Bethel Baptist Church
Worship Service @ Home
3 October 2021
Service available on Youtube, or as text (below), or for audio see the Podcasts page.
Rev. Chris Whiteley speaking in the building next Sunday 10 October 2021 – a special offering taken for the OBU.
“For thirteen years I had prayed for the Spirit … William Davies, one of the deacons, said in the meeting one evening, ‘Remember to be faithful. What if the Spirit descended and you were absent? Remember Thomas! What a loss he had! [Thomas was absent from the meeting when the risen Lord appeared to the disciples – John 20:24]. I said to myself: ‘I will have the Spirit; and through every kind of weather and in spite of all the difficulties, I went to the meetings [from the age of 13 years onwards]. Many times, on seeing other boys with the boats on the tide, I was tempted to turn back and join them. But, no. I said to myself: ‘Remember your resolve,’ and on I went. I went faithfully to the meetings for prayer throughout the ten or eleven years I prayed for a Revival. It was the Spirit that moved me thus to think.”
Evan Roberts – Welsh Revival 1904-05)
“The field was filled with all sorts of junk and big rocks. After it was cleared, the soil was turned over and irrigated to make ready for planting the seed. Then the wait for the seed to take root and grow. So the Lord prepares His children to bear fruit by stripping off all carnal ways and habits. We help this process by daily studying the Word and submitting to the Holy Spirit as He renews our minds, and enables us to walk in the light of Christ and thereby enjoy our Christian life”
Reading: Acts 2:1-41
When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, ‘Brothers, what shall we do?’Acts 2:37-38
Peter replied, ‘Repent and be baptised, 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.‘
Today is Harvest Thanksgiving Sunday and we bring gifts to celebrate this. Oh, that annually we would celebrate a Spiritual Harvest Thanksgiving. Yes, we remember the Day of Pentecost but where is the Spiritual Harvest today? What a big change has occurred in these people who Peter referred to whilst preaching the gospel,
“Fellow Israelites, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through Him, as you yourselves know. This man was handed over to you by God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put Him to death by nailing Him to the cross … Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.”Acts 2:22-23, 36
And now we read of these same people in our text: “When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart” and then they were filled with the Holy Spirit along with 3,000 others who were added to the ‘fledgling church’. How do we explain: This change? The Spiritual Harvest that occurred? The remarkable church growth that followed? For it hadn’t always been like that!
(1) The Hour of Darkness
As Jesus was arrested He spoke to those arresting Him to the effect that on previous occasions He was with them in the temple courts but they did not lay a hand on Him and then explains the current situation of them arresting Him,
“Every day I was with you in the temple courts, and you did not lay a hand on me. But this is your hour – when darkness reigns.”Luke 22:53
For sure there is a mystery about God’s ways, we can think of Satan wanting to test Job and the Lord allowed it and the same with Simon Peter and the disciples just prior to Jesus being arrested,
“Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.’”Luke 22:31-32
How we need the intercessions of Jesus (Heb. 7:25) and of each other as inspired by the Spirit (Rom. 8:26). To say we failed because it was an hour of darkness is no excuse,
No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.1 Cor. 10:13
We need to stand firm in such times, stay faithful, pray (Eph. 6:18-20) and worship God (Luke 4:8).
(2) The Last Days of the Spirit
As we saw last week, and especially from God’s perspective we live in an evil age. Our only hope is Jesus Christ and pray that God will once more pour out His holy Spirit in a heaven-sent revival, so that we can reap the end-time harvest. Because of the state of the world (Gal. 1:4), we must pray that a central and major part of this outpouring to come is that the Spirit comes with a deep conviction of sin. In the first part of our text, Acts 2:37: “When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart” – the word for cut, can also mean to prick violently, to sting … and in the heart of all places, such was the deep conviction of sin that came upon these people for what they had done in crucifying Jesus. It is a loving thing to pray that people get stung to the heart for their sins now, such that they repent, are born-again and filled with the Holy Spirit. Far better than to be stung at the Judgment seat of Christ when it is too late for any repentance. These are the last days, as evidenced by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit,
In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.Acts 2:17
Let’s believe God and work accordingly for a great spiritual harvest.
(3) The Time of God’s Favour, The Day of Salvation
The outpouring of the Holy Spirit referred to above, signalled the time of God’s favour and the day of salvation (cf. 2 Cor 6:1-3). The Church should expect to see that which we read about in the book of Acts, of which the number of people being saved is highly significant:
Those who accepted his message were baptised, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.Acts 2:41
But many who heard the message believed; so the number of men who believed grew to about five thousand.Acts 4:4
So the churches were strengthened in the faith and grew daily in numbers.Acts 16:5
Questions for Discussion
- Why don’t we see that which we see in the Book of Acts especially people being saved?
- Could this be an “hour of darkness”?
- Are you able to pray for the Spirit to come with a ministry to deeply convict people of sin?
- Are we living, working, and worshipping in expectancy of a harvest?
Quote of the week
“The trouble is not with God. It lies right here with ourselves. He is willing, more than willing. But we are not ready. And He is waiting for us. Are we going to keep Him waiting long?”
Oswald J Smith
Verse of the week
Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Presence of the Lord.Acts 3:19
Heavenly Father, may we be willing to be willing to do all that You require of us to see a mighty outpouring of Your Holy Spirit upon Your Church. Lord where we are weak strengthen us; where we need Your vision, envision us, and where we lack faith to believe all that You want to do, give us even that mustard seed of faith.
Lord we long for Your name to be glorified once more in our nation, and for Your church to grow and flourish as it did in the early church and in subsequent revivals. So we pray Lord do it in our day, in our time, in Your wrath remember mercy in and through our Lord Jesus Christ, Amen.