Faithlife Sermons

What now?

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Brothers and sisters I hope that you all enjoyed an amazing Easter last Sunday. My wife claims that Easter is one of if not her favorite holiday of the year, maybe you can relate. It is surely a wonderful time with family, some great food, and most importantly a time to celebrate what makes our faith so special. As I understand kids in the area have just come off of their spring break and some of y’all may have taken a trip and enjoyed some relaxation somewhere. So all in all, y’all should be riding high after a wonderful time of celebrating the Resurrection of our Lord and Savior and possibly kicking back on the beach somewhere soaking in the rays… I don’t think it gets any better than that. 
My question to you is… what’s next? I invite you to open to Acts chapter one as you consider that question, “what’s next?” I joke about a time of celebration, rest and enjoyment a bit ago and all of that seems to paint a picture of the sweet life firing on all cylinders. So too this had to be the feeling elation and high times among Jesus’ followers as word spread that his tomb was empty and he is risen!
We’re talking about such an emotional swing, from the apostles hiding, cowering in fear like Peter caving under interrogation or Thomas refusing belief until he could stick his hand in Jesus’ side. To finally starting to realize that all of this is true! After following Jesus for quite sometime and him delivering news over and over, again that he would be offered up for sacrifice only to rise again, the disciples still lamented. They were despondent. Thinking that they backed a losing horse, but now there’s hope. It’s all a bit jarring if you place yourself in their shoes. It’s an emotional rollercoaster, that’s for sure. It’s a bit shocking.
Have you experienced anything of the sort? My wife can attest that I am in the first car of that emotional rollercoaster on a weekly basis, more often than not its related to school. She’s the sound mind of the relationship, the one that talks me down from the ledge as it were.
But in light of Easter we can all agree that the reality of the resurrection quite jarring, its shocking, so again I ask… what now? If you haven’t already fond your way there today we’ll be reading from , the first 11 verses.
Hear the Word of the Lord...

The Promise of the Holy Spirit

The Promise of the Holy Spirit

1 In the first book, O aTheophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began bto do and teach, 2 until the day when che was taken up, after he dhad given commands ethrough the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. 3 fHe presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God.

4 And while staying1 with them ghe ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; 5 for hJohn baptized with water, hbut you will be baptized iwith2 the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”

The Ascension

6 So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, jwill you at this time krestore the kingdom to Israel?” 7 He said to them, l“It is not for you to know mtimes or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. 8 But you will receive npower owhen the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and pyou will be qmy witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and rSamaria, and sto the end of the earth.” 9 And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, the was lifted up, and ua cloud took him out of their sight. 10 And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, vtwo wmen stood by them in xwhite robes, 11 and said, y“Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, zwill acome in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”

The Promise of the Holy Spirit
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.”
The Ascension
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, the 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.”
a
b
c See
d [ch. 10:42; , ; ; ; ]
e [ch. 10:38; , ; ]
f ch. 10:40, 41; 13:31; ; ; , ; ; ;
1 Or eating
g
h ch. 11:16; See
h ch. 11:16; See

vv.1-5 - Desire the Holy Spirit

2 Or in
j See
k [; ; ; ]
l [; ]
Brothers and sisters, I’ve found it helpful when tackling any one teaching, and one selection of text that it is helpful to distill it down to a single main idea, so if I can commend that idea to you here with this text it would be this: God’s people are empowered supernaturally for a supernatural mission.
m ;
n ch. 4:33; ; ; [ch. 10:38; ]
o ver. 5
p [ver. 22]; See
q []
r ch. 8:1, 14; []
s ch. 13:47; [; ]
t ver. 2
If you have been around the teachings of Scripture for any time it shouldn’t surprise you when I say that today we are addressing issues of the Holy Spirit in relation to this text. And as such I want to commend to you three actions in light of this text:
u See
v []
We are to desire the Holy Spirit.
w ; ; ; , ;
x ; ;
y ch. 2:7; 13:31
We are to submit to the Holy Spirit.
z [; ]; See
And we are to employ the Holy Spirit.
a 2 Thess. 1:10016), .
Let’s Pray… (pastoral prayer)
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), .vv.1-5 - Desire the Holy Spirit

