|The Church An Extension of Christ
by E.H. “Jack” Sequeira
The Christian Church is an extension of Christ. As we turn to the second chapter of the book of Acts, we will discover how this came about in the life of the early church. Their history has been recorded for our benefit, for what happened to them will be repeated in these last days. In this exiting chapter two of Acts, we read the account of the church becoming one body in Christ. Our Scripture reading tells us how it all began. Let us read it again and then examine it in detail. Acts 2:1-4:
When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.
This feast came at the end of the wheat harvest in Palestine and the Jews were to take this new wheat, the first fruits of the harvest, and make two loaves of bread. These two loaves symbolized the day when the two nations, Jews and Gentiles, were to be made one in Jesus Christ. This is how Jesus Himself described it. John 10:16:
I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.
All through the Old Testament times, the Jews believed that they alone constituted the people of God. Even the apostles of Jesus were victims to this mentality. That is why God gave the vision of the unclean animals to Peter and asked him to kill and eat, implying that, in Christianity, the Gentiles must no longer be considered unclean or outsiders. According to the apostle Paul, this is the great mystery that was hidden in ages past but was to be made manifest in New Testament times. Ephesians 3:1-6:
For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles Surely you have heard about the administration of Gods grace that was given to me for you, that is, the mystery made known to me by revelation, as I have already written briefly. In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made know to men in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to Gods holy apostles and prophets. This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.
In this beautiful loaf symbolism lies the heart of the Christian church. On the Day of Pentecost, in harmony with the Old Testament feast day of loaves, the Holy Spirit came upon Gods people, some 120 of them, and united them into one body. These individuals were all baptized by the Spirit into one body. This baptism of the Spirit is what Jesus promised and now it had become a reality. Note how Paul describes this unity of the body. 1 Corinthians 12:12-13:
The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.
As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit just as you were called to one hope when you were called one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
This is the key essential that makes the church radically different from the world, a world that is divided by all kinds of factions. When the Holy Spirit was poured on the disciples of Christ at Pentecost, He brought with Him the key ingredient that makes God what He is by nature and by character: agape love. 1 John 4:8:
Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.
This love, poured into the hearts of Gods people, made it possible to unite the church into one body. This was the greatest witness the early church gave of the power of the gospel in their lives. John 13:34-35:
A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.
Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting.
Wind is the symbol of invisible power. Remember what Jesus said to Nicodemus about the Spirit being like the wind? John 3:7-8:
You should not be surprised at my saying, You must be born again. The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.
The power of the wind is sovereign; it is mighty, powerful, and irresistible. But it is invisible. You cannot see the wind but you can see its mighty force when it strikes. In the same way, this is to be the characteristic of the church controlled by the Spirit. When properly functioning, the church is a band of men and women bound together by the life of Christ accomplishing great things through the invisible power of the Spirit. This, too, is an essential that goes to make up Gods church. As with the wind, you cannot see the source of power, but it moves mightily to change and transform lives.
They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them.
Fire is used in two ways in the Old Testament. It is a purifier, burning up dross, garbage, and waste; it also symbolizes enthusiasm, passion, and an inner hunger for truth. Note how the prophet Jeremiah put it. Jeremiah 20:9b:
...His word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot.
John the Baptist, who prepared the way for the first coming of Jesus, was described as a burning fire, and he predicted that when Jesus came on the scene He would baptize men and women with fire. Luke 3:15-16:
The people were waiting expectantly and were all wondering in their hearts if John might possibly be the Christ. John answered them all, I baptize you with water. But one more powerful than I will come, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.
Walking down a street in New York City, D.L. Moody began to ponder on a sentence he had just heard: The world has yet to see what God can do with a man who is wholly yielded to Him. As he thought on these words, a great hunger came into his heart and he cried, O God, make me that man! And surely God did make him that man.
All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.
The purpose of these tongues was not to give the disciples some kind of electric shock so that the would feel all fuzzy inside. Nor were the tongues they experienced some gibberish that made no sense to those around. It was the language of the people so that they could hear the proclamation of the gospel. Acts 2:5-8:
Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment because each one heard them speaking in his own language. Utterly amazed, they asked: Are not all these men who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in his own native language?
This, too, is an essential that the infilling of the Holy Spirit brings. It is to enable Gods people to proclaim the gospel with boldness, clarity, sincerity, and earnestness. This is what the church is to be like today. It should be filled with power, passion, and proclamation. Believe me, it is exciting to see the Lord reviving a church today to this end.
By the way, the speaking of tongues by the disciples set the stage for Peters explanation of what true Pentecostalism is all about. This is how Peter described it. Acts 2:14-21:
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. These men are not drunk, as you suppose. Its only nine in the morning! No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: 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. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy. I will show wonders in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood and fire and billows of smoke. The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord. And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.
The Bible divides the history of this world into two distinct periods: the times of the Jews and the time of the Gentiles. The gospel was first proclaimed to the Jews and, when probation closed for them as a nation (not individually), God turned to the Gentiles. And, just as Pentecost ushered in the last days for the Jewish nation, I believe we are living in the last days of the Gentile period. Here is one reason I believe this is true. Note what Jesus prophesied concerning the signs of the times. Luke 21:20-24:
When you see Jerusalem being surrounded by armies, you will know that its desolation is near. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those in the city get out, and let those in the country not enter the city. For this is the time of punishment in fulfillment of all that has been written. How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! There will bee great distress in the land and wrath against this people. They will fall by the sword and will be taken as prisoners to all the nations. Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.
The time has come for us to experience a second Pentecost. The world today is ripe for the gospel. When we do our part by putting self aside and make room for the infilling of the Holy Spirit, the prophecy Peter quoted from Joel will be fulfilled once again. Here again is Acts 2:19-21:
I will show wonders in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood and fire and billows of smoke. The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord. And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.
These are the signs that will precede the second coming of Christ. But, in closing, I want you to note the last words of this prophecy. Verse 21:
And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.
Compare it with Romans 10:13-15:
...For, Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!
This text applies to you and me. May we all say to God, Here am I, God; send me.