Pastor John Talcott
Christ's Community Church
(7/6) This series explores the concept of Vision: Why Christians wrestle with what it means to be the church, having a vision for the future, and grasping how that applies to us today. In this sermon series, we’ll spend 10 weeks exploring what the church is, why it exists, and what it means for us. We’ll focus on increasing God’s vision for your life:
how to build it, how to share it, and how to see it come alive in our lives. Because… and this is important… to know and love Jesus is to know and love his church.
As we begin this new series we’re going to go back and look at where the church started; looking at the first Christians recorded in the New Testament. If you’ve got a Bible, go to Acts 2, because we are going to get to know our family history as the Church. We’re going to see our spiritual forefathers, a history that’s two thousand years old, and how
the Church came into being, and what it means to be a Christian.
So we’ll start by looking at Jesus because before we get into the Church we have to deal with Jesus. The Jesus that we love is a Jesus who’s alive. He’s a Jesus who puts his life in us. And he makes us his living Church. This is really important because after Jesus’ resurrection God moves the Holy Spirit from the man Jesus Christ into the lives of
Jesus’ people, into the Church.
So Jesus lived in heaven, he came down to the earth, he lived, died, rose. He gave evidence… proof of his resurrection for forty days, and then he rose, he ascended back into heaven. So Jesus is alive right now. He’s ruling and reigning as Lord, God, Savior, and King. He is the Christ, the Messiah, he’s high and exalted on a throne. But here’s what is
happening… everybody’s wondering, "What do we do now? We have a nice church of 120, Jesus was our pastor… but what now?"
So on the day of Pentecost, here are all the believers, there are 120 of them at this time. Not a big deal. Christianity is not billions like it is today. And the Holy Spirit descends on the Church gathered in that room, just as the Holy Spirit descended on Jesus at his baptism. The Holy Spirit descends on the Church to take the life of Jesus and place
it in us. So that we might be new people, with new desires, and new power. Power to live a new life patterned after Jesus. And that’s exactly what Christianity is… it’s Jesus life given for us… and ultimately Jesus life in us.
Well those 120 people are now billions of people who worship Jesus, because the Holy Spirit showed up with power. So what happens next in the beginning of Acts chapter 2, is the Holy Spirit falls on the Church and they start speaking in tongues. God is doing a miracle, something new, and he’s telling the people who hear on the streets, how much he
loves them. He’s overcoming the confusion of languages that happened at the Tower of Babel in Genesis (11:9); and he’s bringing people back together again around the person and work of his Son Jesus Christ.
So these fishermen, a tax collector, and farmers, these average everyday folks, are speaking about Jesus in different languages so that everybody understands in their own dialect, slang, and drawl, the wonders of God. And so the Holy Spirit falls and those who are hearing it are mystified and they wonder, "What in the world is happening?" And so
there’s a lot of interest and confusion, and those who are present want to know, "What’s God doing?"
And so we find ourselves in Acts 2:22… and to explain what’s happening… who this great Savior Jesus is, a man named Peter (the leader of the disciples) stands up, raised his voice, and addressed the crowd: "Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say" (vs. 14).
So here we are… this is Peter’s first sermon. We’ll read in verse 22…
"Men of Israel, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. This man was handed over to you by God's set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. But God raised him
from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him. David said about him:
"'I saw the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will live in hope, because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay. You have made known to me the paths of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence.'
"Brothers, I can tell you confidently that the patriarch David died and was buried, and his tomb is here to this day. But he was a prophet and knew that God had promised him on oath that he would place one of his descendants on his throne. Seeing what was ahead, he spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to the grave, nor did
his body see decay. God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact. Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear. For David did not ascend to heaven, and yet he said,
"'The Lord said to my Lord: "Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet." '
"Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ."
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." (Acts 2:22-39; NIV)
So first we need to recognize that the Church is all about "Jesus of Nazareth." That’s it. That’s where Peter starts his sermon… with Jesus... "Listen to this" he says, "Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him… This man was handed over to you by God's set purpose and
foreknowledge… wicked men put him to death by nailing him to the cross. But God raised him from the dead… because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him" (Acts 2:22-24).
Peter starts with Jesus and ends with Jesus. It’s all about Jesus, only about Jesus, and always about Jesus. And this morning the Holy Spirit wants you to know Jesus, and to be excited about Jesus, because you recognize the person and work of Jesus of Nazareth. So let me assure you, as long as I’m teaching and preaching, you’re going to hear about
Jesus. You know, many things will change, but one thing will never change, the Bible will be open and Jesus will be proclaimed, by the grace of God, through the power of the Holy Spirit at this Church. Amen!
