Winds of Change

Hello, my friends!

In yesterday’s blog, we explored the remarkable events of Pentecost, where God's power transformed a group of ordinary believers into extraordinary witnesses for Christ. We saw how the Holy Spirit broke down language barriers, enabling the disciples to share the gospel with people from all over the world. This pivotal moment marked the beginning of the church's mission to spread God's love and grace to every corner of the earth. We were reminded that God qualifies the called, empowering ordinary individuals like us to do extraordinary things for His kingdom. Now, let's delve deeper into the powerful message that emerged from this miraculous event and its enduring relevance for us today.

Imagine Peter, once a fearful fisherman, now standing boldly before the crowd. His sermon that day wasn't just any ordinary speech—it was a proclamation that would define the apostolic age. Let's delve into what made this message so powerful and why it's still relevant for us today.

First off, Peter announced that they were living in a new dispensation, the “church age”, a dispensation of grace referring to a period in God’s plan where salvation is freely offered to all through faith in Jesus Christ. The 'last days' he spoke of weren't about the world ending, but rather the dawn of a new era in God's dealings with humanity. It's the new covenant age, the time between Jesus' first and second comings, as foretold by the prophet Joel. Isn't it exciting to realise we're still living in this era of God's unfolding plan?

But the heart of Peter's message wasn't about an era—it was about a person. Jesus Christ took centre stage in his proclamation. Peter highlighted Jesus' life on earth, confirmed by God through miracles, signs, and wonders. He spoke of Jesus' death, emphasising that it wasn't just the result of human wickedness but part of God's foreknowledge and predetermined plan. It's amazing to think that even in humanity's darkest act, God was working out His perfect plan of salvation!

Then came the pivotal point—the resurrection. Peter didn't just assert this truth; he backed it up. He pointed to Scripture, showing how David had prophesied about the Messiah's resurrection. But he didn't stop there. He and the other disciples stood as eyewitnesses to this world-changing event. Can you imagine the power of that moment? Standing before the very people who had crucified Jesus, declaring, “This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses” (Acts 2:32).

But the story doesn't end with the resurrection. Peter proclaimed that Jesus had been exalted to God's right hand. This exaltation, he explained, was the reason for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit they were witnessing. What a masterful connection of prophecy, recent events, and present experience!

All of this led to one inescapable conclusion: “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36). Can you feel the weight of those words? The one they rejected, God had vindicated and exalted!

Now, you might be thinking, “That's all well and good, but what does this mean for us today?” Well, my friends, everything! This message—what theologians call the kerygma or proclamation—forms the foundation of our faith. It's not just ancient history; it's the bedrock of Christian belief and practice.

Think about it: the death and resurrection of Christ inaugurated this age we're living in and gave the church its gospel message. It's a message of hope, of God's love triumphing over human sin. It's a message that says even the greatest guilt can be forgiven. Remember how Peter's audience responded? “What shall we do?” they asked. And the answer is still the same today: “Repent and let every one of you be baptised in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38).

But it doesn't stop with belief. The early church shows us how this message should shape our lives. They were built upon the foundation of the apostles' doctrine. As Paul reminds us in Ephesians 2:20, the church is “built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone.” Each of the Twelve had a unique revelation of Christ, contributing to this foundational truth.

They were also a fellowshipping church. The Greek word 'koinonia' used here means to have in common. When Christ joins us to Himself, we're automatically joined to one another. Isn't that a beautiful picture of what the church should be? They celebrated the breaking of bread, keeping the centrality of Christ's death before them. And they were a praying church, demonstrating their complete dependence on Christ as the living Head.

So, what does this mean for us? It means we're part of something much bigger than ourselves. We're living in the age of God's grace, empowered by the same Spirit that filled the early believers. It means that no matter how we've failed, God's grace is available to us. It means we have a message of hope to share with the world.

But here's the thing—this message isn't just about personal salvation. It's about being part of God's grand plan for the world. The early church didn't just sit around discussing theology. They lived it out! They were a community shaped by the gospel they believed. They shared their possessions, cared for the needy, and boldly proclaimed the message of Christ.

And guess what? We're called to do the same today. We're not just saved from something; we're saved for something. We're called to be a living testimony of God's grace and love to the world around us. As Peter puts it, we are “a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvellous light” (1 Peter 2:9).

Now, I know what some of you might be thinking. “Phil, this all sounds great, but how do I live this out in my everyday life?” Great question! It starts with recognising that every moment of every day is an opportunity to experience and express God's grace. When you wake up in the morning, thank Him for His mercies that are “new every morning” (Lamentations 3:23). As you go about your day, look for ways to extend the same grace to others that God has shown to you.

Remember, living in God's grace doesn't mean we'll never face challenges. But it does mean we have a constant source of strength and hope. As Paul reminds us, “And He said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness'” (2 Corinthians 12:9). So when life gets tough, don't try to muscle through on your own strength. Lean into God's grace. Let His power work through your weaknesses.

Let's take a moment to marvel at God's amazing plan. Let's allow the truth of the apostolic message to sink deep into our hearts. And let's respond like those early believers did—with faith and a willingness to be part of God's incredible work in the world.

Remember, brothers and sisters, be blessed today, for you are in Christ, you are loved beyond measure, forgiven beyond fault, and empowered beyond your own strength. You are living in the age of God's amazing grace!