Faithlife Sermons

Acts 1: 1-11 Bible Study


Acts 1: 1-11 Bible Study

Ascension only?

Most Bible students would say this passage is about the ascension of Jesus to heaven. For sure that’s described, but the passage directs our attention to several points of biblical theology that are simultaneously tied to the OT and look forward to the events of Pentecost described in Acts 2. In other words, Luke isn’t just reporting the ascension—he’s framing the theological context for what he’ll be describing in his second book.
In this episode we’ll see how Acts 1:1-11 makes us think carefully about how the NT writers connected their thoughts to the OT. The passage raises questions about the kingdom of God and eschatology—specifically, whose eschatology are we talking about, and what is the kingdom of God? Rather
than filter the passage through theological systems to which we’ve been exposed, we need to allow the OT to guide our thinking about Jesus’ teaching and the events of his life—just like the NT authors did. Discussing these things in the context of the OT passages to which Luke alludes helps us see the beginning of an important biblical-theological motif: the “already but not yet” nature of God’s plan for reclaiming the nations and having a human family to rule and reign with him.
Well, we want to get in Acts 1 through 11 today, and I should tell people that I’m going to be reading a lot of passages. And I do that because I cannot assume, and will not assume, that you have a Bible along with you. But if you do, whether it is in digital form or something sitting on your table, your lap, you’ll want to have it with you while we do these sessions, these episodes, because I will want to take you into the text. But I am going to try, for the most part, to read a lot of scripture for those who are just listening, maybe driving or doing something else. So, with that introduction, let's go to Acts 1, and I'm going to read the first 11 verses since that’s where we’ll be camped out today, and I'm going to be reading in the ESV. So, if you have that version, that's the easiest one to follow. If not, they’ll all be basically the same
Acts 1:1–11 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. 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.” 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, 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.”
That’s the end of the section. Now if you listen to the previous episode, basically, what I want to do is take you into the text and just talk about what we've read and follow any rabbit trails, again, I find interesting or I think you'll find interesting. So let's just do that. This is a really familiar passage. It's typically associated with the Ascension, the Lord goes back to heaven, and that's pretty evident. No surprise there. We just read that, that's what happens. But there's a lot of other things going on in this passage that are going to really, you’re going to really need to frame them correctly, to sort of get what Luke’s doing here in the first chapter, and where he's going to go from this point on.

First Book

The first book he refers to the first verse, that's obviously his gospel, Luke and acts written by the same person. So Luke is our author here. He refers back to, hey, that first book I wrote Ol’ Theophilus, this is what I wrote in it. Both books are addressed to Theophilus, so we know what he's talking about here. But what I want to park on, initially, are these commands. When you get to verse four, it says, “While staying with them he ordered them,” and then he gives a series of commands, and here they are. There’s a command not to depart from Jerusalem. There is a command to wait for the promise of the father. Two seemingly simple straightforward commands but have you ever wondered why would he command them, initially, not to depart from Jerusalem? Well because we know what happens in Acts 2. You can say, well, because that's where the Spirit is going to show up. We have Pentecost and all that needs to happen, so on so forth.

What is Jerusalem?

Well, that is true but what is Jerusalem? If you think about it, Jerusalem is the place where the glory of God had dwelt in the Old Testament in the temple. In other words, it’s the place for the presence of Yahweh, who owns, not only Israel, which is Yahweh's portion according to Deuteronomy 32 worldview, the divine counsel world view. So, the presence of Yahweh, he's the owner of Israel, so that would make sense. But he’s also the owner of all the other nations. Jerusalem is the domain of God, the same God who had the rightful claim to all other nations. Jerusalem, therefore, is important because it’s going to be the beachhead from which those nations are reclaimed. So the God who inhabits Jerusalem, the God who owns Jerusalem, is going to be the God by rightful claim that initiates the reclamation of all the other nations. So it is sort of a sign act. It's a symbolic gesture to have this program of reclaiming the nations begin in Jerusalem. Again, it is a way of telegraphing to the reader and, frankly, telegraphing to the powers of darkness who are dominating the nations in the Deuteronomy 32 worldview, it's going to start right here. And that's a sign of who’s initiating this, who's in charge, really what's going on.

