The New Community of God Reaches Out in Power to the Old Jewish Community

Dallas Willard Part 3 of 10

A study of the book of Acts for a Sunday School class at the church where Dallas Willard and Richard Foster met. Exposition of Acts 2:14-3:26


Dallas:  A preliminary remark here too—one is that so many people are memorizing their verses that it’s difficult for my wife to hear them all. I wonder if someone who is around here for a long period of time afterwards usually that would be willing to have people come to them and say verses?

Comment: I would.

Dallas: Dorothy? Good for you and so we have two people. If you will just make a note on a sheet of paper and keep a record of this—I’ll tell you, this in itself is a tremendous victory. I don’t know if you remember when we started out trying to get you to memorize Ephesians. We would go two weeks and one person would memorize a verse (Laughter) so this is really an advance and I am so thankful that you are taking to it and memorizing it.

Comment: I think that when you memorize Ephesians ….the more you memorize, we didn’t want to say it to anyone…… [Not real clear.]

Dallas: Well, good, then “an advancement in your boldness.” That’s wonderful. [It’s shorter!] Well, they are getting longer. That’s true. Look at the one for next Sunday now if you have your sheet, let me refer you to that now. This is a very important passage in the book of Acts involving the battle, which was going on between the officials, the authorities and the people who were in the new community. Do study that passage well and memorize it. [1:30]

The theme for next time will be The Struggle of the New Community—The Struggle of the New Community. To meet the foes from within itself and from outside of itself, we are going to have four different attacks which are made on this new community—two from within and two from without. If you will read the passage, chapters 4:1-67 of Acts, you will see how there is this constant battle—the tearing at the new community from within. You know, the first thing that hit the new community was lying disciples; people who were still lying. They didn’t get that worked out automatically. Now, today in our churches when they come in, no one lies anymore. [Laughter] What? [They lie just by being……!] Oh, well anyway, let’s don’t talk about that till next Sunday, then.  Anyway, they had attacks from outside and attacks from within.

Do you know what the second attack from within was? It was racial and cultural discrimination—people looking down on others because they were “hicks from the outland.”  Now, this was within the new community. Then there were the attacks from without so read this passage please. Study it very carefully and see what you see in it also for the church today and that of course is where we are bearing down in the study of the book of Acts and what does it mean for us today? [3:01]

Now, the theme for today—if you will look at the title of your lesson—The New Community of God Reaches Out in Power to the Old Jewish Community. As of yet, it has not occurred. As the passage, which we read to today, it hasn’t occurred to anyone. Very seriously, there is anything more to reach than the Jewish community. There is a world out there that it can safely be ignored for the most part and we will just go along, developing a Jewish sect. Disciples of Christ, yes but they are Jews and this was the kind of thinking which dominated the early chapters—about the first half of the chapters of the book of Acts and the last half roughly are chapters where they are trying to fight their way out of that. So, our theme is how the new community reaches out in power to the old Jewish community. [4:04]

Well, let me just—by the way of introduction and I’m not going to follow the outline entirely. My purpose in giving the outline is to enable you to study a little better perhaps on your own so let me just review now where we are. I am not going to go all the way back to the beginning but let me go back at least to the point where we pick up from John the Baptist.

John the Baptist was the forerunner of the Christ, was he not? He was prophesied and he came and Jesus claimed him as his forerunner and alternatively, John the Baptist pointed Jesus out as the Messiah.  Why did there have to be a John the Baptist? Because as you study the scripture, you will see that God always follows a principle of connexity. He never makes abrupt changes. This may be contrary to what you have been lead to believe but if you will watch, you will see that slowly, slowly, slowly, He leads us along. [4:58]

This is true in Christian experience.  In Christian experience, God is simply not going to let us have some things because we are not ready for them. The change would be too abrupt. We don’t know what it is. We wouldn’t know what it is. It’s like taking a kid directly from the breast milk to steak. You can’t do that. You take them slowly. You go step by step and John the Baptist is a principled step.

