A PARTNERSHIP WITH PURPOSE – Like Ripples in a Pond
Acts 1:1-11 (p. 758) November 6, 2016
Go back with me in scripture to a time at the end of Jesus’ physical ministry here on earth…He’s shared the passover meal with His followers in the upper room, He’s washed their feet as an example of servanthood and it seems just before they head to the Garden for prayer…and eventually His arrest…Jesus once again tells them He’s “going away, and where He’s going they cannot follow now…but that they would follow later.” (John 13:36)
Peter argues with Him…“No way…I’d die for you.”
And Jesus says “Peter, before the rooster crows you’ll tell people you don’t even know me…3 times.”
It’s real…it’s somber…this conversation is one of preparation…Jesus is saying “goodbye.” They know it…you can feel it.
But Jesus intersperses the conversation with a promise…He says, “I will ask the Father and He will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever – the Spirit of truth.” (John 14:16)
He says, “All this I have spoken while still with you. But the advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name will teach you all things and remind you of everything I’ve said to you.” (John 14:25-26)
When this advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father – He will testify about me…And you must also testify for you have been with me from the beginning.
He’s giving them a heads up about what is about to happen…As the world has hated Him…it will also hate them…and He doesn’t want them to lose hope and fall away.
One of the last things He tells them about the promised Gift of the Holy Spirit is this:
JOHN 16:4-15 (p. 753)
Powerful stuff, huh? To hear this foreboding warning, but also be promised help…Which do you think their minds were on most in this moment? Surely, the foreboding warning…“I’m leaving.”
Its like hearing someone say, “It’ll be OK” in the midst of a circumstance filled with doubt and fear…It doesn’t feel like it will be OK and to hear “It is for your good that I’m going away”…its even harder!
But it was wasn’t it? There would be an arrest, a scattering of the disciples in fear…a crucifixion and burial…and then a glorious, victorious resurrection.
God always had a plan…and Jesus knew the spiritual partnership that would happen 50 days after His resurrection would change His disciples…and their testimony would change the world….It started with this command:
I. WAIT FOR THE GIFT MY FATHER PROMISED
As we read earlier the book of Acts tells us Jesus prepared his disciples and after His resurrection He appeared to them over a period of 40 days.
The Bible says that Jesus made a number of appearances after His death. They were to a number of different people over a forty day period. The Bible specifically says that on Easter Sunday Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene, the women that came to Jesus’ tomb (Mary the Mother of James, Salome, and Joanna), Peter, and two disciples on the Emmaus road. He also appeared to the remainder of the Twelve Disciples with Thomas absent. Later he appeared to them with Thomas present. There was also an appearance to seven disciples on the Sea of Galilee. On another occasion he appeared to over five hundred people at the same time. There is also an appearance to James. Finally Jesus appeared to Saul of Tarsus – the man who became the Apostle Paul. These appearances convinced His disciples, beyond any doubt, that He had risen from the dead.
On one occasion during this time he sat down to eat with them and said, “Don’t leave Jerusalem…wait for the gift my Father promised, which you heard me speak about….For John baptized with water but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit. (Acts 1:5)
I’d share with you one of the best definitions of faith: “Waiting for what God has promised.”
After Jesus’ appearances after the resurrection, after HIs disciples and followers were firmly convinced He was alive don’t you believe they wanted to tell everybody? You betchya!
So why wait? Well, they’d proven what they could do in their own strength and their own power…And their own understanding of God’s plan.
In fact I believe verses 6 and 7 in our text prove what I’m totally about…Jesus command them to “wait” and immediately they ask “How long” and “when.”
“Lord, are you going to restore the Kingdom of Israel?”
Even now, after the resurrection, the picture they had for Israel and the Kingdom of God was far from what God had planned. Jesus tells them:
“It’s not for you to know times or dates, the Father has set these by His own authority.”