More in the Command then wait

So the command not to leave Jerusalem has some other layers of importance other than, ‘hey, you have to stay there because Acts 2 is going to happen down the road. There is a little bit more to it than that. So, then we have this command to wait for the promise of the father. Well, what is that? Well, it's explained in verse 6. We get John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now, and then we go into, hey, this is the promise of the father and then Jesus in verse 6 ascends. So, there's this sense that I’m going to go but I'm really not going to really be gone because the Holy Spirit is going to replace me. We talked before, there are several places, and we’re going to hit a few in the book of Acts later on, where the Spirit of God is called the Spirit of Jesus, Spirit of Christ. Just as Jesus is but is not the Father, ok, there is a lot about the two Yahweh's idea from the Old Testament, there's this second Yahweh who is Yahweh but is also distinct from Him. And that's the sort of the backdrop and the backbone of what we call High Christology, the New Testament were Jesus is God but he’s not the father, but yet he still God.
Well, just as that's true, the Spirit is but isn't Jesus. So there's this relationship here between the Spirit of Jesus that we want to sort of, I want to start you thinking about because we’re going to run into it later. But all of this, again, sort of cryptically, we get Luke saying this was promised by the Father. Where was this promised? You can look back in the Gospels and sort of get the context for when Jesus talked about this before, and there are a number of versus about that, where Jesus would tell his disciples, hey, the Son of Man is going to go and die, and I’m going to leave you and the Spirit will come. The Father will send the Spirit. You think, you could presume, that that's what Luke is talking about here. I’m not going to deny that, but the picture again is much bigger. This is a promise. What you’re going to see happening in Acts 2 is a promise that is connected intimately back to certain passages in the Old Testament. And that’s where I want to take your mind. I want you to mentally go there, because I’m going to read some Old Testament passages. And it might surprise you that the passages I’m going to read that sort of connect these ideas, a washing, of making clean of previously sinful people, the mention of a Spirit, or the Spirit, these passages that are the backdrop to Acts 2 are also eschatological. And that is from the perspective of the Old Testament person.
They look to the future. And what I want you to ask yourself as we go through these passages, again, getting the backdrop of Acts 1, then we’ll return to Acts 1, is a simple question. Are the Old Testament passages we’re going to look at, should we look at them eschatologically in relationship to the biblical people, to them, to their time, or to us? Now evangelicals frequently assume that the passages we’re going to look at refer to what we think in our time and our timeline as end times. But what I want you to ask yourself is, could these passages really be fulfilled in New Testament times? Yes, they were still future to the Old Testament people, but do we get fulfillment in New Testament times, and what are the implications? What are the ramifications for how we, who live after the New Testament, should be thinking when we read these things? The first one I want to take your mind back to his Jeremiah 31. Jeremiah 31 is, again, what's known as the new covenant passage. It’s the primary passage where theologians go to, to talk about the new covenant promise. Now listen to what it says. This is Jeremiah 31. Jeremiah's right before the exile of Judah gets conquered by Nebuchadnezzar. He says
Jeremiah 31:31–34 LEB
Look, the days are coming,” declares Yahweh, “and I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, not like the covenant that I made with their ancestors on the day of my grasping them by their hand, bringing them out from the land of Egypt, my covenant that they themselves broke, though I myself was a master over them,” declares Yahweh. “But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares Yahweh: “I will put my law in their inward parts and on their hearts I will write it, and I will be to them God, and they themselves will be to me people. And they will no longer teach each one his neighbor, or each one his brother, saying, ‘Know Yahweh,’ for all of them will know me, from their smallest and up to their greatest,” declares Yahweh, “for I will forgive their iniquity and their sin I will no longer remember.”
Now think about the elements that are in what we just read. We have this phrase ‘the days are coming’. Does that refer to what Christians say would call the millennium or something else? Maybe Acts 2? The new covenant is made with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, so all 12 tribes are targeted, again, by this new covenant. God says it's not like the old covenant, as in Sinai. In this case, there’s going to be something internal done to my people. I’m going to put my law within them. I’m going to write it on their hearts. I’m going to be their God, they will be my people. Nobody is going to have to admonish their fellow Jew, their fellow Israelite, to know Yahweh because they’ll all know me. Now that should create a question in your mind. Well I thought that every Jew was elect.
