The Holy Spirit Promised
When we last met we began looking at the book of Acts. It was really just an introduction to this glorious letter. There was one thing I wanted to do as we began to look at this letter and that is to clear out the presuppositions we have heard about this letter. This letter although very clearly provides for us an accurate history of the church its inception and its growth I don’t want us to miss what is going on in and through this letter and who is at work through out the entire letter. The force behind the inception and growth of the church is the Holy Spirit and the purpose of the church is a means of building up the Kingdom of God.
Possible put in Matthew 16:16-19.
Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. “I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it. “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.”
The church is comprised of people who are actually very fallible. We are depraved and we are full of sin. We have issues of pride and selfishness and as I said the last time we are self indulgent and self centered and self serving. It is a wonder the Church has made it this far. The good thing is the church is not about us, it is not about what we do but it is in fact all about the trinity. If it were not for the Holy Spirit the church would be nothing but a cesspool of depraved groups following after a charismatic shysters. The key to understanding the true purpose of the church comes when we understand the One who has brought the church into being. The church although has many facets, many components, it truly only has one real purpose and mission, and it is not to follow some flashy charismatic fool. The mission of the church is to spread the gospel and the only way the church can stay on point is if the church understands the force behind its empowerment.
As we look at our passage this morning we will continue to focus on the Acts of the Holy Spirit as we look at The Holy Spirit will Empower Witnesses to Spread the Gospel.
The Holy Spirit will Empower Witnesses to Spread the Gospel
The Holy Spirit will Empower Witnesses to Spread the Gospel
We will see this in our text today in Acts 1:4-8,
Gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, “Which,” He said, “you heard of 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 were asking Him, saying, “Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority; 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.”
Now we have here in the first eleven verses of this chapter a more detailed account of Jesus commissioning His eleven apostles. We saw a summarized version of this in the last four verses of Luke. Luke repeats the event here with a little more detail because He is highlighting what Jesus has done and the coming of the Promised Holy Spirit.
Holy Spirit Promised
Holy Spirit Promised
Verses 4 and 5 we find a command to stay and wait. Look with me at verse 4. “Gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem but to wait for what the Father had promised.” The phrase here ‘Gathering them together’ can be better translated staying with or eating with. The original Greek has the idea of getting together to eat. So Luke is not so much here referring to being on the Mount of Olives but at some point while Jesus was coming and going through out the time the disciples were gathering in the upper room in Jerusalem. Just like we saw in Luke 24 when the men were all gathered together and talking about how the two on the road to Emmaus ran into Jesus and Jesus taught them the Word and as they are speaking Jesus appears in the middle of their group.
The men were astonished and He told them to look at His hands and feet and see the holes as proof of the fact that Jesus was not dead but alive and He was not a spirit but flesh and bone. Then right after that what else does He ask for, food. They were gathered together. In fact in Portuguese we say juntar for lunch now the word doesn’t mean lunch it actually means join or get together which is what they are doing here. They are getting together for a meal any one of those which Jesus had during His forty days on the earth prior to the ascension.
It is at one of these moments when they are eating together in Jerusalem Jesus tells them to stay and wait. They are to stay and wait on the One who has been promised to them by the Father. This is not new news to them Jesus told them many times the Father was going to send a Helper. The Helper has been promised from long ago look at some of these texts in the Prophet Isaiah
Until the Spirit is poured out upon us from on high, And the wilderness becomes a fertile field, And the fertile field is considered as a forest.
Also in Ezekiel 39:29
“I will not hide My face from them any longer, for I will have poured out My Spirit on the house of Israel,” declares the Lord God.
And of course the passage in Joel 2;
“It will come about after this That I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind; And your sons and daughters will prophesy, Your old men will dream dreams, Your young men will see visions. “Even on the male and female servants I will pour out My Spirit in those days.
So these men should have already had an idea of the promise of the coming of the Spirit and if they were a little fuzzy on what Jesus was talking about and if Theophilus didn’t know then all they would have to do is look back at Luke 24:49;
“And behold, I am sending forth the promise of My Father upon you; but you are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”
This is all Theophilus would need but the apostles would probably have remembered these words of Jesus.
“I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever;
“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.
“When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify about Me,
Listen this event that is about to transpire in a few days shouldn’t come as a surprise to these men because it is made very clear what they are to do they are to stay and wait until they receive the power from the One who has been promised, the Holy Spirit.
