Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Promised Gift

Text: Acts: 1:1-8

Reading: Ezekiel 36:22-31; Acts 2:1-12

Acts has several "Pentecost" narratives (people receiving the Holy Spirit) besides the main one. In ch 8 the Samaritans receive the Holy Spirit; in ch 10 Cornelius and his household do; and in ch 19 the 12 men do. Over the summer we will focus on the work of the Holy Spirit in Acts. In today’s text, the Holy Spirit is mentioned three times, instructing, baptizing, and empowering. These three passages set the scene for the rest of Acts, so we really need to understand them.

The Lord Jesus Christ ministers to the church by way of the Holy Spirit.

1. He instructs us though the Holy Spirit,
2. He baptizes us with the Holy Spirit,
3. He empowers us by the Holy Spirit.

1.Instruction through the Holy Spirit. The book of Luke is about Christ’s work on earth, ending with the ascension. Acts, the second volume written by Luke, begins with the ascension and discusses Christ’s work of reaching into the world through his Holy Spirit. Through the Holy Spirit, Jesus taught his disciples about his suffering, resurrection, and the kingdom of God. Because it was given through the Holy Spirit, this spiritual instruction was full of meaning rather than being just words and information. We, too, receive such meaningful spiritual instruction, and it goes to the heart of our lives, changing us. In this way the Spirit completely renovates people. We can thank God every day for what he has done for us, and also pray for those who need to be changed.

2.Baptism with the Holy Spirit. Who is baptized with the Holy Spirit? Does it depend on the people? What is the one condition Jesus says people must meet before being baptized by the Holy Spirit? Simply this: they must do nothing at all. Just wait. Just wait in Jerusalem, the holy city, where so much has already happened.

Jesus calls the Holy Spirit the gift the Father had promised. What do you do to get a gift? You certainly don’t work for it; then it wouldn’t be a gift. A gift is pure grace. The Holy Spirit is a promised gift: “You will be baptized.” These people did not have to do anything themselves. What’s more, the gift was for all 11 apostles, not just some of them. Every time the Holy Spirit was poured out in Acts, it was poured out on the whole group. He is given for all who believe; there are not two classes of believers, the kind who get the Holy Spirit and the others who don’t (yet).

The Bible does not say that tongues and prophecies are always necessary when the Holy Spirit is poured out. In Acts 8 tongues are not mentioned; they may have happened, but it doesn’t say they did. However, in those days, when Scripture was not yet complete, there needed to be prophecy and tongues. They were a gift to propel the gospel into the world.

3.Being empowered by the Holy Spirit. Being baptized with the Holy Spirit means becoming empowered witnesses of Christ. To be born again is to be regenerated, to believe in Jesus, and to accept by faith Jesus’ instruction about his own work (v2, 3). Thus we are all empowered to be witnesses to Christ, wherever Christ has placed us. Accept this by faith and watch the Holy Spirit empower you to be a faithful witness for Christ.

Sermon by Pastor George. Notes, errors, and omissions by NPS (a member of Jubilee Church).