Turning Our Town Upside Down #2 Acts 2 Paraclete Power
Introduction: Let 'er Crawl PREACHER
During a fired-up sermon, the spirit impressed a great illustration on a local pastor.
He said, "Our church needs to get back to the basics. We need to become like a babe, and learn to get up on our hands and knees and crawl like we've never CRAWLED before. This church needs to CRAWL before the Lord."
As the pastor paused briefly, From the back of the sanctuary came a voice crying out, "Let 'er CRAWL preacher, let 'er CRAWL."
The pastor continued, "Then we need to work on studying the word and strengthening ourselves to where we can STAND and be strong in our faith. We need to STAND for the LORD."
From the back of the sanctuary the voice replied back, "Let 'er STAND preacher, let 'er STAND."
Encouraged even more, the pastor continued his illustration by saying, "The church needs to then take one step at a time, putting one foot in front of the other until we can WALK with the Lord the way we should. This church needs to WALK for the Lord."
From the back of the sanctuary the voice replied back, "Let 'er WALK preacher, let 'er WALK."
By now the Pastor was fully inspired by the encouraging brother in the back. Spurred on by the response the pastor continued with enthusiasm, "The church needs to then get into a stride where we can RUN for God. But first, it's going to take each and every member of this church, each and every one of you, to join in. You're each going to have to make a commitment to tithe, you're each going to make a commitment to study the Word daily, you're each going to have to commit to pray daily, and you're each going to have to commit to assembling here as part of this body each and every time the church doors are open. Then and only then, can this church RUN for the Lord."
After an exceptionally long and thoughtful pause the voice cried out from the back of the sanctuary with a somewhat disappointed tone, "Let 'er CRAWL Preacher, Let 'er CRAWL."
Today as we continue our theme “Turning our town upside down from the book of Acts we want to see what made the first church at Jerusalem a running church. A church that turned their town upside down.
Background: Luke, the only Gentile to write any of the Bible, wrote both Luke and Acts as a history to a man by the name of Theophilus. Whose name means friend of God. He was probably also a Gentile Christian that may have asked or even commission Luke to write a full history of the story of Jesus and the Apostles.
Let’s read Acts 1:1-5 The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, Until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen: To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God: And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.
As Luke’s gospel was about the work of Jesus Christ, Luke’s second book is about the work of the Holy Spirit. It is often labeled as the Acts of the Apostles but if we look at the one unifying force of the book, it should probably be called the Acts of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus from the Mount of Olives told his disciples to wait in Jerusalem for the promise of the Father. “The Promise” was the most looked for and prayed for prophesy of the Old Testament second only to the coming of the Messiah. That promise was the gift of the Holy Spirit. It is that day that we read about in Acts chapter 2, the day we call the Day of Pentecost.
Prerequisites of the Power Acts 2:1
And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.
In just this opening verse I see 4 things that had to take place if the church was going to receive power from Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit.
First there was Obedience to Jesus. Jesus told them to "Tarry at Jerusalem” Had they left or ignored his command they would have missed the Baptism of the Spirit.
Secondly, they had to have Faith in God's Word. When Jesus told them, "Ye shall receive power" they had to believe it. The belief then would lead them to the third prerequisite of power,
Patience The had to wait until 50 days from the time Jesus was crucified, 10 day after His ascension. For the Spirit would come “When the Day of Pentecost was fully come"
Finally, we can see from the verse that they had Unity. The Word of God says they were "all with one accord in one place" and it was in that spirit of unity that the Spirit of God was able to empower the church that day.
Let me quickly add this, the baptism of the Spirit was a one time event. Jesus immersed His church in the Holy Spirit. Such an event never occurred again. It was meant to show that the church was now God’s house of witness. Just as he had shown when His glory filled the Temple and Tabernacle when they were finished. So they church that day was immersed and the individuals were indwelt and filled. After the Day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit is given to each of us when we accept Jesus as our Savior.
Let’s apply these same prerequisites for power to our church.
Obedience is the yardstick God uses to measure a church 1 Corinthians 4:2 Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.
Revelation 3:8-11 I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name. …
Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth. Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.
Obedient in duty Matthew 28:19-20 Go, teach, baptize
Obedient in giving Philippians 4:15-19 Give because my God shall supply all your need.
Obedient in relationships 1 John 3:11 we should love one another.
Obedient in praying 1 Thessalonians 5:17 Pray without ceasing.
Do we really believe God?
The first Church did. They waited where He had told them because they believed the promise that He had given.
What about us? Do we really believe the promises Jesus has left us?
Galatians 6:7-9 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.
We must wait upon the Lord
Not passively wasting time but being involved in the fight. We wait not for the fight to begin but for the victory that will come if we fight.
1 Corinthians 3: 6 I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.
Isa 55:10 For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: 11 So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.
Paul ties unity to the God head itself. Unity that is necessary if we are to have God’s power.
Ephesians 4:1-6 I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.
Illustration: Revival comes from God to those who have prepared for it only.
