Script for the June 16th episode of the “Enjoying the Bible” podcast.

Introduction

Welcome to the June 16th episode of the “Enjoying the Bible” podcast. I’m Matt Ellis, and I’m the pastor of the First Baptist Church in Polk City, Florida.

Today’s reading is Nehemiah 4-6 and Acts 2, but we will focus only on the New Testament reading in this podcast.

If you have questions about anything in the Old Testament or New Testament reading assignment, please email me at mattellis1997@gmail.com. I may answer it on the next podcast.

Acts 2

This chapter begins with a time stamp.

Acts 2:1 (CSB): “When the day of Pentecost had arrived, they were all together in one place.”

Pentecost was also known as the Feast of Weeks and celebrated the end of the grain harvest. It was one of the three most celebrated days on the Jewish calendar.

So, let’s do a little math to come up with an understanding of the sequence of events.

Jesus observed the Passover the night Judas betrayed Him. Then, he was crucified and rose on the third day. When we get to Acts 1:3, we realize that Jesus appeared to people and taught them for 40 days after His resurrection until He ascended to Heaven. So, adding all of this up, Jesus went back to Heaven 43 days after He observed the Passover with His disciples.

Now, when we look at the Jewish calendar, we realize that Pentecost (or the Feast of Weeks) occurred 50 days after the Passover. So the events of Acts 2, when Peter preached to the crowd on the day of Pentecost, happened only one week after Jesus had left for Heaven. The presence of Jesus and the sadness of saying goodbye to Him were still fresh on the disciples’ hearts.

Now let’s talk about the phenomena that happened to the disciples in the upper room.

Acts 2:2-3 (CSB): “Suddenly a sound like that of a violent rushing wind came from heaven, and it filled the whole house where they were staying. They saw tongues like flames of fire that separated and rested on each one of them.”

First things first, this is not normative. Wind and tongues of fire aren’t something that the Scripture says will happen to all believers. So, this is an unusual experience and came for a very specific reason.

So, what was going on? The wind was a visible manifestation of the Holy Spirit. The word for “Spirit” in the Greek language is “pneuma,” and it means “spirit/wind/breath.” The wind was a physical manifestation that Jesus’ words had come true – He had sent the Holy Spirit (the Comforter).

The fire is an Old Testament manifestation of the Lord’s presence. A few instances when the Lord’s presence was associated with fire were in the burning bush, the fire on Mt. Sinai, and the pillar of fire that led the Israelites during the wilderness wandering. So the “tongues of fire” was a physical manifestation that highlighted the deity of the Holy Spirit as He came upon those disciples.

How did the coming of the Holy Spirit affect the disciples?

Acts 2:4 (CSB): “Then they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them.”

“Tongues” is the Greek word “glossa.” It literally means “tongue.” But what is happening here? So many Christians hold different interpretations of what it means to “speak in tongues.” So, I want to encourage you to check your previous opinions and convictions at the door. Let’s simply look at the text and see what it tells us. Let’s look for clues that are hidden in broad daylight to see what “speaking in tongues” really means.

The day of Pentecost brought thousands of Jews to Jerusalem. They came from all over the known world.

Acts 2:5 (CSB): “Now there were Jews staying in Jerusalem, devout people from every nation under heaven.”

This was a wonderful opportunity to share the Gospel! But many Jews who had come to Jerusalem couldn’t speak Aramaic (Hebrew). How could the disciples share the powerful Gospel with them?

Acts 2:6 (CSB): “When this sound occurred, a crowd came together and was confused because each one heard them speaking in his own language.”

The disciples, who had received the Holy Spirit, according to verse 4, were speaking “in different tongues.” Verse 6 restates the disciples’ activity and says that the Jews from various countries heard them “speaking in his own language.” The word for language is “dialektos”. This word tells us that the disciples weren’t merely speaking different languages but also getting the dialects right.

So, this wasn’t mindless babbling. It was the supernatural ability to speak in a language, and even the dialect, that the disciples had not learned. One other note is that it is possible that this gift wasn’t merely the speaking but also the hearing. The Holy Spirit may have taken the disciples’ speech in other languages and transformed it in the hearer’s ears so that they heard it in their own dialect.

