The Saved

June 2, 1996
日本キリスト教団 大阪のぞみ教会牧師 清弘剛生 Pastor Takao Kiyohiro, Osaka Nozomi Church, Church of Christ, Japan
Translator M.A.F., Indiana, USA. Translated April 2, 2009
Acts 2:14-42

1. On the day of Pentecost about two thousand years ago, the Holy Spirit fell on the disciples all together as a group, as they were praying. Due to the overwhelming infilling of the spirit of God, they were set free and filled with joy. And as the spirit caused them to speak, they began to give glory and praise for the great works of God in the languages of various different nations. Many had gathered at the sound of them all. The people were astonished and said to each other, all confused, "What on earth does this mean?" But, certain ones scorned them saying, "Those persons are intoxicated with a new wine." Then, the scripture passage for today refers to when Peter stood up with the other eleven and began to speak to the assembled people.

2. [As we] begin, please look at verses fourteen to eighteen.

3. "Whereupon, Peter stood with the eleven, lifted his voice, and began to speak. 'There is something that I would have you to know, people of Judea and all of [you] dwelling in Jerusalem. Please incline your ears to my words. Now, since it is nine in the morning, these persons are not intoxicated with alcohol, as you think they are. No, they are not; this very thing is what has been said through the prophet Joel: God says. At the time of the end, I will pour my spirit on all persons. Therefore, your sons and daughters will prophesy, your youth will see visions, and your aged will see dreams. Upon my servants and my maid servants I will pour my spirit at that time. Therefore, they prophesy. ... '," (Acts 2:14-18).

4. Peter says they are not intoxicated with alcohol. What is written in the book of Joel, chapter two and verse twenty-eight, that "I will pour out my spirit on all persons," has come to pass, explains Peter.

5. We can see the operations of the Holy Spirit even in the Old Testament. However, the Holy Spirit was not poured out on every person. In God's plan of salvation, the Holy Spirit was poured out, in particular, on only those chosen by God. For example, it [was poured out on] Moses, the leaders called the judges, and the prophets. In addition, it looks like [it also fell on] kings Saul and David. The Holy Spirit was poured out on these special persons, and they were used in God's work.

6. But Peter says the prophecy of Joel is fulfilled here in this text. The time has come for the spirit of God to be poured out on all persons. They are the sons, the daughters, the youth, the aged, the servants, and the maid servants. He says that a new age has begun in which neither gender, nor age, nor social standing matters, but rather all persons will be filled by the spirit of God, will live in the will of God, and will be used for the work of God.

7. We must become aware that within God's history of salvation (amid salvation history), we are living in that age [of which he speaks]. We are brought to play in the period of the church which began in Acts chapter two. So then, anybody, no matter who, can become a person filled by the spirit of God and be used for the glory of God as per the plan of God. A man can be used. A woman can be used. A young person can be used. An elderly person can be used. Both a person with ability can be used and a person lacking in ability can be used. Both a healthy person and a sick person can be used. Not just pastors are filled and used by the spirit of God. All persons turn into vessels of God. Can we picture in our mind's eye the figure in which each of us, respectively, is filled by the spirit of God and is used by God? Can we live having such a hope and an expectation as that? Do you believe this, that God is graciously at work -- through us? The new age has begun since that time as per God's plan. That's the first thing Peter declares.

8. Next then, please have a look at verse twenty-two and following.

9. "Israelites, please hear what I say from here. Jesus the Nazarene was indeed sent from God. God has given proof to you of this by the miracles, marvelous works, and signs done among you through Jesus. It is just as you yourselves already know. According to the plan set by God, known beforehand, Jesus was handed over by you, and you hired persons who did not know the principles of the law, and put him on a cross and killed him. However, God set Jesus free from the suffering of death and caused him to rise from the dead; for, it was impossible for Jesus to remain under the rule death," (verses twenty-two through twenty-four).

10. What Peter was attempting to do was not merely explain about those being filled with the Holy Spirit. He was wanting many of the assembled Jews to also become persons living in the life of God, filled by the Holy Spirit. That's where the desire of Peter and the other apostles can be found. For that reason, the issue of the Jews themselves who were hearing him must be made clearly.

11. Then, next thing, Peter begins to state that this man Jesus of Nazareth is the one sent by God. As the one sent by God, first of all, Jesus showed us how to live filled by the Holy Spirit. He showed us the figure [of a person] living in fellowship with God, living in God's love, living in God's life, and living in God's kingdom. And he showed us that God is certainly doing his deeds through Jesus the way he was. And he makes their sin plain, saying, "You have put this one on the cross and killed him."

12. Let's give a little more thought to the situation with which Peter takes up issue.

13. We might recall that there were specifically three strands of people on a large scale among the Jews who crucified Christ. The first are the Sadducees. They formed the affluent social class and were the sect that played the leading role as temple priests. While in one sense they were very unspiritual and this-worldly-minded, at the same time, they were a major force that took shape in the ceremonial Judaism that attempted to preserve the old traditions. We might understand their hearts some. This seems close to the figure of the people in Japan when they adhere persistently to the mere shell of [their] long-established traditions and [their] home based religion.

14. Well, this Jesus of Nazareth was sent from God and appeared before this mere outward shell and ritualistic Judaism of theirs. Jesus demonstrated before them the figure of [how] to be filled with the Holy Spirit, to be filled with the life of God, and to be filled with God's love and joy. God the Father worked mightily through Jesus. I don't think they had ever come into contact with this at all during their entire religious lives up until now. But, they were supposed to seek for what Jesus had, that is, it meant they had to give up their way of living for good. In the final analysis, what did they do though? They adhered persistently to their own way of living that they had lived so far up to that moment and then they murdered the Christ.

