Summary: Jesus told us to wait for the Holy Spirit because He knew that faith alone would not be enough.
Acts 1:1-17, 21-26
Like Easter or Christmas we know exactly what will hear today don’t we?!
Pentecost is the pivotal point in history of Church; it is the birthday of the Church, the day when the powerful Spirit of God was infused into early Church.
Today I want us to think about the relationship that always exists between faith & the Holy Spirit because as controversial as it might seem to you, I believe that faith alone is not enough.
Just think about the roller coaster journey these men & women been on. In the space of just 3 years or so they have been from Galilee to Calvary. They have been first hand witnesses to miracles & healings & even the Resurrection & Ascension.
Often I hear people say things like ‘if only I could see God do x or y - then I’d have faith’. Yet these people have seen so much & still faith alone is not enough.
Now you might be thinking this is heresy to suggest that faith on its own is not enough - says who? Well . . . Jesus
In Acts 1:4f the text says:
"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 baptised with water, but in a few days you will be baptised with the Holy Spirit"
Please don’t misunderstand; I am not saying you don’t need faith. We all need a personal faith that grows & deepens with the years, for without faith we cannot be saved. BUT faith alone will only take you so far - that is why Jesus said wait.
Yet somehow the disciples did what the modern Church does all too often; they tried to do it in their own strength.
I wonder have ever noticed before how spectacular their failure here is? Acts 1:21 – they tried to force their new faith into the pattern of the past, to fit onto their resurrection faith the straight jacket of formality & tradition.
Praise God they wanted growth, but their vision was so limited – they were dreaming in ones & two’s because they lacked the power of the Spirit.
So they say we have always had 12 so we must have 12 again & they call a Church Council of sorts & elect a replacement for Judas. How sad that they missed the point hey?
How could they have misunderstood Jesus?
Yet that’s exactly what they did, they failed to learn the lessons of John 16:7 when Jesus told them it was good it was going away because that meant the Spirit would come. They had surely failed to see what He had said. They missed that this was not a vague instruction but a command – WAIT.
Yet perhaps we shouldn’t be quick to judge Peter, John & Mary the rest, since I am convinced we make exactly the same mistake, & we know exactly what happened at Pentecost!
Sure like many I have met in the Church there are people here today who say things like:-
‘I know He said that but . .’
’He didn’t really mean it . . .’
‘That doesn’t include us . . .’
‘That’s just for the really keen’
‘I don’t think the Spirit is for these days - that was just while x or y happened’
Oh yes, I think our sin, our failing is worse because we know the end of the story.
I want to share something to put this into perspective. It is by the late great David Watson a fabulous book called ‘I believe in the Church’. (Page 165. – a short paragraph that quoting Charles Spurgeon says the great want of the Church today isn’t change or new ministers but more of the Holy Spirit)
I think it really sums up the position of the Church for today. Do you agree? It was surely written for such a time as this? Well no. It was written in 1857 by Charles Spurgeon. It is so real for us because it’s the eternal Biblical truth that we all need the Holy Spirit & Faith.
Without faith a person will die, but without the Spirit a person’s faith is dry, dull & useless. Without the Holy Spirit the faith of the Church is weak, depressing & our task unachievable & impossible. That is why the Ascension & Pentecost happened. That is why every single person here & every single Church should be seeking, no striving for Spirit filled reality.
Without the Holy Spirit in our hearts & our Churches we will be like empty fireplaces; invited to hold the fire but so sad & pointless without it.