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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Allen Jackson » Allen Jackson - Leading The Jesus Initiative - Part 2

Allen Jackson - Leading The Jesus Initiative - Part 2

Allen Jackson - Leading The Jesus Initiative - Part 2
TOPICS: Lessons from Peter

It's an honor to be with you today. We're gonna continue our study on "Lessons from Peter". We're gonna focus on the Book of Acts. In Acts chapter 1, Jesus ascends back to heaven. Acts 2, the Holy Spirit's poured out and there's a tremendous change in Jesus's followers. The arrival of the Holy Spirit changed everything for them. Through the gospels, the disciples were always trailing the action, asking Jesus for an explanation after the fact. After the Holy Spirit's poured out, they have a response in the moment on the day of Pentecost. Peter stands up in front of a crowd that has been hostile and he begins to quote the prophet Joel and from the Psalms of David. Three thousand people are born again. Open your heart. God's pouring out his Spirit today.

The church desperately needs to believe in the power of God in a new way. We've believed in our traditions, and we've believed in our practices and we've believed in our preferences. And we've believed in the freedom to pursue comfort and convenience and ease. And we've believed in the right we have to be entertained when we go to worship. But we've been very reluctant to talk about the power of God. Because if we've had difficulty or we've suffered or we've had a disappointment or our life has been touched by evil, we have accepted rather passively the notion, "Well, God certainly isn't powerful or I wouldn't have suffered".

Well, Peter has been disabused of that notion already. From the time he was recruited on the shores of Galilea, "Follow me," Jesus said, "I'll make you a fisher of men". He was watching Jesus be rejected, his message be denied. He's watched them be turned away in place after place after place. He was in the courtyard, we looked at that yesterday, when they took his best friend and began to beat him to death. So, when he talks about a resurrected Lord and the power of God, he doesn't think of it in terms of no difficulty. We've had this perverse gospel that all God wants us to be is happy. Now, I'm for happy. I've been sad and I've been happy; happy's more better. But if the goal of your life is to be happy, you will sell your soul and your eternity for temporary things.

God raised this Jesus to life, and we are witnesses of this fact. We are all witnesses. All one hundred and twenty of us. This wasn't done quietly. "He exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and He, Jesus, has poured out what you now see and hear". A living Jesus is responsible for what you are seeing in Jerusalem, he said. Peter is speaking with an amazing boldness and courage. We haven't seen this in Peter. We've known him for three years. I mean, we've seen him do some things, but we've never seen him spouting scripture and quoting prophets and challenge, he didn't have the courage to raise his hand and say, "Yeah, I'm one of Jesus's friends".

And now he's standing in the streets. Verse 34, "David didn't ascend to heaven and yet he said," now he's gonna quote Psalm 110, "The Lord said to my Lord: 'Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.'" How do we explain Peter's scriptural insight? Now, I think obviously it's about opinion. And if you wanna vote with the scholarlies, some of the scholars's approach, help yourself. Verse 36: "Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah". I think it's, honestly it's impossible for us to understand how offensive that sentence is. To stand in the streets of Jerusalem a few weeks after Jesus's crucifixion and resurrection, and to say he was the Son of God, and you crucified him?

I know how hard it is in Jerusalem today just to talk about Jesus. Two thousand years removed. I cannot imagine standing on the streets where Peter was and saying, you crucified the Messiah. "When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and they said to Peter and the other apostles, 'What shall we do?'" I wanna give you a contrast. I wanna take you back about six weeks, because without the contrast I don't think you can really appreciate the courage of Peter and that hundred and twenty people, 'cause I'm quite confident they're standing together.

Again, it's not in your outlines but it is in the book. It's John 19 and verse 14. It was the day of preparation of Passover week. Remember Pentecost is 50 days later, so we're 50 days on the other side of this. It's about the sixth hour and Pilate said to the Jews, "Here is your king". But they shouted, "Take him away. Take him away. Crucify him". Pilate said, "Shall I crucify your king"? "We have no king but Caesar," the chief priest answered. And Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified. And the soldiers took charge of Jesus. There is a tremendous contrast between those two weeks. They're separated by 50 days, but the emotions could not be further apart.

What appears to be the most horrific defeat. Peter and... it's highly probable that that 120 people on the day of Pentecost were in the crowd on that day. When they begin to shout, "Crucify him". And Pilate says, "What would I do with your king"? And the leaders of the people say, "We have no king but Caesar". Now, they're back in that same Jerusalem, and Jesus is gone this time. What appears to be a terrible defeat is transformed into the most remarkable victory. Now, I want you to hear Peter's response. You have it in your notes. It's verse 38: "Peter replied, 'Repent. Repent".

