Acts 1:1-11 The Holy Spirit Gives Me the Power to Share My Faith
Acts 1:1-11 The Holy Spirit Gives Me the Power to Share My Faith is a sermon about Memorial Day.
Memorial Day is a reminder of the costs of conflict. As a nation, we have spilt blood to retain our freedom. Our soldiers have represented American interests in these conflicts and wars. They have shared American ideals and American culture. Soldiers have fought to push back against opposing countries and ideologies.
Yet, this pales in comparison to the spiritual conflict in which we are engaged. Here there are two opposing positions—two opposing kingdoms. Christians are called to be unashamed of our representative, our spokesperson, Jesus Christ.
God has called each one of His children to be public spokespersons for the King of Kings and Lord of Lords and for His kingdom, with the goal of winning folks over. We should be definitive in our purpose of calling people out of the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light. This process is called evangelism or missions.1
Marching Orders: Share the Gospel (Acts 1:2)
This is the reason Jesus gave orders through the Holy Spirit to His disciples (Acts 1:2).
“until the day He was taken up, after He had given orders through the Holy Spirit to the apostles He had chosen.” (Acts 1:2, HCSB)
What were those orders?
They were to preach the Gospel (Luke 24:44-48):
“Then He told them, “These are My words that I spoke to you while I was still with you—that everything written about Me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures. He also said to them, “This is what is written: The Messiah would suffer and rise from the dead the third day, and repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.” (Luke 24:44–48, HCSB)
MY EXCUSES TO NOT SHARE THE GOSPEL AND GOD’S RESPONSES
Excuse #1: The Past – Former Glory (Acts 1:2-3)
At the same time, Jesus also spoke about the kingdom of God (Acts 1:3).
“After He had suffered, He also presented Himself alive to them by many convincing proofs, appearing to them during 40 days and speaking about the kingdom of God.” (Acts 1:3, HCSB)
When the disciples came together, they seemed to be more interested in Jesus and the coming kingdom than they were in sharing the Gospel.
They were looking back hoping for the reestablishment of a previous glory, while Jesus was looking forward to an even more glorious future.2
Response: Trust the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:4-5)
This is why Jesus tells them to stay until the Holy Spirit came (Acts 1:4-5).
“While He was together with them, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for the Father’s promise. “This,” He said, “is what you heard from Me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”” (Acts 1:4–5, HCSB)
Excuse #2: The Future – Return of Christ (Acts 1:6-7)
However, the disciples asked Jesus when He was going to restore the kingdom of Israel (Acts 1:6).
“So when they had come together, they asked Him, “Lord, are You restoring the kingdom to Israel at this time?”” (Acts 1:6, HCSB)
The fact is that like the disciples, we are more interested in Jesus returning than we are in sharing about Him with others.
Jesus knows this, which is why He ties the power of the Holy Spirit to evangelism. You never see that the Holy Spirit’s power is used in prophecy. You only see the power of the Holy Spirit being used in proclamation. Even the first of prophecy spoken about in 1 Corinthians 14:3 is to encourage believers in their task to share the Gospel.
“But the person who prophesies speaks to people for edification, encouragement, and consolation.” (1 Corinthians 14:3, HCSB)
Response: Trust the Power of the Holy Spirit and Share the Gospel (Acts 1:8)
Jesus specifically states that the power of the Holy Spirit will be on me when I witness about Him (Acts 1:8).
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”” (Acts 1:8, HCSB)
Elmer Towns and Douglas Porter, in their book Churches That Multiply, make a clear distinction between an evangelist and a witness. Not every Christian is an evangelist, but everyone is expected to be a witness (Acts 1:8).3
THREE INTERPRETATIONS ABOUT HOW TO SHARE THE GOSPEL FROM ACTS 1:8
Many look at this verse and see it’s geographical significance. The gospel will spread from Jerusalem to Rome and eventually to Spain. Noted Biblical scholar E. Earle Ellis explains the likely meaning of the phrase “ends of the earth”:
The use of the phrase, “end(s) of the earth,” in Greek literature confirms the initial exegetical impression stated above that the phrase in Acts 1:8 must have a geographical significance. In its westward extent “the end of the earth” refers generally to Spain and specifically to the region around Gades, west of Gibraltar. This usage rules out the view that the phrase in Acts alludes to Rome.4
The Bible reveals that Spain was the eventual destination of Paul’s missionary work.
“So when I have finished this and safely delivered the funds to them, I will visit you on the way to Spain.” (Romans 15:28, HCSB)
The spread of that mission would begin locally and end with the entire world hearing about Jesus Christ. While Jesus shared this pattern in Acts, He defined this pattern in His ministry. Jesus began His ministry in Nazareth, and it reached the entire nation of Israel. Beginning with Jerusalem (the capital of the people of Israel and thus the people of God), Jesus expected His disciples to finish the work He started.