John the Baptist was an old line, Old Testament prophet. He was out in the wilderness. He breathed fire off the ground. He wore rough clothing, lived on natural foods to put it mildly—natural foods—organic foods, if you wish—grasshoppers and crickets and things of this sort. [Laughter] Of course, they didn’t regard that quite as we would regard it today. That was locusts and wild honey and it was quite the thing. The supply was there. So, it wasn’t as if he was digging grubs out of the ground and eating them. He was an Old Testament prophet. He fit the old pattern and that was necessary because God always does that. He takes the old and He uses what He finishes to introduce us to the new; and John the Baptist came and gathered a group of disciples and you know that some of the major disciples in Jesus’ group were John the Baptist’s disciples. When John stood and said, “Behold the Lamb of God that taketh away the sins of the World;”—that was one way of saying to his disciples, “You have gone as far as you can under my tutelage; you get up and follow this man.” And a number of them did. [6:43]

The witness of John was accepted by all of the people—the Scribes and the Pharisees and everyone, they came flooding out of Jerusalem to hear John preach and get baptized. He didn’t deal with them too kindly you remember. He said to them, “Why don’t you go forth and bring forth fruits worthy of repentance and then talk about baptism?” John the Baptist was an old-line prophet and he introduced them to Jesus in the flesh. [7:11]

Now, Jesus in the flesh was really something hard to take. He was very different from anything that John was. Believe me, He was very different; so different that Jesus Himself put Himself on the opposite scale in some of the teachings from John the Baptist. You will remember when He said, “John the Baptist came. He said he was a mad man. He lives so hard. He’s so crazy.” And now here comes Jesus and they said, “He’s a glutton and wine bibber” because he didn’t have the best. He didn’t lead a hard life in the sense that John the Baptist did. He was not austere and aesthetic. He drank wine. He had good friendships and fellowship. He saw something more about righteousness than John the Baptist and it was the mission that John the Baptist took to make that connection—to make that connection and get a group of people who would accept Jesus. [8:08]

Now then, Jesus as He goes along through His ministry, slowly, slowly, slowly, begins to reform the concepts of these people about who the Messiah would be and at one point, He just “shocked the pants off of them.” He said, “I am your Messiah, OK? I’m going to go up here to Jerusalem and they are going to skin me and beat me around and kill me.” Well, they said, “This just can’t be.” And Peter took Him and began to rebuke Him to just lean on him you know and say, “this can’t be.” And Jesus turned to him and said, “Peter, Peter, you stay in the ways of man and not the ways of God.” And three more times, two more times in the book of Mark—it’s a beautiful progression to follow—the times in the book of Mark where Jesus tells him He’s going to be killed. Two more times He tells them—the second time they just sort of turn away and discuss it among themselves and the third time they just sort of hang their heads and they aren’t ready for it when it happens. They can’t believe it to the end, but He’s told them and He’s made the connection and the thought was there—the thought was there; and He’s killed and they are a bunch of hopeless, helpless people wondering around. They don’t believe He is going to rise again. He told them He would but they didn’t believe it. They could scarcely believe it when it happened but it happened—slowly, slowly, He makes the connection. [9:50]

Now, He is with them in another form. Not a natural body, some strange kind of body but a body. A concession for their mind and as He is with them in the body, the post resurrection body, He begins to instruct them through the Holy sprit without being bodily present—without being bodily present—and then He will come to them from time to time in the Spirit and be with them and confirm that teaching which He had shared. [10:25]

Now, He says to them as He’s said before, “I go away. It is expedient for you that I go away for if I go not away, the Comforter—the parakletos—the invited one, “I will send Him unto you.” And when He is come, He will live through the world of sin of righteousness and judgment. See, He leads them out on a hillside, waves goodbye to them and takes off like a feathered bird.

They can understand that, they think. The way they think about it is Heaven is up there. He’s got to go spatially up there and be close there. He has ascended to the right hand of the Father and He’s going to send forth the blessings.” See how He’s made that connection? He sends them to a place. He says, “Tarry ye at Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high.” And as He sends them away, He has angels standing there after He’s disappeared to reassure them that He is not done with them. See, how He takes care of them? Isn’t that wonderful? You just want to praise the Lord. He is so compassionate and so good. This is just a little bit of a time when the angels say, “Fellas, just because He’s gone does not mean He is done with you. He is not done with you.” And they return back to that room—that Upper Room—we don’t know exactly what that Upper Room was but probably a third story room of some sort; probably no petitions but maybe something about the size of this church building and there they gathered together.  There they gathered together and they continued in prayer and meditation. [12:15]

