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Acts 2:14-40

But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words: For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day [9am]. But this that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; 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 daughters shall prophesy and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: and on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy: and I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke: the sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come: and it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved. 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: him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it. For David speaketh concerning him, ‘I foresaw the Lord always on my right hand, that I should not be moved: therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad; moreover also my flesh shall rest in hope: because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. Thou hast made known to me the ways of life; thou shalt make me full of joy with thy countenance.’ 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. 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; he seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell [Hades, the grave], neither his flesh did see corruption. This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses. Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost [Holy Spirit], he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear. For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, ‘The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, until I make thy foes thy footstool.’ Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ [Messiah]. 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?’ 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. 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.’ And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation’…” (Acts 2:14-40)

[What follows is tape 2 of Acts 2, given by Joe Focht of Calvary Chapel of Philadelphia, covering Acts 2:14-40, the birth of the New Testament Church.] “We’re in Acts 2 this evening…Acts chapter 2, God has poured out his Holy Spirit on Pentecost. A hundred and twenty in the upper room [temple portico] are speaking the wondrous works of God in many different dialects that are reflected in the crowds that come to Jerusalem on Pentecost, one of the mandatory feasts--usually the most crowded because of the shipping lanes being opened in the warmer months. It says in the end of verse 11 ‘that they heard them speak, we heard them speak in our tongues, our dialects, the wonderful works of God. And they were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying to one another, “What meaneth this?”--King James for ‘What in the world?’--‘Others mocking said, ‘Oh, these are drunks who get up early and speak in foreign languages. Makes a lot of sense to me.’ Whenever the Lord moves in your life by his Spirit, whenever God moves you to exercise a gift of the Spirit, if it’s just mercy, --God tells you, ‘Go and share Christ with that person, love that person’, the first thing that will happen is Satan will challenge that and say, ‘That’s not the Lord speaking to you. That guy’s gonna think you’re a nut job if you come over and start talking to him.’ Or if the Lord says to you ‘That person over there has a broken heart. You need to go tell them that I love them.’ He’s given you that word of knowledge or wisdom, and one foot wants to go forward--you know, it’s like that little cartoon with the angel on one shoulder and the devil on the other shoulder--right away that’s gonna be challenged. I remember a number of years ago, a couple from our church. I remember I was in Judges, and I was talking about Samson on a Sunday morning and as the service ended I saw them walk past an aisle and just as I glanced at them the Lord said to me, “They’re gonna face a very difficult week, you need to go tell them that I have that covered, and that this is gonna work out.” And I looked back again, I said “Naah, no, that wasn’t you Lord, Naah.” Well, I found out two days later that on that Tuesday, on Tuesday they had gone and had an ultrasound, she was pregnant, and found out the baby had spinabifada. And then I had to call them with tears, repenting and ask their forgiveness and say ‘This is what the Lord told me on Sunday’, knowing in my heart that if I had walked up ahead of time and just been obedient and said ‘You know, the Lord just told me how much he loves you guys…’ You know, you don’t have to say it in King James, “Thus saith the Lord, Thou shalt find out this weekest”, you know. You don’t have to do that. You don’t have to be supernaturally weird, you can be supernaturally natural. I could have just gone up and said, “You know, the Lord put it on my heart, I don’t know what’s going on, but just whatever happens this week, he loves you, and he’s got everything under control.” And you realize how much more power that would have carried ahead of time than after the fact. But whenever God moves on our heart to exercise any kind of spiritual gift or unction, that will immediately be challenged. And here they’re saying, ‘These guys are drunk, they’re pickled, half soused.’ It says, “Peter, standing up with the eleven”--that includes Matthias--“lifted up his voice and said unto them, Ye men of Judea and all ye that dwell in Jerusalem, be this known unto you and hearken to my words…” Now the way the Greek is written here, it speaks of ‘Peter gave utterance or spoke out’, and what it’s indicating is that Peter now, now it says ‘They spoke in tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance’, it indicates that Peter is now being given utterance in Aramaic, a language they all knew, and speaking to them. And as we read through this sermon [Peter was giving], remember, Peter doesn’t have a Scroll of the Old Testament in front of him. This is all rolling off his tongue. It’s rolling out of his mouth as the Spirit is giving him utterance. You know, it’s a very interesting thing, and I know you’ve experienced this. You’ll be somewhere, and a door [of opportunity] will open up and you’ll start witnessing to somebody. And as you start witnessing to that person, all of these Scriptures will come to your memory, and all this stuff comes out of your mind, and by the time you’re done and that person walks away, you go ‘Man, I was good! I was good! Where did that come from? I didn’t even know I knew that stuff.’ You weren’t good--you didn’t know that stuff! In the Old Testament the Lord could speak through a donkey, so don’t take it too serious. And he can in the New Testament too, he does it here every Sunday. It’s the Holy Spirit. It tells us in Revelation 19 that “The testimony of Jesus Christ is the spirit of prophecy.” And how wonderfully God can do that in us [cf. John 14 & 16]. We see it with Peter here, as he stands up. Now we know that he’s full of the Holy Ghost. It tells us on Pentecost that they were filled with the Spirit. It’s gonna tell us in his next sermon, “Peter, standing up, filled with the Holy Spirit…” This is the difference in the mans life. Remember, this same crowd of religious leaders, remember he came and stood by the enemy’s fire, and there he denied the Lord three times and then the rooster crowed. And he went out and wept. In fact, the last time, when you understand the language, it says “Peter cursed” what he did was he pronounced an anathema upon himself. He said, ‘If I know this guy Jesus, let me be eternally damned.’ And as he said that he hears the rooster crow. Completely intimidated, it says, by a maid. Now here’s Peter standing up in front of thousands. 3,000 are saved, so how many thousand are there? We don’t know. In the temple precincts, unafraid. The difference, filled with the Holy Spirit, believing in the death, and resurrection of his Lord and Savior, filled with God’s Spirit. And I think ‘Wow, you know, if the Lord could touch the world the way he did then, with 120 in the upper room (portico), who didn’t even have the New Testament. Imagine what he could do with us, there’s thousands of us’ [Pastor Joe Focht has about 5,000 in his congregation in Philadelphia]. If he would pour out his Holy Spirit--not in another Azuza Street, not reproducing another Pentecostal church, but in the sense of what we saw in the days of Whitfield or we saw in the Great Awakening where a whole seaboard, a whole coast of a nation can come under conviction and the church can come back to life and a by-product of that being evangelism and people being saved, a great moving of God’s Spirit. It’s obvious to us that Washington’s not going to move [at least not in that administration under Clinton]. There’s not going to be a great move in Washington, and if there is, it ain’t in that direction. Here’s Peter, standing up. The difference, not cowardly, but filled with the Holy Spirit, “He lifted up his voice, and he said unto them, Ye men of Judea and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you and hearken unto my words, for these are not drunken as you suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day,”--that’s King James for 9 in the morning--“but this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel…” So Peter does a great job here. Nice parry and then counter-move, you know, to the Devil. “This is not drunkenness, it’s nine o’clock in the morning.” He is as cynical as they are as he begins here, saying ‘They’re not drunk, it’s the 3rd hour of the day.’ “But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel.” Now he’s answering their question in verse 12, “What meaneth this?”--‘What in the world is going on here?’ Very important for you to have a Biblical explanation for Pentecost, because a lot of things go on around us in the church today under the title of Pentecost. And the Holy Spirit gets a lot of bad press, and the Holy Spirit gets identified with every weird and strange thing that goes on. I always think of this group that was driving from Texas to Florida, the Lord supposedly them to leave and go to Florida. They were all in a 15 passenger van together and somewhere around Mississippi they felt like the Holy Spirit told them they even had to take their clothes off. So they were all naked, they left all their clothes, because their clothes were demon possessed or something to do with something they were leaving in Texas. And they get stopped for speeding. So here’s a 15-passenger van-load of born-again Christians, naked, driving across the South--these kind of things go over big in Mississippi and Alabama--and telling them [the police] that ‘Our clothes were demon possessed’--and then everybody in the world thinks that’s what you are. It ain’t what I am. You have to have a Biblical explanation, it has to be within Biblical parameters. Peter is able to say, “This is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel…”--very important. Slaying in the Spirit, Holy laughter, all of these things, God is not restricted by my opinion. He can do whatever he wants. But as for me, I have enough black and white to work with [in the Scripture], that I don’t have to take up a major in gray. And that’s what those things are, gray areas. Does the Lord slay in people in the Spirit? I can’t find a Biblical proof for that. Yes in the Garden of Gesthemene it says they came to Jesus, he said, “I am”, they all fell down. They were unbelievers, so I know it wasn’t what you see today [in a lot of Pentecostal churches]. It says there were 185,000 Assyrians slain by the Angel of the Lord in one night, they were slain in the Spirit, but that was something different. Holy laughter? Nothing new, Watchman Nee writes about it in China in 1925, says it was the flesh, it was the rage across China. If you didn’t have the Holy laugh you didn’t have what the Spirit was doing. [Watchman Nee wasn’t endorsing the Holy laugh as being of God, he was just reporting what was going on at the time.] It says here, as we read the passage this evening, that Peter preaches this sermon and he is filled with the Spirit, it tell us, it says “They were all pricked in their hearts”, and it’s a very powerful word, it means ‘to be pierced with a sword.’ It says, ‘their hearts were cut’, and they said “What must we do?” They cried out with broken heart. And anywhere through Church History where there has been a genuine move of God’s Spirit, it has been accompanied by a broken-heartedness and repentance and tears.

