Acts 1 – A People with Power and Purpose

Pastor Dan Borgelt
Pastor Dan Pulpit 3

Pastor Dan – Audio (25 minutes)

Transcription
“Well as I said from the outset of the service, we are beginning a new series going through the book of Acts.

So our goal is we’re going to spend about one week per chapter.  Which means we’re not going to be able to look at every single verse of Scripture, but hopefully be able to get the general theme of each passage as we move forward at a pace of about one week per chapter.

And what that means is… any time we start a new a new book,  there’s some housekeeping to do, there’s some groundwork to lay to help us understand some of the basic concepts of this book.

And between that and having our officers installed this morning, and communion… what that means is we don’t have time this morning for a traditional introduction.  We don’t have time for any videos; we don’t have any time for any opening engaging stories.  We don’t have any time for funny stories… we don’t even have any time to laugh (light laughter).

We’ve got to get right down to business and get into this passage of Scripture together.

So here is my introduction for you this morning.

My challenge to you, as we start our new series in the book of Acts, starting next week… bring your Bible.  Bring a Bible with you.  I know you’ve got him at home (LAUGHTER)… bring it with you; and start opening up the Scripture with us together this morning and on a weekly basis.

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Now we know that we put the Scripture on the screen for you, and when we’re doing topical studies and jumping all over, I get the idea that it’s really hard to follow along, but my challenge to you, as we’re going to be looking at a section of Scripture one week at a time–to bring a Bible.

And if you don’t have one that you are really excited about reading maybe it’s time to get a new one… like a new treadmill at the beginning of a new year so you’ll use it more… you know kind of thing.

And you can call my office, write me, stop by, I love to talk to you about the idea of finding a good Study Bible for you that you’d be excited about bringing and writing notes in.

So we want to encourage you to do that.

If you’re someone who’s like, “You know what… I just can’t pass up something free.”  We want to let you know that we have free Bibles that we give people.  So if you’re here this morning, the beginning of the new year, and you would like a new Bible, I have three in my hand.  I would love to get rid of them… right now.

Would anyone raise their hand and say you know what I’ll take a new Bible.  I’ll open it up and and follow with you starting today.

Then you don’t have to wait for next week (LAUGHTER).  Anyone?  Anyone at all?

Alright.. there’s a couple hands.  Now listen if we see this thing on eBay… you are in deep trouble.. OK? (LOUD LAUGHTER).  OK… there you are.  Anybody else? … one more… alright there you there you go.  OK.

All right now for the rest of you, if you brought yours, or we have a Bible in the pew.  And again we will have the Scripture on the screen.

We’re going to be going to the Book of Acts.  Starting in chapter one.

There’re more of those free Bibles by the way, they are in the back of the sanctuary… they’re there every week, either for you or for you to give to someone in your life who you feel led to do so.

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All right here we are… Acts chapter one starting in verse one.  Here’s what the Scripture says.

Acts 1:1
In my former book, Theophilus,

Let’s stop there.  “In my former book, Theophilus,…”

We don’t know who is writing it right now, but we know that they’ve written another book before;  and they’re writing it to someone.  They’re calling, Theophilus.

If we turn back a couple books in our Bible back to the book of Luke, written by a man named Luke. In Luke chapter one, verses one and two, the Scripture tells us this,

Luke 1:1-4
Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word.  With this in mind, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, …

The reason why Luke writes that is because he was not one of the original twelve disciples… so he’s sort of a third party if you will, he’s investigating the life of Jesus.

I too decided to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus (that should ring a bell from what we just read in Acts), so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.

So we understand now that the book of Acts was written by the same person who wrote the book of Luke–a man named Luke.  And he’s addressing this to a person named Theophilus.

(Tongue in cheek): Now I listened to be BJ’s sermon that he shared last week, and it was a good message.  But quite frankly I’m a little disappointed in you guys.  Because I told you about a year ago that if someone ever said, “In the Greek,” you were allowed to call me something… does anybody remember that?

If I said in the Greek you were allowed to say…  NERD.  That’s right yeah,our teenagers remember that… they remember it yeah shy.  They remember and so  B.J., he’s fancy with all the Hebrew, and the Greek, and all the Farsi, and all these things, and he got up there time and time again he said,

“In the Greek…”.