Brother Hugh Atkinson was the pastor of Metropolitan Baptist Church. In a message he preached at a conference at Independent Baptist College he made this statement about Revival. "God will send revival in His own time but only to those who have prepared for it.”
The same is true for God’s power in the church. God sends it but we will only be able to receive it if we have prepared for it.
Presence of Power Acts 2:2-4
And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
The Power is seen in the Upper Room
Let’s break this down step by step.
There was a sound of a rushing and mighty wind that filled the room.
Then there were cloven tongues of fire, which sat on each of them.
They were filled with Holy Spirit
And they began to speak in other tongues.
This was the baptism of the Church by Jesus in the Holy Spirit
Mark 1:8 I indeed have baptized you with water: but he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost.
They were immersed in the Spirit and also filled with the Spirit.
They spoke in tongues, the word simple means other languages. We know that because the other people outside the church could understand.
It was this power, the power of God’s Holy Spirit, that changed the apostles from cowards to heroes, and the church from an obscure sect of Jewish believers to the most visible and powerful force for change in all the world even to this day.
What Paraclete Power Looks Like Today
It is not in Sign Miracles like the day of Pentecost.
(If flames started descending in this place I'd yell fire and call 911.) No, those signs were to authenticate the church as God's house of witness.
Power today is not seen in miraculous signs but in the miracle of the transforming power of the Holy Spirit. That power is seen in souls being transformed from hell bound to heaven bound.
In families that really are families able to endure the hardships of this world and only become stronger. In lives being changed from waste to worth. In communities being turned upside down by the power of the Gospel. It's seen in sinful habits being broken, in life long weaknesses being make into strengths, in despair being turned into hope. It's seen in the ability to love one another and especially in the ability to forgive one another.
The power must come from the Holy Spirit operating in all of us and through all of us as the church. We must learn again that the power of the Holy Spirit is what turned the world upside down in the first century and the same Holy Spirit that will turn our town upside down today and upside down in this world is right side up with God. This power is the key that will make the difference.
Quote: "If the Holy Spirit was withdrawn from the church today, 95 percent of what we do would go on and no one would know the difference. If the Holy Spirit had been withdrawn from the New Testament church, 95 percent of what they did would stop, and everybody would know the difference" - A. W. Tozer
Illustration: The American Red Cross was gathering supplies, medicine, clothing, food and the like for the suffering people of Biafra. Inside one of the boxes that showed up at the collecting depot one day was a letter. It said, "We have recently been converted and because of our conversion we want to try to help. We won't ever need these again. Can you use them for something?" Inside the box were several Ku Klux Klan sheets. The sheets were cut down to strips and eventually used to bandage the wounds of people in Africa.
It could hardly be more dramatic-from symbols of hatred to bandages of love because of the new creation (and the transforming power of the Holy Spirit.) - Maxie Dunnam, Commentary on Galatians
Product of Power Acts 2:5-6, 14, 40-41
5 And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together,
14 But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words
40-41 And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation. Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.
The Effects of God’s Power in the First Church
To the first church on the day of Pentecost it was undeniable.
The church is suddenly front and center in Jerusalem.
The new pastor of the church at Jerusalem, Peter, who once denied the name of Jesus and hid in fear, is now filled with boldness in his preaching and confront the very people who were hunting him. Pointing his finger in their face and says, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain, the Messiah of God." - “Acts 2:23
After that message, 3000 souls are added to the church in one day. Now that is power! That is turning a town upside down.
The Effects of God’s Power in our Church.
Our community must take notice
The world is longing for what the reality of God.
What they have seen too often is anything but real.
If a church truly is empowered by the Spirit of God, sincere hurting and searching people will come.
The pastor will be filled with boldness
This isn’t loudness, it isn’t even tears or eloquent speech.
It is outside of anything I can manufacture or do within myself. It is the power of the Holy Spirit. It is being swept up and swept away in His will and way. It is becoming an observer while the Holy Spirit uses this body to do that which He will do.
Souls will be added.
Quote: "What the Church needs to-day is not more machinery or better, not new organizations or more and novel methods, but men whom the Holy Ghost can use men of prayer, men mighty in prayer. The Holy Ghost does not flow through methods, but through men. He does not come on machinery, but on men. He does not anoint plans, but men, …." - E.M. Bounds
Illustration: Church of the Open Door Rev 3:7-8
And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth; I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name.
Don’t we want this? Don’t we all want to experience the power of the Holy Spirit, to feel Him working in our lives to change us, remake us, empower us, to know He’s working in our families to protect and guide them, to experience Him working in our Church to grow and mature it? Don’t we want to be the church that Jesus has opened a door that no man can shut?
The Holy Spirit always comes in power, but only to those who have prepared for that power. We must examine ourselves and ask, Are we prepared? Are we obeying Jesus’ commands? Do we have faith in His Word? Are we patiently fighting the righteous fight while we wait for victory? Are we united as a church in love and in calling?
We can’t know when Jesus will open a great and effectual door, we can’t know when Jesus will send a revival, but we must keep our selves always ready, always prepared. Are you prepared this morning? For though we cannot know when, we do know this, that He will not act if we are not ready.