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One of the earliest TV game shows was “To Tell the Truth.” The show featured a panel of four celebrities attempting to correctly identify which of 3 contestants was truly who he said he was. So the show would begin with the 3 contestants each identifying themselves as the same individual — “I am Sam Jones”. The moderator would then read a brief statement describing some unique occupation or experience of Sam Jones. The true character was joined by two imposters who pretended to be that same central character. The celebrity panelists questioned the three contestants; the two imposters were allowed (if not encouraged) to lie, but the central character was sworn “to tell the truth”. The panelists voted at the end of the show secretly for #1, #2 or #3. Then the moderator concludes by asking “Will the real Sam Jones please stand up.”

How do you prove your identity? We live in the age of identity theft. What type of authentication can you offer that you really are who you say you are? You might point to your birth certificate; your social security number; your driver’s license; your passport – all documents that might lend some degree of credibility. Someone arrested just this past week because they were using the credentials of a dead man – caught because they had the wrong eye color. You might point to the testimony of those who know you personally: your parents, your family, your neighbors, your co-workers.

As we continue this week to reflect on the miracle of Pentecost – the coming of the Holy Spirit – keep in mind the primary mission of the Holy Spirit = to testify to Jesus Christ and exalt Him.

How can you be sure that Jesus of Nazareth is who He claimed to be? How can you be sure that the only path to fellowship with the eternal God is by becoming a disciple of Jesus Christ? How can you be sure that repentance of sins and faith in Jesus Christ will grant you the free gift by the grace of God of forgiveness of sins and eternal life and a rich inheritance in glory? It all comes down to the authentication of the person of Jesus Christ. Who is He really? Who is this Jesus of Nazareth? Who did He claim to be? Who do you recognize Him to be? Who does God say that He is?

[Last week: The reaction and explanation of the Jewish crowd of these Pentecost events]

What made it difficult for the Jews to believe that Jesus was the Messiah?

– Humble beginnings – born in a stable; came from Nazareth

– Was opposed by the religious hierarchy and establishment

– Did not establish a political kingdom that was impressive and domineering

– Ended up being crucified = a humiliating death fit only for criminals


What are we to make of this impressive and powerful event – this speaking in known foreign languages of the mighty deeds of God?

A. (:14a) Authoritative Interpretation by the Chosen Apostles of Jesus Christ

“But Peter, taking his stand with the eleven, raised his voice and declared to them:”

Had to raise his voice to be heard by the large crowd – if 3,000 responded, you can imagine the huge crowd that must have assembled; no microphone system – just some strong lungs

Here we see the ministry of the chosen apostles beginning; once more Peter functioning as spokesman for the group; This is the first sermon of the Christian era – gives us insight into a number of key elements of preaching – we will see that Christian sermons must be:

– Authoritative proclamation — Today’s culture shies away from any type of authoritative declaration — speak forth, pronounce – not everyday speaking but more of a formal and public discourse; to speak one’s opinion plainly – required boldness – especially in the face of potential persecution by the Jews

– Consistent with the experience of the preacher; no hypocrisy; must walk the talk

– Biblically based – quite a number of different texts used by Peter – yet also characterized by reasonable argumentation

– Christ centered – especially keying on the crucifixion and resurrection

– Application focused – requires a response from the hearers

B. (:14b) Attention Getting of the Target Jewish Audience in Jerusalem

“Men of Judea, and all you who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give heed to my words.”

So easy for people to miss the point of God’s object lessons – despite clear revelation

C. (:15) Absurdity of Natural Explanations Exposed

“For these men are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only the third hour of the day;”

9 AM = the hour for prayer in the temple for the Jews during this important religious feast; would not be found drunk at this time

Blaiklock: Scrupulous Jews drank wine only with flesh, and, on the authority of Ex. xvi. 8, ate bread in the morning and flesh only in the evening. Hence wine could be drunk only in the evening.

Longenecker: Unfortunately, this argument was more telling in antiquity than today.

