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Acts #4 (chapter 2:14-21)
The Book of Acts
Preaching Jesus of Nazareth, Part 1
Acts 2:14-21
We have made our way to Acts 2:14 and the sermon Peter delivers on the day of Pentecost.  By the way, it's interesting to think about the fact that this is the first Christian sermon ever preached after the ascension of Christ.  And not only that, it is the first sermon Peter ever preached, and it is a masterpiece! 
Also, have you ever thought about the fact that preaching is exclusive to the Christian faith?  No other religion does it.  No other religious group in the world gathers its people together on a regular basis to listen to a sermon. 
And that is as it should be because, in reality, God's chosen method for the growing His Kingdom and building His church is by way of preaching. That's why there is such resistance to it.  We want to substitute music and fellowship and meals and recreation, but God determined that people would be saved through the foolishness of preaching, and New Testament preaching starts right here in chapter 2.
Obviously, the roots go much deeper than that, reaching all the way back to the earliest of our Bible's heroes like Noah and Enoch, and certainly includes the Old Testament prophets up through John the Baptist.  And we know Jesus was a preacher, but in the context of a church gathering, what we find here in Acts 2 is the beginning point.
And I don't know about you, but I find it very instructive.  So instructive, that I want us to take plenty of time to study it. 
Acts 2:14-36
That’s the first Christian sermon.  It is an unapologetic presentation of Jesus Christ based upon revealed scripture.  And what started there still goes on today.
And what happened in chapters 1 and 2, leading up to this moment is all preparatory for the sermon.  The promise of the Holy Spirit, the ascension of Jesus to heaven, the selection of a replacement for Judas, the sound from heaven of a rushing wind, the ability to speak in foreign languages, the earthquake, all of that was to set the stage and draw a crowd and gather the people to hear what Peter says in this sermon.  The important thing about the day of Pentecost was the sermon, not the sights and sounds. 
And without even studying too deeply, we are immediately struck by the fact that this sermon was all about Jesus.  It is structured to prove that Jesus is Messiah and Lord, as promised in Scripture.  It also demonstrates that Jesus is God in the flesh, and it touches on all the major points such as His life, His death, His resurrection, His ascension, and His second-coming.  And it concludes that Jesus Christ is the only way of salvation. 
Peter really has only one goal in mind and that is to
persuade his listeners that Jesus, whom they crucified, is in fact the Messiah.  And if they don't accept and believe that, there is no salvation.
So this crowd gathers up because some unusual things have been happening.  The can hear and see things like a rushing wind and people talking in foreign languages, and all of a sudden, Peter steps up and announces he has a sermon to share. 
Now that sermon has three parts.  Just like any good sermon today, it begins with an introduction, it concentrates on a central theme, and has a conclusion that calls for a response.  The introduction is explaining Pentecost.  The body of the sermon, or the theme, is exalting Christ.  And the appeal is exhorting people. 
1.  The Introduction
The introduction begins at verse 14 and extends through verse 21
Everybody is watching what's happening and nobody has an explanation.  So Peter seizes the moment and turns it in the direction he wants it to turn.  He meets them where they are at this particular time and then moves them to his subject. 
Some rumor that they are drunk, and Peter sets the record straight.  In fact, God provided the opening illustration, and all Peter had to do was explain it.  And what he says is: “This is what was spoken of through the prophet Joel.”  This is simply a fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy. 
Notice how he immediately connects what was happening to Scripture.  And in particular, he makes the connection between what was happening and the last days.  His introduction is nothing more that explaining Pentecost and he explains it by saying it’s the fulfillment of Joel 2:28 to 32. 
By the way, how was it that these early apostles were able to immediately understand the Old Testament?  You don’t get any indication in the Gospels that they understood prophecy, and yet, in the book of Acts, every time you turn around, they're quoting some Old Testament prophet and explaining how what they said relates to the future. 
