Faithlife Sermons

Same Kingdom

Acts  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  58:56
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Picking up in Acts, we are picking up the second volume in a series. The major theme of Acts is the outward spreading of the Kingdom of God by the power of the Holy Spirit. This is the Same Kingdom, from Garden to Abraham, to Moses and Joshua; inaugurated in a new way by Jesus and now (in Acts) advancing across the world. God’s Kingdom is already

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Starting with Book Two

I am currently in the middle of 146 different book series, waiting in each case for the author to write the next book. The books pictured are the ones I am most excited about… but I have only been waiting for 8 years for book 3, so I shouldn’t complain.
There are actually people in this room who are legit upset with me because I got them started on this series and now they are stuck with me waiting for the next book.
But when the new book drops… I am so stinkin’ excited. I jump in and start reading… and… what do you think happens? Sometimes it has been years since I read the earlier books!
I have no idea what is going on? Who was this guy again? What were his powers (the books I read, they pretty much always have powers).
I am so excited to jump into the book of Acts, but we should realize that we are jumping into book 2. Just a couple

Book Two - Acts

Acts Intro

Acts 1:1–3 ESV
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.
Right off the bat here we hear that we are reading book two. And that raises all the questions. What was book 2 about? Who is Theophilus and who is the narrator here?

Luke - Gentile Doctor, Companion to Paul

Long church tradition holds that Luke wrote the book of Acts. There is lots of great internal evidence for this, particularly in Acts 16 when the author starts throwing in “We” for certain events… and specifically events where Luke is along for the ride. Luke is a Gentile and a doctor, and he consistently uses accurate medical terminology in his writings. He is a close associate of Paul. He is a Gentile come-to-faith in Christ, laying out the facts as he has discovered them through research.

Theophilus - Lover of God

He is writing to a man named Theophilus. Theophilus is almost certainly a Gentile audience as it is a Greek name, and it is almost certainly a pseudonym. Theophilus literally means - lover of God.
So he could simply be writing to a generic audience - people who love God.
He could be writing to a wealthy patron, but using a pseudonym as he is likely writing in the time of Christian persecution near Paul’s death.
My favorite imaginitative possibility:
Doctors were often slaves. One theory is that Luke is writing to his former owner, in gratitude that he has freed him, offering back the very greatest gift he has to give: the reliable testimony and witness of Jesus and His Kingdom.

Acts - Volume Two

Which takes us to the most important question. Coming in on book two, it is really important that we know what was going on in volume two. Because everything in book 2 is going to depend on book 1. Luke gives us this summary of what book 1 was about.
Acts 1:1–3 ESV
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.
“All that Jesus began to do and teach”.
All that he “did” is focused in particular on his death and resurrection, and that emphasis is underscored at the end here: he showed them certain proofs or “irrefutable evidence” of his resurrection.
The other focus is on what he “taught” and Luke does us the favor of picking up Jesus’ major teaching theme. It is the same theme Jesus continued to teach in the forty days after the resurrection. He was “speaking about the kingdom of God.”
Basileias tou Theou.

Kingdom of God in Luke

So what did Jesus teach about the Kingdom of God in Luke? It’s… a bit confusing really.

Kingdom Here

There are over 70 references to Kingdom of God, so we can’t easily encapsulate everything that Jesus taught. But over and over again, he announced that it was here. Luke records the Beaititudes which announce the radical new availability of the Kingdom. He makes it clear that his own presence is the inauguration of the Kingdom, the fulfillment of prophecy, He is the King!

Kingdom Future

But Jesus also taught that the Kingdom of God was still coming. That there will come a day of total fulfillment, when all is revealed and all is judged and all is made right!
We see this duality powerfully in Luke 17.
Luke 17:20–21 ESV
Being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, he answered them, “The kingdom of God is not coming in ways that can be observed, nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There!’ for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.”
Luke 17:21 The Message
Nor when someone says, ‘Look here!’ or, ‘There it is!’ And why? Because God’s kingdom is already among you.”
God’s kingdom is already among you!!!
But immediately after directing their attention to the Kingdom’s present reality, he casts vision forward to it’s future fulfillment:
Luke 17:22–26 ESV
And he said to the disciples, “The days are coming when you will desire to see one of the days of the Son of Man, and you will not see it. And they will say to you, ‘Look, there!’ or ‘Look, here!’ Do not go out or follow them. For as the lightning flashes and lights up the sky from one side to the other, so will the Son of Man be in his day. But first he must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation. Just as it was in the days of Noah, so will it be in the days of the Son of Man.