Peter begins here, “This was that which was spoken by the prophet Joel, ‘And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of My Spirit upon all flesh, your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your young men shall see visions and your old men shall dream dreams’”--I’ll take both here, I’m not sure where I am here, a dreamer or a seer--“and on my servants and on my handmaids I will pour out in those days of My Spirit and they shall prophesy.’” It’s interesting, the Spirit shall be poured out upon all flesh, old men will dream dreams, young men will see visions, handmaids and servants, there’s no class distinction here as this is spoken between Jew and Gentile, there’s no class distinction between male and female, there’s no class distinction between rich and poor, it’s inclusive. And Peter’s gonna say ‘this promise is to you and your children and to as many as are far off.’ “I will show wonders in the heaven above and signs in the earth beneath, blood and fire and vapour of smoke, the sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon into blood before that great and notable day of the Lord come. And it shall come to pass that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved” (verses 17-21). Now the interesting thing is Peter says to us in the context of Joel’s prophecy that the outpouring of God’s Spirit is attached to what he calls “the Last Days”. He tells us “the Last Days” go from Pentecost until the 2nd return of Christ at the end of the tribulation period. That that era characterized by “whosoever will call on the name of the Lord shall be saved"--from the death, resurrection and ascension of Christ, and then Pentecost and the pouring out of the Spirit, until Christ returns at the end of the tribulation--is a time period that he classifies “the last days”, in the sense that it is a time period that “whosoever”, not just Jew, not just Gentile, not just male, female, not just rich or poor, but “whosoever calls on the Lord shall be saved.” And by the way, Peter doesn’t say that the gifts will pass away--because of a verse in 1 Corinthians chapter 13--he says ‘this will happen until the coming of the Lord, there will be an outpouring, there will be an unction, there will be a gift that is available to those who believe and call on the name of the Lord--and that the last days are from the 1st coming to the 2nd coming.

“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 you yourselves also know, him being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, you have taken and by wicked hands have crucified and slain, whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that he should be holden of it” (Verses 22-24). Peter says to them, ‘Look, you know the story’, they’re gathered now, thousands, listening [saying] ‘What is this?’ because they were used to very proper temple worship. They were used to going to the temple, hearing the Scripture read by the priests, they were used to being assembled at certain trumpet blasts, they were used to certain procedure and in certain feasts, they were used to doing things in a certain prescribed orderly way and then all of a sudden here are all of these Galileans crying out loud in this Pentecostal worship the wonderful works of God and in all these different languages, and the priests are not in charge, it’s nowhere in the program, it’s not in the church bulletin, and they’re saying “What in the world is this?”. And this was a testimony to them, this was real life, this worship was genuine, it was real, and they were drawn there, and they saw it. “And what is this?” as they cry out. A testimony in their own hearts that something real is taking place. And Peter says, ‘This is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel about the outpouring of the Spirit in the last days on all flesh, and that whosoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’ “Ye men of Israel, hear these words, Jesus of Nazareth”--they all knew who he was--“a man”--notice--“approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs which God did by him in the midst of you, as you yourselves also know…”--I think as you go through all the gospels you find about thirty-two, in all four gospels, where it says ‘here was miracles’ or ‘here was a night of miracles’, John outlines seven in a particular way. There’s almost one miracle to cover each month of his public ministry for three to three and a half years. But, we know that there are some nights where it says, take for instance in Capernaum, that all that were brought to him, they brought to him all that were sick, infirm and demon-possessed from all of Decapolis and all the surrounding areas from Tyre and Sidon, they were all brought to him, and it specifically says “he healed them all.” There were places, it says, where they were bringing, in the end of Matthew chapter 3, those that were sick, and throwing them down--the language indicates, in front of him, and as quickly as they were being thrown down he was touching them and they were being made whole. Arms and legs were growing back, the one leper who comes to Jesus, doctor Luke tells in his account, that he was full of leprosy, he was in the final stages. It meant, probably his ears were gone, probably his nose was gone, no doubt fingers and toes were gone. Jesus touched him and it says he was every wit whole. That meant that his fingers went pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, came back on again. John tells us, “If we would have written down everything Jesus had done, the very libraries of the world wouldn't contain the books that would be written. But these things that are written, are written that you might believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of the Living God and that you might have eternal life through his name.” He says ‘the records that we do have are there so we believe.’ You have to understand the population in Judea and Galilee at this time, the import of this miraculous ministry that Christ had. “He was a man approved among you by signs and wonders he did.” In fact, Jesus would say to the Pharisees and Sadducees, “If you do not believe what I’m teaching, believe me for the very works’ sake.” Because the Old Testament clearly said that he would come, opening the eyes of the blind, healing the lame, doing signs and wonders among them. And now, as Peter stands before them, he says, “You men of Jerusalem, of Israel, listen to what I’m saying to you. This Jesus, the Nazarene, you know who he is, was approved among you, by signs and wonders which God did through him in the midst of you, as you yourselves also know. Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken and by wicked hands”--indicates not theirs, handing him over to the Romans, you took him and then by someone else’s wicked hands--“have crucified and slain, whom God hath raised up having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that he should be holden of it.” Now a very interesting verse, a certain theological tension. “Him, being offered up by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, you have taken and by wicked hands have crucified.” He’s saying two things in this same verse. He’s saying “this was all done by God’s pre-determinate counsel and foreknowledge.” It was all lined up this way. Revelation chapter 13:8 tells us “He was the Lamb of God that was slain before the foundation of the world.” 1 Peter 1:19 tells us the same, ‘was a lamb without spot and blemish, slain from the foundation of the world.’ What a great thing, offered for us before the world was ever formed, our names somehow miraculously before God. “Him being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God you have taken and by wicked hands have crucified him.” And here’s the human part, you’ve involved. Now how do these verses go together? Was it human or was it divine? If I could answer that question I could write a book. J.B. Philips said “If God was small enough for us to understand, he wouldn’t be big enough for us to worship.” Somehow both are true. Somehow, remarkably, it was God’s plan all along. They’re both there in Scripture. Our minds are not big enough. If we re-wrote the Bible we’d take out all the paradoxes and make it humanly much more understandable.

“Delivered by the pre-determinate foreknowledge and counsel of God, you have taken by wicked hands and have crucified and slain him whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that he should be holden of it.” Now, very interesting. “God hath raised him up, having loosed the pains of death,”--it’s having loosed the birth pains, and the way it’s written, it’s death that was the one that’s having the birth-pains--that death itself was in travail, because it had never given birth to someone coming back to life again [in the sense of being resurrected to immortality, not talking about being resurrected back to physical life, which had occurred once in the Old Testament (look it up, a good challenge for you Bible scholars, and in the New Testament, Jesus raised at least three people back to physical life on separate occasions--but they all died again at the end of their normal lifetimes]. It says “God raised up Christ”, very interesting, because here it says “God raised him”, Romans 8 said “the same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead dwells in you also and will quicken your mortal bodies”--there it says the Spirit [Holy Spirit] that raised him. Jesus says, “no man takes my life, I lay it down and I take it up again.” Jesus says he raised himself. So the New Testament says that Jesus raised himself, it says the Spirit raised him and it says the Father raised him, just to clear that one up! [Paradoxes, anyone? Similar paradox of understanding God the Father, God the Son, and the Holy Spirit as One God, understand even the rudiments of that one and you may come close to understanding the first paradox of how Jesus was raised by God the Father, the Holy Spirit, and by himself.] “God hath raised him up having loosed death’s birth-pains, because it was not possible that he should be held of it.” It was not possible that death should hold him. It says “The wages of sin is death…” (Romans 6:23). It says “He was a lamb without spot or blemish.” “That he who knew no sin was made sin that we might be the righteousness of God.” The idea is, after God’s wrath, after he became the propitiation, after the wrath burned the sin of the world off of him, what was left was one that was spotless and without sin. And because death and sin are interwoven it was impossible that death should hold him. But he says even more than that here, because it was prophecied by David. The Word of God was manifest in that death could not hold him, that he was raised. He’s gonna quote Psalm 16 and call David a prophet. Interesting as we go through this, look, it says pre-determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, God knew ahead of time. You know what? If you’re here this evening and you don’t know Jesus Christ personally, isn’t it interesting that God decided before you were born, that you’d be sitting--because you couldn’t make it in a normal church--you’d be sitting here this evening [or even stranger, at your computer terminal reading this], while missiles are flying in the air [or now, after the Trade Towers of September 11th, and now during the Arab-Israeli conflict with all it’s terrorist suicide bombings in Israel] and while our future in this world is uncertain, that God would have you sit here this evening [or at your computer terminal reading this] and hear that your future in Christ can be certain--that if you will turn to him, that your future can be certain. Isn’t it interesting? Did you walk in here yourself [or just surf in by “accident”], or did God pre-ordain that you’d be here this evening? You say, ‘Well, I don’t like that. Only people that are pre-destined get saved? I’m not gonna yield to that.’ Well, you’re probably not predestined to get saved then. And if you don’t like predestination then forget about that and at the end of the service get saved because you want to. Then after you’re saved you’ll know you were predestined to get saved. What’s the difference? Think of all the other things you take advantage of that you don’t understand. You wouldn’t jump out of an airplane without a parachute. You believe in gravity. You don’t understand the dynamics of it. You turn on the light and you expect the light to go on. You don’t understand all the dynamics of how electricity is generated somewhere and flows to this place [unless you’re an electronic tech or electrician]. You take advantage of it. I encourage you this evening to take advantage of something that I believe was fore-ordained, on your behalf. “It wasn’t possible that death should hold him…” “For, because that David speaketh concerning him, I foresaw the Lord always before my face, for he is on my right hand”--as David’s advocate--“that I should not be moved.” David, remarkably, saw the Lord this way. “Therefore did my heart rejoice and my tongue was glad. Moreover also my flesh shall rest in hope.” David says “When I die, I will die with hope, my flesh will rest in hope.” If David could say that without the light of that we have this evening, to move forward with confidence, whatever may come…Psalm 16--“Because thou wilt not leave”--David, speaking of himself in Psalm 16--“thou wilt not leave my soul in hell…” In Psalm 16 it says “You will not abandon my soul to Sheol, the unseen realm, Sheol, broader than Hades, the word in the New Testament we often translate into English as hell. Sheol in the Hebrew, was the unseen realm, it could just be translated as “the grave”, physically itself, of the unseen realm where the wicked went, and sometimes it was just of the unseen realm itself that the dead passed to. David said, “I know this, because the Lord is ever by my right hand, he’s given me hope, he’s made known unto me that paths of light--because of that my flesh shall rest in hope. Because he will not abandon my soul to the unseen realm, Sheol, neither will he suffer his Holy One”--now he’s speaking of the Messiah--“neither will he suffer his Holy One to see corruption. Thou hast made known to me the ways of life. Thou shalt make me full of joy with thy countenance. 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 to this day” (Acts 2:27-29). Speaking of the tomb of David in Jerusalem. And there’s a debate whether how legitimate it is. But Josephus speaks of it, ancient rabbi historians speak of it. David was buried in Jerusalem, and there is today in Mount Zion in Jerusalem the tomb of David. And he’s speaking to the culture of that day. He says, ‘You know that David is dead, he’s buried right here with us. “Therefore being a prophet and knowing that God had sworn with an oath that to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up the Messiah”--the Christ-“to sit on his throne…” David, knowing the Messiah would come of his blood-line, that God made that know to him. “He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ”--the Messiah--“that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption.” The idea, it’s speaking of the resurrection. When we come to Ephesians 4 we’ll talk about this whole argument of what happened when Christ died on the cross, when he said “It is finished”, where was he? In my own opinion, is that when he said “It is finished”, it was finished. There are people that put Christ in hell for three days, suffering in flames [that’s whacked out]. Kenneth Copeland says he even had to get born-again to get out of hell, which is heresy, no mistake about it. Jesus had said, when they came and asked him for a sign "This wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign. No sign shall be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. As Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the whale, so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of earth.” He says that it is a sign to an unbelieving generation. Therefore he could only be speaking of the fact that his body would be in the tomb for three days [and three nights], and be raised. There’s no unbelieving generation that has X-ray vision like Superman, to see him descend into Hades somewhere below the earth for three days and then come out. That was not the sign at all. The sign was, that after three days [and nights], the Roman soldiers who stood guard fled to the religious leaders and said to them “An angel came and rolled away the stone and this person is risen and if we go to Pilate he’s gonna put us to death, and you have to cover us.” [And I might add that when that Roman guard, probably composed of the standard forty soldiers, was more than likely scared to the point of not being able to move, frozen in fear. The usual reaction to a human meeting an angel (examples to be found in both the Old Testament, and the book of Revelation when John encountered one) was for the person meeting the angel to fall to the ground on their face. It was just a gut reaction.] Jesus had said in Luke 16, when he talked about Lazarus and the rich man, and how the rich man was in hell and said to Lazarus ‘Go warn my brothers’, and Abraham saying, ‘No, they have Moses and the Prophets. If they won’t believe them, neither will they believe if someone were to be raised from the dead.’ And that’s exactly what happened, and it’s exactly what they did not believe. It is my own conviction that when Christ said “Today, thou shalt be with me in paradise” that’s where he was, his work was done. Paul, quoting this same verse from Psalm 16 in Acts 13:35 says, speaking of it, “Thou will not suffer his flesh to see corruption”, speaking in the second half of the verse about the resurrection. By the way, you know that it wasn’t until the beginning of the 3rd century, originally the Apostles Creed said “Crucified under Pontus Pilate, dead and buried, rose again on the 3rd day.” It wasn’t until after the 3rd century it said “Crucified under Pontus Pilate, dead, buried, descended unto hell, and was raised again on the 3rd day.” No doubt at some point, he made a proclamation and took the keys of life and death. But some people have a compartment down under the earth somewhere that’s divided into two categories, goodies and badies. And that in Hades, which is that place of torment, narrower than Sheol, that there those who died in the Old Testament, who died in faith were held in one compartment, and those who died in unbelief were held in another compartment, and that Jesus went down and proclaimed the gospel to those that were in the “good compartment” and brought them out. It says in 1 Peter 3:19 that he made proclamation--“caruso--not “evangelizo”. He proclaimed a victory, certainly not to them, but to the spirits who were disobedient…Jesus went and proclaimed his victory to the principalities and powers that tried to stop, by crucifixion, his victory. But it says in Ephesians, “He led captivity captive”, not captives captive--hell and death itself, “Oh death where is thy sting, Oh grave where is thy victory…” [How does this victory of Jesus Christ equate to our victory over death and the grave as Christians? Log onto http://www.UNITYINCHRIST.COM/corinthians/cor15-16.htm to read a good sermon on the resurrection of the saints at Christ’s second coming, those who died as born-again Christians, or those yet alive at his return.] No doubt there was paradise, Abraham’s bosom. It was incomplete, it says, “the rich man in hell”, very important, “lifted up his eyes and looked up and afar off”, doesn’t say across, “up and afar off to Abraham’s bosom.” Paradise, or Abraham’s bosom, the place of the righteous dead, was a place at the right hand of God. “At thy right hand are pleasures evermore” David said (Psalm 16:11). [Some believed this Paradise at God’s right hand doesn’t begin until Jesus returns and the resurrection of the righteous dead takes place (cf. 1 Corinthians 15).] But it was incomplete until the death, resurrection and ascension of Christ. That’s when Moses and Elijah came to him on the Mount of Transfiguration and spoke to him of his decease which he was about to accomplish. How do you accomplish a death? It was literally the exodus that he was about to accomplish to Jerusalem, the victory that he would have. Because there, those who had died in faith were waiting for the assurance of all the promises of God [some believe symbolically, some literally, we’ll find out when we die or at Christ’s return, whichever comes first for us]. Now when Jesus Christ ascended, he took human flesh, Adam’s genes and chromosomes, back into fellowship with the Living God which hadn’t been there since Eden, since man fell. And when Christ ascended then paradise was complete because the assurance then was given to all those who had waited for the Messiah, for his completed work. Jesus, risen, that’s the point here as Peter preaches “This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses”, the 120 there, we know there were 500 we hear about in 1 Corinthians 15. [The Greek in Acts 2 indicates 120 family names, which could equate to 500 individuals.] “Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost [Holy Spirit], he hath shed forth this”--that’s what they asked “What’s is this?”--“he hath shed forth this which you now see and hear” (Acts 2:32-33). I like A.W. Tosure’s comment on this verse. It’s in his little booklet, great little booklet, “How To Be Filled With The Holy Spirit”. He says a lot with a few words. He says ““That which you see and hear”, the problem with the church today is there’s a lot heard and there’s little seen with the power of the Holy Ghost.” He says “Everybody’s got a position, everybody’s got a systematic theology”, but he said, “there’s a lot heard, but there isn’t much seen.” I pray that in our lives there’s an evidence of the risen Christ, that there’s much seen. “He hath shed forth this which you now see and hear (verse 33).

“For David is not ascended into the heavens, but he saith himself, the LORD said unto my Lord, ‘Sit thou on my right hand.’” (Verse 34) Now, after the death and resurrection, Peter takes the verse that Jesus used when he spoke to the religious leaders in the temple precincts and you have to understand there were tens of thousands listening to this argument. And Jesus used this very verse, and said, ‘You know, I’ll ask you a question’, after all the ridiculous questions (they were asking him), ‘Who is David speaking of when he said to the Lord--capital “L”, capital “O”, capital “R”, capital “D”, YHVH, “the LORD said unto my Lord”, capital “L”, small “o, r, d”, Adonai, “sit down at my right hand until I make your enemies your footstool.” He’s saying “Who is David speaking to?” As David would never call his son if Christ is to be the son of David, his LORD--how can he be his LORD, Jesus says, if he’s his son also? The great mystery of Christ, who is the root and the offspring, is he’s the root and the offspring of David. He is both the originator of David, of Israel, of the tribe of Judah, of the nation, he is both the root and the offspring of David. How remarkable. And now Peter takes the same verse, holds it up once again to no doubt thousands who had heard Jesus utter the same verse, and how much more sense does it make now--“For David is not ascended into the heavens, and yet he said to himself, ‘the LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand until I make thy foes thy footstool.’ Therefore let all of the house of Israel know assuredly that God hath made the same Jesus, whom you have crucified”--this is not a comfortable message, notice this, Peter’s not looking for, this is not a seeker service--the cross is an offense, it was an offense when Jesus spoke about it with his own disciples, it was an offense when it was preached in the book of Acts, it was an offense when Paul preached it, it was an offense with the Waldensians and all the way through the centuries, with Moody and Spurgeon and Whitfield and Billy Graham, and it certainly is an offense today. If you haven’t noticed, when you share Christ today, it’s no longer “That’s your opinion, keep it to yourself.” Today it’s “You are intolerant.” “You are the source of trouble.” “This word ‘sin’ and the way you as a Christian hold onto it and it’s relationship with the cross is the root of all the troubles that we’re seeing in our nation today.” It is an offense. Peter just fired with both barrels, I like this guy. He’s just hacking off ears in a different way now. Different sword, still hacking off ears, just a different sword. “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God hath made that same Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah. Now when they heard this they were pierced”--“they were pricked in their hearts”--they were cut to the heart, it says. Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit. The Word of God, ‘dividing between soul and spirit’ as it says, ‘alive and powerful.’ They were cut to the heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren”--notice, they want to be part of the same family--“what shall we do?” Peter says, ‘Well, you have to go to confirmation classes, you have to get a box of offering envelopes, you have to sign the church register, you have to be sprinkled when you’re a baby, and baptized later to make sure--“What shall we do?”, they’re crying out, they're giving the altar call. “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” “Peter said unto them, Repent…” Not a popular word today, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, for the promise is unto you and unto your children and unto all that are afar off, even to as many as the Lord our God shall call. And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, save yourselves from this untoward generation” (Acts 2:37-40). Look what Peter says. They’re crying out “What do we do now?” The guilt of this, here we are in the middle of this and we are responsible for the death of this Christ, of this Messiah. You have to understand. Chuck Smith, a number of years ago went to a Jerusalem conference, with religious leaders from all over the world, and there was a debate there between the Israelis and Protestant leaders, and there were Catholic leaders there--“Who was responsible for the death of Christ”--because some in the church were saying “Well, it was the Jews, they turned from their own Messiah, they were responsible.” And the Jewish leaders were saying “No, it was the Romans, it was the Gentiles, he was a famous rabbi in Israel, they were responsible.” And when Chuck Smith got up to speak he said, “I want all of this to stop, because I know who was responsible for the death of Jesus.” He said, “I killed him, he died for me, it was me.” And I can say that, and I hope that you can say that. He died for me. My dad was Catholic, my mom was Lutheran, I was raised in the church, and it was an empty experience. There was a religious form, and it wasn’t a bad thing and they did the best they could, and I sang “I will make you fishers of men” when I was a little kid and “the B.I.B.L.E., that wasn’t the book for me”. But I sang that it was. And somehow in the middle of all that liturgy and religious form I never knew that he died for me, and I never knew that I was the sinner that caused his death, never knew it. And of course, when they finally said to me “We’re tired of fighting with you, you don’t have to go to church, you don’t have to.” I said, “Oh thank you God, even though I don’t believe you’re there.” And of course from one thing to another from everything the world offers and all the emptiness that’s involved with it, and as I wasted my life in all of that, it was quite obvious, as all that emptiness came to bear on my heart, I was a sinner and I loved sin and that I was empty and that I was at bottom. And God graciously was there waiting for me, tapping on me, drawing me and wooing me and loving me. And somehow, in an unspoken language, I looked in that direction, somehow saying “Lord, if you’re there”, somehow searching. How gracious he is, to snatch up our lives, to wash us to cleanse us, to bring us into his family, to make us his sons and daughters.

“What shall we do?” Peter says, “Repent, repent.” You know, you could put that in a wrong connotation. I remember a couple years ago they were showing this little kid somewhere down south. I don’t know why it’s always down south, but he was down south. Obnoxious little kid, 8, 9 years old, standing on the corner screaming “Repent, you’re going to hell, you’re fornicators, you’re prostitutes!…” Just screaming, and I’m thinking, ‘Somebody ought to take that kid out…’ And this is the kind of stuff the media loves. And you listen to that kind of stuff and the word “repent”--augh!--grates on you. It’s a simple word, metanoeo, meaning “to change the mind, to change the direction”, “to think differently”. “What shall be do?” “We’ve been lost. God we’ve been away from you.” The direction of our life has been away from God and away from forgiveness and away from heaven. “What shall we do?” Peter says “Metanoeo”, change your mind, make a u-turn. Your life has been going away from God, now your life needs to turn and come toward him, because he paid for your sins with the blood of his Son. Turn towards him. It’s a good word, it’s a word of reckoning, a word without hypocrisy. Metanoeo, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus.” Oh, people want to get hung up there. “In the name of Jesus, you have to do it in the name of Jesus, you have to do it in the name of Jesus only.” And others say, “Well, it says in Matthew, ‘In the name of the Father and in the name of the Son, and in the name of the Holy Spirit.’” So, when I baptize someone, I baptize them “In the name of Jesus, and the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.” That way, we cover it all. [He’s so down to earth!]

