No Other Name

We live in an age of equality, in which everyone (supposedly) is equal to everyone else. That is true in religion as well, where the one offense seems to exclusivity. But Biblical Christianity does claim to be exclusive, though hopefully not in an arrogant way.

Salvation is found in no one else. The name of Jesus had brought healing. The commotion caused by the healing of the lame man and Peter’s sermon had caused the arrest of Peter and John. Now the Sanhedrin demands to know what authority or name lay behind their act, v.7. The way the question was asked was demeaning. “Men like you!” would be the force of it today. Peter responds with a bold affirmation that it is by the name of Jesus that this “act of kindness” had been done, v.9. (The words for healing and salvation are the same in Greek.) The name of Jesus had given a holy boldness to Peter, who had denied his Lord a few weeks earlier.

Continue reading “No Other Name”

Healed by Faith in Jesus’ Name

“What’s in a name?” asked Shakespeare. Although not something that prevented Romeo and Juliet from loving each other, the names Montague and Capulet were significant in the play. Far more significant is the name of the One in whose Name the lame beggar was healed, as Peter explains in Acts 3:16.

Trust in the name. Understand the name. Peter explains the miracle. Not only does God do something wonderful, but he also provides an explanation, an interpretation. Rather than power or godliness of their own, it was the name of Jesus that had healed the lame man. In the Bible, the name represents the person. Precisely because God is who he is, you must not take his name in vain. You are to hold him in reverence, recognizing his holiness and power. When Moses asked to see the glory of God, the Lord came down in the cloud and proclaimed his name, Exodus 34:5-7. In the New Testament Mary and Joseph are told the name to give to Jesus. Because of this don’t treat lightly the fact that you are called by his name: Christian!

Continue reading “Healed by Faith in Jesus’ Name”

What Does a Spirit-Baptized Church Do?

The primary purpose of the Book of Acts is not provide a handbook for the life of the church. Rather, it describes the work of the risen Christ through his Spirit, extending his kingdom from Jerusalem to Rome (the ends of the earth). Yet, as it does that, in Acts 2:42–47 Luke shows you what a church, deluged by the Spirit, looks like.

Devote yourself to the apostles’ teaching. Proclaim the good news about Jesus. In Acts 2 Peter has just proclaimed Jesus as crucified and risen. He has challenged his hearers with the knowledge that the One whom they put to death is Lord’s Christ! God’s call (v. 39) might be translated “summons,” see Acts 4:18. It is a call to the nations to repent as the blessing of the Holy Spirit extends beyond Israel. The command grows out of a conviction of sin, v. 37. Don’t allow the call to repentance to be minimized as you present the gospel. Though it may not be popular to call people to repentance, ambiguity regarding man’s sinfulness makes it impossible to appreciate the depths of God’s grace in Christ. Repentance involves a change of mind, leading to a new life. It not only marks conversion, but also characterizes the entire Christian life this side of heaven. The primary mark of the church is the preaching of the Word. No church is perfect in that, but faithfulness in the Word is essential, or the church loses its reason for existence. The kingdom belongs to those who have turned (and continue to turn) from sin to Christ.

“In some respects, Pentecost may be viewed as the inaugural revival of the New Testament epoch. Certainly the description of the conviction of sin experienced, the ‘sense of awe’ (Acts 2:43) which was evoked, and the detailed model of what church life ought to be (Acts 2:44–47) point in that direction. This is what revival is. To develop further the metaphor of the flow of water, we might say that revival is the unstopping of the pent-up energies of the Spirit of God breaking down the dams which have been erected against his convicting and converting ministry in whole communities of individuals, as happened at Pentecost and in the ‘awakenings’ which have followed.” (Sinclair B. Ferguson, The Holy Spirit, p. 90)

Continue reading “What Does a Spirit-Baptized Church Do?”

The Exalted Receiver-Giver of the Spirit

Peter’s sermon in Acts 2:14–41 is the first recorded message of the church following the earthly ministry of Christ. Peter not only explains the strange events that had drawn the crowd, but he preaches Christ.

The Spirit was promised by the prophets. The last days have begun. The people had heard the sound of the powerful wind. They had seen the tongues of fire on the heads of God’s people. They had heard disciples speaking in many different languages, which some attributed to drunkenness. Peter goes to the prophet Joel, and quotes the promised pouring out of the Spirit when the day of the Lord comes. Notice how Peter modifies “afterwards” to “in these last days.” Peter is making clear that the day of the Lord, the messianic time towards which the prophet pointed, had arrived. The point he is making for his first century hearers is important for us today. The last days have arrived. However long the period between the first and second comings of Christ, we do live in the last days.

Continue reading “The Exalted Receiver-Giver of the Spirit”

The Gift of the Spirit

The disciples had been waiting — and now it happened! The Father’s gift, promised by the resurrected Savior is given, and the church is baptized with the Holy Spirit. See Acts 2:1–13.

The Spirit was active in the Old Testament. The Spirit worked in the lives of believers. Ever since the fall of Adam and Eve there has been only one way of salvation — by trusting in the Messiah. Old Testament saints looked forward to his coming. We look back on his finished work. In both the Old and New Testaments, however, the only way that someone who was dead in sin could come to faith in the Messiah, was if the Spirit worked in his life. David was conscious of the Spirit’s presence in his life, Psalm 51. Adam became a living creature only when God breathed into him the breath of life. The Spirit/wind of God gave life to those in the valley of dry bones to whom Ezekiel preached. Never assume that he was absent from Old Testament believers.

Continue reading “The Gift of the Spirit”