How did they so quickly come to this understanding of the Old Testament? I think the answer to that is indicated in Luke 24 when Jesus met two of them on the road to Emmaus, and then in the upper room, when He opened the Old Testament and spoke to them from what was recorded there concerning Himself. 
And in those 40 days between the resurrection and the ascension, He gave them a crash course in Old Testament theology as He taught them the fulfillment of the Old Testament in him.
And now, for the very first time, they get it!  And consistent with human nature, they can't wait to share it! So the very first thing we see is Peter launching into an explanation of Pentecost drawn right directly from Joel 2:28-32.
He lifts up his voice to everyone to hear the explanation. 
verse 14
I love the authority of that.  Don’t you?  There’s no hesitance.  That’s bold confidence.  He’s now God’s man, empowered by God’s Spirit with God’s message.  He doesn’t say, “I’d like to offer a possible explanation you might want to consider.”  He doesn’t say, “I’m here to provide for you some options.”
Instead, he says, "Based on the authority of God's Word, let me tell you what you've just witnessed.  What’s going on here is exactly what Joel wrote, and starting in verse 16, he quotes that prophecy.
verses 16-18
Now that is a big prophecy covering all the way from the day of Pentecost to the second coming. And by the way, we need to understand the Day of Pentecost was not a complete fulfillment. 
Notice,  Peter doesn’t say, “This is the fulfillment of it.”  He just says, “This is what Joel was talking about.”  And it starts with the last days, verse 17. 
Since God said He would pour out His Spirit in the last days, then the last days had just launched! What a moment to be alive!  The last days is a reference to the days and times of the Messiah. 
In other words, he is telling them that Messiah has arrived and what He initiated will go on until the final, verse 20, “great and glorious day of the Lord.” 
That’s a day of darkness.  That’s a day of judgment. 
So Peter doesn’t say it’s the fulfillment of what Joel says.  He just says, “This is what Joel was talking about, the coming of the Holy Spirit.” 
There was a lot of mystery yet to be revealed in the church age that nobody saw coming.  So far, we’ve been waiting 2,000 years for the parenthesis to close and the kingdom to come.  But the last days of Israel, the last days for the world, really, began when Christ arrived.  And you are seeing the evidence that we have entered the last days.
And since it is the last days, know this, verse 21.  It shall be that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.  The last days are characterized by gospel proclamation calling sinners to repentance, and that’s the ministry of the church.  That’s the mission of the church.  It’s why we do what we do. 
Now I know you’re asking what are all those things in the middle.  Prophecy, visions, dreams, wonders in the sky, signs on the earth below, blood, fire, vapor, smoke.  Sun turned to darkness, moon to blood.  Well that all has to be understood within this great era from when he came to when he judges finally and establishes his kingdom.
So during these days, from the beginning, when the Spirit is poured out, till the end when the whole world starts to disintegrate, and there are wonders in the sky above, and signs on the earth below, and blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke, and the sun is turned to darkness, and the moon into blood, and the great, glorious day of judgment comes, and all the Jews knew the day of the Lord was the day of judgment. 
Between now, with the arrival of the Spirit and then, the day of judgment, is the time for everyone to call on the name of the Lord and be saved.
That was the introduction.  It’s the Messianic age.  The Messiah is here. You should know that because of what you just saw. You just saw the pouring forth of the Holy Spirit as prophesied by Joel. You’ve seen it happen. The Messianic age has begun. 
Now, that forces a question.  If this is the Messianic age, then who's the Messiah? 
By the way, most in that crowd had already decided who it wasn’t.  It sure wasn’t that Galilean carpenter whom they had rejected fully, and turned over to the Romans to be executed.  He didn’t do anything to defend Himself.  He didn’t do anything to deliver the nation from Roman occupational power.  It wasn’t Him. 
But Peter’s going to prove to them that, in fact, it was.  And we'll take a look at that next week as we move from the introduction, to the theme, which is all about Jesus, and I can't wait to show it to you.   
Let's pray
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