Pastor Barry/ The Gathering Church Acts #1: Power From On High Pentecost Sunday Hear this message + others download free App.: App. Store @ The Gathering Connect
Pentecost John 14:26, Hebrews 10:16-17, Romans 8:7
Today we begin our study series in the book of Acts on the perfect day to begin such a series… today is Pentecost Sunday! Pentecost (lit. Greek for 50th) is the Greek name for the Jewish holy celebration of Shavuot (shah-voo-oat), which is celebrated by the Jews every year— 50 days or seven weeks after Passover— and has been since it was commanded as recorded in Leviticus 23:15-21.
This celebration is also called The feast of Weeks and is held in remembrance of the giving of the law on Mount Sinai (Exodus 19:1-5, 20:1-20, 31:18), fifty days after the Jew’s departure from Egypt. It was celebrated by offering the first fruits of the grain harvest to the Lord (showing gratitude to Him for the land they now ate from) and then counting fifty days and offering a new grain offering to Him in remembrance of the law He so graciously gave them to govern that land and His people.
It was this day that God choose to send the promised Holy Spirit to His Church because of the promise of Christ recorded in John 14:26. “The Advocate, the Holy Spirit…will teach you all things and remind you of everything I have said to you.” God’s law, first written on stone and held as a witness of God’s faithfulness and the judgment against man’s sin, was now a punishment paid in full by Christ and written on the believers heart (Hebrews 10:16-17). In Hebrews the apostle Paul was teaching that, when we are born again we are forgiven in Christ and the Holy Spirit comes to us. God gives us a new heart and a new spirit and the result is that the law of God written in Scripture is no longer offensive to us. We are no longer hostile to it like Paul speaks of in Romans 8:7. We are not hostile to the word of God, but rather, we are submissive. We delight to do God’s commandments. It doesn’t mean that we know them all by heart, because they are written on our hearts. It means that, when we read them in the word, the inclination to do them is in our hearts by the Holy Spirit. This is a great work of the Holy Spirit, purchased by the blood of Christ and called the “new covenant” in His blood. Matthew 26:28
On Pentecost, we who are believers in Christ, celebrate not only the perfect law and covenant that God gave, ( which we have shamefully broken time and time again) but the amazing grace and forgiveness that He provides to anyone who repents and believes in Jesus, the one who paid the price for our sin; and the gift of the Holy Spirit who changes our heart and direction forevermore!
Introduction To The Book Acts 1:1-5
The book of Acts was written by the physician Luke, the Apostle Paul’s dear friend (Col. 4:14). The author of the gospel of Luke. According to Luke’s introduction it is obvious that his gospel was written first. Acts is written to give an account of the early church and therefore includes historic events that affected the church and yet there is no mention of the fulfillment of Jesus’ prophecy of the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple in 70 AD. For this reason we can rightfully conclude that it had not yet happened and date both Luke and Acts before that date. Luke was a Gentile and not one of the twelve disciples but did accompany Paul from Troas on his second missionary journey. The recipient of the book, Theophilus, was likely a wealthy Roman believer who funded Luke’s two books. The gospel of Luke related “all that Jesus began to do and teach” (Acts 1:1); whereas, the book of Acts begins with Jesus’ ascension and tells the story of how His message was spread far beyond the confines of the Jewish community and into the whole world by His Apostles by the power of the holy Spirit.
The Promise of Power Acts 1:6-13
Power, who doesn’t want it? Libraries and bookstores are full of books on how to get power, public speakers fill audiences with messages on it, nations have gone to war for it, people die for the possession of it everyday. History has taught us that “absolute power corrupts absolutely.” With power comes responsibility; but most want power alone. America is the most powerful nation in the world, but how are we doing with responsibility: Our nation kills her offspring for convenience, is over 22 trillion dollars in debt, is morally corrupt, and allows millions of people to flow through our borders unvetted while people experiencing homelessness flood our cities uncared for.
God is “all powerful” and He alone is worthy to possess it. With all of the power that was at Jesus’ disposal He never abused it. He even restrained Himself to accomplish His mission to die for the sins of the world. He showed His omnipotence when He raised Himself from the dead and then ascended into heaven 40 days later from the Mount of Olives to which the Angels said He will one day return (Zech. 14:3-4). We can bank on that promise because He is responsible!
The disciples were excited to be a part of the power to restore the kingdom of Israel (for Rome to fall and the Messiah to reign forever), but real power waits…that was not the time then. Israel became a nation in 1948 but even still we wait for Jesus to return again to reign there. Jesus command to His disciples was to “wait” in Jerusalem and then power would come (Acts 1:4b) and they did (Acts 1:12).
There is no doubt that the disciples would have left Jerusalem if Jesus had not commanded them to stay; they would have been eager to hurry home to Galilee, and to shake their feet from the dust of the city where Jesus had been slain and then departed in a cloud. But it was in Jerusalem and nowhere else that the Apostles would secure the best audience for their witness. So they crushed their natural desire to go “home” and stayed in their dangerous position. We likewise should ask, not where we should be most at ease, but where we will be most efficient as witnesses for Christ, very often the presence of adversaries makes the ministry ‘great and effectual.’
“Waiting” is not “Doing Nothing” Acts 1:14-26
Jesus told His disciples to “wait” but that did not mean to do nothing. The church “joined together constantly in prayer” and also made plans to carry on the ministry that Jesus taught them by replacing Judas who had fallen away. (Two godly believers were chosen for leadership: Joseph (Barsabbas or Justus) and Matthias. No one could decide who would best fill Judas’ place so the left it to God in prayer and cast lots. Matthias was chosen. Note: We know nothing of Matthias except he served Jesus in His ministry Acts 1:21-22 and that he preached the gospel and was martyred in Ethiopia.) Judas wanted power but he was not patient to “wait” on the Lord. Judas sought to become powerful himself by using his trusted position for selfish gain. Whenever we choose to depart from God’s guidance and promote ourselves we do so as an enemy of God. Judas’ death is a grim reminder that power outside of God is destruction. Are we waiting or running ahead?
Power! Acts 2:1-13, Matthew 28:18-20, 2 Peter 3:11-12, John 17:20-21
“When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place.” There is much to be said of this small verse. It is to say that they were being the church. They were of the same mind, the same heart, the same purpose…”all together in the same place.” The power of God comes when we seek Him together. It is His plan and His will that we accomplish the Great Commission together (Matthew 28:18-20) now and “speed” up the day of His coming kingdom (2 Peter 3:11-12). We cannot do it separately. Alone we may enjoy the presence of God, and individually we may know His grace and salvation, but only collectively can we experience His power unleashed as the Church. That we all might “be one” that “the world may believe.” (John 17:20-21) This is our true witness!
God’s Spirit moves like the wind (as He pleases). God’s Spirit refines and purifies like a fire. God’s power is unleashed as the Church comes together seeking Him. God’s power comes so that the whole world (All nations declared in many languages or “tongues”) may “hear” His truth. The tongues they spoke were in languages of those who were visiting in Jerusalem. Although it isn’t written in scripture they were likely praising God and declaring the gospel in those tongues. That is what it was all about! Mockers will always laugh, but the Church “will come together” And whenever they do there will be supernatural POWER! Do you want it? Come Together!