Seeing God’s Salvation

Luke 2:25-35

And behold, there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon, and this man was just and devout, waiting for the Consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. So he came by the Spirit into the temple. And when the parents brought in the Child Jesus, to do for Him according to the custom of the law, he took Him up in his arms and blessed God and said:  Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace, according to Your word; for my eyes have seen Your salvation which You have prepared before the face of all peoples, a light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of Your people Israel.  And Joseph and His mother marveled at those things which were spoken of Him. Then Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary His mother, “Behold, this Child is destined for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign which will be spoken against (yes, a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.

Simeon, A Man of God

In this passage we read of a man who was different from others.  He was probably out of place just as a man of God is out of place today.  He probably was ridiculed.  He was probably called self-righteous.  He was probably referred to as a fanatic.  We read in the Bible about Simeon and it gives us some insight as to who he was.

  • He was a man who was just and devout.
  • He was a man who was looking for the Messiah.
  • He was a man who was led by the Holy Spirit.
  • He was a man who had been given an unusual promise.
  • He was a man who saw and held the Messiah.

Titus 2:11-14 – For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works

  • Simeon was a man who was just and devout.  What does that really mean to us today?  Someone who is just “dikaios” in the sense that this passage means is someone who is righteous, well-behaved, living as one should live.  And the word devout “eulabes” means cautious and careful in relation to God.  It means a reverence for or pious toward God.   That description does not fit a lot of people today.  There is a care-free, nonchalant, no big deal attitude by a lot of people in their relationship to God. 

Psalm 31:23 –  Oh, love the Lord, all you His saints!  For the Lord preserves the faithful. 

Jude 21 – Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.  

  • Simeon was looking for the Messiah.  The Messiah had been prophesied to come and save His people.  The Messiah was longed for by the faithful.  

2 Peter 3:10-12 – But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat?

  • Simeon was a man who was led by the Holy Spirit.  In the Old Testament, the Spirit only came upon men for special service.  From what little we read here it appears that Simeon may have had the Spirit upon him continually.  At any rate, one thing we know of this special man, he was a man who loved God. 

Matthew 10:32 – Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will  also confess before My Father who is in heaven. 

  • Simeon was a man who had been given an unusual promise. He was going to be able to see the Christ before his death.

1 Peter 1:8 – Whom having not seen you love.  Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory. 

  • We are to be Men and Women of God.
  • We should be just and devout, as was Simeon. 

Micah 6: 8 – He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you, but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God. 

  • If we are people of God, then we should be looking for His appearing. 

2 Timothy 4:8 – Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only, but also to all who have loved His appearing.

  • If we are people of God, then we will walk and live and move in the Spirit.

Romans 12:1 – I beseech you therefore brethren, by the mercies of God,           that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 

  • We, too, have been given an unusual promise.

John 14:1-3 – Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me.  In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.

Men of God, our Examples

  • Job – God telling Satan that Job is righteous like no other man.

Job 1:8 – Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil?”

  • Daniel, Noah, Job – God telling Ezekiel of the righteousness of Daniel, Noah, and Job.

Ezekiel 14:14 – Even if these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, they would deliver only themselves by their righteousness,” says the Lord God.

  • Elijah – Elijah taken up to heaven alive in a chariot of fire.

2 Kings 2:11 – Then it happened, as they continued on and talked, that suddenly a chariot of fire appeared with horses of fire, and separated the two of them; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.

  • John the Baptist – Jesus telling the multitudes that there were none greater than John the Baptist.

Matthew 11:11 – Assuredly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist; but he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.

  • Enoch – The testimony about a man of God.

Hebrews 11:5 –  – By faith Enoch was taken away so that he did not see death, “and was not found, because God had taken him”; for before he was taken he had this testimony, that he pleased God

Jude 14 – Now Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men also, saying, “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of His saints,

  • Moses – Numerous Scriptures – Greater miracle worker, prophet, law giver, warrior-leader.
  • Paul, the Apostle – Numerous Scriptures – Missionary, Apostle, Prophet, Miracle Worker, Teacher, Man of God.
  • Simeon – He was not ashamed to declare that the One born was the Savior of the world.  This was more than any of the scribes of his time had discerned.  The scribes in Simeon’s day were men who looked upon Christ as a sign to be spoken against and to whom He would become a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense.  With godly Simeon it was different. He was Spirit taught and knew He whom he held was His salvation, and not only his, but the whole world. 

