- Sermon Notes
The Acts of the Holy Spirit
Aug 28, 2022
Today we begin our study in 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.
As a sidenote, it is important to know that we have convincing truth beyond a shadow of a doubt that Jesus was raised from the dead. Not only do we read that Jesus appeared to them over these 40 days as seen in the section, but in 1 Corinthians 15 we read that Jesus appeared to over 500 people of whom most were still alive when these accounts were written down. If it was a lie, it could’ve easily been refuted. But the witnesses were standing so strong on this truth, that they were willing to die for it.
In fact, we can read between the lines that Paul was challenging those to whom he was writing to go and confirm with these witnesses what they’ve seen for themselves.
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. 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 perfect 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 and grow into the image of Christ.
I. Follow the Leading of the Holy Spirit
From the very beginning in the first few verses, Luke emphasizes the leading and direction of the Holy Spirit. In verse 2, he says that Jesus gave the apostles orders given by the Holy Spirit. Jesus was shifting their focus, telling them that after He left another would come, the Holy Spirit, who would empower them and lead them in all things.
It’s important to remember that the Holy Spirit is the third person in the Trinity, in other words it is the spirit of Christ now leading, guiding, and giving direction to the church. He equips for ministry, empower to boldly proclaim the gospel, work the fruit towards godly character and gives gifts to edify the church.
A. Wait for the Promise
- One can only imagine what the followers of Jesus must’ve felt. They saw Jesus being taken up into heaven, and suddenly they were alone. Not only that, but Jesus had given them this seemingly impossible task.
- They might’ve started questioning themselves: how are we going to do this? We aren’t strong enough. We don’t know enough. We don’t have all the necessary resources.
- We read this account after the fact and, therefore, might miss what it must’ve been like to be in their shoes… or in their sandals. What will the Holy Spirit look like? How will we receive power? How do I get baptized in the Holy Spirit?
- Can you imagine all the questions they must’ve had? And this couldn’t just be a sideline thing. They were staking their future, their reputations, and their whole lives on this.
- They might’ve even been tempted to once again turn around and go back to their old lives trying to make a living.
- Thank God that they did not. They’ve had a revelation of who Jesus was and they were trusting Him as the way, the truth, and the life. Nobody would be able to tell them otherwise. They were going on the word of Jesus and trusting Him that He would be faithful to His word.
- I believe they also knew their own human limits. They might’ve all remembered how, when the going got tough, they were not strong enough to stand on their own. Take Peter for example, who boastfully declared that he would be willing to die for Jesus, but as soon as his willpower and human strength was confronted at the crucifixion with a difficult choice, he faltered. In fact, we see that most of the disciples ran away after the crucifixion and returned to their former lives.
- They had first-hand experience that their human nature and willpower was not strong enough. Especially now that the Master was gone, and they had this mammoth task in front of them. They knew they could not do this alone and they were desperate for the Holy Spirit that Jesus promised.
- We are in the same boat, different millennium but the same challenges. Each of us know the limits of our own willpower and our own strength. We have seen what a mess life can become when left to our own devices. Many times, people struggle keeping their own lives together, let alone make a difference impacting the world around them.
- Thank God that He did not leave us behind as orphans. I’m so thankful that Jesus didn’t just die on the cross to forgive us one time to give as a one-time clean slate to try again, left, and then told us to be strong in ourselves and through our own willpower work out our own salvation.
- No, Jesus was emphatically clear that they weren’t allowed to try to do it on their own. They had to go wait for the power that He promised.
B. Be baptized with the Holy Spirit
- Verse 4 – Jesus commanded them not to leave Jerusalem but to wait for what the Father has promised. This is an important principle. They were told to wait together in the upper room.
- This speaks of the togetherness of the church. It’s important that Jesus didn’t tell them all to go back to their own houses and wait there. No, He told them to wait together.
- There is power in togetherness. The enemy wants to isolate you. When we are together, we can encourage, build up, strengthen, and help each other. When you are alone and unaccountable to anyone, the enemy can start to mess around with your thoughts.
- Jesus also gave them a clue as to what this baptism in the Holy Spirit might entail.
- Verse 5 – for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.
- They have seen what this baptism in water looks like. One has to be submerged in the water, signifying dying to self and being buried, and then being resurrected with Christ new life.
- The picture of being baptized in the Holy Spirit is the same. One has to relinquish control to the leading of the Holy Spirit.
Illus. – Ezekiel 47 is a great picture of this. Ezekiel was shown a river that flows from the temple which brings life. In the vision he had to walk into the river first ankle-deep, then knee-deep, then up to his loins, and eventually deep enough so that he could not stand, and the river took control of where he was going.
- When you are baptized in the Holy Spirit, you surrender control to the Holy Spirit and is willing to be used by Him so that his gifts can flow through you.
- It’s important to understand that the disciples had already received the Holy Spirit.
John 20:22, And when He had said this, He breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.
- When Jesus breathed on them, they received the Holy Spirit. They were born again believers having received the Holy Spirit, but still Jesus told them to wait. There was something more; there was a power that they haven’t experienced yet.
- They didn’t know what it would look like, but they knew that they would have to wait for it, long for it as a necessity, and surrender to it.
- I believe that it is God’s heart that every child of God should receive the power of the Holy Spirit. You might have repented, confessed your sin, and put your faith in Jesus for salvation, and have received the Holy Spirit in your innermost being with your spirit being made alive to God again, but there is a second event the Bible speaks off called the baptism in the Holy Spirit.
- It is a promise of God for every child of God hungering for it. It calls for a total surrender to Christ, not just calling him your Savior, but also your Lord.
- It calls for a heart that says, ‘thy will be done. I now live for your glory and your kingdom as my first and highest priority.’
