The Promise

" 'For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself.' v.39

Peter delivered a message from God, casting a vision of hope, but without comforting people in their sin, and compromising with their contemporary culture. This is PREACHING 101. It is a far cry from what passes for preaching today, and the church would do well to put up with nothing less.

"And with many other words he solemnly testified and kept on exhorting them, saying, 'Be saved from this perverse generation!" v. 40

Prior to the filling of the Holy Spirit, Peter was a mess. After the filling of the Holy Spirit, Peter was a messenger. Big difference. The Holy Spirit was not sent just to comfort people overwhelmed by a messy world. God knew it was a "perverse generation." He sent The Spirit to transform His people into messengers who delivered hope to a perverted world.

Note to self: Stop pulling out your "shock face" every time you see something perverted. You are wearing it out, and missing the point. God isn't shocked by what is going on around you. He expects you to do something about it. PRAY!

Peter exhorted the same people who had once intimidated him. The transformation of Peter from a mess to a messenger was the result of the filling of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit was not an addition of a liquid additive Peter was to splash out, or an emotional experience, he was to conjure up. The Spirit of Jesus Christ came to dwell in Him, permanently. Jesus had promised this would happen.

"I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever;" - Jesus, John 14:16 NASB

The various versions of the Bible refer to The Spirit as the Advocate, Helper, Counselor, or Comforter, but they all agree on one thing. HE WILL BE WITH YOU FOREVER! Good to know.

This was a change in how The Spirit ministered to people prior to Pentecost. The Holy Spirit was not invented or created at Pentecost, the church was. The Spirit is eternal. He is equal to The Father, and The Son. He is not the junior partner in The Trinity. He is God. Glen Beck is wrong. The Trinity essential to Christian doctrine. Chrome is an option on a car. The Trinity isn't an option, but the Law of Gravity that keeps the car on the ground. Every time I hear Glen Beck say he doesn't believe in The Trinity, but he still considers himself a Christian, I want to drive my car into a tree. But I digress.

The Spirit was manifested in power and Presence through out the Old Testament. God's Presence came upon specific people, for specific tasks, for specific periods of time. The examples are numerous, but Samson will do. Great power was released through Samson, but he remained a man with great flaws. When The Spirit was on him, he was a force of nature, but when The Spirit departed, he was unable to control his own nature. This only happens...EVERY TIME!

Peter's experience of the filling of The Spirit was not a sensational, Samson episode. It was a transformational explosion of God's power being released through the same man who had always promised more than he could deliver. The Spirit of God turned Peter from a dud into dynamite.

Now, when Peter went off, he was going to reveal more of God than he revealed of himself. He was going to be guided and filled with a fear of God, more than bullied by the fear of man. This filling of The Spirit was an infusion of courage, and an initiation in intimacy with The Risen Christ, that would never leave him or forsake him. Jesus was only a prayer away. The Spirit made good on the promise of The Son. The result?

"A man who is intimate with God will not be intimidated by man." Leonard Ravenhill

'So then, those who had received his word were baptized and that day there were added about three thousand souls." v. 41

I love these two little words, when they appear in Scripture. "So then." Too many times after a sermon is preached, the bewildered, after hearing the befuddled, respond with, "So what?" Spirit-filled preaching is more than the dispensing of interesting information, with academic accuracy, correct grammar, precise pronunciation, concluded within the time allowed for it. It brings results.

The message is not delivered, until it has been received. Delivery is only half of the process. The receiving of the message is the other component. Often people will pray for the preacher to deliver the message. More often, prayer should be offered up to God, for The Spirit to anoint the voice of the preacher and the ears of the listeners. God intends for a message to be delivered AND received.

No doubt, Peter was delivering the message God gave him. Prior to the filling of the Holy Spirit, Peter was a mess. After the filling of the Holy Spirit, Peter was a messenger. Big difference. The Holy Spirit was not sent to comfort people overwhelmed by a messy world, but to transform them into messengers who delivered hope to the world.

The promise of hope remains a concept until it is received. Praying for people to receive the message of God may be one of the most essential pieces of an order of service. It must not be crowded out. People have not gathered just to hear The Word, but to receive The Word. If it lands on deaf ears, words will have been spoken, but lives will remain unchanged.

Pray for your preacher. He needs it. You need the practice. Don't forget to pray for your own ears to hear what he says. At 63 years of age, I am discovering that my ears are getting larger, but my hearing is not improving. Just ask my wife. Dana is using two little words more than ever before, in our marriage. I am not so fond of hearing, "I said." Repeating what she said the first time, is becoming a major part of our communication. I guess hearing aids are in my future.

When a Spirit-filled preacher delivers The Word of God, there is hope. When people receive The Word of God, they not only hear it, they respond to it. The preacher is the steward of God's message. The people are servants to God's message. This is how the church began, and this is how the church must go grow.

Preachers who deliver only what their people want to hear, don't always give them what God intends for them to obey. When the preacher is more afraid of the people in the pew, than The Author of the message, fear of man chokes his voice, and the people lose their fear of God. Peter delivered the mail, and the people opened their hearts to it. The result? Three thousand converts in one day. Message received.

Prayer improves the preaching of the messenger, and the hearing of the listener. Peter's preaching was rooted in prayer, and released by the power of The Holy Spirit. When The Spirit filled Peter, he was transformed from a man marked by anemic, phony bravado, to a man with a blood transfusion for courageous living. When Spirit-filled preaching reached the ears of the people, they received it.

Prayer promises to be the greatest hearing aids a preacher could ever give to his listeners. If preachers want their people to receive The Promise, they will...