Have you ever been a part of a large crowd? What is the largest? If you like to go to the movies, the average movie theater seats 255 people. The FedEx forum in Memphis, Tennessee, the home of the Grizzles and the University of Memphis Tigers, can host a crowd of 18,119 people. 20,000 people can attend events at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee, home of the Predators and many concerts. Neyland Stadium maxes out at 102,455 football fans. An average of 57,400 Mickey Mouse lovers walk Main Street, U.S.A. at Disney World in Orland, Florida, on a daily basis.
There are places that can host larger crowds and places that host smaller crowds. However, when we attend events and venues that host such large crowds, we typically go for some specific experience. The experience might be a sporting event, concert, convention, or any number of things, but after being there, we leave different because of what we have experienced.
Time Out #1:
- Have you ever been a part of a large crowd? What is the largest?
- What are some experiences you have had, whether individually or as a family, that came as a result of attending a large event?
There is a specific event that happens every year in Jerusalem called Pentecost. The Jews have a feast to celebrate the spring harvest, and it draws in quite the crowd. In Acts 2, the Bible provides us with a view into the most memorable Pentecost feast. Josephus, a Jewish historian, describes the Passover feast as bringing more than two million Jews into the city. Pentecost was not attended as well as the Passover that took place just fifty days earlier. However, as you can imagine based on the Passover’s attendance, the Pentecost feast drew in a crowd.
This particular event was no let-down on personal experience, either! On this specific occasion in Acts 2, we learn that some 3,000 of those in attendance had experiences that would change their temporary and eternal lives forever. They encountered the gospel. For the first time, they experienced salvation in Jesus Christ. They now had hope, purpose, and a future. Everything was different upon encountering the gospel message in its simplest form.
Time Out # 2:
- Take time to read through Acts 2.
This is the first new covenant salvation story we encounter in the Bible. After reading this salvation event, we must ask, “What did they do? What did they experience? How were they saved?” In asking these questions, we will begin to see a consistent pattern God uses to bring people to salvation through His son, Jesus Christ. If we too want salvation, following this same pattern and example is very important.
Let’s look at what happened in the text of Acts 2.
They heard the gospel message (vv.14–36).
They were convicted of sins and believed the gospel to be true (v.37).
They were instructed in the additional requirements for salvation: repent and be baptized (vv.38–41).
They responded appropriately to the inspired instructions they heard (v.41).
They showed signs of repentance and belief in their life (vv. 42–47).
Time Out #3:
- What are the “tongues of fire,” and why are they important to this salvation story?
- How did those who heard the Pentecost message respond? Why is that important?
- Can you think of a time you or someone you know responded to the gospel in the same way as those on the day of Pentecost? How did that impact you?
A CLOSER LOOK
As we begin to wrap up this family devotional, I want to take a closer look at one of the first steps for us to respond to God for salvation: hearing the gospel message. Hearing can be difficult. To prove this, I want you to try a few of these below.
- Send one person from your family to another room. Once they are there, begin talking in a normal voice and see if they can hear you.
- Send another person in your family to a noisy room (I am thinking a bathroom with a vent fan or a laundry room with the washer running). Once they are there, begin talking in a normal voice and see if they can hear you.
- Have another person in your family begin drawing, playing a game, doing an activity, etc. Once they are doing this activity, begin talking to them in a normal voice. The person doing the activity needs to continue doing the activity while you are attempting to talk to them.
How did that go? I hope you had some laughable moments, but I know that these are teachable moments. When we want to seek salvation, we must listen; we must hear. In order to hear, we must do a few things.
In the first example, distance played a major role in the individual’s ability to hear. We must position our hearts in the right condition to hear the gospel message. James 4:8 reads, “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you…” (ESV). If we want to obey the gospel, we must position our hearts, souls, and minds to accept what God will say to us: we are sinners in need of a savior, and His name is Jesus the Christ.
In the second example, noise played a major role in prohibiting the individual from hearing. When we desire what God desires for us (to come to the knowledge of the truth – Timothy 2:4), we must remove the extra noise. The Bible teaches us that the truth will set us free (John 8:32), and that we find this truth in God’s word (John 17:17). When we want to hear the gospel for salvation, we must block out all the other noise except for what God tells us in His word concerning life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3).
In the third example, distractions were the key component in blocking the individual from hearing. When we want to hear the gospel, we need to put aside any distractions. These can be physical, emotional, mental, or spiritual. By doing so, we are able to simply focus on what God has done for us in order to save us. In this we will find peace, hope, and our salvation.
I will leave with this final thought on hearing the gospel straight from scripture. “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17). If we want to hear the gospel, if we want to have faith, and if we want salvation, God gives us the means by which to accomplish these, and they come from hearing the words written in the Bible.
 “Tongues of Fire” is how the Bible describes the Holy Spirit coming upon the Apostles on the day of Pentecost. By the power of God, each person heard the message in his or her original language. Many who did not understand, or who were unwilling to listen, rationalized this experience as the Apostles being drunk. Peter responds in verse fourteen and fifteen saying that drunkenness is not the reason people hear their own language, rather, as we know, it is the fullness of the Spirit. Why is this important? The Holy Spirit is the one talking and instruct through Peter in Acts 2. He is the same Spirit who has authored and preserved scripture for us today. The “tongues of fire” validate that this message is from God!