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Poured Out On All People

This morning you guys are in for a real treat, because today you are going to hear one of the most powerful and most effective sermons that has ever been preached to mankind!

Now to be clear, it’s not my sermon this morning that I’m referring to. The sermon I’m talking about is the very first sermon ever preached by the Apostle Peter, on the day he was empowered by the Holy Spirit to be a witness for Jesus Christ.

As most of you know, we’ve recently begun studying the book of Acts – a book that is introduced as a sequel to the Gospel of Luke. In the opening words of this book, Luke writes:

In my first book I told you, Theophilus, about everything Jesus began to do and teach…

Acts 1:1

The implication here is that, while the Gospel of Luke is all about what Jesus began to do and teach, the book of Acts is all about what Jesus continued to do and teach – primarily through Apostles empowered by the Holy Spirit.

And that is very much what we are going to see in our passage today! On the very day that the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples – in fact, probably within the hour of that event – the Apostle Peter boldly stood up and preached a powerful message to all the people who had gathered there and more than 3,000 put their faith in Jesus Christ that day and were baptized!

It was an incredible kick-off to everything Jesus would continue to do through the Apostles and the Holy Spirit.

Peter’s sermon begins in Acts chapter 2, starting at verse 14, but before we read that, we should probably back up a little bit to review the first 13 verses so we understand what’s going on here.

Mike had taken us through these verses two weeks ago, but in case you’ve forgotten, let’s just read through them again this morning. Acts chapter 2, verse 1 says…

On the day of Pentecost all the believers were meeting together in one place. 2 Suddenly, there was a sound from heaven like the roaring of a mighty windstorm, and it filled the house where they were sitting. 3 Then, what looked like flames or tongues of fire appeared and settled on each of them. 4 And everyone present was filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in other languages, as the Holy Spirit gave them this ability.

5 At that time there were devout Jews from every nation living in Jerusalem. 6 When they heard the loud noise, everyone came running, and they were bewildered to hear their own languages being spoken by the believers.

7 They were completely amazed. “How can this be?” they exclaimed. “These people are all from Galilee, 8 and yet we hear them speaking in our own native languages! 9 Here we are—Parthians, Medes, Elamites, people from Mesopotamia, Judea, Cappadocia, Pontus, the province of Asia, 10 Phrygia, Pamphylia, Egypt, and the areas of Libya around Cyrene, visitors from Rome 11 (both Jews and converts to Judaism), Cretans, and Arabs. And we all hear these people speaking in our own languages about the wonderful things God has done!” Acts 2:1-11

And we’ll just stop her for a minute… This really was something amazing! Empowered by the Holy Spirit, each of the disciples (and there were roughly about 120 of them at that time), all of them were suddenly able to proclaim the wonderful acts of God in languages they had never learned! It would be like if I were suddenly to start preaching in Spanish or German. I don’t know more than a couple words in those languages, but wouldn’t that be amazing if I were to start preaching and everything I said was in perfect German or flawless Spanish!? What an astounding miracle!

But that’s exactly what happened on the day of Pentecost! The disciples proclaimed the goodness of God, and Jews from all over the world (who were now living in Jerusalem) all heard them speak in their own native languages! And of course, this (along with that loud noise like a wind storm and the flames of fire that appeared and rested on each of the believers), it all just astonished everyone! Verse 12 tells us…

12 They stood there amazed and perplexed. “What can this mean?” they asked each other.

13 But others in the crowd ridiculed them, saying, “They’re just drunk, that’s all!”

Acts 2:12-13

I’m not really sure how they figured that being drunk would enable someone to speak in another language! Obviously, there was something more going on here than just a bunch of drunk people slurring out incoherent words and phrases. And so as verse 12 tells us, aside from the critics, the majority of the people where amazed and wondered “What in the world can this mean?”

Well, its at this point that Peter (still empowered by the Holy Spirit) decides to seize this opportunity to explain exactly what is going on. Verse 14 says…

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

Now I don’t know if Peter’s just being serious here or if he’s being sarcastic or or just trying to start off his sermon with some humour or what! But either way, he clarifies that these people are not drunk – 9am is much too early for that. Drunkness is more of an evening thing, so what you’re seeing here must be something else! So then, Peter goes on to explain what that something else is. He continues in verse 16. He says…

16 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

Of course, this all comes from the book of Joel in the Old Testament, chapter 2. And Peter uses this quotation from the prophet Joel to explain that the loud noise they heard like a wind storm, the tongues of flames that appeared and rested on everyone’s head, and all of their ‘speaking in foreign languages’ was all evidence that God had begun to pour out his Holy Spirit on all people.

Now keep in mind, that before this day – before the day of Pentecost – not everyone who worshipped and followed God was filled with the Holy Spirit. For the most part, the Holy Spirit was reserved for a handful of people and for a handful of occasions. Usually, only certain Kings or prophets or other special people would be empowered by the Spirit – and usually just for a short period of time.

But according to Joel, in the last days, everyone would receive the Holy Spirit. As one commentator put it, “Before, the Holy Spirit was given out in drops, now, the Holy Spirit would be poured out on all people!” – which is exactly what Verse 17 says.

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.

Acts 2:17-18

Men and women, young and old, rich and poor, everyone from the greatest to the least – would all be filled with the Holy Spirit of God and would prophesy. And I should clarify that prophesying doesn’t necessarily mean speaking about some future event (like it often was with the Old Testament prophets.) But really, prophesying is simply by declaring the Word of the Lord.

Which is exactly what each of those 120 disciples were all doing – they were declaring the wonderful acts of God in every language imaginable!

And just before we continue on here, I want to pause to remind you that God still intends that to happen even today! God continues to pour out His Holy Spirit on every believer so that we might proclaim the wonderful acts of God in every language imaginable. 

