Today’s selected reading continues in the new fragment account of the spiritual body of Jesus Christ, which is the church, as written and recorded in the book of Acts. More specifically, today’s passage begins with the forty-first verse of the second chapter and continues through to the forty-seventh verse of the same chapter. When you come to this particular portion of Scripture you will encounter the ultimate end result—not only of the events which transpired in the upper room, but also the events which transpired as a direct result of the words which the apostle Peter spoke unto all those who witnessed the events that occurred on the day of Pentecost. In order for us to truly understand the truly scope of what took place on the day of Pentecost it is absolutely critical and necessary that we examine the entire chapter from beginning to end, for only when we encounter the words in this chapter from the opening verse to the final verse will we truly encounter the magnitude, the depth, the height and the weight of what actually took place on this incredibly fateful day—this day in which the spiritual body of Christ was birthed within and upon the earth. There is a tendency and temptation to focus solely on what took place in the upper room where the one-hundred and twenty were gathered together with one accord in one place, and completely miss out on the totality of what actually occurred on the day of Pentecost. THE RESPONSES OF PENTECOST! In all reality, if I were to summarize the entire second chapter of the New Testament book of Acts I would do so by emphatically and boldly declaring it as the responses to Pentecost and the responses of the events which took place and occurred on this particular day. I have read the words which the beloved physician Luke wrote concerning the day of Pentecost countless times, and I have always considered the events which took place in the opening verses of the chapter, as well as the words which are recorded in the final verses of the chapter. In all the times I have read the words which are found in the second chapter of the New Testament book of Acts I have focused solely and squarely on that which was written concerning the experience and encounter with the Holy Spirit in the upper room, as well as the ultimate and final result of Pentecost, which was the fellowship and community that was established by the Holy Spirit. In all reality—if we are to truly understand that which took place on the day of Pentecost—we must come face to face with that which the Holy Spirit sought to establish within and upon the earth, which was in fact more than just a church with four walls. THE CHURCH WITHOUT WALLS! THE CHURCH WITHOUT BORDERS! THE CHURCH WITHOUT BOUNDARIES! THE CHURCH WITHOUT LIMITS!
I sit here this morning and I can’t help but come face to face with the absolutely incredible reality that what we find in the second chapter of the New Testament book of Acts is more than simply the manifestation of the person and presence of the Holy Spirit, but the creation of a new community within and upon the earth. There would be and there have been those who have spoken concerning the church and that the church has somehow replaced Israel as God’s chosen people within and upon the earth. There would be those who have adopted what has been properly coined as “Replacement Theology”—a theology that holds to the deception and farce that the living God has somehow rejected the nation and people of Israel, and that the church is now the new Israel upon the face of the earth. I have to take a moment and wholeheartedly refute the premise of “Replacement Theology,” and emphatically declare that the living God has never and will never forsake the nation and people of Israel. In all reality, what other nation and what other people have not only been ransomed and redeemed from slavery and led through the wilderness in order that they might be brought into their own land—a land that is flowing with milk and honey? What other nation has been exiled and taken into captivity, and dwelt in captivity and exile for seventy years only to be restored and brought back into the land by the sovereign hand and move of God? What’s more, is what other nation has been scattered over and upon the face of the earth over a period of almost two millennia only to be brought back and restored to the land once more by a sovereign hand and move of the living God? To even make the declaration that the church has somehow replaced the nation and people of Israel would be to undermine and refute the truth that not only has the Lord ransomed and redeemed the nation and people of Israel from slavery and bondage after four-hundred and thirty years in the land of Egypt, but the Lord has also restored and returned the people of Israel to their own land—not once, but twice after being scattered over the face of the earth in exile. Over a period of seventy years the nation and people of Israel were scattered within and throughout the Assyrian, Babylonian and Medo-Persian empire, and over a period spanning nearly two millennia the nation and people of Israel were scattered throughout the Roman Empire and throughout the subsequent empires and kingdoms which would rule over that part of the earth—including the Ottoman Empire which ruled and reigned over the earth for an unprecedented period of time before finally being dismantled and stripped of its authority and power over the nations and people of the earth.
