Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day. Acts 2:41
My husband and I are back in the process of a church search. For some of you, your church has been your lifelong home. For others, you know all too well the difficult path of church searching. We spent the last seven months trying out a church and realized it just wasn’t the right fit. Great preaching and friendly people but there were a number of pieces missing that we didn’t see being resolved any time soon. We left on friendly terms as we began our journey to the right home.
And this search led me to think about the first church. That fateful day of Pentecost when 3,000 souls turned their hearts and lives over to Jesus when the Holy Spirit was delivered to Earth. There could’ve been more. Others stood in the temple that day and heard the sound of the violent wind. They heard the Jews from every nation speaking to each other in their native tongues. But they hardened their hearts.
Some however, made fun of them and said, “They have had too much wine.” Acts 2:13
The 3,000, selected by God, were urged by Peter to recognize what had just occurred. He quoted the prophet Joel in explaining how the Holy Spirit would be poured out just as it had happened. He reminded the Jews of David’s words when he spoke of God’s promise to fill them with the joy of God’s presence. When Peter had his brief history lesson the 3,000 asked, “Brothers, what shall we do?”
Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.” Acts 2:38-39
He answered with the message of the Gospel. And he went on to plead with them to abandon their corrupt generation. Imagine. 3,000 people all at once starting on their new beginning. It must’ve been glorious!
But their baptism wasn’t the end of their stories. What came next was an intense learning period. They “devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship.” (v2:42). They ate together, worshipped together, studied together, prayed without ceasing, worked together to help those in need. And they multiplied.
You don’t get the impression from reading about the first church in Acts that a bunch of individuals were saved then when to their own homes and began an intensive self-realization study. Or went about their work day as though nothing spectacular just happened. No, their common goal was to spread the news of Jesus Christ dying for our sins. Remember, they spoke in many different languages. So, they were preparing to go back home to make even more believers. Preparing to go do difficult work. That first church was all about discipleship. I wonder how many of our churches can truly say the same? I haven’t been a member of one yet. But it’s what I’m looking for now.
The Spirit of Christ is the spirit of missions and the nearer we get to Him, the more intensely missionary we must become.Henry Martyn
The act of baptism, confessing our faith in Jesus Christ and receiving the Holy Spirit, is typically a public affair. It’s the starting point of our new beginning. But after that one time event we call on the power and strength of the Holy Spirit to fill us continually for one mission – to be in service to God. Those first 3,000 believers would need the Holy Spirit to continue on their mission. They would most likely encounter adversity, opposition, violence, and yes, success. Beautiful success.
We should all celebrate the day of Pentecost, which comes on the 7th Sunday or 50 days after Easter Sunday (June 5, 2022). For the Old Testament Jews, it represented the giving of the Law to Moses. But the new covenant, for all the world to partake, saw Jesus enter our lives. And after Jesus’ foretold crucifixion He gave us the Holy Spirit on Pentecost. On that day 1000s of years ago, yet another promise was fulfilled by God. His Spirit came to live in all of us, permanently. And we were commissioned into His service.
As my faith and biblical knowledge has matured, my list of “must haves” for my new church has been honed. I want a church that is biblically strong, always pointing me to Jesus, a joy-filled body of believers, and one whose primary goal is to create well-versed and confident disciples. I hope you will pray for us in finding such a place.
The modern church itself needs a new beginning. As individuals, may we be spurred to greater expectations of our Christian communities. And may we seek out ways to draw each other together in unity as our forefathers in Christ did on that day of Pentecost.