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A Pentecost Sunday Sermon (from last fall’s series on the Holy Spirit) May 24, 2007

Posted by roberttalley in Acts, Holy Spirit, Sermons.
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THE PENTECOSTAL POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

Acts 1:1-8

 

INTRODUCTION: We have been talking the last two weeks about the baptism of the Holy Spirit. This is the final message related to that baptism. If you are not a believer in Jesus Christ, I hope that you will understand that the power that comes with the Holy Spirit is all about you.

This power was given on the day of Pentecost to enable believers to speak to you for God so that you could have a life-changing experience. Now this is an invisible and is not necessarily an emotional experience, it does change a person. In John 5:24, Jesus described this experience as passing from the kingdom of death into the kingdom of light.

POWER TO SPEAK FOR GOD

To speak for God is a powerful action. In this day and age, we are suspicious of those who claim to speak for God. I would say rightfully so. Yet in God’s Word we see that truly speaking for God, is a positive thing.

 

Moses once wished in Numbers 11 that all of Israel would be filled with the Spirit of prophecy.

The prophet Joel predicted in Joel 2:28-29, that in the last days there would come a time when all flesh would be filled with the Spirit of prophecy.

In Acts 2:16-21, Peter explained how this applied to the day of Pentecost in that God was revealing Himself through the Spirit of prophecy and that this Spirit was received (Acts 1:8; 2:1-4, 21) for the purpose of turning people to the Lord.

WHEN IS THIS POWER AVAILABLE?

This power of the Holy Spirit to speak for God, that is, to witness of Christ’s salvation, is available the moment you believe.

Look at Acts 2:43. It seems that the only ones at this time performing miracles were the apostles but they all had received the gift of the Holy Spirit through faith in Jesus Christ (Acts 2:38). So it is a mistake to automatically expect a miracle with the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

However, if you compare Acts 1:4-8 with Acts 2:37-38, it is obvious that there is something of importance that comes with the baptism of the Holy Spirit and that this is available at the moment of faith. Part of the purpose of the past two months of preaching on the wonderful gift of the Holy Spirit is to help you to recognize what comes when you receive the Holy Spirit. The fact that God gives His children the Holy Spirit takes away from us any excuse we could make not to please God.

 

THE HOLY SPIRIT’S WORK AND OUR EXCUSES

The Indwelling of the Holy Spirit takes away any excuse we have to sin (Romans 8:5).

The Sealing of the Holy Spirit takes away any excuse we have to worry (Ephesians 1:13-14).

The Baptism by the Holy Spirit into the Body of Christ takes away any excuse we have not to work together, love each other, or forgive each other (I Corinthians 12:12-14).

The Illumination by the Holy Spirit takes away any excuse of ignorance of spiritual things (John 16:13).

The Creative Power of the Holy Spirit takes away any excuse not to repent (Compare Job 38-41 with 40:3-5 and 42:1-6).

The Intercessory Work of the Holy Spirit takes away any excuse not to pray (Romans 8:26-27).

The Fruit of the Holy Spirit takes away any excuse to be immature (Galatians 5:22-23).

The Gifts of the Holy Spirit take away any excuse to be ineffective (Ephesians 4:11-12).

The Filling of the Holy Spirit takes away any excuse to be unthankful (Ephesians 5:18-20).

The Power of the Holy Spirit to Witness takes away any excuse to not be bold in our testimony for Christ (Acts 1:8).

Again, in the case of the power of the Holy Spirit to witness, to speak for God, you receive that power at the moment you believe. This was the promise given by Jesus after His resurrection in Luke 24:44-49. God wants us to tell the world of His power to save people from the slavery of sin and has promised us the capability through the Holy Spirit to fulfill that commission. As we have seen, we cannot plead lack of ability. God gives us the ability to witness of Christ, to speak for God to the world, the very moment we are saved through faith in His son.

IF WE HAVE POWER, DO WE NEED KNOWLEDGE?

Of course, we should prepare and learn. That is what Jesus does in this passage and what he did during the previous three years, teaching them and preparing them for the day when they would receive the power of the Holy Spirit. Even at this late date, it seems that they still had some gaps in their knowledge. Look again at verses 6-7. Here the disciples are asking about the timing of the kingdom. Jesus tells them two things…

First of all, you don’t need to know when the kingdom will come. Yes it is part of God’s plan to set up His kingdom on earth but it is not yet time. You need to trust that the Father’s timing is perfect and you need to be patient.

