THE STORY CONTINUES
Chuck Allen, Pastor
Jesus dominated the four Gospel accounts, but the Spirit of God dominates the book of Acts. Luke’s second book (Acts) begins with Jesus’ reminder of his pre-Resurrection promise to send his followers the Holy Spirit. This is what you have heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now. (Acts 1:4-5)
In John’s gospel, Jesus spoke extensively about the coming promised Holy Spirit. Jesus told the disciples: I will not leave you orphaned. (John 14:18a)
But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you. (John 14:26) When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who comes from the Father, he will testify on my behalf. (15:26) When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth… (John 16:13a).
In Acts, Jesus again reminds his followers that the promised Holy Spirit is coming:
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8).
So, get the picture…It had been a difficult time for the apostles. One day they had followed Jesus through the streets of Jerusalem as He rode on a donkey. The crowds had been ecstatic. Lining the streets they cast palm branches before the Lord shouting “Hosanna, Hosanna, blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.” This was it, or though the disciples had thought. Jesus would rise to the position of political and military prominence they had envisioned when they first began to follow Him. And they, the faithful disciples, would be the cabinet, they would be His key advisors.
But then it all came crashing down around their heads. How could things have gone so wrong so quickly? One week Jesus is being proclaimed as the Messiah, the next week the very same people are shouting, “Crucify Him, crucify Him!” How could it be? Their Teacher and Leader, the one who had fed the five thousand with just a handful of food, the one who had raised Lazarus from the dead, the one who had given sight to the blind and made the lame walk, the one who commanded the sea to be still, and it obeyed, was now being taken off by these pagan Romans to be crucified, like a common criminal?
As they stood around the outskirts of the crowds that surrounded the cross, it was their darkest moment. No doubt they walked away in silence, confused, ashamed, frightened, with shattered hopes.
In the days following the crucifixion, Several of those who followed Jesus claimed that they had seen Him alive. Some thought the Jews had stolen His body, others knew they had seen Him, they were certain. At first they couldn’t believe it, could it be true, or was it just a cruel hoax?
Gathered together in an upper room, they locked the doors, fearful that they would suffer the same fate that befell Jesus. And then He appeared, the doors were locked, no one could get in, but there He was, in the flesh, resurrected from the dead. They touched His hands, they heard His voice, they saw His face. Jesus was alive, He had conquered death.
For forty days after His suffering on the cross, Jesus went about teaching and preaching the Kingdom of God. And then, perhaps on a hillside, Jesus gathered His disciples together and he commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but that they should wait for the Promise of the Father, who was the Holy Spirit. And they asked Him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the Kingdom to Israel?”
They were still looking for a restoration of a political, geographical and military kingdom. But Jesus told them it was not for them to know the times or the seasons, when He would return and when He would restore the Kingdom was not their business but the Father’s. Their business was to be about the job of witnessing. They would receive Power after the Holy Spirit came upon them and they would be witnesses for Jesus, in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the very ends of the Earth.
This was the last thing Jesus said before He ascended into heaven. His disciples would be endued with power from the Holy Spirit and they would be witnesses.
One of the things we do, as a church, as the body of Christ, as His followers, as Christians, is we are witnesses unto Him, we testify about who He is, what He has done and what He will do for those who place their trust in Him.
Every Christian who has come to know the forgiveness of sins, who has experienced the grace of God, who has the Holy Spirit living inside of them, should be, can be and is commanded by Christ to be a witness.
The word witness is a translation of the Greek word MARTUS from which we get our English word martyr – one who witnesses with his or her life.
This is what it means to be a witness, to simply tell with our lips and with our lives what Jesus has done for you and what He will do for anyone who will put their trust in Him. But many Christians never share; they never tell anyone else about Jesus, many of them cannot.
Only about half 53% of Christians feel a sense of responsibility to tell others about their faith. In other words, nearly half of the folks that claim to be Followers of Jesus don’t think that it is their personal responsibility to share their faith with those who do not know Jesus. And only 3% of those folks have attempted to share their faith verbally in the past 12 months.
What does the scripture have to say? What did Jesus have to say about our responsibility to be a witness?
In Acts 1:4-8, our specific verse will be verse 8.
This is the mandate that explains all of the activities throughout the book of acts. It is the theme of the book of acts, it was the theme of the early church, that they were to go and be witnesses. “You shall receive the power of the Holy Spirit coming upon you.”