And I kept listening thinking “they’re going to give it to him good”.  And maybe you did and it didn’t pick it up on the mic, but no one called him a nerd at all during the message, so next time he preaches you’ll be ready for it right? (LAUGHTER)

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But here’s the thing… you don’t need to be a language expert to break down the word “Theophilus”.  We have the word, “theology” or “theos” for God.  And so we have God, and then we have theo-philus or Philadelphia, for example, “The City of Brotherly Love”.

So he’s basically saying here’s the loved, friend in God… is essentially who’s addressing this to.

In fact a sort of a generic enough title that some people think that he’s just writing this to the church in general, but he does say “most excellent Theophilus, so it seems like he’s being more specific than that–it seems like he’s writing to a specific person.

Now the person’s name might not have been Theophilus.  They may have been a beloved brother in God who He was writing to but he leaves his name out for his protection possibly, or Theophilus was a really popular name back then.  So in all likelihood he was writing to a man named Theophilus who also happened to be a beloved brother of God — one of these scenarios.

Either way Luke’s writing this to Theophilus and he says,

Continuing with Acts 1:1
I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach until the day he was taken up to heaven,

So he says in my former book I wrote up to the ascension of Jesus into heaven.

Now let’s let’s make sure is he being truthful here.  Let’s go back to Luke Chapter twenty four verses fifty through fifty three…  the very end of Luke’s account, here’s what he wrote.

Luke 24:50-53
When he (Jesus) had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, he lifted up his hands and blessed them.  While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven.  Then they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy.  And they stayed continually at the temple, praising God.

That’s essentially what Luke is talking about… “I wrote in my former book to you about the point to where Jesus was ascended into heaven”.  Then he goes on, and we’re going to read the rest of the section at this time.

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Acts 1:2-6
until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen.  After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God.  On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about.  For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”

Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”

Now listen… people often criticized the disciples for asking this question about the Kingdom of Israel.  But what did Luke just tell us that Jesus was talking to them about… the Kingdom of God.

So it’s on their minds, now they’re asking this question, but it’s slightly misinformed… and so Jesus doesn’t really even answer it.  He goes on and says,

Continuing Acts 1:7-11
He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority.  But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.

They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”

So Luke is saying, “Look Theophilus, in my former book I wrote up to Jesus’s ascension.”  And he sort of goes back a little bit like a good book is written. He recaps a little bit, but only he gives us a little more insight into what Jesus did after the resurrection, before the Ascension.

You know a lot of people think, “Well… if Jesus was resurrected then he just left and went to heaven, they forget that the Scripture tells us for a period of forty days, He’s doing some really important things. 

And one of the things that Luke points out that Jesus did, is he took the time to convince them with many proofs that it was him… that HE WAS ALIVE.

I’ve always found that to be an interesting verse… “with many proofs”…  like I wonder what are some of the things that Jesus had to do to convince his disciples that he was actually who he was.

I mean did he say, “Go ahead quiz me about that night… you know that Saturday night when we were… da.. da, da da… you know, go ahead ask me about that?”

And, what are some of the things that he did?

If you’ve ever found yourself on the doubting side of the Easter story, then take confidence in the fact that you’re not alone.  The disciples apparently, who spent three years with Jesus, still did as well.  He had to show them many_convincing_proofs that he was alive.

And then the Scripture tells us…

“He taught them.”

Some one might be asking themselves. “Why was Jesus teaching them? Didn’t he just spent three years with them?  Why is he taking the time to teach them now?

Well, let me just ask you… “If I was teaching you about a bunch of things, but also claiming that someday I would be crucified and then rise from the dead...  I mean, how would you handle that?

Besides firing me right (LAUGHTER)… you know you might listen to what I was saying, but it would always be with a season of doubt as well.

But Jesus is now… resurrected.  They’re now convinced that he’s alive.  You have a feeling an inclination that his instruction to them probably carried far more weight now than it ever did in three years before this. 

So he begins to teach them.

And then Luke gets more specific.  He says,

“He taught them about the Kingdom of God”

And friends… this is the key verse that unlocks the book of Acts… and I would argue the entire rest of the New Testament as well.  He taught them about the Kingdom of God

We cannot overestimate how important that expression is. 

Maybe you’re here this morning and you’re thinking, “What do you mean by the Kingdom of God?

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I had that same thought… and it went until about halfway through seminary before I think the ‘light’ finally clicked on like, “I think I get it.”

