All People

14 Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. 15 These people are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning! 16 No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: 17 ‘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. 18 Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy. 19 I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood and fire and billows of smoke. 20 The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord. 21 And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”  (Acts 2:14-21)
37 When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” 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. 39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off – for all whom the Lord our God will call.”  (Acts 2:37-39)
When the hundred and twenty believers at the first church in Jerusalem were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to praise the Lord in tongues, a curious crowd started to gather. Seizing the opportunity, the Apostle Peter began to preach that this is part of the promise” that God has made to anyone who follows him. He quoted from Joel 2:28-32 in the Old Testament, where the Lord promises that a new era is coming. In the Old Testament, God the Father takes centre-stage and points people to the future coming of his Son and Spirit. In the gospels, Jesus the Son of God takes centre-stage and points people to his Father and to the day when his Holy Spirit will be poured out on all people. In chapter two of the book of Acts, that day suddenly arrives and God’s Spirit takes centre-stage, filling the hearts of believers and empowering them to bring great glory to God the Father and to God the Son.

The crowd were amazed to witness the believers praising God in tongues, but they must have been even more amazed by what Peter explained to them from the prophet Joel. These were not ‘special believers’ who had been granted something that was denied to ‘rank-and-file believers’. They were simply demonstrating what it means to be a follower of Jesus. The “last days” have begun. The third and final act in the great drama of world history has started, and this is how it will be from now on. The Lord now pours out his Holy Spirit “on all people”. He includes both “sons and daughters” – that is, both young men and young women. He includes the “old” as well – in fact,  “everyone” who calls on the name of the Lord can experience this gift as part and parcel of their salvation.

At the end of Peter’s sermon, the crowds are desperate to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit too, so he explains that there is only one condition that we must fulfil. We must “repent and be baptised” – that is, accept that whatever Jesus says is sin is sin and be baptised in water as a public declaration that we are embracing the forgiveness and new life that comes through faith in his blood shed for us. If you have done that, then there is absolutely nothing stopping you from being filled to overflowing with the Holy Spirit every day. There is nothing stopping you from activating the gift of tongues in your life, and every other gift of the Holy Spirit too. Peter assures you that the promise is “for all who are far off – for all whom the Lord our God will call.”
  1. How do you feel about what Peter teaches us in these verses?
  2. If you feel frustrated that you want to be filled to overflowing with the Holy Spirit but you feel like you are experiencing him very little, then be honest with God about that. You may want to ask a mature Christian in your Life Group to help you and to pray for you, but you can also go direct to God with your frustrations right now.
  3. If you feel unworthy to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit then re-read today’s verses again slowly. It isn’t about how worthy or unworthy we feel, but about God’s faithfulness to his promise towards “all people”.
Father God, I thank you for the utter inclusivity of your promise that you will fill all people with your Holy Spirit. I find it amazing that such a precious gift should be given to all in such a widespread way. I really want to experience your Holy Spirit more and more in my life, so please give me all that you have promised me today. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Today’s Everyday Devotions were brought to you by Phil Moore, who leads our team of whole-church elders.
If you have time, consider carrying on your conversation with God using one of our helpful Prayer Pathways.
Today’s Everyday Devotions have also inspired a devotional video that you can watch on our YouTube channel.
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