Continuing the Work – Acts 1:1-11 – Pastor Joshua
The Holy Spirit empowers every believer to be taught and evangelize the gospel everywhere.
What should I know before sharing the good news of Jesus?
Yesterday we got to celebrate the life and legacy of Mary Wharton and there were many stories of her kind, warm and inviting nature. If there’s one thing we can learn from Mary, it’s the example of how to be a good witness for Christ. Her warmth and kindness by the Holy Spirit led her to invite my parents to SanLo which led to my faith which led me to where I am today.
And this, I believe actually captures of a lot of the big picture ideas that we can learn from Acts and leads us to our take home truth this morning, the Holy Spirit empowers every believer to be taught and evangelize the gospel everywhere. If you’re a believer, you have the Holy and Living God within you. And if you have the Holy Spirit in you, then you are ready to be taught and share the gospel everywhere. This isn’t a task just for missionaries and pastors. ALL OF US get to be living lights and testaments of God’s grace and love to the world.
Why should we care? Because then those around us will get to experience the joy of knowing God too. If we love those around us, of course we’d want them to share in the joy we already have. This begs us to ask the question then, “What should I know before sharing the good news of Jesus?” That leads us to our first point…
1. We must be taught before we go out and share the gospel. (vv.1-3) Before we go out and share with our friends, our neighbors, and our families, we must learn what it is that we believe first before we hope to share it.
Luke is writing to a man named Theophilus, a person we know little about, but we DO know that Luke is writing in order to teach him and share the history of the church with him so he’s probably a Christian. Luke had written to Theophilus before, actually in the gospel of Luke. So, Luke is continuing to teach this believer all that he knows about Jesus’ teachings and stories all the way up until Jesus returned to heaven.
But before returning to heaven, Luke here is saying that Jesus stayed with his disciples for 40 days, proving that He really was there in the flesh, teaching them different commands and things concerning the kingdom of God.
Acts isn’t a list of directions and exhortations. Acts is a story. As part of that story, Luke is simply telling the story of Jesus having chosen the apostles. What Jesus was teaching during those 40 days then was generally the greater things of God.
So again, we must be taught before we go out and share the gospel. What else then should we know before sharing the good news of Jesus?
2. We must be empowered by the Holy Spirit before we go out and share the gospel. (vv.4-5) You must know Jesus before you can share Jesus. And you know you have Jesus if you have the Holy Spirit within you.
Very matter of fact-ly one day during a meal together in His resurrected form, Jesus commands them to wait for the promised gift before leaving Jerusalem. You know if you have a promised gift from Jesus, it’s going to be good. The fact that Jesus was eating with His disciples after the resurrection shows that His time together with them wasn’t just Him being there with them in Spirit. He was physically with them, there face-to-face. He hungered, He thirsted, He slept and He walked. His resurrection was fully complete and this verse further attests to that.
And this good, good gift Jesus is talking about is God’s Spirit. There are only so many people Jesus can see and interact with face to face. But when He would return to heaven and send down His Spirit, God’s presence would always be with them wherever they went. John baptized with water but they would be baptized with the Holy Spirit.
Baptized by the Holy Spirit… sounds cool but what exactly does that mean? Does this still ring true for us today? Is there a difference between that and water baptism?
I think it’s important for us to first understand what water baptism is. John the Baptist was the pre-cursor to Jesus. He was the one preparing the way for Jesus’ ministry here on earth acting as the last Old Testament type of prophet. He was pointing to a future hope in Jesus so when Jesus’ time finally came, people would know that it was Jesus whom they were waiting millennia all along for. The fact that he baptized with water is merely a physical expression of a spiritual reality. To be cleaned by water in the Old Testament is to be ceremonially clean for worship in the Temple. Without being clean, they couldn’t worship God in His presence.
BUT, now that the Spirit came, we can now always be clean. We don’t need to be ceremonially clean to come in and worship in our sanctuaries across the world today. We can be baptized with the Holy Spirit… no longer focused on the outward but the inward reality that God’s Spirit has baptized us into Himself and saved us from our sin. Every Christian is baptized by the Spirit upon first belief and so every Christian is equally indwelled by the Living Spirit of God.
The same Holy Spirit who eventually came to live within the Christians of the early church is the same Holy Spirit who lives within us today.
So, know and live out the gospel towards others. It’s made possible by the Holy Spirit. We are empowered by the Spirit to reach those around us and we are to be taught before we go and share. Now for the third and last point of what we should know before sharing the good news of Jesus.
3. We must share the gospel message with everyone everywhere. (vv.6-11) Like a beacon on a hill or a lighthouse on a cliff by the sea, we are called to be lights in this world, a people who share Jesus, who reflects Jesus and most importantly, who love Jesus in such a way that Christ is reflected well to the utmost in our communities.
At this point, even though the apostles had spent a handful of years with Jesus and now even again after His resurrection for 40 days, they still didn’t get His mission right. You see it through the very question that they ask Him.
“Lord, are You at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” They believed that part of Jesus’ mission was to one day restore the kingdom of Israel. They had been a nation that once held their own independence, but through a series of events they became a nation without a country.
The fact that Jesus is Messiah would have stirred up some of the things that they learned in their past about what the Messiah was supposed to be. They always knew there was going to be a Messiah. The Old Testament makes it clear that one day SOMEONE on earth would one day save the world; and that’s true! Jesus did come to save the world! But not in the way that they were expecting as some type of warrior leader like Superman or Shang Chi.
Instead of just a nation, Jesus had saving the world in mind. But it wasn’t going to happen right away. He says we won’t know the time or date that God the Father has already set… BUT YOU WILL RECEIVE POWER WHEN THE HOLY SPIRIT ENTERS YOU… “…and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
Again, Jesus has bigger things in mind than just a nation! He has the salvation of the entire world for all of history in mind! Soon Jesus would return to heaven and send the Holy Spirit upon them and then they would witness to the world around them starting in their own city, then moving outward throughout their whole country and even Samaria whom Israel didn’t get along with and then to the whole world. So first, they received the Holy Spirit, and THEN they went out to witness!
Jesus then ascends to heaven and two angels confirm what they’ve seen. They even leave a clue as to how He would return, that Jesus “will come back in the same way you have seen Him go into heaven.”
In light of the birth of hopefully a soon to be age of after COVID-19, I am praying that God’s Holy Spirit is giving all of you boldness and confidence to share the gospel; that Jesus lived, died and rose from the grave for our sins so we could have a new life with Him and this good news would spread to the ends of the world.
It can be as simple as inviting someone to church like Mary invited my family. I mean, whoever you invite’s kid isn’t going to become a pastor every time, but you never know!
But we have the opportunity, we GET to continue the work of those who came before us, both with our own spiritual mothers and fathers who led us personally to faith but also in the RICH and LENGTHY history of the early churches founded by Jesus Christ. We participate in history and we are empowered by the Holy Spirit’s presence within us all today. So, let’s continue the work that was started by those who came before us now.
Battle Belongs, O Come to the Altar, Christ Our Hope in Life and Death, Blessed Be Your Name, Doxology