Now what we have been learning as we have begun our study of the Book of Acts is that the Lord’s work of redemption, His cross work is completed.
…the work of gathering the redeemed goes on, and it goes on in that first generation through the apostles, and then through the church as the apostles establish the church.
…and we’re still engaged in the same work passed down generation to generation to generation of gathering the redeemed into churches and even establishing churches in places where Christ is not named, taking the gospel to the ends of the earth…
…to think they would fill Judea with the gospel and then expand into Samaria, and then they would go to the ends of the earth is many might think a pipe dream, something foolish.
They have demonstrated very weak faith, and it would seem to me it’d take some very strong faith to get a grip on that kind of enterprise, and Jesus repeatedly says, “Oh, you have little faith. Oh, you have little faith.” Not only that, they have a track record of very sketchy obedience.
They’re as likely to be disobedient as to be obedient. In fact, when the Lord has given them specific things to do, they have failed to do them. In the heat of that night that Jesus went into the garden to pray, He didn’t ask them to do a very difficult task. He just asked them to stay awake and pray, and they fell asleep. After His resurrection, He asked them to go to Galilee and wait for Him. They went to Galilee. They didn’t wait for Him. They went back to their old enterprise.
And you can add to that that they’re cowardly. In fact, when Jesus was arrested in the garden, they all forsook Him and fled.
But they demonstrate impatience. They even demonstrate their impatience here because their question is, “Are you going to bring the kingdom now? How long do we do that? A few days, a few weeks?” And they’re marked with a lot of things that would make us doubt their ability to pull it off.
Somehow, if these men are going to change the course of human history, something has got to happen to them
The whole letter is written to Theophilus, and I just want to make a comment about that. Theophilus is a proper name, most likely, that could be translated friend of God. Theo, God, Philus, friend. But it’s a gentile name. It’s a Greek name, so this probably refers to some noble gentile. There is some history that would indicate to us that this was an influential, wealthy official in the city of Antioch, perhaps well known to Luke, who is the writer. Maybe that indicates that Luke was also from Antioch. That’s a little bit of speculation.
He is in Luke 1:3 “most excellent Theophilus.” Now when somebody gets to be called most excellent, you’re now in the category of officials. This is some important man, some important Roman officials. Later in the Book of Acts toward the end, you’re going to run into people like Felix and Festus, and they’re going to get that title most excellent. You reserve that for some very important person.
Why would Luke send the letter to him?
Because he’s a man of great influence, and he wants to put this letter in the hands of a man of great influence so it can be distributed. And by the way, this is very good for Luke to do because Luke understands that the gospel is supposed to go ultimately to the world.
Tools used to get the message out into the world
So Luke is taking a long-range view at the great commission in the gentile world.
First of all, we told you the proper message. He had to give them that. Verse 1, “Jesus began to do and teach. He began to do and teach.”
…sound doctrine…Avoid those people who have strange doctrine. Find those people who have sound doctrine. If anybody comes along, preaches any other Christ, don’t listen to him. “Don’t invite him in your house, John says.” “If anybody comes and preaches another gospel, let him be damned. Let him be anathema,” Paul says.
We are stewards of the gospel in our generation to make sure it gets spread correctly and passed to the next generation without defect.
All about words
…we are reminded that He spent a period of 40 days speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God. Not nonstop for 40 days, but during those 40 days, He appeared to them on many, many occasions with a purpose of instruction. Instruction. They were to make sure they had the right message. And may I remember you what we said this morning? It’s all about the words. The words have to be correct. It’s all about the words, the words.
The attack on scripture
The Bible claims for itself that every word of God is pure, every word, like silver refined seven times in a furnace. This attack is mounting right now, by the way, as we speak at this particular time, in the evangelical world.
There’s a massive attack on the true doctrine of inerrancy, but that’s not surprising because Satan wants always to attack the word of God going back to Genesis. Right? Has God said, has God said, has God said.
You remember in 2 Peter, Peter says, “The things that Paul wrote are hard to understand, and some people twist them.” But it was never a question of the words. It was a question of the interpretation. Wasn’t always – and even today, there are some passages where we don’t know what the appropriate interpretation is because we can’t reconstruct all the original setting.
…if they’re going to do this job, they have to have the right message, and they also have to have the right confidence.
And what is that confidence?
“It is that confidence that comes to them when they see him alive from the dead,” verse 3. “He presented himself alive after his suffering by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over those 40 days and speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God.”
The right power
They also needed the proper power, the right power…He says, “Don’t leave Jerusalem.”
