Acts 1:1-11. Wait For The Gift The Father Has Promised and Live As Jesus’ Witnesses.

Acts 1:1-11. Wait For The Gift The Father Has Promised and Live As Jesus’ Witnesses.

 Acts 1:1-11              Closing Message DuPage/NIU UBF Bible School

Key verse 1:8           Kevin Jesmer NIU UBF   7/1/12 

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

Part l:   Jesus Is Alive (1-2)

Today we want to look at the last commands Jesus gave to his followers just before he was taken up into heaven. In them we can find direction for ourselves, who have had a personal encounter with our Lord Jesus Christ. First, we learn about the author of the book. Look at verse 1a, “In my former book, Theophilus..,” This book was written by Luke the Apostle. He was also a doctor and an historian. His former book was the book of Luke, out of which we have studied several passages. Theophilis means, “Lover of God.” He could be writing to a specific person, or to all lovers of God throughout history. If that is the case he is writing to you also. In his former book he wrote about Jesus. Look at verse 1b, “…I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach2  until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen.”  At this conference we learned about what Jesus was doing and teaching. Jesus was a spiritual doctor when he healed a paralytic physically and spiritually, forgiving his sins and saying, “Get up, take your mat and go home.” He healed Levi of his selfishness and his loneliness when he said, “Follow me.”  He saved people from condemnation freeing them and telling them, “Go now and leave you life of sin.” He searched and found people who have wandered away from the Lord. He searched and found people who have fallen on their backs in dark places like lost coins. He forgave and restored countless prodigal sons and daughters. He also reached out to those like the Pharisees, helping them to know the grace and truth of God. Jesus did a lot of wonderful things during his earthly ministry.

Jesus also taught his disciples many things. Look at verse 1b again.  “…after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen.”  Jesus spent a lot of time instructing the Twelve because he knew that through them to Gospel would be preached throughout the world. Jesus taught them through the Holy Spirit. Jesus used all kinds of methods to teach the apostles, verbally, through group and 1:1 discussions, through showing the example, and allowing the disciples to have hands on experience. But the ultimate teaching came when he gave instructions through the Holy Spirit. When we try to reveal Jesus through Bible study or serving we are essentially environment makers. It is God who will do the ultimate teaching through his Holy Spirit. We saw this in the testimony of my daughter Sarah. She had a life time of Bible teaching and living in Christian family, but it was not through her father’s gospel messages that she had a revelation about Jesus. It was during one praise and worship session and being surrounded by people whom she loved and who loved her, that her heart was strangely moved to confess, “This is what I want.” She meant life with Jesus among other Christians. Julie first accepted Jesus, not through a powerful message at a conference, but while talking in the kitchen with the mother of a former boyfriend. The Holy Spirit moved her heart and taught her the truth about Jesus. Maybe, through this Bible School, God is making and environment so that the Holy Spirit can teach you about Jesus in a life changing way

Jesus tried hard to show people that he was alive. Look at verse 3. “After his suffering, he showed himself to these men and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God.”   Jesus suffered much during his 3 ½ years of ministry serving others. He suffered much during his passion being falsely accused and nailed to the cross so that we can be forgiven of our sins. After his death and resurrection he appeared to his followers convincing them that he was alive. He ate with them, gave them his peace, he even told doubting Thomas to touch the wounds in his hands and his side. There are many convincing proofs that Jesus is alive. He was alive during those 40 days he was with the Apostles. He is alive right now, ministering to our hearts through his word and his Holy Spirit.

Part ll: Do Not Loose The Point (3-7)

Jesus is very wise about things that may sidetrack and deceive his followers over the millennia. First, they need to stick to the main point of Jesus’ teachings. Look at verse 3 again, “After his suffering, he showed himself to these men and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God.”  Jesus’ point is always the resurrection and theKingdom ofGod.  Jesus rose from the dead and is alive right now. He wants us to place our hope in theKingdom ofGod. He will come again to gather the Elect, all those who have been forgiven, those who have placed all of their hope and trust in him. This was main point of Jesus’ teaching and ministry.