15. The second [strand of people] are the Pharisees. By their own choice, they concentrated on studying the law and applied their minds to its observance. But, they had [long] lost the living fellowship with God the Father, and the joy and the life that comes from God and so their great efforts, in vain, made the precepts and the principles of the law overly complicated and confusing, and meanwhile, [their efforts] only resulted in the condemnation of one another and hypocrisy. This same figure is visible in variously different forms even today. The self-reform and the social reform that depends upon only human ethical efforts, and the condemnation of others and the chaos that is produced from that, [this] pharisaism in modern times doesn't suppress its influence. Generally speaking then, back in that time, if the Sadducees represent an unspiritual, ritualistic Judaism, then we could probably see the Pharisees as representing a lifeless, legalistic Judaism. For them as well, the figure of Jesus must have been both wondrous and the target of their jealousy. For, to seek for what Jesus had [meant] they must repudiate their own way of living. They did not seek for God's grace by repudiating their way of living, but they put themselves at a distance from God's grace by getting rid of the Christ.

16. The third [strand of people] is the general public seeking for liberation from Rome. They followed Christ with great joy. The figure of Christ certainly did draw a crowd. But, what the people were looking for every single time was the fulfillment of their own desires. They refused to seek for the living relationship with God the Father. Also, they did not seek to be filled by the spirit and to become a vessel that God the Father [might] make use of. They refused to give up the entrenched thoughts they had regarding what would truly make them happy. They refused to seek for the kingdom of God as shown by Christ by making a fundamental change in the direction they had been living. Therefore, in the final analysis, they abandoned Christ and put him on a cross.

17. "You put [him] on the cross," says Peter. In a word, he says, by joining forces against him the stubbornness and the arrogance in humanity in refusing to receive the grace of God and change one's direction had put Christ on the cross. Clinging to oneself and a stubborn God-rejecting heart had put Christ on the cross. That place is where the sin of human beings lies. And that sin makes persons unhappy in a true sense, and it puts them at a distance from true life. Peter is taking issue with that point. "God sent Jesus. You killed Jesus." That is not the issue of only the Jews who had directly put Christ on the cross. The heart stubborn against God is a problem which human beings have in common. As for the many different problems in modern times, [whether] human sorrow and misery, [or any] shape [of] suffering because of the bog of sin in which humanity sinks and writhes, if you go to its source, it is none other than the result produced by stubbornness against God.

18. But the story is not over with that. As human sin is exposed, it doesn't end there. God is still pushing forward his work of human salvation. The sin of human beings put Christ on the cross. But God caused Christ to rise from the dead by his power. The power of God is stronger than the power of human sin. The depth of God's grace is deeper than the depth of human sin. Please look beginning with verse thirty-two. Peter continues with the following. "God caused Jesus to rise from the dead. All of us are witnesses of that. So, after Jesus was elevated to the right hand of God and had received the Holy Spirit promised by the Father he poured it on us. You are seeing and hearing that now."

19. The Holy Spirit which completely filled Jesus inside has now begun to be poured upon all persons, through the medium of Jesus' cross and resurrection. The kingdom of God, the life of God, [and] the power of salvation, manifested through Jesus, have now begun to be manifested through ordinary persons such as are found everywhere.

20. It started from that day. It is still going now. Now is the age when the Holy Spirit is graciously at work. God is making widely known [his] true salvation through the Holy Spirit, not through dead rituals, not through a lifeless legalism, not through the mere fulfillment of human desire. God is showing us right now his true salvation, that [even though we are] situated in this passing world of sin, [we are] filled with the Holy Spirit, [we] live in the kingdom of God while on this earth, and [we] live in the eternal hope. So, what's the best way to take part in that salvation?

21. "Oh brothers, what should we do, [what is the best thing for us to do]?" The people asked Peter and the other apostles. Peter gave a response to this question. "Repent! Let each one receive baptism in the name of Jesus Christ and have [God] forgive [his or her] sins! By doing that, you receive the Holy Spirit as a gift." This text has the final answer towards the greatest question in one's life.

22. Repentance is not feeling sorry for [your] sin. It is changing the direction of [your] life. It is when someone, who has been rejecting God's grace clinging to how things are, to the way he or she has been living all along, quits persisting in his or her stubbornness, changes direction, and accepts God's grace. The sign of that is baptism. One changes direction, turns, and has God forgive him or her. "By doing that, you receive the Holy Spirit as a gift," said Peter. Receiving baptism in the name of Christ is not simply the act of having [God] forgive [your] sins. The purpose in it is to receive the Holy Spirit. Peter conscientiously adds further explanation. "This promise is being given to you, as well as your children, and to everyone who is afar off, that is, to anyone if the Lord our God has called them." Of course, the promise is given to us as well, who "are afar off" both in time and distance.

23. That day, as many as three thousand persons received baptism. According to the promise, blessed with the gift, they received the Holy Spirit. The spirit of God was given into them; and also upon them, [where] the message from the prophecy of Joel had been fulfilled. They partook of salvation. And so they began to live as saved persons. That is the start. It isn't the goal. The possibility being given to them through the Holy Spirit is [to be able] to live like Jesus Christ. Loving God the Father, rejoicing in fellowship with God the Father, loving people, rejoicing in fellowship with people, filled with the Holy Spirit, they must have started seeking in prayer for the figure of Christ [to be in them], who did God's deeds. In today's passage, we can get a glimpse of their specific faith practice. "They were fervent in the apostolic teaching, in fellowship with one another, in [their] breaking of the bread, and in [their] praying," (verse forty-two). Their very first task, while in fellowship with God and the brothers, was to be filled with the Holy Spirit and to keep being filled. For us as well, it is the same [action] that we should be seeking first of all. So that's how the Lord uses us and works abundantly through us.