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20180902 CCC Sermon Acts 3 - The Spirit Powered Church

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The key to sharing the gospel is the Holy Spirit

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Introduction
A few weeks ago, I watched a video on children’s behavior. The speaker in the video asked if every time a child misbehaved it was because the child was simply rebellious - that is to say they just didn’t want to behave - or if there were times where a child wanted to behave and obey but there was a reason why they could not. For example, we may tell a child that they have to sit still and stop complaining, but if that child has to go to the bathroom, they will neither sit still nor stop complaining. There is an obstacle in the way of their obedience. Remove the obstacle - in this case, take the child to the rest room - and odds improve that they will behave.
The Holy Spirit is God’s People’s Power
How many of you would want to have the Holy Spirit come and dwell in your life, filling you with supernatural power? Before you answer the question, let me share with you a story. Francis Chan tells the story of a man who came to him and his elders to pray for healing and to anoint him with oil. Chan asked the man, “Why do you want to be healed? Why do you want to stay on this earth?” The reason he asked is because of
James 4:3 ESV
You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.
I remember listening to this and instantly thinking of our Christian life. Do most Christians disobey God’s commands to love their neighbor and be witnesses because they just are rebellious in life or are there obstacles to them fulfilling their commands? I concluded that most church-going Christians want to obey the commands of God and reach their friends and neighbors. The issue is that they just know that there are obstacles in the way and they don’t know how to overcome them.
The Holy Spirit is God’s Purpose
And I’ll never forget, he smiled, reached into his suit coat, pulled out a folded piece of paper and slid it across the table. I opened it and it was a check for a large sum of money as a gift to help us out. He said that he believed we are supposed to do this and because of this, he knew God wanted him to play a part in it. Using his gifts, God used him to build me up and encourage me to run the course. And, of course, I am so glad that we did.
So, if you answered yes to wanting a filling of the Holy Spirit in your life, let me ask you why? Why do you want the Holy Spirit in your life? Is it because you want some supernatu
But then I began to wonder, what are those obstacles? Is it fear? Ignorance? A lack of confidence? What is it that hinders Christians from doing what it is that they are supposed to do? And after reading this week’s text, I am convinced that the reason so many of us struggle is because we fail to fill ourselves with the right fuel - to have the right source of power in our lives - or to try to do it while we run on empty.
The thing is that we far too often view a gift as something that is given to us for our use and our joy. And
The apostles had a BIG job to do. They knew they were tasked by Jesus to go and make disciples. They knew that Jesus had just told them that they would be His witnesses to the end of the earth. And, despite all the training and teaching that Jesus had done, now the teacher was gone and suddenly the class was left to figure it out all for themselves. Would they find a way to do what they are called to do or would the church end within one generation of it’s birth.
Thankfully, God already had a plan. God not only gave them a task to complete but He promised them that He would give them the power needed to complete this unfinished task. Simply put, God gave the church the Holy Spirit to prove that he will keep his promise to provide them power to proclaim the positive message of propitiation through Jesus. Simply put, the Holy Spirit came to empower and embolden the church to complete the unfinished task ahead.
As we look at the ways the Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit Proves God’s Promises
In 2012, the world’s largest power outage to date occurred over three days in India. From July 30th to August 1st, over 620 million people were at some point without power. To put that number in perspective, that’s nearly 9% of the world’s population.
Two weeks ago, we looked at the Ascension of Christ. Just prior to that, in , Jesus said this:
Acts 1:8 ESV
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.”
This was not the first time that Jesus promised this to his followers. Consider
John 16:7 ESV
Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.
Two weeks ago, we looked at the Ascension of Christ. Just prior to that, in , Jesus said this:
This Helper is the Holy Spirit, given to the early church in fulfilment of the promises of Jesus Christ. This is so important for us to see. The Holy Spirit proves God’s promises. When He came in power on these believers, they had to know that this was a fulfillment of Christ’s promise given to them mere days before. The simple truth is that God keeps His promises. We saw this in our last series in Galatians where the promise to Abraham was fulfilled in Christ. As teaches us, all of God’s promises find their yes in Jesus. And the coming gift of the Holy Spirit is yet another promise given by God and kept by God for the glory of God.