Now of course, by this point in history, there are a lot of different Christians who speak a lot of different languages, so chances are, the Holy Spirit probably does’t need you to proclaim the acts of God in a language you don’t even know!  I mean, He might do that – but chances are, most of us need of His divine empowerment just to proclaim his wonderful acts in English!

So let’s at least start with that! Because the truth is, God has given all of us the ability to prophesy – that is, to share the Word of the Lord with other people. Of course, some people have the spiritual gift of prophesy so they can do that really well – even beyond their natural abilities – but as Joel states here, God has poured out his Holy Spirit on every one of us – empowering each of us and enabling us in our own personal way, to share the Good News of Jesus with the people around us.

So don’t feel like you have to be a professional or gifted speaker to share the Word of God with a friend or neighbour or even just your kids. I know the whole idea of sharing the Gospel with someone can be a pretty intimidating thought, but let me remind you that you have the Holy Spirit dwelling within you, and He will give you the right words to speak – just like what He did with Peter!

You might recall that Peter was not known for his eloquent speeches – he was more known for putting his own foot in his mouth after saying or doing something foolish! But here he was, boldly sharing God’s Word with a huge crowd of people. And through that, God did some amazing stuff! As I mentioned before, 3000 people put their faith in Christ that day and were baptized! So if God can work through Peter like that – He can certainly work through you!

But getting back to Peter’s sermon, let’s just quickly look at the second half of that quotation from Joel. Verse 18 says…

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

Now that is a lot of strange imagery – blood and fire and smoke, the sun goes dark, the moon goes red…. What is this all about? Well, without getting into too much detail, here Joel is connecting the out-pouring of the Holy Spirit with the day of the Lord – the day of judgement and reckoning. Basically, everyone who had rejected God would be in deep and serious trouble, but as the last verse says, ‘everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ And this is a key statement that Peter builds on for the rest of his sermon.

In the next several verses, Peter is going to accuse the Jewish crowds that had gathered of rejecting God (by rejecting Jesus) – but then He also points out that they can be forgiven and saved by calling on the name of the Lord – that is, by calling on the name of the very man they had just crucified a few weeks earlier!

And to prove that Jesus was indeed that person on whom they need to call upon for salvation, Peter quotes quite a bit from the psalms of David to show that Jesus fulfilled all the prophecies of the Messiah. We won’t spend too much time examining these verses in detail, but let’s take a quick look to see how this all plays out. In verse 22 Peter says…

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. 25 King David said this about him:

‘I see that the Lord is always with me.
I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me.

26 No wonder my heart is glad,
and my tongue shouts his praises!
My body rests in hope.

27 For you will not leave my soul among the dead
or allow your Holy One to rot in the grave.

28 You have shown me the way of life,
and you will fill me with the joy of your presence.’

29 “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 2:22-36

It’s this last statement in verse 36 that is really the crux of Peter’s message. “God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, to be both Lord and Messiah!”

You can imagine how pointed that message would be for the Jews in the crowd that day. Someone of them had likely been in the same crowd 50 days earlier shouting to Pontus Pilate “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!”

After waiting for hundreds of years for the Promised Messiah – when he did finally show up, they had rejected Him and put him to death on a cross! But of course, as Peter had pointed out – this was part of the plan all along! God had prearranged this from before the beginning of time. Even King David prophesied that the Messiah would not rot in the grave – but instead would be raised to life again.

And as Peter stated, they were all witnesses to the fact that Jesus had indeed risen from he grave. They had personally seen their risen Saviour. They had walked with Him and talked with Him. They had watched him ascend into heaven – where he now sits at the right hand of God.

And even today, Jesus is still alive and well. He has triumphed over death and God has made Jesus, who was crucified, to be both our Lord and our Saviour. He sits at the right hand of God and is King over all. And one day everyone one of us will stand before Him either to receive judgement for our sin or a reward for our faith in Christ.

And I don’t know how that kind of a message resonates with you, but for Peter’s listeners, it cut them to the quick! It weigh on them like a ton of bricks! Verse 37 says…

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

Acts 2:37

And maybe this morning, you’re in the same boat… Maybe today is the first time that you’ve really realized who Jesus is and what He has done for you. Maybe you weren’t personally in the crowds shouting ‘crucify Him, crucify Him!’, but maybe you’ve been rejecting Jesus as your Lord and Saviour none-the-less. And if that’s the case this morning, then I want you to pay close attention to these next verses because Peter tells us exactly what each one of us needs to do to fix this situation. In verse 38 we read:

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, to your children, and to those far away—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 2:38-41

Wow! Talk about a powerful and effective sermon! Or at the very least, talk about the amazing work of the Holy Spirit! 3,000 people were convicted of their sin, decided to repent, and chose to follow Jesus that day. I wonder if there is anyone here who might do the same thing today?

I know there are many of us who have made that decision already – some us many years ago made that decisions to trust and follow Christ. But I suspect that there are probably still some here who have never yet done that. And if you happen to be one of those people, can I urge you to make that choice today? As Peter says…

“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, to your children, and to those far away—all who have been called by the Lord our God.” Acts 2:38-39

And by the way, that’s us! We are the ones far away – we are the ones who have been called by the Lord our God! He has invited us – He has commanded us – to repent of our sins, to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, and to receive forgiveness and the gift of the Holy Spirit.

And it doesn’t matter what kind of a past you’ve had. It doesn’t matter how grievous your sins have been over the years. Jesus Christ has paid the price for all of your sins when He died on the cross. Your debt of sin has been paid in full! All that’s left is for you to accept His amazing and free gift of Salvation. Simply repent of your sins, turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus for the forgiveness of your sin.

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