Please note, there is no belief without repentance. Some of us are still trying to live past sin. We committed sin. We were ungodly. We endorsed ungodliness. We cheered for ungodliness. We tolerated ungodliness. And we've put it in the past and we thought, well, let's, we'll let bygones be bygones. That's not the biblical prescription. This isn't like a do-over. This isn't like a new day and a new set of opportunities. "What can we do"? they said. And Peter said, "Repent". Repentance is a change of mind and a change of behavior. I'll no longer do what I've done in the past. I'll no longer participate in what I've participated in. I'll no longer bless what I've blessed. I will choose a new way. "Repent and be baptized, every one of you," every one of you, "in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins".

Again, it's beyond imagination. Fifty days ago, crucify him. And the prescription today is be baptized in his name that you might be forgiven. "'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.' And with many other words he warned them, and he pleaded with them, 'Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.' And those who accepted his message turned the page and were baptized. About three thousand were added to their number that day". Remember what Jesus said as his last words before his ascension is, "You'll be empowered by the Holy Spirit to be witnesses for me in Jerusalem and Judaea and Samaria, to the uttermost parts of the earth". On the day when the Holy Spirit is poured out, the hundred the group of 120 grows to 3,000. I'm embarrassed at our paltry church growth.

I got about five minutes. Can you listen fast? Very next chapter: "One day Peter and John were going to the temple at the time of prayer. It's three in the afternoon. And there was a man there who'd been crippled from birth being carried to the temple gate. They put him there every day". He's a beggar. People on the corners is not a new thing. "When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money, and Peter looked straight at him as did John. And Peter said, 'Look at us!' The man gave him his attention expecting something, and Peter said, 'Silver and gold I don't have. What I have, I give you. In the name of Jesus, walk.' And he took him by the hand and he helped him up, and instantly the man's feet and ankles became strong. He jumped to his feet and he began to walk".

Folks, we're not gonna outthink evil. We're not gonna outwork evil. We will need the demonstrations of the power of God. I have no doubt Peter and John had passed that man many, many times, and they'd never prayed for him. Something's different this day. Certainly, it follows Pentecost. I would submit to you that Spirit baptism is a doorway into a different kind of a relationship with the Lord. Jesus pointed the disciples towards it with a commandment. Their responses certainly are dramatically different. Look at verse 11: "While the beggar held onto Peter and John, all the people were astonished and came running to them". They'd all seen him too, and now he's dancing on the temple mound. "When Peter saw this, he said to them, 'Men of Israel, why does this surprise you? Why do you stare at us as if by our own power or our godliness we've made this man walk?'"

One of the things that we're gonna have to be more careful with is our own selfish ambition. Our own desire for our own ministries. For our promotion. It's very clear that Peter and John and those who will follow their leadership are determined that Jesus be the center of the story, and I believe one of the reasons God hasn't been able to entrust us with greater opportunities and greater demonstrations of his power, is we too quickly step to the head of the parade. Amen. We're willing to be vulnerable and say we're advocates for Jesus; we're ambassadors for him, and that he often answers prayers and he does remarkable things. But the things he does are for his glory and his honor, and not our own. And then he tells them basically the same thing he told them on the day of Pentecost.

Look at verse 16: "By faith in the name of Jesus, this man you see and know was made strong". It's Jesus's name, and the faith that comes through him that has given this complete healing to him, as you can all see. There's a chapter break here. When the story was first written, there weren't chapter breaks. We added those so we could find our place in the text. Same story. The priest and the captain and the temple guards and the Sadducees came up to Peter and John.

While they're speaking to the people, they were greatly disturbed because the apostles were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead. Greatly disturbed. That's biblical euphemism for they're really torqued off. Verse 3: "They seized Peter and John, and because it was evening, they put him in jail until the next day". Cancel culture is not new. And if you're not telling the truth you know about the Lord because you don't wanna forfeit a relationship, you need to repent. You shouldn't be obnoxious or belligerent, and you absolutely shouldn't be violent, but you better tell the truth you know.

They arrested them. They seized Peter and John. It was evening. They put them in jail until the next day. "But many who heard the message believed, and the number of men grew to about five thousand". Wow! Chapter 2, we were at three. Chapter 1, we were at a hundred and twenty. Things were movin'. And he's doing it with the keystone cops! He's doing it with the slow group. He's doin' it with the crew that wouldn't even stay awake and pray with him. He's doing it with the group that denied him. He's doing it with the group that argued over we don't have enough bread, and Jesus is mad at us. In spite of all the things that this, they are not, God is moving to shake the city. He will do it again. He will do it again.

The church growing in great disturbance, frequently through the story of scripture go together. I wanna say it again: The church growing, the name of Jesus increasing in its influence, and great disturbances go together. We have been trained in just the opposite way. If there is any disturbance we should be shut down, be quiet, dial it back, withdraw, build a bridge, accommodate evil. Negotiate away the truth. I don't believe it's a biblical approach. Again I don't want you to be angry or belligerent or violent. I want you to be willing to tell the truth, your truth, what you know about Jesus, what he's done for you. How you know him.