What does it mean that not all of them knew Yahweh and they had to be admonished or encouraged to know God? I thought they were all elect? God says I will forgive their sins. I will not remember their sin anymore. And so there’s a number of questions that are raised. And the reason I am raising them is I want to get you think of how Jeremiah 31 might fit with Acts 2, as opposed to a millennium that’s future to us. Again, those of you who know me know that I don't deny a literal kingdom in the future. I am not what would be called traditional amillinnialist. So let’s get that on the table. I'm not one of those, but I'm not really any of the eschatological positions you may have heard of, either. Let’s go to another passage, Ezekiel 11. Again, the same sort of situation that compares, or at least, collects a lot of this language that we’re reading in Acts chapter 2, or Acts chapter 1, and puts it into, we get a certain framework that comes out of it. In Ezekiel 11, we’ll just start with verse 14. We read,
Ezekiel 11:14–21 LEB
And the word of Yahweh came to me, saying, “Son of man, your brothers, your brothers, the men of your redemption, and all of the house of Israel, all of it, who said concerning the inhabitants of Jerusalem, ‘They are far from Yahweh, therefore to us this land was given as a possession.’ Therefore say, ‘Thus says the Lord Yahweh: “Though I have removed them far away among the nations and though I have scattered them among the countries, yet I was a sanctuary to them for a little while in the countries to which they have gone.’ ” Therefore say, ‘Thus says the Lord Yahweh: “And I will assemble you from the peoples, and I will gather you from the countries to which you were scattered among them, and I will give the land of Israel to you. And when they come there, then they will remove all of its vile idols and all of its detestable things from it. And I will give to them one heart, and a new spirit I will give in their inner parts. And I will remove their heart of stone from their body, and I will give to them a heart of flesh, so that they may walk in my statutes, and they will keep my regulations, and they will do them, and they will be to me a people, and I myself will be to them as God. But to the heart of their abominations and the detestable things their heart is going. I will bring their way on their head,” declares the Lord Yahweh.’ ”
So we get a lot of familiar language, language that really mirrored Jeremiah 31. And, again, think about the elements. We've got days coming. We've got all 12 tribes in the picture. We've got a situation where when whatever happens, whatever described happens that every one of the people of God, now I'm using, I'm phrasing this very deliberately, but all those who are people of Yahweh once this thing happens that's prophesied, they'll all actually know Yahweh. They’ll all actually be believers. They’ll have new hearts. They’ll have the spirit given to them, again, to help them obey, to motivate them. It’s going to be a different sort of situation. Right away, some of the threads we’re getting is that Israel's election really didn't mean salvation, because a lot of the Jews apostatized.
The election of an Israelite did not guarantee salvation. That's why in this situation, it’s going to be different. In the old situation, every Israelite was called the people of Yahweh. They were his portion. They were his people. Again, the Deuteronomy 32 worldview that I talk a lot about. Israel was Yahweh's portions so God would look at the Israelites and say we’ll you’re my people and other people the world, they’re not because I've disinherited them. But that didn't mean they were all believers. In this situation, in whatever's being prophesied in Jeremiah 31 and Ezekiel 11, the result of this situation will be that everyone that God looks at as his child will be a believer because they will have his Spirit. So it's a different circumstance. Let’s go to one more passage, Ezekiel 36. Ezekiel 36, just listen to the language. It’s going to sound a lot like what we already read.
Ezekiel 36:22–35 LEB
“Therefore thus say to the house of Israel, ‘Thus says the Lord Yahweh: “Not for your sake am I about to act, house of Israel, but for my holy name, which you defiled among the nations to which you went. And I will consecrate my great name, which was profaned among the nations and which you have profaned in the midst of them, and the nations will know that I am Yahweh!” ’ a declaration of the Lord Yahweh, when I show myself holy before their eyes. “ ‘And I will take you from the nations, and I will gather you from all of the lands, and I will bring you to your land. And I will sprinkle on you pure water, and you will be clean from all of your uncleanness, and I will cleanse you from all of your idols. And I will give a new heart to you, and a new spirit I will give into your inner parts, and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh, and I will