Acts 2:38-42

Sunday Morning Bible Study

July 6,  1997

Introduction

Last week we saw Peter telling the people that if they wanted to trust God for salvation, they would have to:

1) Repent - to turn away from their sins.

2) Be baptized - not because that will save them, but because baptism is an outward sign of the cleansing God has done inside your heart.

We continue with Peterís exhortation Ė

:38-40 Peterís exhortation

:38 and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

This isnít just talking about the Holy Spirit coming to dwell inside them, as He does with all believers, but Peter is talking about the phenomena of the filling of the Holy Spirit, the same thing the people have just seen before their eyes.

If you study Lukeís usage of this phrase "the gift of the Holy Ghost" (Acts 10:45; 11:17), youíll see that heís talking about the filling of the Holy Spirit.

Is Peter saying that to be baptized in the Holy Spirit, you must repent and be baptized?

No - I think heís saying that itís going to happen to these folks, but I donít think this is a hard fast rule here.

Why? A few years later, at Corneliusí house (Acts 10), the Holy Spirit is poured out and they speak with tongues before they are baptized.

In fact, this is why Peter decides to baptize them Ė

(Acts 10:47 KJV) Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?

:39 and to all that are afar off

God would be saving people from all over the world, and thatís good news for us Gentiles!

:40 Save yourselves from this untoward generation

untoward - skolios - crooked, curved; perverse, wicked

save yourselves Ė I think this would be better translated "be saved from" (as the NAS translates it).

Either way, itís not that we save ourselves other than when we trust in Jesus and repent, the net result is that our trusting in Jesus pulls us away from the influence of the world around us.

Lesson:

Donít go down with the ship. Get off it.

The other day I heard J. Vernon McGee on the radio talking about how this world around us is like a sinking cruise ship.

Some people think that if they just get to the upper decks of education, psychology, sociology, etc., that they can be safe.

But the whole ship is going down!

The only way to be saved is to be rescued from above. To be rescued from someone not of this ship.

Think of how movies have changed over the years.

In those old Jimmy Stewart movies, it not only wasnít necessary to show sex, but it wasnít even talked about.

When movies first started being rated (G, PG, R, etc.), things that used to be considered "R" are now allowed in PG movies.

Our society is going down hill.

:41 Then they that gladly received his word were baptized

These people have been told to do that difficult thing, "repent", to turn away from their sins.

And they receive this gladly!

Lesson:

True conversion comes with joy.

Sometimes a person with a real "zeal" for the Lord will just push and push and push on an unbeliever, trying to force them to accept Christ.

You donít need to twist peopleís arms to accept the Lord.

If theyíre ready, theyíll be willing.

Note: Weíre having a baptism next Sunday Ö

:41 and the same day Ö three thousand souls.

This is quite an impressive church growth program!

:42 The Basics

:42 And they continued stedfastly

proskartereo - to adhere to one; to persevere and not to faint; to show one's self courageous for Ė to "hold on to" something. Here, itís a "continuous" sense of "holding on".

Itís being like super glue, sticking on to something and not letting go.

Weíve seen this word already, back in chapter one:

Ac 1:14 These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication Ö

Weíre going to see it a few more times coming up (Acts 2:46; 6:4)

Lesson #1:

Holding on, a way of life.

These next four things arenít just "every once in a while" things.

Theyíre to be things we make a part of our regular lives.

Why hold on to these things?

Some people will try reading their Bible or praying for a few weeks, and then quit when all their problems havenít gone away.

But these things arenít going to necessarily give you "overnight relief" from your problems.

These are things that will carry you for a lifetime.

This is the "balanced diet" that makes for a healthy Christian.

Illustration:

One of the keys to having a healthy body is to eat a balanced diet all the time.

We like to think that if weíll eat healthy foods for a day or two, weíll become healthy.

Itís learning to do things as a way of life that makes us healthy.

The "quick fix" attitude - We donít care so much for what is right as much as "what works".

If Iím having problems in my marriage, and itís causing me great distress, our society says, "dump the marriage", not because itís right, but because it works.

If I have a hard time handling the pressures and anxieties in my life, society says, "Take a drink", not because itís right, but because it works.