With that being said concerning the church not replacing the nation and people of Israel, I can’t help but think about the nation and people itself and consider the fact that when the Lord promised to bring the people into the land—first when making and speaking the promise unto Abraham, and then when speaking the promise unto Isaac, Jacob, Moses, and even Joshua—the Lord declared unto them clearly defined borders and boundaries within and upon the earth. It’s important to note that when the Lord promised to bring the people of Israel into their own land and give unto them the land which was promised on oath to the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, that land had specific borders and boundaries which were marked out and established by the living God. If there is one thing we must consider concerning the nation and people of Israel it’s that when they were given the land which was promised on oath to them by the living God, that land had a very specific boundary to the north, a very specific boundary to the south, and a very specific boundary to the east and to the west. If you consider the words which the Lord spoke unto the patriarchs of Israel, as well as the words which He spoke unto Moses and Joshua you will find that the Lord was very specific concerning where the people and children of Israel would dwell within and upon the earth. We cannot have a discussion about the nation and people of Israel without and apart from understanding the fact that they were a community of people made up of twelve tribes each with their own portion and allotment within the land as a whole. The nation and people of Israel began as twelve sons which were born to Jacob before eventually becoming seventy members of a household which would transition into the land of Goshen during the days when Joseph was second in command in all the land of Egypt. Ultimately and eventually the twelve tribes of Israel would be made up of ten of the twelve sons of Jacob while Levi and Joseph would not have their own portion and allotment within the land, but would instead find Ephraim and Manasseh as having a portion among the twelve tribes of Israel. When the people of Israel entered into the land, and after they had conquered and subdued thirty-one kings within the land, as well as subsequent peoples and nations which were stronger and mightier than they themselves were, the twelve tribes of Israel were each divided a portion and given an inheritance within the inheritance. This inheritance within the larger inheritance had its own border and boundary just as the inheritance as a whole had its own border and boundary. When you consider the nation of Israel, as well as the twelve tribes of Israel, it’s important to note that the inheritance given to the nation of Israel as a whole had clearly defined borders and boundaries, while each tribe of Israel had their own borders and boundaries within the inheritance. This was in addition to border and boundary markers which were given unto the individual families which had their own portion and inheritance within the land. Consider if you will the words which the living God spoke unto Joshua after Moses His servant was dead, and Joshua was now tasked with the tremendous task and responsibility of leading the children of Israel over the river Jordan, and into the land in order that they might conquer and subdue nations and peoples much stronger and mightier than they. Beginning with the first verse of the first chapter of the Old Testament book of Joshua you will find the following words which were spoken unto Joshua the servant of the Lord:
“Now after the death of Moses the servant of the Lord it came to pass, that the Lord spake unto Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ minister, saying, Moses my servant is dead; know therefore arise, go over this Jordan, thou, and all this people, unto the land which I do give to them, even to the children of Israel. Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you, as I said unto Moses. From the wilderness and this Lebanon even unto the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and unto the great sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your coast. There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life: as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee. Be strong and of a good courage: for unto this people shalt thou divide for an inheritance the land, which I share unto their fathers to give them. Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper wither so ever thou goest. This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that you mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success. Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whither so ever thou goest” (Joshua 1:1-9).
