The Last Days – Acts 2:16-21

Some of the most important scriptures have the word “faith” at their core.

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.”

“But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith.”

Our ministry can be characterized as “testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.”

When we add the word “believe,” our list of important verses doubles or triples.

Heb. 11 defines faith this way: “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

So faith is the tunnel through which we come to the heart of Christianity.

But quite obviously, this has to be the right kind of faith and it must be placed in the right Persons & things.

A man might have faith that his good looks or good works will take him to Heaven,

But that faith is corrupt and will eventually be a part of that person’s eternal condemnation.

Contrary to modern philosophy, WHAT we believe is more important than simply believing.

And this puts the Bible on an extremely important pedestal.

The Bible is the revelation of the One Whom, and in Whom, we are to believe.

And the Bible is filled with promise after promise from that One Who cannot lie.

A person could very reasonably characterize the Bible as a Book of Promises.

It is replete with promises.

There are those promises that are clearly declared and others which are beautifully implied.

And we find them all the way from Genesis 1 to Revelation 22.

Going back to Hebrews 11:1, we are told that the life-blood of faith is the promise of God.

“Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

If there were no promises, there would be far less reason for faith and far less likelihood of faith.

Acts 2, from verse 1 to verse 47, is the fulfilment of promise.

In the Book of Luke the Lord Jesus told the Apostles:

“Ye are witnesses of these things.

And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you.”

And in Acts 1 Luke reiterated and clarified that promise.

“The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach,

Until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen:

And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me.

For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.

Ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.”

About ten days later, the promise of the Saviour was fulfilled.

“Suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.

And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.

And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.”

This glossolalia, or speaking in foreign languages, was not bestowed by God to impress the disciples.

It was a miracle of the Spirit given to grab the attention of the thousands of visitors who had come to Jerusalem to celebrated the Feast Weeks.

And when a huge crowd of excited Jews began to gather there in one of the courtyards of the Temple,

Peter arose to explain what was going on.

But he didn’t refer to the promise of the Lord Jesus, rather he reached back and pulled up a much earlier promise from Joel 2:28-32.

Please turn to Joel 2.

“And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions:

And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit.

And I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke.

The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the LORD come.

And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the LORD shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the LORD hath said, and in the remnant whom the LORD shall call.”

Peter’s quote came from the Septuagint version of the Greek Old Testament.

There are a few very slight differences between what we read in Joel and what Peter quoted.

One of those differences is found in the introduction:

Joel said, “And it shall come to pass AFTERWARD, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh.”

Peter said, “And it shall come to pass IN THE LAST DAYS, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh.”

There is no important difference between the two versions,

But I want to use Peter’s words as the title of our message this morning: “THE LAST DAYS.”

Let’s notice the COMMENCEMENT, CHARACTER, CLIMAX and CELEBRATION of the last days.

First, when did the last days COMMENCE?

As I have said many times, we need to examine our perspective from time to time.

We live in the United States of America; a country which has been in existence for 227 years.

Joel was a prophet of God who preached to Israel about 800 B.C.

If the Exodus took place in 1491 B.C., Israel was then about 3 times as old as the United States is now.

But Peter preached his Pentecostal sermon about 800 years after that, or just about 1500 years after Israel became the nation of God.

It’s not unreasonable to say that if Exodus spoke about the “first days,” then Acts could very easily be talking about the “last days.”

And then we factor in the message of the Prophet Daniel.

Turn to Daniel 9:24-26:

“Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.

Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.

And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined.

And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.”

Notice that as far as God’s timetable for the nation of Israel was concerned from about the days of Daniel until the end of things was described as 70 weeks.

It was actually 70 weeks of years – 490 years.

69 of those weeks of years were going to be spent prior to the cutting off of the Messiah.

There would then be left only one more special week of time for Israel.

The 70th week of Daniel will be spent in tribulation when the house of Israel is made ready for its King.

Daniel didn’t understand that there would be a gap of 2000 plus years between the 69th and 70th weeks,

But from our vantage point, we can see that quite clearly.

And we praise the Lord for that gap, because it was time pre-determined by God so that gentiles like us might be grafted into the program of God.