give to you a heart of flesh. And I will give my spirit into your inner parts, and I will make it so that you will go in my rules, and my regulations you will remember, and you will do them. And you will dwell in the land that I gave to your ancestors, and you will be to me as a people, and I will be to you as God. And I will save you from all of your uncleanness, and I will call to the grain, and I will cause it to increase, and I will not bring famine upon you. And I will cause the fruit of the tree and the crop of the field to increase, so that you will not suffer again the disgrace of famine among the nations. And you will remember your evil ways and your deeds that were not good, and you will loathe yourself over your iniquities and over your detestable things. But not for your sake am I acting,” declares the Lord Yahweh. “Let it be known to you, be ashamed, and be put to shame because of your ways, house of Israel. “Thus says the Lord Yahweh: ‘On the day when I cleanse you from all of your iniquities, I will cause the cities to be inhabited, and the ruins will be rebuilt. And the land that was desolate will be cultivated in the very place that it was desolate before the eyes of all of the persons crossing over. And they will say, “This desolate land has become like the garden of Eden, and the wasted and desolate and destroyed cities, now being refortified, are inhabited.”
Now that part of Ezekiel 36 certainly sounds millennial. It certainly sounds like paradise because of the comparison to Eden. But what about the stuff that went before? Again, might we be seeing that in what’s going to happen in Acts 2? Hold that thought. Lastly, right after Ezekiel 36, you get to Ezekiel 37. That’s the famous vision of the dry bones when the dry bones get veins and flesh, and they become people again, and God breathes into them life. And it's a picture of what God is going to do to his people who are, for all practical purposes, dead. They are no more a nation. They’ve been taken into exile. But they’re going to be brought back and it’s going to be revived. The whole thing is going to be revived. You get to verse 15. Look what Ezekiel says, Ezekiel 37,
Ezekiel 37:15–19 LEB
And the word of Yahweh came to me, saying, “And you, son of man, take for yourself a piece of wood, and write on it, ‘For Judah and for the Israelites his associates,’ and take another piece of wood, and write on it, ‘For Joseph, the piece of wood of Ephraim and all of the house of Israel his associates.’ And join them one to the other with respect to you as one piece of wood, so that they may become one in your hand. When your people say to you, saying, ‘Will you not inform us as to what these actions mean for you?’ Then speak to them, ‘Thus says the Lord Yahweh: “Look! I am taking the piece of wood for Joseph that is in the hand of Ephraim and the tribes of Israel its associates, and I will put them on it, the piece of wood of Judah, and I will make them into one piece of wood, so that they be one in my hand.’ ”
and then to verse 24
Ezekiel 37:24–25 LEB
“ ‘ “And my servant David will be king over them, and one shepherd will be for all of them, and in my regulations they will go, and my statutes they will observe, and they will do them. And they will dwell on the land that I gave to my servant, to Jacob, in which your ancestors dwelled, and they will dwell on it, they and their children and the children of their children forever, and my servant David will be a leader for them forever.
Now here’s the question. Let’s go back to Acts chapter 1. When we read in Acts chapter 1,
Acts 1:4 LEB
And while he was with them, he commanded them, “Do not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for what was promised by the Father, which you heard about from me.
What is he thinking? What should we be thinking? Again, the point I’m trying to make is a lot of people, a lot of Christians, will read these passages. First of all, they very rarely ever put them in the context of the Old Testament from which they come. But if you make it back to the Old Testament, you have to ask yourself, okay well what was the fulfillment of all this stuff, this whole assemblage of ideas, cleansing with water, coming of the Spirit, baptism of water and the Spirit? And in verse 4 says that Jesus have talked to them about the kingdom of God. John's baptism had been given to those who repented and wanted to be in the kingdom. Remember what John said? ‘Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand,’? It was being baptized, it was a decision that they made. But what changed the person's heart wasn't the water baptism. It was going to be the Spirit indwelling them.
We just read that in those Old Testament passages. So when did all this happen? In the Old Testament, and if you do take it seriously, a Jew who knew his Old Testament listening to that in Acts chapter 1, reading Acts chapter 1, their question in verse 6 is completely logical. When they asked, when they come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you, at this time, restore the kingdom to Israel,” they associate all of these things with the kingdom and they expected it right then and there. Now here’s the question for us