Nowhere is it recorded that Simeon bragged about or wore his religion on his sleeve.  He was led by the Holy Spirit, and yet he told no one of his walk with God.  His great spirituality and closeness to God was known because of his walk, not his talk.  He was one of a very few select of God who recognized this babe as the Savior of the world.  There were many who saw him as babe but did not recognize him as Savior. 

Luke 2:25-35 – One who was just, devout, looking for the Messiah, led by the Holy Spirit, given an unusual promise and saw and held the Messiah.  His name means “one who hears and obeys”. His faith had been justified and now he could die without fear.  Have our eyes seen the salvation of the Lord?  Can we die in peace?

The Apostle Peter asks this question in II Peter 3:11 when he is talking about the coming of the Lord.

2 Peter 3:11 – Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness?

Purification

Acts 24:17-18

Now after many years I came to bring alms and offerings to my nation, in the midst of which some Jews from Asia found me purified in the temple, neither with a mob nor with tumult.

Purified

The Greek Word “Hagnizo”, a verb (action word) means pure (chaste), to purify, cleanse from defilement, is used as follows.

Ceremonially – In the ceremonially cleansing spoken of in John 11, the Jews were following the Levitical law when anyone touched anything considered unclean.  See Leviticus 11 – 17 for the various kinds of cleansing.

John 11:55 – And the Passover of the Jews was near, and many went from the country up to Jerusalem before the Passover, to purify themselves.

Acts 21:24, 26 – Take them and be purified with them, and pay their expenses so that they may shave their heads, and that all may know that those things of which they were informed concerning you are nothing, but that you yourself also walk orderly and keep the law.  Then Paul took the men, and the next day, having been purified with them, entered the temple to announce the expiration of the days of purification, at which time an offering should be made for each one of them.

Morally – the heart

James 4:7-10 – Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.

Morally – the soul

1 Peter 1:22-23 – Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart, having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever.

Morally -oneself

1 John 3:2-3 — Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.

Purification for All

To the Gentiles as well as Jews. 

Acts 15:8-9 – So God, who knows the heart, acknowledged them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He did to us, and made no distinction between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.

  • All Men:

Titus 2:11-14 – For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works. 

Sanctification

Sanctification, like purification, is an act of divine grace.  We may ceremonially go through some ritual but it is the act of God’s divine grace that purifies or sanctifies.  The rituals do not do the work, but it is an internal spiritual work done only by God.  It is the Word of God and the Spirit of God which purifies and sanctifies.  The basis on which God performs this act of grace is the blood of Christ’s atonement

Psalms 51:7 – Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

John 15:2 – Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.

I Corinthians 6:11 – And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God. 

What we fail to understand, many times, is that when we are saved, we are forgiven from “past, former” transgressions, and the work of the Spirit in our life is a purifying and sanctifying agent to set us apart to new works, a new life style, a changed mind, a new man.       

Psalm 51:10-11 – Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.  Do not cast me away from Your presence

The Church at Corinth

Acts 18:1-18

Corinth was a major city of Greece.  It was on a peninsula at the southern tip of Greece.  The land at this point was only about five miles east to west.  Bordered by two harbors on either side, all traffic north and south passed through the city.  It was known as the lookout, the guard, the eye of Greece.  Made up of Greeks, Romans, Jews and adventurers who dwelt in business transactions during the day and parties in the night clubs by night, the city was a pleasure-made city.  The goddess of fertility, Aphrodite, had her temple here.  It was home to the Isthmian Games, second only to the Olympic Games.    It was to this sophisticated city that Paul came to spread the gospel. 

Paul was apparently discouraged when he came to Corinth (1 Corinthians 2:3).  He had been run out of the three previous cities where he had ministered – Philippi, Thessalonica and Berea.  In Athens he had seen little success.  In Corinth he was facing a proud, intellectual, busy and immoral populace.  Silas and Timothy had remained behind in Macedonia to minister, so he was apparently alone on this part of the trip. 

God met Paul’s need.  He appeared to Paul in a vision and assured him of His presence and His protection (Acts 18:9).  He led Paul to the path of two believers, Aquila and Priscilla (husband and wife team), who were also tentmakers like Paul.  Expelled from Rome along with all the other Jews by Emperor Claudius, they had just recently arrived in Corinth.  Paul was able to live with them and work alongside of them to provide for his needs.  Later Timothy and Silas joined him, bringing news of the strong faith of the believers in Thessalonia. 

