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“And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high” (Luke 24:49).

IN THE FINAL DAYS OF HIS LIFE, JESUS PREPARED HIS APOSTLES FOR THE WORK THEY WOULD DO AFTER HE ASCENDED BACK TO HEAVEN. They would be eyewitnesses of His resurrection, and they would be the authoritative proclaimers of His gospel. But He told them not to leave Jerusalem “until you are clothed with power from on high.” This clothing with power began to take place on the Day of Pentecost just a few weeks after Jesus’ ascension. We have a record of it in Acts 2, and that record is crucial to our grasp of the gospel.

In Acts 2, we are told that the apostles began to speak of “the mighty works of God” (v.11). Miraculously, they did this in languages they had never learned, but the greater miracle, no less miraculously empowered, was the content of the proclamation: the saving message of Jesus Christ. The act of “speaking in tongues” facilitated the message that day, and it certainly underscored the authority of the apostles, but the emphasis in Acts 2 is on the content of the preaching. We would seriously fail in our appreciation of this text if we were so amazed by the signs and wonders that we didn’t pay attention to the message the signs were pointing to.

In his sermon, Peter alluded to God’s promise in Joel 2:28–32: “I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh . . . [and] everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” The subject of the sermon was salvation, so we’re not surprised that the hearers cried out, “Brothers, what shall we do?” (Acts 2:37). Peter’s reply was clear: “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” (Acts 2:38). In other words, as you call on the name of the Lord you will receive that which the Holy Spirit has made possible through the miraculously empowered preaching of the apostles: salvation from your sins. So the power that went forth from Jerusalem that day was not the miracles (those lasted only for a while), but the saving gospel of Jesus Christ (Isaiah 2:2,3).

“God hides nothing. His very work from the beginning is revelation — a casting aside of veil after veil, a showing unto men of truth after truth. On and on from fact divine he advances, until at length in his Son Jesus he unveils his very face” (George MacDonald).

Gary Henry — +

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