The Bible tells us in the letter to the Hebrews, "Remember your leaders who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. (Because) Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever" (Hebrews 13:7-8; NIV).
So Peter tells the gathering crowd, "We’ve seen Jesus’ life and you know he does stuff nobody else does. He says stuff nobody else says. And we know that he comes with God’s power and authority. We know that… we know that he is God’s presence among us." But he says it goes way beyond that… you see, Jesus does far more than we could’ve ever imagined.
His is a life beyond knowing!
Here’s something you need you to know… no, you need to believe with conviction. And that is… that Jesus isn’t dead. You see there are a lot of religions; but they’re all dead guys. Mohammed’s dead, Buddha’s dead, Krishna’s dead, Joseph Smith’s dead, Charles Taze Russell dead, but Jesus is not dead! That is unique and that’s the one thing that changes
So let’s consider who Peter is speaking to here. This is being preached to some "good people." They’re in Jerusalem, they’ve made a pilgrimage to the Holy City to celebrate the harvest in the Festival of Weeks. So these are devout people. They know the Scriptures. They go to the synagogue every week. And they try to do everything the Bible says.
And here’s what Peter says to these good, religious, spiritual people… "That’s not enough." Because you can be spiritual, and you can be religious, without the Holy Spirit. You can be committed to the law, to the Jewish rules, but not Jesus’ resurrection. You can be someone who admires the life of Jesus, but hasn’t experienced it for yourself. You can
be born into a religious family, but not born again into the family of God.
This morning, maybe that’s your story? You know, it’s always been about family, morality, tradition, and religion. I’ve said before, that was my story, as far back as I know, my family is Roman Catholic. We all believe in God. I was baptized as a baby, but I didn’t know Jesus. I grew up going to church and I didn’t know Jesus. I prayed before meals,
before I went to bed, and I didn’t know Jesus. I was a fairly moral guy, but I didn’t know Jesus.
And a lot of people are like that. Maybe you are like that? You know, "Well, my family was Christian." Or, "I was baptized as an infant." Or, "I’m a pretty good person." Or, "I believe in God." Or, "You know, I go to church." All of that can be very good if you believe in Jesus and you have the Holy Spirit. But if not, it’s absolutely worthless. It’s
like having a wedding ring without a wife.
So what did Peter tell them? You need Jesus. You need the Holy Spirit. Look at verse 32, "God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact. Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear."
Jesus is alive. He’s in the presence of the Father. He’s at the right hand, the seat of authority; he’s ruling and reigning right now. So let me ask you, do you know Jesus? Have you received the Holy Spirit? Have you recognized his authority?
In verse 34, Peter quotes King David, the people’s hero, "'The Lord said to my Lord:
"Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet." "Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ."
How many of you have seen the presence of the Holy Spirit in someone’s life? You know they’ve changed, because they’re thinking differently, they’re acting differently, and they’re believing differently.
How many of you have seen the work of the Holy Spirit in someone, but not experienced it in yourself? That’s exactly what’s happening here. These devout, moral, religious, spiritual people… they’re seeing God do something in others’ lives that they themselves have not yet experienced. And so this is the opportunity that you’re getting invited to today,
to recognize the rule and authority of the risen Christ, and to respond to the Spirit of the living God.
And maybe that’s why you’re here. You see God knows the future. God knew you would hear this. And this is absolutely part of his plan for you. You’re supposed to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Not just being religious. Not just moral or spiritual. It’s about the Church… the family of God. It’s about the Holy Spirit. It’s about the resurrection. And
it’s about Jesus.
So in verse 37, "When the people heard (what Peter said), they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, "Brothers, what shall we do?"
They heard what Peter said, that Jesus loves you. He died for you. He rose for you. He’s Lord, God, and Savior. He is the Christ. Today’s your day. The Holy Spirit has been poured out right now!
So here’s Peter’s answer. Are you ready for it? Peter said in verse 38, "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."
Peter replied, "Repent." Now what’s that mean? That’s not a word you hear very often. Well, repentance is what happens when the Holy Spirit starts to change our mind. When we start to think, "What am I doing? Where am I going? Why am I here? It’s when God changes our heart and we’re like, "I don’t want to be this way anymore. I don’t want to think this
way. I don’t want to act this way. I want to be different."
Repentance is a change of direction. It’s turning around and saying, "Jesus, I want to know you." It’s a change of mind, a change of heart, and a change of life direction. You stop walking away from Jesus and you start walking towards Jesus. You stop ignoring Jesus and you start listening to Jesus. You stop rebelling against Jesus and you start obeying
Jesus. You stop despising Jesus and you start enjoying Jesus.
