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Lesson 8 The Birth of the Church A. The Promise of the Holy Ghost Just prior to His ascension, Jesus told His disciples not to begin their ministry yet but to wait in the city of Jerusalem, until they were indued with power from on high. Without the baptism of the Holy Ghost, the Great Commission would have been a hopeless task to fulfill. The preaching of the gospel was to be done, in the power and the inspiration of the Spirit. In Acts 1:8 Jesus promised the disciples power. The Holy Ghost was the power that would extend the influence of the disciples' ministry to the uttermost parts of the earth. It was to begin at Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost. B. The Upper Room There were about one hundred and twenty of Jesus' disciples who gathered in the upper room in Jerusalem. Among them were Mary the mother of Jesus (Acts 1:14), His brothers, and the twelve apostles. For approximately seven to ten days they remained there in constant prayer and supplication. Then the Jewish feast day of Pentecost arrived. The disciples were all with one accord in their worship and prayer. Acts 2:1-4 records the details of this first glorious outpouring of the Holy Ghost. The place where they were sitting was overwhelmed by the sound of a rushing mighty wind that came from heaven. Acts 2:3 records another supernatural event immediately following the wind. Cloven tongues like flames of fire appeared and sat upon each of them. Of the many wonderful things that were taking place in the upper room, the greatest miracle was the one recorded in verse four. They were all filled with the Holy Ghost and began to speak with other tongues (languages) as the Spirit gave them utterance. When they were all filled with the Spirit, the initial sign of the Baptism of the Holy Ghost was given. The disciples began to speak with other tongues, and glorify God in languages they had never learned. Lesson 8 Peter Preaches Christ/God's Plan For Us II. Peter Preaches Christ/God's Plan For Us A. The Day of Pentecost The feast of Pentecost was a holy day in Israel, fifty days after the Passover. Jews from all over the world were gathered at Jerusalem. The news spread through the city of the events that had taken place in the upper room. A great multitude gathered to see what was happening. The disciples were still rejoicing and speaking in tongues under the intoxicating influence of the Spirit. Jesus had promised the disciples in John 16:22-24, that the day would soon come when their hearts would be filled with a joy that no man could take from them. The Baptism of the Holy Ghost was the fulfilling of that promise. The Apostle Peter later described it as "joy unspeakable and full of Glory" (I Peter 1:8). As the disciples continued to rejoice, suddenly amazement rippled through the crowd like a wave. The multitude of Jews began to hear the disciples praising God in their own native languages. They knew the disciples had no way of knowing these languages on their own. Some reacted by asking the question, "What meaneth this?" Others dismissed the whole event by accusing the disciples of being drunk. B. Peter Preaches Peter heard their false accusations of drunkenness and immediately stood up in the disciples defense. It was not the same fearful Peter who had cowardly denied his Lord as Jesus was being led to His crucifixion. It was a strong Simon Peter who stood and addressed the crowd that was gathered to see this marvelous event. It was a Peter who had been given "power from on high" through the Baptism of the Holy Ghost. It was the Peter that Jesus foresaw when He declared unto him, that He would give Peter the keys of the kingdom of heaven. Peter was now ready to use those keys. First he was to preach to them about the same precious Lord whom he had denied. This time his words were not words of defeat and cowardly denial, but words that rang forth with victory. C. Peter Preaches with Power He preached with power that only the anointing of the Holy Spirit can give. The other eleven apostles stood with Peter in full agreement as he preached the very first sermon of the newborn church of Jesus Christ. His message was: "Ye men of ludea, 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" (Acts 2:14-15). 1. Fulfillment of Joel's Prophecy Peter declared that the outpouring of the Holy Ghost was the fulfillment of Joel's wonderful prophecy, that in the last days God would pour out of His Spirit upon all flesh (Joel 2:28). A worldwide outpouring of the Holy Ghost, with the accompanying initial sign of speaking in other tongues, would be God's blessing upon humanity throughout the church age. He preached to them the death, burial and resurrection of Christ, and told them that their own wicked hands were guilty of His death on Calvary. 2. The Exalted Christ Peter climaxed his sermon by declaring that God had made that same Jesus, whom they had crucified, both Lord and Christ. Conviction gripped the hearts of the people as Peter preached his inspired sermon. In desperation and heartfelt sincerity, they cried out to Peter and to the rest of the Apostles, "Men and brethren, what shall we do?" (Acts 2:37). D. God's Plan of Salvation An honest question deserves an honest answer. This is especially true when man's destiny in eternity is at stake. They asked, "What shall we do?" This was an all important question. They wanted to know how they could be saved. The responsibility rested squarely on Peter's shoulders to deliver to the multitude the proper New Testament plan for salvation. Peter had been given the keys to the kingdom. For the first time he was about to use those keys to unlock the door of salvation to those present. Without hesitation and with the full support of the other apostles, Peter's voice boomed forth the answer to the thousands of hungry listeners before him. "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") (Acts 2:38). How beautiful! By simply obeying God's command to repent of their sins, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, they were promised the same glorious baptism of the Holy Ghost that the one hundred and twenty had received that same day. In the next verse Peter extended the promise of the Holy Ghost to all believers throughout the church age, until Jesus comes again. "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" (Acts 2:39). Peter spoke many other words, exhorting the crowd to save themselves without delay. By the time Peter was finished, the Word of God had done its work. Three thousand souls presented themselves for baptism in Jesus Name. We know that God fulfilled His promise and baptized them all with the Holy Ghost. The mighty blessings of God were falling in Jerusalem.
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