When you read the words which are found within this single passage of Scripture you will quickly notice and encounter the reality that when the Lord desired and sought to bring the people and children of Israel into the land which He swore on oath unto their forefathers and patriarchs, He did so with that land having clearly defined borders and boundaries. The Lord spoke very clearly and very succinctly unto Joshua and declared that the border of the nation and people of Israel would stretch from the wilderness of Lebanon unto the great river Euphrates and unto the great sea toward the going down of the sun—essentially the Mediterranean Sea. It is absolutely necessary and imperative that we recognize and understand this, for when the Lord gave the children of Israel the land within the earth, He clearly outlined the borders and boundaries of that land. When the Lord restored and returned the children and people of Israel unto the land after seventy years of captivity and exile, He brought them into a land which continued to have clearly defined borders and boundaries. Even when the living God restored and returned the children of Israel unto their own land during the administration of Harry S. Truman and once more gave them their inheritance among the nations, there were clearly defined and outlined borders and boundaries. You might be reading all this talk and all this language concerning borders and boundaries and wonder how it has anything to do with the day of Pentecost, and even the spiritual body of Jesus the Christ which was established upon the earth at the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. I would dare suggest that there is an intrinsic link between the borders and boundaries of the nation and kingdom of Israel, and even the person of Jesus the Christ during the days He walked upon the face of the earth. If you study the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ you will find that when He walked upon the face of the earth He did so absent and without His omnipresence, which meant that He could only be in one place at a single time. So long as Jesus the Christ dwelt in human flesh and walked among us on the face of the earth, He was limited by time and geography, for He could never be in more than one place at a single time. While the nation and children of Israel dwelt within and upon the earth, they had clearly defined borders and boundaries among the nations of the earth, and the Lord never gave them more than what belonged to them. You will recall that the Lord would not give them that which belonged to Edom (Esau,) nor even the land of Moab and Ammon which belonged to the children and descendants of Lot. The Lord was very specific concerning the inheritance of the nation and people of Israel, and that they would have an inheritance among the nations of the earth at the very heart and center of the earth, but that nation would have clearly defined borders and boundaries. Oh it is absolutely critical and necessary for us to understand this concept of borders and boundaries that marked and defined the territory and inheritance of the children of Israel, as well as the realms of time, space and geography which Jesus the Christ found Himself subject to during the thirty-three and a half years He walked among us in the form of human flesh.
I previously wrote how that which was established on the day of Pentecost was more than simply a church which would occupy four walls underneath one single roof. If you read and study the words which are found in the second chapter of the New Testament book of Acts you will find that that which the very Spirit of the living God established on the day of Pentecost was more than simply a building which would remain behind four walls and under one roof. As you take the time to truly study that which took place on the day of Pentecost you will come face to face with the fact that when the Holy Spirit was released He established a community and fellowship of believers within and upon the face of the earth. What’s more, is that when you read the words found and written in the second chapter of the New Testament book of Acts you will find that the church which the Holy Spirit established on the day of Pentecost in essence was drastically and markedly different from the nation and people of Israel, and how the spiritual body of Christ was noticeably different from the physical person and body of Jesus the Christ. Whereas the nation and kingdom of Israel would have clearly defined borders and boundaries, the early church and community of Christ would have no such borders and boundaries. When the Holy Spirit gave birth to what we have come to know as the church on the day of Pentecost—not only did He do so during the days when the veil was torn in two, thus indicating the glory had been released from the Holy of Holies, and men now had free access to the presence of the living God, but He also did so during days when the borders and boundaries would be removed from the community and people of God which were present upon the face of the earth. While the glory and presence of the living God had clearly defined borders and boundaries in the Holy of Holies—when the veil was torn in two from top to bottom, the glory and presence of the Lord would no longer be relegated and confined to the Holy of Holies, but would be released within and upon the earth. Whereas the nation and people of Israel had clearly defined borders and boundaries among the nations of the earth, the community of believers and fellowship of Jesus the Christ would have no borders and boundaries. That which the Spirit of Christ established on the day of Pentecost within the city of Jerusalem in an upper room would be entirely and completely absent borders and boundaries, and would not be confined to walls and roofs. In all reality, I would dare say that were sometimes allow ourselves to get caught up in the trap of thinking the church exists within and behind four walls and exists underneath one roof. The truth of the matter, however, is that when the spiritual body of Jesus the Christ was established upon the face of the earth, it was never meant, nor was it ever intended on remaining behind four walls and under one roof alone. In all reality, that is what makes the Temple of the Holy Spirit so drastically different than Solomon’s Temple, or even Herod’s Temple, for while both of those did in fact contain four walls and had one single roof, the Temple of the Holy Spirit would not have any walls, nor would it have a roof with which to cover it.