God is concerned that we establish healthy practices in our Christian life, practices that will carry us through the hard times as well as the good times.

:42 in the apostlesí doctrine

The "teachings" of the apostles might fall into three categories Ė

1) The Old Testament Ė even as weíve seen from Peterís first sermon, much of what the early church taught and believed was based directly upon the Old Testament Scriptures.

2) The Teachings of Jesus Ė Jesus said that the disciples were to take the things He taught them, and pass them on to others (Mat. 28:20)

3) The Teachings of the Holy Spirit Ė Jesus didnít have enough time to teach the guys everything, so the Holy Spirit would be finishing the job:

(John 16:12-13 KJV) I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. {13} Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come.

Where do we find these three sources of the apostlesí teaching?

In one handy location, our Bible!

Lesson #2:

Hold on to Godís Word.

Bible Study is an odd thing, itís both difficult and easy Ė

Itís difficult in that every time we decide weíre going to read, we get distracted, and it seems that itís much easier not to read.

Itís easy in that sometimes it just doesnít seem enough, itís "too easy".

We think there must be something more that we can do, other than just read.

Illustration:

Naaman was a Syrian general who was a leper (2Kings 5)

When he heard that there was a prophet in Israel who might be able to heal him, he went looking for Elisha.

Elisha didnít even bother to meet Naaman, but sent a messenger, telling him to dip himself seven times in the Jordan river.

Naaman was offended that Elisha didnít come and work some "hocus-pocus" on him, and it seemed like there were better things to do than wash in the river Jordan.

(2 Ki 5:13 KJV) And his servants came near, and spake unto him, and said, My father, if the prophet had bid thee do some great thing, wouldest thou not have done it? how much rather then, when he saith to thee, Wash, and be clean?

Naaman humbled himself and did that little, simply thing, and found himself a new man, with no more leprosy!

Reading Godís Word may seem like something too small and insignificant, but itís something definitely worth doing!

We are cleansed as we fill our minds and hearts with Godís thoughts and Godís Word.

:42 and fellowship

koinonia Ė from the word koinonos Ė to be a partner, companion, a sharer in anything. Sometimes itís translated "contribution", as a financial "sharing" in a project (Rom. 15:26). It is even the word behind "communion", which is sharing the bread and cup (1Cor. 10:16)

Most commonly, itís translated as "fellowship" Ė as in sharing something in common with each other, namely, Jesus Christ:

1Jo 1:3 That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship [is] with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.

Itís because of our common relationship with God through Jesus Christ, that we have "fellowship", a sense of something in common.

What is fellowship?

We often think of fellowship as potlucks, discussion groups, and trips to Baskin-Robbins.

Those are actually only the symptoms of fellowship.

Fellowship is that sense of sharing something in common, that sense of "inter-connectedness" where we all contribute to each other.

Itís what it means to be a part of the Body of Christ (1Cor. 12), with each different organ and body part having a "share" in the whole body.

With the baby church in Jerusalem, they took this "fellowship" to quite an extreme.

They actually formed a "commune", and shared everything with each other.

Ac 2:44-45 And all that believed were together, and had all things common (Greek Ė koine, the root of koinonia); 45 And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all [men], as every man had need.

Weíll talk about this more next week.

Lesson #3:

Hold on to Fellowship

In our California society, we seem to almost cherish being "cut off" from each other.

We hardly even know our own neighbors, let alone people at church.

But God wants you to be "connected" with others so you can receive from them and give to them.

(1 Cor 12:26 KJV) And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.

We have to work especially hard at learning to "connect" with each other.

I often ask you to introduce yourself to someone you donít know, because most of us are too shy, or too comfortable in our own little protected world to reach out to new folks and bring them into our fellowship.

We set up "supper sixes" to give you a reason to invite people from the church to your house.

Iíd like to see more folks being a part of the "helping hands" ministry.

This is a ministry that helps families with meals, rides, housework, anything that needy folks need.

Sometimes thereís nothing to do, but sometimes it seems as if everybody in the world is in the hospital, having babies, or need rides to church!

