【Bible Study】Acts 02: Beginning with the Filling of the Holy Spirit
Bible Study: Acts
What I am going to say today may offend a lot of people. Luke wrote Acts with a purpose. You may think that he is praising Peter for his actions. We have to know what this chapter is talking about.
It starts with the filling of the Holy Spirit. You have to know this is only a start and understand Paul's gospel. Some churches nowadays like to exalt the filling of the Holy Spirit, but in reality, it is the beginning and not the end.
Luke was writing when Paul was sent to Rome to be judged by the Emperor. So Paul was waiting for the verdict. When Luke was writing Acts, Paul's gospel was at its peak and was filled with power. Paul already wrote his theology in his epistles to the various churches. His epistles mention how Peter and some of the disciples in Jerusalem were causing trouble in the churches.
Acts begins with the establishment of the church, until the time of Paul. Paul's life and mission in Acts are really interesting. Peter, however, brought the church to something that was no longer aligned with the gospel.
Whatever I do, I am determined to complete something. Whether that is small or large, I want to see something through and obtain a result. Peter was sent to preach the gospel to the Gentiles. Later on, that responsibility was taken from him and given to Paul. Instead of preaching, he was stirring up trouble within the Gentile churches. What is Luke trying to say here? He is trying to say that Peter is doing it wrong.
What do you think? The mission to preach the gospel was given to Peter, but the New Testament is now filled with Paul's teaching. If we were to write an "Acts" today, how would we outline Peter? Even in Luke's time, the answer was very clear: Peter did it wrong.
What happened? Peter started as a man who was supposed to be great, but he ended up overshadowed by Paul. Peter was wrong from the beginning, and I want to tell you what Luke's intentions were. Luke was writing about events that happened thirty years before the book of Acts. He already knew the outcome of the actions of both Paul and Peter.
Don't think this is the grand finale of the faith. No, this is the start. In Chapter 1, Jesus told his disciples to wait in Jerusalem for the power that would come with the filling of the Holy Spirit. Having the Holy Spirit is a constant struggle between your flesh and listening to the Spirit. It is the beginning of testifying for God and offering yourself as a sacrifice to him.
The apostle Paul talks about the filling of the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues. Speaking in tongues is a spiritual prayer language and does not have an impact on our physical comprehension. We have to pray both physically and spiritually. It is not a balance, it is a whole combination of both.
Furthermore, you have to do down-to-earth, solid things. You can't just expect to play and fool around every day. I do not care for such people. If you want to play around, I will let you go, I am not going to try to pull you around, because it is a burden for me. I don't want people to live in the image of an ape, who plays around every day.
After establishing the church at Corinth, Paul wrote to them, saying that they should have already matured, but they are still drinking milk and not eating solid food. Paul left them for a year and a half, expecting them to grow, but they were still worldly people.
I came up with the idea of doing real, dependable things. We don't have to mess around with superficial and "spiritual" ideas anymore, but we can learn through our work.
Don't try to fool me. I will not take "I'm busy" for an answer. Busyness is just not organizing or learning things properly. If you are always "busy", then you are doing something wrong, and I will teach you how to do it right.
The filling of the Holy Spirit is a beginning. Peter thought that the filling meant that they were saved. I would like to address some of the problems that Peter had. What credibility do I have? First, the gospel of Paul. Then, the teaching of Jesus himself. When I evaluate something people claim is right, I compare them with Jesus. If Jesus didn't worry about it, why are you?
When a group of people come together to be filled by the Holy Spirit, it is a very moving event. Everybody is praying and shouting and getting excited. The people in Jerusalem were gathering to see what was happening in this place. They assumed that all this noise was because they were drunk.
Peter stood up and began to speak.
“Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. These people are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning! No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: “ ‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, and your old men will dream dreams. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy. I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood and fire and billows of smoke. The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord. And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ (Acts 2:14-21 NIV)
When I was in my church, the leaders liked to have people see the vision and have dreams. However, I have some conflicting ideas regarding these visions and prophecies. The filling of the Holy Spirit has been turned to fortune telling and divination. How reliable are these? You have to think critically before believing in these things. Do you need a vision?
I found that having visions, dreams and prophecies will never replace being filled with the Holy Spirit and chasing after God. First focus on reading God's word and understanding Him. Compared to Pentecostal churches, I can claim that we are more filled with the Holy Spirit. We are not concerned with spirituality, etc., but we build a foundation by reading God's word. Don't be concerned with mere dreams or visions. Focus on becoming like Christ.
