“Call Upon the Name” Acts: To the End of the Earth
Scripture: Acts 2:14-21
When Peter preached his first sermon at Pentecost the Holy Spirit anointed his preaching so that three thousand souls were saved. This was not the result of Peter’s eloquence or abilities but the Spirit working powerfully through him. Today the same Holy Spirit indwells and empowers believers to share the hope of the gospel with others. Christians live in the reality that Christ will return one day so we should call upon the name of Jesus and be saved.
#1: The Promise
Peter explains what’s happening at Pentecost by declaring it is a fulfillment of Joel 2:28-32 found in the Old Testament. Joel prophesied that the Spirit would fall on all flesh, meaning all kinds of people without discrimination and distinction. Gender, age and social class would no longer be dividing markers. The Spirit wouldn’t distinguish people the way we do. In fact, the Spirit falls on those whom he chooses by his will, not by our qualifications or preparations. When the Spirit fills a person, he regenerates their heart giving them faith and repentance so that they are saved in Christ. If the Spirit can fall on anybody and bring them to Christ, then we must not lose hope on those we think would reject the gospel or have rejected it in the past.
The book of Acts records case after case of the most unlikely people coming to faith in Christ because the Spirit was at work in them. This encourages those of us who are frustrated when loved ones seem to want nothing to do with the gospel. We should not give up, lose heart or become cynical, deciding in our hearts that there’s no way they would ever believe. It’s not our job to save, only to share. We trust the Spirit will convict and call people to Christ. Then everybody who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved.
#2: The Urgency
Peter reinterprets Joel 2:28 by telling us that the last days have come upon us because the Spirit has come. We now live in the last days. But we live sandwiched between two times. The last days have begun and we are anticipating the day of the Lord, the day of Christ’s return and final judgment. That day is described in Acts 2:19-20 as a day of blood, fire, smoke and darkness. On that day all humanity will have to give an account before God. Those who call upon Christ will be honored as they are forgiven and justified. They will receive a crown of glory because of their Savior. Those who have not called upon Christ will be humiliated as they stand guilty before God. They will receive a righteous judgment because of their sins. This is why for believers it’ll be a great and magnificent day but for unbelievers it will be one of dread and terror.
The difference is accounted for by Christ. In Luke 23 we see the darkness of that final judgment falling upon Jesus as he’s crucified. This is a sign that God’s future judgment has broken into the present and Jesus takes on God’s judgment for those who look to him in faith. This is why on the day of the Lord believers who call upon Jesus’ name will be saved. But for those who don’t call upon his name, God’s divine wrath and anger are still awaiting them in heaven. Because we don’t know when the day of the Lord will be, our lives are filled with urgency. We may be prepared to face that day but how many in our lives are not prepared for it?
If we live with that urgency we should begin sharing gospel hope regularly. Peter spoke and shared and the Spirit used that to bring people to faith in Christ. He saved people by using Peter’s witness. God wants to do the same with us. This is why Jesus sent us his Spirit, so that we would have power to be his witnesses in this world (Acts 1:8). Would we believe that the gospel promise really is wonderful: call upon the name of the Lord and be saved. Would we also believe that this promise has an expiration date as the day of the Lord is coming. Until then we should share gospel hope with those in our lives that they might call upon the name of Jesus and be saved.
Group Discussion Questions
- Share something you found either interesting, memorable, convicting, confusing or challenging about the passage/sermon.
- Is there somebody you have shared gospel hope with before and they rejected it? How does that make you feel sharing the gospel with them again? What are common excuses you make to not share the gospel with certain people?
- How do you balance feeling the urgency of the day of the Lord while trusting in God’s sovereignty and timing? What errors/dangers should we be aware of by emphasizing one over the other?
- Is there a particular sermon or book or talk or verse or quote about the gospel that you could share or have shared with others? What is it? Would you be willing to share it this week?
*In your prayer time, pray for one person specifically that they might call upon the name of the Lord and be saved.