A Time for More Awe
by Kim Arthur
“And awe came upon every soul” (Acts 2:43).
In Acts 1, we see that Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to empower Jesus’ followers to live differently–to live in a way that testifies to the gospel to the ends of the earth (1:7-8). In Acts 2, a scene unfolded that only Hollywood’s CGI machines could attempt to depict. The Holy Spirit came upon God’s people who were gathered in Jerusalem waiting for what was next. As they gathered waiting, they were filled with the Holy Spirit, and the commotion caused a multitude to gather around them. All were bewildered, some asked what this meant, and others mocked those involved. In any case, the multitude couldn’t help but take notice. Then the apostle Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, stood up to speak the gospel boldly addressing their questions.
When the people heard the gospel spoken, many were “cut to the heart” and asked, “Brothers, what shall we do?” (2:37). Acts goes on to record Peter’s most loving, gracious answer: “‘Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit’ […] and with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying ‘Save yourselves from this crooked generation.’ So those who received his words were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.”
Souls. Sit with that for a moment. These people were a mix of strangers, foreigners, neighbors, friends, family, students, co-workers, servants, and co-worshippers. Yet, ultimately, they were all souls–souls that heard, received, and responded to the Good News of Jesus Christ.
Easter is less than a month away. It’s a national holiday–a world-wide holiday–that should be a natural reminder that we are not just physical beings but soulful creations. Souls that all yearn for more than family photos, bunny rabbits, and delicious meals–souls that need to experience open-heart surgery performed by the Great Physician. We all need God’s expert hands to cut to our hearts and replace what is hard and corroded with healthy hearts of flesh–ones that beat with new blood, new life, new worship, new purpose.
Which souls has God placed in your life—in your proximity, in your schedule, in your friend group? Who does God want to draw to Himself through the way you, I, and we live differently? How can we live in such a way that causes others to still stand “amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?”
awe for today
You see, awe occurred even after the unique events of Pentecost. Awe also resulted in the more ordinary, yet still extraordinary, scene of Acts 2:43 when the disciples and those who had received salvation:
“devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.”
Do you see it? Devoting themselves to embrace these ordinary acts of worship together fostered an environment and a posture where each soul could experience and witness more and more of God. As they devoted themselves to seek God together day by day, they became a community who cared for one another in extraordinary ways, who experienced extraordinary healing, who had uniquely glad and generous hearts…and the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved!
So the questions are: do we want to be a people filled with the awe of God? Do we want to see God’s bride be added to daily through salvations? Do you and I want these things enough to commit ourselves to regularly learning, sharing and receiving God’s Word with others, to fellowshipping with one another, to praying with one another, to practicing sacrificial generosity…
Even as this early church group faced obstacles, uncertainty and eventual scattering to the ends of the earth, they continued committing themselves to one another, to God, and to telling others what they have seen and heard. The result? God continued His saving and growing work in and through them:
“So the church throughout Judea, Galilee and Samara enjoyed peace, as it was being built up; and as it continued in the fear of the Lord [awe] and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it kept increasing.” (Acts 9:31)
May our community and all the gospel churches in Seattle continue to position ourselves to live in awe of God and to be encouraged, equipped and comforted by the Holy Spirit. As we do, may the Lord continue to grow His Church with us!