THE ACTS 2
THE CONTINUING PRESENCE OF JESUS ON EARTH
In our last essay we tried to emphasize the true description of the “Church” which Jesus said He was going to build. It was not a formal institution located at some point on earth. Rather, it was a family of those called out of the world and into a relationship with the Father. One might ask why God went to the trouble of sending His Son into the world of sin, misery and death to establish His Kingdom, or His Church. To answer this, we must look at the personality of God as revealed in His Word. One thing we note is that God considered loneliness to be bad. He created Eve because “man was alone”. The whole purpose of marriage was to eliminate loneliness. So God sent His Son to call together a family of His creatures because He loved them and wanted them to be a close knit family, personally related to Him. To do this they had to be cleansed of sin, and Jesus came to call them out of the world and cleanse their sins so this could be possible.
The original problem in the Garden of Eden was not the fact that Adam and Eve violated a command of God, but that they lacked faith in His love to give them everything they needed to make them happy. In desiring to make their own decisions, they left the perfection which was to be found only with God and found themselves out in a world of imperfection and misery. One can have a relationship with God only by being perfect, and only God can make you perfect. Therefore, one must have absolute faith in Him in order to dwell with and have a relationship with Him.
Sin is choosing to act in a way other than God’s way, which is perfect. The only one who can forgive sin is God, for He is the One we reject when we choose to sin. No man can forgive sin. God came to earth in the form of His Son, so that we might see and know that we could have a personal relationship with Him if we would only place our faith and trust in Him and in His forgiveness by the Cross. After His earthly appearance and ministry, His bodily form, no longer necessary, was taken away. However, He remains here in His Spirit to have an ongoing personal relationship with those who will put their trust in Him and thus maintain a spiritual tie to Him. That relationship is what He has always desired, for He loves His creature, man, but it was lost when Adam denied the perfection of Eden and left Him. Now He maintains His relationship to man by giving His Spirit to dwell in and with those who want to have Him as the Lord of their life.
This “mystery”, which is beyond the imagination of mortal man, could only be revealed through the Apostles because they were guided by His Spirit, in which they were inundated (baptized) before they were sent out. On Pentecost, this Spirit of God appeared, as He had promised through Joel the prophet: “I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh”, and Peter was led to tell them that it was available to all who would accept and place their complete faith in Jesus Christ.
There are some things which God wants that He has not chosen to explain to us. One is the symbol of baptism. When Jesus told John to baptize Him, the reason He gave was “to fulfill all righteousness”. God is the only source of righteousness, so He did it to fulfill the wishes of God…just because His Father wanted it. That was enough. The reason for baptism is never explained, but Peter includes it in his sermon as the ultimate symbol by which one submits his imperfect will to the perfect will of God. It is not the act which saves but the symbol of my submission to Him, reversing the act and attitude of Adam.
The second chapter of Acts is the record of the beginning of God’s personal relationship with man through His Spirit. It was now possible, for Jesus had come to make known God’s love for us, and His willingness to forgive our sins. He has not left earth, but has simply stepped out of His earthly body to be with us always by His Spirit.
This chapter ends by saying that the Lord added daily to the church, which is His family, those who were being saved. Being saved is returning to a right relationship with the Father, which Adam lost when he left the Garden of Eden and the perfection which God gave him.