The First Spirit-filled Message

Acts 2:14-41 

First sermons are often memorable occasions. Years ago at Charles Spurgeon’s bible college they used to give student’s a text from the Bible and then tell them to preach a sermon right on the spot. One student was given the story of Zacchaeus. Of course we know he was a short man that climbed a tree to see Jesus as he passed by. The Lord called to him and told him to come down because he was going to his house. This young man stood up to address his fellow students about this story and said, Zacchaeus was of little stature; so am I. Zacchaeus was up a tree; so am I. Zacchaeus came down; so will I.” And he sat down. Another young man that I heard about years ago was asked to preach in a country church. They didn’t believe in preaching with notes and it was his first time to preach. He stood up scared to death and said, “Just me and Jesus know what I am about to say. . . . .” There was a very long awkward pause and then he said, “. . .and now just Jesus knows!” Preaching can be tough. 

As we continue our series on the Holy Spirit we will watch His power and leadership come to life within individuals and in the early church. 

Today we are going to listen and hear the first sermon preached immediately after the disciples burst from the upper room filled with the Holy Spirit and praising God in the languages of the people gathered from many different regions. Of all people, it was Peter that addressed the crowd of curious onlookers. It is important that you remember his story of brokenness, failure and then restoration by Jesus himself along the seashore one early morning. 

As far as we know he had never preached a sermon before although he wasn’t bashful about speaking out and speaking up. This time was going to be different. I am sure he had no idea what was about to happen or even what he was going to say. 

14 Then Peter stepped forward with the eleven other apostles and shouted to the crowd, “Listen carefully, all of you, fellow Jews and residents of Jerusalem! Make no mistake about this. 15 These people are not drunk, as some of you are assuming. Nine o’clock in the morning is much too early for that. Acts 2:14-15 NLT

He launched into an explanation of what was happening and before he was through the Holy Spirit had descended once again only this time as an agent of conviction on the listening crowd. Could this be the same disciple that only three months ago or so cowered at the accusing finger of a woman who accused him of being on the Christ’s followers? Something was different. Really different and that difference was the indwelling purity, power and presence of the promised Holy Spirit. Jesus had promised He would come. Jesus told the disciples in John 14, “The Friend, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send at my request, will make everything plain to you. He will remind you of all the things I have told you.” (The Message) 

Now we have this lived out as Peter begins to preach and it is obvious that this earthy fisherman not only knows Jesus Christ and is a follower but that he has been given a presence much greater than anything he has ever known. Here then is the message and here are the elements of a Spirit-filled message.

1.  It was a message crafted on fact and a biblical foundation  

Peter begins with a reference to what was written by the prophet Joel hundreds of years before. He follows this up in with two other references to the writing of David all of which would have been meaningful to this Jewish crowd in Jerusalem. He was using their bible. They were familiar with these references.

No, what you see was predicted long ago by the prophet Joel:
 17 ‘In the last days,’ God says,
      ‘I will pour out my Spirit upon all people.
   Your sons and daughters will prophesy.
      Your young men will see visions,
      and your old men will dream dreams.
 18 In those days I will pour out my Spirit
      even on my servants—men and women alike—
      and they will prophesy.
 19 And I will cause wonders in the heavens above
      and signs on the earth below—
      blood and fire and clouds of smoke.
 20 The sun will become dark,
      and the moon will turn blood red
      before that great and glorious day of the LORD arrives.
 21 But everyone who calls on the name of the LORD
      will be saved
. Acts 2:16-21 NTL

The idea of an abiding Holy Spirit in one’s life was unheard of in the Old Testament follower of God. King David prayed, “Do not take your Holy Spirit from me.” (Psalm 51:11) Peter was using the Old Testament scripture and prophesies to explain and lay the foundation for what he wanted and needed to communicate. 

Jesus promised to send His Spirit into their hearts and souls:  “If you love me, obey my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. 17 He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you. John 14:15-17 NLT

The coming of the Holy Spirit for indwelling, baptizing, sanctifying and filling was something new, incredible and dynamic. Joel’s prophesy however tells of the end of this wonderful age as well. See verses 19-21 above. 

Never forget this: there is an intimate connection between being filled with the Spirit and being filled with the Word of God.  Ephesians 5:18-19 says this, 

“Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead be filled with the Spirit. Speak to one another in psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord.” 

This first message anointed by the Holy Spirit was simple, scriptural, practical and attention-getting but more than all of these things being based on the scripture was only surpassed by the fact that it was also Christ-centered. 

2. It was a message with a Christ-centered focus

 22 “People of Israel, listen! God publicly endorsed Jesus the Nazarene by doing powerful miracles, wonders, and signs through him, as you well know. 23 But God knew what would happen, and his prearranged plan was carried out when Jesus was betrayed. With the help of lawless Gentiles, you nailed him to a cross and killed him. 24 But God released him from the horrors of death and raised him back to life, for death could not keep him in its grip. Acts 2:22-24 NLT

He covered the major areas of Christ’s life: 

 The Incarnation  ver. 22   Jesus the Nazarene was a man.

 The Crucifixion ver. 23   Jesus was nailed to a cross. 

 The Resurrection ver. 24  Jesus released and raised back to life.

 The Ascension ver. 34  Jesus ascended into heaven.

