The Original Gospel
[Acts 2:14-40] (Part 1)
A. It seems many are unhappy with the gospel message today, for one reason or another. Some say it is too narrow and excludes too many people; some say it is outdated and simply not applicable or relevant to today's society and culture; others say it is woefully insufficient and unappealing to the masses today. To those who make such complaints, the solution seems to be that we need to change the gospel message to make it less exclusive, more relevant, and more appealing. To those who call for such changes, The Original Gospel is just not enough.
But they are wrong. They are dead wrong. The problem is not in the message it's in the hearers! When Jesus spoke the parable of the sower, He did not include a portion that explained that the defective seed was part of the reason no fruit was being produced; it was always the soil that determined whether or not anything was produced. It is no different today.
B. The problem today is not that The Original Gospel message is now ineffective or irrelevant; the problem is that The Original Gospel is not what is being preached at all! In churches across this country, The Original Gospel message has been set aside and the message of "do whatever is right in your heart" has supplanted it as the "gospel" of today. No longer are the words of the Lord being preached, but many use whatever means they can to draw people in and then preach whatever message they must to keep them there. The Original Gospel is not being preached at all and the masses wouldn't know it if it was preached. When some claim the gospel is not enough, it demonstrates an ignorance of the fact that is not the gospel that failed; it is the programs directed at satisfying the fleshly desires to be filled and entertained and the messages directed at making everyone feel good about themselves while offending none. People who are searching for the truth will not find it there where The Original Gospel is not being preached or practiced.
C. With that in mind, let us look back to the Day of Pentecost when The Original Gospel was preached. Let us look at that message that was preached then and let us compare it to the messages that are being preached today. Let us see what God intended us to preach from the beginning and throughout all time. Let us see what it was that God revealed to man that signaled the beginning of the New Covenant and told the story of how God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believed in Him might not perish but have eternal life. Let's look
I. THIS WAS PROPHESIED [vs. 14-21]
A. The Events Of That Day. When the people who had come from all corners gathered in Jerusalem on that Pentecost day, they had no idea and no indication that it would be any different than those of past years. But it was different! As they gathered together in the midst of the city, they heard the apostles speaking to each of them in his own language and they were amazed confounded as to how this was possible. Because they did not understand what was happening, some supposed that the apostles were drunk. To them, there was no other possible explanation. But the truth far surpassed such simplistic and false explanations. The truth of why and how this happened was the beginning of The Original Gospel message.
B. The Fulfillment of Prophecy.
The truth of how and why these things were happening was that it was a fulfillment of what God had said would come. It was as simple as that. Peter told the audience that it was the fulfillment of the words of Joel, who wrote, And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, that I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your young men shall see visions, your old men shall dream dreams. And on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days; And they shall prophesy. (vs. 17, 18) The Original Gospel message began with the revelation that prophecies of old were being fulfilled. But why?
1. God's Will Accomplished. The miracles and signs on that day pointed to the fulfillment of prophecies written many centuries beforehand that were revealed through man by God Himself. This day's events and the message of The Original Gospel pointed to the fact that God's will was being accomplished. The events surrounding that day pointed to the final bringing in of the plan that God had for man's salvation the accomplishment of all the events leading up to this day, from the prophecies of the Christ's lineage to the attainment of the Promised Land to the fall of the kingdom and the captivity to the promise of the new covenant to the birth, life, and death of the Messiah to the very day that these signs were accomplished.
2. Not An Afterthought. Because this was a fulfillment of prophecy, none could rightly claim that these things were an afterthought, or "plan "B" because something else had failed. This was not an afterthought because this is what God said would happen! Some would have us believe that the church was never the plan of God from the beginning, but an adjustment of plans because man rejected Jesus as the Messiah. But God's word says that this was determined before time began (2 Tim. 1:9). The Original Gospel was a message of the accomplishment of God's will that had been determined before time began. If that is not the message you are hearing, you are not hearing The Original Gospel!
