Acts 007 – The Beginning of the Church Age (pt. 1)Acts 2:1-4 • Dr. Andy Woods • January 18, 2023 • Acts
The Beginning of the Church Age, Part 1
January 18, 2022
Dr. Andy Woods
All righty. Well, let’s let’s open our Bibles, if we could, to the book of Acts chapter 2. Acts 2:1. And we’re continuing Wednesday evenings, our verse-by-verse teaching through the Book of Acts, having already laid the foundation for the book in terms of background. And then last week we finished Acts chapter 1, where Jesus has ascended. And the disciples were told not to leave Jerusalem until they are clothed with power from on high via the Holy Spirit. And then they make a decision to replace Judas’s vacated position with Matthias. So we have twelve apostles again, and the foundation for the building called the Church is in place. And now it’s ready for the Lord to begin this new work called the church age. So this new work starts in Acts chapter 2. And here’s an outline of Acts chapter 2. You have the coming of the Holy Spirit, verses 1 through 5. The Holy Spirit’s impact, verses 5 through 13. Peter, the guy that betrayed the Lord three times, gives— it has to go down in history as probably the greatest sermon ever other than the sermons of Jesus, verses 14 through 36. No small impact there because he’s got 3000 converts when you look at the sermon’s impact, verses 37 through 47. And then what do you do with 3000 people? You have the first church meeting there, and that’s how the chapter ends.
So, believe it or not, I don’t think we’re going to get very far in this chapter today because as I was preparing this, here’s what I discovered. This chapter is a virtual minefield. It’s— there’s all kinds of explosives underground that you can’t see. And we have to carefully navigate our way through these. Almost every false doctrine I can think of today— maybe not every— but many false doctrines I can think of today that are coming through the body of Christ, they find support for their false doctrine through misinterpretation of Acts chapter 2. So I just started to make a list. Ultra dispensationalism, the belief that the church didn’t start in Acts 2. They think Peter was preaching a different gospel in verse 38. Progressive dispensationalism or kingdom now theology, the belief that Jesus is now reigning on David’s throne from heaven, which I believe is a false doctrine. They believe that that’s what Acts Chapter 2 teaches. The social justice movement that tries to mix the Bible with Marxism. They believe they have support for Marxism at the end of Acts 2, when the church shared all things in common. Um, Church of Christ. I’ve dealt with many of those folks who believe you’ve got to be baptized to go to heaven. Their argument comes from Acts chapter 2:18. And then you see a lot of excesses in what is called the modern-day charismatic movement, where there’s a disproportionate emphasis placed on signs and wonders and experiences. And they believe they have support in Acts chapter 2.
So as we go through Acts chapter 2, I’m going to try to gently interact with some of those beliefs just so you can understand a lot of the controversies that are raging. But even though we’re going to touch on some of those things, we’re still going to be going through Acts chapter 2 verse-by-verse. So you come to verses 1 through 4, and this is the coming of the Holy Spirit. And we can divide this up into the occasion that the Spirit came. And then the events that took place when the Spirit fell on the twelve. So what is the occasion of all of this stuff? Look at Acts 2:1. It says, “When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place.” So what is this day of Pentecost stuff? Well, it goes all the way back to the time of Moses. God took the children of Israel out of Egypt and brought them to Mount Sinai and put them under what’s called the Mosaic Law or the Mosaic Covenant. And you can read all about it in the books of Exodus, Leviticus Numbers, and Deuteronomy. And part of that package that God gave to the nation of Israel was a feast system. Seven feasts total, four in the spring, three in the fall. And they all have significance related to things that God did in the life of the nation of Israel.
So you have Passover and then Unleavened Bread and then First Fruits, and then would come Pentecost. Pentecost on the calendar comes fifty days after the prior feast, which would be the- which would be First Fruits. And that’s where this word Penta, fifty, as in Pentagram, Pentagon, five. Five groups of ten, fifty. That’s where this day of Pentecost comes from. And here’s a couple of calendars, if you will, that show you the Jewish system of calendar. And there were to be four feasts in the spring and three feasts in the fall, and that’s where they fell on the Jewish calendar, beginning with- beginning of the Jewish year. So there’s how it looks in one calendar graph and there’s what it looks like in a similar-looking calendar graph. So that’s the occasion where this happens. We’re in the day of Pentecost and God is just going to do something completely unexpected here in this chapter. And what He’s going to do is He’s going to launch the next dispensation which is the dispensation of the church. The nation of Israel had been under the dispensation of the law from Acts chapter 1 going backward all the way through the Ministry of Jesus, going backward all the way back to Moses at Mount Sinai. So that was a dispensation or an era of time that lasted about 1500 years. So everything the Jews knew related to that dispensation. I mean, you can imagine if your people just came out of a calendar or a time frame where God was operating a certain way for 1500 years.
