All of Scripture is God-breathed and correct, and it is all useful for the purposes God has given it to us for (2 Timothy 3:16). This calls us to reject the idea that, for example, the “red-letter” portions of the Bible are more right than other sections. One can see, though, how certain chapters/sections provide critical highlights of the story. If you needed to pick only ten chapters of the Bible to know, to base the start of Christian discipleship on, Acts 2 (link) would need to be on that list.
Why would I count this chapter so important?
This chapter recounts the origin of the church. True, Matthew 16:18 contains Jesus declaration that He will build His church, but that’s where we find the building plans. Here’s where we see Him do the ground breaking.
In the groundbreaking, in the birth of the church here at Pentecost, we see:
1. The church starts off with unified followers of Christ. You do not have a church by yourself. It starts with a gathering of people who are committed to the same thing. In this case, the same person, Jesus Christ.
2. The church has always had preaching. It has not always looked and sounded the same as it does in Baptist churches today, that much is certain. However, a portion of the church’s existence consists in teaching and understanding the life and Resurrection of Jesus. This includes, as you see in Peter’s sermon, explaining and considering what Scripture has already said.
3. The church involves events and actions that the rest of the world will openly mock. In this case, as the power of the Holy Spirit is shown in the gift of tongues (more in a minute) the people question: Are these people drunk? To be drunk was to be foolish—it showed more than just a momentary slip-up, it was a mark of someone not wise and not worth listening to. It is to be expected that we be mocked by the world.
4. The church must remain aware of our history. Peter here presents not only the immediate past events of the crucifixion but goes all the way back into the Old Testament. He must know these events so that he can recount them in his message. We must never intentionally neglect our own history.
5. The church exists solely because of the power of God to establish and sustain it. We come to this passage and we see that the church does not start because Peter and the Apostles are highly persuasive. Rather than that, the church is birthed because God provides the ability to speak in the languages of the people. That is what the gift of tongues is in Acts: functional ability to testify to the work of God in a language not naturally one’s own. The church, if left to its own power, would cease instantaneously. Only through the Holy Spirit can the church exist and sustain.
6. The church must allow new converts to become a part of itself. While it is appropriate to both ensure that a commitment is real and to develop a new fellowship when it is practically impossible to only be one, it is not the goal of the church to make multiple churches just for fun. We ought to strive to build unity and grow together in fellowship rather than separation.
7. The church exists both for its own and to reach out into the world. The disciples are together in unity and out in public spreading the truth. This two-fold nature of our purpose cannot be escaped.
Today’s Nerd Note: My list of 10 Chapters would be: Genesis 3; Exodus 20; Isaiah 53; Psalm 136; Matthew 25; Luke 2, 22; John 1, 20; Acts 2; Romans 8. Obviously, that leaves a lot out. You’d want to start quickly into the next 10. Which of those would you leave out? What would you add?