As if it isn’t yet clear what “speaking in tongues is,” listen to what the Jews said who heard the disciples speaking.

Acts 2:7-8 (CSB): “They were astounded and amazed, saying, “Look, aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? How is it that each of us can hear them in our own native language?”

Then, Luke recounted all of the countries they had come from. Needless to say, “speaking in tongues” is clearly the ability to speak in another language that one has not learned. This chapter explains that it was used to get the Gospel out.

In verse 12, we read that the Jewish folks who heard the disciples were amazed. They couldn’t make sense of what was going on. This was like nothing they had ever experienced before. But some mindless folks, unwilling to think about what they were observing, just wrote it off by saying, “They’re drunk.”

So, can this still happen today? I believe that it can, but it is certainly not normative. And it is certainly not what our charismatic friends say that it is.

Dr. Wilkes, one of my very conservative professors in seminary, told of a friend (as I recollect the details) who was on a mission trip in another country. He saw a man and desperately wanted to share the Gospel with him, but he didn’t know the man’s language. So he opened his mouth and tried to engage him in English. To his surprise, the man responded, and they talked about the Gospel. The man soon gave his life to Jesus. My professor’s friend finished the conversation by saying, “I’m so glad that you know English, because I could never have spoken to you in this country’s language.” The man replied, “I don’t know English. You’ve been speaking in my own language.”

Can this happen? I certainly believe that it can. Our God can do anything. But it is not the normal way of doing things. I believe it is incredibly rare. The gift of languages, in my understanding, was primarily limited to the 1st-century church.

In verses 14-15, Peter stood up. Somehow, it had been determined that he was the spokesman for the group.

Peter corrected the allegation that they were drunk. He said that it was much too early for even drunkards to become intoxicated. So what was taking place had nothing to do with alcohol.

In verses 16-21, Peter deals with some peripheral issues before getting to the Gospel. He quotes Joel 2:28–32 as if to say that speaking other languages could be explained in that passage.

However, there is a problem. When we read his quote from Joel 2:28-32, we realize that some of the things in that prophecy had not yet happened. For example, the sun had not been darkened, and the moon had not been turned to “blood.” So, what are we to make of this? Was Peter thoughtlessly grabbing a passage of Scripture from the Old Testament and applying it to what was going on at that moment.

When we take a closer look at Joel 2:28-32 and hear Peter apply it to the moment he was in, we realize that Peter saw something deeper in the text. The passage in Joel was prophetically speaking about an event that is still in the future. But Peter was saying that the day of Pentecost was a pre-fulfillment of that passage. It was an inferior demonstration that pointed to that passage’s final and ultimate fulfillment.

But this pre-fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy was understood to be a Gospel opportunity (v. 21). And the disciples, led by the Spirit, were more than willing to take it.

Beginning in verse 22, Peter gets into the heart of the Gospel and points to Jesus.

Acts 2:22 (CSB): “Fellow Israelites, listen to these words: This Jesus of Nazareth was a man attested to you by God with miracles, wonders, and signs that God did among you through him, just as you yourselves know.”

Peter is making the point here that denying that God sent Jesus would be to deny what was obvious to any open-minded person. So many people had observed His incredible ministry. Jesus and His ministry were undeniable.

Then, in verse 23, we read of the tension again between God’s sovereign rule over His creation, and mankind’s free will.

Acts 2:23 (CSB): “Though he was delivered up according to God’s determined plan and foreknowledge, you used lawless people to nail him to a cross and kill him.”

As we read those previous words, we realize that God was working His plan out to have Jesus die as the substitute for all who will trust in Him. Yet, those who actually worked to put Jesus on the cross were “lawless people.”

The tension between God’s sovereignty and mankind’s free will has been a topic of debate for thousands of years, and it won’t be clearly understood anytime soon. Yet, this provides us with an opportunity to simply believe what God has said is true, even when we don’t fully understand it.

But the Gospel is not merely the cross. It also includes the empty tomb. It includes the fact that Jesus rose from the dead.

Acts 2:24 (CSB): “God raised him up, ending the pains of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by death.”

Simply put, the cross dealt with sin. The resurrection dealt with sin’s consequences, the greatest of which is death. So, the Gospel deals with sin AND its consequences. In Heaven, we will never again experience the curse of sin or the grievous consequences of living in a broken world.

