Summary: The Holy Spirit empowers the church for mission.
The Mission Ignited
We are in week three of our series through the book of Acts - a sermon series I've entitled "The Church On Mission." I chose to preach through this book of the Bible in correspondence and connection to our theme for LVBC in 2015. We are, by God's grace, emphasizing the call of God on our lives and on our church to take the gospel to our neighbors across the street, and to the nations across the globe.
As we began this series two weeks ago I preached a message entitled "Power for the Mission." That title was based off of Acts 1:8 where just before his ascension Jesus gave the disciples this promise: "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Acts 1:8
Jesus promised them that the Person of the Holy Spirit would descend upon them and in so doing they would receive power for the express purpose of being witness for Christ across the street in Jerusalem and around the world to the end of the earth.
Last week I entitled the message "God's Mission is on Track." We looked at the episode when the apostles replaced Judas the betrayer with Matthias. And we came around this idea that something as detrimental as the betrayal and subsequent suicide and demise of one of the inner 12 of Jesus' band of followers would not derail God's mission of the church. The gates of hell came against the church, and continue to come against the church but God uses Satan's devices and schemes for his ultimate purpose. And the comforting truth in that is no matter what comes against us, God is still on his throne and he will accomplish all his good pleasure. And that's the face of God we look to in times of difficulty.
This week we're turning the page to chapter 2 in our study of this wonderful historical account of the first century church written by Luke under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. I've entitled this message, "The Mission Ignited." I think as we get into the text you'll see where that comes from.
Most of you are probably aware that in our church we are blessed to have about a 1/2 dozen or so Chattanooga firefighters. I'm thankful for them, not only because of their commitment to this local body but because of their commitment to our community and our city in taking up the task of being first responders, ready to save lives through their skill and training.
One of the things they are well versed in, no doubt, is a phenomenon known as a "backdraft." The reason I'm certain they're aware of this phenomenon is because of the tremendous danger it presents to them as they take on the task of fighting fires.
So what is a backdraft? Most of you are probably familiar with the fire triangle. There are three necessary elements in order for a fire to exist: fuel, heat and oxygen. When one of those 3 ceases to exist so does the fire. So here's how a backdraft occurs: when a fire is burning in an enclosed building is as the fire burns it consumes all the oxygen in the room. (ie. lid on a candle) There's still heat and fuel, but no oxygen so the flame goes out. A backdraft occurs when oxygen is suddenly reintroduced through the breaking of a window or the opening of a door. There's already fuel and heat, and when the oxygen is suddenly reintroduced to the room it results in an explosion of flame and fire that can be incredibly dangerous.
What we're going to study today is something like a spiritual backdraft. And while firefighters seek to prevent the physical phenomenon of a backdraft, these early followers of Christ were seeking a spiritual backdraft. You see in that upper room with 120 or so followers of Jesus - they had two parts of the fire triangle. They had the fuel. The fuel was the very word of God; the word of Christ that was spoken to them. The Word is our fuel as well. They had the heat - the heat of their love and passion for their resurrected savior who had died on the cross for them and was resurrected to new life to provide hope for the future. But the oxygen, the Holy Spirit was suddenly introduced into that room. The Greek word for Spirit is pneuma - which means air (pneumatic). The Pneuma, the Spirit, the mighty rushing wind of God is suddenly introduced into this room where there is fuel and heat. And the result is an explosion, an ignition of missionary flame and fire.