So, what happened then, and what does it mean today? Well, there was and there is the Promise of power.
God had been with them in the flesh. Jesus had walked beside them and they had beheld His glory. But He was ascending into heaven and He promised to leave them a power, that would not just be with them, but would be within them.
The Holy Spirit was very active in the Old Testament. Time and time again, we read the the Spirit of God fell on Old Testament heroes…But NOW, the Holy Spirit would fall on these leaders of the first church and The Spirit would RESIDE IN THEM! This is divine power; this is the power of God living within us.
We have the Promise of Power! And That Power is a PERSONAL POWER!
It comes in the Person of the Holy Spirit This power is not something we learn, it is not something we earn, it is not something you sort of grow into as you go to church, it is, in fact, not something but rather someone. This power comes when we have the person of the Holy Spirit, God Himself, living inside of us.
It comes personally to every follower of Jesus! It is not a question of how much of the Holy Spirit we get but how much of us He gets.
This power is the result of a life surrendered to the power of the Holy Spirit.
Hey Chuck, I’d like to have some of that power!
How can I get in this power? Look with me in Acts 4:31 And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together;
Did you see that? They PRAYED! When was the last time you described your prayer life as POWERFUL? Prayer emboldens your faith and your obedience!
God directed His Spirit upon and within praying people. That power was promised and that power was personal, God’s power is prayerful!
The power promised in person is eternal – there’s no recharging needed. In 2 Corinthians 10:3-4 3 We are human, but we don’t wage war as humans do. 4 We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments.. This power is eternal
This power never fails, it never weakens, if we grow weak it is because we are trying to operate in our own strength rather than in His strength.
The power they received is the power personally promised to us. Eternal power that will make you:
Bold – Acts 4:13 “When they observed the boldness of Peter and John and realized that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were amazed and knew that they had been with Jesus.”
Passionate – Acts 5:40- 42 “After they called in the apostles and had them flogged, they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus and released them. Then they went out from the presence of the Sanhedrin, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to be dishonored on behalf of the name. Every day in the temple complex, and in various homes, they continued teaching and proclaiming the good news that the Messiah is Jesus.”
Effective – Acts 6:7 “So the preaching about God flourished, the number of the disciples in Jerusalem multiplied greatly, and a large group of priests became obedient to the faith.”
Is your life being lived in the power of the Holy Spirit?` Then claim His power, get BOLD, PASSIONATE & EFFECTIVE. Live in that power and leave the results to God. Because, there is a purpose to the power –
The major reason the Holy Spirit was given to Followers of Jesus is so that we might join God in the expansion of His Kingdom. While the Holy Spirit does many other things in the life of the believer, He is in the world to convict of sin and to enable us to share the good news with sinners. This is the Power Jesus Promised us.
Then how am I missing out on THE POWER?
You can Have a Cold Heart in your love for Jesus – you cannot say you love Jesus and then be content to allow people for whom He died to miss Heaven. You cannot say you love Him and then disobey Him. Jesus said, If you love me, you will keep my commandments. Here he commands us to be His witnesses. In Matthew 28, in the great commission He commands us to make disciples. When you truly love someone, the things that are dear to them, become dear to you. 2.
The Spirit of God didn’t come here simply to make us comfortable. He came here to empower us, to enable us, to encourage us, and to edify us (or build us up).
God has given us this power for a purpose – so we can be witnesses.
Put That Power in Play!
The Gospel is not something we come to church to hear; it something we go from church to live!
On December 17, 1912 Bill Borden boarded ship for China via Egypt. His missionary career would be among history’s briefest – and most effective.
Borden was born into an upper-class family on Chicago’s Gold Coast, heir to a fortune in real estate and milk production. At Yale University, Bill became well known as a star athlete, good-looking, worth $50 million, and committed to Jesus.
Following graduation, he announced he was giving his immense inheritance to the cause of world missions. He joined the China Inland Mission, planning to evangelize Muslims in China. But first came language study in Egypt.
A month after arriving in Egypt, Borden contracted spinal meningitis. He was dead in two weeks, but he left a final message on paper stuffed under his pillow: “No Reserve! No Retreat! No Regrets!”
What about you today?
Are you sharing your faith in this life?
Do you have a faith to share?
Are you willing to be obedient to Jesus Christ?
How did this power start: Prayer
How did this power stay: Obedience
How did this power look: Lives changed
How about you?
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