"The first account I composed, Theophilus, about all that Jesus began to do and teach, until the day when He was taken up to heaven, after He had by the Holy Spirit given orders to the apostles whom He had chosen. To these He also presented Himself alive after His suffering, by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over a period of forty days and speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God. Gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, "Which," He said, "you heard of 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 were asking Him, saying, "Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?" He said to them, "It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority; but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth. And after He had said these things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And as they were gazing intently into the sky while He was going, behold, two men in white clothing stood beside them. They also said, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven." (Acts 1:1-11)
"The first account I composed, Theophilus" – Dr. Luke continues his account of the life of Christ and His apostles which he began in his gospel account to Theophilus, who was probably a Roman or Greek of some notoriety (Luke 1:3) and a convert to Christianity. He commends Christians to Theophilus as good citizens and indicates in several verses that Romans at that point were tolerant of Christians and their attitude was somewhat positive toward them. (Acts 2:47; 13:7; 16:35; 18:12; 19:31) Of course the main purpose of Acts is to show the spread of the gospel from Jerusalem to the world through the apostles by the power of the Holy Spirit. And though Acts majors on the work of the Spirit (mentioned 60 times) it is really a testimony to the risen and ascended Christ as the Spirit always points us to Him. (John 15:26)
I am following a six point outline used by John MacArthur for these first eleven verses: the message, the manifestation, the might, the mystery, the mission and the motive. We will look at the first three this week.
1) The message – "all that Jesus began to do and teach, until the day when He was taken up to heaven, after He had by the Holy Spirit given orders to the apostles whom He had chosen." MacArthur calls this finishing our Lord's unfinished work. His redemptive work on the cross was completely finished ("Tetelestai") but His doing (life/conduct- modeling the message) and teaching work had just begun and it is to continue through us today. It is important to note the order here because talking the talk (teaching) without walking the walk (our life/conduct) not only confuses and turns off unbelievers but it weakens the power of the message to believers. "Then Jesus spoke to the crowds and to His disciples, saying: "The scribes and the Pharisees have seated themselves in the chair of Moses; therefore all that they tell you, do and observe, but do not do according to their deeds; for they say things and do not do them." (Matthew 23:2-3) "It is not great words, no. It is not great talent. It is not great ideas God uses, it is great likeness to Jesus Christ." (McShane) In a sense, Jesus wants to re-incarnate Himself through His people by the indwelling Holy Spirit. But still we need to know the message, the Word of God and teach the Word to others. We surely can't teach it if we don't know it and also live it. Jesus spent three plus years teaching the disciples the message by proclamation, explanation and demonstration. Paul had this burden for his disciples to know the Word and live it out: "For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light." (Col. 1:9-12) And the same Holy Spirit that empowered our Lord to do and to teach indwells every believer today. (Luke 4:14-15)
2) The manifestation – "To these He also presented Himself alive after His suffering, by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over a period of forty days and speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God." Jesus only appeared to the eleven apostles and other believers (some 500) and calls us to manifest Him to the unbelievers in our lives. He did this by many convincing proofs because they had to know with absolute confidence that He's alive! Who would suffer and die a martyr's death for a dead Savior, especially One Who said His resurrection would prove His deity! But He did rise, He did appear to them many times and they did change from fearful disciples hiding out to bold preachers of the risen Lord even to the point of sacrificing their lives (as all but John died a martyrs death). And their testimony should convince us even more of His resurrection. And He taught them about the kingdom of God as He had when He was with them before His death. A dead king does not have a kingdom. Jesus is alive and His kingdom is within us (Jesus is now our King) and yet it is coming in its fullness. (see v.11) Have you seen Jesus? Is He real to you? Jesus said to doubting Thomas: "Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed." (John 20:29) "Whom having not seen you love." (1 Peter 1:8) Can you love Someone you haven't seen? The Holy Spirit has revealed Jesus to every believer (1 Cor. 12:3) so we "see" Him with our spiritual eyes and love Him and testify to His present reality and His coming again.
3) The might (power) – "Gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, "Which," He said, "you heard of from Me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now." Luke records almost the same words in Luke 24:49; "And behold, I am sending forth the promise of My Father upon you; but you are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high." Simply put, these disciples along with all believers everywhere can do nothing spiritually real without the power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus had taught them about the Holy Spirit prior to His death and resurrection and in fact said the Holy Spirit was with them as they went out and did ministry. (Matthew 10, Luke 12, John 14) But now, even as promised in their OT Scriptures, the Holy Spirit would be in them. "I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you (before Christ's ascension) and will be in you." (after Christ's ascension) (John 14:16-17) These disciples had to wait ten days for the Spirit's indwelling as this was a transition period, but since Pentecost every believer is baptized in the Holy Spirit and indwelt by the Holy Spirit the moment he is saved. ["As predicted by John the Baptist (Matt. 3:11; Mark 1:8; Luke 3:16; John 1:33) and reiterated by Jesus Himself, the Promise of the Father was the promise of baptism in the Holy Spirit. There are seven references in Scripture to baptism in the Spirit. Five are prophetic, a future event; (Acts 1:5; Matt. 3:11; Mark 1:8; Luke 3:16; John 1:33); one is historical (Acts 11:15, 16), referring to the Day of Pentecost; and one is doctrinal (1 Cor. 12:13), explaining the meaning of baptism in the Spirit." Radmacher, Earl D. ; Allen, Ronald Barclay ; House, H. Wayne: Nelson's New Illustrated Bible Commentary. Nashville : T. Nelson Publishers, 1999, S. Ac 1:1] "Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles, some are slaves, and some are free. But we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit." (1 Cor. 12:13) So the baptism of the Holy Spirit does not refer to a second blessing with the gift of speaking in tongues as some denominations say in their statement of faith. In fact, the term is only mentioned one time in all the epistles (1 Cor. 12:13) as explained above. If it were truly a second blessing with accompanying power and gifts of the Spirit it would have been taught in many if not all of the epistles. However, this is not to say that the Holy Spirit does no more work in us after salvation. There is only one baptism of the Spirit but many fillings. As we heed Paul's exhortation to be filled (controlled, ruled) by the Spirit in Ephesians 5:18 we experience increasing sanctification (inner growth in Christ-like character – Gal. 5:21-22) and are more open to receive and minister more of the gifts of the Spirit (outward works of the Spirit – Rom. 12, Eph. 4, 1 Cor.12) and with more power. It is a matter of knowing God's Word, submitting to what He says by dying to self. So the question is not, how much of the Spirit do I have but how much of me does the Holy Spirit have? "Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, 20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.(Ephesians 5:18-20) "Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father." (Col. 3:16-17)
QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION AND APPLICATION
1. What is your main take away from the message and table discussion and how can you apply it to your life?
2. Knowing, doing (living it) and teaching the message (God's Word) – How do you go about learning God's Word? Where have you seen God's Word change you (living it out)? Where and with whom are you sharing God's Word?
3. Describe the time you first "saw" Jesus (at salvation). How do you keep your vision of the risen King Jesus alive? Since you know He's alive are you telling others He's alive and coming again?
4. The might/power of the Holy Spirit – There is one baptism of the Spirit (when we get saved) but many fillings (Ephesians 5:18). The Holy Spirit wants to control and dominate our lives but so do money, sex, power, popularity, etc., etc. What has helped you in your desire to be Spirit-filled and Spirit-led?