Several weeks ago our Saturday morning Bible Study group began the study of the book of Acts. We all know this book as the historical record of the beginning of the Church and then its expansion throughout the known world of that time as Paul conducted is missionary journeys. In the very beginning of the book Jesus told the apostles that the Holy Spirit would be coming and that they were to be His witnesses throughout the world. We then see the selection of the apostle Matthias to replace the traitor Judas. Then we see a spectacular event occur by the sudden appearance of the Holy Spirit just as Jesus had said. This appearance was a noise like a violent rushing wind. It filled the whole house where they were and then appeared to them as tongues as of fire that rested on each one of them. At this point the Bible says they were filled with the Holy Spirit and folks, when that happens, there is change that takes place in one’s life that becomes obvious to everyone around them. And so it was then.
The Bible says that they begin to speak with other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. Now there have been many attempts to make this into something mystical, super-spiritual, or something other that what it really was. This was a miracle of the Holy Spirit that was not for the benefit of those speaking but for those who were hearing. The passage goes on to say that those listening were hearing them speak in their own language so they could understand what they were saying. I have no idea how many languages or dialects that were present here but apparently they were numerous. Can you imagine being able to hear someone speak in German, French, or Spanish but you hear it in English. And that without an interpreter, but straight from the mouth of the speaker. This is exactly what was going on that day and there were other there that began to mock them and accuse them of being drunk. But Peter speaks to their assertions when He stands to preach his famous Pentecost sermon. And this is where I want to spend some time.
Peter stood with the other eleven and began to address those present that were from Judea and those who lived in Jerusalem because he was speaking to those Jews that were thee for the Pentecost celebration. He explained that they were certainly not drunk because it was too early in the day but there was another explanation for what was happening. He then that it was the fulfillment of prophecy that was spoken by Joel many years before and quoted the Old Testament passage. At this point he began to preach his first sermon emphasizing who Jesus was and is; the risen and exalted Lord and Christ. And he brought home to them that they are the ones that nailed Him to a cross by the hands of the godless Romans who put Him to death. Peter concludes his dissertation in verse 36 of chapter 2 and it reads like this. “Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ-this Jesus whom you crucified.” What follows after this is the topic of tonight’s post.
The very next verse says “Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brethren what shall we do.”” Something wonderful begins right there and still continues today. That is the convicting power of the Holy Spirit. It is proof of the power of the preaching of the gospel. I love those words “pierced to the heart” because I still remember the day it happened to me. After hearing the gospel numerous times the Holy Spirit in His timing used His gospel arrow to pierce my heart. For the first time, as an eleven year-old boy, I truly realized that I was a sinner and was helpless on my own. I repented and put my faith and trust in what Jesus did at the cross. I may not have understood everything at that time but I knew that He made a change in my life. And I have never gotten over it.
It may seem trivial to some but one of things that saddens me the most today is there doesn’t seem to be much evidence of being pierced to the heart. I can’t count the times I have been in worship services and heard a great gospel sermon preached yet there was no movement of any kind by anybody. And I wonder why that is. Is the convicting power of the Holy Spirit been diminished? Are people’s hearts so hard that the gospel arrow can’t penetrate it? Or is the gospel so watered down by the messenger that there is no power in it. Could it be there is so much of the world in our churches that we have become satisfied with the status quo? Maybe a combination of all of these things or even something else I haven’t mentioned.
I realize there have been all kinds of programs introduced to reverse this trend but it seems like nothing is working. We’ve moved away from traditional hymns of worship to a different type of music that so much of it doesn’t seem to have any message to it at all. We divided our congregations into traditional and contemporary segments based on our ages. We have compromised on various parts of God’s Word and have not taken a stand for the infallibility of it. If God said it, it is so. Period. We have even changed Sunday School in many churches to more life application stories that actual study expository study of God’s Word. And I still don’t see much “heart piercing”. I heard someone say the other day that the church has turned inward and is just ministering to itself. Outreach has become a thing of the past. No “heart piercing’ can happen that way.
It seems to me that we need to get back to the simple basics of our faith. We need to confess our sins so that we can then be used to be God’s instruments for sharing His love to the lost world around. We desperately need to spend more time on our knees in our private prayer closets and more time on our knees in the corporate environment. I guess the best way to put it is that we need revival! The real question is “Do we really want it?” God help us to have that desire again! We need our own hearts pierced again.