Now when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. You see, the Lord had a little job for them to do and He was going to make sure it was done just right. So He took a festival when there were people at Jerusalem from all over the face of the known earth. If He’s going to have a show, He’s going to have an audience and He’s going to have a show and so he takes these people who have been waiting and have been molded and have been forced and pressed and taught and He gets them together in one place and then something happens like no one could understand.  [13:01]

First of all, the manifestations of sound and the manifestation to sight—“sound as a rushing mighty wind;” not a rushing mighty wind—“suddenly there came a sound from Heaven as a rushing mighty wind”—it’s sound. That was the sound. The sound of wind used to describe the sound. It wasn’t a wind. It didn’t say a wind blew through the building. It was a sound. Then the manifestation to sight. “There appeared unto them clothen tongues like as of fire and it sat upon each of them”—the manifestation of sight—some kind of visual manifestation.

Now, as far as we know, thus far, it’s all contained in the Upper Room in the room where they were staying. It doesn’t seem yet to be anything beyond that room but as these manifestations occurred, there was an inner experience of filling—an overflowing with the Spirit of God. They were all filled with the Holy Ghost and when they were filled with the Holy Ghost, a further manifestation then began to come through them. They began “to speak with other tongues as the spirit gave them utterance.” Now, these tongues in which they spoke were languages, which could be understood by those who were around.

They were dwelling at Jerusalem—people from all over the face of the earth. Why?—because this was a festival. This was the Harvest Festival. This was the Day of Pentecost. It was one of the Jewish festivals in which people came from all over the face of the earth. Isn’t it marvelous how these things are planned? You would almost think that someone was managing it. “There were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men out of every nation under Heaven.” There is the evidence.  [14:55]

Now it got noised abroad. How it got out, we don’t know. They don’t know how it got out. In order to understand, I think you do have to remember that the old city of Jerusalem was built very different than the suburbs out here in the San Fernando Valley. Rooms piled upon one another, close together so that if something was going on in this third floor over here, the people on the third floor over there were pretty sure to know what was happening and so it was no difficult problem. They didn’t need the television or intercoms or anything of this sort to get the word out. Something strange was happening.

Question:  A lot of these rooms didn’t have roofs on them, did they?  They were kind of like outside patios?

Dallas: That’s true. Many of these upper rooms were simply patios. They had walls on them so they wouldn’t fall off but some of them were enclosed and this place consequently was one of the enclosed and simply because they stayed in it so long. It was almost like they were partnered for a long while as they continued in prayer and supplication in this upper room but not necessarily, but it may very well have been that it was outside. [16:06]

Question:  Inaudible

Dallas: Absolutely right. Yes. We don’t know exactly how it worked but very possible. They made that place on fire and they came running up the staircase but it was noised abroad; and a multitude of people came together and were confounded—that is, they were amazed. They didn’t know what to make of this—confounded because every man heard them speak in his own language. Now, if that happened to you, you would be confounded too. Wouldn’t you? Wouldn’t you? [16:38]

I mean, suppose you were traveling to Jerusalem and all of a sudden you went up here and a bunch of people were talking and you hear them speaking in your own language but you know they are Jews. You know they don’t all know your language. Maybe they speak perfect “Parkese” or whatever it is that we speak.

So, that’s a confounding thing and they are amazed and marveled and they said, “behold, are not all of these which speak Galileans?” They had an idea where they were from.  They knew where they were from. How could these people from Galilee speak? That’s kind of a hick place anyway. “How can they be speaking language which we understand and how hear we every man in our own tongue where we are born?” Then he lists all these places and if you plot them on the map, well, it goes from all over the known world. We do hear! Now what do we hear them speak? We hear them speak in our own tongues the wonderful works of God. They were expressing the majesty, the perfection of God. They were doing it in a language, which everyone could understand.

I surely don’t want to get lost in discussions of tongues and language at this point. Let me point out that this was a sort of tongue which did not persist it seems in later books of the New Testament. For example, it is necessary for you to have an interpreter if you are going to have a person speaking in tongues because the tongues, which then evolved later on, were not languages, which people understood without an interpreter. This was apparently a very special thing or manifestation. We don’t know how is worked. We don’t know, for example that the people who were talking, what their states of consciousness were and so on; all we have is a record of the effect. But, people who did not have a common language, nevertheless, communicated about the wonderful works of God. That’s all we know. [18:54]

Now, they said, “What does this mean? What does this mean?” You know, I want to go back and talk about something. Excuse me for just a moment and I’ll not stay on it too long but I do want to stress something that I have been greatly burdened about and that is about the conditions of the coming of the spirit into this group. I think that we are apt to misunderstand what was involved. We are apt to not understand that the training for the community that had been created by the experiences these people had gone through and we are apt to think that, well if we want the spirit, all we have to do is sit down and rip off a few prayers and if we hold our mouth right, God is going to come on us! It doesn’t work and everyone who has tried it knows it doesn’t work. It simply doesn’t.