vv.1-5 - Desire the Holy Spirit

So are we? Are we left in shock? Renowned theologian D.A. Carson stated just over a week ago that “the entire Bible hinges on one weekend in the Middle East.” Key word there being, “hinges.” He doesn’t say that the entire Bible concludes with one weekend in the Middle East. It doesn’t end there and it most certainly doesn’t cease there. That is never more true than in our text this morning. As we read that there is still more to this story. We are not finished.
Beloved, we are living in the intermediary. We are living in the grace-filled time between the incarnation of the Son and the consummation of the church. I mean that like this… We read the gospels and celebrate the life ministry, death, burial and resurrection of our Lord in these pages, but as we continue on we see that there is something still at hand church!
Yes church we desire deeply to be with our Savior but make no mistake about it that we have a Helper here and now, someone promised to us long ago. John expounds upon this in his gospel in . He says that it is for our benefit that He goes away. That we would instead receive power form on high through the person of the Holy Spirit.
Application
Now we’re all good Southern Baptists and there is so much that I thoroughly enjoy about our denomination. We are one of the most missional groupings of people in our nation. We respond without a second’s hesitation in the face of need. We cooperate wonderfully as a denomination. But while we have many successes to celebrate, beloved we have for a long time been neglectful of our treatment of this third person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit.
We know so much of God through the life of Jesus as revealed through the pages of Scripture, but make no mistake about it that all of this is to work in tandem with what Jesus is speaking to in John’s gospel and what Luke begins to peel back in the Acts of the Apostles. It is for our benefit that he departs from us, so that He can send our Helper. I am as guilty as the next person of wishing that I could be in the presence of Jesus, that struggle and doubt would be washed away by having my Savior right in front of my very eyes, and that day will come, but now is not that time.
So I’m left with the question that I will also challenge you with… do we desire the Spirit? If this was the charge from Christ himself, do place this importance on consulting, submitting to and obeying the Holy Spirit in manner that reflects the importance that Jesus indicated?
Brothers and sisters, we live in very trying times. The world is very fast moving. And there is so much about the world that breaks my heart, none as much as the fact that there are so many people on this globe who don’t have ready and easy access to the gospel like we do. What we wade deeper into this morning as we open up Luke’s words in Acts, is the answer to that very problem. So do we desire the Spirit? Do we desire the answer to this worldwide problem that lives in our own backyard?
Luke, the author
We see this in the coming of Jesus.
The Helper is:
Personal
Personal
Communal
Communal
Missional
Missional

vv.6-8 - Submit to the Holy Spirit

Beloved if you are like me you revel in the reality of the Resurrection and what hope that gives us. Last week was as sweet of a reminder as ever that we will know a day with no more pain, illness, hurt or anything of the sort and we will be face to face with the one who ransomed our souls once and for all. I long for that day. I am left much like the apostles here on Mt. Olive with the resurrected Jesus right in front of their faces and I echo there question a question that is repeated from the Psalmists of long ago when over and over and over they would ask… “How long oh Lord?”
“Lord, will you a this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” You see despite everything these apostles had witnessed, namely Jesus coming back from the dead, they still didn’t quite get the purpose for Christ’s coming. And much could be said about ourselves in this regard as well! The disciples had in mind that most assuredly they had picked the winning side, that now was there time of glory, that they would now be established to prominence for the first time.
So too many of us, myself included, are under the delusion that being Christian warrants us some kind of standing. But Luke dispels that here as he had earlier in his gospel account, , “foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” If that is the life led by our savior and we are called to follow him the same would stand for us, brothers and sisters.
The apostles were asking if this was the time… Is this the time they get to make good on their commitment? And while we anguish along with the apostles wondering when it is that Christ will bring about His kingdom, fully, we see something profound about the nature of God, here.
We can be assured that there will be a day where there will be no more days left on this earth as we know it, and at such a time there will be no more opportunity for those outside of the family of God to be welcomed in, and as harsh as that may sound we must realize that for as long as their is time, as long as there is breath in our lungs, we have the capacity to tell of the Savior who rescued us from eternal separation from God in our sin to an eternal welcoming in the presence of the Most Holy.
So when Jesus redirects the apostles concern for the time of the kingdom’s coming, so too should we be redirected at what is truly at hand. What is truly at hand is that there is still time. There is still time to faithfully carry this gospel to the outer ends of this earth. That is indeed what this is all about. If I could distill this book down to you, if I could offer you a single verse that sums up the theme and intent of this book it is this eighth verse. “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
While the time of the kingdom’s coming is not for our knowing, Jesus is pointing out something that is of significance to us when he specifies the geography of His kingdom. Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the ends of the earth. Now those specific locations might not have immediate significance to us living on this side of the globe, but what you do need to realize is the the unceasing reach in which this kingdom is supposed to expand. Jerusalem is where they are at this point in time atop of the Mount of Olives, Judea would be the greater reach of the country, Samaria is the exact opposite place to which the apostles would want to have go with these being what they would have deemed an unclean people. So Christ takes a salvation that they thought was geopolitical in nature and depoliticizes it and takes any sort of boundary off of it.
Now I’ve crammed a 3 year seminary into 5 years and one of the things I’ve been blessed to learn is how if you get back to the original language of the New Testament you can uncover certain details about the text not readily available in English, and there is a profound detail here in this text. While on the surface it seems that we are commanded to, “go,” the emphasis of the text here is to make disciples, this is the purpose of our witness that Luke speaks of in .
Application
So here I challenge you and offer you this application based off of v.8. How are you impacting the mission of God as its been issued by Jesus. Who is it in your own backyard that is in need of the gospel? Brothers and sisters one of the sweetest things about our faith is that it cannot be contained by a couple hours on Sunday but the reality of the gospel bleeds into every aspect of our lives. So you have every bit of power and ability to carry the gospel into the lives of others. The apostles were instructed to push back even further to the greater country. So too is there opportunity in our own country to take the gospel. They were also instructed to Samaria, the place they didn’t want to go. So I ask you, what walls have you built up claiming that the gospel cannot make an impact there? This could be here locally or abroad, but is there a place that you’ve deemed hopeless? That’s exactly where the gospel can and will have the greatest impact. “To the ends of the earth...” beloved there is not an inch of this earth that doesn’t fall under God’s sovereign rule and as such there is not a person that is not desired for eternal relationship with Jesus. So again I ask you, where do you think the gospel can’t reach? Go there.

