I heard it said many years ago: Christmas is Christ with us, Easter is Christ for us, and Pentecost is Christ in us. I trust that you and your ministry is on the pathway to personal Pentecost this coming weekend.
Two weeks ago, the Global Church Network was fortunate to host The Normal 21st Century Church Livestream. Twenty-six Christian leaders brought powerful presentations, challenging us NOT to go back to normal, but to move forward to the Christ-given normal of victory! As Dr. Kenneth Ulmer stated, "The worst place to be is where God was, instead of where God is now." We are humbled to report that more than 37,000 pastors and leaders joined us from every world region for the livestream!
Over the last three years, the Billion Soul Network transitioned to the Global Church Network. The official announcement took place on October 31, 2017, at Castle Church, Wittenberg, Germany. GCN was hosting the Wittenberg 2017 Congress, commemorating the 500th Anniversary of Martin Luther nailing the 95 Thesis on Castle Church door.
Since that time, the Global Church Network website (www.GCNW.tv) has been updated and the Global Church Learning Center has become the Global Church Divinity School. Special announcements regarding online training will happen in June. The growth of the Global Church Network is on the projected path of one million networked churches by the end of 2021!
In 2005, the Global Church Network set a strategic goal of the planting of five million new churches for a Billion Soul Harvest by 2020. The missional goal was not to reach a billion but to win a billion people to Christ. On November 7, 2019 (14 years later), the collective harvest of five million churches for a billion souls was accomplished through networked leaders worldwide. This missional success has placed the Global Church in a strategic advantage to complete the Great Commission by the 2000th Birthday of the Church (www.Finish2030.com). FINISH 2030 is focused on planting churches, establishing hubs, equipping leaders and translating Scripture in the hardest places in the world!
Message Continues In Visionary Coaching
Pentecost: Gateway To The World
The Book of Acts is not the Old-Time Religion, not the New-Time Religion, but it is the All-Time Religion. Thus, it is the "Any-Time" Religion and Every-Time Religion!
I am going to give you from God's Word, three marvelously, wonderful witnesses that will attest that Jesus Christ is the saving Son of God. God does not want us to have to be a question mark with our head bent over an exclamation mark, standing up straight and tall, saying, "Yes, praise God, I am child of God."
Our text tells us about Cornelius. He was a Gentile. Up until this time, the Gentiles had not been added to the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ. All those early believers were Jews. Cornelius was a Roman army officer. He's from Italy-garrisoned there in Palestine. He was hungry to know God. God supernaturally connected this Roman army officer and the Apostle Pete.
God has arranged a divine appointment. Cornelius is standing in front of Peter. He has pulled together all his friends, his neighbors and his relatives. They all come together and sit in front of Peter. Basically, Cornelius says, "We have to come to hear you tell us the truth."
In Acts 10:38-48, we read:
Peter begins to talk about: "How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: Who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with Him. And we are witnesses"-underscore that phrase- "we are witnesses of all things which he did both in the land of the Jews, and in Jerusalem; whom they slew and hanged on a tree: Him God raised up the third day, and shewed him openly; Not to all the people, but unto witnesses"-underscore that again- "unto witnesses chosen before God, even to us, who did eat and drink with him after he rose from the dead. And he commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is He which was ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead."
Now, I'm going to give you these three Pentecostal witnesses.
I. We Have A Personal Witness of the Saints
In verse 39, Peter says: "And we are witnesses..."
I want you to imagine a jury, and you're trying to get on that jury-you're impaneling the jury. You want the jury to be impartial, but you want the jury to render a good verdict. With this in mind, you are going to get a broad section of the community. You're going to put that broad sectioning in a jury box, give them the facts and ask them to come to a conclusion. Well, this is what our Lord did when he pulled together the Apostles.
The Apostles had been with our Lord for three or four years. They lived with Him. They walked with Him. They were companions. They ate together. They fellowshiped together.
I want you to think about what kind of a group they were. For example, John was a young man. He was a visionary. He was sort of a philosopher type of fellow. Simon Peter was the opposite of John-the big fisherman, the hard-working fisherman. I imagine that he had pretty salty language before he got saved, because he slipped into it after he got saved. He knew how to curse and swear.
Next, there was Simon the Zealot. The word "zealot" means "right-winger." He was a political activist; a Zionist. He was for Israel. The opposite of him was Matthew the Publican. Do you know who Matthew the Publican was? Matthew the Publican was a tax collector. Matthew had sold-out to the Roman government. Palestine had been occupied by the Roman government. Can you imagine how you would feel if the Russians took us over, and one of our own became a tax collector for the Russians? They thought of Mathew as a turncoat. Can you imagine having Simon and Matthew on the same jury, trying to ask them to reach a unanimous verdict about anything?
Next, there was Nathaniel. Nathaniel was a cynic. Remember? He was the man who said, "Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?" Then, there was Thomas. He was a doubter. He said, "I'll not believe unless I see the print of the nails in his hands and in his side." There was Philip. Philip was a figurer. Jesus said, "How are we going to feed these?" He said. "It will take so much money to feed these five thousand." He had one of these little calculators in his mind. He was one of these guys who had everything figured out. He was a facts and figures type of leader.
There was also James. James was a businessman. He was a no-nonsense guy. We cannot forget Andrew. Andrew was such a nice guy. He is the guy running around patting little kids on the head and saying, "There's a little lad here. He's got five loaves and a few fish, and so forth."
We could not have gotten a wider mixture than these eleven and they come out with unanimity as witnesses about the Lord Jesus Christ! They witnessed primarily to three things: They witnessed to His virtuous life; His vicarious death and His victorious resurrection.
A. His Virtuous Life (10:38-39)
They witnessed: "How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power Who went about doing good healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with Him. And we are witnesses..."
