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The Gospel Continues

January 5th, 2010 by Vic

Acts 1

The desire of most devout Christians has been to recapture the days of the early church.  Many have tried to restructure their church organization to be like the NT.  Some have focused on the receiving of the Holy Spirit.  Others have tried to identify methods for growing large gatherings.  The disciples had some expectations.  Is it at this time that God will give us some political power?

Jesus gentle answer was, “It is not at this time.”  Some prophetic promises are still in the future.

1:1-5

The Acts of the apostolic men is a continuation of what Jesus began in Luke’s gospel story.

Theophilus means lover of God.  In Luke’s gospel Theophilus was called ‘most excellent’ which was a title for a Roman leader.  He was probably Luke’s master who had paid for his training as a doctor.  In those days doctors were slaves.  Luke is the only non-Jewish writer in the Bible.  I think it is interesting that Theophilus asks or hires a non-Jew to write about Jewish events.

Maybe God was in it?  Luke and Acts are the 2 longest scrolls in the NT.

1:1  Jesus had said on the cross, “It is finished.”  But Luke says that was just the beginning of what Jesus began to do and to teach.  NOTE it is proper to do before you teach.

1:3  Forty days seems to be God’s time period for doing business.  And Paul says that over 500 people saw him during this time (1 Cor 15:6).

Some wonder why he made sporadic appearances for 40 days.  Maybe He knew the disciples would not wait more than 10 days.  Maybe because His ministry began with 40 days in the wilderness, He wanted to declare His victory over Satan for 40 days.

Some argue that the laws of gravity make it impossible for a body to just float up in the air.  But this argument overlooks the fact that the laws of aerodynamics can overcome the laws of gravity.  Maybe God has some additional laws that overcome gravity, like the laws that raised Him from the dead?

It sounds like Jesus would make an appearance and then just disappear for a while.  He would come and go from the presence of God.  His resurrected physical presence was limited to one place at time.  He could have just appeared to them less and less until they realized He was seated at the right hand of the Father forever.  That would have caused confusion.  Instead He makes a definite final exit.

1:4 His resurrected body was able to enjoy eating with his friends.  During this last meal He commands them to wait.  Wait for a special gift from God.  God has someone to give you.

Isaiah says those who wait on the Lord will learn to fly like eagles.  The Psalmist says, “Be still and know that I am God.”  Jesus said, “Seek first the kingdom of God.”  Jesus said in John that God would send the Holy Spirit and He will teach you what has been going on (Jn 14:25).

They were waiting for something they knew nothing about.  I wonder if they connected the gift to the upcoming Pentecost feast.  This was the feast when they celebrated the giving of the written law to Moses and the first fruits of harvest.  God spoke to Moses and they had His word in stone.

1:6  After Peter had cut off the servant’s ear (Jn 18:10) Jesus had told them that His kingdom is not of this world (Jn 18:36).  Now they ask, “Are you going to kill the Romans now?”  How do you feel when your parents don’t listen?

1:7  Jesus was very gentle.  “It is not at this time.”  The time is set, but it won’t happen in your lifetime.

1:8  In John 14:17 Jesus promised the Holy Spirit will be with us and live in us.  Here Jesus says the Holy Spirit will come upon you.  There will times when the Holy Spirit comes upon you like He did Samson and you will be witnesses.

He does not say you are to witness, but you will be witnesses.  The empowering of the Holy Spirit is real.  It will be evident in some way.  We will sense a power in us.

What is this power we receive?  What does this power have to do with my witness?

We seem to be a power hungry society.  Men are seeking alternate power sources.  We harness water power, wind power, solar power, horse power, man power, nuclear power, mental power, political power.  We talk about the power of the pen, the power of the media, the power of nations, the power of rockets, the power to leap tall buildings.

But the power that Jesus is talking about is a different power.  I believe this power is the love and knowledge of God.  Some people think this power is the ability to heal, to handle snakes, to drink poison, to move mountains, to get rich, etc.  But I believe Jesus is not talking about a physical power.  I think He is talking about the power of a personal relationship with the Son of God.

Peter reminds us in Acts 3:12 that the power that works through us is not our power.  So when those very leaders who condemned Jesus to the cross asked Peter by what power he could heal the beggar, Peter said it was their relationship with Jesus.  The source of the power that the leaders saw was an evidence of the Spirit of Jesus in them.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that this power is the result of knowing God because to know God is to love God and the love of God has overcome the world.  There is no greater power than love.

Romans 1:16 says the gospel is the power of God to those who believe.  The gospel is Jesus.

1:9-11

Jesus did not walk through a wall and disappear.  He did not vanish over the horizon.  And the way he ascended is the way He is coming back.  It was physical, at a particular place and time.  Every eye will see him.

The Ascension assures us that the work of salvation is complete.  It teaches us that Jesus has gone to heaven.  It promises us a Second Coming.

1:12-14

They returned to Jerusalem with expectancy.  They were not broken-hearted.

Mary and Jesus’ brothers were in the room.  This is the last thing we see Mary doing – praying and waiting for the Holy Spirit.  When Jesus had met the other Mary in the garden He told her to tell his disciples, “I am ascending to my Father” as if the process had already begun with the resurrection.

Praying together brings unity.

1:15-26

Peter stood up and spoke with the authority of the Word.  He was a student of the Scriptures.  He was a student of prophecy.

Two times (16, 21) Peter says, “It is necessary!”  This gives us a clue to Peter’s motivation for life and mission.

I. What God says must be fulfilled. (Acts 1:15-20)

II. It is necessary for us to do something. (1:20-23)

III. It is necessary for God to direct our activity. (1:24-26)

What do you feel is really necessary in life?  What is your motivation to obey God?  Is it God’s wrath, His love, or His presence in your heart?

Decisions are to be made by seeking God with a group of leaders.  They did not know the Spirit’s guidance, but they knew that God can control the rolling of the dice.

Peter may have prayed a narrow prayer.  “Lord do I buy this model car or that model car?”  Maybe God had a 3rd option.  Maybe Paul was the 12th apostle?  Maybe they should have waited for the promised gift?  Maybe they could have waited a couple years for Paul?  Peter was right about the Scripture, but maybe his timing was off.

There is no place in the NT where they cast lots again to know the will of God.  There is no place where the church voted to identify the will of God.  The early church based their decisions on the Word of God and sought the leadership of the Holy Spirit.

Peter made this speech because he felt compelled by an inner belief in a great God whose Word never fails.  His religious teaching told him the group witness of the 12 was incomplete with 11.  It is necessary for the Scripture to be fulfilled.  We need the perfect size group to please God.  It is necessary for us to do something when we become aware of the need.  It is necessary for us to help God a little while we are waiting.  But Jesus said, “Wait.”

Search the Scriptures.  Wait for the Spirit.  Leave room for God to act and direct you

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