Strengthened by God, Paul remained in Corinth for 1 1/2 years with great success in sharing the gospel.  The chief ruler of the synagogue became a believer along with a great number of Gentiles.  The Gentiles of that time were often attracted to the Jewish religion, especially the well-to-do women.  They lived in an immoral world that gave no rights to women.  Thus, they found great security in a religion of high morality. 

There were wealthy converts also.  Gaius was Paul’s host (Romans 16:23).  Erastus was the chamberlain (treasurer) of the city.  Chloe was probably a lady of extreme wealth with business interests in both Corinth and Ephesus (1 Cor. 1:11). 

But it appears the majority of believers were average people who came from very sinful backgrounds.  Paul clearly says, “…not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble were called:  But God has chosen the…base things of the world and the things which are despised…” (1 Corinthians 1:26-29).

Evangelism and Discipleship

  • Paul left Athens where his reception was unproductive to go to another area to preach the gospel. 
  • Matthew 10:14 – And whoever will not receive you nor hear your words, when you depart from that house or city, shake off the dust from your feet.
  • Matthew 7:6 – Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces.

Paul found and developed people. 

  • Matthew 28:19-20 – Go and teach (make disciples of) all nations.
  • 2 Timothy 2:2 – And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.

Ministry vs. Secular Labor

  • Minister should be supported in his labor. 
  • 1 Corinthians 9:13 – Do you not know that those who minister the holy things eat of the things of the temple, and those who serve at the altar partake of the offerings of the altar.  Even so the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should live from the gospel.
  • Bottom line:  word of God must be given. 
  • Acts 4:20 – For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.
  • 1 Corinthians 9:16 – For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for necessity is laid upon me, yes, woe is me if I do not preach the gospel.

Preaching-Teaching-Witnessing

  • Like Jesus, Paul was in the house of God on the Sabbath.
  • Paul “reasoned” – presented sound, thoughtful, logical points, answered and settled questions in a reasonable way. 
  • Paul “persuaded” – prevailed, urged, induced, pleaded, begged, sought to move and bring about a change of heart and mind. 
  • 1 Peter 3:15 – But sanctify (set apart) the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear.

Sharing the Gospel May Bring Rejection – Requires Effort

  • Paul was “compelled” (sunecho – to grip tightly – describes affliction of pain or fear, being held fast).  The love of Christ leaves us no choice but to live our lives for Him and share the gospel with others. 
  • 2 Corinthians 5:14 – For the love of Christ compels us because we judge thus, that if One died for all, then all died.
  • Paul was rejected.  When the message we share is rejected, we are not to give up.  We are to simply try another person.  Rejection does not feel good – but we must press on and share with others.
  • Matthew 10:12-14 – And when you go into a household, greet it. If the household is worthy, let your peace come upon it. But if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. And whoever will not receive you nor hear your words, when you depart from that house or city, shake off the dust from your feet.
  •  Acts 13:51 – But they shook off the dust from their feet against them, and came to Iconium

The Lord Will Always Encourage His Servant

  • Do not be afraid.
  • Speak.
  • Do not keep silent.
  • I am with you.
  • No one will harm you.
  • There are others on your side.
  • Isaiah 41:10 – Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.
  • Isaiah 43:1-3 – But now, thus says the Lord, who created you, O Jacob, fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine.  When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you.  When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned.  Nor shall the flame scorch you.
  • 2 Timothy 1:7 – For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.
  • Matthew 28:20; Hebrews 13:6; Psalm 28:7; 2 Peter 2:9; Isaiah 54:17

The Church at Philippi

Acts 16:6-40

Philippi was the gateway to Europe.  Named after Philip of Macedonia, Alexander the Great’s father, Philippi lay on the great Roman road, the Egnatian Way.  This road connected Europe from Asia, the West from the East. 

It was a proud Roman colony.  Veteran Roman soldiers ready to retire were granted citizenship if they would go out and settle colonies.  As these colonies proved loyal to Rome, they were granted the title of a Roman Colony.  Their citizens were Roman citizens.  They kept the Roman language, customs, and dress. 

Philippi’s strategic location on the Egnatian Way made it an excellent place for a church.  Travelers passed through the city from both Asia and Europe and from here the gospel could be carried throughout the known world. 