So often we are tempted to deviate from the message of theKingdomofGodfor more practical issues. But think about it…there were more than enough social issues of the day in Jesus’ time. What about Roman occupation and taxation? Government corruption? What about woman’s rights? But Jesus spoke about the Gospel and the kingdom of God. It seems that people want to hold onto something practical and tangible instead.

But the Gospel and the Kingdomof Godare the most important. Why? It is because knowledge of the gospel and the Kingdom of God gives us a living hope. We suffer a lot because of lack of hope. Students despair. Will I ever get a job? Will my degree be worth something? Will I get out of debt? Will I ever marry? Will I never be free from depression? Will I always be wrestling with this or that issue? But a living hope in the Kingdomof God is what our hearts long for. In the Kingdomof Godthere is love, joy, peace, kindness and goodness. There a whole universe of opportunities. There is hope because the Kingdomof Godis ruled by the Prince of Peace, our Lord, Savior and God, Jesus Christ. It is the best kingdom to dwell in. Matthew 6:33 reads, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”  When we seek Jesus’ kingdom as of top priority in our lives, letting nothing get between us and Jesus, then we will taste life with the Risen Jesus in theKingdom ofGod. Don’t get me wrong…I am not ignoring the social issues of the day. God will raise up people to tackle these important social issues. Some of these people will be Christians, maybe even some of you, but we, who know the main gist of Jesus message, and who have been called to preach it, need to stick to message of the Gospel and the kingdom of God.  I liken it to a canoe. The bow of the canoe cuts through the water. Radiating from the bow are ripples in the water. The bow is the Gospel message going out into the world. The ripples of water are the many good affects of Gospel preaching. The ripples are good things, but they are not the Gospel. The ripples would not even be there if it were not for the bow cutting through the water. There must be pure Gospel preaching for this world to be filled with many good things. But we who know Jesus and the Gospel must stick to the message.

Second, we can not be discouraged by hardships or our weaknesses. These disciples needed to live in God’s strength. Look at verses 4 & 5, “On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: ‘Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized withwater, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” Jerusalem was the hardest place for them to remain. It was the place where their savior, Jesus was crucified. It was the place where Peter denied Jesus three times. Now it was a hostile and dangerous place. Every fiber of their being was telling them to flee Jerusalem and never come back.  But Jesus told them to stay and wait for the gift the Father wanted to send them, the Holy Spirit. Practically speaking there is something difficult that God has called us to embrace. It is unique for every person. It is something that our human nature is telling us to avoid, but God is telling us to embrace. It is there that we must remain and pray and wait for the coming of the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit will dwell in us and inspire us and teach us and grow us and guide us. The Holy Spirit will help us to hold onto faith in the Risen Jesus and our living hope in theKingdom ofGod. .

Third, we should not be led away by false hopes. Verse 6 reveals what was on the disciples’ minds.  So when they met together, they asked him, ‘Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” Jesus was talking about the Kingdom of God and the disciples were concerned about the re-establishment of the kingdom of Israel.  They wanted Israel, independent and glorious, like in the time of King David. They were full of nationalistic hopes. We often say that all of our hope is in the Kingdom of God. But we may actually be nurturing selfish or nationalistic hopes. In light of Jesus’ resurrection and grace, our hopes must be for the establishment of the Kingdom of God, which has already begun to grow in many of your hearts. Many great Christians have died with the their last words being, “Your Kingdom Come!”

 Fourth, we should not be sidetracked by false prophets.  Look at verse 7. “He said to them: ‘It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority.” Recently a ministry claimed to know the time and date that Jesus was returning. It was not true. Many lost their life savings paying for billboards and the leader has disappeared into a coma. But Jesus says that it is not for us to know the times and dates the Father has set. Jesus, the Son, did not know the hour of his returning. We shouldn’t be side tracked by guessing the time of Jesus’ return. We must stick to the Gospel and the message of theKingdom of God.