Did they get it?

Did they get it?A lot of Christians will say ‘of course not. The kingdom is the millennium.’ I would submit to you that most of what we just read in the Old Testament, those Old Testament passages, is what happens in Acts 2. I say most but not all. So the real answer is , well, they sort of didn't get the kingdom but they sort of also got it. What’s happening in Acts chapter 1 is Jesus telling them, look, you’re going to stay here in Jerusalem because this is where it begins. This is where the kingdom of God begins. This is what was promised to you. A lot of you are baptized with John's baptism.
You know who John was. You know he preached about the kingdom of God coming. You know he only pointed to Jesus. You know Jesus said certain things when he was here about the kingdom. You know he sent out 70 in the Gospels, again, mirroring the whole situation with a table of nations, the Deuteronomy 32 worldview. You know he went to different places and he challenged the powers of darkness to kill them. He talked about the kingdom, too. He said the kingdom of God is present among you. There's been kingdom language before, but what Jesus is telling them before he ascends is, look, you stay right here because this stuff that was talked about in your Old Testament that I have now triggered through my ministry, through my death, through my resurrection, and now, through my ascension, so the Spirit can come. The Spirit, who is me but isn't. All of that has been prophesied, and you’re going to see it happen. So you stay put. You stay right here. And, of course, we know in Acts chapter 2 that that is what happens. The Spirit comes.
This is when you start to get, you know, the whole repentance with baptism thing going on in Acts chapter 2. Again, it’s a decision which kingdom your choosing but the Spirit is the one that changes the heart. This is when you start to get people indwelt with the spirit but not only that, there are Jews from every nation on earth that was known to the New Testament writers, every nation that have been taken out, providentially moved to Jerusalem before Pentecost by God who will be converted and who will be indwelt by the Spirit, who will be living fulfillment of what we just read in Ezekiel 36-37, Ezekiel 11, Jeremiah 31, all that stuff. This is what theologians call the inauguration of the kingdom. It's the beginning of the kingdom. It's not the full version yet because those Old Testament passages we read also talk about, hey, your lands could be like a paradise. Hey, you’re going to be governed by one shepherd, who was the Messiah, so we resorted to an already here but not yet here kind of feeling from what's going on in the book of Acts.
Acts 1:8 LEB
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 farthest part of the earth.”
Let’s go back to Acts 1 in verse 8. Look at what he says. Jesus said to them, “you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Now, again, if you've read anything on my blog, if you watch the videos I’ve asked you to watch before we jumped into the podcast, again, you know what that means.
Jerusalem is the dwelling place of Yahweh. He is the true owner of all nations. This is where reclaiming the other ones is going to start. And it starts in Judea. This is, as you read the book of Acts, this is where the action is happening. It’s the immediate vicinity of Jerusalem, then expanding a little bit into the rest of Judea. Why is Samaria mentioned? Because in the Old Testament, Samaria was the domain, the kingdom, the northern kingdom of the 10 tribes who were the first 10 taken into captivity and scattered. They never return. You know, we have this thing called the 10 lost tribes. And, again, a lot of Christians think, well, they’re only going to return in the millennium. That isn't true. They return in Acts chapter 2 for Pentecost, just as the Old Testament prophets had said. I’m going to get my people from every nation. They’re going to come back to where they belong, and they’re going to get my Spirit. This is, again, Acts 2 language in these Old Testament passages. Interesting implication.

