Acts 2:32-33, "This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses. Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear."
This morning, actions or events can be the manifestation of a more profound and deeper cause. Many times, the actions or circumstances around the event are such - perhaps quite overwhelming - that we fail to consider or even realize what the root source of it is. For example, our country today seems to face an overwhelming financial crisis. No matter where you go, people talk about it, politicians argue about it, and many in the country suffer as a result of it. Yet, due to the large volumes of data being reported about the crisis, most do not consider the root cause or have forgotten what led to the mess in the first place. Too often, people today get caught up in looking at the effects without considering the cause(s) of those effects. Today, if anyone wants to address the current economic instability, one must first instill a discipline of fiscal responsibility and an understanding of what debits and credits really are. Solutions that fail to address the root cause will be more like band-aids being applied rather than veritable solutions for the country.
Our study verses are near the end of Peter's discourse on the Day of Pentecost. While Peter preached on this day, he and the other apostles experienced great manifestations from heaven. While they spoke, we read in the earlier verses about the heavens being opened, fire descending upon them, and them speaking in a way (cloven tongues) that allowed people in Jerusalem from different nations to all hear them speak in their native tongue. As Peter continues his speaking, he plainly states that what they are experiencing is a fulfillment of part of Joel's prophecy, and in that prophecy, Peter shows us - who were not there - just how mighty the day must have been. The stars of the sky being shaken with the sun and moon appearing in ways contrary to the daily norm.
Peter then begins to give a long and glorious discourse about the suffering of Christ, its purpose, and most importantly its accomplishment. These statements about the awful suffering and majesty of Christ will eventually lead the hearers to be pricked in the heart to the point of submitting to baptism and entrance into the ranks of God's faithful in His church on earth. In his discussion on Christ, he quotes from David in the Psalms and applies David's prophecy directly to Christ. In doing so, Peter teaches a powerful point about the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Not only was it heralded by prophecy in the Old Testament, but Peter shows it to be the foundation point for preaching in the New Testament. Without the resurrection, there is nothing. However, Peter draws the line further in our study verses. Further, I believe, than most people think about on a regular basis.
By stating simply and succinctly that God raised up Christ (Verse 32), Peter then relates the effects of this great event. The first effect of the resurrection is that Christ was then exalted - in bodily form - to the right hand of God. Though always the Son and in the bosom of the Father, now He sits in heaven as the resurrected and ascended God Man. Without the resurrection, we would not have Christ raised up bodily to the right hand of the Father, showing forth His power over death, hell, and the grave by that lofty position. The next effect is the promise of the Holy Ghost, realized by His comforting presence. Every time the Holy Ghost testifies and comforts one of God's dear ones, we have ample and manifest proof that Christ is raised from the dead. However, the last of the three effects from verse 33 is the one that grabs our thoughts the most this morning.
By Christ's resurrection, Peter asserts you witness what you see and hear today. In other words, those glorious signs in the heavens would not have happened had He not been raised. Those wonderful words that the men there heard would not have been possible without the resurrection. Further still, Peter would have had nothing to say that day without the reality of the resurrection. Everything that day would have been non-existent without it. Now some might say, "Well I've never heard the preacher preach in tongues before. I've never seen signs in the heavens while the preaching service happens." Indeed, most - if not all - of us have never witnessed such a thing, but consider what Peter said. It was not only the things they saw but heard as well. While they heard the sound of the rushing mighty wind, they also heard those men's voices too.
We today may not have as many "visuals" as they did, but those things that they heard apply just as equally. Now some might inquire, "Preacher, what are you driving at?" Simply put, consider your experience in the house of God. Have you ever considered how amazing it truly is for a man to hold a congregation's attention for an hour or longer with the end of the sermon being just as interesting and engaging as the beginning if not moreso? Naturally speaking, that is rather unheard of. What about the words themselves? Though they may have been the same words you have heard before - i.e. same subject matter - yet they do not seem old or tired. Amazingly enough, we can hear the same types of subject sermons, and yet, the story of Jesus Christ and Him crucified never grows old. How do these things that we hear occur?
Peter attributes that "heard blessing" during preaching to the reality of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Whenever we listen to a man preach and lifted up above himself, he goes to places in ways that the natural mind cannot comprehend. From both the pulpit and the pew, I have marveled at the sight and the experience. The sermon seems to raise up and walk, and the subject appears to "grow" on the preacher. For example, I have preached things and ended up with points and going to places that I had no idea beforehand that I would do. I have felt moved in ways both preaching and being preached to that did not come from the volume of the words or the animation of the experience. Rather, they came from something more profound. That which I heard seemed to have force and breath. Though I could not attest to literally hearing the sound of a rushing mighty wind in the house, I can attest to repeatedly feeling and hearing (by faith) the wind against the heart and very soul of my being.
Friends, sometimes those circumstances in the house of God lift us up to the point that we absolutely want to revel in the experience itself. Granted, it is profound and abundantly refreshing. However, the glory of the experience should not make us focus on only this effect. Peter says the cause of the things we hear and see during preaching are directly shed forth from the power of His resurrection. When we see men carried above themselves in preaching and taking us there along with them, we should lift up the head to rejoice in the manifest reality of a risen Saviour! Were He not raised, we would not have those times. Because we have those times, we know that He is raised! Peter said to those on Pentecost that they could know of a certainty that Christ was raised because of their experience.
Whenever I hear people downplay the importance of public worship and sitting under the sound of the gospel, I always stand amazed at the mindset. No better proof of the resurrection of our Lord can be found than by seeing the effects of His life in our worship. As the songs take flight and the prayers ascend in all humility and meekness, we see the life of Christ in the power of the experience and force of the events. Then, as the minister ascends through the thoughts of the discourse, the whole scene begins to melt away to see the glory land. When, by faith, our hearts perceive Him whom we love, we may not have any outward signs like they did on Pentecost, but friends, we hear things and by faith see things that shed forth the abundant proof that He is alive, risen, exalted, and testified unto by the Holy Ghost. May we treasure the times that we have in the house of God in the things we hear and see, but may we never lose sight of the cause. When someone asks, "Did you have a good day in church?" A very fitting response when we do would be to say, "Christ is still alive and raised to His glory in heaven."