Jesus affirms the promised One and the reason why they must stay and wait in verse 5. He continues, “for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” Jesus is associating John’s baptism with the baptism of the Holy Spirit, why? Well first of all John’s baptism is in and of itself identified with a water baptism. It is a baptism of cleansing one that prepares for the coming of the One who will usher in the Kingdom, namely, Jesus Christ. So in the same way the water baptism is identified with John, the baptism of the Holy Spirit is identified with Jesus Christ Himself. Which mind you is why now water Baptism is synonomous not with John but with Jesus because now when we are baptized in water it is an outworking of our faith and our identifying with Jesus’ death burial and resurrection. It doesn’t make us clean like it did with John.
So Jesus is saying the baptism of the Holy Spirit comes from Him. Also the baptism of the Holy Spirit is associated with John’s water baptism here because it also looks back at Jesus being baptized by John. Jesus needed to be baptized by John for the sole purpose of identifying with mankind. Just as man needs to be cleansed of sin Jesus had to identify with mans need. No this doesn’t mean Jesus had sin that He need to be cleansed of. He only identified Himself with us so that all righteousness could be done by Him. Since He is our perfect and righteous substitute He had to fulfill what man had to do and since man needs to be cleansed He needed to do so as a picture of His submission to the Father’s will. In Him we truly have a perfect high priest.
One other element of the association of John’s baptism and the Holy Spirit baptism has everything to do with the equipping and the commissioning of the servants of God. When Jesus was baptized by John it was something of an ordination for Jesus. It was the beginning of His earthly ministry. At the baptism we see the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit all at once working in conjunction with One another. John pointed to the Kingdom coming and Jesus is the One who brings on the Kingdom. This is a bit of a picture of what is to come. Not many days from now the Apostles will be baptized with power by the Holy Spirit it will be their full commissioning into the ministry. But for now they have to stay and wait on the coming Holy Spirit.
The promised Holy Spirit will come, it will be about a week in a half to two weeks but they are to stay and wait in Jerusalem. Now Jesus provides instructions for these men and provides for them a promise of the Holy Spirit yet these men still have a narrow view of what God is doing and what God is about to do.
Let’s go ahead and look at how these men still had a narrow view of Kingdom and restoration. Verse 6 we have the reaction of the apostles to Jesus. Verses 1-5 were a basic summary of what occured in the entirety of the gospel of Luke. Now is when we actually arrive at the Mount of Olives and they receive their orders from Jesus. First they are to stay and wait but that is only for a short time. After their stay and wait period is over they will move and Jesus provides for them the orders in verses 6-8.
These men are still stuck on the little picture, look with me at verse 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?” Remember what the nation was waiting for. They were waiting on a Messiah who would free them from the oppression of the Roman Government. They were looking for a national and political leader. Jesus is this leader, He is the Messiah, the Christ, the One chosen by God to sit as King. The only problem with what these men were thinking is they were looking at a narrow scope of the Kingdom. Yes, the kingdom of God will consist of the nation of Isreal and yes it will restore Isreal to its rightful place and land and God will reign forever over a perfect and righteous nation and fulfill His promises. But the restoration Jesus is bringing and the oppression He has Saved people from is so much deeper then political and national, it is the oppression of sin and it is a restoration back into a right relationship with God the Father.
Jesus’ response to their narrow view of the Kingdom tells us two important truths about God’s promise to Isreal. First is He is keeping His promise; Jesus responds in verse 7 “He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority.” See there are some churches today and some sects of Christianity that will teach Isreal is cut off. I am not sure exactly how they would handle this passage here because if Isreal was cut off then why wouldn’t Jesus have said so. He doesn’t. All Jesus does here is redirect their focus from a national, political purely ethnic and physical restoration which is all they are focused on to a future national, political, physical restoration. God has not taken away His promise or gone back on His promise to the nation. If God has gone back on His promise and cut Isreal off from the kingdom and transferred it to a new group then that would make God a lier and God can’t lie.