Now, these people on whom the spirit came were a community. They had fellowship. You know what fellowship means? Fellowship means you are in the same boat. Fellowship means you are in the same boat and you are not going to find many people in the same boat and you’re not going to find many people in the same boat. Not even in this room. We keep such distance between us in our churches that it is impossible for us to have fellowship and so we learn to say things like, “Well, we got together and sang and had a good feeling and wasn’t that wonderful fellowship.” Bologna! It wasn’t fellowship at all. [20:30]

Fellowship is you are in the same boat and these people were in the same boat. They had been in the same boat for years. They gave up their businesses. They left their homes and their families and they spent years wondering around listening to the teachings of Jesus Christ. Being in His presence and watching what was happening, suffering together, going hungry together, praying together, hoping together, fearing together. Do we have that in this room? No, we don’t have that in this room. Very few of us, if any, have the kind of closeness that is involved here.

Our churches are organized ways of standing off from one another, believe me. They do more to keep us apart than they do to bring us together. They give us a superficial togetherness which makes us think we have done what is required but they don’t bring us together and when we have groups of people who are willing to say, “I sink or swim with you” and who are willing to put their money and their time into that kind of relationship, then in a period of time, we will have a community prepared to receive the Holy Spirit.” But we will not have it before then. [21:45]

Now, there is no individual that is large enough to receive the Spirit of God by himself. It’s true that some people have unusual blessings but these are always limited and you find a person like that, you will not find the kind of thing which happened in the book of Acts. It requires a group of people. We are social beings whether we like it or not and the primary sin among Christians is hard heartedness, coldness, and indifference. [22:14]

In whom the whole building, fitly framed together groweth up into a holy temple in the Lord. In whom ye also are framed, are fitted together for inhabitation of God through this gift. God does not indwell us individually. He indwells us together and until we learn this and live according to it, we are simply frustrating the grace of God. Our coldness, our hard heartedness, our unwilingness to trust God in fear that someone is going to take advantage of us if we open ourselves to one another scared to death that we might have to give a little money away and never see it again; that we might lose a little time; that someone might find out about how barren our little lunch bucket was, our little spiritual lunch bucket.

You know, I’m enough of a “throwback” into the past and have gone to schools where people brought their lunch and I can remember quite well, the poorest kids were always the ones who would slip off in the corner and eat because they were ashamed to show what was in their lunch bucket. Sometimes it was a biscuit dipped in bacon grease. They didn’t want others to know how poverty stricken they were. That’s just like we are in our churches today. We’ve got so little spiritual good, we are scared to death that someone’s gonna find it. We are not going to open our hearts to people. We are not going to be with them. We are not really going to level with people and of course these people were like that when they came to Jesus. That’s why it took Him three years to get them to where they could even stand up under Him. They were put through the mill and they were in a blind alley. They were at the end of their rope. There was no way for them to go if God didn’t come upon them. [24:17]

Of course, we all have so many ways to go, don’t we? We’ve got so many alternative plans and backup systems working in the back of our minds. We are never going to trust God. You see if you put yourself together with people in the way that these people were put together, you wind up having to trust Him because there is no other way. You can’t open yourself to people without trusting God. You can’t make yourself available to people and really lay your life on the line with them without trusting God.  [24:46]

We have a society in which all of the sociologists and psychologist tell us the main problems is loneliness of hearts, a suffering which comes from being a little Adam out here in the lonely crowd. What are we going to do about this? Now the church has the key if they will use it and if we can get the selfishness of peer and hard heartedness and indifference sufficiently out, that just two or three people can begin to reach out to two or three more and if they are willing to drop the time that might be spent pursuing more money or something of that sort and just get together. Then we’ve given God a chance to work in our lives.

