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Living Out The Gospel

The timing of what we read in Acts chapter 2 is that only weeks have passed since Jesus was arrested for no valid reason, tortured and murdered.

The scene is that Peter and the others are standing outside the house where the Holy Spirit fell upon them in the upper room. Some people there were mocking them for speaking in the languages known to others present but that were unknown to the speakers.

“So they were all amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, ‘Whatever could this mean?’ Others mocking said, ‘They are full of new wine.’ But Peter, standing up with the eleven, raised his voice and said to them, ‘Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and heed my words. For these are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day.’” (Acts 2:12-15)

The term “heed my words” in verse 14 literally means “allow this to go into your ears”. After getting their attention by commanding them to heed his words, Peter begins to speak the Gospel.

Despite popular opinion in some subsets of the Body of Christ, the filling of the Holy Spirit is not always associated in the book of Acts with speaking in tongues or even with miracles. Rather, more often than not it is associated with someone speaking the Gospel.

The following instances are some examples of this:

“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)

“And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” (Acts 2:4)

(Then Peter goes into presenting the Gospel.)

“Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders of Israel: If we this day are judged for a good deed done to a helpless man, by what means he has been made well, let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole.’” (Acts 4:8-10)

“And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.” (Acts 4:31)

“And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the Spirit by which he spoke.” (Acts 6:10)

“And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied. Now the men were about twelve in all. And he went into the synagogue and spoke boldly for three months, reasoning and persuading concerning the things of the kingdom of God.” (Acts 19:6-8)

I think this is interesting. Because this is so important, I believe that we should recognize what exactly IS the “Gospel”? (I’ve been shocked and saddened to realize how many Christians use that word but cannot define it.)

There is a specific and rather simple definition given to us by the Apostle Paul:

“Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the Gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you; unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve.” (1 Corinthians 15:1-5)

The Gospel, then, simply but beautifully put is that Jesus died for (because of) our sins; Jesus was buried; Jesus rose, Jesus was seen.

There are many ways the Gospel can be spoken using various combinations of words and illustrations. The best way, I believe, has to do with using no scripted words at all. It has do to with how we live.

We speak the Gospel whenever we live the death, burial, rising and the evidence of Jesus.

So, as we see in Acts 2, these very first Christians were filled with the Spirit. The term “filled with the Spirit” literally means that the Holy Spirit of God “strongly influenced them.” They had given control of themselves to the Spirit and they began to speak the wonders of God: the Gospel. They did this, glorifying God in Jerusalem, where Jesus just weeks before was killed by religious leaders who were threatened by the freedom Jesus represented and in which He walked.

They knew it would be potentially dangerous but glorified God in Christ anyway.

Whenever we are filled with the Spirit there is a high potential that we, too, will glorify God by speaking the Gospel. Remember: this is not a “charismatic” thing; it is a Christian thing. That will happen through us in all the varied ways it can, IF we yield ourselves to God the Holy Spirit.

For instance, whenever we forgive, we live out the life, death, burial and rising of Jesus and this Gospel is seen in us. That is because we almost always resist forgiving because to do so we have to die to our desires to remain unforgiving and bitter toward those who have offended us.

When we release things, people, situations to the Lord (some Christians call this “surrender”) we live out the life, death, burial and rising of Jesus and this Gospel is seen in us. That is because we hold onto these things thinking they belong to us; whereas, the truth is that when Jesus purchased us (1 Corinthians 6:20) He also purchased all our stuff (and, for that matter, all our retained offenses.)

In this world that stresses the idea of “Mine! Mine! MINE!” so much, it is a truly foreign idea to others to watch us release things to the Lord - living out the life, death, burial and rising of Jesus – through surrender and forgiveness.

That, to me, is the most effective form of evangelism there can be.

“So they were all amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, ‘Whatever could this mean?’ Others mocking said, ‘They are full of new wine.’ But Peter, standing up with the eleven, raised his voice and said to them, ‘Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and heed my words. For these are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day.’” (Acts 2:12-15)

The third hour was 9 am, kind of early for that many people to be drunk on earthly wine but, in Christ, we can be “drunk” (strongly influenced by) the Spirit” all the time.

Peter is about to do something that Jesus did all the time. He took people who were scattered in their thoughts and used that apparent chaos to gather their focus.

In fact, I believe that the Lord allows some of the chaos we see in our lives for this very purpose: to gather us in so we can focus on something that never changes: Himself.

“But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: ‘And it shall come to pass in the last days’, says God, ‘that I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your young men shall see visions, your old men shall dream dreams.’” (Acts 2:16-17)

Peter tells them, basically, that this apparent chaos (the supernatural events on Pentecost) is something else, something GOD said would happen someday. He tells them, in essence, “Today is the day” and I believe the Lord would say the very same thing to us today.

Today is the day.

All of us experience chaos from time to time. Let's allow Him to gather in our scattered thoughts, emotions, ideas, and perceptions and pull them together to train our eyes, if you will, on what HE wants us to see: the ONLY real stability which can only come from God, Who is unchanging.

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8)

Chaos comes, I believe, from us (or someone else) depending on things that shift and change. It comes from us not living the Gospel. When that happens, we try to steady ourselves on things that aren't good foundations. Then we panic when our footing is unsure, braced as it is on shifting sand.

Jesus speaking: “But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.” (Matthew 7:26-27)

Here in Acts 2, Peter brings them back to the Source.

“But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: ‘And it shall come to pass in the last days’, says God, ‘that I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your young men shall see visions, your old men shall dream dreams.’” (Acts 2:16-17)

Today is the day.

Today is the day you can be filled with….strongly influenced by the Holy Spirit of God.

Today is the day you can give voice to the Gospel by living out the life, death, burial and rising of Jesus through surrender or forgiveness or countless other ways to die to yourself.

The challenge lies before us. Do we want to experience the risk and excitement of first century Christianity now in this time in history?

All we have to do is release ourselves to God the Holy Spirit and then follow him.

I hope we choose that.

Pastor Mike McInerney

Mike McInerney Ministries, Inc.

Decatur, TX

© February 5, 2019

For use with permission

©2018 by Mike McInerney Ministries