Monday, June 1, 2020

First Church: A Spirit Empowered Church - Acts 2

First Church: A Spirit Empowered Church
Acts 2

Audio Link

Introduction: Hit ‘em again Lord, Hit ‘em again.

The crumbling, old church building really was in need of remodeling, so the preacher made an had a special service and at the end of the service made an impassioned plea for funds to fix the Lord’s House,  “I pray that the Lord will move today in the hearts of those with the gift of giving.” He then looked directly at the richest man in town who had been visiting the church.

At the end of the message, the rich man stood up and announced, "Pastor, I will contribute $1,000."

The church members starting hallelujahing and amening and then a little piece of plaster fell from the ceiling and struck the rich man on the shoulder. It got very quiet. He looked at the plaster and then stood again and calmly said, "Pastor, I think I better increase my donation to $5,000."

The church really started praising the Lord now and the pianist began playing the Hallelujah chorus while pressing down the loud pedal. Before he could sit back down, another, bigger piece of plaster fell on him again, and this time he sounded a little bit scared as he called out, "Pastor, I will double my last pledge."

Now the church went into praise overtime, the organist and the choir joined the pianist on the Hallelujah chorus and just as the man sat down, the biggest piece of plaster fell and broke over his head. He staggered a little bit but struggled to his feet and loudly shouted out, "Pastor, I will give $20,000 to remodel this church."

Suddenly the church treasurer jumped up and shouted, "Hit him again, Lord, hit him again!"

This morning we are going to be in Acts chapters 1 and 2 and look at another day in the church when the Lord was working.

Background Luke, the author of the book of Acts and the Gospel of Luke, was the only Gentile to write any of the Bible. He wrote both Luke and Acts as a history of Jesus and the Christianity to a man by the name of Theophilus. Theophilus, if you translated his name means, friend of God. He was probably also a Gentile Christian, who may have changed his pagan name, to one that reflected his newfound faith and he may have asked or commissioned Luke to write a full history of the story of Jesus and the Apostles. And it is quite extensive if you count the words of Luke and Acts, you’ll find that Luke wrote more of the new Testament than any other writer.

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 theme of the book, it could be called the Acts of the Holy Spirit.

Jesus just before his ascension 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, the sealing and authentication of the New Covenant. In our text today we will witness that event called the Day of Pentecost.

Read Acts 2:1-5
 And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.  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.  And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven.

The Holy Spirit came to the church and the church was filled with boldness, power, the desire to witness about Jesus as well and through those things the church grew and reached more and more people with the Gospel. That is what every true church of Jesus Christ wants, but the day of Pentecost was a one time event, showing that the New Covenant had begun and that the church was the new house of witness for the Lord. And though trying to reproduce another Day of Pentecost is a foolish, even spiritually dangerous thing to do, there are things that we can learn from that incredible day that will bring the same results to our church. If we can reaffirm our realiance on the power of the Holy Spirit amazing and wonderful things will happen. So what can we take from this chapter to help us do that as individuals and especially as a church? First let’s look at verse 1 again and there we will see some…

Prerequisites Spiritual Power - Acts 2:1

And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.

Pentecost Power

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 their obedience to Jesus command. 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 50 days from the time Jesus was crucified, 10 days after His ascension. For the Spirit would only manifest “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 then used to empower and embolden the church.

Let me quickly add this, the baptism of the Spirit was an event that took place only once and only upon a local, visible church. It was Jesus who immersed His church that day in the Holy Spirit. It never happened like this again and it could only happen to people in assembly. There could not have been anything like this to individual believers scattered around the world or even around Judea, and there were many. This was meant specifically 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, He now did with the church. So the church as a body, an assembled group, was immersed and the individuals in that assembly were all filled. After the Day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit is given to each of us when we accept Jesus as our Savior, we can and should strive to be filled with the Holy Spirit at all times but there will never be another baptism in the Holy Spirit. That was for the church not for individuals. 

Now then I’m throw preaching my independent Baptist mini-messages so

Now let’s apply these prerequisites to our church today.

Present Power

If we are to have the power of Holy Spirit today then we like them, must have Obedience.
We must be obedient in carrying out our commission.  Matthew 28:19-20 Go, teach, baptize
Obedient in our giving Philippians 4:15-19 Give because my God shall supply all your need.
Obedient in our relationships 1 John 3:11 we should love one another.
Obedient in our prays 1 Thessalonians 5:17 Pray without ceasing.
Obedient in all things as Jesus said, Whatsoever I have commanded you.

Faith. If we are to be a Spirit Empowered, Spirit led church, we must have faith.
We must fully and completely believe what God has said and promised. The first church then did and it marked them as unique from every other religion the world had ever seen.
Galatians 3:11  But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith.
1 John 5:4  For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.