So, we can see that yet again God keeps His promises. He is faithful to the unfaithful and always keeps his word. What God has promised, we can trust. But too often we see God’s promises as only something He will do FOR us. Yet, we know that in this passage, God is promising we will do something. Look again at - “you WILL BE my witnesses”. God is not asking them, He isn’t even telling them. He is PROMISING THEM that they will do this.
Acts 1:8 ESV
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.”
We tend to think of passages like this one in Acts or back in and the Great Commission as only commands given by God to us to obey. And yes, there is some level of obedience in all of this. Without obedience, we will never complete these tasks. But as much as there are commands for those who trust in Jesus to go out and be witnesses, they are promises as well. Jesus promised to be with us always in the Great Commission and He promised that when the Holy Spirit comes, the early church would be His witnesses. God never commands us to do something he is unwilling or unable to empower us to accomplish.
This was not the first time that Jesus promised this to his followers. Consider
However, I would contend that if you want to
I remember making a hospital visit with one of the residents while I was out in Newton. She struggled with the issue of forgiveness and if Jesus really could forgive her for stealing a piece of bubble gum when she was a child. I quoted to her and said that if she would confess, she could know she is forgiven. It’s a promise. She smiled and shook her head no. The reality is that sometimes we struggle to believe God’s promises because they are just so amazing!
John 16:7 ESV
Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.
This Helper is the Holy Spirit, given to the early church in fulfilment of the promises of Jesus Christ. This is so important for us to see. The Holy Spirit proves God’s promises. When He came in power on these believers, they had to know that this was a fulfillment of Christ’s promise given to them mere days before. The simple truth is that God keeps His promises. We saw this in our last series in Galatians where the promise to Abraham was fulfilled in Christ. As teaches us, all of God’s promises find their yes in Jesus. And the coming gift of the Holy Spirit is yet another promise given by God and kept by God for the glory of God.
But we can trust ALL of God’s promises. Scholarship on our text today teaches us that “the essential historicity of the incident is firmly assured.” 2 In other words, it actually happened the way that Luke describes it. Don’t let your unbelief hinder your confidence in Christ, knowing that He is faithful to keep ALL His promises. Which promise of God are you struggling with today? Confess that you need help to trust and believe God more, knowing that He will fulfill His divine purposes in your life - just as He keeps all His promises He makes to everyone in every age. Trust that he will give you the power, through the Holy Spirit, to accomplish all that he asks you to do.
The simple truth is that God keeps His promises. We saw this in our last series in Galatians where the promise to Abraham was fulfilled in Christ. As teaches us, all of God’s promises find their yes in Jesus. And the coming gift of the Holy Spirit is yet another promise given by God and kept by God for the glory of God.
So, we can see that yet again God keeps His promises. He is faithful to the unfaithful and always keeps his word. What God has promised, we can trust. But too often we see God’s promises as only something He will do FOR us. Yet, we know that in this passage, God is promising we will do something. Look again at - “you WILL BE my witnesses”. God is not asking them, He isn’t even telling them. He is PROMISING THEM that they will do this.
We tend to think of passages like this one in Acts or back in and the Great Commission as only commands given by God to us to obey. And yes, there is some level of obedience in all of this. But as much as there are commands for those who trust in Jesus to go out and be witnesses, they are promises as well. Jesus promised to be with us always in the Great Commission and He promised that when the Holy Spirit comes, the early church would be His witnesses.
I remember making a hospital visit with a lady while I was out in Newton. She struggled with the issue of forgiveness and if Jesus really could forgive her for stealing a piece of bubble gum when she was a child. I quoted to her and said that if she would confess, she could know she is forgiven. It’s a promise. She smiled and shook her head. The reality is that sometimes we struggle to believe God’s promises because they are just so amazing!