Man’s wisdom always falls far short of explaining the ways of God – yet man is quick to offer his wild explanations – anything is better than the truth which makes one accountable to God – cf. the Darwinian explanation of origins – No design involved, just chance mutations – that is how we developed from some simple cell that originated from who knows where – what kind of explanation is that?? Yet people readily accept it over God’s revealed explanation

Control of the Holy Spirit vastly different from losing control to a drunken state of inebriation


A. (:16) Understand the Message of the OT Prophet Joel

“but this is what was spoken of through the prophet Joel:”


“Yet even now, declares the Lord, Return to Me with all your heart, and with fasting, weeping and mourning; and rend your heart and not your garments. Now return to the Lord your God, for He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, abounding in lovingkindness and relenting of evil.” (2:12-13)

The message is one of certain future judgment; judgment that will be far more devastating than the historic foretaste of the locust plague – Karen was telling the story the other night of driving across Texas and encountering a horde of tarantulas – all over the ground – over a mile of them – not a pleasant sight – let’s not get a flat tire here

Yet the message is one of the mercy and grace of God if we will but repent

The focus is going to be on the outpouring of the Holy Spirit as we shall see

B. (:17a) Understand the Timeframe of the Last Days = Messianic Age

“’And it shall be in the last days,’ God says,”

Has the Messiah come to earth? We are in the last days!

I John 2:18 – whole Christian era is characterized “the last hour” by John; we are waiting for the wrap-up of God’s program for the nation of Israel – does not seem that way to us in 2010

1 Tim. 4:1 – “But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons”

1 Peter 4:7 “The end of all things is near”

Piper: Are we living in the last days? Now let me answer the first question by quoting several biblical passages. Hebrews 1:1–2, “In many and various ways God spoke of old to our fathers by the prophets; but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son.” 1 Peter 1:20, “Christ was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest at the last of the times for your sake.” 1 Corinthians 10:11, “These things happened to them as a warning, but they were written down for our instruction, upon whom the end of the ages has come.” In all these texts the “last days” or the last times or end of the ages came when Jesus came. The coming of the Messiah was the beginning of the end—the beginning of the “last days.”

Longenecker: God has inaugurated, Peter proclaims, the long-awaited “last days” here and now, and we know this because of the reinstitution of prophecy. Other signs, to be sure, were part of Joel’s vision, but Peter does not stress them. His emphasis is entirely on prophecy as the sign of the inauguration of the last days. Even though he might have had his own personal expectations, Peter leaves all else for God to work out in the Messianic Age that had been inaugurated.

You have prophecy playing a significant role in the foundation of the church; then there will be a renewed emphasis on prophesying during those final days leading up to the Second Coming of Jesus Christ – it is the outpouring of the Holy Spirit – demonstrated here in tongues speaking on the day of Pentecost – that makes possible this prophetic movement that distinguishes this new era of God’s working = the last days = the Messianic Age

C. (:17b-18) Promise of the Universal Outpouring of the Holy Spirit in Those Days –

Eschatological Promises in Anticipation of National Repentance and Restoration

“That I will pour forth of My Spirit upon all mankind; And your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, And your young men shall see visions, And your old men shall dream dreams; Even upon My bondslaves, both men and women, I will in those days pour forth of My Spirit And they shall prophesy.”

(Joel 2:28-29)

“It will come about after this

That I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind;

And your sons and daughters will prophesy;

Your old men will dream dreams,

Your young men will see visions.

Even on the male and female servants

I will pour out My Spirit in those days.”

