Save Yourselves

Wednesday, April 8, 2015, 3:00 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “No Less.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Acts 2:1-41 (Selected vv. ESV).

Made Fun Of

Before Jesus left this earth to return to the Father, he told his followers to wait for the Holy Spirit, and that when the Spirit came upon them, they would be his witnesses to the ends of the earth. After Jesus left, many of his followers met together constantly in prayer while waiting for the promised Holy Spirit. Then, the day came when the promise was fulfilled. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began supernaturally declaring the wonders of God to the people in their own languages, as the Spirit enabled them.

Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?”
Some, however, made fun of them and said, “They have had too much wine.”
~ vv. 12-13​

When we follow our Lord Jesus Christ in obedience, and we are filled with his Spirit, and we go forth in doing what he has called us to do, as the Spirit enables us, we will be met with varied responses. Some folks may immediately be encouraging and supportive of us. Others may want to know more, and so will be inquisitive and will be interested to listen to what we have to say, while others may mock us, i.e. make fun of us, and will judge us falsely, perhaps by their own lives, experiences, and/or by human standards and traditions of men.

Their Defense

Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. These people are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning! No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:

“‘In the last days, God says,
I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
your young men will see visions,
your old men will dream dreams.
Even on my servants, both men and women,
I will pour out my Spirit in those days,
and they will prophesy…
And everyone who calls
on the name of the Lord will be saved.’
~ vv. 14-21​

Many people say we should not defend ourselves when charged falsely. They use as their support, for this teaching, that Jesus did not open his mouth when brought to trial. Yes, there were times when that was true, but it wasn’t all the time. Jesus opened his mouth plenty of times in his ministry to defend his disciples and himself, and also during his trial he spoke words of defense on his own behalf (See: John 18-19). The apostle Paul dedicated some of his letters to the churches to the defense of his ministry, as well, mainly because his opponents were trying to discredit the gospel of Jesus Christ through making attempts to discredit Paul’s ministry, and they were trying to lead the children of God away from the true gospel to a false gospel. So, when truth is at stake, there are times when truth must be defended against the lies, which is one of the reasons we are given the armor of God. Yet, our defense should be full of grace, seasoned with salt (a preservative against corruption).

Peter immediately came to their defense. He refuted the charge that they were drunk on wine, and then he went on to explain what had really just taken place. This was prophesied by the prophet Joel (See: Joel 2:28-32). So, the “last days” must include the Day of Pentecost, the time since then, up to the present, and beyond, until Jesus returns. What this means for us is that this should be our present reality. When we are baptized of the Spirit of God in regeneration, and we are given the Spirit of God to indwell and empower us from on high, we, as the body of Christ, should be operating in the Spirit in prophesying, and in possibly also receiving dreams and visions from the Lord (as parables, perhaps). I know the Lord has given me many dreams and visions as allegories (parables) to show me how the Word of God is to be applied to today’s world and/or how prophecy of scripture is being fulfilled in our present time. Yet, not all will prophesy, and not all will see visions or dream dreams, for we are all gifted in different ways (See: Ro. 12; 1 Co. 12; & Eph. 4).

Cut to the Heart

Then, Peter spoke with the crowd about Jesus. He reminded them of Jesus’ miracles and of his crucifixion, but he also told them of God’s sovereignty over it all. And, yet he also reminded them that they were responsible for putting Jesus to death. But then he told them that God raised Jesus from the dead. After that he told them of David’s prophecy concerning Jesus, and how Jesus was the fulfillment of that prophecy, and how he was now exalted to the right hand of God, and how he had poured out his Holy Spirit upon the people on this day in which these events occurred. Then he declared that God had made this Jesus, whom they had crucified, both Lord and Christ. He was their promised Messiah. (See: vv. 14-36)

When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”

Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.” ~ vv. 37-39​

Some people build a whole doctrine around Peter’s words here in v. 38 with regard to his placing baptism (by water) as an apparent prerequisite to receiving forgiveness of sins. I would caution against that, for what might seem the obvious interpretation, at least in our English translations, is not supported by other scriptures. For instance, there were those who received the Holy Spirit before they were baptized (with water), so obviously water baptism is not a requirement for receiving the Holy Spirit (See: Ac. 10:47).

