Spirit Filled Witnesses
Key Text: Acts 1:4-8
Being filled What? Why? When?
It is in the light of Easter and the Victory of Christ I want to look at what happened next; which was Jesus filled His church with the Spirit.
If you have your Bibles please turn with me to Acts 1:4-8
The Spirit in the church is not something we conjure up or imagine; He is not a force we can tap into and use at our discretion; He is the third person of the Holy Trinity that was given to us the church for a very important reason; the mission!
Some would say the Spirit is there to give you power in person victory over sin and to become more Christ-like. That is true; but the goal is not for you to be the be the best you you can be it is to be useful to God in His mission to the world!
Some would say the Spirit is there to build His church; which is also true. However, the Church exists to reach the world!
So why are we given the Spirit of God; well let's read the words of Christ in Acts 1:4-8
Christ called His Disciples together and asked them to wait. They were to wait on the power that He would give to them through the Holy Spirit.
This is a reality about the Christian life; The Christian life is a life of abiding in His power and living in that and so the call to us as a church today is:
Without the power do not go
Jesus tells his Church to gather together and wait for the gift from His Father.
Why wait? Well lets take ourselves back there and on some level to the best of our ability put ourselves in their shoes.
They had just experienced their teacher and friend come back from a horrific death!
I don't know about you but I would be pretty ready to go after that! I would be chomping at the bit to establish the Kingdom of God!
In fact you can see this in their question to Him; “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” they asked Him.
They would have gone out in human thinking and established human kingdoms.
This is our tendency; we see the power of God of God at work and rather than wait on Him for the next step we go in our own cleverness and own strength to establish a name for ourselves. these almost always end in heart-ache.
Jesus said don’t go just yet; wait for the gift promised from my Father; the Baptism of the Holy Spirit.
Even 2000 years later we are keen to run out and do; evangelize, church events, acts of kindness, looking after the less fortunate! And that is good!
But only if it is done after waiting for His power.
I am so guilty of this where I want to run ahead of God; I want to grow the church and learn more about Him and establish more ministries. But have I waited upon His power?
The term there "dunamis" is literally miraculous power or force!
Church what we are doing here is God's doing and will only be sustained by His miraculous power!
Our constant temptation is to make this about we can do; the constant challenge is to wait on His power!
Is our service and our gathering a product of Holy Spirit in us? I want to say by the grace of God yes!
But let us not move forward until we have waited upon His power to move us to the next step!
Personally in your own life ask yourself that question; Have I waited upon God's power to move me from where I am currently (or am I currently living in the power of God's Holy Spirit; if not I need to wait).
The problem when we do it in our power is that we trust in our own direction and our own decisions. And these always fall far short of the majestic plans and power of God!
1 Corinthians puts us in our place in this regard;
"For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength."
We need to be waiting upon Him to empower us!
The question that needs to be answered next is what is the power for and the answer is simple;
The power is for the witness
Many people over personalise the power of the Spirit. Now I say OVER personalise for a reason. The bible calls us to walk personally in the Spirit to allow Him to be our strength and power in this Christian walk.
But the reality is that God gave the Spirit for the mission! everything comes down to the mission of God!
verse 7 says;
7He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority.8But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
The power of God was for what? The witness! we are empowered by God to extend the kingdom of God through the Spirit of God!
Everything boils down to the mission; to make the name of God known throughout the world!
I have quoted 1 Tim 2:4 many times as it say it is the will of God that all men might be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth.
But it has struck me just how central that idea is; GOD WANTS ALL MEN TO BE SAVED!
This is why He sent His prophets and made Himself a people and prepared the way so that he could send His Son so that whoever would believe would be saved!
History is a confirmation that God wants people to be saved! The Bible is a confirmation that God wants people to be saved and the Spirit of God in His church is a confirmation that God wants people to be saved!
When we wait on the power of God it is always for the mission of God!
It always amazing me that God choses to use men for the success of His mission; but that is what He does! The Bible is a story about that!
There are two dangers; firstly to over emphasize mans part in the mission of God the other danger is to under emphasize. The Bible teaches that men when empowered by God will be used by God to successfully reach the entire world!
The World is our goal (the whole of it!).
Not by our strength but with our involvement!
Therefore let us seek His power so that we can go!
Let us seek God so that His heart (His desires) would become ours! That we too would be burdened to let the whole world hear the Gospel of Christ!
How do we practically seek this power?
Well we know the power personally
We ensure that we know the Gospel of Jesus intimately. Do we believe in the Gospel of Jesus Christ so much that we are unashamed of it! That we hope in it as the only hope of the world!
We live our lives personally from the foot of the cross; trusting in Christ alone for our salvation and life.
We abide in this saving knowledge and make it our everything!
We cannot hope to have the power of God if we know nothing of it!
Church in the wake of Easter again the call is to live in shadow of the Cross and in the power of the resurrection!
To have that as our personal intimate reality in our life!
We know the power experientially
As we live in the shadow of the cross in the knowledge of what Christ did for us on the cross the Bible promises us that His Spirit is unleashed in our lives!
In this we are called by Scripture to walk in the Spirit (to walk immersed in the power that was unleashed in our lives as we gave ourselves to Christ in belief when we asked him to be our Lord and Saviour!)
We must wait until we know God's power in our lives experientially!
This is not something you can miss. You cannot have an encounter with the Living God and walk away saying, "I think God changed me." that would be like I think that truck hit me but I can't be sure!
let us know God know the power of His resurrection! experience the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives so that in that power; in His power we can go out to the world!
In six weeks it is Pentecost Sunday 24th May the day we celebrate when the Spirit was poured out on the Apostles to do what Jesus commissioned them to do in the passage that we have read this morning!
This is the same power that we have today to go out into all the world with the Gospel of Jesus today!
What is interesting is after this the Apostles met together and prayed. In fact it says they devoted themselves to prayer (Acts 1:14)!
Church if we want to be spirit filled witnesses to the world we find ourselves in well then we too as a body need to do this in the power of God and so we need to devote ourselves to prayer as well!
I really believe that God has been preparing us as a church for a great work in this community I believe we exist because God desires to use us in this community to bring the Good News of Jesus Christ to this community.
But we cannot go if there is no power; why because the Spirit equips us for the task ahead of us!
Therefore it comes down the reality of us as a community being desperate once again for God and His leading!
There exists prayer meetings in our church on Saturdays, but I would suggest as small groups to start praying and waiting for the power of God through the Holy Spirit to fill us with a passion for the cross so that we can go out and share the Victory of Christ with the world!
Let us as individuals commit ourselves to pray so that we might be filled with the power of God in order to fulfill the mission of God!
I am wondering who is convinced, convicted and called enough to commit themselves to the challenge of seeking God so that He might pour out His power on us as a community to reach our community for the glory of God!