Summary: If a church body is to have a spiritual impact, she must have a spiritual beginning. This message speaks this from the words of Christ.
A Word to the Church
“A Spiritual Beginning”
* Most of you know that one of my good friends is Kevin Hamm. There are many reasons for this. It seems that he and I have a similar sense of humor and (sadly for him) some similar personality traits. However, the main thing which has drawn our hearts together is our love for the Lord and His bride, the church. Every time I hear him speak I am reminded, once again, that the very reason I am where I am today is because Jesus saved my soul, through the Holy Spirit God called me to preach, and the Lord expects me to be both faithful and fruitful. This means keeping a laser-like focus on what God has called me to do, the church to be, and the impact we, as a church, are to make on the culture.
* Today, we begin a series of messages which I have entitled “A Word to the church”. Today, let’s begin at the beginning. If we are to begin, we must go to the words of Jesus for the church, as He left this world. Turn to Acts 1. (Read Text) In part, this is a familiar passage, but many times, we leave out the preceding verses. Let’s review this story and hear God’s word for us today.
* As you know, within the believers to whom Jesus was speaking were people who had become followers of Jesus during Jesus’ earthly ministry. They had heard Him teach, saw Him heal the sick & raise the dead, and were witnesses of His death and burial. As a part of this crowd they were now eye-witnesses to the fact that Jesus was not dead, but was alive. It was from this group that 120 believers would become the core group who would 10-days later become the mighty evangelists in Jerusalem when the Holy Spirit fell in power. It would be this core group who would give birth to the church. In His final moments with them, Jesus had a verbal exchange with this group which serves as our foundation for what God’s church is supposed to be and do.
1. The Command to the Followers – The text says, “HE commanded them.” Interestingly, Jesus expects us to keep His commands. In 1 John 2, 3, 4, & 5 we are told that ‘if we love Him, we will keep His commands, if we don’t keep His commands then we don’t love Him, and If we say we love Him and don’t keep His command, we lie.” These are not my words, they are divinely inspired words found written by John the beloved. By the way in John 14 & 15 Jesus speaks these same truths in the Upper Room in the shadow of the cross.
a. Return to the Place – What place did Jesus tell them to go and not to leave? It was Jerusalem. This is significant for many reasons. It is considered the Holy City and/or the City of God. For me, on this side of Calvary and the resurrection, it is in this place that one finds himself in the shadow of the cross. Think about all that happens in the shadow of the cross. If you have no relationship with Christ, come to the cross. If your heart has grown cold, come to the cross. If you feel your faith slipping, come to the cross. Seeing the cross will change you, remind you, humble you, lift you, and give you a spiritual renewal. It is at the cross where you’ll remember what your life cost Christ, what you were saved from, and what you are saved to. Return & wait!
b. Receive the Promise – This promise of God is the completion of the long running promise from God that ‘I will never leave you or forsake.’ Jesus had them return to the place of the cross because it would be there that they would receive His promise of the Holy Spirit. Never forget, that the Holy Spirit falling on God’s people in Acts 2 forever changed how God’s Spirit dwelt with His people. Before this, the Holy Spirit ‘came upon’ people (and it seems that generally, this was for a task). The Holy Spirit came upon or overtook or rested on the people of the Old Testament. But now, Jesus is communicating that the Spirit will come and take up residence in the hearts of those who believe. In other words, after this the Spirit would come to those who believed in Jesus. Thus, to believe in Jesus is to now receive this promise.
* Our Lord’s promise to us is a real promise for a real companionship with the real Holy Spirit of God. He becomes our counselor, our friend, our conscience, our helper, and literally our life. All of this hinged and continues to hinge on our belief & trust in Jesus. If you love me, HE says, “Keep my commandments.”