The church at Philippi was founded on Paul’s second missionary journey.  It was here that the gospel first entered Europe.  The church began with three important conversions:  (1) Lydia, an important and successful business woman, with her household; (2) a slave girl set free from a demon possession; (3) the jailer and his entire household. 

This church was made up primarily of Gentile believers.  They appear to have had a very close and loving relationship with Paul, and they were strong supporters of his ministry (see Introduction to Philippians).

Leadership of the Holy Spirit

  • The Holy Spirit forbid Paul to preach in Asia.  (This was not the continent of Asia, as we know it today.  This was the Roman province of Asia which is what is now known as Turkey.)
  • The Holy Spirit would not allow them to preach in Bithynia.  (Look at a map in your Bible.  God stopped Paul from proceeding directly west.  When he tried to go north, God said no.  The only direction left in that location was to go to the city of Troas.)
  • The Holy Spirit directed Paul through a dream.  John 14:16-17; John 14:26; John 16:13

How does the Spirit direct us? 

  • Through supernatural knowledge – Acts 5:1-11
  • Through angels – Acts 8:26
  • Through visions – Acts 9:1-8
  • Through dreams – Acts 9:9-16
  • Through prophecy – Acts 11:27-30
  • Through a word from the Holy Spirit – Acts 13:2
  • Through God’s Word – 2 Timothy 3:16

NOTE:  We must never let a closed door stop us from doing what God has called us to do.  God, who sees the future as if it were the past, knows what doors should be open, what doors should be closed.  Part of learning to trust Him is to accept the doors that are closed, and be obedient while you wait for Him to open the doors that He has for you.  Recognize that Paul was not given a reason why the doors were shut.  Perhaps he never knew.  It was enough that God had closed the doors.  Paul trusted Him to lead and direct him in the right way. 

Unity in Leadership

  • Paul shared this vision with his companions, Silas, Timothy and Luke.  (Note the use of the word “we” beginning here.  Luke, the doctor and writer of Acts, joined Paul at this point.  It appears he remained with Paul until Paul left Philippi (Acts 17:1).  Apparently Luke stayed in Philippi and reunited with Paul when Paul returned to Philippi (Acts 20:5).
  • They concluded that God had called the team to preach the gospel in Macedonia.

1 John 4:1 – Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.

1 Thessalonians 5:21 – Test all things; hold fast what is good.

Worship on the Sabbath

  • There was no Jewish synagogue
  • There were only women present
  • NOTE: Jewish law required a minimum of ten men to have a service.  Obviously, there must have been a small Jewish population here.  The missionaries were not too good or too important to share the gospel with a group of Gentile women (the word used for “worshipped” in verse 10 is the word used for a Jewish proselyte).  Although there was no synagogue or church in the area, the men found a group of people praying and seeking God. 

Receiving the Gospel

  • Lydia worshipped God
  • God “opened” her heart.  Romans 12:2; Psalm 51:10; Titus 3:5; Ephesians 2:8-9
  • She led her household to the Lord.  Genesis 18:19; Deuteronomy 6:5-9; Deuteronomy 11:19;  Joshua 24:15; Luke 8:38-39; John 1:41; Ephesians 6:4
  • She opened her home for the ministry of God’s Word.   Romans 12:13; Titus 1:8; 1 Peter 4:9

Slave Girl with Spirit of  Divination Or ESP

  • Testimony of slave girl was a true testimony – these men were the servants of the most high God.  Satan always mixes a little truth with his deception. 
  • Her testimony was not one of true confession – a true confession is to acknowledge Jesus as “Lord” and to follow him.
  • ESP, Witchcraft, fortune-telling are not a part of God’s will for the Christian.  Galatians 5:19-21; Leviticus 19:31; 2 Kings 17:17; 1 Chronicles 10:13;  Matthew 24:24

Power of Jesus’ Name

  • Paul addressed the evil spirit in the girl – not the girl herself.
  • Paul relied on the power of Jesus’ name – not his own power.
  • The evil spirit had to obey – the power of Jesus’ name is greater than that of the devil. 

No one is too far gone into sin that God cannot redeem them.

Luke 19:10; Hebrews 7:25.

Greed and Love of Money

  • Owners lost their top money maker.
  • Money and greed corrupted the public officials.

Lying in God’s Presence

Acts 5:1-11

But a certain man named Ananias with his wife Sapphira sold a piece of property.  And with his wife’s knowledge and connivance he kept back and wrongfully appropriated some of the proceeds, bringing only a part and putting it at the feet of the apostles.   But Peter said, Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart that you should lie to and attempt to deceive the Holy Spirit, and should (in violation of your promise) withdraw secretly and appropriate to your own use part of the price from the sale of the land?  As long as it remained unsold, was it not still your own?  And (even) after it was sold, was not (the money) at your disposal and under your control?  Why then, is it that you have proposed and purposed in your heart to do this thing?  (How could you have the heart to do such a deed?)  You have not (simply) lied to men (playing false and showing yourself utterly deceitful) but to God.  Upon hearing these words, Ananias fell down and died.  And great dread and terror took possession of all who heard of it.   And the young men arose and wrapped up (the body) and carried it out and buried it.  Now after an interval of about three hours his wife came in, not having learned of what had happened.  And Peter said to her, Tell me, did you sell the land for so much?  Yes, she said, for so much.  Then Peter said to her, How could you two have agreed and conspired together to try to deceive the Spirit of the Lord?  Listen!  The feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out (also).  And instantly she fell down at his feet and died; and the young men entering found her dead, and they carried her out and buried her beside her husband.  And the whole church and all others who heard of these things were appalled (great awe and strange terror and dread seized them).   The Amplified Bible

  • Questions to Answer
  • Is holding back from God sinful? 
  • In this passage of scripture, the subject matter is about money held back from the sale of property.   In what areas of life would holding back be wrong? 
  • Is partial commitment, halfhearted devotion, holding back?
  • Is deceiving and not telling the whole truth misleading and also sinful?
  • Lying in God’s Presence
  • Old Testament – The first sin in the Old Testament…the one that got us all in trouble was based on a lie.  See Genesis 3:4.  In this particular instance, it was Satan that lied.  The sin of Eve was that she believed him and also her husband, then they disobeyed by eating of the forbidden fruit.  As a result all mankind has had to suffer for their disobedience.   Disobedience caused by a lie.  Mankind has greatly feared death, the ultimate judgment because of this sin.
  • New Testament – In this situation several sins were committed.  Conspiring together to deceive, greed, selfishness, coveting, and lying.  The early church was alarmed and feared greatly as a result of this sin.   
  • Old Testament – Achan of Joshua 7 was another instance of deceiving and holding back because of greed and selfishness.  No outright lie was verbally told, but all had been told not to take anything of the spoils of war, and Achan coveted what his eyes saw and hid his sin.  By hiding it from all to see, he was living a lie giving the impression that he had been obedient.  No one knew except the eyes of God.  Achan held back on obedience.   All Israel feared greatly God’s judgment of sin.
  • New Testament – In Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus was tempted by Satan as he tried to use Scripture to mislead Him.  Satan was deliberately misquoting and twisting the Scriptures in order to justify what he was doing.  Again, a lie is a sin. 
  • It does not matter how we try to justify our actions, it does not matter how we mince or parse words. 

Matthew 22:37 – Jesus said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” 

  • Keeping Back is Severely Judged 
  • Withholding from God what is His is severely judged.  It does not matter if it is God’s tithes and our offerings.  It does not matter if it is our devotion or our worship.  It does not matter what part of our life, our commitment.  If we hold back from God, it is sin.
  • We may justify our holding back in the following ways:
  • I need part of God’s tithes and the offerings to take care of this or that.  I know God will understand.  What He understands – you sinned!                       
  • I don’t feel like going to church, but I can go or do just about anything else I want to do.  He understands – you sinned!
  • I’m too shy to be an effective witness, yet I claim to have the Holy Spirit who gives boldness within me.   He understands, you sinned.  You held back from doing what He has called you to do – that’s disobedience.
  • I justify my mouth saying all kinds of crude words when I get upset, when things go wrong, when I’m under pressure because I hold back on my obedience to God’s word. 
  • I try to justify my actions when I’m around people of influence or position, because I want to impress them or flatter them or someone else so I embellish the truth.  NO – I LIED! 
  • When I know the truth and don’t follow it, I am holding back and that is sin.  I may justify it.  I may convince myself that what I am doing is fine.  But, if God’s Word says it is sin and we keep on doing what we know is sin, we are holding back…it does not matter what area of life or what situation it may be, if it is contrary to God’s Word, then it is sin.
  • Withholding From God Those Things That Are His
  • HOLDING BACK IS PARTIAL COMMITMENT.       
  • HOLDING BACK IS DECEPTION.
  • HOLDING BACK IS ALLOWING SATAN TO FILL OUR LIFE INSTEAD OF THE HOLY SPIRIT. 
  • HOLDING BACK IS LYING TO THE HOLY SPIRIT.
  • HOLDING BACK IS ACTING AGAINST AND LYING TO GOD HIMSELF. 
  • God’s Judgments are Always Facing Us
  • The sin of Ananias seems to have been close to blasphemy against the Holy Spirit (that is, saying the work of the Holy Spirit is of the devil).  The sin of Ananias, of holding back was saying…
  • The work of the Holy Spirit allows sin.
  • The work of the Holy Spirit in a life still allows a person to withhold from God a portion of his/her own life for himself.
  • The movement of the Holy Spirit in a life still allows the devil to fill a heart with some sin.
  • A person can be both righteous and worldly at the same time.
  • The Holy Spirit is less important in life than doing my own thing.