Patient Expectation.We must learn to wait upon the Lord. Not passively wasting time but patient expectation of the moment when God will use us. We wait, not for the fight, because the fight is always ongoing. No, we wait for the victory that will come if we patiently wait on God’s Holy Spirit.
Zechariah 4:6 Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the LORD unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts.
"Since the days of Pentecost, has the whole church ever put aside every other work and waited upon Him for ten days, that the Spirit's power might be manifested? We give too much attention to method and machinery and resources, and too little to the source of power." - Hudson Taylor

Unity. As God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit are united, so must God’s people in God’s church be united. There can be no power without the unity of God’s Spirit in us.
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 Adkisson 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.”
I believe the same is true for God’s Holy Spirit enable power in the church. God sends it but we will only be able to receive it if we have prepared for it.


So if preparation is made in our hearts and lives then what will it look like when the Spirit’s power is seen.

Presence of Spiritual 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.

Power Seen in the upper room

Let’s break this down step by step.
First, there was a sound of a rushing and mighty wind that filled the room.
Second, there were cloven tongues of fire, which sat on each of them.
Next, they were filled with Holy Spirit
And finally, 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.
The church as a body, was immersed in the Spirit, that was the room being filled with the rushing mighty wind. Then as individuals there were also filled with the Spirit, this was the flame of tongue perched on each of them.

The result of all this was that they spoke in tongues. The word, glossa, simple means other language. We know that because the other people outside the church could understand what was being said, in their own tongue, their own language.

The power of God’s Holy Spirit 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.

Power seen In Church Today

Spiritual power today is not seen in sign miracles as it was on the day of Pentecost. If fact, If flames start descending from the ceiling today, don’t wait for me just head for the exits and call 911. No, those signs were for that day and God used them to authenticate the church as His new house of witness. Those miracles are not being done today in any way shape or form.

But don’t misunderstand, spiritual power today is seen in an even more powerful miracle, the miracle of saving souls and changing people from hell bound sinners to heaven bound saints. That is a true and eternal miracle that can happen any day, any time and any where the Spirit is working.
The power of God is seen in families that are able to endure the hardships of this world and just become stronger.

It’s seen in lives being changed from wasted to worthy.
In communities being turned upside down by the power of the Gospel instead of inside out by the power of sin, selfishness and destruction as we’ve seen this past week in cities all around our nation.
It's seen in sinful habits being broken, in lifelong weaknesses being overcome, in despair being turned into hope.
It's seen in the ability to love one another and to forgive one another.
The power needed for these things to happen 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 in the church is what began to change the world in the first century and the same Holy Spirit that will change our towns, cities and nation today. Dear God, please give us that power today.
Christians today have substituted the power of the Holy Spirit with tradition and legalism, foolish fleshy fakery and worst of all we have settled for apathy and stagnation. Soon we won’t even be able to change our minds much less the world.

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


Now lets bring this to our final observation the end result, the …

 Product of Spiritual 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 the Holy Spirit in the First Church

Because of the working of the Holy Spirit, the church is suddenly front and center in Jerusalem. The 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 crucified his Lord and were hunting him than night. Pointing his finger in their face, he says, Acts 2:23 “ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain, the Messiah of God.” There could not have been a more devastating accusation and it could only be made by one who was filled with power from on high.
And Peter was filled with power because after that he preached and made that stunning, damning charge of murder, 3000 souls are added to the church in one day. 3000 people can you imagine? No, you can’t and no I can’t. Today, if we had 3 people walk the aisle in a service and get saved, we’d be shouting glory. If we had 30 we’d I’d have to sit down and catch my breath. If we had 300, you’ve have to call an ambulance for me. And if we had 3000!?! I wouldn’t even make it to the ambulance, my heart would burst in utter shocking joy and I’d go to heaven with a look of amazement and rapturous happiness on my face. And some of you would go with me.

The Effects of Holy Spirit in our Church.

Our community will take notice
The world is longing for proof of what the reality of God can do. What they have seen too often in the past is not real. If a church is truly empowered by the Spirit of God, then sincere searching and hopelessly hurting people will come to our door and ask about the reality of a God’s love and forgiveness.

You know what else will happen, the pastor will be filled with boldness.
No, not loudness, nor just tears or even eloquent speech. This kind of boldness is outside of anything I or any other preacher, can manufacture or do in our own power.  It is the working of the power of the Holy Spirit.  It is being swept up and swept away in God’s work.  It is becoming a mere observer while the Holy Spirit uses him, to do and say what only God wants him to do and say.

Another effect, just like it was on the Day of Pentecost, will be souls added. Souls added to the church roll and souls added to the roll that will be called up yonder.

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 God’s love and 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. So, the question is, Are you prepared this morning? Are you willing to prepare your life and your church? For though we cannot know when God may use us, we do know this, that He will not use us, if we are not ready to be used.

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