…back to Ezekiel 36. Ezekiel 36. Here’s a promise from God. A familiar new covenant promise. “I will sprinkle clean water on you,” – verse 25 – “You will be clean. I’ll cleanse you from all your filthiness, from all your idols. I’ll give you a new heart, put a new spirit within you. I’ll remove the heart of stone from your flesh, give you a heart of flesh. I will put my spirit within you and cause you to walk in my statutes, and you will be careful to observe my ordinances.”
That is what the Father promised. Promised the coming of the Holy Spirit who will come and dwell in them.
And then over in chapter 20 (John 20:22) “He breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.’” That was in anticipation. Didn’t happen then. It didn’t happen until the day of Pentecost.
Then He goes on in verse 5 (Acts 1:5)…“John immersed you with water, buried you in water, but you will be immersed with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”
Connected with the last days
The Old Testament age is over. Messiah is here. He did the work of atonement. He’s alive. This is it. A few days. Now He’s saying the Holy Spirit is going to come, and Joel connects the coming of the Holy Spirit with the last days, and Ezekiel 36 connects the coming of the Holy Spirit with the last days.
First Corinthians 6. “Your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit.” You don’t seek that…In fact, that is a gift that comes to every believer.
This is for power
The job is too great, too formidable, too demanding to be done in human strength. Paul’s language in the letter to the Corinthians. “Weapons of our warfare are not fleshly, but mighty unto God.” This is the promise of the Holy Spirit. Every believer following Pentecost receives the Holy Spirit, takes up residence. Literally a dominating forces, dominating power of our lives.
He’s (Paul) saying to these Ephesians (3:16), “I want you to know the full power of the Holy Spirit who is in your inner man so that Christ settles down and is at home in your life, so that you’re rooted and grounded in love, so that you can comprehend with all the saint, the breadth, and length and height and depth and can know the love of Christ, which surpasses all knowledge.
I want you to know the full power of the Holy Spirit, which shows up in increa… love…
Paul is praying is that you would take advantage of the power… How do you do that? Well, Galatians 3:16 says, “Let the word of Christ dwell in your richly.” Ephesians 5:18 says, “Be filled with the Holy Spirit.” Same thing.
The proper mystery
…together, they were asking Him saying, ‘Lord, is it at this time you are restoring the kingdom to Israel?
what were they saying?
They were expecting what kind of kingdom? What kind of kingdom were they expecting? Millennial kingdom. No, that hadn’t been introduced as a 1,000-year kingdom until the Book of Revelation.
They were expecting the kingdom promised to Abraham, the kingdom promised to David, with all the promises that were reiterated to the prophets and through the prophets. They were expecting that Israel would be restored…
….All the kingdom promises, including the coming of the Holy Spirit. In other words, they were pre-millennialists. They believed in an actual kingdom for Israel.
It is inexplicable if there is no kingdom for Israel that Jesus didn’t say that. But rather, He said, “None of your business when that’s going to happen.” (Acts 1:17)
The doctrine of imminence
Luke 19:13. He said, “Occupy until I come.” He said, “Work, for the night is coming. You live as if every day was your last day. You invest in every single day everything that you can for the sake of the kingdom of God.”
…You probably heard about him (Harold Camping). He kept predicting when Jesus was going to come. He made 12 predictions, and every time he did that, he violated the simple statement of scripture. He’s coming in an hour you think not. Twelve times, and he was wrong every time.
The proper mission
And what is this mission? Verse 8. After the power comes on you, you’ll be my witnesses. You shall by my witnesses. You shall be. The Holy Spirit comes, and you become a witness. This is a statement of fact. You’re the only witnesses he has. Right?
You are the witnesses. In Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and even the remotest part of the earth. The word witness, very interesting word. It’s martyres, plural. We get the English word martyr. What’s the connection? The connection is that the word witness came to be the word martyr because so many witnesses to the gospel died. They died.
Listen to what John writes at the very end of the Book of Revelations. “He who testifies to these things says, ‘Yes, I am coming quickly.’” John says, “Amen. Come Lord Jesus.” I’m coming quickly. My reward is with me to give to every man. That’s our motive. He’s coming. He’s coming suddenly, unexpectedly, and that kind of splits into two realities. Personal meeting and eternal reward.
…that first generation of 12 apostles, and here we are 2,000 years later, and amazingly, by the power of the Holy Spirit, they were able to get it started right. And now Christianity in your generation is circling the globe in a way that they would never have ever imagined the day in which you’re living. Just imagine, you hear me preach here, and there are people in rice patties in Asia hearing the very sermon I give to you in their own language. Not just me, but many, many other preachers and teachers.
The gospel is circling the globe. We’re living in the greatest revival of Biblical truth in the history of the world simply because of its electronic capabilities circle the globe. We’re also nearer the second coming than we’ve ever been as the gospel is extending to the ends of the earth.