Taking this a step further, it is necessary that we consider the physical person of Jesus the Christ, for while and so long as Jesus walked upon the face of the earth, He was relegated and confined to time and space, for He could only be in one single place at a time. Wherever Jesus the Christ was there would also be the expression and manifestation of the living God and Father who sits upon the throne. Wherever Jesus the Christ was within and upon the earth there would be the divine glory and presence of the living God, for Jesus was indeed and was in fact the ultimate expression of the person and presence of the living God and Father. On the day of Pentecost, however, the promised Holy Spirit would establish a spiritual body of Christ which would no longer be relegated and confined to time and space, nor would it be confined to one single geographic location at a time. When the Holy Spirit gave birth to the church and body of Jesus the Christ within and upon the earth, He effectively removed the limits and borders that confined the physical person of Jesus the Christ, for now the spiritual body of Jesus the Christ was free to move throughout and among the nations of the earth. If we are to understand the events which took place on the day of Pentecost we must understand it as a manifestation of borders and boundaries being removed, as well the constraint of time, space and geography being effectively removed forever. What we find and what we read in the second chapter of the New Testament book of Acts is a wonderful and powerful picture of the borders and boundaries which the nation and people of Israel had surrounding and upon their land not applying to the spiritual Israel which remain upon the earth. On the day of Pentecost there was a spiritual Israel which was formed and created, yet this spiritual Israel would not have the same borders, boundaries and limitations which the physical and natural Israel did. This new spiritual Israel (a new spiritual Israel which again would not replace the original Israel of God but would abide together with it in the earth) would not have borders, boundaries and limitations as the physical and natural Israel did. Oh that we would recognize and understand that when the Spirit of the living God established and created the spiritual Israel within and upon the earth, He did so without any borders, without any boundaries, and without any limitations. The spiritual Israel which would be present within and upon the face of the earth would not have the same limitations which were placed on the natural Israel, and would be free to move within and among the nations of the earth. It is absolutely necessary and imperative that we come face to face with this absolutely incredible and wonderful reality, for to do would dramatically and radically transform our lives and our way of thinking—not only about the church, but also about us as part of the church and body itself.
When we read the words which are found in the second chapter of the book of Acts we must recognize and understand that the church which was established on the day of Pentecost was not only the spiritual Israel of God, but it was also the spiritual body of Christ. As the spiritual body of Christ it would be able to extend far beyond that which the physical person of Jesus the Christ could do who was limited to being in one place at a single time. It’s worth noting and pointing out that at the end of the New Testament gospel written by Mark we find the physical and eternal person of Christ working together with the spiritual body of Christ. In verses nineteen and twenty of the final chapter of the New Testament gospel of Mark we find the following words which close out and conclude the gospel: “So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, He was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God. And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen” (Mark 16:19-20). Pause for a moment and consider how absolutely incredible and wonderful this truly is, for within these words we find the eternal Christ working together with the spiritual body of Christ within and upon the earth. I absolutely love how the sixteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel of Mark ends and concludes, for it does so with the actual person of Christ working together with the spiritual body of Christ upon the earth confirming the word with signs following the preaching of the word. In considering the spiritual body of Jesus Christ which exists within and upon the earth it is absolutely essential that recognize and understand that as the spiritual body of Jesus Christ it could in fact do greater works than even He Himself did, for while He Himself was confined to one single place at a single time, the spiritual body of Christ would not have such limitations and restrictions. What’s more, is that while the physical person of Jesus the Christ would exist within and upon the earth for thirty-three and a half years—and of those years only three and a half would be spent in public ministry—the spiritual body of Jesus the Christ would span countless generations, countless decades, countless centuries, and countless millennia. What’s more, is that while the Romans could torture and ultimately put to death the physical person and physical body of Jesus the Christ, and while the Romans would also torture and persecute the spiritual body of Jesus the Christ, it could never ultimately and completely put to death the spiritual body of Jesus the Christ. As the spiritual body of Jesus the Christ it was no longer confined and relegated to time, space and geography, for it would span generations and centuries, and would move between and beyond geographical borders and boundaries of nations, peoples and kingdoms. Oh how absolutely wonderful and remarkable it is to think about and consider this absolutely wonderful reality that as the spiritual body of Jesus the Christ—not only was and is it made up of many members, but those members have spanned countless generations and centuries, as well as countless geographical borders and boundaries.