This means that when Jesus around preaching, Jews saw themselves as still in exile, even though they’re living in the land.

Why? Because 10 of the tribes haven't come back. Only Judah came back. The rest the tribes, hey, they’re scattered everywhere. And they're waiting, again, they know about Ezekiel. They know about Jeremiah. They’re waiting for these prophecies to happen. When the two sticks are made into one, when the house of Israel and the house of Judah are made into one house, they’re waiting for the stuff to happen again. They are still in exile even during Jesus day. They’re in exile until Acts 2
because when Acts 2 starts to happen, that initiates the re-gathering of all the tribes back into Yahweh's family as his people. And think about the wording of the New Covenant. With the coming of the Spirit, everyone who belongs to Christ gets the Spirit. This is why, we’re going to hit this late in the book of Acts. Paul will meet believers and say, well, do you have the Holy Spirit? And they’re like, we just heard about John. We are baptized in John's baptism. Paul says hold on a second.
The reason that he needs to lay hands on them and give them the Spirit, again that’s part of his commission as an apostle, and it happens elsewhere in Acts chapter 9 with Samaria. Again, they’re in the land of Samaria, they’re in these places. It needs to be clearly telegraphed and they need to receive the Spirit, again, to make the point that that they are living out the fulfillment now, and it’s not just Jews. By then, it’s Gentiles with Paul. They need to, again, be living testimony to the fact that Yahweh is re-creating his own family. He is reconstituting it from all of the Jewish tribes and from Gentiles, to reclaim the nations. The reclamation of nations starts with Jews living there, that are drawn back to Pentecost, received the Spirit, and, of course, go back. And it's like, you know, divine cell groups. They start evangelizing even before Paul gets there to those places. But is this, it's this idea now that every one of these people, every one of these believers, now, that I call my own, that are in Christ, to use Paul's language, that are in the body of Christ, which is the temple, all this New Testament language about the people of God now, it's not just some sort of, okay, these are mine and I’m going to elect the descendants of Abraham, and a lot of them won't even believe, that kind of thing. It's different now because everyone who names the name of Christ, everyone who is called a people of God, a person of God, is a believer and has the Spirit.
So with what Jeremiah 31 said, you’re not going to have to look at your neighbor and say, hey, you need to know the Lord. They’ll all know me. Again, it’s a remade, reconstituted family of Yahweh, beginning in Jerusalem, where it should begin, because that's where God lives, that’s his domain, and then branching out and absorbing everything else. By the time you get to Paul, I mean Paul is going to be the key figure. We’ll see this later in the book of Acts, where Paul has this sense, again, if you’ve watched the videos prior this you know what I’m going to say here. Paul has this sense that he is living out, his life is specifically for the purpose of reaching the last nation on earth, the last nation named to the Table of Nations, Tarshish, so that he can complete the task of bringing in “the fullness of the Gentiles.” This is also why, because they’re looking at Paul. Paul’s going around all the Gentiles and he’s going to get the Spain, to get to Tarshish, and all this kind of stuff. Their conscious, their thinking that, look, it’s not going to take too long to pull this off. It’s not going to take too long to go out and gather from both the Jews and the Gentiles, those who are God's people.
This has an expected finish line. This is why the apostles, and you see this in the New Testament writings, had the sense that Jesus was going to come back really soon. We got to get the job done. He’s coming back soon. It had a definite finish line to them. It was a finite task. Now, we know, and of course, God knew that the world is a lot bigger than the Table of Nations. And so, God knows in the giving of the great commission that the task is much larger than Paul realizes. There's a whole other world beyond Tarshish. There are other nations out there that are not under my dominion, that are not part of the Kingdom of Yahweh. And so we inherit that task and we're the ones that pick up the task where they had presumed it would end, again, because of their worldview, because of what they knew. But the sense is the same and the commands are equally applicable to us. So some of the theological takeaways here to wrap up, again, just talking about 11 verses here. We really need to learn. We need to practice it. It can’t be just theory. We have got to learn to read the New Testament against the backdrop of the Old Testament. The disciples and the New Testament writers instinctively parsed what they were told by Jesus against the Old Testament.