I sometimes feel that when we get down to pray and when we go to worship, I sometimes feel we are just wasting our time because we are not dealing with the things that really matter before God. We are not working at a level that will make a difference and I hear the words of Samuel to Saul. Remember how Saul went over—God told him to go over and at least the way he understood, was to wipe out this group of people at Agag? Saul saw a bunch of fine looking cattle and some really fine sheep—a lot of these to his liking and he brought them home and Samuel went out to meet him and Saul said, “Well, praise the Lord, Brother Samuel, we really fixed it up. This is what the Lord told us to do and it’s been done but we had to save some of the sheep and Saul went into a nice little piece of rationalizing it and Samuel just calmly said, “Listen, to obey is better than sacrifice.” [26:32]

The reason why prayers are often not answered is because the person praying has about fifteen things that he knows are wrong and God is not going to do anything about it. It’s just as idol for him to sit down and say, “Lord, show me your will” as it is for my boy sitting and watching television and I told him something, and he turn to me and says, “Father, wouldn’t you like for me to do something for you?” I’ve already told him what to do. The Father has told us what to do. Jesus said, “By this shall all men know that you are my disciples if you have love one toward another.” [27:06]

What kind of community received the spirit? They received the manifestations of the spirit and as they received them, the inevitable effects followed. Remember I stressed last time, he said, “When the Spirit comes, ye shall be my witnesses.” Now, you know after the spirit came, they didn’t sit down and say, ”Now we must organize a committee for outreach.” They didn’t do that, did they? People were beating on their doors. Something was happening and it was noised abroad and the people came and they were struck by what was happening and they said, “These men are full of wine,” some of them did –new wine, new wine really gets you going, you know. Well, they thought these people aren’t full of wine, they were just knocked our of their heads but Peter, standing up said, “You men of Judea” and now he preaches the first sermon ever preached under the ministry of the Holy Spirit. This sermon is an argument. It’s a very tight argument. [28:19]

If you will look at your outline briefly now, you will see the structure that I give. He first refers to a fact that they are all new. It’s important to remember that when you are dealing with Jerusalem at this time, you are dealing with what we would really call a very small community and it was the sort of community in where things were known and spread abroad simply by word of mouth and it was no big problem because the people lived very close together. They talked to one another because we don’t do that in communities anymore, you know. We have our own bathrooms and our own water spigot and our own television and who needs anybody else? But, see, they had to go to common places to get water and all of the functions of life were social in a way in which they are not now. [29:12]

Listen, let me just say there again, to refer back further, we don’t understand how thoroughly modern life is structured to keep people from having compassion on one another. This gets down to the very living arrangements that we have that cut us off from one another for our freeways, our fine cars, each given our little “space bubble” which we float down the road in—totally indifferent to everyone else and their “space bubble”—because after all, the automobile club can take care of them. So, all these living arrangements—they are just designed to say, “Well, wasn’t that lovely?” It was noised abroad. These people heard this. They came together and they had a common fund of knowledge and Peter refers to that. He says, “Jesus was a man committed by God by the signs and wonders and He was the one and they did not know and that was a fact and the next thing he says is, “But the Jewish leaders murdered Him” and they all knew that to be a fact. They all knew it. There was no question about what had happened. [30:13]

Next fact—Jesus arose from the dead and they had an empty tomb—had a bunch of soldiers that had been set to guard it—had all sorts of arrangements which had been made to keep this very thing from happening by the Jewish people themselves. They knew that to be the case. Jesus Himself arose from the dead. Not only that but He had appeared unto many people—500 at once—up to that many. He appeared to many people—many people who were there in Jerusalem and this had been noised abroad. [30:48]

Now then, Peter turns from the facts to the prophesy of David as he calls it. The prophet David, he says, “Now look, the prophet David told us that the Messiah would rise from the dead. So, he is saying, “The Messiah is supposed to rise from the dead. Jesus arose from the dead. Therefore, Jesus is the Messiah. He is your Messiah.” And he goes on to refer to another passage in which David speaks about what the Messiah is going to do and he says, “The Messiah is not only going to rise from the dead but he is going to ascend into Heaven and He’s going to work from the right hand of God.

