We are familiar with the scripture passages in the Gospels about the birth, death and resurrection of Christ. These texts teach us how God accomplished redemption through the Lord Jesus for sinners. They are wondrous and were prophesied in the Old Testament.
Equally wondrous, and also written about in the Old Testament, is how God applies that redemption. This is what we read of in Acts 2 with the pouring out of the Holy Spirit. This chapter may not be as familiar, but let me encourage you to make it so.
It is the Holy Spirit who gives us faith and causes us to think of our own resurrection, ascension and glory to come as present. Christians have been raised with Christ, are united to Christ as he reigns and have the deposit of the Spirit guaranteeing what is to come. The challenge is to walk in the certainty of these truths in our present lives.
In our passage today, Peter is explaining to the multitude in Jerusalem what is happening with the pouring out of the Holy Spirit, and the apostles speaking in other languages. Notice that Peter explains it by explaining scripture. He first points us to the prophet Joel.
Joel wrote of judgment to come in the form of a plague of locusts followed by a drought that would devastate the land. The barrenness of the land would reflect the barrenness of the souls of Jerusalem. But Joel also wrote of a time when God’s spirit would be poured out and bring light and life out of darkness and death. Men would again praise God.
Joel wrote that this would happen in the “last days.” Peter is telling the crowd those days have dawned. The “last days” are days between Christ’s ascension into glory and His return in glory. Joel prophesied that when the Holy Spirit comes, people would “prophesy.” Peter is explaining that what the apostles are saying in other tongues is prophesy. They are proclaiming the mighty works of God (vs 11).
The might works of God referred to are the redemptive acts of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is a greater work of God than creation. If you have ever praised God for the Lord Jesus sincerely, you have prophesied. You also are a fulfillment of what the prophet Joel wrote. And you have done so because of the Holy Spirit.
The barrenness that was in your soul has now become alive and flourishes. It bears fruit in praising God; that for which the Spirit was given. The life of the soul is in glorifying God and enjoying Him forever. When we see Christ rightly, we see the Father, the infinite love of God.
It is a kindness to our souls to be heavenly-minded. The Christian may be beset with many woes here on earth. The world may be in turmoil, the very ground under our feet may shake, yet in heaven the name of every Christian is celebrated. God knows who are His, and they are dear to Him. Their tribulations are short; their blessedness with God is forever.
We read of the language of judgment and wrath in verses 19-20. We see this language connected to the death of Christ on the cross (he took the judgment of God for us), and in the book of Revelation describing the last days before Christ returns. We should never forget the world is under the wrath of God and justly so. We see emblems of it daily. Final judgment will come soon.
The apostles Paul and Peter, in their epistles, apply the coming judgment by teaching Christians to live godly lives in anticipation of it. We are to be watchful over our souls and proclaim the word of God until that day comes (called the Day of the Lord).
Peter ends his quotation of Joel in verse 21: “It shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” “Everyone” means whosoever comes will be accepted by Christ, however great a sinner. Indeed the qualification is giving yourself the sentence of death and crying out for mercy (read Psalms 107).
Everyone who “calls,” is a wonderful promise. If a hurting child cries out to his mother she hears. God will not despise a contrite heart who calls out to Him. He sent His son for that end, that He might save; “If any man thirsts let him come to me (John 7).” So let us call upon the name of the Lord.