In verses 25-28, Peter quoted once again from the Old Testament. He specifically referred to Psalm 16:8-11.

But then we are confronted with another problem. Why did Peter pick this verse to talk about Jesus’ death and resurrection? Jesus’ name doesn’t appear anywhere in Psalm 16.

It seems that Peter looked at that passage and saw that David wasn’t really talking about himself. David’s body decayed, unlike that psalm’s words: “because you will not abandon me in Hades or allow your holy one to see decay.” So David must have been prophetically writing about the coming Messiah, David’s greater son.

It is quite possible that the Holy Spirit revealed these deep truths to Peter. But it is also possible that Jesus had pointed out this passage to Peter, either before or after His resurrection. After all, we are told that the day Jesus rose from the dead, He met with some disciples on the road to Emmaus and unpacked all that the Old Testament Scriptures said about Him.

Luke 24:27 (CSB): “Then beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted for them the things concerning himself in all the Scriptures.”

Then, Peter’s message makes it clear to the thousands of listeners that the psalmist was referring to Jesus when he wrote that psalm.

Acts 2:29-31 (CSB): “Brothers and sisters, I can confidently speak to you about the patriarch David: He is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. Since he was a prophet, he knew that God had sworn an oath to him to seat one of his descendants on his throne. Seeing what was to come, he spoke concerning the resurrection of the Messiah: He was not abandoned in Hades, and his flesh did not experience decay.”

In verses 32-33, Peter said that because Jesus rose from the dead and ascended to Heaven, He sent the Holy Spirit. The Spirit’s manifestation is what the people have observed. Jesus, God’s Messiah, had been among them and had sent the Holy Spirit just as He had promised.

In verses 34-35, Peter quotes Psalm 110:11.

Acts 2:34-35 (CSB): “… The Lord declared to my Lord, ‘Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies your footstool.’”

Jesus had used this passage before. In Matthew 22:41-46, He quoted this reference as he confronted the Pharisees about His divinity. Let me try to explain what this passage signifies.

Acts 2:34-35 (CSB): “… The Lord (God – Yahweh) declared to my Lord (Adonai, a name reserved for God; and yet David is referring to his son), ‘Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies your footstool.’” 

David was ascribing deity to his Son, the Messiah that would come. Peter pointed to their knowledge of Jesus and said, “That’s Him!”

This led to Peter’s definitive statement about Jesus in his sermon.

Acts 2:36 (CSB): “Therefore let all the house of Israel know with certainty that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.”

Peter makes it clear that Jesus was “both Lord and Messiah.” The word “Lord” is reserved in Acts 2 as a reference to God. So, Peter is saying that Jesus was and is God. Then, Peter called Jesus the Messiah. The Jews knew exactly who Messiah was supposed to be because they had been looking for their King for about a thousand years. Once again, Peter pointed to their knowledge of Jesus and said, “That’s Him!”

Well, with that kind of Gospel presentation, the crowds wanted to know how to respond to this message.

Acts 2:37 (CSB): “When they heard this, they were pierced to the heart and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, ‘Brothers, what should we do?’”

These words tell us that the Holy Spirit was moving. He had made Peter’s message clear to them. He had brought about conviction in their hearts. Now, they were ready for whatever their response should be.

Acts 2:38 (CSB): “Peter replied, ‘Repent and be baptized, each of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.’”

“Houston, we have a problem!”

Peter said, “Repent and be baptized.” So, is baptism necessary alongside repentance in order for someone to be saved? Not according to multiple other passages of Scripture, including Peter’s own words.

This issue is resolved when we realize that “repent” is plural in the Greek, and so are the references to “you” and “your.” However, the word “baptized” is singular. So, the Greek grammar helps us understand that Peter was calling the people to repent in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins. The reference to baptism was not a means of salvation but was the first step of obedience after repentance.

Well then, what is repentance? When we look at the rest of the New Testament, we realize that faith in Jesus, trusting in Jesus, is required to receive eternal life. Yet, the other side of the coin is repentance. Repentance is turning from sin and self-rule. Faith is turning to Jesus. So, when we observe that Peter talked about repentance but didn’t specifically mention faith, it is clearly implied. Why? Because he had just preached a powerful message about Jesus, and the crowd was ready to receive Him. They were ready for faith. But they needed to repent before they could trust.