Secondly, you do need to know how to spread the news of the kingdom. Even though the establishment of the kingdom on earth is not yet, entrance into that kingdom of life from the kingdom of death is available now through faith in Jesus Christ and you need to know how to spread the good news.

He told them what to do, “…be witnesses of Me…”.

He told them where to start. “…in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

And He told them how they were going to accomplish this. “…you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you…”.

POWER RESULTS IN BOLDNESS

Not only is this power available to all believers at the moment of salvation, this power Is always accompanied by believers boldly or plainly witnessing of the gospel of Christ. Look at Acts 2:32-36. Peter says in verse 32, we here before you today are witnesses of his resurrection. It took boldness to witness of Christ’s resurrection, especially before those who had crucified Him.

Boldness is implied in the word witness. It means martyr. One who is willing to die. I don’t usually recommend that you witness in such a way that you get fired from your job. We are to be wise as serpents and as harmless as doves, I suppose. But our witness should be such that we are willing to pay a price to be a witness. I am afraid that most of us, if we had to choose between our job and our witness, we would choose our job. If we had to choose between our family and our witness, we would choose our family. If we had to choose between being accepted and witnessing of the one who died for us, who would we choose?

Let’s continue reading verses 33-36. Peter’s witness was so bold and so plain that many of the hearers, according to Acts 2:37, were cut or pierced to the heart. A few weeks ago we heard the tragic story how that Steve Irwin was suddenly pierced to the heart by the stinger of a stingray and how that he himself pulled the stinger out and then almost immediately died. This is same picture. It was sudden! It had immediate consequences! It resulted in immediate actions! In this case, however, it resulted not in death but in eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

If you are here today and are not a believer in Christ, you need to be cut to the heart. You need to realize that we are talking this morning about your eternal destiny. You need to realize that there is an action that God wants you to take. He wants you to trust Jesus Christ, God who became flesh for the purpose of dying for your sins.

Witnessing by the power of the Holy Spirit was accompanied by boldness, i.e., plain speaking (Acts 2:29; 4:13, 29, 31). In Acts 2 and 4 and other places, we see that these men spoke plainly. They didn’t dance around issues but plainly gave the truth. The Holy Spirit led them and empowered them and gave them the wisdom to just tell the facts and “let the chips fall where they may.”

DOES THIS POWER WORK TODAY?

We have the same Holy spirit but we live in a different era. The era we live in is called the postmodern era. Simply put, it means that what is right and wrong changes as culture and standards change. In other words, what is sin in Vermont, may not be sin in New York State and what is good and acceptable in New York State may be shameful and sinful in Vermont. In other words, there is no certainty, there is no plain speech. We look at each other and try to figure out what is right or wrong. That is not a very good solution but that is the best that our postmodern society can come up with. We obviously need some plain speech, some bold speech, some speech that tells the truth in the world we live in today.

Why do we not burn with boldness to share with an unbelieving world, what God is doing in our lives? There are a variety of possible answers but it surely has nothing to do the Holy Spirit of God. The Holy Spirit is given to us to provide us with boldness to speak of the Christ who saved us from our sin.

UNLEASHING THE POWER

This power is unleashed when you are filled or controlled by the Spirit of God. Now being filled or controlled with the Spirit of God is not the same as being spiritually mature but it certainly is more likely in someone who is spiritually healthy. Over and over and over again in the book of Acts we find that they were filled with the Spirit of God and were able to witness with power as a result. Sometimes it is the apostles who were filled, sometimes as in Acts 13:52 it was brand new believers who were being filled with the Holy Spirit of God.

Interestingly enough, the Bible never tells us how to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Why? Listen to the phrase again (Ephesians 5:18), “Be filled with the Holy Spirit”. We are passively to obey that command. We have the Holy Spirit living within us, teaching us, praying with us, developing us. The filling of the Holy Spirit is not something we can do but something that God does to us. On the other hand, besides being saved there are many things that you can do that will prepare you to be controlled more often by the Holy Spirit. I would like to mention just two of them.

THE ATMOSPHERE FOR THIS POWER

Learn the great truths of God. The men of Acts were filled with the Spirit of God because they were filled with the truth of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. They were made bold by the Spirit of God based on the fact that Jesus rose from the dead. That’s why Jesus showed Himself for forty days after His resurrection (Acts 1:1-3).