The Kingdom - Here and Not Yet

So it isn’t crazy, after Jesus’ death and resurrection that the disciples start to think this is the moment.
Acts 1:6 ESV
So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?”
It isn’t crazy that maybe this was the fulfillment Jesus had spoken of before his death and resurrection. They had undergone a major change, they had a period where they “looked for the Son of Man” and didn’t see him, and then he was there. He had now “suffered many things” and “been rejected by this generation”. Not really a crazy question.
But Jesus answers:
Acts 1:7–8 ESV
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.”
They ask “is this the moment of fulfillment” for what you have been teaching about for 30 years, and then teaching about in a new powerful way for the last 40 days?
What does Jesus answer?

Waiting for Book Three

This is the mythical book 3 of the series by Patrick Rothfuss. In his defense, we have only been waiting 8 years for book 3, so no big deal.
During the wait for book three, at every book signing, and online in every chat forum, people go nuts coming up with theories and guesses about what is going to happen. Trying to answer mysteries about how it is going to turn out. And, because he (Patrick Rothfuss) is the only guy who knows the actual answers, they ask him.
And over and over again, he gives this answer: Read and Find Out. RAFO.
The disciples take this question to Jesus. “Is this when you are going to end it all?” And Jesus essentially answers: Read and Find Out.
Or better yet: live and find out.
Then he essentially says: Book 3 is coming and flies away into the sky.
Acts 1:9–11 ESV
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.”
and like that <wooosh> He was gone. The drama of it. The showmanship. He didn’t need to fly up. He didn’t go to space, he went to the right-hand of the Father… who is Spirit… which means he apparently left the physical plane or dimension or however you picture it. But he creates this explicit visual that he is gone, in order to build a picture of what his return will look like.
And his disciples are left in this in-between moment. The Kingdom has Come. But Jesus will return to fulfill the Kingdom at some unknown future date. And in the meantime what are they to do? Live and Find Out.
Jesus inaugurated the Kingdom: Book 1.
Jesus will come again. New Heaven, New Earth: Book 3.
They are living in Book 2. And that Kingdom, Here and Not Yet, will spread into Jerusalem and all Judea and Samaria, and then to the ends of the earth. Before it’s final fulfillment, we will see the Kingdom grow and multiply to all peoples, all nations, all tongues, all tribes. Time for the story to grow, time for all people to be reached, for He desires that all would be saved.
It isn’t a quick ending or resolution, it is an epic saga.

The Book of Acts is the story of the Kingdom.

The Kingdom growing, the Kingdom expanding, the Kingdom - Here and Not Yet.
Is it Here? Yes. And we see the Holy Spirit working in power to save so many, to plant churches, to work miracles, all the things.
Is it Not-Yet? Yes. We still see sin and stupid at play, from within and without the people of God. They aren’t saints-made-perfect, they are all works in progress. We see them figuring out Kingdom-life and making it up as they go along. Sometimes miraculously successful divine-inspiration… sometimes it’s pretty rough and doesn’t work at all. They go in wrong directions and have to repent and start over.

Living in Book Two

The book of Acts is our book. We are in this same state, living in the Kingdom of God Here… and Not Yet.
We are living in Book 2.
… but we have the great privilege of going second. Of getting to see how these churches, these men and women of God lived as Kingdom people in the midst of a fallen and broken world.
What does it look like to live in between these two moments?
We get to RAFO - Read And Find Out.
What does it look like to be islands of the Kingdom - of the King’s Dominion - out in a fallen world?
RAFO.
What about bringing the changeless gospel of an eternal God to diverse peoples and cultures that may have no point of reference or understanding?
That’s exactly what happens here. Read And Find Out.
They were the Kingdom of God advancing in their neighborhood and out to the world.
We are that frontier expanding, still by the power of that Same Spirit, frontier of that Same Kingdom.
The Kingdom of God is among us. Amen.
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