Look what Jesus is saying here is don’t be focused on when the Kingdom will be established. This is a time God has fixed which means it is a date already written down. I personally keep a task list. On my list I have projects and one of them of course is my sermon. It has to be ready by 8 a.m. on Sunday Morning whether I am ready or not it has to be completed. It is a fixed time it is similar to God fixing the time of the coming of the Kingdom. It is fixed it will happen. We are not to know when this will happen it is not our focus. That is why people like Howard Camping and the proponents of the blood moon prophecy are foolishly wasting their time and in my opinion just out to make a little extra money. There is no reason to focus on these foolish things, because the truth is the kingdom of God is coming and that day is already fixed and the only one who knows it and the only one who can make that happen is God Himself.
Jesus doesn’t want them to be focused on the times and epochs of when this will happen because then it will deter from the true mission of the church age and the true reason for the message of the gospel. It will deter people from being restored spiritually back into a relationship with God Himself. Not knowing when God will restore the Kingdom is very important because then people will rely more on the Spirit and less on themselves.
Let’s look at what Paul tells the Thessalonian church concerning time and epochs.
Now as to the times and the epochs, brethren, you have no need of anything to be written to you. For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night. While they are saying, “Peace and safety!” then destruction will come upon them suddenly like labor pains upon a woman with child, and they will not escape. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day would overtake you like a thief; for you are all sons of light and sons of day. We are not of night nor of darkness; so then let us not sleep as others do, but let us be alert and sober. For those who sleep do their sleeping at night, and those who get drunk get drunk at night. But since we are of the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet, the hope of salvation. For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep, we will live together with Him. Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing.
Notice Paul tells them they don’t need to know the times and epochs because the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. It will come when people least expect it and when people look around and think to themselves everything is wonderful and pleasant while they are steeped in their own sin. But those who know the Lord as Savior are not to live in the same way. We are to live as though Jesus is coming at any second of the day. Not knowing when He is coming back helps us to focus more on allowing the Spirit to truly keep us sanctified and not just living whatever way we want and then live for Christ at the moment He returns. Our focus is not to be on when the Kingdom is restored but on the Kingdom itself and on the spiritual restoration of all mankind back to God.
So Jesus refocuses their attention on what is at hand and on the bigger picture of Spiritual Restoration, next He moves to focusing them on Spirit Empowerment.
Let’s look at verse 8, Jesus continues; “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you.” So there is a future promise still to come. They are still not quite ready to go out into the world and tell people about the Kingdom of God as we have just seen because they still lack the proper equipment. They will, however, in just a few short days from now be equipped. They will be indwelt by the Holy Spirit and He will provide them with power, of ability to go out and spread the gospel message. This is a future event for them still and it will occur in Acts 2.
These men have recieved extensive training and they have learned some valuable and deep lessons but they are still not ready to go out and spread the gospel message. People can be trained to say the right things at the right time and in the right circumstances but without the Spirit there is no power in their words and their actions. We will see that as these men receive the empowerment of the Holy Spirit in Acts 2 there are some powerful messages and some incredible conversions but not one is truly attributed to the men who speak but to the power that works mightily within them.
You know it is actually interesting the word that is used here for the word power in the Greek is the word δύναμις. We get the word dynamite from this Greek word. It is a word that not only means ability but when you just think of dynamite what do you think of. It’s explosive, it will get you into the most seemingly difficult situations when you have tried all other options you just place a stick of dynamite in the obstacle and it will be decimated. This is the same idea as the Holy Spirit empowering us, there is nothing that is to difficult for the Holy Spirit to tackle and no one to thick headed to receive the gospel it has everything to do with His power not our own.
In fact I love how in his letter to the Ephesian church Paul writes about the Spirits power;
For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.
The Spirit will provide the power for these men to be strengthened in the mission Jesus has in store for them and you can rest assured this same Holy Spirit is working in us and He empowers us to boldly proclaim the gospel. Let me tell you something the power they receive is the same power we receive. The power is to spread the gospel don’t ever misunderstand the power the Holy Spirit provides it is not to do special tricks it is only for the purpose of spreading the gospel message. I say this because people like to say they wish they could preach like John MacArthur or R.C. Sproul or they could be as good evangelist as Billy Graham or Ray Comfort. Let me clue you in on something, yes they have some serious giftings and some incredible abilities with words and situations. Some take time to hone but do you know you have one thing in common with every one of those men and even men like Paul and Peter and Martin Luther and John Calvin C.S. Lewis or even Charles Haddon Spurgen. Everyone of these men have the same Holy Spirit you have, and each one of them was empowered by the Holy Spirit to spread the gospel and to be bold in sharing the gospel. It is OK to think you can’t do it but it is not OK to think you don’t have the ability or the power because you do.