vv.9-11 - Employ the Holy Spirit

We’ve talked about desiring the Spirit and submitting to the spirit, now as we shift to our final couple of verses this morning, let us now think on how it is that we employ the Spirit.

9 And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, the was lifted up, and ua cloud took him out of their sight. 10 And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, vtwo wmen stood by them in xwhite robes, 11 and said, y“Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, zwill acome in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”

And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, the was lifted up, and ua cloud took him out of their sight. 10 And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, vtwo wmen stood by them in xwhite robes, 11 and said, y“Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, zwill acome in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”

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. And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, 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 is lifted up in this ascension narrative and for something so profound and supernatural, it sure doesn’t get a lot of screen time, but that is kind of the point. This concludes Jesus’ 40 days with his followers after the resurrection, which is a number that should set off some alarm bells in our minds. We see that number throughout Scripture and know that it carries some significance and it shows a sweet connection in this instance between the time Christ spent in the desert, facing temptation and preparing for ministry, and now he has defeated sin and empowered us for ministry.
Yes, this marvelous event is mentioned as a sort of passing by, but that is exactly the point. Luke does not dwell on the ascension, he quickly shifts our gaze back to earth. Why? Because we have a story of an empty tomb that is meant to go out. Christ sends his heavenly messengers here to call back the attention of his followers, it is not the first time we’ve seen such intervention.
Both Mary and Joseph were visited by the heavenly host when they were told that they would bear a son. They would name him Jesus and he would be the Savior of the world. Mary Magdalene was comforted and rebuked by the angels when they asked, “why do you seek the living among the dead” that beautiful first Easter morning. And here, the angels draw the eyes of the disciples earthward. What does all of this say, each of these instances show something spectacular and cataclysmic. The annunciation, the resurrection, and the commission.
Brothers and sisters so often we look at this world with disdain, asking ourselves how did we get here? The news seems to bring story after story that incites anger and disappointment. We set our eyes to Jesus, rightfully, but may we never forsake our gaze toward the mission field.
Moments like this, moments of high spiritual experience are never ends in themselves. For the apostles it was time to come down off of the mountainside and witness to what they had seen, so too should we take note that in times of high spiritual experience for you and me, we are never meant to just dwell there. There is work to do, the field is white for the harvest. There will be a day that Jesus returns as he ascended. For those within the fold of God’s family that will be a day that we have long since hoped for, for those without, it will be a day of great terror. Every day we are afforded is a moment of grace to extend the reach of God’s family the world over.
Applications
Application
The Helper is:
I work at the state convention and as a part of my job I track the Southern Baptist Convention calendar and it just so happens that today is “Cooperative Program” Sunday. You may be largely unaware of what the cooperative program is but I’ll synthesize it this way. This is one of the strongest ways that we cooperate as a body of churches. Southern Baptists the world over give of their resources to fuel local and global missions and that means that churches in Oxford, NC can have a gospel impact in the outermost reaches of this earth.
Personal
It really is one of the things I love most about our denomination because it means that everyone has skin in the game. As God’s people who have given faithfully to your church, if you have given here and want to see before you the ways that you’ve impacted the mission of God I encourage you to jot down this web address ncbaptist.org/52sundays. That way you can put a face to your giving and be encouraged.
Communal
I also challenge you in light of today’s text to set your gaze to the mission. There are 5.8 million lost people in our state alone. 5.8 million, that is not only staggering, but heartbreaking and unacceptable. If that figure sets a pit in your stomach, I say, “good,” and I would dare say that that is the conviction of the Spirit working in your very own soul. And in light of today I would plead you these final 3 things:
Missional
Desire and seek the Spirit
Submit to the the Spirit’s leading
and use this otherworldly power for the glory of God’s kingdom.
Last week was Easter, and Easter changes everything. But we are not to merely marvel at the empty tomb, but witness to it. I pray that in this week ahead that you would be challenged to have 1 gospel conversation. I’ll be back next week and I would love to here a marvelous story or two of how you were able to engage someone in your community with the eternal joy found in Jesus. And as we conclude today, let me pray to that end...
Let’s pray…
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