In a recent Bible study, I covered Acts 2 and the events surrounding the Pentecost event. Imagine being there in that upper room—curious, anxious—wondering if anything would happen at all. Would this be Jesus’ return? Would he finally kick out the Romans? Would he get even with the Jewish leaders? Would there be a new kingdom to dominate Rome? Still, they trusted and prayed.
It’s a wonder they could pray so fervently without knowing exactly what would come upon them. Then again, that is exactly how we should pray—trusting, believing, and yielding to God’s will. I’m sure the tongues of fire and diverse languages were not at the forefront of their minds.
The Holy Spirit comes upon them, and a dramatic transformation takes place. These cowering individuals worshipped boldly. I imagine they threw open the windows and worshipped in full view of the hundreds and thousands of people in the city. Like Daniel praying in Babylon, everybody saw it. This was dangerous business; indeed, they haven’t forgotten what they do to folks who push the envelope. What would await them? A cross? A fiery furnace?
Boldness is a key part of worship and proclamation. It’s gutsy to stand up when the odds are against you, but that is exactly what you’re called to do.
I wonder if the tongues of fire were still resting on their heads when Peter stood to speak? Can you imagine the peculiar nature of that event? And at the apex of it all, Peter proclaims a Bible Study. “Turn in your Bibles to Joel 2…”
Who is this fisherman to be a rabbi to us Jewish folk? What seminary did he graduate from? Still, Peter reminded them of the promise…
And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit. And I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and terrible day of the Lord come. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the Lord hath said, and in the remnant whom the Lord shall call. (Joel 2:28–32)
This is where the Bible study concludes…Peter turns his sermon toward the people. “Ye men of Israel, hear these words…” After appealing to the prophets as a foundation for his sermon, he pivots—Hear these words! Not just any words, but he proclaimed Jesus as the Christ, approved by God, proven among men, crucified, slain, buried, and resurrected—“Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it.”
Our chief mission is to proclaim the Risen Christ to the world. Mark says to proclaim it to every creature (16:15). Matthew says to proclaim by teaching the nations (28:19). Luke tells us that “repentance and remission of sins” should be proclaimed among all the nations (24:47), and John simply reminds us that Jesus “sent” us with the Holy Spirit into the world (20:21). There is a message that we are to take to the world, and to do it, we must allow the Holy Spirit to give us the courage to proclaim.
Our annual convention is upon us, and we must remember that our chief business is to proclaim Christ crucified and risen again! How does that message bring ministry and purpose into focus? How does that fact shape our initiatives, budgets, or structure? What if the proclamation of the Gospel was once again our chief business?
Ye Men and Women of our Convention, hear these words—Christ is Risen; He is Risen Indeed!
By Dr. John Hill