Recently I was talking with a friend about Church. What is it, what should it be, and what are we doing? This really made me think about the original, the Church Christ started. In Acts we find a picture of this original Church. We see the creation and unity of the body of Christ. And while Acts 2 does show us the creation of the original, Pentecost was a one-time event, it also gives us a picture of what Church is as God intended. The very first thing we see is the gift of the Holy Spirit. This is no accident. Peter’s first sermon comes in response to the miracle of all the different languages being spoken to a multiple of people from various nations.
And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.
Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language. And they were amazed and astonished, saying, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.” And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” Acts 2:4-8, 11-12
Directly after this miracle, Peter gives his Pentecostal sermon. This is monumentally important to notice. Jesus tells us in John, “But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” John 4:23-24 Again I do not think it is an accident that Jesus says, spirit and truth versus the other way around. That does not mean God’s truth is less important, for both spirit and truth are both components of true worship, but he does list spirit first, which is exactly what you find in Acts. The gift and miracle of the Holy Spirit came first. Then, in response to the astonishment of the men, Peter proclaimed truth. And really this is Church, a balance in worship to Christ – the manifestation of the Holy Spirit and the proclamation of God’s truth. Those two things synthesized together are more powerful than anything. Think about what happened in Acts. The Jews (from all nations) heard the disciples declaring the wonders of God in their native tongue. This was a miracle of the Holy Spirit, and the Jews were astonished and amazed. From this point, Peter proclaims the truth of Jesus to them, and in the end they respond (adding three thousand to the Church). First they asked, “What does this mean?”, and after Peter’s sermon it says they were cut to the heart and asked, “What shall be do?” (vs. 37) Peter tells them to repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Do you see the process – how it all worked together? We see the power of spirit and truth working in concert. This is the Church Jesus started. No other derivative will work. There are three parts:
1) Spirit – the gifting and miracles of the Holy Spirit
2) Truth – Peter’s sermon that brought conviction
3) Our Response – What shall we do?
Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Acts 2:38