“Be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins.” Sadly, there are those who take this verse and say, “what this is saying, is ‘be baptized for the remission of sins’, that it is water baptism that washes away sin. Paul, chapter nine (of Acts), Saul of Tarsus, converted on the road to Damascus, blinded by the brilliance of the Lord [cf. Rev. 1:13-16], cries out, after Jesus says “I am Jesus”, Paul, believing says, “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?”, making Jesus his Lord. Three days later, a man, Anninias, a disciple, is sent to him that he might be filled with the Holy Spirit and baptized, after he’s saved. Baptism didn’t save him. Chapter 10, verses 44-48, Peter recounting what happened at the house of Cornelius, “While I was yet speaking, the Holy Spirit fell on them as he did on us at the beginning. They were all amazed”, and it says, “when they saw the number that believed” that they then took them and baptized them, after they were saved. Paul, 1 Corinthians, says I thank God that I baptized none of you, except the house of Stephanos, 1 Corinthians chapter 1. “I thank God I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, lest any should say I had baptized in my own name. I baptized also the house of Stephanos, besides I know not whether I baptized any other, for Christ sent me not to baptize but to preach the gospel, not with the wisdom of words lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.” What he’s saying there is ‘I thank God I didn’t baptize--you know, you guys are all divided over who baptized you, and he didn’t send me to baptize, he sent me to preach the gospel.’ If baptism saved, Paul would never have said, “I thank God I baptized none of you.” Paul would say, “I wish I could have baptized the entire world.” He was the most zealous evangelist that ever lived. Baptism was their altar call, it was when they stood publicly. The Greek word here in verse 38 “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ” “eis” “for the remission of sins” is normally translated “because of”, “on account of”. Be baptized “on account of” the remission of sins. Or “be baptized ‘because of’ the remission of your sins.” What Peter’s saying to them is “Take a public stand, because your sins have been forgiven, therefore stand forward and be baptized. Make a public stand.” No altar call in that day. How they took their public stand was publicly they were baptized. And by that, entering in the death, burial and resurrection of Christ, very important. I think that we still should be baptized, it gives us a moment in time. That’s why we have baptisms, and every three or four months it’s in the bulletin. It’s a time when you stand publicly, before whatever witnesses are there, and say “for me I desire to enter into the death and resurrection of Christ, in my experience with him as Lordship over my life.” But it doesn’t say here that baptism is for or causes the remission of sins. It says “because of the remission of sins you should be baptized.” Now remission is a beautiful word, it means “to send away.” It means “your sins are sent away.” I like the Old Testament, it says [our sins have been sent] “as far as the east is from the west.” It doesn’t say north and south, it’s only about 8 thousand miles. Head north 8,000 miles, you start heading south for 8,000 miles. You go south for 8,000 miles and you start heading north. If God removed my sins as far as the north is from the south it wouldn’t be far enough, I got to get them more than 8,000 miles from me. But you’ll go west forever and never go east. Or you’ll go east forever and never go west, that’s remission. He’s sent them away. When he saved me he sent them away, all of them, past, present and future. Your sins, tonight, if you’re a believer, have been sent away, no end to the place they’ve been sent away. When God looks down on your life from heaven he sees you clothed in the righteousness of Jesus Christ. You don’t see that in the mirror in the morning, I understand. Your wife or your husband doesn’t see that when they look at you, I understand. But God sees us clothed in the righteousness of Christ.

“The promise”--he says that you will receive the Holy Ghost, the Holy Spirit, that’s the promise--“is to you and your children, to all that are afar off, as many as the Lord our God shall call. With many other words he testified and exhorted, saying, save yourselves from this untoward generation” (Acts 2:40). Untoward, what in the world is that? Well, it’s the King James word for “warped” or “twisted.” Now we understand. Save yourselves, not in the sense that you can save yourself, but “separate yourselves from this twisted generation, from this warped generation.

I want to challenge you people that don’t know Christ personally. Just take this opportunity, save yourself from this twisted generation. Take your public stand for Jesus Christ…Peter is preaching the Good News to those who sent Christ to the cross, and saying to them, “There’s forgiveness for you. Yes, you crucified him by wicked hands, yes he was crucified by my sins, by your sins, but that was according to the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God. God the Father allowed that to happen. It says in Isaiah 53 “It pleased the Lord to bruise him.” That’s the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God. It pleased the Lord to bruise him, for you and for me, that God put such a great price on us, that he was going to send his only Son to die in our place. What do we do then? Repent, metanoeo, change the mind, change the direction of your life. Instead of going away from God, come towards him. How? Through Jesus Christ, through the sending away of your sins, through repentance, be baptized, stand publicly for Christ…If you know tonight [or whenever you’re reading this] you want to be saved, be cleansed, while missiles are flying in the air somewhere, while there is uncertainty of future in this world, there is evermore great certainty about our future with Jesus Christ, forgiveness and inheritance incorruptible, undefiable, fadeth not way.

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