Introduction: In Acts 2, it is the Holy Spirit using His Word through Peter that brings many in Jerusalem to saving faith. This week we will learn that it is through God’s effectively applying His Word that He calls people to Himself. The promise, after all, is for “all those who far off, whom our Lord will call” (Acts 2:39).
Monday: read Acts 2:36-43. Line by line, promise by promise, Peter soaked his preaching in Scripture truths. The early church and the new converts added to their number through such preaching responded by being Word-centered themselves. They “devoted themselves to the Apostles’ teaching,” and held the Word of God in awe, (Acts 2:42-43), as they discovered that it was actually God speaking through that Word to their fearful hearts.
Meditate and Pray: Oh, may the Lord give us an ever-increasing appetite for His Word, so much so that we will go through many trials and forge ahead through all obstacles in our way in order to have that life-giving Word in our lives on a daily basis. How did Peter put it in John 6:68, describing the Twelve’s having nowhere else to go but to Jesus for that life-giving Word? “Lord, to whom shall we go? You alone have the words of eternal life.”
Tues/Weds: read Acts 2:39-47 and Jeremiah 32:40. It is amazing to see the power of God’s promised call to save so many in Acts 2:39-43 – and especially to note that what happened in the conversion of 3,000 that day was in line with God’s covenant promise to Abraham, as we will see later in Acts 3:25. But for today, please also notice what was the result of so many conversions: “Great awe came upon all”, as the multitudes in Jerusalem saw God’s converting power. What then is this fear in Acts 2:43?
The fear of the Lord is one of the most ignored and underappreciated fruits of the work of God’s Holy Spirit. It is important, then, to spend today thinking further about the importance of such reverence. We can divide such fear into two parts, representing both an unbelieving response to God (For example, on the part of those in Jerusalem who feared yet refused to come to Jesus), and the filial reverence on the part of those who knew the Lord as their Savior, and feared Him with the sensitivity of those who love God and want to avoid grieving Him as their Savior and Lord.
For the unbelieving, the fear of God is a terrible thing because it arises out of a warped view of God’s gracious character. Instead of having the eyes to see that God is incredibly kind and inviting to sin-burdened souls, the hardened heart views God with distrust, asserting that he, “knew that God is a hard man, reaping what He did not sow, and gathering where He scattered no seed…” (Matthew 25:24). Such hard thoughts of God prompt flight away from God and into the company of scoffers and those who seek to reassure one another that God is not real, nor the fear of God something to acknowledge.
On the other hand, what joy comes to us when our fear is rooted in the assurance that we are God’s adopted sons and daughters! Out of such security comes a sensitive heart that wants to please God, filled with a wholesome fear of hurting One who loves us so much! After all, this is what God promised in the New Covenant, according to Jeremiah 32:40: “I will put my fear in their hearts that they shall not depart from me.”
Meditate and Pray: Sing about such Gospel driven and holy fear of God in hymn # 35:
My God, how wonderful Thou art,
Thy majesty, how bright;
How beautiful Thy mercy seat
In depths of burning light!
How dread are Thine eternal years,
O everlasting Lord,
By prostrate spirits day and night
How beautiful, how beautiful,
The sight of Thee must be,
Thine endless wisdom, boundless power,
And awful purity!
O how I fear Thee, living One,
With deepest, tenderest fears,
And worship Thee with trembling hope,
And penitential tears!
Yet I may love Thee too, O Lord,
Almighty as Thou art;
For Thou hast stooped to ask of me
The love of my poor heart.
Oh then this worse than worthless heart
In pity deign to take,
And make it love Thee, for Thyself
And for Thy glory’s sake.
No earthly father loves like Thee,
No mother, e’er so mild,
Bears and forbears as Thou hast done,
With me, Thy sinful child.
Father of Jesus, love’s reward!
What rapture it will be,
Prostrate before Thy throne to lie,
And gaze and gaze on Thee!
Thursday: read Acts 2:46-3:4. Another fruit of Apostolic preaching, as it was blessed by the Holy Spirit, is that of unity in faith and purpose on the part of those called to serve together in the early church. For example, consider the remarkable unity in prayer and ministry which Peter and John share as Acts 3 opens. Though these two Apostles were so different in character and temperament, see how God’s Spirit binds them together, as Rev. William Harrell describes it in his Bible notes on this chapter:
“We have in Peter and John a prime example of the unity of the Spirit noted in 2:46. These two men were different from each other in almost every natural way. However, they were bound together by a supernatural affinity. From this point onward they become almost inseparable. What clearly makes them so is their common devotion to their Lord, as expressed in their going to the temple to pray. As they together walk in the path of such devotion to God, they find themselves led by God into the path of merciful duty toward their needy fellow man. Fruitful duty for Christ always follows faithful devotion to Christ.”
Fri/Sat/Sun: read Acts 3:1-16. We come now to consider the miracle of the healing of the lame man in Acts 3. Once again, Rev. William Harrell’s words from his September 1997 Bible notes clearly set forth the meaning of this miracle:
“The Holy Spirit inspired Luke to select one of the many apostolic miracles (2:43) to record for the instruction and edification of the Lord’s people. Peter and John were not the only ones going to the temple that day and at that hour. A man with a handicap which had afflicted him all his life was being carried to the temple as well. Yet, whereas the apostles went to worship God, the man went to beg alms from men. Thus, this man serves to represent the many who are without the liberty, power, and treasures of salvation, who are paralyzed by their burden of sin, yet who are reduced to seeking and expecting no more from the Church than some of the transient trinkets of this world. The Lord demonstrates through His servants that He has far more than that to give.”
What then is it that we are to learn from this miracle? It is that Peter and John give this impotent, burdened and broken man far more than their silver and gold! They bestow on Him the power of the Name of the Lord Jesus (Acts 3:16), and through that Name, this man experiences new life from the dead – both physically and spiritually! For as Peter says in that same verse, it is “by faith in His Name” that this lame man was healed!
So we have seen that there are really three ways in which the Holy Spirit of God fruitfully works through the teaching and preaching of His Word in Acts. By that Word, He brings a holy reverence and awe upon all those who hear. He also brings a unity of purpose in worship and service to those called to follow the Lord Jesus as His witnesses in this world. Finally, He shows His power through the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ to give new life to sinners, dead in body and soul.
Meditate and Pray: Sing about the Name of the Lord Jesus, using hymn # 647:
How sweet the name of Jesus sounds
In a believer’s ear!
It soothes his sorrows, heals his wounds,
And drives away his fear.
It makes the wounded spirit whole,
And calms the troubled breast;
’Tis manna to the hungry soul,
And to the weary rest.
Dear name! the rock on which I build,
My shield and hiding place,
My never failing treasury filled
With boundless stores of grace!
By Thee my prayers acceptance gain,
Although with sin defiled;
Satan accuses me in vain,
And I am owned a child.
Jesus! my shepherd, husband, friend,
O prophet, priest and king,
My Lord, my life, my way, my end,
Accept the praise I bring.
Weak is the effort of my heart,
And cold my warmest thought;
But when I see Thee as Thou art,
I’ll praise Thee as I ought.