32 “God raised Jesus from the dead, and we are all witnesses of this. 33 Now he is exalted to the place of highest honor in heaven, at God’s right hand. And the Father, as he had promised, gave him the Holy Spirit to pour out upon us, just as you see and hear today. 34 For David himself never ascended into heaven, yet he said, 

   ‘The LORD said to my Lord,
      “Sit in the place of honor at my right hand
 35 until I humble your enemies,
      making them a footstool under your feet.”
Acts 2:32-35 NLT

I need to go back to Peter’s teaching on the resurrection for a moment because that was a major point in this message. The crucifixion and death of Jesus was a fresh event. While some of this crowd were hearing this story for the first time many of them had participated in Jesus arrest and eventual death.  Now the rest of the story needs to be told and that is that Jesus was resurrected back to life from the dead. To tell this he uses to Psalms written by David that were fulfilled by Christ. He is referring to Psalm 16:8-11. 

“Dear brothers, think about this! You can be sure that the patriarch David wasn’t referring to himself, for he died and was buried, and his tomb is still here among us. 30 But he was a prophet, and he knew God had promised with an oath that one of David’s own descendants would sit on his throne. 31 David was looking into the future and speaking of the Messiah’s resurrection. He was saying that God would not leave him among the dead or allow his body to rot in the grave. 

 32 “God raised Jesus from the dead, and we are all witnesses of this. 33 Now he is exalted to the place of highest honor in heaven, at God’s right hand. And the Father, as he had promised, gave him the Holy Spirit to pour out upon us, just as you see and hear today. 34 For David himself never ascended into heaven, yet he said, 

   ‘The LORD said to my Lord,
      “Sit in the place of honor at my right hand
 35 until I humble your enemies,
      making them a footstool under your feet.”’
 36 “So let everyone in Israel know for certain that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, to be both Lord and Messiah!”
Acts 29-36 NLT

Peter had one main point and that was to drive home the concept that Jesus Christ was more than a prophet or rabbi, He was the Son of God and the promised Messiah that came to give life to all that ask. He came to forgive our sins and prepare us for heaven. He came to show us a different way to live then the way that is continually presented to us by those that set the culture.
Peter’s first sermon was based on the Word of God.
Peter’s first sermon was proclaimed the message of Jesus Christ. 

And there is one last thing about this Holy Spirit anointed message: 

3. It was a message with a call to forgiveness and faith 

Spirit-filled messages always have a sense of conviction in them. When you come up against the word of God and the message of Jesus Christ and it is presented by the power of the Holy Spirit you will feel the convicting that comes to shepherd and school us to be like Jesus. 

Look at what happened when Peter concluded his first sermon. 

 37 Peter’s words pierced their hearts, and they said to him and to the other apostles, “Brothers, what should we do?” 

 38 Peter replied, “Each of you must repent of your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 This promise is to you, and to your children, and even to the Gentiles—all who have been called by the Lord our God.” 40 Then Peter continued preaching for a long time, strongly urging all his listeners, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation!” 

 41 Those who believed what Peter said were baptized and added to the church that day—about 3,000 in all.
Acts 2:37-41 NLT

Just fifty days earlier Peter had been full of presumption and pride and on the night of Passover after promising the Lord that he would never forsake Him he experienced a tragic and historic spiritual plunge. He denied ever knowing Jesus Christ. The result of his actions was a profound emptiness, as profound as any man had ever known. He had felt conviction. He had encountered Jesus following His resurrection and had felt the loving forgiveness of His Lord as he stood drenched with sea water from a night of fishing. He heard Jesus ask him, “Peter do you love me?” Three times he was asked and three times he had said yes.
Listen very carefully to this. His emptiness made a way for Pentecost in his life. When the Holy Spirit descended into the room and into the lives and hearts of the believers gathered there He filled them full. There was no more emptiness. Peter’s overflowing fullness led him to tell Israel about their spiritual bankruptcy. The crowd cried out in despair with a genuine hunger to accept the message of Christ. 

In light of this first message let me ask you three questions: 

1.) What foundation are you crafting your life on?     Is it the word of God? 

2.) Who is the focus or your life?       Is Jesus Christ? 

3.) Have you or are you responding to the call to forgiveness and faith?  Have you
     ever repented and accepted Christ and your Lord and Savior? 

I want you to know that you can know Him today. 

I wonder today if there is anyone here that is longing to know Christ. I have a feeling that there are people in this place today that need a serious renewing of the Holy Spirit in their lives and you long to reconnect with Christ and deepen your walk with Him. 

I read the story about a football player whose performance exceeded the expectation of others. "…. In the last two minutes of the game, with the score against his team, makes a touchdown. He runs faster than his legs can carry him, and farther than he has ever dreamed of running. When he comes out, the coach says to him, "I didn’t know you had it in you." He replies, "I didn’t. I was picked up and carried by something outside myself." That is the experience that men have when they completely outreach and outdo themselves". (George A. Buttrick ed. The Interpreter’s Bible. Volume 9. 1954. Theodore P. Ferris. "The Acts Of The Apostles: Exposition". Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1987 the thirty-ninth printing, p. 40). The story of Pentecost tells us not only of how the church was born, but also how the church has continued to outreach and outdo herself because of the power, influence and inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

This same Spirit that Jesus promised is here for you today. He invites you come and receive and today we invite Him to come and live in us.
I invite you to come. I invite you to pray before you go home.