Growing in the Knowledge of Christ (7)
The road to knowing Jesus wends from “Aha!” to “Wow!”
But Peter, standing up with the eleven, raised his voice and said to them, “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and heed my words. For these are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:
‘And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God,
That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh… Acts 2.14-17
A Pentecost “Aha!”
It is instructive to imagine ourselves among that early band of believers, as they spilled out of the upper room into the crowded streets, proclaiming the “wonderful works of God” (v. 11) in languages they had never learned.
Surely some of them, like the people to whom they proclaimed the Good News, wondered what was happening? What was this all about? Jesus had promised them power to bear witness, and now here they were, witnessing for Jesus with all their might. Was this the promise they’d been seeking during those ten days of continuous prayer?
Imagine Peter, the leader of this troop of witnesses, moving among them to encourage and join his words with theirs, as he began to hear the crowd’s explanation for these events: “They are full of new wine” (v. 13).
I’m sure Peter knew all along that this was the promise, come finally to power in the lives of God’s people. Suddenly, this unschooled fisherman, the one who had denied Jesus three times before a servant girl, now stood boldly before the multitudes, to connect the dots for them about the promises of God, these strange tongues, Jesus, the last days, the salvation of the Lord, and the hope of the world.
Peter’s sermon on that first Christian Pentecost is important for many reasons, not the least of which because it demonstrates the promise of Christ’s restoration, and of His initial vision for Peter (cf. Jn. 21.15-19; Matt. 16.13-19). More to the point for our purposes, however, Peter’s sermon shows us how as we concentrate deeply, and compare and combine what we’re learning from God’s Word, connecting Scripture with people and events, our lives can open wide horizons of vision, hope, commitment, obedience, and joy.
This is that!
The Holy Spirit gave Peter the understanding he needed to combine various Scriptures with great power. Beginning with the promise of the Spirit from Joel 2, Peter immediately turned the focus on Jesus of Nazareth. All those hearing him had heard of Jesus – of the many “miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him” (v. 22). They also knew that, less than two months previous, Jesus had been crucified by the Romans. Peter made it personal: “you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death” (v. 23).
But God, Peter insisted, raised Him from the dead, just as He had promised in Psalm 16 (vv. 24-28). Peter declared that he and his friends had experienced Jesus alive from the dead, and that now Jesus, exalted in glory (Ps. 110), had sent the Spirit through them to proclaim the day of salvation to the world (vv. 33, 34). Now seated at the Father’s right hand, Jesus is “both Lord and Christ” (v. 36), and all who call on Him can be forgiven of their sins and know the salvation of the Lord (v. 39).
Peter connected his understanding of Scripture to the surprising events unfolding in the city of Jerusalem. The words of Joel and David played out in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. He, from His place in glory, had poured out His Spirit onto His people, just as He had promised, so that now those words were happening them as well. What the crowd in Jerusalem was seeing and hearing was the firm connection between the promises of Scripture, the redemptive work of Jesus Christ, and the actions of His faithful people, filled with the Spirit, as they bore obedient witness to the Lord.
Peter and the others in that upper room moved from the “Aha!” of Biblical insight and understanding, to the “Wow!” of Scripture as living and powerful, and proving itself in their lives.
Getting to Wow!
When we’re studying Scripture – concentrating on a passage, comparing and combining that passage with others – our interest is not merely in understanding the Bible more clearly. The Bible was given to equip and move us for lives of good works in the world (2 Tim. 3.15-17). It’s one thing to experience that very exciting “Aha!” of having discovered something new and brighter in the Word of God. It’s quite another thing for that “Aha!” to be proved and validated in a “Wow!” life of obeying the Word, growing in Jesus, and becoming a conduit of His grace to the people around us.
The “Wow!” that awaits us in our daily lives is, like Peter and those first believers, knowing Jesus alive in us, and at work through us, to make known the Good News of salvation for a perverse and dying world.
Every “Aha!” moment – great or small – of concentrating in God’s Word, comparing and combining Scriptures to gain new insights and clearer understanding, should lead to some next step of obedience, which we take by faith. As we take that step, the Spirit engages us from within, engendering faith and leading us to experience courage beyond our courage, wisdom beyond our wisdom, skill beyond our skill, power beyond our power, love beyond our love, and joy that comes only from knowing Jesus, being transformed into His image, and living for His Kingdom and glory (1 Thess. 2.12).
And when we live that way, connecting what we’re learning about Jesus from His Word with our calling from Jesus in our lives, Jesus increases in and through us. Then we know the “Wow!” of being new people, Kingdom citizens and ambassadors, and men and women who can turn our world rightside-up for Jesus Christ.
1. Why must every “Aha!” experience of Scripture lead to some “Wow!” moment in life?
2. What does this suggest about how we ought to be reading and studying Scripture?
3. The essence of the “Wow!” we seek is Christ at work within us, willing and doing of His good pleasure (Phil. 2.13). What is our role in getting to that (Phil. 2.12)?
Next Steps – Preparation: Jot down any “Aha!” experience you have during your time in the Word, whether it’s large or small. Seek the Lord for one way that “Aha!” may become a “Wow!” in your life today. Then prepare yourself in prayer – like the disciples in that upper room – to work out your salvation in obedience today.
T. M. Moore
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This is part 2 in the series, “Know, Love, Serve”. All installments in this series may be downloaded for further study by clicking here.
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.