There is a difference between having the power to spread the gospel and having the gifting of doing a specific task. The Spirit gifts us differently but each of us has the power to do the work God has called us to do which is to spread the gospel message.
Now Jesus makes it quite clear these men will be Spirit Empowered and then He goes on to provide a specific empowerment they will have, they will be Spirit Witnesses.
We see this in the second half of verse 8, Jesus continues; “and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem , and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” These men will be Jesus’ witnesses. This is unique to them. These men are apostles selected by Jesus to be His own witnesses. This witness they will provide is actually three fold. They are witnesses to Jesus own teaching. They have been with Him for three and a half years and they have recieved some in depth insight into all that Jesus taught and did. These men were selected for this purpose to be witnesses of all Jesus taught and did. They were also selected to be witnesses to Jesus’ character. The amount of time they spent with Him they saw how He lived. His character was exemplary and He spent nights in prayer and demonstrated how people should relate to one another and to God Himself. These men are also witnesses to faith in Jesus. They are witnesses to following after Jesus even to the end of the line or to the end of this life. No other men will have this designation outside of Paul and Matthias because it was a special gifting. And of course they are witnesses to His death, burial and resurrection and in just a few seconds His ascension.
Even today when we are empowered by the Holy Spirit we are all given different giftings but no one here has ever witnessed Jesus Christ with their own eyes and heard His teaching specifically with His own voice. Still the Spirit will guide us to point people to these eyewitness accounts. When we give the gospel message that is exactly what we are doing we are providing a second hand account of a first hand witnesses to who Jesus is and what Jesus has done and what He is doing and what He will do. The Holy Spirit is the One who was tasked with spreading the gospel message then and He is still the One who is tasked to spread the gospel message today.
Jesus then tells them how far the message will go and spread. He tells them they are to be “My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” I want you to notice something here. It is to begin in Jerusalem which is where Jesus tells them to stay and wait. Jerusalem in both Luke and Acts is the center piece. In Luke Jesus was moving toward Jerusalem and now in Acts the gospel message moves out from Jerusalem. In fact the apostles pretty much set up the church headquarters there. It is in Jerusalem were the Apostle’s are on the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit comes on them and indwells them. In Acts 8 after the martyrdom of Stephen the church scatters but the Apostles stay in Jerusalem and in Acts 15 there is the Jerusalem council where they convene to discuss whether or not the Gentiles need to follow Jewish laws in order to receive salvation. Jerusalem is the center of the church through out the book of Acts.
The message begins in God’s Holy City and works its way out from there. From Jerusalem it goes out to Judea and Samaria which entails all of the Israelite community. So the message is to go to the Israelites first. From there it goes out to the remotest parts of the earth. This actually outlines the book of Acts for us. The first seven chapters relate the spread of the gospel message in Jerusalem. Then from chapters 8-12 the message spreads across Judah and Samaria. Then chapters 13-20 Paul takes the message through out Asia and Greece and finally in chapters 21-28 we have Paul taking the message to the leaders of the known world at the time till it goes all the way to Rome itself. This is the spread of the gospel message and the gospel message has not stopped spreading it is still spreading today.
This is the actual mission of the church, this is what the church is to be doing. In going out and spreading the gospel message it is a part of the kingdom work. Look at what Paul tells his protege Timothy in 1 Timothy 2
First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
I love this because Paul tells Timothy to pray for all men, without prayer we are useless and working on our own strength so pray for those in the world. Pray for those you encounter every day, those who are in position of authority over you and even for yourselves for opportunity to share the gospel message. Pray for this country so the message will be recieved because look at verse 4, God desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” Does this mean everyone will be saved, no but just like any good Father God still desires for men to be saved even though He knows not everyone will be. We don’t need to preoccupy our minds and our time with who will be saved we just need to be led by the Spirit and spread the message to all.
All to often people think of missions as people who go oversees and spread the gospel there. Look at these men in the book of Acts, they are all missionaries, because they have all received the mission. The mission is to spread the gospel. People have a narrow view of missions today and the truth of the matter is we are all missionaries and we all have the same mission, to build up the Kingdom of God. We are all empowered by the same Spirit who is the One who provides the boldness for us to spread this message about a life to come and we can enter into heaven God’s Kingdom.