Waiting on God’s power and authority when we think we’ve got it all figured out is pretty hard, huh? It’s also pretty surprising when He shows us our view about what the kingdom will be like isn’t anything like what we thought. If you haven’t heard we have an election coming up…and I understand the importance of it. Romans 13 tells us that government exists to protect us, and to establish laws to keep order. And there is no authority established but what God has established. And like the Apostle Paul who excersized his rights as a Roman citizen by appealing to Caesar, we should exersize our rights to vote. If we are God’s people, we should prayerfully, through the guidance of the Holy Spirit choose the candidate that we best believe has a platform that aligns with God’s Word and God’s plan….not our union, not our party, not our pocket books. But we must always remember, as God’s people, this world will not come to salvation because of the right government….this world will only be saved by God’s working spiritually through His people. Remember, Caesar Augustus was followed by Tiberius, Nero and Caligula. God has a plan and it involves a much bigger Kingdom that America
You see, I think they’ve forgotten Jesus had said:
LUKE 17:20-21 (p. 731)
The Pharisees are very religious people…and very religious people always focus on what you can observe…it’s why most of them completely rejected Jesus as the Messiah… “I mean look at Him…He’s a carpenter from Nazareth…from poor parents…who hangs around with tax collectors and sinners.”
Religion focuses on doing things so people can see how “religious” you are.
Jesus said, “The coming of the Kingdom of God is not something that can be observed.” he told one of those Pharisees named Nicodemus “No one can see the Kingdom of God unless they are born again…the Spirit gives birth to Spirit…(Literally our spirit (soul) is born from above by God’s Spirit (the Holy Spirit.
And then Jesus describes how the Holy Spirit is like the wind…“The wind blows wherever it pleases you hear it, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it’s going so it is with EVERYONE born of the Spirit.” (Jn. 3:3, 5-8)
This is the promise of power that the disciples were to wait to receive…and it’s the only power that will transform our spiritual observations.
Francis Chan in the amazing book, “Forgotten God” writes:
“The world is not moved by love or actions that are of human creation. And the church is not empowered to live differently from any other gathering of people without the Holy Spirit. But when believers live in the power of the Spirit, the evidence in their lives is supernatural. The church cannot help but be different, and the world cannot help but notice.” – Francis Chan, Forgotten God: Reversing Our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit
Listen to how this promised gift from the Father is given to Jesus’ disciples, the Apostles who have witnessed his resurrection and would become the foundation stones of the church. His witnesses:
ACTS 2:1-4 (p. 758)
A violent wind filled the whole house…something like a “tongue of fire” seemed to rest on each of them…and they began to speak in other tongues (languages) as the Spirit enabled them.
Remember Jesus’ plan for them is to be His witnesses…they were to testify…speak about all He’d taught them…all they’d seen…and the Holy Spirit would help them not only remember, but empower them to do it with a crowd gathered from every nation under the sun.
Like ripples when a rock is thrown into a pond radiates out…pentecost is the initial explosion in Jerusalem…but it wouldn’t end there:
ACTS 1:5-12 (p. 758)
What does it mean? If you go back to our text in Acts 1 verse 8 you’ll see exactly what it means.
“You will receive power when the Holy Spirt comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth.”
The Holy Spirit empowered them to be “A family committed to loving Jesus and others, so their neighbors, community and world could experience Good News.”
Religion gives you a partnership with a book of rules and etiquette. Jesus promises a partnership with His Spirit…One is for observation…and one is for new birth and a resurrected life.
Let me end with a personal experience. One I think is absolutely essential for the Church to understand in these times…
II. RELIGIOUS OBSERVATION DIDN’T SAVE ME, JESUS DID
I didn’t come to my senses concerning my sin on my own. The Holy Spirit convicted me of my sin…and pointed me towards a Savior….God used people to share with me the answers of salvation. I wasn’t baptized because it was “required” or it made my parents happy. I knew I needed to die to my selfish sinful ways. I needed to bury myself in Christ’s grace, I needed a resurrection…a new life that could only be provided by “the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead.”
I didn’t become part of the Church because it would look good and guarantee my ticket to heaven…I ran to my family…I needed to share my life, and it’s struggles and needs with others going through the same thing…I needed to grow because I was just a baby…and the Holy Spirit fed me…He used amazing people to strengthen and prepare me…and even then I wanted to tell people, my old friends and family what was happening…some thought I was crazy…some still do…but Jesus saved me and filled me, and I was burdened for them. I still am.
My great fear is that people will hear our churches say, “Become a Pharisee and show up at the temple each Sunday…instead of be born again so your body becomes Jesus’ temple…The temple of God isn’t at 940 Holly Springs…The Temple of God is “within you.”
Francis Chan asks this question:
“If it’s true that the Spirit of God dwells in us and that our bodies are the Holy Spirit’s temple, then shouldn’t there be a huge difference between the person who has the Spirt of God living inside of him or her and the person who does not?”
– Francis Chan, Forgotten God: Reversing Our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit
We are made by God to go to the temple…The very purpose for which God made us is to be His temple…in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the whole world…