“The future is as bright as the promises of God.” This quote by Adoniram Judson is a testimony to his clear faith despite the challenges God permitted in his life. If you haven’t read this Desiring God ebook on Judson’s life you would do well to budget time to do so. “How Few There Are Who Die So Hard!” is the subtitle given to this biographical sketch of this pioneer missionary to Burma. I’ve read To The Golden Shore one of my favourite impactful biographies and I commend it to you!
As the Apostle Peter seeks to explicate the events of the Day of Pentecost, he cites Joel 2:28-32. This Minor Prophet with a major message, brings to the people of God an urgent call to repentance which follows progressives waves of ‘natural disasters.’ God had permitted wave after wave of grasshoppers to destroy the crops of Judah and to leave the nation gasping for God’s help in desperation. As Joel guides the nation to repentance, he anticipates a bright future filled with the promised Holy Spirit whose person and work would evidence God’s plan of salvation.
Let’s look at Acts 2:17-21 which is Peter’s quotation of Joel 2:28-32. Note the certainty of God’s promise, the confirmation of God’s presence and the clarity of God’s plan. If this sounds like a sermon outline, it just might become one some day as I tackle this subject in my preaching schedule.
“In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people.”
Read and reread the New Testament. I’ve come to the conclusion through my study that the last days began with the resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ and will continue until Christ returns a second time. “We’re living in the last days,” I’ve heard a variety of preachers proclaim. “Of course,” I mutter to myself, “we’ve been living in them since Christ returned to heaven!”
While not sidetracking too much consider three texts which support this premise.
Hebrews 1:1,2 “In the past God spoke….but in these last days He has spoken to us by his Son…”
I John 2:18,19 “Dear children….you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour.”
2 Timothy 3:1 “…There will be terrible times in the last days…. Paul then unpacks the characteristics and urges Timothy ‘Have nothing to do with them.’ If these characteristics were for a future date, why urge Timothy to avoid contact?? I leave you to ponder this and other evidence.
In the last days (beginning with the Day of Pentecost) God promised to pour out His Spirit on all people, not just Jews, not just the residents of Judah but on Samaritans and Gentiles as the power of the Spirit moved Christians to witness in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth.
What would be the evidence of the Spirit’s moving?
- Prophesy by both men and women. Capacity to speak truth which would strengthen, encourage and comfort others. Guided by the Spirit, Christians may speak truth into the lives of others and be empowered by the Spirit to do so.
- Powerful Spirit-led activity confirming the proclamation of the message. Visions and dreams would be granted as God supernaturally gains the attention of people to who He is and what He is doing.
- Powerful Spirit-empowered experiences of regeneration. Gospel preaching will be accompanied by powerful results as the Spirit of God convicts and converts sinners.
What a season of harvest this will be! This Day of Pentecost which celebrated harvesting was only the beginning. As Peter preached one sermon–think about it–one sermon–the Spirit moved in power and 3000 were converted. Jesus had preached many sermons yet only 120 were clear followers as He returned to heaven. This was definitely the beginning of a new era. The Comforter had come! The Spirit of truth had arrived! The Spirit of Christ was launching His ‘spotlight ministry’ (an illustration cited by Dr. James Packer), as He focused the attention of hungry hearts on the Saviour, the ONLY Saviour, Jesus–who is called the Christ!