It All Depends on Jesus
Sermon Text: Acts 1:1-14
Sermon Theme: The spread of Jesus’ gospel and planting of the church all depend on Jesus. So let us know the foundation, power, mission and hope Jesus gives us as we join Him in His work.
Our Lord told the disciples the work they were to do. The apostles met together at Jerusalem; Christ having ordered them not to depart thence, but to wait for the pouring out of the Holy Spirit. This would be a baptism by the Holy Ghost, giving them power to work miracles, and enlightening and sanctifying their souls. This confirms the Divine promise, and encourages us to depend upon it, that we have heard it from Christ; for in Him all the promises of God are yea and amen.
They were earnest in asking about that which their Master never had directed or encouraged them to seek. Our Lord knew that his ascension and the teaching of the Holy Spirit would soon end these expectations, and therefore only gave them a rebuke; but it is a caution to his church in all ages, to take heed of a desire of forbidden knowledge. He had given his disciples instructions for the discharge of their duty, both before his death and since his resurrection, and this knowledge is enough for a Christian. It is enough that He has engaged to give believers strength equal to their trials and services; that under the influence of the Holy Spirit they may, in one way or other, be witnesses for Christ on earth, while in heaven he manages their concerns with perfect wisdom, truth, and love. When we stand gazing and trifling, the thoughts of our Master’s second coming should quicken and awaken us: when we stand gazing and trembling, they should comfort and encourage us. May our expectation of it be steadfast and joyful, giving diligence to be found of him blameless.
God can find hiding-places for his people. They made supplication. All God’s people are praying people. It was now a time of trouble and danger with the disciples of Christ; but if any is afflicted, let him pray; that will silence cares and fears. They had now a great work to do, and before they entered upon it, they were earnest in prayer to God for his presence. They were waiting for the descent of the Spirit, and abounded in prayer. Those are in the best frame to receive spiritual blessings, who are in a praying frame. Christ had promised shortly to send the Holy Ghost; that promise was not to do away prayer, but to quicken and encourage it. A little company united in love, exemplary in their conduct, fervent in prayer, and wisely zealous to promote the cause of Christ, are likely to increase rapidly.
(From Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary)
- Have you built your biblical knowledge on the foundational truth of God’s Word? Or your own feelings? From the inception of His earthly ministry until His ascension, Jesus had instructed His disciples by both deed and word. His miracles were to strengthen their faith; His parables were to clarify spiritual truth for them; His teaching was to formulate their theology. He revealed to them the truth they would need to carry on His work. It is clear that those who would carry the message of Christ to the world must know what that message is. There must be an accurate understanding of the content of Christian truth before any ministry can be effective. Such knowledge is foundational to spiritual power and to fulfilling the church’s mission. But, we need not all be trained theologians. We need not understand all the intricacies of God’s mysteries, nor be perfect examples of flawless Christian living. We can all tell everyone what Christ has done for us. We may not all be teachers but we can all be witnesses.
- What have you based your knowledge of Jesus’ physical resurrection on? Is it on eyewitness accounts? Luke says that the disciples were eyewitnesses to all that had happened to Jesus Christ—his life before his crucifixion, and the 40 days after his resurrection as he taught them more about the Kingdom of God. Today people still doubt Jesus’ resurrection. But Jesus appeared to the disciples on many occasions after his resurrection, proving that he was alive (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:5-8). Consider the change the resurrection made in the disciples’ lives. At Jesus’ death, they had scattered, disillusioned, and fearing for their lives. After seeing the resurrected Christ, they became fearless and risked everything to spread the Good News about him around the world. They faced imprisonment, beatings, rejection, and martyrdom, yet they never compromised their mission. These men would not have risked—and in some cases, given—their lives for something they knew was a fraud. They knew Jesus was alive, and the early church was fired with their enthusiasm to tell others. We need to know this so we can have confidence in their testimony. Even centuries later we can still be confident that our faith is based on fact.
- Are you trying to minister to other with just your own understanding? Is your work effective? Wait—don’t rush off into ministry unprepared. Don’t carry on the Lord’s work in the strength of the flesh. When the Holy Spirit came upon the apostles, Jesus assured them, they would be vested with heavenly power—that power by which, in the event, their mighty works were accomplished and their preaching made effective. As Jesus had been anointed at his baptism with the Holy Spirit and power, so his followers were now to be similarly anointed and enabled to carry on His work. This work would be a work of witness-bearing—a theme which is prominent in the apostolic preaching throughout Acts. The only way we can fulfill Christ’s command to witness is to be under control of the Holy Spirit who energizes us for service. We need not only the proper message but also the confidence to proclaim that message even if it cost us rejection or even our lives.
- Are we grasping onto the full power that is available to us? Power translates dunamis, from which the English word “dynamite” derives. All believers have in them spiritual dynamite for use of gifts, service, fellowship, and witness. They need to experience the release of that power in their lives through not grieving the Spirit by sin (Ephesians 4:30) and being continually filled and controlled by the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18). The latter takes place as believers yield moment by moment control of their lives to Him and is the same as yielding their minds to the Word (Colossians 3:16). The result of being filled with the Spirit is expressed by Paul’s prayer in “that [God] would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man…. Now to Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us …” (Ephesians 3:16, Ephesians 3:20). For without God, we cannot accomplish anything: “Unless the LORD builds the house, they labor in vain who build it; unless the LORD guards the city, the watchman stays awake in vain” (Psalm 127:1).
- Are you being obedient in your position in the royal priesthood? During the church age, God mediates His kingdom rule through believers indwelt by the Holy Spirit and obedient to the Word. That is why Peter calls believers “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation” (1 Peter 2:9). While Peter wrote that, “Though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory” (1 Peter 1:8). Such personal communion with the resurrected and exalted Savior is essential for finishing His unfinished work of ministry (cf. Colossians 1:29).
- Are we trusting in Christ as Lord as well as Savior, so He can enable us to live and speak as faithful witnesses according to His will, His timing, His sovereign plan? Jesus had instructed his disciples to witness to people of all nations about him (Matthew 28:19-20). But they were told to wait first for the Holy Spirit (Luke 24:49). God has important work for you to do for him, but you must do it by the power of the Holy Spirit. We often like to get on with the job, even if it means running ahead of God. But waiting is sometimes part of God’s plan. Are you waiting and listening for God’s complete instructions, or are you running ahead of his plans? We need God’s timing and power to be truly effective. The Good News was to spread, geographically, from Jerusalem into Judea and Samaria, and finally to the ends of the earth. God’s Good News has not reached its final destination if someone in your family, your workplace, your school, or your community hasn’t heard the Good News about Jesus Christ. Make sure that you are contributing in some way to the ever-widening circle of God’s loving message.
- When the Holy Spirit works, there is movement, excitement, and growth. He gives us the motivation, energy, and ability to get the gospel to the whole world. How are you fitting into God’s plan for spreading Christianity? What is your place in this movement? We are God’s people, chosen to be part of his plan to reach the world. In love and by faith, we can have the Holy Spirit’s help as we witness or preach. Witnessing is also beneficial to us because it strengthens our faith as we confront those who challenge it. God can work through any opposition. When persecution from hostile unbelievers comes, realize that it has come because you have been a faithful witness and you have looked for the opportunity to present the Good News. Seize the opportunities that opposition brings.
- Do you think that believers have a choice whether or not to be a witnesses? They are witnesses, and the only question is how effective their witness is. If the church is to reach the lost world with the Good News of the gospel, believers must “sanctify Christ as Lord in [their] hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks [them] to give an account for the hope that is in [them]” (1 Peter 3:15). Titus 2 indicates that how Christians live their lives lays the platform of integrity and believability on which effective personal witness is built. In that text, Paul writes that we are to so live “that the word of God may not be dishonored,” “that the opponent [of the Christian faith] may be put to shame, having nothing bad to say about us,” and “that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in every respect,” so that we may make it possible that the saving gospel is brought to all.
- Is your joy in Jesus’ promise of a second coming giving you hope? Although the people of Christ live temporally in this present age while spiritually, they belong to the heavenly kingdom, they can enjoy the anticipation of the age of the life to come. For we will loudly hear, without any camouflage, who He is: “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God…” (1 Thessalonians 4:16) and escorted by His entire army of angels “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory” (Matthew 25:31). Even though an interval is elapsing between His exaltation and His parousia, the presence of the Spirit will keep his people in living union with their risen, glorified and returning Lord. So, be on the alert—for you do not know when the master of the house is coming, whether in the evening, at midnight, or in the morning—lest he come suddenly and find you asleep. Being on the alert for Jesus’ return with such continual vigilance and anticipation, through all generations of believers, should serve as true incentive to live with urgency and minister with passion.
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