I wrote earlier about the responses of the events which took place on the day of Pentecost, and I feel it is absolutely necessary to turn and direct our attention to what took place on the day of Pentecost beginning with the first verse, and tracing it through to the final verse of the chapter. If you begin reading with and from the first verse of this second chapter you will find that when the day of Pentecost was fully come the group of one-hundred and twenty disciples and followers of Jesus Christ—including the apostles of Christ—were all with one accord in one place. It would be on the day of Pentecost when there would be a sound from heaven as of a rushing and mighty mighty wind which would fill the entire house where they were sitting. Simultaneously with the sound of the rushing mighty wind there would be cloven tongues of fire which would appear and sit upon each of them. As a direct result of what took place, each and every one within the upper room would be filled with the Holy Ghost, and would speak with other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. When we think about and consider the responses which took place on the day of Pentecost it’s important to note that it began with one-hundred and twenty being filled with the Holy Spirit and each of them speaking with other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. Pause for a moment and consider the fact that the Spirit of the living God is the ultimate “BILINGUALIST,” for the Holy Spirit speaks the tongue of every nation, every tongue, every people, and every tribe on the face of the earth. Think about the last time you filled out an application for employment and you came to the question whether or not you spoke any other languages, and whether or not you are able to answer that you are able to speak a language other than the original language you were taught and trained. Now think about the fact that the Holy Spirit not only speaks the language of heaven, but the Holy Spirit speaks the language and tongue of every tribe, nation and people which ever existed within and upon the fact of the earth. Consider the fact that within the first thirteen verses we encounter just some of the languages which the Holy Spirit spoke, for the beloved physician Luke wrote concerning those in Jerusalem marveling that the all those who were speaking in foreign languages speaking their own native language and tongue—Parthians, Medes, Elamites, dwellers in Mesopotamia, Judaea, Cappadocia, Pontus, Asia, Phrygia, Pamphylia, Egypt, in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, Cretes, and Arabians. If there is one thing the day of Pentecost proves and reveals it’s that the Holy Spirit has the ability to speak directly to you in your language. One of the most telling and amazing realities about the day of Pentecost is not only that the Holy Spirit can speak any language of any nation within and upon the face of the earth, but also that the living God desires to speak to you right where you are in your own language. In all reality, it must be stated and declared that the living God desires to be understood and known by you, and is willing to speak directly unto you in your own language and based on what you understand. The day of Pentecost brings us face to face with the fact that the Holy Spirit can speak any language every spoken and every language which is still spoken, and has the ability to speak unto you right where you are in your own language. How absolutely wonderful and remarkable it is to think about and consider the fact that the living God desires to speak to you right where you are, and desires that you understand His nature, His word and His works.