The problem is the nation of Israel rejected the offer of the kingdom. They rejected their king. They rejected the offer of the kingdom that He would have brought to them had they accepted it. And they turned Him over unjustly to Rome for execution. But God takes lemons and turns them into what? Lemonade. He used that transaction, the betrayal of Jesus, the Jews handing Jesus over to the Romans for execution to pay the sin debt of the world. And now there’s a group of people— they’re not in the majority, they’re in the minority— that are the remnant. They’re followers of Jesus. They believe that the nation of Israel, the majority, was wrong and made an errant decision. And since God never leaves the earth without a witness of Himself, He now begins a work through this remnant. And that work is called the Age of the Church. And we have been in the age of the church for the last 2000 years. And you’re a part of it and I’m a part of it. And so we’re in a new dispensation or a new age of time. And that new dispensation or age of time— a dispensation, don’t let that word bother you. Its English translation in the book of Ephesians 1:10 and I think Ephesians 3:2 some of your English translations will use the word dispensation describing the church.
It’s a translation from the Greek word oikonomia, which kind of sounds like economy. It comes from two words oikos and namas. Oikos, house. Nomos, law or rules. And what that word means, oikonomia, is “house rules.” The plan of salvation is always the same individually. But as you move through the Bible, what you’ll discover is that God has different rules for different groups of people. So I noticed none of you brought an unblemished lamb to sacrifice tonight. I mean, you should have done that, right? The Bible tells you to do that. Well, we know you don’t need to do that because that was a prior “house rules.” We’re now in the age of the church where we have completely different rules. And so what God is going to do is He’s going to start this new dispensation and He’s doing it through the remnant of Jewish believers that believe that the nation of Israel had it wrong and Jesus actually was their Messiah. And don’t get in your mind that somehow God said, Oh, no. Israel rejected My Son. What am I going to do? And God gets sweaty palms because e’s all nervous. What am I going to do? Oh, I know I’ll create the church. That’s not what the Bible teaches. What the Bible says about the church in Ephesians 3:11 is that it is part of the predetermined will of God. It just hadn’t been revealed yet. So the church is something that God always knew He was going to do.
He was not taken by surprise when Israel rejected her Messiah and the age of law would end. He always knew this next step or this next stage, which would be the church age. And every dispensation or age or change of house rules has to have a beginning point. And the beginning point of our age and our dispensation is right here in Acts chapter 2. And it’s going to be a supernatural work that God is going to start right here on the day of Pentecost. So back to chapter 2 verse 1. It says, “When the day of Pentecost had come, they-” that’s the apostles- “were all together in one place.” I don’t think that they’re on the temple compound at this point. They’re not out in public. They will move out into public, I think beginning around verse 5. Although it doesn’t- it’s not explicit. I think they’re still in the upper room. When you go back to Acts 1:13, that’s where we learn, “When they had entered the city, they went to the upper room.” And they’re still in there because when you drop down to Acts 2:3, It says, “It-” that’s the sound of the wind- “filled the whole house.” So they’re not in a big open area right now. They’re still in the upper room. And this is where the Spirit of God falls on them.
So that’s the circumstances for the coming of the Holy Spirit or the occasion. And then what are the events? We have the events described in verses 2 through 4. You have sound, verse 2. Sight, verse 3. An experience, verse 4. So, God, when He does this miracle and starts this new dispensation appeals to sound, sight. And then they actually start to do something, these apostles, as they have now been filled with the Holy Spirit. So notice, first of all, the sound, verse 2. “And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house,” the upper room, in other words, “where they were sitting.” So they didn’t really- sometimes you see movies about this- about this- like a fan like I’ve got right here that’s blowing and blowing people’s hair all around and all of that kind of stuff. And that’s really not what it says. It doesn’t say they felt wind. It says they heard something like the sound of a rushing wind. The Holy Spirit in the Bible is frequently analogized to wind. In fact, the word pneuma is used sometimes to describe wind and also the Holy Spirit. The Hebrew word, ruach is used to describe wind, and it’s also used to describe the spirit. Jesus in John 3:8, in His conversation with Nicodemus, the Nick at Night Conversation, as I call it. He said to Nicodemus this, when Nicodemus was marveling about being born again.
