and John to no longer speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus, they remained resolute by stating:
But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard. Acts 4:19-20
Their response was daringly aggressive with integrity and no compromise. Just as with Peter and John, when we are filled with the Holy Spirit, Christ is the focus of our lives. The Holy Spirit does not promote himself, He promotes Christ.
If we want to function as the early church did, we must: