Summary: The Holy Spirit is given to empower Jesus' people for ministry and witness.
Jesus is Alive! Most of your Bibles will reveal that the title “Acts” that we commonly use is just the shortened version of a longer title that has been given to the book. The full title given to this book is The Acts of the Apostles. It is called such because the content of the book outlines the work of the Apostles after they received power from the Holy Spirit. Its title could well be “The Acts of the Holy Spirit” or “The Acts of the Risen Christ Through the Holy Spirit Working Through the Church.” The major theme of the book is that Jesus is alive and still ministering in and through those whom He has saved and empowered for ministry. The Book of Acts forms the perfect counterpart and contrast to the Gospels. In the Gospels the Son of Man offered his life; in Acts the Son of God offered His power. In the Gospels we see the original seeds of Christianity; in Acts we see the continual growth of the Church. The Gospels tell us of Christ crucified and risen; Acts speaks of Christ ascended and exalted. The Gospels model the Christian life as lived by the perfect Man; Acts models it as lived out by imperfect men.
As we begin our study we are going to learn right up front that Jesus’ continuing ministry in the world is not accomplished solely by the energy and efforts of men and women. Jesus must empower His people for the ministry He is doing here on the earth through His own. Last week we looked briefly at the classic passage in Matthew’s Gospel that outlined the parameters of the ministry and today we are going to see how Jesus Empowers Us For Ministry.
Wondering: A DESIRE FOR POWER Acts 1:6-7
IDEAS ABOUT THE KINGDOM. When Jesus spoke about the coming of His Kingdom the disciples immediately pictured an autonomous Israel that existed free from the occupancy and oversight of any other nation or empire of the time. When Jesus spoke about the coming of His Kingdom they immediately recalled the good old days when David and Solomon ruled over a united Israel that experienced great success over their enemies and oppressors and even greater prosperity. The disciples were not that quick to get the point that the Kingdom that Jesus had come to usher in was much bigger than just the nation of Israel.
IS IT TIME? Having experienced all that they had experienced in Jesus’ life, death and now resurrection they begin asking questions about the Kingdom, as they understood it. This is not the first time that the disciples asked questions regarding the Kingdom to come. The disciples had asked questions about the Kingdom to come before. They had asked question regarding who was going to be the greatest in the Kingdom. James and John actually had their mother make a request to Jesus that they would be those who sat on the right and left of Jesus’ throne when His Kingdom was established on earth. Jesus told them that they would judge the 12 tribes of Israel in His Kingdom.
MOTIVATED BY POWER. With all this in mind, we begin to see what is behind the question that they were asking. Their question flowed from a desire for POWER. At the current time Rome was the prominent empire on the face of the earth. The disciples were ready for Israel to be the prominent force on the face of the earth and they were ready to be the prominent figures of that prominent nation. At the current time Rome was the most prosperous empire and they were ready for Israel to be the most prosperous nation and they were ready to be the most prosperous people of the most prosperous nation. They were ready to conquer the world! At the current time Rome was the most powerful force on the face of the earth and the disciples wanted Israel to become the superpower of the earth and they were ready to be the most powerful people of the most powerful nation.
Witnessing: EMPOWERED FOR MINISTRY Acts 1:8
The disciples desired power to dominate the world and Jesus tells them that power is going to come by the Holy Spirit not by political might and that they are going to be empowered to serve the world with His message not dominate the world by military force. The disciples are going to experience the empowering indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit and they will never be the same.
WHO IS THE HOLY SPIRIT? The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity. God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit compose the triune nature (Godhead) of God and all three are eternal co-existent and equally God. God the Father is as much God as God the Son is and God the Son is God as much as God the Holy Spirit is and God the Holy Spirit is as much God as God the Father. The three do not compose three different gods but are one and the same God. The emphasis of the Old Testament is on God the Father. The emphasis of the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) is on God the Son. The emphasis of the Book of Acts and following is on God the Holy Spirit. We live in the Age of the Spirit because we, like the disciples in Acts, have received God’s very presence in us at the moment of salvation and in so doing He has secured us in our salvation by His presence and empowered us for the life to which He has saved and called us to. The same Holy Spirit who “hovered the face of the deep” in Genesis 1 and came upon individuals in the Old Testament to empower them for certain tasks, and descended upon Jesus in His baptism, has been given to us in the Church age to empower us for a ministry that makes the name of Jesus famous throughout the nations for the glory of God throughout all the earth.