What has Christ done? First, he did miracles, using great power to show that he is the Son of God. Second, he trained the disciples to form the body of Christ.
The work of the Spirit is to put the flesh to death. The Spirit gives us the power to overcome the flesh. Even though the flesh may come back to life, every day we try to battle our desires.
Peter misunderstood the Spirit as a study of metaphysics, or spirituality. He neglected to learn about God through physical ways and only focused on superficial things.
Many believe that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. This concept of salvation is closely tied to Peter. Paul's salvation and Peter's salvation are very different from each other. Yes, calling on the name of the Lord will save you, but this is a call with your whole life and all your strength. God needs to be your power, to overcome the desires of the flesh. A worldly person cannot please God and is the natural enemy of God. So when many people have claimed that they are saved, what meaning does it have?
The concept of "salvation" came from Peter's teaching. However, in the teaching of Paul, we believe that we are always in the process of being saved. Salvation is a complex and ongoing process that we have to undergo every single day.
They believed that once the Spirit came on them, they were saved. There is an idea of reborn and saved Christians. This idea is a myth, so we don't preach about that here. Our concept of salvation is not aligned with their concept of salvation. Some can claim to be saved, but they still do a lot of bad things. Christians can get away with a lot of bad things, because they do them and then come back and repent, then go out and do it again.
Peter went to great lengths to prove that Jesus Christ is Lord. The work of the Holy Spirit is to give us the power to testify that Jesus is Lord. There is no need to preach long sermons or do things to prove God, rather, we display His power in us. Peter preaches to them:
When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.” With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day. (Acts 2:37-41 NIV)
The people were cut to the heart and then decided to get baptized. But... are these people disciples? Are they even true believers? What have you done to the gospel? What have you done to lower the standard of being a disciple of Christ? Is this now the standard, to be filled with emotion, get baptized, and now you are disciples?
I wonder if Peter forgot what Jesus spoke about. Jesus said that if you are not even willing to give up family, friends, property, and possessions, you are not worthy of being a disciple. So how could Peter easily add 3000 to their number?
My logic is, if the standard is so low, I would rather not start a church. I don't even let people tithe if they are not a part of the church, because they are not worthy.
In Revelations, there are 144,000 people saved. This is a very very low number. Not anyone can just be baptized and go to heaven. The church became rotten because of this. Are these disciples? It doesn't matter if you are running a church or a business. If you have a group of rotten people, it won't work out.
After you prove that Jesus is Lord, what do you do? The proof isn't enough. You have to live as you believe it. So don't think the filling of the Holy Spirit and baptism is enough. It is just the beginning, and you have to prove you are worthy of being a disciple.
They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favour of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. (Acts 2:42-47 NIV)
Is this creating real disciples, or just keeping a bunch of people who like to eat together? Is this right or not? They ate together with glad and sincere hearts. Why do I think there is something wrong with this picture?
After Luke wrote this in Acts, many people thought that this was a good thing. Everyone coming together for food cultivates lazy people. What are they doing? Is this what Jesus intended? I think that if this is what was supposed to happen, Jesus must have already done it. This is Peter's invention. Paul would have never done this. He believed that if you don't work, you shouldn't eat.
They even sold everything to eat. Instead of creating value, Peter created a whole bunch of gluttons. So don't expect me to let you off easy. If you come here wanting to have fun and play around, don't think I will let you stay so comfortable. You can go find one of Peter's churches.
A problem arises: Luke wrote that the Lord added to their number daily of those who were being saved. He wrote this because Peter was claiming that new believers were created every day. Luke was simply stating the facts, what people were saying. Out of all these believers came plenty of Pharisees and ignorant people. If you try to deal with the flesh, people will react negatively. How can you build a church like that?
Be on your guard for churches like these, which claim to be saved but are far from it. They are run by worldly pastors who create worldly believers. If you come into my church and try to be fake to me, I will be fake to you. I teach all my staff how to see which people are fake and which are real.
We have to know what God's intentions are. We cannot build churches at a level like Peter's. Don't think that Luke is praising Peter for what he did. He is simply stating the facts. With analysis, we can see the irony in what Peter has done to the church.
I am trying to do what Jesus did. If you don't think so, you can disagree, and we will try to grow that way. Therefore, walk the path Jesus walked. Walk the path Paul walked. Do you understand? There are many misunderstandings in the churches of today. The road to salvation is long and difficult. So let us rely on God and become worthy disciples.