Time reference – Acts 2 at Pentecost = partial fulfillment

“this is that” – not referring to entire paragraph from Joel

Complete fulfillment right before Second Coming

Look at Is. 61 as quoted by Christ in Lk. 4:21

Promise of the Spirit associated with New Covenant

“pour out” – like a torrential downpour on a scorched and thirsty earth

– No limitation as to gender

– No limitation as to age

– No limitation as to economic class or status

Stedman: Peter’s explanation is very simple. This, he said, is what Joel declared would happen. It is, therefore, neither unexpected nor unexplained. It is what Joel predicted. The key to this passage from Joel is the phrase, all flesh. “I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh.” If you read the prophecy as it occurs in the second chapter of Joel, you will find that, before this passage, the prophet had predicted that the Lord would visit his people. He would come to them and would live in their midst. Then, as the prophet puts it, “afterward” (after this visitation) “I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh.” The contrast is between the visitation of God to Israel, and the pouring out of the Spirit upon all peoples everywhere — Gentiles as well as Jew. The emphasis of this section is that now the good news about Jesus Christ is to go out to the Gentiles as well as the Jews. Up to this point it had been confined to the Jewish nation. Jesus had said more than once, “I have come only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel,” {Matt 10:6, 15:24}. But he had also said, “Other sheep have I which are not of this fold; these also I must bring that there may be one flock,” {cf, John 10:16}. Now Peter announces that the time has come when God would pour out his Spirit upon all flesh, Jews and Gentiles alike. Not only all people everywhere, but all kinds of people — young men, young women, male and female. “Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions.” Note the emphasis upon youth. God is saying that in this age of the Spirit, leadership, effectiveness, and power will not be limited to grey hairs, but also young men and young women shall speak and lead — shall see visions and prophesy. Even servants, menservants and maidservants, obscure people, insignificant people, upon them God would pour out his Spirit; and they would prophesy. All classes are affected by this. . .

It is important also to notice that in this quotation of Joel there is no mention at all of tongues. Is that not strange? Peter says, “This is that which was spoken of by the prophet Joel,” but Joel does not mention tongues. Instead he refers to another gift of the Spirit, the gift of prophecy. Prophecy is the ability, in power, to declare the Word of God, to tell forth the Word of God. It will be manifested by young men and old, even servants and obscure people. They shall be equipped by the Spirit to tell forth the Word of God with power. That will be the mark of the age, he says. The emphasis is not upon tongues at all, not even upon gifts, but upon the Spirit who gives the gifts. The age will begin, Peter says, with the pouring out of the Spirit. It will end, Peter indicates, by the sun being turned into darkness, and the moon into blood. . .

Wiersbe: Peter did not say that Pentecost was the fulfillment of the prophecy of Joel 2:28-32, because the signs and wonders predicted had not occurred. However, Peter was led by the Spirit to see in the prophecy an application to the church. “This is the same Holy Spirit that Joel wrote about. He is here!” Such an announcement would seem incredible to the Jews, because they thought God’s spirit was given only to a few select people (see Num. 11:28-29). But here were 120 of their fellow Jews, men and women, enjoying the blessing of the same Holy Spirit that had empowered Moses, David, and the prophets.

D. (:19-20) Promise of Cosmic Signs Before the Day of the Lord

“And I will grant wonders in the sky above, And signs on the earth beneath, Blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke. ‘The sun shall be turned into darkness, And the moon into blood, Before the great and glorious day of the Lord shall come.”

(Joel 2:30-31)

“I will display wonders in the sky and on the earth,

Blood, fire and columns of smoke.

The sun will be turned into darkness

And the moon into blood

Before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes.”

Has not happened yet; cf. Joel 2:10

Had earthquake this week – but not these types of cosmic signs yet

Some people claim that such events were fulfilled back at the time of the crucifixion when the earth became dark for 3 hours – Again that was a prefiguring but not the ultimate fulfillment of this prophecy which is directly connected to that eschatological day of the Lord yet future

E. Promise of Deliverance to Those Who Repent and Call on the Lord –

Leads to Application

“And it shall be, that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

(Joel 2:32)

“And it will come about that whoever calls on the name of the Lord

Will be delivered;

For on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem There will be those who escape,

As the Lord has said,

Even among the survivors whom the Lord calls.”

Tremendous promise: Rom. 10:8-13 – salvation available to all; you cannot argue that you are doomed because you are not one of the elect; Matt 7 – some will call on the name of the Lord in spirit of hypocrisy and self righteousness; you must humbly call in repentance and genuine faith;

Passage leads right into the urgency for world missions

Piper: In the Old Testament the Spirit of God is the presence of God in the world to reveal himself by some action or word. Therefore when Joel says that God will pour out his Spirit on all flesh, he means that God will draw near to men and women and make himself known and felt in a powerful way. There is a great difference between perceiving a lake at a distance and being immersed in the lake. So there is a great difference between experiencing God as a distant object of knowledge and being immersed in his presence. The picture of a worldwide pouring compels us to think of being soaked and saturated and swept along by the Spirit of God. Joel wanted his readers to anticipate an unmistakable flood-tide of God’s presence.