There are many explanations for why Peter did that. Some say that water baptism was so closely associated with their decisions to believe in Jesus that, in this instance, he coupled them together. Nowhere else in the New Testament, that I am aware of, is water baptism taught as a prerequisite to receiving the Holy Spirit, whom we receive when we are born anew of the Spirit of God. Repentance, though, is taught consistently as a prerequisite to forgiveness and to receiving eternal life with God. Baptism (by water) is an outward symbol of an inward faith, and is symbolic of our death to sin, and our being resurrected to new life in Christ. When we go through the waters of baptism, we publicly identify ourselves with Jesus Christ in his death and resurrection, and thus we make testimony of that fact that we, too, have crucified sin in our flesh, and that we have been born anew of the Spirit of God.

The Plea

With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day. ~ vv. 40-41​

Who was “this corrupt generation”? It was not a bunch of rebellious teenagers. It was not the people out in the world who had no clue about who Jesus Christ was. It was those who denied and crucified the Lord. And, who were they? They were God’s chosen people, and they were the chief priests and the elders (the spiritual leaders) of the temple of God. So, Peter was telling the people to save themselves from this corrupt generation, i.e. to separate themselves from them and to come out from among them. They would save themselves not only from being led astray by these false shepherds of the people, and from potentially partaking in their sins, but they would also save themselves from the judgment of God (destruction) which was to come upon them because they had rejected Jesus Christ as their Lord and Messiah and had put him to death.

So, is there a spiritual application of this situation and teaching to us today? I believe there is. I believe the Jewish religion at that time can be paralleled over to institutional religion today. In both cases, it is not the Spirit of God who is leading the people, but it is man-made religion based upon man’s rules, philosophies, morals, values, and in this present day, marketing schemes for how to build big businesses which attract the people of the world. When we are taught to come out from the world and to be separate (unlike the world), that also goes for the ungodly and worldly institutional church which, in and of itself, is not the church, but is an organization of human origin and is a corporation (business) created by humans and for human goals and purposes for drawing in large crowds of people to their businesses. They market themselves as the church, and within their organizations we may find segments of the true church, the body of Christ, but we should not confuse these organizations with the body of Christ, for they are not one and the same.

So, if we are to save ourselves today from this corrupt generation, we should look not only to the corruption out in the world, and in our own homes (via TV and the internet, in particular), but we should look within the walls of these institutions called “church” which are denying Jesus Christ by their teaching and by their practices and are crucifying him all over again by their killing of the true gospel in favor of a social gospel which appeals to human flesh. I believe Jesus Christ is calling his true church to come out of these institutions (Babylon), which are in bed with the government and have superseded the word of God with the teachings and marketing schemes of human beings. And, I do believe he is calling us out so that we don’t share in her sins (See Rev. 18:4-5), and so we don’t also share in her punishment.

But, this first begins with our own personal relationships with Jesus Christ and with us submitting to the cross of Christ in willingly allowing the Lord Jesus to purify us of all that is ungodly, and to choose to walk no longer according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit; no longer gratifying the desires of our flesh, but living holy lives pleasing to God. Then, I believe, our eyes will be open to all the corruption around us, and he will make us sensitive to what needs to be eradicated from our lives or that from which we need to separate.

In closing, I am reminded of the words of Paul here:

“I hope you will put up with me in a little foolishness. Yes, please put up with me! I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him. But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the Spirit you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough” (2 Co. 11:1-4 NIV).​

No Less / An Original Work / March 19, 2012

I can do no less than praise You,
Lord, for all You’ve done for me.
You died for my sins to save me,
So I would be set free.
I adore You! Lord, I praise You!
Jesus, Savior, King of kings!
You provided my redemption.
Your grace has pardoned me.

I can do no less than serve You.
Lord, Your witness I would be,
Telling others of Your love,
And why You died on that tree.
Tell of how You gave of Your life,
So from sin we’d be set free,
So we could worship You forever,
And live eternally.

I can do no less than love You,
Lord, for You have first loved me.
You gave of Your life so willing,
Because You cared for me.
Turn from my sin! Obey freely!
Live for You each passing day.
Read Your word, and follow Your lead,
Lord, as I humbly pray.