Summary: How in the world did Jesus' followers change the world? Jesus promises them the Holy Spirit.
[Great Commission Video]
By now, we should all be aware that Jesus’ command to go and make disciples is something to take seriously.
We’re all learning day by day how to do this.
At the start of this year, we started walking with Jesus through his ministry, beginning at the Jordan River and His baptism right up to last week where we experienced His empty tomb and the hope of the resurrection.
It makes perfect sense, then, to follow right along that path with Jesus’ disciples and turn our attention to the book of Acts.
As we’ll see, the mission has been handed to the disciples. Acts tells us how they strove to fulfill that mission. Once again, we learn by observing and then replicating their activities.
But that’s a scary proposition. We’re supposed to do what Peter, John & Paul along with so many other great men and women of faith did?
Yes. And with the same help that they got.
This series will focus on this book we call “Acts.” Often that’s interpreted as the “Acts of the Apostles.” It is, more properly, “the Acts of the Spirit-empowered Apostles.”
On their own, a group of less than 150 followers of Jesus could not have achieved all they did without some major firepower. Jesus provided them divine assistance in their mission by sending the Holy Spirit to empower their words and deeds.
It is in the introduction to the history of the early church that we learn how that was going to take place.
The Promised Holy Spirit
They needed Spirit inspired knowledge.
He immersed them in the Word. But it wouldn’t just be knowledge. They would be able to understand and explain through the Spirit.
Acts 1:1–4 NLT
1 In my first book I told you, Theophilus, about everything Jesus began to do and teach 2 until the day he was taken up to heaven after giving his chosen apostles further instructions through the Holy Spirit. 3 During the forty days after he suffered and died, he appeared to the apostles from time to time, and he proved to them in many ways that he was actually alive. And he talked to them about the Kingdom of God. 4 Once when he was eating with them, he commanded them, “Do not leave Jerusalem until the Father sends you the gift he promised, as I told you before.
John 16:7–8 NLT
7 But in fact, it is best for you that I go away, because if I don’t, the Advocate won’t come. If I do go away, then I will send him to you. 8 And when he comes, he will convict the world of its sin, and of God’s righteousness, and of the coming judgment.
John 16:13–15 NLT
13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own but will tell you what he has heard. He will tell you about the future. 14 He will bring me glory by telling you whatever he receives from me. 15 All that belongs to the Father is mine; this is why I said, ‘The Spirit will tell you whatever he receives from me.’
Clarifying the Mission
They needed direction and timing.
Acts 1:6–8 NLT
6 So when the apostles were with Jesus, they kept asking him, “Lord, has the time come for you to free Israel and restore our kingdom?” 7 He replied, “The Father alone has the authority to set those dates and times, and they are not for you to know. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
They clearly didn’t fully understand the mission. They were still expecting an earthly kingdom.
Jesus cautions them to be patient until it’s time. When they would understand that the mission wasn’t just for Israel but the whole world.
They would promote and help to bring to reality Jesus’ work on the cross to bring the world back to God.
22 and he has identified us as his own by placing the Holy Spirit in our hearts as the first installment that guarantees everything he has promised us.
Going Out Until He Comes Back
They needed motivation to be witnesses.
Acts 1:9–11 NLT
9 After saying this, he was taken up into a cloud while they were watching, and they could no longer see him. 10 As they strained to see him rising into heaven, two white-robed men suddenly stood among them. 11 “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why are you standing here staring into heaven? Jesus has been taken from you into heaven, but someday he will return from heaven in the same way you saw him go!”