The Acts of the Holy Spirit 1
Tonight I would like to take a look into the Book of Acts. I’m looking at a possible series here, but since I put this message together there have been some exciting things in store for us in the future here at The Furnace.
Next week March 9th, will be The Furnace’s last Saturday Evening Service for the foreseeable future. We will move to Sunday Mornings at 10pm on the March 17th. Big jump, but it is needed to grow. Also another huge change for us, Pastor Milton and Peggy Thompson and their church will be merging into The Furnace.
Pastor Milt will be our Teaching Pastor. The man has extensive knowledge of the Word of God and has well over 30 years of Biblical teaching experience and has extensive knowledge of the Holy Spirit. He has preached here when I’ve have been out of town, so we know him here, and it is exciting to me that one of my good friends is coming in and partnering with us.
So we will see where I go with this message after the merge. But I do believe it is time for an Acts Church experience to e in the church today.
You could preach a whole year on it, to reveal all the different dynamics that are exposed to believers of Jesus Christ as you read about the church introducing the Kingdom of God into the earth.
This letter by Luke was all about Kingdom expansion through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Tonight I want to get into more of an outline of the letter, with a little history.
The Author of the Book of Acts was Luke who was Physician by trade.
Eusebius (Jusebeus) the Bishop of Caesarea (AD 260-340), who was considered to be the Father of Early Church History, described Luke the Physician in these terms: “Luke, who was by race an Antiochian and a physician by profession, was a companion of the Apostle Paul, and had careful conversation with the other Apostles, and in two books left us examples of the medicine for the souls which he had gained from them.”
So Luke was a good scribe, writing down what he saw, and what he heard from the Apostles.
Luke was a lover of people, he was all about not only the healing of the body, he was a physician, but he was also about having the Son of God heal and reclaim the lost soul of man.
Luke traveled with the Apostle Paul extensively and was with the Apostle Peter because Luke recorded the life of Peter in Acts chapters 1-12, but when you think of it, the Gospel of Luke had to be from a dialog with him and Peter.
It is said that Luke came to Christ in Antioch, during a time that the Apostle Peter was there because of a noted famine in the area. So Luke had a first person dialog with the Apostle concerning Jesus and may be that he traveled with him, as other church historians have stated, but we do know that Luke traveled with the Apostle Paul because Paul mentions him three times. So what Luke wrote in his letters were first hand accounts.
The Book of Acts was Luke’s second letter to a man named Theophilus whom Luke called a “mighty lover of God”. And this letter as well as his first was the only Gentile letters placed in the New Testament. And what stands out when you read both of his letters is that he wrote from a position of mercy and servant hood through a heart that loved people. That is my speculation anyway, from reading the word, but also from earlier writers who wrote about him.
In his first letter to Theophilus about Jesus, in the Gospel of Luke, we see Luke expressing Jesus’ humanity. Jesus was a servant of all and gave the greatest sacrifice of all. After Jesus rose from the dead and ascended to be with the Father, Luke’s second letter was really a continuation of the first.
Luke’s writings covered a period of sixty years, from the birth of Christ, to the birth of the Church through its early expansion.
When you read this second letter, many early reformed biblical historians call the book the Acts of the Apostles; actually it should be called the Acts of the Holy Spirit.
The letter was a continuation of what Jesus preached, and a beginning of a movement where His followers would do as He taught and showed them, but through the power of the Holy Spirit. The letter to Theophilus was Luke telling him, “Look! What Jesus said is true. Look at what is happening! Read the stories of a promise being revealed! Jesus said it, and it is happening. His Word is truth.” Luke expressed what a new life in Christ was for the believer.
I also believe the purpose of the letter was to express that the spread of the Gospel of Jesus Christ through His followers was all do to the in-filled power of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit being in the forefront of everything. His power being evident through the Apostles, as well as other Believers.
This new group of empowered believers would display the power of the Holy Spirit at every turn and we read of the impartation of gifts and the miraculous signs and wonders happening through common people.
It appeared that Luke wanted to make it clear that the life and work of Jesus was continuing, and was now moving into greater influence but with an objective to continue to fulfill Isaiah 61 where it states:
“The Spirit of the Lord GOD is on Me, because the LORD has anointed Me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and freedom to the prisoners;”
What I would like to do is look at four divisions or statements Luke expressed in his 2nd letter.
Now this is an overview this week, as I want to get into some more of Acts in the coming weeks.
Jesus Christ the Exalted Lord
Luke begins the second letter where he left off in his 1st one as I said earlier. He basically states that. The prior letter was about Jesus and His life. Now this letter is about Jesus and the future. Beginning in the 2nd letter, Jesus speaks to the Disciples preparing them for the Holy Spirit’s arrival, then Luke says starting in verse 9 of Acts:
“Right after he spoke those words, the disciples saw Jesus lifted into the sky and disappear into a cloud! As they stared into the sky, watching Jesus ascend, two men in white robes suddenly appeared beside them. They told the startled disciples, “Galileans, why are you staring up into the sky? Jesus has been taken from you into heaven, but he will come back the same way that you saw him ascend.”
