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The Power of the Holy Spirit December 27, 2009

Posted by roberttalley in Acts, Holy Spirit, Promises of God, Religion, Sermons, Spiritual Power, Witnessing.
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Later this week:
Tuesday: Links For Investigation – the Holy Spirit
Wednesday: Why the Reception of the Holy Spirit is Not Always Accompanied by Tongues/Prophesying

THE POWER (Capability) OF WITNESSING IN THE HOLY SPIRIT
Acts 1:1-8

Luke’s first book, his gospel begins with the Christmas story. It is, however, just the beginning. Luke goes on to tell us of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. The other writers of gospel did not as far as we know write any further histories. Luke was different. He wrote a sequel. He wrote a man named Theophilus and told him that the story of Jesus did not end but continued in those who believed in Jesus as the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of the Living God.

This sequel we call Acts. Although Jesus is still an important figure in the book of Acts and men like Peter and Paul play important parts in the history, it is the story of the Holy Spirit in the lives of those who follow Christ. Since many of us are followers of Christ, it is important that we know this story. This story, like Luke’s gospel begins with a promise and its fulfillment. That promise is to us as believers in Christ and its fulfillment defines the reality of the Christian. This promise is the Holy Spirit and this reality can be described with one word, “power”, that is, the power of the Holy Spirit in a believer that enables us to be witnesses of Christ.

A. Now, this power of the Holy Spirit to witness of Christ’s salvation is available the moment you believe. If you compare the passage we have just read with Acts 2:37-38, it is obvious that all that comes with the Holy Spirit is available at the moment of faith. Sometimes the gift of the Holy Spirit was accompanied by miracles but not always. Look again at Acts 2:37-47. It seems that the only ones at this time performing miracles were the apostles but they all received the gift of the Holy Spirit.

In the case of the power of the Holy Spirit to witness, you receive that power at the moment you believe. This was the promise given by Jesus in Luke 24:44-49. It is referred to here in Acts 1:4-5. Jesus compares here the baptism of John with the baptism of the Holy Spirit. There are some significant differences between these two baptisms. The one is physical, the other spiritual. The one is by man, the other is by God. The one could be seen; the other could not normally be seen. The two baptisms have this in common: both baptisms come after one receives in faith the message of God. When one believed John’s message, John would baptize him. When one believes Christ message, the Holy Spirit baptizes him.

Think about the significance of this difference. John could have baptized someone by mistake. There were those who came to John, in whom he recognized that there was no faith in them and whom he refused to baptize. It is possible, though, that he could have baptized someone who had no faith. John was not all-knowing. The Holy Spirit, however, never baptizes the wrong person. All who he baptizes are true believers in Christ (1 Corinthians 12). That is why I am certain that every believer has the power of the Holy Spirit to witness because every believer in Christ is baptized by and with the Holy Spirit.

The Great Commission is closely connected with the Holy Spirit power (John 20:21-23). Although the word for power in Matthew 28:18-20 is “authority” rather than our word here “capability,” Matthew’s version of the Great Commission also makes it evident that “capability” from God also plays an important part. Jesus ends with this phrase, “And, lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the world.” Everyone who God wants to fulfill the Great Commission has the promise of the capability through the Holy Spirit to fulfill that commission. We cannot plead lack of ability. God the Father gave us, under the authority of Christ, the ability and capability to witness of Christ the moment we were saved and He will never leave us nor forsake but rather has given us the Spirit of God to be with us, to aid us, to enable us to proclaim the gospel of Christ.

Of course, we should prepare and learn. That is what Jesus is doing in this passage and what he had been doing during the past 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 at verses 6-7. Here the disciples are asking about the timing of the kingdom.

The reason these disciples are asking about the kingdom is clear. They know the Old Testament prophecies of Joel 2. In fact, in the next chapter, Peter uses that passage to explain to the multitude at Pentecost that what they were doing in speaking in tongues was simply a manifestation of God’s power as was connected in the minds of every Jew, that when the Messiah comes, the people would be endued with the Spirit of God for the purpose of prophesying and revealing God’s Word. It was just a foretaste. That prophecy will ultimately be fulfilled when Christ returns to this earth sometime in the future.

Of course, the disciples did not understand that there would be at least two thousand years before Christ would return. You would not have understood it and neither would have I. I think that is why Jesus answers them the way He did.

Jesus tells them two things…

First of all, you do not need to know when the kingdom will come. You need to trust that the Father’s timing is perfect and you need to be patient.

Secondly, you need to know how to spread the news of the kingdom.
1. He told them what to do, “…be witnesses of Me…” Jesus is the news of the kingdom. It is not primarily about a Jewish kingdom but about a Jewish king. It is not simply about an ethnic people but about a spiritual change to the world order. The only way to accomplish that is for the world to hear about the Jewish king, Jesus the Christ.
2. He told them where to start. “…in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
3. And He told them how they were going to accomplish this. “…you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you…”

This power was accompanied by believers boldly or plainly witnessing of the gospel of Christ. Look at verses 32-36. Peter says in verse 32, we are witnesses of his resurrection. Boldness is implied in the word witness. It is translated occasionally “martyr”, one who is willing to die. I do not 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. Our witness, however, 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 has accepted us, who would we choose?

Let us 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. Perhaps you remember the tragic story how that Steve Irwin, the Crocodile Hunter, 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.

Let me again emphasize that witnessing by the power of the Holy Spirit was accompanied by boldness, that is, plain speaking (Acts 2:29; used three times in chapter 4). We do not live in a time of bold speech for Christ among Christians. This era we live in is commonly 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 Michigan may not be sin in Ohio and what is good and acceptable in Indiana may be shameful and sinful here. 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. Unfortunately, we at times reflect in our lives the post-modern culture.

Some believe that we cannot go long with this type of attitude. Humankind gravitates toward certainty and hope, even if it is a false certainty and hope. The growth of cults and Islam and even of some aspects of evangelical Christianity is evidence to the fact that many people want Yes to mean Yes and No to mean No. In Acts 2 and 4 and other places, we see that these men spoke plainly. They did not dance around issues but plainly gave the truth. The Holy Spirit led them in that and empowered them in that and enabled them with boldness and wisdom to just tell the facts.

Why do we not want to share with each other much less with an unbelieving world, what Christ has done in our lives? I do not 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.

Do you have the power of the Holy Spirit to witness? If you are a believer in Christ, the answer is yes. You need to tap into that power. There is no alternative source. the ability to tell the world of Christ is in you right now in the form of a person, the Holy Spirit.

If you have not received Christ, you do not have this power. You need a different power, the power of the gospel. Paul in Romans 1:16 writes, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ; for it is the power of God to salvation, to everyone who believes, to the Jew first, and also to the Greek (Gentile).” You are incapable of saving yourself but the gospel of Christ will save you from your sin if you will believe it. Peter said to the crowd on the day of Pentecost, “Repent and be baptized and you will receive the Holy Spirit.” There are two actions implied in that invitation. You need to turn from your sin and you need to turn away from any other way of salvation and turn only to Christ. Turn to Christ today and receive the Holy Spirit!

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