B. His Vicarious Death (10:39)
In verse 39: "And we are witnesses of all things which He did both in the land of the Jews, and in Jerusalem; Whom they slew and hanged on a tree."
C. His Victorious Resurrection (10:40-41)
In verses 40 and 41 we read, "Him God raised up the third day, and showed Him openly. Not to all the people, but unto witnesses chosen before God, even to us, Who did eat and drink with Him after He rose from the dead."
Can you imagine a courtroom, when you are trying to attest to the historical facts of something, and you bring five hundred witnesses in, who say, "We all saw the same thing. We all experienced the same thing."
"Well," you say, "maybe you saw something, but maybe it was a ghost." Peter says, "It was not a ghost. We sat down and ate with Him. I mean, we actually touched Him and handled Him. We ate with him."
A lot of people say, "That's all a lie. Somebody just recorded it but it is not true." Do you think that it's a lie? You'd better go back and read in secular and profane history and find out how these people died-these early Christians. They died for what they believed. These eyewitnesses died. This same Peter was crucified upside down. Some people will live for a lie, but no man will willingly die for a lie. These people died for their faith because, they had learned to laugh at death; because they knew that Jesus Christ had come out of that grave.
The testimony of the saints of all of the ages- is one dramatic truth that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. They said, "We are witnesses," to Cornelius. "We are telling you what these eyes have seen and what these hearts have experienced."
II. We Have A Prophetic Witness of Scriptures (Acts 10:43)
In verse 43, we read, "To Him give all the prophets witness, that through His Name whosoever believeth in Him shall receive remission of sins."
This verse gives us the key to the Old Testament. Do you know what the Old Testament is about? It is about Jesus. "To him give all the prophets witness..."
Do you know what the Old Testament is saying? It's saying, "Jesus saves." Peter said: "To him give all the prophets witness, that through His Name whosoever believeth in Him"-(Jesus)-"shall receive remission of sins."
The Bible is not written, primarily, to give us the history of Israel. It's not written, primarily, to tell us about ceremonies and rituals. It is written to tell us that Jesus saves.
When you open the Bible Jesus steps out of the pages. In the Garden of Eden, when God slew innocent animals and made a covering of skin for Adam and Eve, it pictured the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. When Cain and Abel had an argument over religion, and Abel slew an innocent lamb for the atonement of his sins, Abel's lamb spoke of the Lord Jesus. In Genesis 3:15, where God spoke of the seed of the woman Who would bruise the serpent's head, He spoke of the Lord Jesus Christ.
All of the Old Testament is about Jesus-all of it. "To him give all the prophets witness..." What a testimony! What a testimony to the unity of the Bible. What a testimony to the inspiration of the Bible. What a confirmation of our faith is the Bible.
The Bible was written over fifteen hundred years, by forty different authors, in three different languages, and by people from all walks of life. And yet: "To him"-(to Jesus)-"give all the prophets witness..."
We must never entertain the idea that there are several plans of salvation in the Bible. The Old Testament people were not saved one way and people in the New Testament were saved another way. The message of the prophets is that Jesus saves.
Jesus said: "Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad" (John 8:56). The Bible says that the Gospel was preached unto Abraham. There's never been but one plan of salvation-it's faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. People in the Old Testament were saved by looking forward to Jesus. We are saved by looking backward to what Jesus did. Yet, we are all saved by looking upward to the Lord, Who lived then, Who lives now, and Who is the Savior of the world.
III. We Have A Praise Witness of the Spirit (Acts 10:44-48)
In verse 44: "While Peter yet spoke these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the Word. And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, and as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God"-the word "magnify" God means to "praise" God. "Then answered Peter, Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we? And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days."
Peter gave the first witness; the Scripture gives the second witness; and the Holy Spirit gives the third witness. While they were hearing verse 43: "To Him give all the prophets witness, that through His Hame whosoever believes in Him shall receive remission of sins."
In other words, "You are saved, Cornelius, by believing in Jesus. Salvation is by grace. You just believe in the Lord Jesus, and you'll be saved." Cornelius' heart is so hungry. Peter didn't have to talk Cornelius into anything. He just believed.
Immediately, he received the Holy Spirit and began to speak in tongues. Why did God give Cornelius gift of tongues? I'll tell you why: God now is enlarging the Church to include the Gentiles. The whole story of Cornelius is that the Gentiles are now being added to the Church, and both Jew and Gentile are becoming one Body.
The first time that we read, "spoke in tongues" was in Acts 2, on the day of Pentecost. That was the Jewish Pentecost. In Acts 10, we have the Gentile Pentecost. God is saying to Peter, "Peter, you know what you received back here, in the book of Acts-in chapter 2? Cornelius has received the same thing that you have. The same God that saved you, Peter, has now saved Cornelius. The same Spirit-baptism, that I have given to you, I am giving now to Cornelius." The speaking in tongues was the outward evidence of the internal work of God in the hearts of these people. The amazing, wonderful thing was that God was giving the Holy Spirit to live within the hearts of men.
When I was attending the University of South Alabama in 1980, in Mobile, Alabama, the enemy of our souls whispered to me, "What you believe about Jesus and your salvation are not true." When I heard his whisper and his words, I spoke out loud to him. I said, "I know that I know what I believe is completely true. I have experienced in my life, what the Christians experienced on the Day of Pentecost. I know all of this is true!" From that moment until this day, he has never again tempted me to doubt the authenticity of Jesus, His Word, or my salvation. What we need today is not 1st Century Pentecost. We need to experience the true power of the Holy Spirit in our lives! We don't need to go back 2,000 years, but to catch up with what the Holy Spirit is doing.
Until The Last Person Has Heard,
Dr. James. O. Davis
Global Church Network
Cochair / Global Networking