And so Jesus invites you to repent. And let me just say this… there’s a smile on his face. His fists aren’t clenched, his hands are open, his arms are extended. He’s looking at you and calling, "Don’t go any further. Please turn around and come back. Its only gonna get worse." That’s repentance. Have you ever done that? Jesus died for your sins so that
you don’t have to.
Peter says, "Repent" and then what? "Be baptized." Now there’s a lot of confusion around baptism, so let me just tell you what it is. Baptism is an outward demonstration of an inward transformation. In other words baptism doesn’t save you. Jesus saves us. Baptism is where we demonstrate the good news of Jesus Christ. Baptism is where we identify with
Jesus and publicly proclaim that Jesus lived without sin. He died and was buried. Three days later he rose from death for you and for me. And so baptism is how we show publicly that we personally believe in and belong to Jesus. That we don’t just admire his life, but we’ve experienced his life.
I wonder if you have ever been baptized as a believer? Maybe you were baptized as a baby or a kid. But did you grow up as a believer? Did you grow up faithful to the Lord? Or were you like me, someone who got a little wet but not saved? Then you need to be baptized as a witness of the salvation that Jesus Christ has given you. The invitation is yours.
In a little bit, when we close, I encourage you to come forward and let me pray for you to make sure you’ve had the opportunity to repent, to give your sin and your life to Jesus, to become a Christian, receiving the promised Holy Spirit, and to be baptized.
Why? "For the forgiveness of your sins." Jesus says it on the cross, "Father, forgive them..." (Luke 23:34). And then he dies, he literally becomes the vehicle by which you can be forgiven. It’s so liberating… so amazing. You know its like, no more guilt. No more condemnation. No more blaming. No more hiding. No more denying. No more shame.
Forgiven, loved, known, and embraced in spite of what you’ve done. The Holy Spirit invites you to repent… to know forgiveness... to come to Jesus.
Peter says, in Acts 2:38, "And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." Today I need you to know that God is glad to place his Spirit in you. It is a gift that he wants to give and the benefits are amazing.
The Bible tells us in Romans 6:4, "We were therefore buried with him (with Christ) through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life." So this new life is not just a modified, updated, new-and-improved version of you. It’s a totally, thoroughly, completely new
you. Ephesians 4:24 tells us, "created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness." When the Holy Spirit comes upon, you change all the way down to your core. So your identity, your nature, who you are, is completely different. The Bible calls this being born again, being regenerated, becoming a new person… "the old has gone, the new has come!" (2 Cor 5:17).
I can still remember at 33, when the Holy Spirit flipped the switch in me, and who I was died. Now there’s somebody else with my last name. But you know, sometimes I think I recognize the old me, because the truth is this new creation’s not perfect, but I’m changing, and totally different.
I mean as soon as Jesus saved me, I started reading the Bible with a passion, because I wanted to. I started wanting to pray. I wanted to go to church. I loved meeting and talking with God’s people. And next thing I know my life had drastically changed, not because of what I had to do, but because of what I get to do. You see when the Holy Spirit gives
you your desires that’s what you want to do.
So today if you’re a Christian, if the Holy Spirit is in you, you have a new power. God’s desires for you are deeply ingrained in your soul and deep down you don’t want to sin… you want to be holy. You don’t want to disobey… you want to obey. You used to be powerless over certain sins… and now you’ve got the power to walk away from them. Now as a new
creation in Christ, you have a new nature, with new desires, and the power to live a whole new life. A life like Jesus, for Jesus, and through Jesus, because Jesus is alive, and his life is in you through the Holy Spirit.
And verse 39 tells us, "The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off — for all whom the Lord our God will call." (Acts 2:39).
You see, God wants you, your children, and your children’s children to know and love Jesus… to be filled with the Holy Spirit, receiving a new nature, with new desires, and new power. And as we close I want to ask a question. Is God calling you to himself today? Are you hearing from God? Is that ringing in your heart ringing in your ears? If so,
repent, turn from sin, and trust in him. Come forward, that we might pray with you. Your whole life can change by the grace of God.
And so here’s what we’re going to do, we’re going to celebrate Jesus. We’re going to sing, because we want the whole world to know he’s alive, and that he loves us. Its amazing… all my sin is forgiven in Christ. I’m a new person and Jesus Christ is literally in me through the Holy Spirit. And the Holy Spirit wants us to sing, he wants us to celebrate,
he wants us to rejoice. And he’s going to come, and he’s going to live in us, and he’s going to dwell in us as we honor Jesus. Amen.
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