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Pentecost and Acts 2 – Part 2

December 4, 2007

So what happened in Acts 2 because something clearly happened, something changed and you can’t say it didn’t because it did. I mean Hebrews couldn’t be any clearer about a new covenant, a new testament. Read Hebrews 9:15-17. It is in there.

I couldn’t agree more. In fact Jesus himself testified that it was to come. The argument is not whether or not a new covenant has come. The argument is, what is the new covenant? Is it a new set of regulations about worship to go along with the lifestyle commands of God or is it something entirely different?

That is the point of discussion. Most believers agree that Christians are to live a certain way, in my lifetime the arguments have always come about what is and isn’t acceptable in a worship service.

That brings us back to Jesus. Jesus helps explain exactly what the new covenant is in his closing address to the disciples recorded in John 14, 15, and 16. In 16:7 he tells his disciples that He must go but that this is for their advantage because unless he goes the Comforter can not come. Now if you look at Hebrews 9:15 you see that we can not receive our eternal inheritance unless Jesus died. In verse 17 it says it will only take effect upon his death and in John it is recorded that unless he dies the Spirit will not come.

Now might be a good time to go back a step further. Pentecost is knows to the Jews as the Feast of Weeks. They would count off the days from the Passover until the feast. Now what is interesting is the fact that the Jews understood the Feast of Weeks to be a celebration of the giving of the Law.

The Jews came together at Pentecost to celebrate the giving of the Law of Moses. You see it is recorded in Exodus that the Jews arrived at Mount Sinai after 50 days.

Now read what the writer of Hebrews quotes.

Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will establish a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah, not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt. For they did not continue in my covenant, and so I showed no concern for them, declares the Lord. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws into their minds, and write them on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Hebrews 8:8-10 sited from Jeremiah 31:31-34

So what about this covenant is new? Is it the information, the laws, or is it what will allow us to keep the laws? The newness isn’t the rules of worship, no the newness is what we have received that will allow us to obey the laws.

Now listen to this prophesy about what will take place in the future.

“Therefore say to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord GOD: It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations to which you came. And I will vindicate the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, and which you have profaned among them. And the nations will know that I am the LORD, declares the Lord GOD, when through you I vindicate my holiness before their eyes. I will take you from the nations and gather you from all the countries and bring you into your own land. I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. Ezekiel 36:22-27

Good stuff isn’t it? The problem is nowhere does it say that I will give you a new worship rules. Now this of course makes sense since as I pointed out earlier they didn’t change their worship practices after Pentecost. I could go on and on and show you that this is Paul’s understanding. I mean look at what Paul does in Galatians. He sets up the contrast between law and the Spirit. He specifically contrasts what we have received with what was given at Mount Sinai. Paul says that one is born according to the Spirit and connects us to the promise.

The New Covenant is not new worship regulations, it is the transforming power of the Spirit. I think Hebrews makes this abundantly clear when it says in chapter 9 that the first covenant had regulations for worship and an earthly place of holiness and it goes on to say that each detail was to be exact. But in verse 11 the writer contrasts the first covenant with the new covenant and testifies to the superiority of the new covenant. The rules didn’t change, love God and love your neighbor but the power to love in such an open and honest way did.

The writer doesn’t say now we have a new set of worship rules, he expresses the limitations with the old ones.

Now is this consistent with what takes place in the book of Acts? Is it consistent with Paul’s words in Romans 14? Yes, because what came was not a new worship code but the Spirit of God to reside inside of those who believe. This Spirit is our guide and our seal. Paul tells us that if we live by the Spirit we will honor God with our lives.

It doesn’t matter to Paul if you keep the law as long as you believe in the Messiah because the law wasn’t the problem, our flesh is. In fact most of us still believe in the law, we still look at the ten commandments as God’s expectations for His creation. Why does Peter change his mind about Gentiles? Because they receive the Holy Spirit. Why does Paul not care if Jews continue to keep the Jewish traditions? Because it doesn’t matter as long as you don’t think keeping the law saves you.

What a wonderful contrast that on the day that Jews celebrate the Law God gave us the Spirit. Why do you think Peter quotes from Joel in Acts 2:17-21? It isn’t so he can get to a verse about water baptism. Why do you think John the Baptist said that the one following him was more powerful, he would baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire? Thank God for the new covenant, that of the Spirit not a new list of worship do’s and don’ts.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. December 5, 2007 1:32 pm

    “I will put my spiirit within you.” How could the not see the work of God with fire above them? The disciple speaking in their own tounge. It think the baptistim in acts 2 is more powerful as they recieve the Holy Spirit all the benifits. The indwelling. Gifts. I do think some of them were laying hands on others on that day as they were over joyed. A powerful thing was taking place that day. I do see the words either “I know baptize you in the name of the Father, Son & of the Holy Spirit.” It would have taken to long as over 3000 were added to the church that day.

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