But what I want you to see is that after the cutting off of the Messiah, after the crucifixion of Christ, the hands of God’s prophetic clock were just about straight up on the dial.

Peter was quite right in saying, “These are the beginning of the last days, Israel.

It’s time to get ready for the Messiah to return in triumphant glory.

It’s time to call upon the Name of the Lord for salvation.”

In one sense, the last days commenced at the crucifixion of the Saviour.

And the 70th week of Daniel could very easily begin within the next few seconds.

Amen! Even come Lord Jesus.

How shall those last days be CHARACTERIZED?

Well, that is a subject too large to be fully expounded here this morning.

We might turn to Ezekiel, Jeremiah, Isaiah or some of the minor prophets for more information.

And of course, we could spend the rest of the day studying the Book of Revelation for more.

But it’s not our purpose right now.

What are the characteristics to which Peter and Joel refer?

They boil down to two things: spectacular signs, and the ministry of the Holy Spirit.

The disciples were being slandered by some people in the crowd as being drunk.

Peter denied the charge by saying that they were all filled with the Spirit of God, just as Joel had said.

The statement was that God would “pour out His Spirit upon all flesh.”

Did that mean that all the people of the world, or even all the people of Israel, would be indwelt and/or filled with the Spirit of God?

That certainly didn’t happen in Acts 2, nor at any time previously.

Nor has it ever happened since.

Furthermore there are no other scriptures telling us that it ever will happen.

The prophecy is teaching us that there will be people from every region of the world, every nation, and every culture upon whom the Spirit will be poured.

It is a promise that, not only will these 120 be filled, but so will be people who speak each of the tongues who heard the disciples witnessing in this chapter, and other tongues as well.

When the Lord Jesus reiterated Joel’s promise back in chapter 1, He said,

“Ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.”

In the 2000 years since Acts 2 the gospel has been spread throughout the world.

There have been missionaries working among the Muslim’s for generations.

There have been ambassadors for Christ, relentlessly pushing the gospel into the deepest jungles of Africa, South America and the South Pacific.

The gospel is being broadcast into the most remote and forbidden places by way of short wave radio and other means.

And that “preaching of the cross is . . . the power of God unto salvation.”

It carries its own power, and it can slice open hearts and consciences like a hot knife through butter.

And when a sinner is born again by the grace of God, he is immediately indwelt by the Holy Spirit.

Upon him is poured the Spirit of the Lord.

I am not saying that the indwelling of the Spirit and the filling of the Spirit are the same thing.

But both could be characterized by the pouring out of the Spirit of God.

And where the power of the Spirt is, there too can be found the things to which Peter refers: dreams, visions and prophesying.

When John laid down the pen which recorded the Book of Revelation, sometime around 96 or 98 AD.,

There came an end to a very important period of history.

With the completion of the New Testament, the saints of God possessed all the special revelation of God that we need to do the work to which He has commissioned us.

But during the days of the New Testament, there were times and places

Where the people of the Lord saw dreams and visions, and people were given special prophecies.

The Book of Revelation is a perfect example.

But today, all that remain of these special gifts is prophecy – in a slightly modified format.

No longer is the prophet of God receiving and sharing new and special revelation of the future.

Today’s prophet is simply a spokesman for God;

A preacher of the revelation that has already been given.

As Peter was a prophet of God on the Day of Pentecost.

This part of the prophecy of Joel is being fulfilled today, even as we speak.

Sergey Mocholav has been preaching the gospel of Christ in Irkutsk, Russia today.

And Lanny Wood has been lead of the Spirit to preach to a couple of churches in Brazil.

And P.V. Zugg has declared the Word of the Lord somewhere in Egypt today.

And Young Ho Lee has been laboring in the Word on the island of Okinawa.

This part of the prophecy of Peter is being fulfilled yet today.

But what about the signs in the Heavens above and in the earth beneath?

There are some over-zealous preachers who have tried to convince us that these things actually took place either on the day that the Lord Jesus was crucified or else when he arose from the grave.

If that be the case, then we are forced to prove it with some pretty scanty secular history.