When God draws near to a person by his Spirit, he does so to reveal himself. He aims to be known as God, not as a psychic phenomenon or some indescribable fantasy. Therefore when he pours himself on us by his Spirit, he stirs up in us true images and conceptions of his beauty and power and mercy and truth and holiness and greatness, and he quickens our affections to respond properly to all that we see. It is unthinkable that a person could be, as it were, soaked by the presence of the infinite and holy God and not be moved deeply. If you are not often moved deeply by the self-revealing presence of the Judge of the world and the Lover of your soul, then pray for the fulfilling of Joel 2:28 in your experience, and set your gaze firmly on God’s beauty in Scripture.


(:22a) Call for Attention: “Men of Israel, listen to these words:

Remember the function of the Holy Spirit: to glorify Jesus Christ

A. (:22b) Jesus – Attested to by God with Miracles and Wonders and Signs

“Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know—“

Kent: The works of Jesus on earth substantiated that Jesus is the Messiah and Lord. By miracles (dunamesi, deeds of great power viewed here as supernatural), and wonders (terasi, acts which produced wonderment and awe among the beholders) and sign (semeiois, deeds and words which served as credentials or proofs of his person and mission), Jesus had shown that he was sent of God.

Bock: Peter details what God did through Jesus. God accredited him, showed him to be victorious, gave him authority, and calls those who hear the gospel to respond to him.

2 Cor. 12:12 – note how Paul pointed to God’s divine validation of the apostles

B. (:23) Jesus – Not Invalidated by the Manner of His Death —

Crucified by Godless Men in Accordance with the Sovereign, Prophetic Plan of God

“this Man, delivered up by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death.”

Suffering and humiliating death of Jesus Christ was no surprise to God or stumbling block to His prophetic program regarding the Messianic promises

Lloyd-Jones: Now the apostle’s argument is that the events on the day of Pentecost would not have happened were it not for those facts. Were it not that our Lord had risen from the dead and appeared to His disciples, nothing would have happened. Peter was claiming that this Jesus of Nazareth is the only begotten Son of God and that such a claim is proved by His resurrection from the dead. . . Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection were fulfillments of prophecy. This was the basis of Peter’s message, and I suggest to you that it is unanswerable. . . He is a living God who gives revelation, gives knowledge, and imparts information.. . Peter also made this striking point: In those revelations that God gave to the prophets, He was revealing that He has a great plan and purpose with respect to this world. That is the message of Christianity.

C. (:24) Jesus – Attested to by God by Legitimately Raising Him from the Dead

“And God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power.

Kent: Peter was well aware that most of his audience, though willing perhaps to admit the miraculous deeds of Jesus, would reject his messiahship because he had been executed as a criminal. Therefore, he showed from Psalm 16:8-11 that Messiah’s death was included in the will of God and was predicted in Scripture (even though men who killed him were not excused from guilt for they were called “wicked”).

Stott: “Agony” means literally “birth pains”, so that his resurrection is pictured as a regeneration, a new birth out of death into life.

MacArthur: Because of His divine power (Jn 11:25; Heb 2:14) and God’s promise and purpose (Lk 24:46; Jn 2:18-22; 1 Co 15:16-26), death could not keep Jesus in the grave.


Peter’s audience was faced with a crucial choice after hearing this first Christian sermon. Did they believe that Jesus was truly the Messiah, the Son of God, the Lord of all – crucified and now risen from the dead. Did they believe that Jesus told the truth in the claims He made about coming from heaven and returning to the Father to send the Holy Spirit? Did they believe Peter’s explanation of this phenomenon of Pentecost and the pouring out of the Holy Spirit? If so they must respond in repentance and faith to the truth of the gospel.

We are called to take this same message of the person of Jesus Christ to a world that largely has no expectation of a coming Messiah; to a world that is lost in darkness and sin; to a world that desperately needs someone to stand up and tell the truth that is powerful to save. How can we who know the Savior keep quiet? Will the real witnesses to the true identity of Jesus of Nazareth please stand up and proclaim the truth!