But we can trust ALL of God’s promises. Don’t let your unbelief hinder your confidence in Christ, knowing that He is faithful to keep ALL His promises. Which promise of God are you struggling with today? Confess that you need help to trust and believe God more, knowing that He will fulfill His divine purposes in your life - just as He keeps all His promises He makes to everyone in every age.
The Holy Spirit Powers Our Proclamation
I’ve enjoyed our time on Thursday nights looking at 1 Corinthians because it reminds us that since the very beginning of the church, people have misunderstood and misapplied the gifts of the Holy Spirit. They have used them for personal gain and personal edification. But the gifts of the Spirit of God are not given for personal edification. They are not given for the benefit of the person to whom they are given. They are given by God through the Spirit to proclaim the power of Jesus Christ to atone for sins and the need for people everywhere to trust in Christ and repent of their wickedness.
I mean, we take classes, we read our Bibles, we listen to sermons. And we are told time and time again to share our faith. We are told to witness to our neighbors. And we should. But
I personally have read dozens of books on sharing one’s faith with someone else. Do you know what the good ones have in common? They remind you that you need the Holy Spirit to do the work through you. Sure, we need to be willing to tell others about Jesus, but true gospel evangelism never happens apart from the promised power of the Holy Spirit working in and through us. As William Faye, author of Share Jesus Without Fear reminds us “We all must evangelize through the power of the Holy Spirit … This means we have the same power that raised Jesus from the dead, living in us, so we lack nothing to get the job done.” 1
I may have shared this before, but it came rushing back to me this week. On one of my overseas missions trips, one of the long-term workers and I chatted about what life was like in this country and what the work was like when you knew you weren’t going home in a week. He said to me, “You know, a person won’t last five minutes on the missions field without the power of the Holy Spirit.” And it’s true. You need the Holy Spirit in your life if you want to survive on the mission field. However, I would contend that when the Spirit is in our lives, we will proclaim of the goodness of Jesus.
However, I would contend that if you want to
Our text here shows us that when the Spirit came upon the early church, each one spoke as the Spirit gave them utterance about the mighty works of God (v. 4, 11). When people are filled with the Holy Spirit, they can’t help but tell others about the mighty works of God done to save lost sinners like you and me. It just comes rushing out. Just like when you are filled with joy at the birth of a child or at a wedding - you don’t need special training or a special prompting. You just tell people.
Up to now, I haven’t addressed how one receives the Spirit. It isn’t that complicated, really. Let’s consider 2:1 in like of -
Acts 5:32 ESV
And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.”
Look again at . What were they doing? They were obeying Jesus’ commands from - wait in Jerusalem for the gift of the Holy Spirit. The gift of the Spirit is given to those who obey God! Whether it is an initial obedience to humble oneself in trust and repentance or it is an ongoing life of humble obedience to Christ, the Spirit comes to those who walk in obedience. If you feel as though you can’t tell others about Jesus, you may want to look at your obedience to Christ in all areas of your life - are you living in rebellion to God. And then you may need to repent and ask God to change your heart so He can use it to change someone else’s.
The simple truth is that we want the Holy Spirit to come into our lives not so that we might be made much of, but so that we might share the gospel hope to the nations. tells us that “The Spirit of the LORD God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor...”. We are empowered for Gospel powered proclamation that leads to a harvest of many souls. The Holy Spirit is given to us, this text teaches, to empower us to be bold witnesses.
The Holy Spirit Points to Pentecost
The Holy Spirit Provokes a Response
The Holy Spirit Powers Our Proclamation of God’s Promises
A week or so ago, we mentioned how some of us like summer and some of us like autumn. Like I mentioned, I love autumn. Football, apple cider, shorter and cooler days, jackets … I love fall! But there is one aspect of fall that is inescapable here in our area - the harvest. Autumn is the time of year when the farmers bring in their crops. And if you look to the bean field next to the church, you’ll see that the beans are just starting to turn from a deep green to a light greenish yellow. That is a sure sign that the harvest is almost ready.