This is one of the pivotal points of the book of Acts. We read in chapter 2 how that Peter, in his Pentecostal message proved that the Old Testament predicted the resurrection of Jesus Christ. In chapters 3 & 4 we find the apostles preaching the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Even when Paul went among the philosophers of Athens, Greece, he preached the resurrection of Jesus Christ. We need to become consumed in a practical way with the doctrine of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. That is why the early church met on Sunday and not Saturday. They were consumed with the doctrine of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. When that and other great truths of God’s Word become living realities for you and not just doctrines that you believe, you will become a powerful witness.

When you grasp not just in your mind but in your heart God’s purpose in creating you and the awfulness of sin and the ecstasy of redemption and the possibility of reconciliation with God, then you will have a burning passion to tell others the message of God in the power of the Holy Spirit.

The second thing you can do is grow. Before Paul commanded the Ephesians to be filled with the Holy Spirit, he described for them in chapters 4-5 how to grow spiritually. There are a number of things mentioned there that will help you to grow. Unity with the body of Christ will help you grow. Allowing the Word of God to fill your life through reading and teaching will help you to grown. Striving to become more like Jesus Christ will help you to grow. Putting off the old man and putting on the new man will help you to grow. Speaking the truth in love, forgiving one another as Christ has forgiven us, forsaking all manner of sin, all these things will help you to grow.

THE FILLING OF THE HOLY SPIRIT AS A LIFESTYLE CHOICE

You see, being filled with the Holy Spirit is not an emotional high but it is a lifestyle in which one is controlled by and cooperating with the Holy Spirit of God. When we do this we will empty ourselves of our pride and open ourselves to showing His love. John 13:35 says, “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” There is no greater witnessing tool than the love we show to other believers. It does not, however, happen automatically. We need to grow. We need, as Romans 12:1-2 tells us, to present ourselves as living sacrifices and be transformed by the renewing of our mind.

The only effective witness is that witness whose life truly is changed by his faith in Christ and this is shown by his attitudes and actions. That is what being filled with the Spirit is all about.

1 Thessalonians 1-2 continually emphasizes this point. Paul points out that his message was accepted by the Thessalonians because of the lives that he and Silas and Timothy led before them. He even goes so far in chapter 2 to say that it was accepted as from God and not from men. Why? Partially because the men who preached the message lived as though it was truly a message from God, they were filled with the Spirit. They preached the gospel in boldness, not because they were egocentric or because they had some fancy presentations but because they had a message from God that had changed them and they wanted to see others changed. Their motivation for this love for others is expressed in a verse in 2 Corinthians 5, “The love of Christ constrains us, because we thus judge, that if Christ died for all, then were all dead.”

SO WHAT’S YOUR EXCUSE?

In a sense we are right back where we started. It is not a matter of can’t but of won’t. We have no excuse. We won’t allow the Spirit to do His work in our lives and because of that we are powerless in our witnessing. You can, however, have the same power that Peter and John and Paul and the early church had. Your part is to allow the Holy Spirit to control you with His power. When you do that, then you will be able to witness at work and at school and to your unsaved family and to your unsaved friends and they will see, as they saw in the lives of the apostles, that you have been with Jesus.

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Comments»

1. roberttalley - August 24, 2007

Link to this and other sermons from last fall’s series on the Holy Spirit – http://mysite.verizon.net/fourtalleys/id15.html
or go to the sermon index on the blogroll and click Holy Spirit.

2. Barnabas the Risk Taker « Eternally Significant - October 7, 2007

[…] The Empowerment of a Risk Taker – Boldness comes through goodness and being filled with the Holy Spirit and with faith (Acts 9:27, 13:46, 14:3) The power of the Holy Spirit takes away any excuse to not be bold in our witness for Christ (Acts 1:8). This power was always accompanied by believers boldly witnessing of the gospel of Christ. Boldness is implied in the word witness. It means martyr. One who is willing to die. Our witness should be such that we are willing to take huge risks to be a witness. I am afraid that most of us, if we had to choose between our possessions (1 Corinthians 9:3-7) and our witness, we would choose our possessions. If we had to choose between investing our lives in others who may not be dependable and those with whom we are comfortable, we would choose the comfortable safe way. If we had to choose between personal safety and witnessing of the One Who is our Salvation, who would we choose? Why do we not want to share with the unbelieving world, what God is doing in our lives? I don’t have the answer but it surely has nothing to do the Holy Spirit of God. The Holy Spirit gives us plain speech, ready speech, boldness to speak of what we know. (This paragraph is a reworked portion of this sermon.) […]


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