And I have serious doubts.

But when I read the Book of Revelation, and as I read through certain portions of unfulfilled prophesies in the Old Testament, I see the same kinds of signs there.

I am forced by these things to believe that these are yet to come.

John tells us that during the Tribulation, there will be cosmic disturbances which will help to decimate the wicked of the world.

Revelation reveals that there will be so much smoke on earth that much of whatever is left of the sun will be blotted out.

The dying sun and earthly smoke will make the green cheese of the moon look more like nacho cheese.

Without saying that we are in the Tribulation, because I don’t believe that we are,

We are still in what Peter refers to here as “the last Days.”

It began at the time of the Lord’s crucifixion, but it will end perhaps no more than a decade from now.

Peter also refers to the CLIMAX of those Last Days.

“The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come.”

There have been some great and notable days since the Lord commensed His creation.

In fact that first day of creation has to be one of the greatest: “And God said, Let there be light and there was light.”

The day when the Lord revealed His heart and will to Israel in the giving of the law was a great day.

The day in which our Saviour died, has to be considered one of the most important days in human history.

And for a number of reasons, it was not Good Friday.

Then there was that day which began 72 hours later, and the Lord emerged from the grave.

Certainly the Day of Pentecost was a great day, although it was not as important as some seem to think.

But there is yet another great day coming.

It will be a greater day than Pentecost.

In many ways it will be greater than any of the days of creation, or the day of the law.

In fact, in some ways it will supercede even the Day of our Atonement.

Because it will mean the completion of certain aspects of our salvation.

On that great and notable day of the Lord,

The Saviour will come “in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ” – II Thessalonians 1:8.

On the great and notable day of the Lord “the wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God” – Psalm 9:17.

On the great and notable day of the Lord –

“Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.

And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.”

On the great and notable day of the Lord the Lord shall return “with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.”

That will be a great and notable day, because my Lord and Saviour will be shown to be great & notable.

It will be preceded by seven years of divine judgment, the likes of which the world has never seen.

Satan will be judged.

And the wicked will be cast into Hell.

And those who have been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb will be honored along side the Saviour.

Obviously, not every one is going to celebrate the Day of the Lord.

The celebration will belong only to those who have called upon the Name of the Lord.

There is no mistaking the meaning of Peter and Joel when they say, “Whoso every shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Paul uses the same language in Romans 10:

“That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.

For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.

For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?

And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!”

All three of these prophets of God are referring to deliverance from judgment and the sin which ordered this judgment.

And Paul unmistakably relates it to the preaching of the gospel of Christ.

The problem is in the misinterpretation which modern evangelicals so often apply to these words.

Somewhere along the line, people have decided that calling on the Name of the Lord simply means prayer.

Without saying that it does not refer to prayer, it definitely means much more than prayer.

When the Bible uses the words “Name of the Lord” it is referring to the omnipotent Person behind the title.

To call upon the name of the Lord is to acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord.

In the context of Joel and Peter’s sermon it is to acknowledge that the Lord is King and judge of Heaven and earth.

It means that the man who calls upon Him is ready to face the great and notable day of the Lord.

So to call upon the name of the Lord is not a magic charm or talisman to ward off punishment, while the sinner continues in on in his sins and rebellion against God.

To call upon the Name of the Lord, is to come before Him with proper humility, faith and repentance.

To call upon the name of the Lord isn’t to pray using the name of Jesus, it is to bow in total surrender, before Him to Whom the Father has given all power and authority.

Joel 2:28-32 is one of the many great evangelical passages in the Old Testament.

The great and notable day of the Lord will be EXPERIENCED by all creation, from Adam to the very last baby born.

But the great and notable day of the Lord will be CELEBRATED only by those who have bowed before Christ at the cross where He gave His life as a sacrifice for sin.

Are YOU ready for that day?

Are you going to experience the great and notable Day of the Lord?

Or will you celebrate that day?

Are you sure of your relationship to Christ?

Are you ready to stand before the One Who will say to many,

“Depart from me ye wicked into everlasting fire prepared for the Devil and his angels?

Are you sure that you are a child of God?