II. IT WAS FOR ALL PEOPLE [vs. 21, 39]
A. A Change in Covenants. From the beginning, the Lord has used signs and wonders to draw the attention of man to something more important, and this day was no different. The apostles spoke in different languages not just to impress the Jews in Jerusalem, but to draw attention to them that a great number might hear the message that was about to be revealed. Many look at these events and point to the miracles themselves as the fulfillment of the prophecy of Joel, but that misses the whole point of the signs! Joel did not simply prophesy of a day that was to come in which miracles would be done; he pointed to the day that these signs would signify the bringing in of the new covenant. Now, it was not just the Jews, but whoever calls on the name of the Lord.
B. The Requirements and the Promise.
1. Whoever Calls on the Name of the Lord. The salvation that was preached in The Original Gospel was not without requirements, as some would have us believe. It has never been a matter of God doing everything while we sit back in our comfortable lives and watch, incapable of moving toward salvation. Quite the contrary: God requires us to do something!
a. Not just Lord, Lord. Some interpret this requirement as simply saying, Lord, Lord and nothing more no obedience required. Not so! And if the message you hear where you are teaches that all you need to do to be saved is to cry out, Lord, Lord, then you are not hearing The Original Gospel!
b. What God has told us is that we need to appeal to the authority of Christ for our salvation. That's what it means to "call on the name of the Lord." It is a recognition that there is salvation in no other name but His (cf. Acts 4:12) and a submission to His commandments. If the message you hear appeals to anyone but Christ for salvation, you are not hearing The Original Gospel!
2. Shall be Saved. The promise to those who fulfilled the requirements was salvation. Those who fulfilled these requirements could look forward to forgiveness of sins and salvation through God and Christ, and it was available to all people. If the message you are hearing does not bring with it the message of salvation through this, then you are not hearing The Original Gospel!
III. JESUS WAS PROVEN BY MIRACLES [v. 22]
A. The Miracles, Wonders, and Signs. Without a doubt, Jesus performed many miracles, wonders, and signs while on this earth. From the first miracle of changing water to wine in Cana (John 2:1-11), to the miraculous draught of fish soon after His resurrection (John 21:1-6), these things done by Jesus were known to all in the surrounding areas. Even His critics recognized the great things He had done even as they plotted how they might kill Him. (John 11:47, 48). Part of The Original Gospel message was the reality of miracles performed by Jesus. If you are not hearing this in the message preached where you are, then you are not hearing The Original Gospel! If these things are explained away as misunderstandings, superstitious beliefs, or natural occurrences, then you are not hearing the message of The Original Gospel!
B. Offered as Proof of His Claim. (John 20:30, 31) These miracles, wonders, and signs were done not just to draw attention to Himself, but to give proof to the claim He made to be the Christ, the Son of God. He condemned Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum for not having repented at the mighty works that had been done (Matt. 11:21-24). John tells us plainly that he recorded these miracles that we might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. Without a doubt, these miracles, wonders, and signs gave evidence to all who witnessed them that this was no ordinary man. God gave ample evidence and proof that Jesus was the Christ by these things. He would not do that with a false prophet or one who was not what he claimed to be. If you are not hearing these miracles, wonders, and signs offered up as evidence to the claim that Jesus was the Christ, then you are not hearing the message of The Original Gospel!
IV. JESUS WAS CRUCIFIED [v. 23]
A. By Those Who Heard.
Part of The Original Gospel included the conviction of those who heard it of their sin in crucifying the Lord. Peter and the apostles did not beat around the bush, nor did they try to invent some kind of excuse for their behavior (blaming it on their parents or a "mob mentality" defense); they preached the plain truth that those very ones in the audience had been guilty of murdering an innocent man the Son of God! Those preaching The Original Gospel knew that the only way it would be effective would be to convict the people of their sins. If you are not hearing a message that convicts the hearers of their sin, but a message that seeks to soothe the consciences of all, you are not hearing The Original Gospel!
B. As Foreseen By God.
What should also be noted is that when they spoke of the crucifixion of Christ, they did not try to present it as an afterthought of God a sort of "Plan B," if you will. This was something, as Peter said, that was done according to the purpose and foreknowledge of God. God had planned for man's salvation even before time began, and this was simply a part of that plan, tragic as it was. By the crucifixion of Jesus, a sacrifice for our sins was offered up to God and all men now had the opportunity for salvation. If the message you are hearing does not proclaim that this was the eternal plan of God, then you are not hearing The Original Gospel!