The Holy Spirit Provokes a Response
Jesus uses the harvest as a parable to his followers. In , when he saw that the crowds were helpless and like sheep without a shepherd, he told his followers:
Luke 10:2 ESV
And he said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.
You may know that the Jewish Festival of Pentecost was considered the anniversary of the giving of the Law. But Pentecost is also the festival of the Harvest. It is one of three festivals where the diaspora would return to Jerusalem and was often the best attended because the weather was the best for travel. So, it is no surprise that there would be a gathering of many tribes and tongues in Jerusalem. The farm field ripe with the harvest, ready for the powerful preaching that Peter will show us next week.
Conclusion
The simple truth is that God has always intended for there to be people from every tribe and tongue around his throne. In Pentecost, as we will see in the next few weeks, God literally jump started the Kingdom Harvest of the nations. These “devout men from every nation under heaven” gathered for what they thought was Jewish festival and ended up hearing about the one true Messiah named Jesus. Before the Apostles went to the nations, the nations literally came to them.
The Holy Spirit doesn’t come to people to give them power to serve themselves. He comes to give them power to proclaim the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth not simply as a good man or teacher but as the Crucified Christ and the Risen Lord of All. He comes to empower the believer to the unfinished task of Gospel proclamation to the nations. He comes so that we might tell people of the mighty works of God in order that they too might come to repentance! And whether we go to the nations or the nations come to us, we must remember that the gift of the Holy Spirit is provided so that people might be saved and the great Harvest of the Nations takes place. The promised power of the Holy Spirit is given to ensure a mighty harvest!
The Holy Spirit Produces New Wine
We see in the last portion of the text today that when the Holy Spirit comes, people, whether believers or not, . It caused amazement and made them question just what was happening. Still, some chose to mock the Christians, saying they are drunk with new wine. New wine goes down easier which makes it easier to get drunk. And yet, even then, the scoffers point us to a peculiar reality.
Peter, as we will see next week, rebukes the scoffers and tells them it is way too early to be drunk. Yet, he does not rebuke and say that they are not full of new wine. Because they are - look at
Luke 5:37–39 ESV
And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the new wine will burst the skins and it will be spilled, and the skins will be destroyed. But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins. And no one after drinking old wine desires new, for he says, ‘The old is good.’ ”
This parable, given by Jesus, tells a scoffing and doubting world that something new has happened, something new has come. What does this mean? It means that the Kingdom of God has come. It means that the nations will hear. It means that the Holy Spirit creates newness of life in those who are filled with him. All of God’s promises are coming true and regeneration through the Spirit is proof of that.
This text today is several days after the accession of Christ. During this time, I’m sure as the disciples sat together, waited together, prayed together, talked together, they became increasingly aware of their need for the presence of God. Jesus was gone. Their lives were empty. Now, they needed to be filled by the very promise of God given to those who trust and follow Jesus.
Jesus came to give new life to those who trust in Him and turn from their sins in repentance. But we were made new for a bigger purpose than just one day going to heaven. We were made new wineskins to receive new wine. We were made new to be filled with new wine, new fire, not to make much of ourselves, but to glorify Jesus and share the hope he brings with every single person we meet. We were saved to have a new relationship with God - to be filled with literal new wine through the Spirit of God.
Our great temptation in life is while we wait on the Lord to fill our lives with all sorts of things that truly just don’t matter. To fill our lives with the trivial and the mundane rather than preparing ourselves for the power of God. Did you notice what they were doing back in verse 1? They were all together in one place. Now, I want you to contrast that after the crucifixion and Jesus appearing to them. Look at .
John 21:3 ESV
Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will go with you.” They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.
Now, this wasn’t Peter grabbing a pole and heading to the lake. This was Peter returning to his old way of life, his old job. It is only when we live according to what Jesus teaches that we can catch fish, that we can reap a harvest, that we can celebrate Pentecost the way it was intended. It is when we open our lives up to being filled with the Spirit, new wine in new wineskins, so that our tongues may proclaim the goodness and power and mighty works of a God who sent his one and only son in love for all who would turn from sin and accept his gift of eternal life.
