Since the Fall, all of humanity exhibits a heart problem--a sinful default that disbelieves God's goodness and the veracity of His word. God promises, and activity from the Creation Era onward speaks of a day when He will deal with the problem in finality.
New Covenant Prophesied
Moses, Jeremiah and Ezekiel speak of the advent of the new covenant, when the LORD will remove man's stony heart and replace it with a heart of flesh; when His Spirit will indwell man, and when He will write His law upon their hearts (Deut. 30:6; Jer. 31:33-34; 32:38-39; Ez. 11:19-20; 36:25-27). Isaiah and Joel also prophesy of the day when God's Spirit will be poured out on all flesh, "That I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh" (Is. 44:3; Joel 2:28-29). That day arrives on Pentecost (fifty days after the Passover), a day just as unrepeatable as the birth at Bethlehem. The disciples meet in Jerusalem for prayer, just as Christ has instructed. The Day of Pentecost inaugurates the New Covenant, when the Holy Spirit fills Christ's disciples.
New Community Initiated
As Jesus teaches His disciples, He tells them of the day when He will form His followers into communities called churches. These communities will be built on the confession that Jesus is the Christ. When Peter confesses Jesus as the Messiah (Christ), Jesus responds with the words, "And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it" (Mt. 16:18)--and build His church, He does! "Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them. And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers" (Acts 2:41-42).
Churches consist of baptized believers who unite for the specific purposes of worshiping Jesus as Lord, teaching and training His followers in His Word, fellowshipping together in this new life, living out the gospel in service, and proclaiming His message to their neighbors and the nations.
New Commission Inaugurated
Jesus promises His followers that they will receive power to embrace God's mission for His newly "minted" people: "But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth" (Acts 1:8). Everywhere the Gospel is preached, people are birthed into the kingdom of God and join local churches. The Book of Acts chronicles the Gospel movement that began in Jerusalem and spread to Judea, Samaria, and the ends of the earth.
His Story continues in us as we confess that Jesus Christ is Lord and experience the New Covenant, join local Bible communities, and take the Gospel to the ends of the earth.
Questions from today's chronological Bible reading (Mk. 16:19-20; Lk. 24:50-53; Acts 1:1-2-47):
Jesus lays out the scope of His disciples' witness in Acts 1:8. Luke uses this to outline the first century church's activity. What is the basis of Peter's suggestion that Judas be replaced with another disciple? What criteria must this disciple meet?
What is the basis of Peter's message on the day of Pentecost?
Describe the first church in Jerusalem. What does this reveal about the work of the Holy Spirit?
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