The Disciples not only experienced the promises of Jesus that He would rise from the dead, but also witness His glorious ascension as the living reigning Christ, the Living God.
They saw their salvation revealed, and they as the Body and Congregation of Jesus Christ would preach that in no other person or any other name could salvation be found, and that there was power in the name of Jesus. They knew it, experienced it, so they spoke the truth of it. Jesus was the Lord and Savior the Son of God.
No less than fifty times does Luke mention the “Name” of Jesus. Why because of the power of the name.
John 14:12-14, "Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. 13 Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.”
Jesus’ Followers displayed what He promised in Luke’s 1st Letter, throughout Luke’s 2nd letter. The Kingdom of God was at hand, and was alive and moving forward because a risen Christ, the Son of God was the moving force behind it.
2. The Power of the Holy Spirit.
When you read the Book of Acts, you will see that there are four times more the references in this letter about the Holy Spirit then in his first letter, the Gospel of Luke.
Jesus was front and center in the Gospel as He should have been, but in Acts, the Holy Spirit is. Jesus ascended, sent the Helper, and of we His people with the Helper are to kingdom build in Jesus name.
Jesus said that He would send the Spirit of Truth. In the Gospel of John 14:15-17 Jesus said:
“Loving me empowers you to obey my commands. And I will ask the Father and he will give you another Savior, the Holy Spirit of Truth, who will be to you a friend just like me—and he will never leave you. The world won’t receive him because they can’t see him or know him. But you will know him intimately, because he will make his home in you and will live inside you.”
John 14:26, “But when the Father sends the Spirit of Holiness, the One like me who sets you free, he will teach you all things in my name. And he will inspire you to remember every word that I’ve told you.”
Luke also writes about Jesus in the beginning of his 2nd letter, and what Jesus says again about the Holy Spirit. In Acts 1 starting with verse 4,
Acts 1:4-5, “Jesus instructed them, “Don’t leave Jerusalem, but wait here until you receive the gift I told you about, the gift the Father has promised. For John baptized you in water, but in a few days from now you will be baptized in the Holy Spirit!”
Acts 1:18, “But I promise you this—the Holy Spirit will come upon you and you will be filled with power.”
Jesus is like “Get ready!” I may be leaving, but I am sending in another who has the same power as me who will be in side of you to direct you and empower you in my name.”
I imagine for the Disciples there with Jesus, they could not fathom what He was talking about at the time. God in us, was not a real factor of understanding for them. They may have understood that when the Spirit came it would help them remember Jesus’ teachings as Jesus said, but not the full extent of what the Spirit would bring.
Today a majority of the Church does not recognize the full extent of the Spirit that could be in their lives, and we have a bulk of the church that discounts the Holy Spirit as just your comforter and they have no interaction with Him. They say that all they need is scripture only. Sola Scriptura they call it. Many only know about Jesus, but do not know Him intimately through the Spirit.
When the Spirit of God fell in the upper room, it was like a Spiritual nuclear bomb. It should have been! It was God the Holy Spirit a third part of the Trinity that was being poured into the people. Truly God in us.
The same fire that came down the mountain that the Children of Israel saw in Exodus 19, was the same fire that came down and lit on the group of people praying in Acts 2.
There is one God, and one Spirit so there can only be one fire.
That anointed Holy Spirit fell on all who believed in Jesus with the evidence of speaking in other tongues. At that time there was an explosion of power. Faith power. Confidence power. Knowledge power. Heavenly power.
Those believers were not the same anymore. Just as Jesus said in Luke 24:49, the people were endued with power. Supernatural power. Even their minds were taken to another level of clarity.
It even states that when Peter and John were arrested they were brought before the Jewish Leaders, lets look at Acts 4:5,
“The next day many Jewish leaders, religious scholars, and elders of the people convened a meeting in Jerusalem. Annas the high priest was there with Caiaphas, John, Alexander, and others who were members of the high priest’s family. They made Peter and John stand in front of the council as they questioned them, saying, “Tell us, by what power and authority have you done these things?” 8 Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, answered,”
His answer was so powerful that in verse 13, it states,
“The council members were astonished as they witnessed the bold courage of Peter and John, especially when they discovered that they were just ordinary men who had never had religious training. Then they began to understand the effect Jesus had on them simply by spending time with him.
Standing there with them was the healed man, and there was nothing further they could say.”
We need to operate in this power today and stop being afraid that we may fail.
The Holy Spirit brings total transformation of a person if we allow ourselves to be transformed. He is a gentleman as my Grandmother put it, and He will not force himself on you if you do not wish. But if you invite him in and let Him take over the House, and clean it up, restore it, and let Him take control, and allow the Word of God in you to reign, what Peter and John did would be common place in our lives.
The Apostle Peter preached his first Sermon in Acts 2:14, and it was a great one because 3000 people were saved that day. Peter preaching under the anointing of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit gave him remembrance of what Jesus said, like what Jesus said the Spirit would do.