Jesus says, “The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it is going; So [is] everyone who is born of the Spirit.” In other words, man can’t control the wind. Therefore, man can’t control the Spirit. The Holy Spirit is what we would call sovereign. And just like you cannot see the wind but you can see its effects. Clouds moving, flags blowing in the wind, et cetera. You can see its effects. That’s the work of the Spirit. You can’t see it, but oh my goodness, when the Holy Spirit gets ahold of somebody, you can see its effects. You can see the change in people. And so that might be why the Holy Spirit here is analogized to wind. So they heard this sound as they’re in the upper room of what seemed to be like a rushing wind. And then there’s an appeal to sight, verse 3 “And there appeared,” now we’re dealing with sight, “to them tongues as of tongues of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each of them.” So the best I can tell is there were these flames. I guess they look like tongues, an individual tongue kind of like fire. And this flame of fire appeared over each of the heads of the twelve apostles, including Matthias. And then something happened in verse 4, where now the apostles are not just hearing, they’re not just seeing, but now they’re experiencing something.
It says in verse 4, “they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and they began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance.” So it’s kind of interesting that a flame that, I guess looked like a tongue in a sense, appeared over their heads. And then as that happened, they actually began to speak in tongues. So what is this business about tongues? The Greek word is glóssa, verse 4. And then when you drop down to verse 6, you’ll see the concept of languages again. It says, “And when this sound occurred, the crowd came together, and [they] were bewildered [because] each of them was hearing them speak in his own language.” That’s the word dialektos. So glóssa, verse 4. And sometimes it’s glossolalia, and then dialektos, verse 6. So when you think about those two Greek words to describe tongues, translated tongues, you automatically can recognize two English words- right?- from glóssa we get the English word glossary. And from dialektos we get the English word dialectic. So glossary and dialectic- obviously, those words mean some kind of known language. I mean, when you look something up in a glossary, it’s a known language that you’re dealing with. And that’s basically what this word translated tongues is. I don’t think it’s a very good translation. I think it ought to say languages. Known languages. And that will become obvious from the context when we get down to verses 6 through 8.
So, Arnold Fruchtenbaum, of tongues here, in verse 4, says “The word ‘tongues’ means that the apostles began to speak in a language other than their own native tongue.” It’d be like if the only language I knew was English and suddenly I broke out into perfect Spanish, having never learned it or never studied it. And someone in here speaking Spanish, knowing that I don’t speak Spanish, could completely understand what I was saying. And if you knew the circumstances of how I know English but don’t know Spanish, you would say that’s a miracle. And essentially that’s what God is allowing to happen here. “The word ‘tongues’ means that the apostles began to speak in a language other than their own native tongue. It was a real, known, spoken language with all the rules of grammar, diction, and syntax common to all languages. It was not merely the rapid repetition of three or four syllables that is passed off as tongues today.” I mean, my first exposure to what I thought was tongues was listening to people, sort of in church services or prayer meetings, you know, kind of, I don’t know, put two or three syllables together and just repeating them over and over again. And they would say that’s the gift of tongues and what you need to do if you don’t have it is you need to pray to God and He will give it to you. Which always made me feel bad because I prayed and prayed and prayed and never got it the way they were practicing it.
Although sometimes to fit in, you could just say ‘I bought a Subaru’ five times. I bought a Subaru, I bought a Subaru. And I’m really not trying to make- I know it’s kind of funny- I’m really not trying to make light of people. But this whole thing of tongues is so far afield from what is actually happening in the biblical text. So Arnold Fruchtenbaum says, “It was not merely the rapid repetition of three or four syllables that is passed off as tongues today. The source of this gift of languages was the Holy Spirit: as the [Holy] Spirit gave them utterance. In other words, the Holy Spirit provided the gift of tongues or languages, which is one of the spiritual- one of [His] spiritual gifts.” So if I was going to do a new English translation, I would never translate this as tongues because that just confuses everybody. glóssa and dialektos, I would translate as languages, meaning the apostles were speaking in known languages. They were real languages, although they had never studied those particular languages. So where do we get this idea of tongues? Why is this all translated as tongues? Well, it comes from the King James Version, which has caused a lot of confusion. Although I generally think the King James Version is a pretty good translation. But you have to understand that when the King James language was put together, there was a kind of English in play at that point called King James English.