I wonder what would happen if we had an "Out-to-lunch" spot in the church. Where everyone whoís interested in meeting other folks could stand around, and know that the other folks in that area would say "yes" if you asked them out to lunch to get to know them.

:42 and in breaking of bread

I believe this is talking about more than just eating together, itís talking about communion:

1Co 11:23-26 For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the [same] night in which he was betrayed took bread: 24 And when he had given thanks, he brake [it], and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. 25 After the same manner also [he took] the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink [it], in remembrance of me. 26 For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come.

There has been much discussion through the ages as to just what is happening during Communion. (Speak with tenderness, please!)

Those of you raised Catholic were taught that when the priest says those special words, that the bread magically transforms itself into the actual, physical flesh of Jesus Christ, and the wine magically transforms itself into the actual, physical, hemoglobin-filled blood of Jesus Christ.

Yet, if it was the actual flesh of Jesus Christ, why does it taste like a wafer? If it was the actual blood of Jesus Christ, why does it taste like wine, or grape juice?

I donít believe Jesus ever intended for communion to become this.

I believe Jesus said it clearly enough, that it was intended to bring to our "remembrance" what He did, and these things were symbols to remind us of the truth.

Jesus said, "Do this in remembrance of me", not, "Do this and actually eat my flesh and actually drink my blood!"

Communion is a parallel to the Jewish feast of Passover, and the whole point of the Passover is to help the Jews remember what God did for them in Egypt.

Itís not that we treat communion any less serious than a Catholic, we must have our feet grounded in reality.

Lesson #4:

Hold on to Communion.

Communion is when we remember what the main thing is Ė

- that we are sinful people, and needed someone to save us from the consequences of our sins.

- that Jesusí body was broken as He bore our sins on the cross.

- that our sins were washed clean when Jesus spilled His blood on the cross.

- that just as I can personally receive the cup, I can receive Jesusí forgiveness for my sins.

Sometimes churches get sidetracked Ė

- by doing good things, helping the poor, developing social programs, to the point where they no longer talk about the main thing.

- by trying so hard to entertain people and keep their attention, that they stop talking about the main thing. After all, blood, sin, death, and crosses can be quite offensive.

Communion helps us keep the main thing the main thing.

:42 and in prayers

Prayer is what completes the cycle of a balanced Christian life.

God speaks to us through His Word.

We reach out to each other in fellowship.

We keep our foundation on the main thing.

Prayer completes the cycle as we pour out our hearts to God in prayer.

Lesson #5:

Hold on to Prayer

There is so much going on around us that weíre simply unaware of.

Thereís an entire world of spirit beings moving around us, and we donít even realize that theyíre there.

But there is a way in which we affect this spirit world, and thatís through prayer, through talking with God. (see Daniel 10)

Itís only as we become men and women of prayer, that we become acutely aware of this spirit world.

Illustration

The king of Syria was a very frustrated man, because every time he wanted to pull a surprise attack on Israel, the Israelites were warned by the prophet Elisha.

2 Ki 6:14-19 Therefore sent he thither horses, and chariots, and a great host: and they came by night, and compassed the city about. {15} And when the servant of the man of God was risen early, and gone forth, behold, an host compassed the city both with horses and chariots. And his servant said unto him, Alas, my master! how shall we do? {16} And he answered, Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them. {17} And Elisha prayed, and said, LORD, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the LORD opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha. {18} And when they came down to him, Elisha prayed unto the LORD, and said, Smite this people, I pray thee, with blindness. And he smote them with blindness according to the word of Elisha. {19} And Elisha said unto them, This is not the way, neither is this the city: follow me, and I will bring you to the man whom ye seek. But he led them to Samaria.

Elisha, being a man of prayer, could see he was protected and surrounded by angels.

His prayers opened the eyes of his servant to see the same thing.

His prayers also shut the eyes of the enemy, as they were blinded to what was going on around them.

Hold on to prayer, improve your eyesight!

Daily time to pray for others.

Iíd love to see more of you help support the Sunday morning ministry by "working" in the "prayer covering" ministry, praying during each morning service, opening eyes.

Perhaps getting together with a group of friends for the purpose of prayer (not just talking or gossiping, but really praying!)