2. CulturalThe mission also works relationally. It starts with Jesus, continues with Peter, John, and Philip who were part of the original group of disciples. Each of these men were Jewish, yet they started to reach out to people in a local and global scale. The story moves to Paul, a Jew who is called to reach out to the Gentiles of the Roman Empire (Acts 9:15-16). Paul helps spread the gospel from Jerusalem to Rome, from the center to the periphery.5
The same is true today. The gospel moves out from my Jerusalem, my Judea, my Samaria, and to my ends of the Earth. The gospel moves out from each of us locally from Washburn, to Barry County, to Missouri, and then the ends of the literal Earth. We can move relationally as well. This means that we can reach out to people like ourselves, people in similar relationships, people culturally different than me, and finally to the ends of the Earth.
For example, there is the missiological application: Jerusalem means “local missions”, Judea is my “state missions”, Samaria is my “cross-cultural missions,” and then the ends of the Earth are “international missions.” There is also the personal application: Jerusalem represents people where I live, Judea are the people where I work, Samaria are the people I may not like, and the ends of the Earth are people who I don’t yet know.
I believe this can be applied philosophically for different generations. For example, most churches operate in modernity. These churches see Jerusalem as people of their generation (mostly “Bridgers” and “Boomers”.) Judea represents “Generation X” and Samaria is the “Millennial” generation. If this is the case, then most churches will still operate in modernity. They will be unable to cross-over to postmodernity where most of Generation X and the Millennials live.6
Jesus leaves the scene and the disciples again go back to wondering about Jesus’ return (Acts 1:9-10).
Excuse #3: The Present – Indifference (Acts 1:9-10)
“After He had said this, He was taken up as they were watching, and a cloud took Him out of their sight. While He was going, they were gazing into heaven, and suddenly two men in white clothes stood by them.” (Acts 1:9–10, HCSB)
Jesus has to bring an angel down to remind His disciples that they need to concentrate on the present and not the future (Acts 1:11).
Response: Stop Waiting and Start Sharing (Acts 1:11)
“They said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up into heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come in the same way that you have seen Him going into heaven.”” (Acts 1:11, HCSB)
This exchange provides a warning and reminds us of a barrier to sharing the Gospel. We can get so caught up about the future that we don’t concern ourselves with the present. Yet, if we focus on the mission that Jesus called us to, then the Holy Spirit will be there to empower us to fulfill that mission.7
What is preventing you from relying upon the Holy Spirit and His power to help you share the Gospel? Is it nostalgia for the past? Is it reliance on Jesus’ return in the future? Is it the fact that I am standing still? Whatever your excuse, God’s response is the same: Trust the Holy Spirit and get busy sharing.
Following Jesus means facing our troubles with confidence, and enjoying joy and peace because he is with us. He gave us the Holy Spirit to instruct us and to be everything we would want Jesus to be if he were with us in the flesh. Hope is the most precious commodity we own, thanks to Jesus. Finding life’s purpose in doing what Jesus wants us to do is the most satisfying part of life’s adventure.8
1 Tony Evans, Tony Evans’ Book of Illustrations: Stories, Quotes, and Anecdotes from More than 30 Years of Preaching and Public Speaking (Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2009), 91–92.
2 Lloyd J. Ogilvie and Lloyd J. Ogilvie, Acts, vol. 28, The Preacher’s Commentary Series (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc, 1983), 32–33.
3 Jim Erwin, “Churches That Multiply by Elmer Towns and Douglas Porter,” 15 February 2014, Internet, http://www.patheos.com/blogs/jimerwin/2014/02/15/churches-that-multiply-by-elmer-towns-and-douglas-porter/, accessed on 25 May 2017. Originally from: Elmer L.Towns and Douglas Porter. Churches that Multiply, (Kansas City: Beacon Hill Press, 2003), 28.
4 E. Earle Ellis, “‘The End of the Earth’ (Acts 1:8),” ed. Bruce Chilton, Bulletin for Biblical Research, Vol. 1 (1991): 127.
5 Jim Erwin, “The Book of Acts of the Apostles by Dr. Luke,” 25 February 2014, Internet, http://www.patheos.com/blogs/jimerwin/2014/02/25/the-book-of-acts-of-the-apostles-by-dr-luke/, accessed on 25 May 2017.
6 Jim Erwin, “You Will Be My Witnesses to Your Generation,” 8 August 2013, Simple Thought Reflections 2005-2015, Internet, http://www.patheos.com/blogs/jimerwin/2013/08/08/you-will-be-my-witnesses-to-your-generation/, accessed on 26 May 2017.
7 Jim Erwin, “The Power of the Holy Spirit and Evangelism,” 25 May 2017, Lectionary Reflections Year A (2016-2017), Internet, http://www.patheos.com/blogs/jimerwin/2017/05/25/power-holy-spirit-evangelism/, accessed on 26 May 2017.
8 Jim Reapsome, 10 Minutes a Day with Jesus: Growing in Your Love for the Savior (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2008).