You know, old English, I think some call it Elizabethan English, where the word tongue, back in 1611 meant a known language. See today, it doesn’t mean that. Today when we think of the word tongue, we think of, kind of, gibberish. But in the old English, that was the background for the birth of the King James Bible. When they used the word tongue, it meant a known language. So when they put the word tongue into the English translation, they never meant gibberish. They meant a known language. And you can see that very clearly from how the King James Version translates Revelation 9:11. It says of Revelation 9:11, events of the tribulation. It says, “they had a king over them, which is the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in the Hebrew-” Hebrew is a known language, right? But notice, they don’t say language. They say “tongue.” “whose name in the Hebrew tongue is Abaddon, but in the Greek-” which is an actual language- right?- “but in the Greek [tongue] language hath his name Apollyon.” But they don’t use the word language. They use the word tongue. So the King James translators understood the word tongue as a known language. And all of our other English translations are following the King James. And here we are in the 21st century and we see the word tongue.
And we don’t think it means a known language because languages change over time. We think it means, because we’ve been influenced by certain theological perspectives, that it’s really talking about some sort of mystical gibberish. And that’s not what it’s saying here at all. The Apostles are speaking in actual known languages with grammar, syntax, diction, et cetera, that they had never studied. And that’s what’s happening here in Acts 2:4. Now, why is God doing this? When you go over to First Corinthians 14:22, it says, “So then tongues are [for] a sign, not for those who believe but for unbelievers;” In other words, God is doing a sign. Who is He doing the sign for? He is doing the sign for the unsaved. And the reason He’s doing the sign for the unsaved is because He is doing something here that He hadn’t done for 1500 years. He’s changing the dispensations. He’s changing the house rules. We have- we are transitioning out of the dispensation of the law into the age of the church. And when God does a change of that magnitude, people need a sign that it’s really of God. And so God provided it through this miraculous gift of languages. So what you’ll discover in Scripture is that miracles have a tendency to cluster around time periods where God is doing something totally new.
When you’re reading in the Bible about tons of miracles happening, typically those tons and tons of miracles are going to cluster around time periods where God is doing something completely new. He’s starting a new dispensation. So it’s just a matter of sort of backing up and looking at where most of the miracles in the Bible occur. You’ve got tons of miracles in the time of Moses: parting of the Red Sea, the ten plagues, et cetera. Why is God doing miracles there? Because He’s starting a new dispensation: the dispensation of the law. Then you have a bunch of miracles clustering around Joshua. The parting of- or the miracle that God did there on the Jordan. The walls of Jericho falling. Why a bunch of miracles there? Well, that’s not a new dispensation, but God is doing something new and it’s called the conquest of the Land of Canaan. And then you’ll travel through the Bible and you’ll come to the Elijah, Elisha stories. You know, calling fire down from heaven and all of these kinds of things. And you have a ton of miracles happening there. Why are miracles transpiring there? Because God is doing something totally new. He’s raising up the office of the prophet to hold Israel’s wayward kings accountable. And then you step into the New Testament and you see the Ministry of Jesus and you see one miracle after another. And why are miracles clustering around that time period? Because something very significant and new is happening. The kingdom is being offered to Israel on a silver platter.
And had they received it, we believe the millennial kingdom, hypothetically could have come. And they need to know that this is of God. And God testified to it through signs and wonders. And then we’re going to get into the Book of Acts, which we’re studying here. And you’re going to see a ton of miracles done by the apostles or the delegates of the apostles. Those that the apostles laid hands on. And why are miracles so prominent in the Book of Acts? Because God is doing a new thing. It’s a new dispensation. It’s called the Age of the Church. And then the next time in the Bible, where there’s a ton of miracles, relates to the events of the Book of Revelation. Where you have the tribulation period and the millennial kingdom. Why all the miracles during that time period? Because God is doing something new. He’s finally bringing His kingdom and He’s establishing on planet- establishing it on planet Earth. So other than those key time periods, miracles have a tendency to be sporadic, intermittent, and rare. And don’t get me wrong, I don’t want you to think I’m an anti-miracle person because we constantly pray for people to get- sick people to get well. You know, people ask us as elders to anoint their head with oil and lay hands on them. I mean, obviously we wouldn’t waste our time with prayer or anointing with oil or laying hands if we didn’t think miracles can never occur.
