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The Church's Birthday The Church's Birthday

The Church's Birthday

Devotions

When I was a boy, I would eagerly count off the days until my birthday. This wasn’t because I was in a hurry to be one year older; it was because I wanted presents. It is customary for people to receive gifts on their birthday, and the church was no different. The day of Pentecost marked the beginning of the church, the day Jesus fulfilled His promise to send the one He called the “Advocate” (sometimes translated counselor or comforter) and “the Spirit of truth” (John 15:26).

People witnessed the descent of the Spirit upon the assembled church through audible and visible signs. There was a sound like that of a violent wind and what looked like tongues of flame that separated and rested upon each of the disciples. They began to speak about God in foreign languages (vv. 1–4). The sound attracted the attention of those who were visiting Jerusalem “from every nation under heaven” (v. 5). They were amazed to hear the disciples speaking their native languages (vv. 6–12).

Jesus promised that the coming of the Spirit would empower the disciples to tell others about Him (Acts 1:8). The effect upon Peter was evident as he stood boldly and explained that what these visitors were seeing had been predicted by the prophet Joel (vv. 14–16). Peter preached the gospel, emphasized the resurrection, and called them to turn to Christ. “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins” (v. 38). He promised that all who did so would also receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

>> The first church exhibited outward signs of their inner transformation as believers. Describe the characteristics of the early church included in the closing verses of this chapter, verses 42–47. Do you think today’s church reflects the passion and dedication of those early believers?

Pray with Us

As we read the second chapter of Acts, we marvel at the passion for God shown by these early Christians and the power of the Holy Spirit in their lives. Lord, may we obey your Spirit and live according to Your Word.

BY Dr. John Koessler

Dr. John Koessler, who retired as professor emeritus from Moody Bible Institute, formerly served in the division of applied theology and church ministry. John and his wife Jane enjoy living in a lakeside town in Michigan. A prolific writer, John’s books include Dangerous Virtues: How to Follow Jesus When Evil Masquerades as Good (Moody Publishers), The Radical Pursuit of Rest (InterVarsity), The Surprising Grace of Disappointment (Moody), and True Discipleship (Moody). John is a contributing editor and columnist for Today in the Word.

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