Well, the right hand of God is in power. If you are at someone’s right hand, you are sort of like his executive secretary. You are the thing he works with. To be at the right hand of someone in power was to have that kind of relationship. So, for Jesus to ascend to the right hand of the God, then He was going to ascend to the place where He would be a worker. How is He going to work? He is going to work, Peter says, “by sending forth the Spirit.” [32:00]

Now watch, let me now then read—skip over lightly a few verses here from fourteen on and see if you get the argument. Peter is standing up with the eleven and said, “Ye men of Judea and all that dwell in Jerusalem be it known unto you and hearken unto my words for these are not drunken.” Of course, he gives an argument there. This is but the third hour of the day—9:00 in the morning. The idea of being that people get drunk in the evening and pass out towards morning and sleep till noon, I guess if they are really that kind of person. It’s 9:00 in the morning and he says, “These people are not drunken.” Now then he said, “This is that which was spoken of by the prophet Joel” and he refers here to the prophesy in the book of Joel about the manifestations of the spirit which will come in the latter days. Now, you will notice that not all of these things referred to in the prophet Joel came to pass. What he seems to be mainly using is up to the end of the eighteenth verse. “For I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh and your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men shall see visions, your old men shall dream dreams and on my servants and on my handmaidens, I will pour out in those days my spirit and they shall prophesy.”

Now, the remaining part of the prophesy of Joel, which he quotes up to the end of verse twenty is not invoked in this context. In fact, he quoted it because he wants to put the whole thing before the people. But then, he is going to use the last part of the prophesy which is the 21st verse of the 2nd chapter, “And it shall come to pass that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Now, this is going to be used in what follows. So, you have the prophesy of Joel. [33:46]

Now then he turns to the argument which I earlier sketched and he goes through the thing about the verse about the prophesy of David on the basis of the facts which have happened around Jerusalem in the newspapers as it were. “Ye men of Israel, Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, as you yourselves know;” see, you know it—this is something we all know. It’s the feelings and the facts. “Him being delivered by the determined counsel and foreknowledge of God which is not something which took God by surprise. “Ye have taken and by wicked hands have crucified and slain.” A further fact—see, that’s fact number 2. [34:32]

Fact number 3—“Whom God hath raised up from and having loosed the things of death because it was not possible that He should be hold on of it.”  Now then, he invokes David in the next verse and says in effect, this is the very thing, which David was talking about.  Now, you couldn’t invoke a higher authority. David and Moses are of equal authority in the minds of the Jews. You couldn’t invoke a higher authority than David and so he takes the words of David where David says, “I foresaw the Lord always before my face for He is on my right hand and I should not be moved. Therefore did my heart rejoice, my tongue was glad, my flesh shall rest in hope because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither will Thou suffer thine holy one to see corruption. Thou hast made known to me the ways of life. Thou shalt make me full of joy. With thy countenance, men and brethren, let me freely speak to you.” Now, he gives the interpretation.  The patriarch David is dead and his tomb is with us to this day. See that. So he says, “David could not have been speaking about himself. He must have been speaking about one of his descendants whom God would raise up. This is the structure of the argument.

You’ll forgive me, I trust—if I don’t go into all the complexities argued and there are a lot of difficulties, which I am sure that some of you will want to discuss perhaps later on. [36:02]

Now he says, “Therefore, being a prophet and one that God had sworn with an oath, being that of the fruit of his loins according to his flesh who raised up Christ to sit on His throne.” He is seeing this faith of the resurrection of Christ and his soul is not left in the grave or in Hades.” It’s much better translated “in hell” because Paul has a lot of conversations, which are out of order at this point. Neither his flesh would see corruption. “This Jesus, hath God raised up whereof we are living.” [36:35]

Now, you can see a number of things and most importantly, I will comment on is—why do the apostles find it so important to have witnesses to the resurrection? It was the resurrection, which showed the Jews that Jesus was the Messiah. Everything turned on that—everything turned a you have to remember that these people—if our evidence is correct, and there is a lot of reason to think it is—the early Christian exerted out of the Old Testament passages which were relevant to the connection to the Messiah as Jesus. They actually had little handbooks with a lot of these things written down that they carried around with them. And the mark, which marked Jesus as the Messiah was the resurrection; and the reason that marked him as the Messiah is precisely what David said, “that the Messiah would rise from the dead.” That was the reason.

This was the mark of the Messiah and you should try to understand that because you know, we can go so far just by confronting things as facts but the fire runs on how they happened. This is why there was such a reliance upon the resurrection in the preaching of the apostle.