Miracles can occur. It’s just that other than these unique six time periods, they’re not as frequent. In the time of Moses, Joshua, Elijah, Elisha, Christ, the Apostles and in the future tribulation and the millennium, the miracles are the rule rather than the exception. Other than those time periods, miracles are the exception rather than the rule, if that makes sense. So that’s why this miracle is happening right here, because this is something completely new that God is doing. He is authenticating, He is inaugurating a new dispensation. And it’s got to be a good thing when you speak in a language that you’ve never learned, and yet you can be understood. Because that’s a reversal- isn’t it?- of what happened at the Tower of Babel. Where they came together and they tried to build this giant tower to get into heaven. And they said, Let’s make a name for ourselves. Genesis 11:1-9. This is man’s first attempt at a new world order under a man named Nimrod, who was a prefigurement of the coming Antichrist. And God didn’t like what they were doing because He says if they succeed here, given man’s propensity for evil, nothing will be impossible for them. I mean, think about it for a minute. If there’s only one government on the face of the earth and it falls into the wrong hands, the ability to commit evil and tyranny is unprecedented. I mean, we have enough.
You know, our founding fathers were so wise in America, they divided political power up amongst three branches of government. And we complain today with the corruption that we do have. I mean, think if there was only one branch of government. And the wrong people got in charge of that. I mean, if you think there’s evil now, Katy bar the door. And if you didn’t have individual nations like we have today, and only one government over the face of the earth and that government falls into the wrong hands, then evil can’t be stopped. And God knew that. And so He- there was only one language at this time. So he created multiple languages, where the builders couldn’t talk to each other anymore and communicate. And the whole project, by God’s grace, was stopped dead in its tracks. So when you read a situation in the Bible where God is giving a miracle, allowing different language groups to communicate without having learned the native tongue, that’s sort of a reversal in a certain sense of the Tower of Babel. So the Tower of Babel, God stopped a bad thing. And so what’s happening here with this gift of languages is not a negative thing at all. It’s a good thing. And God is using it to verify and authenticate the next dispensation, the age of the church. Now, as this is happening, there is now a shift in other ministries. That’s what a dispensation means. oikonomia, “house rules.”
In other words, how the Spirit used to engage in activity is changing. A lot of people, very unfortunately, think that the Holy Spirit is not found in the Old Testament, but He is. You see Him as early as Genesis 1:2, where it says, “the spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters.” I mean, the Holy Spirit is all over the Old Testament. It’s just, now the Holy Spirit, His rules of operation have just switched. Let me give you an example. First Samuel 16:13-14, this is 1000 years before the time of Christ. It says, “Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers; and the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon-” not in- “upon David.” This is David’s anointing. “from that day forward. And Samuel arose and went to Ramah. Now the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul.” So in the Old Testament age, the Spirit of God came upon people and could leave. Compare that to what Jesus says in the upper room concerning the switch in rules that’s about to happen on the day of Pentecost. He says, “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you,” for how long? “forever.” Oh, wait a minute, I thought the spirit departed from Saul. But once the Holy Spirit goes inside of a person, once they become born again because they’ve trusted in Christ for salvation, the Holy Spirit is inside of you forever.
Now, that’s a very strange verse if you can lose your salvation. Because there is- there is absolutely no command anywhere in the Bible, in the New Testament, about you better stay away from this sin or that sin because you might lose the Holy Spirit. We’re warned about grieving the Spirit, quenching the spirit. But were never warned about, oh no, the Spirit could leave. But He could leave in the Old Testament. See, the Spirit was there in the Old Testament. It’s just now in Acts Chapter 2, the rules changed. The oikonomia, the “house rules” changed. Jesus goes on and He says, “that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him.” He’s speaking to the twelve- actually the eleven because Judas has left the upper room at this point. So they knew about the Spirit. So don’t get this idea that there’s no Holy Spirit in the Old Testament. They knew about Him. It’s just now the rule change has changed because on the day of Pentecost, He says, “because he abides with you and will be-” where?- “in you.” Very different than David, where the Spirit never came in him. It came upon him. So we’re living literally in the age of the Spirit where the Spirit is doing something unprecedented. When someone gets saved, the Holy Spirit doesn’t come on them, comes inside of them and will never leave.