"The next day, the elders and the teachers of the law met in Jerusalem. They had Peter and John brought before them and they began to question them, 'By what power or what name did you do this?' And Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit," Luke is the author of Acts. He doesn't want you to miss the point. Yeah, it's still Peter, but he's different. Now, he's Spirit-filled. He said to them, "'Rulers and elders of the people! If we're being called to account today for an act of kindness," sounds like a discussion we'd have in the public square today. You're mad at us 'cause we help people? "And when we're asked how he was healed, then know this, you and all the people of Israel. It's by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth whom you crucified, but whom God raised from the dead that this man stands before you healed. He's the stone you builders rejected" He's quotin' scripture again. "By which he has become the capstone. Salvation is found in no one else. There's no other name under heaven given by which men must be saved".

We read it in the earlier session. Peter was warming himself at a fire when he heard these questions be put to Jesus. He heard them begin to beat him to death. He heard it. He saw the outcome of it. He wouldn't even raise his hand to say he's my friend, and now he's standing before that same group of people, and he said there is no other name under heaven whereby you can be saved. He's not just pushin' their buttons, he's jumpin' up and down on them. Look at the next verse. "When they saw the courage of Peter and John and they realized that they were unschooled they're ordinary men. They were astonished".

Who are these men? They don't flinch. They're cool under pressure. They know the scriptures. They're ignorant. They weren't trained in the right schools. They don't have ivy league diplomas. They don't have big social media platforms. Nobody cares. But they are courageous, "and they took note that they had been with Jesus". I'll give you the punchline. We gotta quit. Verse 18: "They called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus". Don't you know that even they knew that was futile. "But Peter and John replied, 'Judge for yourselves whether it's right in God's sight to obey you rather than God. For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.'" So they threatened them some more. And they let 'em go. The presence of the Spirit of God in the midst of our lives changes everything. It changes everything. Peter's a fisherman. He's never led large groups.

There's nothing to suggest he's spoken to large crowds. There's considerable evidence that he lacked the courage to confront the people that could end his life. He certainly didn't have the courage to stand up for his friends when his life was threatened. And yet, after receiving the Holy Spirit, that same Peter stands in public and in private and speaking to the most powerful people and says you crucified my friend. And I saw him alive. And I will not be quiet. And I humbly suggest... and I've spent my life in the church. I'm not casting stones. We need to grow up.

So, I wanna close, if you're willing, with an invitation to the Spirit of God in our lives, to say yes to Him without reservation, and for many of us, we'll need to begin with an attitude of repentance because we have mocked and made fun of, and we've had a list of things we wouldn't do that we weren't open to, that weren't necessary for us. And I don't believe that we'll have the freedom we need to believe until we repent of the bad attitudes we have held. We haven't really cared about being ambassadors for Jesus. We thought we had a ticket to heaven, and we could negotiate between here and there. That is the crudest form of deception.

If we don't live for his glory and honor every day while we're here, we won't be welcomed into his kingdom. If you'll stand with me for that prayer, if you're on our campus or you're not, I would invite you to stand wherever you are. I'm not gonna ask you to repeat the prayer with me, but as I pray, you can give your assent to it, or you can stand apart from it. We all understand how to do that. You can close your eyes and daydream about what you're gonna have to eat or what you're gonna do later in the day, and just wait for me to hush, and with a sigh of relief hurry to the car. Or you can take the next moment or two and focus your attention with the Lord. And if you'll give the Holy Spirit permission, he'll begin to bring to mind those places where there are things you need to address later in the day. And then we're gonna invite him into our lives without measure. God willing, we're gonna take another few sessions and keep following Peter along this journey. I wanna grow. I wanna be one of his friends. Let's pray:

Heavenly Father, I thank you for your Word, for its truth and authority and power in our lives, and we come to you this morning in humility to repent before you. Father, forgive us for we have denied our Lord. When there were times we felt it was inconvenient or unpopular or unwise for us to acknowledge that we knew Jesus or that we were friends with those who did, Lord we come this morning to say we're sorry, to repent, to choose a new way, to acknowledge Jesus as Lord of our lives, Lord of all that we are and all that we have, Lord, of every relationship, Lord of every opportunity. We would rather please Him than gain any other opportunity that is available to us under the sun. Forgive us today. Forgive us when we have been unwilling to cooperate with your Spirit, when we felt your promptings or your directions or your invitations and we hurried past them.

We made excuses or we accused others to make us feel better in our own stubbornness. Forgive us. I thank you that in your mercy and grace you look upon us, that you're a God who redeems and restores and renews. I thank you that through the blood of Jesus our sins are forgiven, that through faith in Jesus, we are made new creations, that Jesus is the author and the completer of our story. And Holy Spirit, we welcome you into our lives today without measure, without limit, without hesitation. We need your help. We see a great conflict unfolding before us and we recognize how frail we are, and we ask for your help today. Give us understanding hearts, listening ears, eyes that can see. I thank you for what you'll do. We thank you that you're raising up a people who have a desire to honor you, to walk uprightly before you, to stand on behalf of Jesus of Nazareth in this generation, and we offer ourselves today as living sacrifices. Here we are. Send us. In Jesus's name, amen.

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