Now then, here’s the other half of the prophesy; “Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted”—this is the 33rd verse—“being by the right hand” –remember, that’s the place of working, that’s the place of power, that’s the place where it was common language that it was applied not just to God, but to any old king.  The man that was in his right hand was—well, what’s our language today, “right hand man, right?” Well, here’s my right hand man.  That means he’s the guy that gets the job done. He’s the one who really keeps the shop running. “And being by the right hand of God exalted and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost which He hath shed forth this which ye now see and hear.” For again, David is not ascended into the Heavens but he sayeth himself, the Lord said unto my Lord, ‘sit Thou on my right hand.’ ” He uses David again. Just like he said, David didn’t rise from the dead.  David didn’t ascend into Heaven but apparently the Lord is going to ascend unto Heaven. So, we have the ascension now—the resurrection, the ascension of Jesus tied in as proofs of the Messiah-ship of Jesus. “Until I make thy foes a footstool, sit thou at my right hand.”

And Peter winds up, “Therefore, let all the half of Israel know assuredly that God hath made that same Jesus whom ye have crucified both Lord and Messiah.” Whew! And at that point, [clap] it hit home! At this point, something that had never happened before happened. The Spirit of God moved into that group of people and now when they heard this, they were pricked in their hearts and when He has come He will reprove the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment. That’s what He did. See, this is the work of the Holy Sprit. It’s not our work. [39:58]

This is what is so wrong about soul winners. A whole doctrine of soul winning as it is taught today is wrong. I’m sorry to have to be so contrary about it but it is just wrong.

The New Testament doctrine is a doctrine of witnessing under the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit does the work. One of the main things that is wrong with our churches today is they are filled full of people that have been won by human beings.

Question: Dallas, what is that verse in the second chapter that talks about soul winning?

Dallas: …”praising God and enjoying the favor of all people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.” (Acts 2:47)  [40:56]

You may know that story of the famous evangelist who ran into a drunk on the street and the drunk said, “Oh, you are so and so—D. L. Moody—yeah, I am one of your converts.”  Moody said, “You look like one of my converts, you are not one of the Lord’s, that’s for sure!” Think about that! When the Lord makes a convert, something is made. Now, there is work yet to do. There is work yet to do but something has to be made.  Now, just look at the procedure now in what follows here. [41:32]

“They were pricked in the heart,” and Peter said, “and they came to him.” No, Peter did not stand up and give an invitation and sing five stanzas of “Just As I Am Without One Plea” and beg them to come forward. They turned to him and said, “What must we do? What must we do to be saved?” And he said to them, “Repent and be baptized.” Repentance, you see, is man’s work after the work of the Holy Spirit. Repentance is no good until there is conviction.

Comment: Repentance is just turning.

Dallas: Yes, repentance is just turning. It means turning around and going another way–changing your mind—seeing it in a different way and repentance is no good until there is conviction in the life of the person there. What a lot of people called repentance isn’t repentance at all; it’s just a further attempt to manipulate the world and jockey it around so they can have their way.  That’s all it is! [42:25]

But repentance means to turn away from all the human ways, which we have of manipulating others and ourselves and relying upon God. Repenting–turning from the oppressive ways and walking in the Kingdom of God and living by trust and power. Not trying to manipulate anyone else. Not trying to get live off of them and “suck their blood” or anything like that. Repentance is just a turn.

Baptism was a standard way of showing forth repentance. There is no salvation in baptism but at some point, every person has to find a way of showing to the world that I have repented. Baptism is that. Baptism was the mark of a Christian. Many times, people were killed, not because they repented but because they got baptized because that was the mark. When they were baptized, that was supposed to show forth the inward reality of a new life—the old person buried, put away, raised to a new life to live a new life before God. That was the whole point of the thing. And Peter says, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ, on behalf of Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” Oh, that’s just fine, isn’t it? [43:45]

When we offer something to those around us in the Lord, we will offer them the gift of the Holy Ghost or do we just offer them church membership and a little fine-tuned policy?  I mean you know the eternal fire insurance company where you get into Heaven when you die? Peter said, “If you repent and be baptized.” Praise the Lord! This thing that changed Peter; that’s what they wanted. They wanted to live in a kind of attitude of praise and glorification of God. Peter said, “You get this gift. You can have this gift, too.” Then they that gladly received the word were baptized and in the same day were added unto them about 3,000 souls. Now, they didn’t have the mourner’s bench. They didn’t have little cards to sign. The joining that was involved here was one of the Spirit. They didn’t have to get a committee to go out and round them up so they could have a meeting. They were together. It was the work of God that came and they were joined together—3,000 souls.