Now, if you were to sit David down and explain all of that to him and say, you know, the day is going to come where… he would be shocked. Because David, like all the other Old Testament saints, knew about the spirit, but they didn’t know about this change of rules. And this change of rules are starting right here in Acts chapter 2. So here is a chart that shows you the work of the Spirit in the Old Testament and the Gospels, and even up through Acts 1. But it changed in Acts 2 and the new rules apply to today. The first distinction relates to external versus internal. Prior age, the Spirit came upon. This age, the spirit comes from within. See, this is Paul’s whole point in First Corinthians 6 about the Corinthian Christians having sex with temple prostitutes. He doesn’t say to them, you’re going to lose the spirit. He doesn’t say to them, you never had the spirit. What he says is, Do you not know? I mean, are you not aware of this change of rules or the Holy Spirit is inside of you and whatever sin you’re committing, you’re dragging the Holy Spirit into it. You’re grieving the spirit. Reception of the spirit. Well, in the prior age, a person could be a believer and not get the spirit until later. Lots of examples in that, of that in the Old Testament. But that’s not how it works today.
Once you believe, you automatically have the spirit. Romans 8:9. If any man does not have the spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ. Third difference is the length of indwelling. The Holy Spirit could leave people as He did Saul. This is why David in the Psalms, Psalm 51:11 said, Take not thy Holy Spirit from me. I was in a youth group where that was a song. We would sing “Take Not Thy Holy Spirit From Me.” Then I became a dispensationalist and I realized how wrong that song was. See, this is a problem of coming to this church. It will wreck all your songs. But in our age, the Spirit, John 14:16, is in you forever. Who is Indwelt? Not everybody in the Old Testament age was touched by the Spirit. That’s why when Joel said the spirit’s going to be poured out on all flesh, all of God’s people. That was such a huge prophecy. But in our age, every believer in Christ has been indwelt and already baptized in the Holy Spirit. So what you see is you move from the red column or the middle column to the right column or the blue column. It’s not that the spirit suddenly makes a guest appearance that He never made before, but His rules of operation just changed. And it changes right there in Acts chapter 2. And what started here in Acts Chapter 2 is the beginning of the church age.
The church started in Acts 2. Now, what I’m saying here is completely and totally different than what you will hear from reformed theology, where they basically will tell you the church age started with Abraham. Some drag it back further. The moment Adam got out of the garden with his clothes on, his garments of skin that the Lord clothed him with, the church started. And the ultra-dispensationalist, hyper-dispensationalist, mid-Acts dispensationalists will tell you, no the church didn’t start in Acts 2. The church started with Paul. Well, where in Paul’s ministry did it start? Well, they get kind of fuzzy. Some say Acts 9. Some say Acts 13. There’s a group of hyper-hyper-dispensationalists. Too much Mountain Dew, I guess. Hyper-hyper’s like E.W. Bullinger. And he says the church didn’t start until Acts 28 when Paul was in prison. And they’re confusing with Paul’s explanation of the church with God starting the church. You see the difference? Man does not start new dispensations. God starts them. God raised up Paul to explain the change that God had already begun even before Paul was converted. So why do we think that the church started in Acts chapter 2? Just a couple of reasons. And if you go back to our Ecclesiology study, I think lesson eight, we went into more detail. But here’s the highlights. Jesus in Matthew 16:18 said, “I will build My church.” Is the verb ‘build’ in the past, present or future.
“I will build My church.” Future. So Jesus put the building of the church into the future. So you can’t find the church in the Ministry of Jesus. You can find hints in His teachings that it’s coming like the upper room discourse, but you can’t find it in the Old Testament. You can’t find it in the Ministry of Jesus because Jesus put it into the future. Number two, Paul referred to the church as a mystery, and the definition of a mystery in Greek is something veiled, now disclosed. If it’s veiled, then you can’t find it prior to Acts 2. It starts in Acts 2, but Paul explains it in his epistles. Number three, the church did not exist before Acts 1 since Christ is the head of the church. Amen? Do you think Christ is the head of the church? Amen, He’s the head of the church. Well, when did He- Ephesians 5:23. Well, when did He become head- when did he become head of the church? Ephesians 1:20-22, after he ascended. So Christ is the head of the church, Ephesians 5. But Christ didn’t become the head of the church until after He ascended, Ephesians 1. So if you put the church before the Ascension, then you’ve got a body without a head. Number four, The church can’t function without spiritual gifts. That’s why they’re given. So if the church can’t function without spiritual gifts, then you can’t have a church without spiritual gifts.