The first response we see on the day of Pentecost was that of the one-hundred and twenty in the upper room being filled with the Holy Spirit and speaking with other tongues. The second response we notice when reading this particular chapter is those in Jerusalem being confounded because every man heard those in the upper room speaking in their own language. Luke writes and records how they were all amazed and marveled at the fact that those who were speaking with the tongues of other nations and peoples were Galilaeans, and were speaking in the tongue wherein men and women were born. Furthermore, Luke goes on to write how that which those who were present in the upper room were speaking were the wonderful works of God, and it thus caused all in Jerusalem to be amazed, while some doubted concerning the meaning of this, and others mocked declaring that these were full of new wine. When you come to the fourteenth verse of this chapter you will find the response of the apostle Peter, for He not only stood up and declared that they were not full of new wine, but that what those in Jerusalem were witnessing and experiencing was the beginning of the fulfillment of the prophetic words which the ancient Hebrew prophet Joel spoke in his generation. What’s more, is that you find the apostle Peter speaking unto those in Jerusalem concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was approved by God among them by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by and according to Him in their midst. The apostle Peter would go on to further speak of this Jesus of Nazareth and how He was delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, and was taken, and by wicked hands was crucified and slain, Despite the fact that Jesus was taken and by wicked hands slain, He was raised up God, who loosed the pains of death because it was possible that he should not be holden of it. After appealing to the prophetic words of the prophet Joel, the apostle Peter then appealed to the words which David the king of Israel spoke concerning the Lord always sitting before the face of the living God, for He was on His right hand that He should not be moved. Taking this even further, the apostle Peter would go on to declare that the Lord would not leave the soul of Jesus in hell, nor would He suffer and allow His Holy One to see carrot upon. The apostle Peter would then go on to speak how from the right hand of the Father where Jesus was seated—having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost—Jesus would shed forth that which they both saw and heard. It was this Jesus who had shed forth the promise of the Holy Spirit which God has made both Lord and Christ—this despite the fact that with and by wicked hands He was crucified and slain before being raised from death to life on the third day.
If you continue reading in the second chapter of the New Testament book of Acts you will find that those who heard the words which the apostle Peter spoke were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” To this, the apostle Peter responded and declared unto them that they should repent and be baptized every one of them in the name of Jesus the Christ for the remission fo sins, and shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. What’s more, is that the apostle Peter would go on to declare concerning the promise of the Holy Spirit that it was unto them, and to their children, and to all who afar off, even as many as the Lord shall call. What began with wonder and amazement would transition to doubt and mockery, yet after the apostle Peter finished speaking concerning Jesus the Christ who was crucified and raised from death to life, as well as concerning the promise of the Holy Spirit and the fulfillment of the prophetic word spoken of Joel, and the promise of the Father, many were pricked in their heart and asked what they needed to do. By the time you come to the forty-first verse of the second chapter you will find that those who gladly received the word of the apostle Peter were baptized, and on that same day—the day of Pentecost—there were added unto them about three thousand souls. What so utterly amazes me about the day of Pentecost is that the ultimate response and the ultimate manifestation of the events which took place on that day is the establishment of the body of Christ and the community of believers, for when you come to verses forty-one through forty-seven you will find that even more than three thousand souls being added to the one-hundred and twenty, and even more than one-hundred and twenty being filled with the Holy Spirit and speaking with other tongues, the Holy Spirit established a community without borders and without boundaries and limits. As you read the words which are found in the final seven verses of the chapter you will find those who were baptized—together with those who were in the upper room—continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. What’s more, is that fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles. Even more than this you will find that all who believed were together, and had all things common, and sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men as every man had need. Add to this the fact that they continued daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, and did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. Please do not miss out on the absolutely incredible reality that on the day of Pentecost a community without borders and without boundaries or limitations was created, for the church was never meant to be an institution, nor an establishment, and was never meant to operate within and behind four walls and a single roof. Just as the divine glory and presence of the living God was released into all the earth, so also was the church and body of Christ intended on being released into all the earth. While Jesus the Christ was confined to a single place at a single time, His body which was established on the earth would have all limitations, all boundaries and all borders removed and completely stripped as it was now free to move among nations, tribes, languages and peoples—a reality which would later be seen in the book of Acts when a great persecution broke out during the days of Saul before the Lord encountered Him on the road to Damascus.