Because so many people try to explain the Kingdom of God in a very complicated and difficult and profound way, but here’s just a simple explanation. I think the Kingdom of God can simply be understood as this…

Imagine a kingdom where God is the King

(Laughter)
Imagine living life where every single thing that you experience is exactly the way that God intended for you to experience it.  Imagine life exactly how God intended it to be… that’s what it would be like to live in the Kingdom of God… where He’s the king… where everything that happens is exactly in accordance with His will… that everything you think and everything that you feel and everything that you have and all that you don’t have is exactly the way that God intended it to be–that’s the kingdom of God.

And here’s the really beautiful part of this whole passage — that when Jesus arrives on the scene, there’s this really crazy, and yet also very cool guy named John the Baptist who says,

“Behold the kingdom of God is at hand.”  

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You do realize that the way that we live our lives what we’re experiencing right now is not what God intended it to be, right?

We grasp that. We know that God created… He had an intention and a plan for our lives, and because of our own decisions and actions, the Bible says that,

“Satan is the prince of this world.”  

We are not experiencing life the way that God intended us to experience it.

So the Kingdom of God is the restoration of all that God intended us to experience.

And so when Jesus arrives on the scene,  John The Baptist says, “Behold the Kingdom of God is is here”.

But Jesus doesn’t just snap his fingers and reverse all the consequences of sin overnight.  He slowly does it through the beauty of His ministry.  When Jesus shows compassion on someone who no one else would show compassion on.  He was restarting the kingdom of God because that’s the way that life was intended to be.

When Jesus responded to hate… with his love… He was restoring the Kingdom of God because that’s the way that life was intended to be.

Can you see in Jesus’s ministry, him pulling back the layers of sin that covered the world that we live in and taking them off and revealing to us how the kingdom of God actually operates.

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When Jesus healed the blind man, He was advancing the Kingdom of God because blindness was not a part of God’s design.  When Jesus raised the dead, he was advancing the kingdom of God because death is not part of God’s design.

Can you see through his ministry, Jesus pulling back the layers of sin–the ‘taintness” of sin, and uncovering our life and helping us to see what God intended us to experience.

He is doing all this wonderful ministry and then all of the sudden… PAUSE… He ascends into heaven… with the promise that he’ll come back again and finish what he started.

And you know almost the entire Church of Jesus Christ, regardless of generation and denomination, is an agreement with the reality that Jesus has begun the work of the Kingdom of God.  He will come back again someday and finish it.

But what differentiates us as individuals and from certain church traditions is… what are WE supposed to do… as the people of God, in light of the reality that Jesus began the work of the kingdom and is coming back to finish it.

What are we supposed to do in the meantime?

And for many Christians quite frankly their attitude is…

…nothing!

“Jesus began it he’s going to come back and he’ll finish it and we just need to hunker down and wait for him.  

Woe is us… the world is falling to hell in a hand-basket, it’s all getting bad. 

We just need to just sort of survive try not to get tainted by the world. 

Let’s just wait for Jesus to come back.  Let’s hide ourselves.  Let’s protect ourselves.”

But let me ask you what does the Scripture say?

Does the Scripture tell us that Jesus built this really cool Panic Room, this really cool safe room, and he took the disciples.  And he put them in it, and he locked the door he said, “Hold on I’ll be back”.

That’s not what he says it all does he… He says,

Go to Jerusalem where you will receive… where you will be baptized. 

Now some people think that for a baptism to take place, the person has to be fully immersed because “in the Greek” (LAUGHTER)… there’s a connection between baptism and immersion.

I want you to think of what Jesus is saying here… it’s really cool…

He’s basically saying, “Imagine like a pool, that’s filled with the Holy Spirit” …I don’t mean… that’s probably heresy to even say, but anyways… and then you take someone–the disciples, and you completely immerse them in it and pull them out … you’ve been Baptized in the Holy Spirit. 

He’s saying, go to Jerusalem and wait for that to happen…why?

So you can go back to your panic room… NO…

so you can go and be my witnesses in Jerusalem and Judea and Samarium and to the ends of the earth. 

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You see Jesus was calling His people to be people empowered by the Spirit of God, living on purpose for the Kingdom of God.  Empowered by the Spirit of God, living on purpose for the Kingdom of God and that’s who he calls you and I to be as well.

A people empowered by the Spirit of God, living on purpose for the Kingdom of God… “but pastor…”

But pastor… it’s a really, really, hateful world out there. Then go and show them a love like they never seen and advance the Kingdom of God.