Utter nonsense to ignore OT

It is utter nonsense, I've heard preachers say this, but I’m telling you, it is utter nonsense to say that we are post cross. We live after the cross, and therefore, we don't really need to pay a lot of attention to the Old Testament. The disciples and the New Testament writers were post cross, too. They lived after the cross, too. But the Old Testament is a constant touch point for their thinking, and we need to mimic their example, because it’s what we see in the New Testament. It’s inspired for goodness sake. The second, we need to frame the teaching about the Spirit in light of the Old Testament. So, you get a lot of New Testament spirit talk, and we’re going to run into that in the book of Acts. People want talk about, well, what about the spiritual gifts? Should I speak in tongues? Should I do this and do that? What's this? What’s biblical? All of that needs to be framed against the Old Testament. So what we've done today, just in Acts 1, just say even from the very beginning, the promise of the Father to send the Spirit, the whole washing of unclean, all the stuff that we associate with New Testament practice in the book of Acts and the church, all that has an Old Testament frame, and that needs to be looked at and not forgotten when we start to talk about Spirit theology.

Another Takeaway

whether you realize it or not, what we’ve talked about today ties in the passages like Acts 2:38 or that are really controversial, repent and be baptized every one of you for the remission of sins and blah blah blah blah blah. And John 3, “except a man be born of water and of the Spirit he cannot see the kingdom of God. All of that has an Old Testament backdrop, and we've just touched on it. We sort of dipped our toe in it here in Acts chapter 1. We will be, again, rehearsing some of these thoughts as we keep going. Baptism is fundamentally about choosing sides. The kingdom is at hand. You choose which side you're on. I want to be a part of the kingdom John's talking about and not what I’m doing now, even those Judaism, whatever. I believe what in John is saying. The Messiah is coming, the kingdom is coming. I’m getting on board. All that is true but what changed of heart was not John's baptism, was not water baptism. What changed the heart was the coming of the Spirit. But you need both. You need to decide to repent and get on the right team and you will get the Spirit. And this is the message of Acts. This is what they're doing. But it derives, again, from an Old Testament context and a certain set of expectations that derive out of the Old Testament. So how should we then live if I can do a little practical application? How should we then live? I would say it this way. To me, there's nothing more practical than biblical theology, frankly.

A Job to Do!

I know I'm a dinosaur there but I think it's true. How should we then live? We should live like we have a job to do. This is your job. You inherited the task of the apostles whether you like it or not. And it's by design. They didn't fumble the ball and now we pick up because they didn’t complete it. They did complete it. They completed it as far as they knew they could do it. Again, Paul is just driven, again, to subsume all the territory encompassed by the Table of Nations. That was his life, and it was the life of all the other ones, too. But he was the Apostle to the Gentiles. He didn’t drop the ball. It’s just that the job was bigger than he thought it was. And now it's left to us. So we need to live like we have a job to do. And given that sense, we need to live like we’re members of one family. Wouldn’t that be nice, to treat other people like were family instead of bickering with them and holding grudges against them, and what not. This is why Paul says, again, back to the Deuteronomy 32 worldview. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 6, as Christians are fighting over wealth, they’re taking each other to court, bickering among themselves. He says you people are insane.
Don't you realize 1 Corinthians 6:3, that you’re going to judge angels? Don't you get it? You are going to replace the sons of God, the Divine beings, who are now over the nations. This is why in Revelation 2, Revelation 3, when we get the end times real picture, that to him that overcomes I will put over the nations. Don't you people get it? Why are you so fixated on these little problems you have with one another now? What you’re showing is just not fit for the task. You just need to get with the program. Again, the current generation is us and we have inherited the mission that is begun here in Acts 1. We just scratched the surface. Again, a lot of this was just laying groundwork for what comes later in Acts 2 and all throughout the book of Acts. This is why I picked Acts. Because there are so many connections back to the Old Testament and to the Deuteronomy 32 worldview. And so I hope that you’ve seen a little glimpse of that, just in these first 11 verses.
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