Spirit Sent (Acts 1)

MOTIVATE

  • Ghosted. People will leave without saying goodbye, regardless of how much time, effort, tears, and prayers you have invested in them and their family. 
  • Gossiped. People will tell their side of a story without any sense of context, or perhaps their own involvement in a circumstance or conflict. Relationships can become about competition rather than sincerity, empathy, or compassion. 
  • Gutted. People will hurt you. They will start as a friend but only as a means to change, corrupt, and even seek to conquer. The phrase “wolf in sheep’s clothing” has real meaning within a church.

The last few years of ministry has revealed just how shallow the faith of many within Christianity. Much of modern Christian immaturity is not from naive ignorance but stubborn disobedience. Carelessness for people made in the image of God and heightened sense of self has ravaged church in many privileged places.

Yet, the contrast is visible too. In many places and parts of the world, the true church is left standing. A remnant is revealed as the foundation which God is continuing to build His church. Believers have found strength, not within themselves or modern technology, but in the early Christian spiritual disciplines of fervent prayer, Scripture meditation, and walking in step with the Holy Spirit. 

A movement is occurring around us and in the least likely places. The movement is not in flashy trends but the faith of the simple and ordinary. Just like the early church in the book of Acts, God is stirring faithfulness to His word and sending witnesses into every corner of the world. There is an invitation for you and I to join God’s kingdom work, but if we are not paying attention we will not only miss the opportunity, but could possibly be deceiving ourselves that we are even following God in the first place.

EXAMINE               Acts 1      Spirit Filled Believer

Why Acts?

  • 1 of 66. My commitment is to preach the Bible, book by book. Since 2009, this will be the 39th book series I’ve preached with about 10 other books I have preached at least one passage. I don’t share this necessarily to compare myself to what the Spirit may be leading other pastors to preach, but as accountability to you and before God that I’m “not shrinking from declaring the whole counsel of God” (Ac 20:27). I’m so grateful for the privilege to preach and pastor… and @spbc.
  • Rediscovering Church (also 19 book handouts). While the pandemic has exacerbated the disconnect between church members and their church family, the drift did not start with February 2020. Contemporary Christianity has been working on divorcing personal faith with corporate discipleship for a long time. 2020 pandemic and partisanship has merely been the final hammer hit to wedge apart what was once a mighty oak. We need to rediscover the vision and value of the local church. Studying Acts helps us return to what the Bible teaches for NT Christianity and church life.

  • Back to basics: The early church emphasis and operations are identified in Acts.
    • Beginnings of church membership and church discipline.
    • Clarity of the gospel for salvation in Christ alone.
    • Importance of baptism.
    • How spiritual leaders are chosen w/ plurality pattern & teams.
    • Elements of worship gatherings.
    • Emphasis for prayer in evangelism/missions/decision-making/life-challenges and sustaining grace.
    • Handling of conflict, whether theological or relational tensions (including ethnic privilege and multiculturalism).
    • Preparation for persecution… and not just a mild version that we complain and broadcast as being victims. America may be 1-2 generations away from experiencing the same types of persecution that Christians have been facing in other parts of world for 2K years.   
    • Relationship between the church & government. Early Christians were those who were unexpectedly to unite based on their backgrounds & views, yet inextricably bonded because of the risen Christ & forgiving grace of God.
    • Thrust of gospel & missional advance being the church’s primary program. Disciplemaking was not just talked about as an option for a few but a priority of the whole.
    • Overall rhythm & relations of Christian life. We see a daily struggle & pursuit to obey the will of God in every relationship, every circumstance, every sphere of society.
  • Notes: For book studies, & perhaps especially Acts, I’d like to encourage you to grab a special notebook/app notes file to jot & gather sermon notes. One of the things I’m attempting to do in 2022 is journal through from Acts. At various times I’ve sought to journal but end up quitting due to busyness or bc I get discouraged of the distance of time since I last journaled. But I’m making a commitment (& declaring it publicly) that I’m going to journal Acts 1-28. For me, my journal will be a mix of devotional thoughts between God & I, as well as commentary & sermon ideas (I’m a preacher). But for others, a journal is a simple place to meet with God. Whether you personally journal or write notes for Sunday’s sermon or both is up to you. But I simply want to encourage you to find a way to heighten your attention to the Spirit as He speaks to us from the book of Acts.

Book Introduction

  • Author: Luke, as unified two-volume work.
    • From two-volumes he wrote 27% of NT and is the third leading author with the most words (Moses & Ezra # 1-2, followed by Jeremiah and then Paul).[1]
    • The “we” sections in missionary travels indicate the author had to be someone who knew Paul well. Literary and historical evidence overwhelmingly points to Luke.[2] Thus, a Gentile and beloved physician (Col 4:14) is the author of a significant portion of Scripture.
  • Title: Acts of The Apostles / Acts of Jesus through the Spirit.
  • Date: 62-67 AD based on absent references to Paul’s release from prison and his later death.[3]

Acts 1

1 In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach, until the day when he was taken up, after he had given commands through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God. And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. 10 And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, 11 and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”

Jesus wants us to take the next step.