V. JESUS WAS RAISED [vs. 24-31]
A. Raised by God.
The truth that Jesus was raised from the dead by God is only further testimony to the claim that He was who He claimed to be: the Christ and Son of God. God would not raise one who was a false prophet or a liar. He was not, as some suppose, in a trance, nor were His disciples deceived. He died with many witnesses present and even His enemies would admit as much. Jesus Himself pointed to the day this would happen when He said, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. John recognized that Jesus spoke of His own body when he later wrote, But He was speaking of the temple of His body. Therefore, when He had risen from the dead, His disciples remembered that He had said this to them; and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had said. (John 2:19-22) To say that He simply slept or that He was in a trance or that His body was taken away by God would be in direct contradiction to the revealed word of God. If the message you hear does not proclaim the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ, then you are not hearing The Original Gospel!
B. As Was Prophesied By David. Again, this was not an event that was unknown to God, nor something that came as a surprise. God knew of this long before these men who put Him to death were even born! David spoke of His resurrection (Psa. 16:8-11) and Peter referred to this as further proof that this man, Jesus, was more than a mere man, but, the Son of God. If the message you are hearing does not point to the prophecies of this event, you are not hearing The Original Gospel!
VI. JESUS WAS REIGNING [vs. 32-36]
A. Raised And Exalted.
The fact that Jesus was raised was part of The Original Gospel message, but we must understand to what position He was raised: the reigning King. Jesus was not merely raised from the dead, He was raised up and exalted by God to His right hand. As Peter had said earlier, God had sworn that He would raise up the Christ to sit on the throne of David (v. 30), and now he tells us that God had received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit (v. 33) that promise made through David. That means He is was raised to sit on the throne and He is now reigning! If the message you hear teaches that Jesus is not now reigning, but will at some point in the future, you are not hearing The Original Gospel!
B. Bringing About This Which You See and Hear.
Peter further states that the fulfillment of this exaltation of Christ brought about the very events that they had seen and heard. The outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the apostles that Pentecost day was a further fulfillment of the words of Jesus Himself, who had told them that after He had departed, the Holy Spirit would be sent to them and they would then be guided into all truth (John 16:5-13). Again, we find that these events were the fulfillment of prophecy, but this time it is the words of Jesus Himself that are found to be true. The outpouring of the Holy Spirit was not a sign of their salvation, but a sign of the bringing in of the New Covenant and the spread of salvation to all men. If the message you are hearing is not promoting the idea of this being a fulfillment of the very words of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, then you are not hearing The Original Gospel!
VII. FORGIVENESS IS AVAILABLE [vs. 37-38]
A. They Sought an Answer.
To the honest in heart on that who heard The Original Gospel, they wanted to know what they had to do to remove the guilt of their sins. They were convicted in heart and sought an answer to their situation. Peter answered! Peter did not say, "Nothing! God has taken care of it all!" He did not say, "Well, God chose some of you to be saved, but the rest are just out of luck and you can't blame God." Peter answered their question! Peter gave them the way that would bring forgiveness of sins. If you are hearing a message that says we do not have to do anything towards salvation (or cannot), then you are not hearing The Original Gospel!
B. The Requirement: Repentance and Baptism.
As much as some want to say nothing can to be done towards our own salvation, Peter said that something was necessary. Listen to his response: Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (v. 38) Peter, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, said that they had to do something. If the message you are hearing says that you do not have to do anything or cannot do anything because of your depraved nature, then you are not hearing The Original Gospel!
Friends, the message that was preached on that Pentecost day so many years ago is the one that brought 3000 souls to obedience and salvation on the same day. There was no softening of the message and no appeal to fleshly desires to get them to heed the words. They simply preached the gospel to the lost the ones that needed to hear it and the honest ones responded positively to it. If we are not preaching the same message today as The Original Gospel, then we will not save one soul. Not one! It doesn't matter how many people follow after anything different, if it is not The Original Gospel, then its end is death and eternal destruction, Let that not be you!
Why not respond in the same way they did then? Won't you, too, repent of your past sins and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins? Will you come?
By Steven Harper
Go to Part 2
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