Now, when did the spiritual gifts come into existence? Ephesians 4:7-11, after the Ascension. So if you put the church before the ascension of Christ, then you’ve got a body without a head. And you’ve got no spiritual gifts. See, and what you have to do is you just have to reason with these things because there’s nowhere in Acts 2 that says thus saith the Lord, the church is starting any more than you can find a verse that says thus saith the Lord, God is one, but He has expressed himself in three separate personages. God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit, sharing in the same essence, but different in personage. Find me the verse that says that. There is no verse that says that. You have to put Scripture together with Scripture for that to make sense. This is what you have to do with this business of when the church started. You have to reason through these six or so points. Number five, the church obviously existed before Paul. Paul is converted in Acts 9 because Paul is persecuting when he was Saul. Who was Saul persecuting? The church. Well, who was he persecuting If the church didn’t start until Paul’s conversion? He’s persecuting something. And then the primary reason why we believe that the church started in Acts 2- see, it’s much more important for me as a teacher to get you to understand not the ‘what’ only, but the ‘why’.
When did the church start? Acts chapter 2. True or false? Everybody says true. Okay, tell me ‘why’. That’s different, right? Because if I can be glib and say the church started in Acts 2, the what question, without explaining the ‘why’ then the next guy that comes along with the gift of gab, good looks and a guitar can- see if you’re talked into something, you can be talked out of something by someone more eloquent if you just know ‘what’. But if you know ‘why’ you can’t be talked out of things. See that? That’s why I’m showing you this. The final reason why we believe that the church started in Acts 2 is the baptizing ministry had to start in Acts 2, the Spirits baptizing ministry. So Paul says in First Corinthians 12:13, “For by one Spirit, we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, we were all made to drink of one Spirit.” Now, this has nothing to do with water baptism. Water baptism is just an outward symbol of this inward reality. The word baptizó in Greek means identification. The moment you put your faith in Christ for salvation, the Holy Spirit took you and connected you to the metaphorical body of Christ called the church. You’re a hand, you’re a foot, you’re an eye, you’re a finger, you’re an ear. And you don’t even know where you’re going to go to church.
You don’t even know what your spiritual gifts are. You don’t even know who your favorite preacher is yet. But the Lord took you and connected you to His body. So if you can figure out when that ministry started, you can figure out when the church started because the church is the body of Christ. Well, when did the Holy Spirit start taking individual believers at the point of faith and connecting them to Christ’s body? When did that start, exactly? Well, Jesus said, when He was on the earth just before He ascended, “for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” So it’s got to be some days after Acts 1. By the way, what chapter comes after Acts 1? Acts 2. See how complex this stuff is? Acts 2 follows Acts 1. And then in Acts 11:15-16, when a man named Cornelius, the first Gentile gets saved and the church has to have a big pow wow about it in Jerusalem because they really don’t think a Gentile could get saved. So they have to report to the authorities. The church leaders in Jerusalem who were still Jewish said, yeah, this Gentile got saved. Well, how do you know he got saved? Because he was baptized in the Spirit like we Jews were at the beginning. Acts 11:15-16, “And [as] I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them just as He did us at the beginning. And I remembered the word of the Lord.”
I think this is Peter speaking, if I remember right. “how He used to say, ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.'” See what Jesus did? He said, You’re going to be baptized in the Holy Spirit a few days from now. And then in Acts 11, Peter, when Cornelius gets saved, tells the authorities in Jerusalem, We know Cornelius is saved because he was baptized in the Holy Spirit, just like we Jews were from the beginning. So this baptism of the Spirit which takes people and connects them to the body of Christ. If you can figure out when that happened or when that started, you can figure out when the church age started. It has to happen sometime after Acts 1 but sometime before Acts 11. And as we go through these chapters, you’ll see the only chapter that fits is Acts- what?- Acts 2. So I would say this. You put those six facts together and you have an airtight case that the church started in Acts 2. It couldn’t have started in the Old Testament or in the Gospels because Jesus said, “I will build my church.” It couldn’t have started in the Old Testament because Paul, when he’s explaining the church, called it a mystery. And a mystery., Ephesians 3, is a truth ‘unveiled, now revealed.’
