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Acts 1

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Acts 1  Introduction     The Expansion of the Gospel      WHO is at the centre of this EXPANSION  Sequel and Orderly Account     What happens to the Kingdom of God after Jesus ascends   Acts of MEN      ACTS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT   Holy Spirit ACTIVE   Holy Spirit impels MEN for GOD’s glory       Former Account  Latter Account      The former account I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach,  2 until the day in which He was taken up, after He through the Holy Spirit had given commandments to the apostles whom He had chosen,  3 to whom He also presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs, being seen by them during forty days and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God.    Forty days          Amazing times   Former Account  Introducing the Latter Account  until the day in which He was taken up, after He through the Holy Spirit had given commandments to the apostles whom He had chosen,                           And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father,  "which,” He said, "you have heard from Me;  5 "for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.                                               Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, "Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?”                     "But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth."      The Gospel begins to Expand.   Over the next four weeks we are going to look at the Book of Acts. Of course, in such a limited time we can’t deal with everything that Acts has to tell us. But we are going to concentrate on the great subject of Acts: THE EXPANSION OF THE GOSPEL and GOD’S KINGDOM. We are going to see GOD’s KINGDOM expanding, unstoppably from JERUSALEM to ANTIOCH and to the ENDS of the EARTH. But before we do this, TODAY we are going to look at WHO is at the centre of this. We are going to see who is behind all of the ACTS of the APOSTLES.  LUKE wrote Acts to be a sequel to his own Gospel. In the Gospel of Luke, at the beginning Luke tells Theophilus that he is writing him an “ORDERLY ACCOUNT” – a history book of what the eyewitnesses, the Apostles and disciples of Jesus, saw and heard and experienced during Jesus’ earthly ministry.  Now Jesus has ascended to his throne in Heaven, Luke wants to give Theophilus the sequel: He wants to tell Theophilus, and everyone who would read his book afterwards, WHAT HAPPENS TO THE KINGDOM OF GOD AFTER JESUS CHRIST ASCENDED INTO HEAVEN. But if we look at the TITLE the book has been given, and if we read Acts CASUALLY, all we see are the Acts of the Apostles, or the Acts of Christ’s disciples in various places at various times. It reads like an exciting adventure story. And it is.  But if we read ACTS this way all we see are MEN, lead by God of course, accomplishing many miraculous things for the Kingdom.  BUT I want us, over these next weeks to see Acts as more than just an account of the Acts of MEN. I want us to see Acts as a book of the ACTS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT I want us at every point in the ministries of PETER and PHILIP and PAUL that we will be looking at, not only to see the work of MEN, but to see THE HOLY SPIRIT working and ACTIVE and directing the EXPANSION of the KINGDOM OF GOD. And here in Chapter 1 of ACTS, Luke makes it plain that it is THE HOLY SPIRIT that directs and impels these men to accomplish GOD’s WORK for GOD’s GLORY.  Let’s look at Chapter 1 now.  As we mentioned, Luke begins by introducing his book as a sequel: In THE FORMER ACCOUNT, Luke has told of all that CHRIST DID and TAUGHT until he was TAKEN UP into HEAVEN.  Now in the LATTER ACCOUNT, if you like, in PART TWO, in the SEQUEL, Luke begins by giving a summary of what his Gospel was about, THEN he links the two books with a SUMMARY of what happened to the disciples in the days after Jesus resurrection and before His ascension.  Look at verses 1 to 3 with me:             In those forty days, Jesus Christ must have spoken so many things to the disciples, explaining things that the Apostles mention in their Gospel’s, that Peter preaches in Acts and in his own letters. Luke 24 verse 27 tells something of what the disciples learned just on the road to Emmaeus. The secrets of the Kingdom that the disciples just didn’t understand during Christ’s earthly ministry.  LUKE, listening to those eyewitnesses, and those disciples who were with Jesus for those FORTY DAYS and before, makes an ORDERLY ACCOUNT of what happened.   Those FORTY days must have been an amazing time. Christ risen and alive. Still bearing in his body the marks of CRUCIFIXION, walked and talked and ate and drank with his disciples.  This is the FORMER ACCOUNT: The life of Jesus Christ on earth, His ministry to His people.  But look again at VERSE 2: Luke begins to introduce the LATTER ACCOUNT. The sequel, the story of what will happen in the CHURCH OF GOD next:     See what Luke says: All of these events happened in those FORTY DAYS UNTIL the day in which HE was taken UP.  But there was also one other IMPORTANT thing that Jesus did BEFORE he ascended.  See it says, “HE GIVES COMMANDMENTS to His disciples”. He instructs them in what they are to do to carry His gospel.To carry the word of the kingdom into all the world.  This is perhaps the Great Commission of Matthew 28.But the apostles are COMMANDED, THEY MUST take the good news out into the world. And how is this COMMAND given?It is BY THE HOLY SPIRIT.  The HOLY SPIRIT is the One by whom these men are IMPELLED, are MADE, are COMMANDED to out with the Word.It is the HOLY SPIRIT who will guide and direct these men to carry out Christ’s COMMAND to go into all the world, to preach the Gospel. This is what Luke wants to show us in this chapter.  Christ is returning to heaven and it is now the Holy Spirit that He has promised, who will guide and direct and comfort the disciples.  Look at VERSE 4 and 5:             Back during Christ’s earthly ministry in John 14:25 and 26, Christ has promised that the Father will send the Holy Spirit.  This is what Christ is referring to when he tells them to wait ‘for the Promise of the Father’ The Greek word that John uses to describe the Holy Spirit is PARACLETE.There are various translations of this word.  All of them useful to describe what the Holy Spirit does in the book of Acts.   