Friday, March 14, 2014

WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday March 16, 2014

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PETER’S REPORT
(It is GOD WHO exalts JESUS as king over us)
(Psalm 110:1-4 & Acts 2:14-42)

The Book of Acts has been called the “Gospel of the HOLY SPIRIT”. It is The HOLY SPIRIT that makes it possible for a person to be able to look forward to a future of obedience to GOD after receiving salvation. HE is also that “common ground”, or source of power, that every Christian shares once we invite CHRIST into our lives as our LORD and SAVIOR.
In the Greek, there is a wonderful sounding word that New Testament writers use for “promise”. It is “epaggelia” (ep-ang-el-ee-ah), and it is “an announcement of divine assurance of good”. In Matthew 11:28, JESUS promises us goodness, when HE says “Come unto ME, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (KJV).
Here in Acts chapter 2, Luke chronicles events that took place during the first “Pentecost” observance in the newly formed Christian Church. It was celebrated fifty days following the resurrection of CHRIST JESUS, and traditionally, it is observed seven weeks after the final day of “Passover” (Leviticus 23:15-22). Pentecost, which means, “fiftieth”, is also known as the “Festival of Harvest”, or the “Feast of Weeks”. In New Testament times, Pentecost also commemorated Moses’ giving of GOD’s Ten Commandments to the Israelites at the foot of Mount Sinai.
In Acts 2:1-4, as Christians met in a house somewhere in the midst of Jerusalem, we see three great phenomena occurring, which serve to make the coming of the HOLY SPIRIT on that Pentecost day, an unmistakable and unique event:

·         First we see the “roaring of a mighty windstorm” from the skies above, come down and fill the house that the Apostles and others occupying (v.2).
·         Then, we see the “flames of fire” appear and settle on each person in the house (v.3).
·         And finally, we see that they began speaking in foreign languages, as the HOLY SPIRIT gave them these abilities (v.4).

These “visible signs” are unique in recorded scripture in that, this occasion is the only time when these three things occur together during a distinctive act of GOD. Since that day, the HOLY SPIRIT has come to dwell in every Christian (1 Corinthians 6:19), and we as a result, belong to GOD, because HE bought us at a high price, sacrificing HIS only begotten SON, JESUS CHRIST.
As we live in fellowship with GOD, HE will fill us and keep us filled, and when HE does, we become able to serve and grow and conform more fully to HIS Word, and HIS Will. The HOLY SPIRIT enables us to win battles within ourselves, between our “reason” and “passion”, that, without HIM, we would never be able to win. HE enables us to resist the temptations of life, that, without HIM, we would never be able to resist.
The HOLY SPIRIT is the “spiritual conscience” that becomes infused in those of us who experience a “new birth” and choose to live in CHRIST. HE make us more aware of those times when we are about to move out of the will of GOD, and will prevent us from doing so, if we listen and heed to HIS prompting. HIS job is to provide us with the power to fight against the evil forces of satan, and to help us to avoid sin by attacking it in the “thinking stages”, and thereby, contrary to popular belief, the HOLY SPIRIT’s primary job is not to make us feel remorse, after we sin, but rather, it is GOD’s “shared nature” that we receive, within us from birth, that gives us our “moral conscience”.
True repent, by definition, and, in all actuality, is a “change of mind”, before we sin, not after, and it requires us to actually reject our sinful thoughts before we can act out on them. Over time, we must grow to hate sin itself. If our hearts are truly broken by sin, and we long to return to GOD, then a change in our lives will, inevitably, soon follow.
In verses 14-36 the Apostle Peter steps forward to explain just what was happening to the people who were present in the room during that Pentecost observance in Jerusalem. It had been thought by onlookers that the people affected by the power of the HOLY SPIRIT in that gathering were drunk. However, Peter points out that no one is likely to be already drunk at nine o’clock in the morning. He then begin to explain several prophecies including one from Joel (Joel 2:28-32), and two from King David (Psalm 16:8-11 & 110:1).
First Peter cites the prophecy of Joel which was partially being fulfilled on that day. The people could very easily relate to Old Testament prophecies that were often fulfilled, only in part, as they were accustomed to such occurrences, throughout their history.
In Acts 2, verses 17-21, Peter emphasizes two elements of Joel’s prophecy;

·         The pouring out of the HOLY SPIRIT, which was always expected to take place sometime before the “Day of the LORD” comes.
·         He also points out that during that time, everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved.

In verses 22-36, Peter uses two Psalms from David to highlight several themes that remain basic elements in the proclamation of the Gospel, even to this day. They are:

·         That JESUS is an historic person
·         JESUS was crucified and is risen
·         All aspects of JESUS’s life was first prophesied
·         JESUS is the MESSIAH sent by GOD
·         All who believe and call on CHRIST JESUS will be forgiven and given the HOLY SPIRIT
    
In verse 37, we see the HOLY SPIRIT convicting those members of the “first Christian Church” through Peter’s words to them, regarding the wrong that was perpetrated on JESUS, by way of their role in HIS death on the cross. Peter goes on to tell them that, the promise of the HOLY SPIRIT is not only for those present in that room that day, but it is a promise that extends to all who come to know CHRIST, and answer the call of GOD, and, it extends to all generations.
In verses 41-47, on the heels and momentum of Peter’s “Pentecost Sermon”, which was the first sermon ever preached in the Christian Church, the believers began meeting together on a daily basis. A deep sense of awe and reverence for CHRIST had come over them after their receiving of the HOLY SPIRIT, and we now see them begin to display many characteristics that would come to be prominently identified with the early Church.     Here in this particular passage is a summary of those characteristics as they were manifested in the believers in the early Christian Community. Here we can clearly see that;

·         The early church had “teaching and learning” (verse 42)
·         The early church had “prayer and fellowship” (verse 42).
·         The early church had gained a “fear and reverence for GOD” (verse 43).
·         They were a “sharing church” (verse 44-45).
·         They were a church that “worshipped GOD together daily” (verse 46-47).
·         They were a church “filled with joy” because of their fellowship with each other, and, their generosity toward each other (verse 46).
·         They were a church where “good things were happening constantly” and “many new people were receiving Salvation daily” (verse 47).

What a wonderful example for modern-day churches to emulate. We see here in this passage, that, it is an example that has been placed before us, and available to us, since the very birth of the Christian Church in Jerusalem.
And one other thing can also be noted; the miraculous signs and wonders that were performed by the Apostles (v.43), served as a verification of a “divine truth” that would authenticate their calling by CHRIST to others. The use of these miracles would help to convince and encourage others to work in the establishment and development of the Christian Church in its infancy. And, after all, many of the believers had themselves, also seen JESUS perform these same signs and wonders, during HIS powerful three-year ministry.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander





                                 
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