Summary: This sermon presents the essential ingredients for a ministry that is on fire for God.
HOW TO HAVE THE FIRE OF GOD IN YOUR MINISTRY
Each of us in this room is a unique individual. We each have different talents, different tastes, and different personalities. We have different strengths and weaknesses. But, there is one thing we all share in common, one thing we all long after. We all deeply desire to have the fire of God in our ministry. Every one of us here longs to have a fruitful ministry. We want to be mightily used by God. We want more than anything for God to be glorified in our life and ministry. We earnestly long for the fire of God!
Yet, what does it take to have the fire of God in your ministry? What are the absolute essential ingredients in a fruitful ministry? If we could boil down all the aspects of a successful ministry, what would be left as the essential ingredients? What would be the irreducible minimum? Would it be our theology? Would it be our personal chrisma? Would it be our charming personality? Would it be our sheer determinism? Would it be our church situation? Would it be something else? Our text today, Acts 2:1-13, gives us the answer.
As we consider the context of this passage, there are several levels we should consider. First, as we look at its canonical context we see the events of this chapter are a dramatic reversal of the curse of Babel. At Babel human languages were confused and the nations scattered; in Jerusalem the language barrier was supernaturally overcome as a sign that the nations would be gathered together in Christ. At Babel the people tried to proudly ascend to heaven; but here we see heaven humbly descended to the people. Next, as we look at its context in the Book of Acts we first see it is a bridge connecting Jesus’ promise of the Holy Spirit in chapter one and Peter’s sermon in chapter two. Before Jesus ascended into heaven, He promised the Holy Spirit would soon come upon them empowering them to be His witnesses. In our passage, the Holy Spirit comes upon them and Peter is empowered to preach boldly the gospel. In addition, when we consider Luke wrote Acts to set forth for Theophilus an account of the origin and development of the early church, we realize this passage is central to his purpose. Near the beginning of each part of his two-volume work, he demonstrates the indispensability of the Holy Spirit’s enabling. Just as the Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus when John baptized Him, so that He entered His public ministry “full of the Holy Spirit”, “led by the Spirit”, “in the power of the Spirit”, and “anointed” by the Spirit so now the same Spirit came upon the disciples of Jesus to equip them for their mission in the world. The passage shows the crucial role the Holy Spirit had in the formation of the early church. Luke wants Theophilus to know that clearly everything that follows in his account is a result of the Holy Spirit’s presence and power. Apart from the outpouring of the Holy Spirit there would be no church, there would be not book of Acts—because Luke’s account is not so much the Acts of the Apostles and the Acts of the Holy Spirit. Last, we must consider this passage’s contemporary context. What does it say to the church today? Because of the continuity of the church and the covenant of redemption, this passage reaches across the pages of church history and speaks to us today even as it spoke to the original audience. When we look beneath the historical particulars we see contemporary truths—we see the essential ingredients for the fire of God in our ministry. The same essential ingredients that brought the fire of God into the early church will bring the fire of God into our ministry.
What are those essential ingredients? They are the presence and the power of the Holy Spirit. Warren Wiersbe notes, “The early church had none of the things that we think are so essential for success today - buildings, money, political influence, social status - and yet the church won multitudes to Christ and saw many churches established throughout the Roman world. Why? Because the church had the power of the Holy Spirit energizing its ministry. They were a people who "were ignited by the Spirit of God." For combustion to take place you must have two essential ingredients: fuel and heat. In our text, we will see the Apostles were spiritually ignited as the two essential ingredients for spiritual combustion came together on that Day of Pentecost---the fuel of Spirit’s presence and the heat of His power.
II. THE FUEL OF HOLY SPIRIT’S PRESENCE—HIS BAPTISM (1-3)
If our ministry is going to be on fire for God, the first ingredient we must have is the presence of the Holy Spirit. In these verses Luke records for us the dramatic event of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles. Though the Holy Spirit had been at work in the Old Testament days, this day signaled a new method of working for the Holy Spirit. He would no longer work from the outside on individuals but He would work from within them. Jesus anticipated this day of the outpouring of the Spirit’s presence when He told His disciples in John 14:17, “that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.”