The 1st act of the Holy Spirit after He was poured out on the new believers in the Upper Room was to reveal Himself with power through those believers so that immediately reconciliation could take place to continue where Jesus left off. Again, the Isaiah 61 fulfillment.
The Apostle Peter speaking what the Prophet Joel said years earlier, “that in the last days God would pour out His Spirit on everyone, but a primary point from Peter from Joel was God saying, “But everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
The Apostle Peter as well as the other Apostles and followers would exercise their faith preaching the Good News so that all people would be saved, and not just the Jews.
Salvation is for everyone. Being saved from God’s eternal wrath, and being saved by faith in Jesus Christ alone. There was no other way.
The Holy Spirit was not just poured out for our benefit. It was poured out for the benefit of all, believers in Christ as well as for those who don’t believe. The Holy Spirit was poured out to reconcile man back to God. We like to keep Him for ourselves, but God in his mercy, knowing our weakness, gave us a piece of Himself to empower us to not fail, so we could reveal Him to a dying world.
The Holy Spirit came so that we would evangelize the world by revealing the Life and Presence of Jesus to people. The Holy Spirit was poured out so that we would not be a defensive people in the Spirit, but offensive in nature. Having full confidence from our Helper to take, and not wait.
The Church and It’s Mission
In Acts we saw the birth of the congregation. The Ekklasia. It states in Acts 2:47 that the Lord added to the Ekklasia daily. In English it says church, but Ekklasia means:
the called out ones, the congregation, community, or the assembly.
Ekklasia is mentioned more than twenty times in Acts. These new Believers were a Congregation of people who became followers of Christ who were now part of a huge mission to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ throughout the known world.
Luke called the new and growing followers, “the Way” or as read in some versions, “this way”. When you look at the word “Way” in the Greek, it the word Hodos, it means road, by implication, making progress by means of a journey. So it’s like a group of people moving ahead together as we follow Christ under the influence of the Holy Spirit. We are taking a journey together in Christ Jesus, and we are family.
What drove these people and should drive us was their love for Jesus. They were loved, so they loved. That was their distinction between themselves and the other people groups or religions. We received so we freely give give, we don’t take. Jesus gave, everything, are we to act no differently? The church as you read in Acts 2, that’s what they did, they gave, and gave and gave and the church was added to daily.
Our mission is to freely give away the love of Jesus through acts of mercy and grace through the Holy Spirit, and it may not just be through the giving of food or clothing or shelter, but through the loving acts of power through the Holy Spirit, by signs, wonders, and miracles. Setting the captives free from decaying bodies of sorts, and decayed minds, healing broken hearts so they can truly be alive.
I don’t know, but it appears that the people of Israel in Jesus’ time, they were all about trying to follow rules, but because of the resurrection and receiving the Helper, it was now all about knowing Christ and being His example on the earth. When you know Christ, it’s about loving Him so much you want to please Him. Rules don’t really apply anymore. The Word of God becomes our direction and life because of our love.
Look at the people who came to Christ. We read in Acts that the people were faithful to be devoted to the Apostles teachings about Jesus, that from Acts 2:42, but it was not about law, it was about love. They wanted to be at peace with others, they wanted to be graceful, and merciful, and loving, and be healers, and encouragers, and anything else that would direct people to the Savior.
For God so loved the world.
Along with the Disciples telling stories what Jesus did, and what He said so that we even in these days 2000 years later would be hearing the same stories, and doing the same things Jesus did and more. People came to Christ, and seasoned followers showed them how to live. Salvation was step one. Living a life in Christ was the rest of the story, and the rest of the journey and they did it together. Growing in the knowledge of the word, in the power and direction of the Holy Spirit.
Next week we are going to get deeper into Luke’s 2nd letter, but from the overview, we see that Jesus was not going to let us explore into a new world He created all alone.
Yes, by the shedding of His Blood we have the remission of sin in our lives, and we have our salvation, but for Jesus that was just the beginning for us. Salvation is the free gift, but not the only gift. When we profess Christ, we enter into the fullness of His world in the heavenly realm. Luke the Physician exposed us to that in his letters. In the second letter, he exposes a group of people lead by those who had been with Jesus who were now changing the known world. And how they were doing it was two-fold.
Acts of physical mercy, clothing, feeding, and loving on people, and by acts of the supernatural through the freely given Holy Spirit of God so people could receive healing of all sorts of issues, body, mind, and spirit.
God promised through the Prophets of old, Jesus promised, and now the promises were in action and were to continue to the end of the age, with us fulfilling the promises.
We need to be in constant study this letter, but the church today needs a refocus into the power and moving of the Holy Spirit so people just like in the first days of the congregation or the way, will again prosper in magnitude that Christ expected us to so.
We were created to be agents of change, and those who bring the glory of Lord into our neighborhoods and cities and place of influence and as the first church did, all through the power of the Holy Spirit.