Now, notice what they did and this again is one of the places where we most fail today. “They continues steadfastly in the Apostles teaching.” They were taught. They were taught continually and fellowshipped—same old boat. Right there along with them and in breaking of bread, they ate together and they fed one another somehow—one way of showing how close they were was to just feed one another—the breaking of bread and prayers. [45:47]

See, of course the reason why the Lord knows He doesn’t even need to bother sending the spirit to a lot of groups is they don’t want it. I mean, after all, if this happened, you wouldn’t be able to cook supper or you wouldn’t be able to do all that work you’ve got mapped out.

Question: Inaudible

Dallas: Yeah well, I am sure there were problems but for the most part, I think at this point in the development of the thing, as far as you can tell, they didn’t have a serious problem about that and I think probably because people didn’t fully understand what was happening and they constantly—they weren’t sure what they were fighting about. Now, later on resistance was there but on the other hand, there were a lot of husbands and wives together in it. So, I think at this point, I don’t know quite what to say to that, Helen except that it was one of those that came up and Christ was given and it as immediately gone. [46:56]

But, we can be sure seeing how it was worked in many other cases, one way they handled this was the nature simply lived in the spirit and prayed and the other one was converted and brought around.

Comment: Brought around.

Dallas: Yes, but that doesn’t solve all the practical difficulties. At present, what you see here is a group of people and I’m sure you know that a lot of them were in and out but they were giving huge amounts of time to this. Notice the effect and I want to give you one verse—when you talk about church expansion, will you remember that there is one way to do it. I give you the 17th chapter of John and the 21st verse “that they may all—that’s the 17th chapter of John, the 21st verse—Jesus here is praying for the unity in His followers “that they may all be One as thou Father art in Me and I in Thee—that is that believers are to have the Oneness which holds between the members of the Trinity. That’s what that verse says. And if you put that up against what we have you can see again how deficient our conception of fellowship is. Now, notice the effect –“that the world may believe that Thou hast sent me.” When the world sees this, the world believes. [48:16]

Now, back to Acts—“they continued steadfastly in the Apostles doctrine and in fellowship and in breaking of bread and prayer and fear came upon every soul and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles and all that believed were together”—oh, circle of life—“all that believed were together and they had all things in common and sold their possessions and good and departed them to all men as every man had need.”  “And they continued”—here’s that word continued again—“they continued daily with one accord in the temple and breaking bread from house to house and did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart.” I like another translation that says “with gladness and simplicity of heart”—simple hearts. That is, hearts not involved in all of these contortions we go through to keep our lies hid.  [49:06]

That’s right—all the candor we don’t have because we don’t want to let people know what is going on with us really–simplicity of heart—straightforwardness. Simplicity as opposed to what—duplicity—duplicity; doubleness, double-tongued. “Heart man speak with forked tongue.” What’s that’s business about where one says it’s one thing and the other thing says it’s the other—that’s not a simple tongue; that’s a duplicitous tongue!   “With gladness and singleness of heart”—simplicity of heart and praising God and notice this.  Relate this back to the 18th verse of the 17hth chapter—“praising God and having favor with all the people and the Lord added to the church daily such as it should be.” Remember, this is not something you just get up and do. This is the work of God and if we want the work of God in this church, we have to start where God starts and do his will.

Let me tell you that I had a great blessing this week in just holding continually this group of people in this room up before the Lord. There has not been a day when most of you have not been prayed for. What I am asking is if you want to see this kind of thing happen, I would like for you to look around you and see the people who are here and at least make the simple step of praying every day for all the people in this room. Could you do that? Does it mean that much to you? We can’t just snap our fingers and these things happen. If we take the steps; if we pray; if we are with one another when the opportunity comes; if we study, this happens.  And if it doesn’t happen, how can we go out there and not be responsible for it? And we see people with their lives shot even while they are young. We see people with their health ruined and no one to come to and of course we are sometimes praying and we fail to see the answer because we don‘t pray right. We don’t have the kind of community which will receive the power of God in this way—that we are responsible for opening ourselves to receive that community and I don’t see how you can say that you love your brothers and sisters, that you love the people in this room or love your children if you are not willing to open this up in prayer and study and friendship with the hope that this community will be formed.  “God, forgive us for not doing this.” [52:09]


Listen to all parts in this Studies in the Book of Apostolic Acts: Journey in the Spiritual Unknown series