Luke wrote history about Jesus and early church. Luke’s Gospel was  

“what Jesus began to do and teach” and the book of Acts is Jesus continues to do by His Spirit through His followers. History is often studied the most by academics and ambassadors. Generally, academic scholars look backward at what people have done while ambassadors and soldiers look backward to view what remains to be done. We want to study Acts not just for what God used to do but what God wants to do through us as His followers today. Followers of Jesus are in the Lord’s army. We are Christ’s ambassadors who represent the king of heaven on earth. And God’s kingdom work is unfinished until every tribe and tongue confesses Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.

The resurrected Jesus appeared with many convincing proofs for forty days to over 500 eyewitnesses (Ac 1:3; 1Cor 15:6). Forty days is more than enough time for someone to debunk any myths that Jesus was still dead or that the resurrection was a hoax. Yet, Christianity continues for over two-thousand years because it’s not a religion based on a philosophy, or even a place, but a living person. There have been countless philosophies that have come and gone; and even numerous places with historical significance, but there is only one person who has transformed history in the way Jesus has done.

This is why the disciples had to wait in Jerusalem for the Holy Spirit. Their success of continuing the work of Jesus relied on their surrendered lives to the third person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit.

What does it mean to be surrendered to God?

  • Wait for the promise of the Father (Ac 1:4). Disciples of Jesus are people whose hope is God fulfilling the necessary actions for salvation, not in their own works. So, we wait on the Lord.
    • Ps 25:3 “none of those who wait for You will be ashamed.”
    • Ps 130:5 “I wait for the LORD, my soul does wait, and in His word do I hope.”
    • Lamentations 3:25 “The LORD is good to those who wait for Him, to the person who seeks
    • Micah 7:7 “But as for me, I will watch expectantly for the LORD; I will wait for the God of my salvation.”
  • Welcome the presence of the Holy Spirit (Ac 1:8). We can attempt to live & serve in our own planning & power. But often we see people & ministries last for a brief season only to either physically exhaust or morally fail. Being filled & functioning in line with the Holy Spirit is our only means of continuing the work of Jesus.
    • There is and will never be a more vital assignment that has been given to a less qualified individual or group. The Holy Spirit is God’s evidence of His extraordinary power because when people view ordinary Christians functioning in His power, they must take notice (cf Ac 4:13; 1Cor 14:25).
  • Witness to the power of Jesus (1:8, 22). Jesus left clear commands (not options) for His followers: Make disciples and witness to all nations (Mt 28:19-20; Ac 1:8). Salvation is found in no other name but Jesus (Ac 4:12).
    • To not witness is to believe God has a backdoor to heaven that does not rely on the cross.[4]
    • To not witness believing “I don’t know what to say or have what it takes,” indicates you lack the Spirit or at least awareness.  
    • To not witness claiming “It’s not my gift” or “I feel awkward,” fails to understand the NT. While some Christians may have a striking and special ability for evangelism, that never excuses a Christian from the command to evangelize. Evangelism is not supposed to be easy because it’s the radical transformation from darkness to light; despair to hope; death to life. Imagine getting to heaven telling Christian martyrs: “I didn’t witness bc I felt awkward.” Their response, “I was tortured and had my tongue cut out /
      I was stoned / I was killed by sword / I was sawn in two / I was beheaded…” We can have all excuses in the world but few of us will experience the level of persecution of many in history and around the world. Evangelism is seldom a technique or tool problem as much as it is apathy issue.
    • To not witness claiming, “I just witness w/ my life,” fail to understand the gospel requires words. Imagine trying to give someone your phone # w/o using digits; or watching a newscast w/o words. We can visualize a measure of excitement but lack any content, & thus are left confused & un-helped.  

Three applications:

  1.  Welcome the Spirit: not a crazy experience but a Christ-encounter from Scripture. See the people after Peter’s sermon in Acts 2, they respond “Brothers, what shall we do?’ And Peter said to them, ‘Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.’” (Acts 2:37-38)
  2.  #WhosYour1. If you are a Christian, or more a church member, you cannot sit on the sidelines on this.
  3. Luke writes about the things Jesus did and taught (Ac 1:1). Combined these are works and words. As Christians, we need to combine Jesus’ works and words. Those who only emphasize His words often come off as careless religious nuts. Those who only emphasize Jesus’ works often come off as social activists giving free handouts to the exclusion of any responsibility or stewardship. The action step is
    1. Small Group studying words. (SPBC 1960 in cars…)
    1. Small Group serving. Find a local act of service in the name of Jesus. Don’t think “addition” but “intention.” In other words, service is not an event but a lifestyle. Your single act of service may be regular conversations with elderly or disabled, or creating a small group of SAHmoms, or volunteering at Pregnancy Clinic / The Well outreach to underprivileged community; etc.  
  • What’s your next step?

Jesus wants us to unite for prayerful mission.