But pastor… it’s a really greedy world out there.
Then go and show them a generosity like they’ve never seen, and advance the Kingdom of God.

But pastor it’s a world full of disease and brokenness and death… there are people who are lacking water and food.
Then go and advance the Kingdom of God by bringing the resources he has given us, and reversing that reality.

But pastor…

There’re all kinds of excuses of why we should go into a panic room… but God has given us, He has called us to be a people empowered with the Spirit of God, living on purpose for the Kingdom of God.

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And you know the truth of the matter is there are people, and there are churches that get one of those right and often not the other.

There are churches out there that have a long tradition and history of really being Spirit filled and lead.  I mean their entire worship service is about the Holy Spirit moving in them and it’s seen in their expression of worship.  And they have that stuff going great… but you know what it never leaves the sanctuary.

They’re empowered with the Spirit of God, but they’re not living for the Kingdom of God…trying to advance the Kingdom of God.  They’re too afraid of a sinful world and how it might rub off on them.

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And there are other people — the more modern day Evangelical Churches that say, “You know what we need to be reaching these people. We need to be living for the Kingdom of God and advancing the kingdom of God.”

And they’re doing some incredible efforts in that area, but quite frankly some of these churches have abandoned the power of the Spirit of God for reclining seats and wonderful media and great rock bands.

And by the way, I like some of those things (congregation smiling and some chuckling).  So when I recommend them someday don’t call me a hypocrite (LAUGHTER).

I’m just saying that You can’t try to substitute the power of the Spirit of God to rely upon those things.

There are some churches that quite frankly are out there in Jerusalem and Judea and Sumeria and to the ends of the earth… but they forgot to wait in Jerusalem until they were empowered and led by the Holy Spirit.

And the other churches that been empowered in Jerusalem with The Holy Spirit, but they’ve not gone to Sumeria, or Judea, or to the ends of the earth. They’re not living for the Kingdom of God. 

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And we, of course… well we have to realize that there are some churches and people that have neither going for themand their death is inevitable. 

And some of those churches are obviously dying… there are down to twenty people, they’ve been declining in attendance for twenty years… and it’s just obvious.

But you know what?  There are also churches all over this country that have eight hundred people, two thousand people… attending them, that have a long since abandoned this power of God, of the Spirit of God, and have long since abandoned the idea of living for the Kingdom of God.  And they’re dying too. That will take them longer.

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And what will we want to be is a church that has both.

A church that waits in Jerusalem and cries out to its God and says, “Spirit, lead us. Empower us. Tell us what you want us to do.  Where is our Jerusalem?  Where is our Judea?  Where is our Sumeria… where is our ends of the earth?… what is it that you want us to do?  And we will then begin, through the Spirit of God, living in the power for the Kingdom of God.”

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And the two really complement each other well, don’t they… because people who have the Spirit of God tend to be more inclined to be a people who are compelled to live for the Kingdom of God. 

And when we begin living for the Kingdom of God, God calls us to do some really uncomfortable things that cause us to rely upon the Spirit–the power of the Spirit of God.

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Friends… your purpose in life is not being a teacher; your purpose in life is not to be a doctor; is not to work at the Air Force Base; your purpose in life is not to be a lawyer, an engineer, ‘stay at home parent’.  Your purpose in life is not to go to a warm climate and enjoy the nature.

Those may be your Jerusalem, your Judea, your Sumeria, and your ‘ends of the earth’… they might be.  But they are not your purpose.  Your purpose is to be a people who are empowered by the Spirit of God, living for the Kingdom of God to be his witnesses, in those places — that your very life would validate the message and the reality of the power of having a relationship with Jesus Christ.

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So much more we could say but we need to come to our table together this morning.

There’s this is wonderful part of this passage that we purposely overlooked… and left for now. Do you see, if you’re looking at Acts One still… there’s this is other thing that Jesus did during his resurrection days with the disciples.

It says, “he ate with them“.

I always thought that to be peculiar… like, does the resurrection body need food?  Truthfully, I kind of hope it does (light laughter).

But he ate with his disciples and in that we’re reminded that God is not just superior… and Sovereign, and Holy… but he is also very relational.

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And he set this Table, through His body being broken for our sin, and His blood being shed for our sin. But the Scripture tells us that he is also seated at the right hand of God the Father preparing another table… that we might experience as the disciples did, what it’s like to eat with Jesus in all of his glory. Only then we shall be in all of our glory well, at the Great_Feast_of_Heaven.

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