Teaching Sermons For Pastors and Laymen

 

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

 

SERIES: Preaching through the Acts of the Apostles
By: Tom Lowe

 

SERMON I.A.1:THE REAFFIRMATION OF THE PROMISE 
 SCRIPTURE: Acts 1.1-5

 


Acts 1.1-5 (KJV)


1 The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, 
2 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: 
3 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: 
4 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. 
5 For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.

 

 

We are beginning our study of “The Acts of the Apostles,” and we will examine every verse in the book from chapter 1 verse 1, to chapter 28 verse 31. It is a long study, so it will be limited to Wednesday nights. I can honestly say that Acts is so exciting and so interesting, that I would read it even if it wasn’t in God’s Holy Bible. Let’s pray and ask God to bless our study.

 

 

Sermon


(verse 1) The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach,


“The former treatise,” undoubtedly, refers to the gospel, which was written by St. Luke, and bears his name. There Luke recorded the history of the Gospel, which features the life of Christ; His teachings and actions. At one time, many years in the past, the Gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts were joined together as one book with two “volumes.”

 

Can you imagine what it would be like if the Book of Acts were missing from the New Testament? You would pick up your Bible and see the ministry of Jesus ending in the Gospel of John; next you would read about a guy named Paul writing to followers of Jesus in Rome. Who was Paul? How did the gospel get from Jerusalem to Rome? The Book of Acts answers these questions. A great New Testament scholar (Barclay) has said that a good title for Acts might be, “How they brought the Good News from Jerusalem to Rome.”

 

We really don’t know all that much about Luke from the New Testament. We know that he was a doctor; we know that he was a Gentile, and we know that he was a companion of Paul. There was a time when many scholars thought that Acts was sort of a romance novel of the early church, written at least 100 years after the events supposedly happened. But William Ramsay, a noted archaeologist and Bible scholar, proved that the historical record of Acts is remarkably accurate regarding the specific practices, laws and customs of the period it claims to record. It is definitely the work of contemporary eyewitnesses.

 

In the mid-1960’s, A.N. Sherwin-White, an expert in Greco-Roman history from Oxford, wrote about Acts: he said, “The historical framework is exact. In terms of time and place the details are precise and correct . . . As documents these narratives belong to the same historical series as the record of provincial and imperial trials in epigraphical and literary sources of the first and early second centuries AD . . . For Acts the confirmation of history is overwhelming . . . Any attempt to reject its basic historicity even in matters of detail must now appear absurd. Roman historians have long taken it for granted.”

Luke begins “The Acts of the Apostles” where his gospel left off; namely the ascension of Christ. This is what he said near the end of his gospel, “Now it came to pass, while He blessed them, that He was parted from them and carried up into heaven” (Luke 24:51; NKJV).

 

“O Theophilus,” 
The omission of the title "most excellent," given to Theophilus in the Gospel (Luke 1:3), is one among other indications that the publication of Acts followed very closely upon that of the Gospel. The title “most excellent,” was the usual way to address people who held high office. “Theophilus,” however, might have been a Christian wanting instruction, a Roman official being briefed by Luke about the history of the Christian movement, or the name could be symbolic, because the name Theophilus means “God-lover.”

 

Since Acts ends with Paul awaiting trial before Caesar, some have wondered if Luke-Acts could have been “defense briefs” written on Paul’s behalf to give some Roman official background information on Paul’s case. Luke arrived in Jerusalem with Paul in Acts 21:17; he left with him again on the journey to Rome in Acts 27:1. In those two intervening years, Luke would have had plenty of time to research and write his gospel and the Book of Acts.

 

“of all that Jesus began both to do and teach,”
“All” in this verse, cannot mean every one of the miracles and sermons which Jesus made and preached. And it certainly does not give an account of the common and private actions of his life; and there is a huge gap in the gospel record since except for His disputing with the doctors at twelve years of age, no account is given by him of what he did, till he was about thirty years of age. John wrote about how impossible it would be to write down everything Jesus did. “And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name” (John 20:30-31; KJV). “And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written” (John 21:25; KJV). By “all,” therefore, we must understand the Holy Spirit as saying through Luke: “The Bible contains all that was necessary to be recorded, to establish the divine mission of Christ, and to convince mankind.”

 

Some believe the phrase “do and teach” is equivalent to “did and taught”; others have taken the liberty to add some words of their own, so that the phrase reads “all that Jesus did and taught from the beginning until the day," etc.; others say, “Luke's meaning is that in Acts he is about to narrate the continuation by our Lord in heaven of the work which he only began on earth. “All that Jesus began both to do and teach,” is a Hebraism, frequently used by the sacred writers, and particularly St. Luke; it only signifies "all that he did and taught." The phrase, however, as it is used here, refers to the account which he had given of Christ's ministry, from the beginning to the ascension (with which he concludes his gospel).

 

 

(verse 2) 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:

 

“Until the day in which he was taken up,” 
Dr. Luke declares that his former dissertation, the “Gospel According to Luke,” took into account the principal things Jesus did and taught “until the day in which he was taken up” into heaven. Consequently, the ascension of Christ indicates the end of the history of the gospel. Paul gives the reason for His ascension in Ephesians 4.10: “He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill [fulfill] all things.” By His ascension, He became the fountain from which all blessings flow; He dispenses good things to all his creatures (Especially, those who have experienced the new birth.), and He fills both converted Jews and Gentiles with all the gifts and graces of his Holy Spirit. That’s why the ascension is so very important— our redemption was fully complete and finished when Christ did ascend unto his Father. Today He is seated at the right hand of the Father where He intercedes for us, and blesses us.

 

Luke addresses in this verse the period between the Lord’s resurrection and His ascension, during which He instructed His disciples. The expression, “He was taken up,” occurs four times in this chapter. What does it imply? Our Lord Jesus came forth from the grave, the resurrected man with the same body that was crucified on Calvary. The body that was laid in Joseph’s new tomb was raised from the dead in resurrection power, and in that body He appeared to His disciples. During the period of forty days He instructed them with regard to His program for the months and years to follow. Then when the forty days were ended, He was taken up in His physical body. He sits in Heaven today on the right hand of the Majesty on high in the very body that once hung on Calvary’s cross. That is the teaching of the Word of God. This is the Christ—not some spirit-being altogether different from us, but a real man in Glory at God’s right hand. “There is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all” (1 Timothy 2:5-6). And, oh, the blessedness of knowing that His tender, loving heart is concerned about us and the trials we are going through. In Hebrews, it says: “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin” (Heb 4:15; KJV);” and “For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted” (Heb 2:18; KJV).

 

“after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments” 
When you consider how short a history we have between Christ's resurrection and ascension, it is no wonder, that this is the only place which speaks of his acting by the Spirit after he arose from the dead. We are told by the Apostle John that he breathed on his disciples and said to them, “Receive ye the Holy Spirit (see John 20:22).” Every word of Christ which is received in the heart by faith comes accompanied by this Divine breath; and, without this, there is neither light nor life. Just as God breathed the quickening spirit into Adam, so is every human soul till it receives this inspiration. Nothing of God is seen, known, discerned, or felt, except through this. It is mandatory for every private Christian to have received the Holy Spirit; and no man has ever preached the Gospel of Christ, so that sinners are convinced of the truth of the Gospel and are converted, without it.

 

In the third verse Luke expresses, in general terms, what Christ said to his apostles during the forty days he spent with them upon earth. But in this verse, the 4th, and following verses, he states what Christ said on the day of his ascension. He had brought his former account (The Gospel According to Luke) down to that day; and the Acts of the Apostles began on that day.

“unto the apostles whom he had chosen:”
A little before his ascension to heaven, 0ur Lord chose twelve men to be his apostles, but one of them betrayed Him to His enemies and then committed suicide. The eleven had not been chosen because they were better than other men, but rather their choice was an act of grace and divine wisdom and with the influence of the Holy Ghost. He gave them explicit commands and orders where they should go—into the entire world, to all nations. And He said they should preach the whole Gospel; salvation by faith in him, and particularly repentance and remission of sins. He also instructed them concerning ordinances they should require believers to focus on; and how they should conduct themselves when doing their work. These commands which Christ gave to his apostles, were not merely his orders, as a man, but were what the Holy Ghost within Him was equally concerned with, and were from Him as God, and for that reason divine authority went along with them; and at the same time that he gave them their “marching orders,” he breathed into them the Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost gave them a clearer understanding of His doctrines and ordinances, and qualified them to be His representatives on earth. And besides, He had intimated that they might expect still greater gifts from the Holy Ghost in the future.

 

 

(verse 3) 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:

 

“To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs,” 
The Apostle added this because it is essential to the Christian faith that the resurrection is known and believed, because without it Christ is dead, the whole gospel falls to the ground, and our faith does not have an object. But our Lord took it upon himself to see that this did not happen by showing His apostles many infallible proofs that He was alive, after His resurrection. If he had appeared to them one time there might have been room for doubt, but by showing himself to them so often He dissolved all doubts which might arise in their minds. In 1 Corinthians 15:6, Paul describes one of these “many infallible proofs:” “He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present.” There were more than five hundred people at one time who had seen the resurrected Jesus, and most of them were alive some twenty-five years later during the days of Paul!

 

By “infallible proofs” he means actual demonstrations which proved without the least doubt that He was alive. These consisted of actions by Christ which were indisputable; such as speaking, walking, eating, and drinking. They saw the distinct signs of pain and suffering inflicted during His trial and crucifixion. They were able to identify where the thorns pierced his brow, the nail holes in His hands and feet, and where His side was pierced by a Roman spear, and much more.  And finally He was taken up into heaven (see Acts 1:9) while they were watching. These were certainly infallible proofs: but what increases their faith, is, that they were frequently repeated; not for one or two days, but for the space of forty days. Believe me; we could cite many other “Infallible proofs.”

 

 

(verse 4) 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.

 

“And, being assembled together with them,” 
Following Christ’s crucifixion, His apostles dispersed and hid from the Roman soldiers, because they thought they might be crucified also. Here Paul refers to that last meeting just prior to His ascension to the Father, where He had assembled His apostles on His authority, and told them to stay in Jerusalem and wait for the coming of the Holy Spirit. At that time, He ate with them, which was a final proof that it was Him and not His spirit. After that, He took them to the Mount of Olives where they watched as He left them.

 

“commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem,” 
The occasion the apostle refers to is probably when Jesus met them in Galilee while they were fishing. There He commanded them to meet him in Jerusalem, or perhaps He accompanied them on the way there, and He spent his last days on earth there as man. Our Lord has nothing else for the disciples to do other than to wait for the coming of the Holy Spirit. He knows that they really can do nothing effective for the Kingdom of God until the Spirit comes: “Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high” (Luke 24:49; NKJV). The power which would be given them by the descent of the Holy Ghost was the power of speaking with tongues, of working miracles, and of preaching the gospel with the blessing and aid of the Holy Ghost. This was accomplished in the gift of the Holy on the day of Pentecost (See Acts 2:1-4).

 

“but wait for the promise of the Father,” 
Here Jesus tells of the “Promise of the Father,” which is the coming of the Holy Spirit. He told them, on the night of His betrayal, to wait for Him (the Spirit) in Jerusalem; and, now He informs them that the promise will be fulfilled when the Spirit is poured out upon them. The prophetJoel had predicted it long before it actually happened: “And it shall come to pass afterward That I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your old men shall dream dreams, Your young men shall see visions” (Joel 2.28; NKJV). John 14:16, 17, tells us that “He dwells with you and will be in you.” The Holy Spirit will be a Helper of the same quality and character as Christ. The Comforter, as He is also called, is God. He will stay “forever”—Christ would go away (14:2), but the Helper would remain forever. This Spirit would have a twofold ministry. He would dwell with them (be in their midst), and He would be in them (dwell within).Finally,He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you.”

 

“which, saith he, ye have heard of me.
Jesus had spoken to them about the Holy Spirit on several occasions, some of which are mentioned above. If you have not already done so, I recommend you read John 14:16, 17; John 14:26; John 15:26; John 16:7-14; and also read the associated notes.

 

 

(verse 5) For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.

 

“For John truly baptized with water;” 
or "in water", as reported in Matthew’s gospel: “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire” (Matt 3:11; KJV). John's (John the Baptist) baptism was water baptism; it was an immersion of persons in water. He was the first one mentioned in the New Testament to perform baptism, and his baptism was “unto repentance.” He did not ask anyone to profess faith in Jesus, but to admit their sin and need of forgiveness. His baptism and the baptism of the Spirit, are different; for there were others, including the disciples of Christ and the disciples of John, that baptized in water as well as John: and these words, “For John truly baptized with water” are not the words of the Lord, as reported by John, which the disciples heard first hand, because Jesus had not called His disciples when John spoke the words in Matthew 3:11; but these are the words of Christ himself which the apostles heard from his own mouth, which is clearly stated in Acts 11:16—“Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that he said, John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost.” This is enough to prove that he is describing the impact of the Holy Spirit. Christ's religion was to be a spiritual religion, and was to have its center of operations in the heart. Outward acts, however well they might depict the spiritual, could not produce inward spirituality. This was the province of the Spirit of God, and of Him alone; therefore He is represented here as resembling fire, because he was to illuminate and invigorate the soul, penetrate every part, and adapt the whole person—body, soul, and spirit— to the image of the God of glory.

The risen Jesus appeared to the apostles and gave them these instructions. He tells them that something is going to happen to them. They are going to be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days hence. This baptism of the Holy Spirit is the promise of the Father, and Jesus had previously told them about it.

 

It is very important to point out that this is not talking about water baptism, which is ritual baptism or John’s baptism. This is the baptism with the Holy Spirit. The baptism of the Holy Spirit is real baptism. It is this baptism of the Holy Spirit which places a believer into the body of believers, which we sometimes refer to as the church.

 

When we get to the second chapter, which tells of the coming of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost, we will learn that they were filled with the Holy Spirit. Filling was necessary in order that they might serve. The fact that they were filled with the Holy Spirit for service indicates that the other ministries of the Holy Spirit had been performed.

 

“but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost” 
Baptism was not invented by John the Baptist, as the uninformed may think. Baptism was a rite of initiation, by which disciples were admitted not only among the Jews, but also among other nations. John the Baptist adopted this rite from the Jewish manner of baptism, making use of water for this purpose: but Christ's disciples were appointed to an office of a superior nature. They were called to spread the gospel all over the world, and to govern the church of Christ after His departure, so they were installed and initiated into their office in a superior manner; God himself sent the Holy Ghost from heaven to earth on the Day of Pentecost in a visible form for this purpose. But something more than the mere consecration of the apostles was intended by this miraculous appearance; and much more was accomplished; He testified to the truth of all that Christ had said to the apostles: he declared, that whatsoever they should teach was the effect of immediate and infallible inspiration; and he gave them both knowledge of the divine will, and courage to preach it, in opposition to every obstacle which power, or wealth, or learning, or danger, or death, could throw in their way.

 

Conclusion

Every saved, born again believer has the Holy Spirit within them.  The unbeliever, however, cannot have the Holy Spirit.  It would be a good test for determining if a person is a Christian, except He cannot be seen with human eyes.  He can be seen with the eye of faith only.  Although there is a lot of meat in this short passage, the work of the Holy Spirit is foremost.  The gift of the Holy Spirit is the most wonderful gift of all, and it lasts forever.  My friend, I know from experience that you can feel Him, that you can hear him (listen for that still small voice); he is a wonderful companion, for he will never leave you or forsake you.  He goes where you go, he hears every word you say, he knows every thought that enters your mind.  He is God the Holy Spirit.  Do you have the Holy spirit?  I pray that you do!

 

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