Friends, are you waiting for God? I believe that we at this church are waiting for
Conclusion
Preaching the Word: Acts—The Church Afire What Happened Through the Apostles at Pentecost (Vv. 5–13)

What does this require of us? The same thing it required from the apostles and those 3,000 followers—emptiness, an acknowledgment that we need Christ. God helps us have faith and respond to the gospel, and that is how we become Christians and receive the saving baptism and fullness of the Holy Spirit. Then, once we are Christians, God’s persistent work in our lives liberates us from the idea that we can live the Christian life on our own. Each time we acknowledge our inadequacy, he fills us with more of his Spirit so we can carry on his work. He will not fill our sails with the wind of the Holy Spirit unless we admit that the sails are empty. This requires humility and confession. The apostles were living in empty dependency until the filling came.

The key to the Spirit-filled Christian life is found in a paradox: cultivating an attitude of perpetual emptiness brings with it a perpetual fullness. Jesus said it like this: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.”

Preaching the Word: Acts—The Church Afire What Happened Through the Apostles at Pentecost (Vv. 5–13)

What does this require of us? The same thing it required from the apostles and those 3,000 followers—emptiness, an acknowledgment that we need Christ. God helps us have faith and respond to the gospel, and that is how we become Christians and receive the saving baptism and fullness of the Holy Spirit. Then, once we are Christians, God’s persistent work in our lives liberates us from the idea that we can live the Christian life on our own. Each time we acknowledge our inadequacy, he fills us with more of his Spirit so we can carry on his work. He will not fill our sails with the wind of the Holy Spirit unless we admit that the sails are empty. This requires humility and confession. The apostles were living in empty dependency until the filling came.

The key to the Spirit-filled Christian life is found in a paradox: cultivating an attitude of perpetual emptiness brings with it a perpetual fullness. Jesus said it like this: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.”

1 - Fay, William; Shepherd, Linda Evans. Share Jesus Without Fear (p. 16). B&H Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
Most of us fit the description of the old woman quoted by Charles M. Alexander. There was once a service where one of the attenders came to the annual revival, repented and then went back to his old way of life. This happened many times and at one particular service, he prayed with the assembly for the Holy Spirit to fill him. There was present an old woman who knew him well, who read correctly his character, and had witnessed his many revivals and shortcomings. So when he suddenly burst into prayer for the fullness of the Holy Spirit to be given him, the old woman emphatically cried: "Don't you do it, Lord. He leaks!"
We laugh at this, but I considered the words of Paul in Ephesians when he implored the church there not to be drunk on wine but be filled with the Holy Spirit. If this filling was a one time only event that happens at salvation, then that would make no sense. Throughout the book of Acts we read that the disciples were filled with the Spirit, but we know that Peter still stumbled, argued with God and sinned by falling back to legalism. So, if the key to effective witness is to be filled with the Spirit, then how do we keep ourselves full?
I’ll end with these words from Kent Hughes, a Biblical scholar and commentator. “The key to the Spirit-filled Christian life is found in a paradox: cultivating an attitude of perpetual emptiness brings with it a perpetual fullness. Jesus said it like this: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” 3 What’s powering your life today?
The key to the Spirit-filled Christian life is found in a paradox: cultivating an attitude of perpetual emptiness brings with it a perpetual fullness. Jesus said it like this: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” 3
The key to the Spirit-filled Christian life is found in a paradox: cultivating an attitude of perpetual emptiness brings with it a perpetual fullness. Jesus said it like this: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.”
Let’s Pray
Benediction -
Ephesians 5:18–21 ESV
And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.
1 - Fay, William; Shepherd, Linda Evans. Share Jesus Without Fear (p. 16). B&H Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
2 - Bock, D. L. (2007). Acts.(p. 95) Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.
2 - Bock, D. L. (2007). Acts.(p. 95) Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.
3 - Hughes, R. K. (1996). Acts: the church afire (p. 35). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.
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