- It calls for a surrender of your will, surrendering to God with the realization that His way is by far the best way, and that you’re hungering for and willing to be baptized in the Holy Spirit.
II. Receive Power …
- All of this seems like a high price to pay, and many people stop short of the fullness of the power of God because they do not want to let go of their control and let God be God in their lives.
- This is very unfortunate, because if we really understood what this “trade” entailed, we would be excited and willing to do it.
- Verse 8 – you will receive power… This word for power is the Greek word dunamis, from which we get the English word dynamite or explosive power. It is the limitless, unrivaled power of God which He gives to us.
- This is the same power that brooded over the dark waters in Genesis and by which creation came to existence.
- This is the same power by which Jesus performed miracles, it being His Spirit and the source of power. This is the preeminent power in all creation and outside of creation.
- This power is a person, the Holy Spirit that comes to live inside of us.
- We have the privilege to receive and function in this power.
A… to be transformed
- The Holy Spirit has two functions. Firstly, it is a transforming power. It transforms the believer into the image of Christ. This is not forced on us though, but we are convicted and drawn into a place of surrender of whatever has to be laid down so that He can do the transforming work and cultivate the new fruit in our lives.
- In this process He is also our Counselor, the wisest one in the universe at that. He is also our Comforter who can comfort the depths of the soul like no one can. He is also called the Helper, like someone coming in under your arm and helping you when you have fallen.
- How can one not want such a friend!
B… for function
- Secondly, He is also there to make us effective in our function.
Illus. – imagine having one of the best bicycles in the world; costing thousands of dollars, made with the best aerospace material available to man with a light and streamline body and tires. Then imagine you being the fittest cyclist who would put all the Tour de France winners to shame. Now imagine standing at a traffic light, you the fastest person ever on a two wheeled bicycle, and someone pulls up next to you 1300 Kawasaki Ninja motorcycle. The motorcyclist looks quite ordinary. Isn’t necessarily the fittest person you’ve seen in your life, and immediately you think, ‘I can take him.’ But what you fail to take into account, is that his speed is not determined by how fast his legs can go, but by the explosive power of this magnificent engine underneath him. In your human ability, you can be the fittest person in the whole world, but you will never be able to compete with the explosive power of the internal combustion engine. He will leave you in the dust every time.
- The principal is the same with the Holy Spirit. You can through human effort try to be the best Christian you can be, trying to say all the right things, do all the right things, try to minister as effective as possible, but it will never be as effective as when you do it empowered by the Holy Spirit.
Illus. It’s like trying to fill New Year’s resolutions by willpower. There is a great difference between willpower and Holy Spirit’s “dunamis” power.
III. Focus on the right Kingdom
- Verse 6 – Lord, it is at this time you’re restoring the kingdom of Israel?
- Jews believed that the Messiah would defeat the enemies of Israel and restore the nation of Israel to be a world power.
- Even though they have been born again, they still couldn’t see the bigger picture. They were still focused on the natural world and what they thought had to be changed in the natural world and how it would impact them.
A. Focus on God’s Kingdom
- Verse 7 – Jesus immediately shifted their focus, telling them that it is not for them to know the times fixed by the Father, but that the power they would receive was to empower them to be witnesses in the new kingdom.
- When people come to Christ, they can, just like the disciples, be focused predominantly on the physical world and how coming to Christ will impact their own physical world and situation. We see that Christ is calling us to see a higher purpose.
- We do not receive the power of the Holy Spirit to build our own kingdoms and establish our security in this world.
- We are called to still be good stewards on this earth, but in Christ our primary function is to expand God’s kingdom through the power of the Holy Spirit, witnessing to others with the good news of Jesus Christ empowered by the Holy Spirit.
- This is why the Holy Spirit has come to transform our character and our values, as well as to give us power to be agents of change infiltrating this broken world while also building up and edifying the church.
B. Be a witness
- Verse 8 – A witness is defined as someone who has seen something and is testifying to that which he has seen.
- This is what we are called to. If you have been saved by Jesus, you are an eyewitness to your own change and transformation. If you are part of the body, you are an eyewitness as to what Christ is doing in other people’s lives.
- Even young Christians in the faith who do not necessarily feel that they have all the necessary knowledge, has something very powerful: their testimony.
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.”
- Nobody can nullify your testimony. It will give others who are thirsting hope.
- We also have the promise that the Holy Spirit will lead us in what to say.
Matthew 10:19-20, But when they hand you over, do not worry about how or what you are to say; for it will be given you in that hour what you are to say. For it is not you who speak, but it is the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you.
- We become vessels with the Holy Spirit living in us. As we surrender to Him, He grows and empowers us to be effective.
- We have the privilege to be part of God’s transforming power impacting this world.
Acts 1:1-14 NASB
1The first account I [a]composed, Theophilus, about all that Jesus began to do and teach, 2 until the day when He was taken up to heaven, after He had [b]by the Holy Spirit given orders to the apostles whom He had chosen. 3 To [c]these He also presented Himself alive after His suffering, by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over a period of forty days and speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God. 4 [d]Gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for [e]what the Father had promised, “Which,” He said, “you heard of from Me; 5 for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized [f]with the Holy Spirit [g]not many days from now.”
6 So when they had come together, they were asking Him, saying, “Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?” 7 He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority; 8 but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”
9 And after He had said these things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. 10 And as they were gazing intently into [h]the sky while He was going, behold, two men in white clothing stood beside them. 11 They also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into [i]the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven.”
12 Then they returned to Jerusalem from the [j]mount called [k]Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a [l]Sabbath day’s journey away. 13 When they had entered the city, they went up to the upper room where they were staying; that is, Peter and John and [m]James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, [n]James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon the Zealot, and Judas the [o]son of [p]James. 14 These all with one mind were continually devoting themselves to prayer, along with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers.