A Journey Thru Acts 29: The Holy Spirit 1 (8:9-25)
So much gold in this passage, my friends. For this post and (Lord willing) the next post, we will be digging into the Bible to get to know the Holy Spirit. We will look at two extremes regarding the HolySpirit: this post, we will look at the extreme of not mentioning the Holy Spirit, ignoring Him, living on our own strength instead of on the Holy Spirit’s power
Next post I hope to look at the other extreme of over-emphasizing the Holy Spirit in ways that aren’t in the Bible, using the Holy Spirit as a means to satisfy our desire for sensory experience/feelings & thinking that having the Holy Spirit means we don’t need God’s Word.
Many years ago I walked up to a church building after an intense thunderstorm—there was a hand-written sign on the door: “The church has no power.” It literally took my breath away. The sign meant electricity, but I think it meant much more than that. We live as if we have no power, loved ones…we live on our own strength—which is no power at all…
John the Baptizer said that he would baptize people with water but that the Lord Jesus would baptize people “with the Holy Spirit and with FIRE” (Matthew 3:11). Where’s our FIRE, Christians? Where’s the Holy Spirit’s POWER? Have we been baptized w/safety & comfort or with the Holy Spirit & with FIRE!?
1 Corinthians 2:1-5: And so it was with me, brothers and sisters. When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. 2 For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3 I came to you in weakness and with great fear & trembling. 4 My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, 5so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.
Paul understood this need to walk in step with the Holy Spirit,
to need Him every moment in order to be able to follow the Lord Jesus…
We need to step back and ask this question:
Why are we even here on earth today?
Why did the LORD allow us to wake up today?
Elevate God—KNOW HIM! We need power from the Holy Spirit to know the LORD!
- Ephesians 1:17: I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom & revelation, so that you may know him better.
- Ephesians 3:16-17: I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power thru his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.
Paul is talking to Christians here, loved ones–by repentance & faith the Lord Jesus already lives in their hearts! But as we mature in Christ, we surrender more and more to Him, He is Master not just of portions of our lives but all of our lives, He doesn’t just hang out on the front porch or sleep on the couch, but we surrender to Him the Master bedroom, every crawl space, attic and closet of our lives. We need power from the Holy Spirit for this sanctification, this maturing, this surrender…
- Ephesians 3:17-19: And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
Elevate (Biblical) Community: Real fellowship with other Christians, not just a social club! Non-Christians get together & laugh & listen & serve & have fun! But the Church has something that non-Christians cannot have—Holy Spirit-powered FELLOWSHIP, a knitting together of our hearts & souls as the family of God, forgiven of our sins thru the blood of our risen God& Savior Jesus Christ! Only the Holy Spirit can create & maintain & cultivate & grow this fellowship…
Elevate others (non-Christians): not just serving their earthly needs with our actions but also using our words to introduce them to the Lord Jesus Who can take care of their eternal needs as well!
It was the Holy Spirit who in a few weeks turned the early church from fearful/hiding people to boldly proclaiming the Gospel & rejoicing even though they suffered & were persecuted! THIS is the main role of the church—proclaim the Good News of Jesus’ blood, His cross & His empty tomb!
The early church focused on this while meeting earthly needs in smaller ways; we’ve flipped this today & focus on earthly needs & in smaller ways (if at all!) share theGospel with our words. But most of us don’t need the Holy Spirit to help us meet others’ earthly needs a few times per year; we can do that on our own power! Thus we don’t have the Holy Spirit’s power because we don’t need it or ask for it, we don’t want to do the scary elevating of others—proclaiming theGospel—that requires the Holy Spirit’s power.
- Acts 5:41-42: They called the apostles in and had them flogged. Then they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go
[they didn’t order the disciples to stop serving people; they ordered them to stop evangelizing people, because that’s what the early church primarily was doing!].
41 The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name. 42 Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Messiah.
- Acts 1:8: “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.”
In all 3 of our main purposes for being on earth,
the Holy Spirit’s power is ESSENTIAL.
So What Do We Do? Two main responses for us…
1. Repent for trying to follow the Lord Jesus on our own power, in our spare time,
in our own way, when it’s convenient for us. We need to learn to mourn & grieve over our sin, to weep bitterly as Peter did after he denied the Lord Jesus three times. Bring it as it is–sin–before the Lord Jesus & confess it, turn from it, receive His payment on the cross as our forgiveness and His promise to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). We must not flippantly respond to our sin with, “Well, nobody’s perfect!”
2. We need to cry out for the power of the Holy Spirit every moment…& we need to learn to STOP doing other things so that we can cry out to & wait on the Holy Spirit for His power…
One extreme is to do nothing & just say that the Holy Spirit will do everything: upload closeness with the LORD into us while we watch Netflix, automatically create deep fellowship between us & other Christians, effortlessly spread the Gospel while we chase our own dreams. Like the belief in the 1980s that listening to an audio recording of your teacher while you slept would soak the lesson into your mind. Nonsense!
- Look at all the VERBS in Acts 2:42-47—the Holy Spirit powered/fueled/guided the early church, but they made choices, they did actions in their partnership with the Holy Spirit, their faith in Christ was expressed in holy/obedient actions in Christ:
-were devoted to the Bible, fellowship & prayer,
-sold and gave,
-continued to meet,
-ate meals together,
-praised God together.
These are verbs that the early church did & they had the same amount of time per week that we do—being devoted in these ways meant that there were other hobbies/goals/dreams/recreations/ activities to which they could NOT be devoted, which they did not have time to do. They had a reformation & restructuring of their time commitments; we need to the same. And so we Christians need to repent for the ways that we have let other earthly aspects of life crowd out our eternal mission.
The other extreme is doing the verbs on our own power…getting busy busy busy being the church with activity after activity where the HolySpirit is simply the hood ornament on the car: nice to look at but not needed to drive.
In this extreme the church is people rowing furiously on their own power & in different directions which causes the boat to go in circles, to get nowhere. We are often impressed with local churches like this, we often admire the tightness & consistency of the circles they make in the water…but we fail to realize that Biblically, according to the pattern we see in the early church in Acts, such a local church goes nowhere!
The devil is equally happy with a Christian
who never leaves the comfortable beach
& a boat that only goes in circles out in the water—
both fail at our Jesus-given mission.
Isaiah 22:8-13: The Lord stripped away the defenses of Judah,
[the people recognized that there were serious problems that needed to be addressed,
and the people of Judah got busy addressing those problems…but read to the bottom–
look at all the verbs Judah did, but also look at what they didn’t do:]
and you looked in that day
to the weapons in the Palace of the Forest.
9 You saw that the walls of the City of David
were broken through in many places;
you stored up water
in the Lower Pool.
10 You counted the buildings in Jerusalem
and tore down houses to strengthen the wall.
11 You built a reservoir between the two walls
for the water of the Old Pool,
but you did not look to the One who made it,
or have regard for the One who planned it long ago.
12 The Lord, the Lord Almighty,
called you on that day
to weep and to wail,
to tear out your hair and put on sackcloth.
13 But see, there is joy and revelry,
slaughtering of cattle and killing of sheep,
eating of meat and drinking of wine!
“Let us eat and drink,” you say,
“for tomorrow we die!”
When God brought trouble to His people, they got busy:
they stored, counted, tore down, built–
but they didn’t look to the LORD, they didn’t rely on God,
they got pragmatic and relied on their own strength and strategies.
To an outsider they were faithfully invested in God’s work,
but they weren’t–they were working apart from the LORD, not relying on Him…
My friends, the Church of Jesus Christ isnt a rowboat…
it’s a sailboat…
a subtle but important difference.
NO ROWBOAT has made it around the world,
yet sailboats with one person have often sailed around the world,
not on the power of the person, but the wind.
Sailors on a sailboat work hard, but differently than rowers; they work to put the boat in a position to catch the wind so that the wind is what powers the boat. That is what we need, loved ones—stop chilling on the beach relaxing, and stop being rowboats…and start being Holy Spirit-powered sailboats…
Many who spend hours doing good things often spend only minutes in prayer asking for the Holy Spirit to empower us, waiting on the LORD in quiet/stillness—we need to be like Moses in Exodus 33:15:
“If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here.”
If You don’t empower us, don’t let us get busy with any projects or passions…
We must repent of this, loved ones…making time for almost everything else BUT quiet prayer, stillness, crying out to the Holy Spirit for power, waiting on the LORD…
You might be thinking, “This is too much—on some level deep down
- I don’t want just stay on the beach as a Christian
- I don’t want to just row in circles,
- I want to have real closeness with the LORD as my Papa not just my Provider,
- I do want real Christian fellowship that only the power of the Holy Spirit can give,
- I do want to learn how to be relationally risky and learn how to sacrificially love & be loved by other Christians though so many have hurt me in the past,
- I really do want to boldy share the Gospel with non-Christians…
but this is all too big, too much. I’m just too busy. It’s overwhelming; I feel hopeless. I can barely get my laundry done & get the garbage on the curb each week. I barely make it to the church building three Sundays per month…”
YES IT IS IMPOSSIBLE FOR US! But not impossible for God. This feeling of helplessness to do what the LORD has called us to do is GOOD–it’s the only way He can truly work in & through us, when we realize that apart from Him we can do nothing, when we come to Him with empty pockets to give Him anything but open hands to receive from Him everything we need to live a godly life in Christ Jesus!
- God doesn’t give us more than we can handle? Loved ones, God ONLY gives us more than we can handle, so that the glory is HIS, so that HIS fame is spread–we have these treasures in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us!!! (2 Corinthians 4:7)
This MUST be done on His power alone; we must get on our knees—ALL OF US—like we have never done before. Most of us are tired, but some of us, by God’s grace, are SO TIRED of just playing church (21st century American version of it) that we are willing to get crazy and radical so that Holy Spirit can empower us to BE the church (the 1st century Biblical version of it).
It’s not a question of IF you are tired…but WHAT are you tired of…and HOW tired are you, enough to cry out to God for Him to make the painful but necessary changes in your soul, mind, body, time, wallet & life?
Zechariah 4:6: “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel:
‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty.
Psalm 127:1: Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain.
Unless the Lord watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain.
2 Corinthians 12:7-10: “…in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9But he said to me,“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
The only way to be filled with the Holy Spirit is to come to Him in confession of your powerlessness to follow the Lord Jesus, to trust Him…that’s the only way to come to the Lord Jesus & be forgiven—come to Him broken & taking full responsibility for our sinfulness in full agreement of the eternal punishment we deserve & crying out to Him alone by faith alone to receive from Him the forgiveness & new life & adoption that we need…
And that’s the only way to be filled with the Holy Spirit—
come to Him empty, with empty pockets but open hands…
Ephesians 1:18-20: “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength 20 he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms…”
The same power that raised the Lord Jesus from the dead lives in His people…
STAGGERING TRUTH! Undeserved grace!!
The Holy Spirit is the ONLY way we can follow the Lord Jesus Christ…no other way.
- This power—a WHO not a what—
doesn’t make us famous, it makes Him famous…
- This power–a Who not a what–
doesn’t make us rich but boldly tells others of the exceeding riches of Christ
- This power–a Who not a what–
doesn’t fulfill our dreams but changes our dreams to match up with God’s will.
Do you have this power…by repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ?
Ephesians 3:20-21: Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
Now to Him (focus on GOD, not ourselves/our methods/our techniques!)
Who is able (WE are unable to do this but GOD ALONE is able!)
To do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine (God will show us a fellowship with other Christians, an intimacy with Himself, and a boldness to proclaim to others His grace & Truth that we can’t even imagine, that goes beyond what we even THINK that we want! But we must cry out for and wait on His power through reading the Bible & praying)
According to His power (NOT our horsepower but HIS Holy Spirit power!)
That is at work within us (IN US, not just topically applied externally on us or just worn like wardrobe accessories; His power IN US; wave a cup under a kitchen faucet and it will get a few drops (on the GO!); keep a cup under a kitchen faucet and it will get filled (on the slow!).
[Have you surrendered to Jesus as Savior & King, have you cried out to Him for mercy, forgiveness, & new life as your Master, King, Savior and God? Is Jesus sleeping on the couch or in the Master bedroom? Is Jesus around you…or IN you?]
To Him be glory (He gets the fame and honor as we begin to live on His power!)
In the church and in Christ Jesus (WOW! God the Father is glorified through Jesus AND us, sinners like you & me! WOW! What an undeserved privilege!)
Throughout all generations (God can be glorified/honored through the 21st century American church JUST as He was glorified/honored through the 1st century Judean church! Acts 2 can be true of US just as it was true of THEM!)
Amen (let it be SO!)…