The church couldn’t have existed before Acts 1 because after Acts 1, the Ascension, Jesus became head of the church. So if you put the church before Acts 1, you’ve got a body without a head. The church couldn’t have started before Acts 1 because it’s in the ascension that, Ephesians 4, Jesus gave the spiritual gifts to the church. So if you’ve got a church before the Ascension, you’ve got a body with no spiritual gifts in it. And when you study what Paul says about spiritual gifts, those are absolutely essential for the church to function. The church did not start with Paul, Acts 9, because Paul was once known as Saul, who was persecuting the church. Well, the church started with Paul. Well, what was he persecuting then when he was Saul? I can show you tons of scripture where he says, I persecuted the Church of God. And then number six, the baptizing Ministry of the Spirit which takes individual believers at the point of faith and connects them to Christ’s metaphorical body of the church. That’s a ministry that the Lord did the moment you trusted in Christ. You don’t have to- even have to join, formally, a church for that to happen. This is something that already happened to you. So you’re watching TV and someone comes on and preaches the gospel and you believed it and the Lord just took you and connected you to His body. And you don’t even know what denomination you are, where you’re going to go on Sunday.
I mean, you could be a Metho-Catho-Bapterian or a baptico- maybe you’re a bapticostal fundematic. Whatever you are, you’re part of the body of Christ. And so if you can document when that ministry started, you can figure out when the church started. And Jesus said it’s going to start in Acts 1, a few days from now. Acts 11, says, It started with us Jews at the beginning. And so the only place it fits between Acts 1 and Acts 11 is in Acts 2 because that’s where the Spirit falls. Verses 1 through 4. And Peter preaches a sermon and he’s got about 3000 converts. That’s the baptizing work of the Spirit. And that started in Acts chapter 2. So, I don’t know. That’s probably enough theology for tonight. What you think? Um. So the spirit has come, the rules have changed, the age of the church has started, and God is testifying to it through languages that were known that the apostles had never studied and yet were completely understandable in the dialects of others. And then we’re going to drop down to verses 5 through 13 next week where we’ll see the Spirit’s impact. Because there’s a lot of out-of-towners in Jerusalem for the day of Pentecost who speak totally different languages. And they’re going to say, how can these Galileans- Galilean was a different kind of- there were different guttural sounds and that kind of thing. How can these Galileans understand? How can we understand these Galileans in our own tongue? And so it’s going to amaze people.
They’re going to gather around. And Peter is going to give a sermon because what they’re going to say is, We want to know more about this. And others are going to say, hey, you guys are drunk. You’ve been drinking too much. That’s why you’re speaking in perfectly good languages. I guess that makes sense. And Peter is going to give a sermon like you wouldn’t believe in verses 14 through 36. I mean, this is the guy that betrayed Christ. Or denied Christ, I should say, three times. He’s going to under the Spirit’s control, give an amazing sermon. He’s going to weave together these Old Testament- this is- they called him an untrained and unlearned fisherman. He’s going to weave together all of these Old Testament passages and he’s going to say these tongues or languages are not attributable to drunkenness. They’re attributable to Jesus who just ascended. And He’s at the right hand of the Father. And His first order of business at the Father’s right hand was to pour out the spirit on the church. And by the way, Israel had it wrong by turning him over to Rome for execution. He’s actually the Messiah. And Peter’s going to finish in verse 36, and then he’s going to- they’re going to be cut to the heart when they hear it. Why are they going to be cut to the heart? Because that’s what Jesus said would happen in the upper room.
The Spirit will come and convict the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment. They’re going to be torn, open to the point where they’re going to say, Well, what do we do? And Peter will give the gospel. And 3000 people about will be saved just like that. I mean, that’s something that you don’t even see in the Ministry of Christ. You don’t see 3000 conversions. 3000 people are going to be saved. And so what do you do with 3000 people? You have- you have church. You have church meetings. You have congregations, You have assemblies. Well, what were they doing? There’s a description of what they were doing at the end of Acts chapter 2. So this is- this is fun stuff. This is exciting. So I would encourage you to read through the end of Acts 2 for next time. Father, we’re grateful for the Book of Acts and the work You did, and I think to a large extent want to continue to do as we get the gospel out and see more and more people saved. We’re grateful for this historical record. Give us a clear understanding of it. Help us to not walk in the confusion and deception of so many false theologies. But help us to be circumspect in these last days. We’ll be careful to give You all the praise and the glory. We ask these things in Jesus’ name and God’s people said, Amen.