- Sermon Notes
The Acts of the Holy Spirit
Today we begin our study the book of Acts. It’s commonly called The Acts of the Apostles, but perhaps a better title might be The Acts of the Holy Spirit because as we go through this book chapter by chapter that’s what we will see, the Holy Spirit moving in power as the church is born and the word of God is moving throughout the world.
The book begins with a further account of Jesus appearing to the disciples after He is raised from the dead. In fact, we read that He presented Himself alive, by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over a period of 40 days and speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God. This book will tell us about the moving of God upon the church after Jesus ascends to the Father.
The Gospels are about the ministry of Jesus Christ here on earth, but the book of Acts is about the ministry of the Holy Spirit that Jesus sends. Jesus said, “It is to your advantage that I go away… If I go, I will send the Helper to you.”
In Matthew 28, before Jesus departs from the disciples, He gives them the great commission, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
I wonder if they were saying to themselves, how are we going to do that? We are just ordinary men living in a messed up world. And in many ways I think we could say the same thing.
We are also living in a messed up world. Look at everything that’s happening in the Middle East, and in Africa, and now it looks like Asia is heating up. Then you see what’s happening in our own culture as it seems that worldliness is having its way. You know it’s a messed up world when a former NBA basketball player with an attitude sings happy birthday to one of the world’s dictators and embarrasses himself and his country.
What do you do when you live in a messed up world? Withdraw? Live in a Christian cocoon? Isolate yourself and your family? No, Jesus wants us to infiltrate, to make an impact on the world around us.
In many ways, the book of Acts is God’s playbook. Jesus gave us His heart when He said, “I will build My church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.” The book of Acts then, is about Jesus doing exactly that, building His church.
I know many people are quite critical of the church. Some are mad at the church or have been hurt by the church. Some won’t go to church until they find a hypocrite-free church. No, you’ll never find a hypocrite-free church, and if you do ever find one, you most certainly shouldn’t join it, because you’ll ruin it. What you need is a church filled with hypocrites and sinners so you’ll be right at home.
The church has flaws, that’s true, but Jesus loves the church. It’s called the bride of Christ. And if Jesus loves the church and gave Himself up for her, then we should also love the church and strengthen and edify it as well.
Jesus knows the church has flaws, that’s why He sends the Holy Spirit and the Word of God to transform our lives so that the church can make an impact on the world.
I. You Shall Receive Power
- The first thing Luke focuses on is that the disciples were to wait for the Holy Spirit which Jesus promised.
- The disciples, however, are focused on the question, “Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?”
- They had asked this question before. The scripture speaks prophetically about a future time when Israel’s golden age would be restored and a great king would sit on the throne of David once again.
- Now that Jesus is raised from the dead, what an amazing opportunity; you talk about a man to sit on the throne of David, how about someone who was raised from the dead?
- Jesus gives them a word of correction and then a great promise, “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses…”
- When Jesus promises the Holy Spirit here, He said, “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you…”
- A good student might ask, “Didn’t Jesus already breath on them to receive the Holy Spirit?” That’s correct, in John 20, Jesus breathed on them and they received the Holy Spirit.
- It’s important to understand that every believer who receives Jesus Christ is given the Holy Spirit as a seal upon them; by this you become an adopted son or daughter of our Father in heaven.
Ephesians 1:13-14,… having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.
Illus – Peter had been breathed on by Jesus when he fished all night and caught nothing. Something more was needed and that’s what Jesus was promising.
- In Acts 1:8, Jesus said they would receive power when the Holy Spirit came upon them. Power for what? He continued, “and you shall be My witnesses… even to the remotest part of the earth.”
- This book covers a period of about 30 years, from about 33- 63 A.D. It’s amazing to see that from these few disciples, and then the original 120 or so that gathered, to the many thousands of believers, to impacting the known world.
- All this was done without the advantages we have today. They didn’t have airplanes or cars, or modern technology. Peter never had a Facebook page and Thomas never had a twitter account. Although Moses did have a tablet… Eve had an Apple and look how much trouble that created.
- Their world was as bad as ours, or worse. They lived under the cruelty of Roman rule; demon worship was common, prostitution and sexual and morality was everywhere. They were ridiculed, opposed, even assaulted for their faith, yet they impacted the world.
- The Holy Spirit gives power to change lives and that’s why the world was impacted.
- In many ways, the Acts of the Holy Spirit are still being written. God is still moving in transforming and making an impact today.
- When you look at the content and substance of what was happening in the early church, we should be like that today. The methods and styles may change, but the message of the cross, the love of God poured out, and the power of transforming lives is the same.
Illus - When my kids were little I used to play and sing the song, “House at Pooh Corner,” by Kenny Loggins. I first heard that song when it came out on a vinyl record, then an eight track, then a cassette, then the CD, then the MP3 that can that can be played from an iPod. It’s been through many methods and formats, but it’s still the same song. My girls still love to hear me sing it, and it was that song that played when my middle daughter did our father/daughter dance at her wedding.
- The early church was given the same Holy Spirit that is given to us and we have the same message, the same content and substance.
- But the church that only grows because of the style or fashion or format may grow numerically, but will never grow spiritually. That’s the power of God by the Holy Spirit to transform lives.
2 Timothy 3:1-5, In the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents… lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied his power; avoid such men as these.
Illus - One of the television stations called a few weeks ago asking for a comment about the recent trend of atheist churches. I can certainly understand their need to gather for fellowship and enjoy each other’s company, but I can’t imagine what message of hope an atheist church might say to someone struggling with addiction, or a broken marriage, or a broken heart. The message of hope is the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ that is sent by the power of the Holy Spirit.
- When Jesus spoke of the promise of the Holy Spirit, He also encouraged us to ask to receive Him.
Luke 11:9-13 How much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?
Illus – In the book of James, he makes an interesting comparison to the prophet Elijah…
James 5:16-17, The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the earth for three years and six months. Then he prayed again, and the sky poured rain and the earth produced its fruit.
II. Be Busy until He Comes
- Jesus told them to wait for the Holy Spirit which would soon come upon them. Their response was to ask, “Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?”
- Jesus responded, “It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority.”
- In other words, God will surely fulfill His Word, but restoring the kingdom to Israel is not what God is doing now.
- God was then and is now establishing His rule and reign in the hearts of men.
- I think many people today asked the same question, wondering when Christ will return and establish His kingdom here on earth, and while He gives us the signs of the times so we can discern that we’re living in the latter days, He wants us to be about our Father’s business until He returns.
A. “Well done, my good and faithful servant”
- Those are the words we should long to hear.
- Jesus told a parable because the disciples supposed that the kingdom of God was going to appear immediately.
Luke 19:13, 17, “He called ten of his servants and gave them ten minas and said to them, ‘Do business with this until I return.’… “And he said to him, ‘Well done, good servant, because you have been faithful in a very little thing, you are to be in authority over ten cities.’”
- What is Jesus asking of us to do with our lives until He returns? That’s Acts 1:8, “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be my witnesses…”
- I think that many people hear that word ‘witness’ they get a picture of being a witness in a courtroom, testifying to something they may have seen.
- I see it much more relationally.
Illus - If hadn’t met my friend, Pastor Matthew, I can tell you about him, because we’re friends and I know him very well. I can tell you about his heart and his character and I know he has a heart to serve.
- I can also tell you about God’s heart and character because we have a relationship. But more than that, I can tell you that He has transformed my life and if it wasn’t for Him, I would have been destroyed.
- It’s the power of the transformed life that is unashamed because of the joy you now have and the confidence of faith.
Illus - When Jesus healed a man born blind he was brought before the Jewish leaders and they tried to trap him into saying that Jesus was a sinner. I love his response…
John 9:25, He then answered, “Whether He is a sinner, I do not know; one thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.”
- In the last part of this chapter, they decide to find a godly man to fill the position left by Judas Iscariot. Two names are put forth and Matthias is chosen.
- I’ve heard many say that this was a mistake, that Paul should have been chosen. The problem is that Paul, known as Saul at the time, wasn’t even a believer and in fact was a persecutor of the church. After all, they say, Matthias is never mentioned again.
App - Well, Bartholomew wasn’t mentioned either. You don’t have to be mentioned to be effective; just available.
Acts 1:1-26 NASB
15 At this time Peter stood up in the midst of the brethren (a gathering of about one hundred and twenty persons was there together), and said, 16 "Brethren,
the Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit foretold by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested
Jesus. 17 For he was counted among us and received his share in this ministry." 18 (Now this man acquired a field with the price of his wickedness,
and falling headlong, he burst open in the middle and all his intestines gushed out. 19 And it became known to all who were living in Jerusalem; so
that in their own language that field was called Hakeldama, that is, Field of Blood.)