Tuesday, September 26, 2017

The Power to Do God's Will

Part 2 of The Gospel Gone Viral

Text: Acts 1:1-11; 2:1-4

“You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (1:8).

Do You Have Power?

Last week Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico. The island is completely without electrical power. And it won't be a matter of days until power is restored but months. We get annoyed when we lose power for just a few hours. Imagine months! Obviously we can live without electrical power. People did it for thousands of years. But life is much easier when we do have power--hot water, light at the flick of a switch, and so on.

Before Jesus ascended into heaven, he told the apostles that they would “receive power” (1:8) to live as he wanted them to live. Was this power only available for the apostles? No, it’s also available to us today. It might be possible to be a Christian and lack this power (just like it's possible to live without electrical power), but we can't live as God wants us to live without it. What is this power and how do we get it?

The Promise of the Father

Jesus instructs the apostles to “wait for the promise of the Father” (1:4). He tells them that John the Baptist had “baptized with water” but that they will be “baptized with the Holy Spirit” in a few days (1:5). The Holy Spirit will “come upon [them]” and they will “receive power” (1:8).

The fulfillment of the promise of the Father occurs in chapter 2. The apostles (and the other believers with them in Jerusalem) are “all filled with the Holy Spirit” (2:4). And the Holy Spirit gives them the power “to speak in other tongues [i.e., languages]” (2:4). What do they speak about? The gospel. 

Peter speaks to the people about Jesus:
“Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did in your midst, as you yourselves know—this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it” (2:22-24). 
He goes on to say,
“This Jesus God raised up, and of that we are all witnesses. Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing” (2:32-33). 
Peter concludes by saying, “Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified” (2:36). Is this the same man who only a few days earlier had denied knowing Jesus? What caused the dramatic change in Peter’s life? Two things: (1) he had seen the risen Jesus (who had forgiven him); (2) he was empowered by the Holy Spirit.

The Purpose of the Holy Spirit

There’s lots of confusion about the Holy Spirit. Many people think that the Holy Spirit is merely a force, not a person. But the Bible refers to the Spirit as a “he,” not an “it.” He’s the third person of the Trinity.

And there are different views among Christians on the gifts of the Holy Spirit (also known as spiritual gifts). A spiritual gift is an ability given by the Holy Spirit for service. The two basic views about spiritual gifts are cessationism and continuationism. Cessationists believe that some of the spiritual gifts are no longer in operation today (e.g., the gift of tongues). Continuationists believe that all of the spiritual gifts are still in operation today.

What was the main purpose of the Holy Spirit’s activity in Acts 2? And what is the main purpose of the Holy Spirit’s activity in our lives today? During the Last Supper, Jesus declared, “[The Holy Spirit] will glorify me” (John 16:14). We glorify Jesus by what we say and what we do. When the apostles were filled with the Holy Spirit, they talked about Jesus. And they also lived like Jesus. “The fruit of the Spirit is love” (Gal. 5:22). When we are filled with the Holy Spirit’s power, we will act like Jesus and talk about Jesus. 

How Do We Get the Spirit's Power? 

Ephesians 5:18 says, “Be filled with the Spirit.” We receive the Holy Spirit at conversion, but we are not always filled with the Holy Spirit’s power. And we don’t have a gauge that tells us if we are filled with the Spirit or not.

How do we get this power? There is not “secret” to being filled with the Spirit. (Just like there really isn’t a secret to losing weight or getting out of debt). We must daily surrender ourselves to God’s will and ask him for the power to do it.

Is it possible to be a Christian and lack this power? Yes, but is that what you want? Are you content with being a middle-of-the-road Christian?

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