The PARACLETE is the HELPER when the disciples in Acts are afflicted, in desperate straits, stoned, imprisoned, shipwrecked.It is the Holy Spirit that is their HELPER. The PARACLETE is the COMFORTER when the disciples in Acts are close to death, when Stephen is stoned, when Paul knows that chains and troubles and death await him. It is the Holy Spirit who is the COMFORTER. The PARACLETE is the COUNSELLOR, another term for a LAWYER or SOLICITOR in Ancient Greece.  And the Holy Spirit stands with Peter to give him the words to speak to the crowds at Pentecost.He gives Stephen the boldness to speak against elders in Jerusalem.He gives Paul the right words to argue with the orators in Athens and at his trial in Rome.It is the Holy Spirit who is the COUNSELLOR The disciples will soon be baptized.  Not a baptism with WATER unto REPENTANCE as John baptized, but a baptism, a pouring out of the Holy Spirit Himself on them.The apostles in Acts will be indwelt by the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit will guide and direct them.The Holy Spirit acts in the book of Acts.     But the disciples misunderstand the LORD.  They think that they will be made KINGS straight away, in a new kingdom.  They think that Christ’s Kingdom will be an earthly one and will grow INSTANTANEOUSLY.They ask the question in VERSE 6:     The disciples have MISUNDERSTOOD Christ’s preaching, Christ’s Kingdom, and why they are to be baptized with God’s Holy Spirit. It is not to make ISRAEL into a world power, nor to know God’s timing or plan, as it says in verse 7.   Jesus REBUKES them.  He has told them already, He has commanded them, that they are to go into all the world not with swords, not in their own power, but by God’s Holy Spirit, to carry a message of salvation, to carry words of life. As it says in verse 7 again, the Father is the One who rules and will determine the times and seasons for His glory to be revealed.  And when He will come as King of the universe, not just a petty king in Palestine. Jesus says they will have power.  But their power lies in the Holy Spirit and what He will do.  VERSE 8:      This is the subject that Luke is going to take up in his sequel, in the Acts of the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit has been given to the apostles for them to be WITNESSES, not to be kings. But they also have been given POWER.  The Holy Spirit, God’s Holy Spirit, third person of the Trinity, dwells within them, directs them and guides them.    The APOSTLES have been EYEWITNESSES of Christ’s death and resurrection.  They have been given a special power to perform miracles, to cast out demons, and to pioneer the growth of Christ’s Kingdom. Luke’s sequel tells about how they will pioneer that Kingdom.  How the Holy Spirit will lead them from Jerusalem, to Samaria, to Antioch, to Asia Minor, and to Rome, the capital of the world at that time.  But their witness and their preaching is NEVER about what the Holy Spirit does.  The Holy Spirit always points to Jesus Christ and to the Father, never to Himself.The Holy Spirit deserves glory and praise because He is God, but He always directs that glory back to the Father and the Son. As CHRIST says to the disciples in VERSE 8: You shall be witnesses to ME.   The Holy Spirit points to what Christ has done as our SAVIOUR.The Holy Spirit points to what Christ doing now as our INTERCESSOR to the Father.The Holy Spirit points to Christ as our Lord and King. The Holy Spirit DIRECTS US today in the same way: to be witnesses to what Christ has done. If we believe, if we have been converted, the Holy Spirit has been poured upon us, indwells us, and impels us. The Holy Spirit moves us to witness to our Lord and King, to our Saviour and Intercessor. WHAT are we to witness about?We are WITNESSES of what God has done in each of our lives, through Christ.We are WITNESSES to the lives we now live in Christ, and the change that the Holy Spirit has worked in us.We WITNESS to what we know about our Lord and Saviour, how He was born, how He lived, how He died on a cross so that we might be saved.We WITNESS to the fact that Jesus Christ our Lord and King will return to this earth as the King of the universe, as the Judge of the world.  And WHO do we witness to?We WITNESS to our familyWe WITNESS to our friendsWe WITNESS to our neighboursWe WITNESS to our enemies Is this what you do?Are you a witness for what Christ has done?Do you seek opportunities to tell about what Luke and the other gospel writers tell us about Jesus’ life, death, resurrection and ascension? And WHY should we witness?Isn’t it because Christ has done so much for us?Isn’t it because Christ has given us life eternal even though we deserved nothing but death?Isn’t it because Christ Jesus our King COMMANDS us to witness to Him to all, whether they will listen or not. So WHY do we witness?Because the Holy Spirit directs us and moves us to speak of what our Saviour has done. The Holy Spirit indwells us who believe.The Holy Spirit is the one who changes us, so that not only do we WITNESS to what Christ has done, but the Holy Spirit changes us to LIVE more and more like our Saviour, Jesus Christ. And what is the RESULT of our witness?Acts tells of thousands converted, of the number of believers growing daily.Acts tells of IMMEDIATE results and glorious transformations. But Acts also tells of the disciples being rejected and people ignoring them, beating them and killing them.   The only RESULTS that we should expect from our witnessing to others, is what God ORDAINS.  And what the Holy Spirit ACCOMPLISHES in people’s lives. If the APOSTLES went out under their own power, then the Gospel would have never gotten beyond the Temple in Jerusalem, or even that upper room in which they gathered in Acts 1.It is only by the power of the Holy Spirit that our witnessing will have any results, and perhaps these results we will never see for ourselves until we reach glory. Luke, in his sequel, gives an account of how the apostles were to WITNESS to Christ from Jerusalem to Rome.Luke tells of how the Holy Spirit guided and directed MEN to carry this WITNESS into all the world, according to the Father’s plan, and Jesus’ commandment. That work is still going on today.  The Acts of the Apostles ended by about 90AD, but the Acts of the Holy Spirit will in this world, in people’s lives, witnessing to Christ, until His return.  

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