This Devotional series which is part of the Clayton Church Value-Based Discipleship series, which was launched on Sunday 23 July 2017.
Passage: Acts 2:1-13, 41-47
When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.
Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language. And they were amazed and astonished, saying,
Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians—we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.
And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” But others mocking said, “They are filled with new wine.”
So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls. And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe[d] came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.
The first verse has significance in setting the scene and context – the believers had already gathered together in one place. Were they expecting something to happen, or were they simply gathering as a routine lifestyle/habit? The later is my understanding – and this living together and sharing, which is re-emphasized in the final section of verses 41-47 again demonstrates the communal nature of the Early Church.
Retelling the story for someone else (you – my audience).
Fifty days after the death and resurrection of Jesus, the follower had all gathered together when, without warning, the Holy Spirit arrived in the form of a tongues of fire, filling the entire area. These tongues of fire came upon each of the believers, filling them and compelling them to speak in another tongues/language of the Holy Spirit.
In the extended community of Jerusalem, many sincere people of other nations were present. At the sound of the Holy Spirit manifesting in the audible form of the speaking in tongues, these people were drawn to the area and were amazing at what they heard. The wow factor originated from the fact that the majority of the people who had been touched by the Holy Spirit and now speaking in tongues were local Galileans. These other people who were gathering were amazed that they could discern their own native languages and dialects from the wider region and Roman Empire. Everyone was surprised and confused as to what was going on, although some skeptics explained away the phenomenon as everyone being drunk.
As a result of Peter’s preaching, around 3000 people came to believe and received his word declared their new-found faith boldly. As new believers, these people were quickly incorporated into the growing body of Christ, continuing to sit under the teaching which was administered by all the apostles, and they join in the lifestyle of communal fellowship and partaking of meals and praying together. A sense of awe and wonder stirred in the hearts of the growing community because God was clearly at work through the signs and miracles that were being performed by the apostles. The sense of common unity (aka community) was very intrinsic to the believers, who each committed wholly and sincerely, and literally life was done collectively – with all needs met from the abilities and possessions made available to the community of believers. As faithful Jews, the new believers continued to worship at the temple but complemented their new found faith in Christ through meeting in homes where meals became times of fellowship. The presence of God with them was celebrated as He continued to shower His favour on all of them. In this way, the attraction of God working in the believers worked to grow them in numbers and in faith.
What I Discovered
Insights revealed by this passage include:
- The Early Church was highly community minded; our modern day individualistic society has departed from this original norm.
- Baptism as a public declaration of faith was done very close to the point of a new believer coming to faith
- The Holy Spirit can and will manifest among the body of believers but skeptics will not recognise Him and make excuses, based on their limited human understanding.
- The generosity and love for one another was real and tangible to the Early Church.
Obedience Step “I Will”
I will continue to build up the Body of Christ, as represented in my immediate life group, ministries and wider Church family. I will encourage young believers to not over-complicate their faith and be obedient to God’s commandment to be baptized and publicly declare their faith.