Part lll: You Will Be My Witnesses (8-11)

There are so many things that we should not be doing, but what should we be applying our energies to? Look at verse 8. “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”   Disciples of Jesus should be witnesses of Jesus.  A witness is someone who has seen and experienced something personally. The disciples had seen the Risen Jesus and experienced his love and grace. They are more than qualified to be witnesses. To be a witness means many things. For some it could mean being a martyr. Many of the apostles did die a martyr’s death. I don’t think you will be such a witness inAmerica. For us, being a witness could also mean living the Christian lifestyle, emulating Jesus life of love and sacrifice. Such lives can reveal the love of God to a world lost in darkness. Another way is to have a high degree of integrity at school or on the job, being faithful, serving your fellow students and employees. Be a friend to others. Serving your boss or learning from your teachers and peers as though you are serving Jesus and learning from Jesus. If you are a witness then people should know that you are a Christ follower. How you bear up under stressful situations can make you a good witness. What do you do when things get a little hairy? What about when deadlines are looming? What about when your finances are running low or your patience is failing? Can you come to God in prayer and forgive and love unconditionally and trust God in all things? If you can then you can be a good witness of Jesus. Another way of witnessing is actually making a focused effort to share the gospel with other people. We could invite our friends to study the Bible with us. Many do this among us.

The best way of being a witness is by loving one another. Jesus once said in John 13:33-35 reads, “My children, I will be with you only a little longer. You will look for me, and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you now: Where I am going, you cannot come. 34 ‘A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.’” Loving one another, as Jesus has loved us, is the best way to be witnesses to the Gospel. This love is more than just good friends hanging out together. Is more than being friends on Facebook. It about forgiving each other and loving each other in a Christian sense. It includes washing one another’s feet, bearing with one another’s weaknesses and serving each other as we mature in our Gospel faith.  Then all of the world will know that we are disciples of Jesus.

There are many ways to be witnesses of the Jesus, but all of them is never easy. Sometimes forgiving and loving others unconditionally is like pulling teeth. Jesus knows how hard it is and so he gave us a promise in verse 8, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” He promised to send the Holy Spirit, to strengthen us, so that we can be witnesses of Jesus.

Jesus wanted his disciples to be witnesses to the Gospel to the ends of the earth. We saw how an American missionary China helped Peter L. to be changed from an atheist to a believer. We have been touched by the prayers and service of Korean missionaries who have come here. These missionaries went to the end of the earth. We need to keep the end of the earth in mind as we live as Jesus’ witnesses. Some may be called to be missionaries. Some may stay and witness locally. We can think globally and act locally.

The disciples needed to get to the task at hand. Look at verse 9, “After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.” Jesus had to go in order to send the promised Holy Spirit. Jesus could have stayed and set up an office in Jerusalem and wrote many books and had huge conferences in which he would be the guest speaker. Millions and millions of people could have come to visit him in Jerusalem. Jerusalem could have become a type of Christian Mecca. Not only that, the disciples, and all future disciples would have depended on the human Jesus….the Jesus in Jerusalem. But Jesus wanted them to be his witnesses. He wanted them to go to the ends the earth. Jesus once said to the Samaritan woman, in John 4:23-24,  “Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. 24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”  Jesus freed us from location based faith. He also freed us from “person” based faith. We can worship Jesus anywhere in this universe and he can help each of personally to be his witnesses. Jesus gave his disciples the world mission command in Matthew 28:18b-20 which reads, “…All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”  How can Jesus be with each one of his disciples, world wide, 24/7? It is possible if he was taken into heaven and he could send the Holy Spirit of God.

The disciples became sidetracked once again by focusing on the fantastic things too much. Look at verse 10 and 11, “They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. 11 “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.” They were standing there and looking up into the sky. Who could blame them? What they had just witnessed was fantastic! Jesus is alive and levitated into the sky and there were angels also. If this happened on the 88 toll way this would be called a gaper’s delay. As disciples we shouldn’t gaze off into the sky, or remain flabbergasted by amazing things too long. We need to kick into gear and get to the task at hand. What is that task? It is verse 8, let’s read that again. “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

In conclusion we who have met the Risen Jesus, who have tastes his love and his grace, must hear his call to be his witnesses. We need to remain in Jesus, embracing whatever God has in store for us and depend on the Holy Spirit of God. Keep your focus on Jesus, the Gospel and the message of the Kingdomof God. Do not be discouraged by hardships or our weaknesses. Do not be led away by false hopes, or sidetracked by false prophets.  Remain in Jesus. Focus on Jesus, Place your hope in the Kingdomof Godas you decide to live as Jesus’ witness.


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