So who can be saved? Is the hope of salvation really offered to all people?

Acts 2:39-40 (CSB): “‘For the promise is for you and for your children, and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call.’ With many other words he testified and strongly urged them, saying, “Be saved from this corrupt generation!”

Absolutely anyone who desires to be saved can be saved. But in Peter’s words, he’s focusing on God’s part. He said, “as many as the Lord our God will call.” We have repeatedly seen on the pages of Scripture that there is God’s part and our part. God’s part is calling us to Himself. As far as people are concerned, though, it is “whosoever will may come.”

Those thousands of Jews had heard the Gospel proclaimed in their own language and dialects. Peter had preached a Gospel message pointing to Jesus. He told them to repent of their sin and self-rule, turn to Jesus, and then get baptized.

Acts 2:41-42 (CSB): “So those who accepted his message were baptized, and that day about three thousand people were added to them. They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to prayer.”

In these words, we see evangelism and discipleship. There were about 3,000 people who got saved and were then baptized. Then, they took their salvation seriously and devoted themselves to specific things that identified them as Jesus-followers and enabled them to grow in godliness.

Then, we read a passage some have used to say that the Bible teaches communism.

Acts 2:44-45 (CSB): “Now all the believers were together and held all things in common. They sold their possessions and property and distributed the proceeds to all, as any had need.”

These verses certainly do not teach communism. Communism is when the government steals from the rich and gives their money to the poor. It is the great equalizer and creates a climate in which the poor are encouraged to remain poor because the government is taking care of them. Further, it causes the rich to quit working so hard because they are penalized when they profit from their work and ingenuity.

On the contrary, a New Testament church has wealthy folks with compassionate hearts who give freely to those in need. First Timothy 6:17-19 encourages the wealthy to share but does not force them to do so.

Communism is forced, but a biblical view of wealth compels us to share. Communism rewards the lazy but a biblical view of wealth rebukes the lazy. Communism disincentivizes work while the biblical view of wealth celebrates a hardy work ethic. There is a vast world of difference between those viewpoints.

The final two verses of this chapter call us to live in community.

Acts 2:46-47 (CSB): “Every day they devoted themselves to meeting together in the temple, and broke bread from house to house. They ate their food with joyful and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. Every day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.”

These verses call American Christianity to reassess how we look at spiritual growth. In America, we celebrate rugged individualism. And then we force that individualism onto our understanding of the Bible. Many American Christians, if we can call some of them Christians, believe that they don’t need the church. They don’t feel a need to attend, sing songs of worship together, hear the Word of God taught together, be held accountable – all of this and more is deemed unnecessary to them. They believe that they can do just fine by themselves.

But biblical Christianity is generally to be lived out in community. The community Jesus left us is what he called the church. When Christianity is truly lived out like the early saints, it meets relational needs. It satisfies financial needs. It meets emotional needs. It meets our soul’s need of enjoying our God. And it causes others to want to be a part of the community.

And when the church is being the biblical church, we understand that God is often free to bless us with even more souls to help grow in the faith.

Acts 2:47 (CSB): “… Every day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.

Prayer

Lord Jesus, help us to realize that much of what we claim to believe isn’t really biblical. Much of what we believe is merely something we’ve heard preachers or some other respected persons in our lives. Instead, help us, Lord, to evaluate everything we believe by the perfect standard of Your Word. We need to accurately understand Your Word so that we can determine whether or not some belief that we hold needs to be adjusted. We aren’t content to hold wrong beliefs, Lord. We want to grow in our understanding of Your Word and believe and do what You have said. Only You can help us on this journey. We pray this in Your Name, Amen.

Closing

I hope today’s episode has helped you to understand and enjoy God’s Word so that you can apply it in the power of the Holy Spirit.

If looking over the script for this podcast would be beneficial to you, hop on over to my website at mattsmusings.net. I will provide a link in this episode’s show notes.

The “Enjoying the Bible” podcast is a ministry of the First Baptist Church in Polk City, Florida. Check us out at fbcpolkcity.com. See you tomorrow!