If you missed my last What I’m Learning in the Bible post I am sharing what I am learning as our church studies through the book of Acts together over the next few months. This week I read through the second half of Acts chapter 2 and Acts chapter 3.
As a reminder, I am using this ESV Acts Study journal. Basically it has scripture on one page and then a blank lined page next to it for taking notes.
So the Holy Spirit had just come and the believers gathered had told the mighty works of God to all the people who came after hearing the loud sound like wind. Some of them had genuinely asked that it meant while others mocked. So Peter gives an answer to them in the form of a sermon.
He refers them back to Joel’s prophecy about the pouring out of the Holy Spirit (v. 17-18). I love how the prophecy shows that the Holy Spirit is for “all flesh”, for everybody. Salvation and the gift of the Holy Spirit is for everyone and God makes that clear here by mentioning male and female, young and old, servants, for everyone.
Peter then shows how Jesus showed the signs and wonders that He is the Christ. He tells them pointedly that they crucified and killed Him and God raised Him up (v. 24, 32). Peter explains that they were all witnesses of the resurrection (v. 32) and that now that Jesus is resurrected that He is at the right hand of God and the Holy Spirit has been poured out as they can hear and see (v. 33). Peter wants there to be absolutely no doubt that Jesus is both Lord and Christ (v.36).
I love that we get to see their response. Sometimes in Scripture we don’t know how someone responds to a teaching from Jesus or the apostles but here we get to see a very detailed response. They were cut to the heart (v. 37). That’s such an expressive phrase. I feel that when I read that.
And Peter’s instructions to them are for all of us for what we need to do when presented with the Gospel. Repent and be baptized (v. 38). I love how he referenced Joel earlier in this passage saying that “everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (v. 21). Repent isn’t a word we use all the time so it might throw some people off but it basically just means that we understand that we are sinners, we feel sorry for that sin and so we ask God to forgive us, to save us. Baptism is an outward, symbolic expression of this all taking place in our hearts. We go down in the water, symbolic of dying to our sins and then we are raised up in forgiveness into a new life where we seek to follow God.
When they are first gathered in Acts 1:15 it says that there are about 120 of them in the room at the time. After the coming of the Holy Spirit and Peter’s message in these verses there were about 3,000 souls added that day.
Many of us as Christians hold this passage up as the ideal for doing life together as the church. It’s a beautiful picture of loving one another as Jesus loves us. We need each other and we need community, real community as a church to have the abundant life that Jesus came to bring us.
One thing about this man’s healing that always sticks out to me is that “immediately his feet and ankles were made strong” (v. 7). Someone who had not walked for a long time would naturally suffer from muscular atrophy so this healing is just so miraculous. This man did not struggle to get up and then limp along. He got up walking and leaping (v. 8).
In the message that Peter gives follows the healing I love what he tells them. He reminds them of who Jesus was and that they crucified him and that God raised Him from the dead. Then he tells them “And his name-faith in his name- has made this man strong whom you see and know, and the faith that is through Jesus has given the man this perfect health in the presence of you all” (v. 16). Faith in Jesus has the power to heal.
He speaks about the man being healed through faith in the name of Jesus but he concludes the message to them by speaking to Jesus healing them from sin. I love how he ends it all in verse 26. “God, having raised up his servant, sent him to you first, to bless you, by turning every one of you from your wickedness”.
As you can see my thoughts are not necessarily cohesive but rather just me studying and sharing thoughts as I read. This coming week I’ll be reading Acts 4-6:7. Please feel free to read along with me. I’ll be back to share my thoughts on next Monday (hopefully! I was more than a little late this week).
Have any thoughts to share? I would love to hear them in the comments below!