The disciples had just received their commission from Jesus. An angelic host affirms their mission mandate. They know they have significant responsibility in front of them. And rather than immediately dividing roles and tasks, they spend time together. The word “together” appears 32x in Acts. Their togetherness included 120 believers made up of the 11 disciples with the women: Mary the mother of Jesus with his brothers and sisters who had converted[5]; Mary Magdalene, Joana, Susanna, and Mary the mother of the other James, and other women[6]; among several others, presumably those whom Jesus healed and ministered.[7]

  • The average church size is <100. That means, every “small church” (including ours) already has exactly what it takes to be the hands & feet of Jesus & reach the world w/ the gospel.

And as we note their gatherings, they are not just passing time discussing weather/sports/food/laundry but their priority was prayer. Throughout every turning point of Acts, prayer is vital. [8] The disciples are together in upper room in “one accord devoting to prayer” (1:14). They’re also praying about the successor to Judas (1:24). A few days later they’re praying during Pentecost and the Holy Spirit comes upon them (2:1). Their devotion to prayer is the power that draws new believers to saving faith and into the church family (2:42; 3:1). It is prayer that leads to the spread of the gospel to Samaria, Ethiopia, Saul’s conversion, and to Rome with Cornelius, and beyond (cf 8:15; 9:10-11; 10:4, 9, 30; 13:2-3; etc.). Even towards the end of Acts, as the mission has advanced geographically and the church has grown numerically, the early church spent meaningful time in prayer together (Acts 20:36). When Christians pray, the Holy Spirit awakens the church with answered prayers, strengthened believers, and increased missional vision for the church.

Additionally, Peter quotes and explains Scripture (Ps 69:25; 109:8) for their circumstances (1:16-20). Reflecting on Scripture allowed the bitter sting and tragedy of Judas to result in their family unity and missional urgency. It’s God’s word that strengthens us in times of fear or futility. The group made the decision to hear and heed Scriptures by choosing Matthias as the next apostle – one whom was with the disciples since Jesus’ baptism and was a witness to Jesus’ resurrection (1:22). Ultimately, the 120 group was making themselves accountable to the apostles (spiritual leaders) for their faith beliefs, character behaviors, and missional responsibility.

What we see in the early chapters of Acts is that the mission of Jesus is started, sustained, and will end with His church. Jesus, nor the apostles, do not go around starting several organizations to advance His mission. Instead, they start a single organism called the church. In other words, “it is not so much the case that God has a mission for his church in the world, as that God has a church for his mission. Mission was not made for the church; the church was made for mission – God’s mission.”[9] A person can have their own mission but that does not mean it’s the church’s mission. So, the aim of our church is not to sponsor other networks and organizations – though at times we will do so – but to unite people to God’s mission.

  • God isn’t looking for flawless saints but surrendered followers. f not already, I want to ask every member to commit to praying and participating in the relational unity and missional urgency of SPBC. And prayerfully consider your specific involvement.
  • Growing Godly Generations
    • Loving God: Being present in gatherings & group.  
      • Group Leaders stand up…
    • Loving Others: Being participant with time, talent, treasure.
      • Luke wrote bc Theophilus was a benefactor.
      • Peter preached bc disciples prayed and helped.
      • Paul traveled bc churches welcomed, trained, and sent him.
      • It takes the whole church with their whole gifts committed to grow godly generations.
    • Living Jesus: Being public with faith to neighbors.
      • Goal of each member family seeing 1 person come to know Jesus as Savior & Lord in 2022.

APPLY/THINK

Many Christians are waiting to get out of this world.

  • There’s problems and pains.
  • There’s so much heartache and grief.
  • There’s affliction and death.

Before Jesus left earth, the disciples wanted to know when Jesus would establish His kingdom. When Jesus ascended into heaven, the disciples stayed stationary gazing up at heaven. But the angels announced: “This same Jesus who was taken up from you into heaven will come in the same way as you saw him go.”

In other words, let us not be so focused on leaving that we lose sight of living. For whom are you living?

Christians, let us not be so focused on leaving earth that we lose light of living for eternity on earth.

Acts 20:24 “I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.”  


[1] https://www.jesusfilm.org/blog-and-stories/15-facts-book-of-acts.html

[2] See Bruce M. Metzger, “The Muratorian Fragment,” in The Canon of the New Testament: Its Origin, Development, and Significance (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1987), 305.[2]

[3] Bock, D. L. (2007). Acts (p. 25). Baker Academic.

[4] Some following excuses inspired from sermon by J.D. Greear on Acts 1.

[5] cf Mk 3:21; 6:3; Jn 7:5 with Ac 12:17; 15:13-21; 21:18; 1 Cor 9:5; 15:7

[6][6] Cf Lk 24:10.

[7] Consider: Nicodemus, Samaritan Woman, Blind Man, Lazarus, Zacchaeus, Justus, Matthias, among so many others.

[8] Peterson, D. G. (2009). The Acts of the Apostles (pp. 117–118). William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.

[9] Christopher J. Wright, The Mission of God: Unlocking The Bible’s Grand Narrative.

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