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Definitions of Doctrine
by C. D. Cole
Volume III- THE NEW TESTAMENT CHURCH
CHAPTER 10-The Church’s Pentecost
Acts 1 and 2
Acts is to the gospels what fruit is to the tree. In the gospels we see the corn of wheat falling into the ground and dying; in Acts we see it bringing forth much fruit. In the gospels we see the sufferings of our Lord; in Acts we see the glory that should follow according to “Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow,” (1 Pet. 1:11). In the gospels we see our blessed Savior in His humiliation; in Acts we see Him in His exaltation. In the gospels we see Him on the earth; in Acts we see Him enjoying the fruit of His labors. In the gospels we see Him on a cross; in Acts we see Him on a throne. In the gospels we see Him purchasing the church with His own blood; in Acts we see the church in actual existence, first among the Jews and then among the surrounding Gentiles, sweeping militantly from Jerusalem to Rome. In the gospels we have the worldwide commission from the lips of our Lord; in Acts we have the execution of that mission.
Acts is the historical book of the New Testament. Luke writes as a historian and not as a theologian. We have in Acts the first church of church history. The book of Acts covers about thirty two years and in that time the gospel went from Jerusalem to Rome. Here is ample evidence that the church of Jesus Christ is a missionary institution. The primary business of the church is to witness unto Christ around the world, and the church that is not engaged in that business has no business in the world and is a cumberer of the ground. The church that does not have missions on its heart has the death rattle in its throat.
In Acts 1 & 2 we have the church’s Pentecost: it is the church endowed with power to witness by receiving the Holy Spirit.
1. For ten days the Lord was absent from the church. He had ascended to heaven. The church was helpless upon the earth. The resurrection had been fully proven. All believers believed Christ to be alive and enthroned in heaven.
2. There was a waiting group of one hundred twenty believers in Jerusalem. We know who they were: eleven apostles, the four brothers of Jesus, a number of unnamed women, Mary the mother of Jesus, and others whose names we do not know.
3. Consider the place of meeting. It is usually thought that these one hundred twenty were in the upper room somewhere in the city of Jerusalem. This idea is based upon the fact that when the apostles witnessed the ascension of the Lord to heaven that they returned from Olivet to Jerusalem and “went up into an upper room,” (Ac 1:13). But it is my belief that they were in the temple. Luke closes his gospel with an account of the ascension, (Luke 24:5-53). Then in Acts 2:46 we read: “And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart.” So these Scriptures would indicate that the waiting company was in the temple. It is difficult for us to realize what a huge building the temple of Herod was. Eidersheim says that the temple area would accommodate more than two hundred thousand people. There were many rooms and Solomon’s porch with its many colonnades furnished many places for gatherings. Christ often preached in the temple and in Solomon’s porch where there were many benches where people could rest when there was a recess from the ritual of the day. That is the picture that I see of the ten days waiting. One can hardly see how the one hundred twenty could have been in an upper room and receiving three thousand additions in one day.
4a) They prayed. They could not preach, although surrounded by many thousands of Jews who had come to Jerusalem for the feast of Pentecost. They must have been praying for God to send the Holy Spirit He had promised.
4b) They held a business meeting. Peter took the initiative. He quoted Scriptures about Judas and his successor: “Yea, mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me,” (Ps. 41:9); “Let his days be few; and let another take his office,” (Ps. 109:8). He used these to justify his suggestion that they elect a successor to Judas. Peter then reminded them of the qualifications of an apostle, he must have been with them since the days of John’s baptism and also be a witness of the resurrection of Christ. Two qualified men were nominated: Joseph, and Matthias. They chose by lot and the lot fell on Matthias. “The lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof is of the LORD,” (Prov. 16:33). Morgan thinks all this was out of order and not in the will of God; that Paul was the successor to Judas. I cannot go along with that idea. Paul was not one of the original twelve and did not take the place of Judas. Paul was the special apostle to the Gentiles and was qualified and chosen by Christ at the time of his conversion.
1. Two physical signs of the Spirits coming, one to the ear and the other to the eye. “Sound from heaven like a rushing mighty wind...and there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire and it sat upon each of them,” (Acts 2:2-3). Symbols of the power of the Holy Spirit. Power like that of wind and speech suggested by tongues were for their witnessing under the influence of the Holy Spirit. And they began to speak in tongues or languages they had never learned by studying, they spake as the Spirit gave utterance. All was a demonstration of the Power of the Holy Spirit.
2. The sensation in the city was great. A great crowd came to the scene and was amazed to see Galileans speak in their tongue. How is it that we hear and understand what is said? How is this to be explained? Some said these men are drunk.
1. Too early to be drunk third hour of the day or 9:00.
2. Peter finds explanation of this phenomena in “And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit,” (Joel 2:28-29). Joel was speaking about the Holy Spirit and this is what you have seen. This is that Holy Spirit of which Joel was prophesying, (Joel 2:28-32). Peter then quotes Psalm 16:10 where David says, “Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell (Hades) neither will thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.” David could not have been speaking of himself, for he is dead and buried and we know where his grave is. He was speaking as a prophet and his prophesy has been fulfilled in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Peter then quotes Psalm 110:1, “The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool.” And so Peter says that all this means that Jesus is alive and has shed forth what you have seen and heard. Peter accuses the Jews of crucifying their Messiah and says that God had raised him from the dead.
You say these men are drunk; I say they are filled with the Holy Spirit. You say Jesus of Nazareth is still dead; I say he is alive, the living Christ is the explanation of what you have seen and heard this day. Peter is now preaching to the throng of unbelieving Jews and he presses his point. He preaches for conviction. He has them on the run and will pursue them relentlessly. He has not said a word of comfort thus far. They must be converted of their sin in putting Christ to death before they are ready for any message of comfort. “Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said to Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?” (Acts 2:37).
They had been convicted of their awful sin; of their awful mistake, they now realized they had crucified the Lord of glory. And their question is: Is there any way out of the trouble we are in? Is there anything we can do about what we have done? And Peter says, yes, there is something you can do about it. You can reverse your attitude, you can change your mind or way of thinking about Jesus. And you can show you have changed your mind or attitude by being baptized.
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