The First Martyr – Stephen

Chapter 7 of the Book of Acts

When Stephen was brought to trial before the Sanhedrin – the Jewish religious council – his life was hanging in the balance.  Yet, Stephen did not make excuses for his actions nor try to defend himself.  Rather, he used this opportunity to proclaim the mercy and grace of God to the Jewish nation.  In essence, he indicted his accusers.  He told them they were displaying the same spirit of unbelief that their ancestors had done in the past as they resisted the work of God in their nation.  He did this by illustrating God’s hand in the past history of Israel.

Abraham – the founding father of Israel.  To Abraham had been given the call to go to a land which God would show him – and someday give to his descendants.  Stephen shows that from the very beginning of their nation, God was the one in control. 

God (the God of Glory – ho theos tes doxes) – the God who possess and manifests glory.  God of the outward and visible glory.  It is the glory, radiance, brilliance of God’s Person which bursts forth from His Supreme Being.  The idea is that God appeared and revealed His glory to Abraham) appeared to Abraham – while he was still living in Mesopotamia.

God promised him a land – if he would “get out” of his present country and life.  The land was to be one of God’s choosing, not Abraham’s.  The land was to be an inheritance to his descendants.

Today, God has appeared to us while we were yet in sin (Romans 5:6-8; John 3:16), calling us to “get out” of our present country and life (Acts 2:40; 2 Corinthians 6:17-18; Ephesians 5:11; 2 Thessalonians 3:6; 1 John 2:15-16). 

Romans 5:6-8 – For when we were still without strength, in due time, Christ died for the ungodly.  For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die.  But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

2 Corinthians 6:17-18 – Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord.  Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you.  I will be a Father to you and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the LORD Almighty.

God has promised us a special relationship with Him now and a future home in heaven (John 14:19-21; John 15:9-11; John 14:1-4; Hebrews 11:10; Hebrews 13:14). 

John 14:19-21 – A little while longer and the world will see Me no more, but you will see Me.  Because I live, you will live also.  At that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you.  He who has my commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me.  And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.

John 14:1-4 – Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believer also in Me.  In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you.  I go t prepare a place for you.  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.  And where I go you know, and the way you know.

Our relationship with God is something we need to pass on to our children as an inheritance Ephesians 6:4; Deuteronomy 6:1-9; 2 Timothy 2:2).

Ephesians 6:4 – And you fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and the admonition of the Lord.

Joseph – a type of Christ. 

Joseph was chosen by God, but rejected by his brothers (Genesis 37). 

Joseph suffered for years, but gained ultimate victory. 

God had a plan (Galatians 4:4-5).  Man may try to stop it because of envy, because of rebellion, but God will always work out His plan regardless of what man does to try to stop it. 

Galatians 4:4-5 – But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.

Moses – the great deliverer.  The time came for God’s people to receive the promise made to Abraham (Genesis 15:1-7; Genesis 15:13-14).  But they had forgotten the promise – it was not the focus of their lives.  They had grown comfortable in Egypt.  God had to act to cause them to want deliverance and then to bring about that deliverance.  They were powerless to make the promise come true. 

Moses was stirred into action by God.  However, he apparently sought to do God’s will his way. 

Moses was originally rejected also. 

Again, it was God who appeared to Moses, it was God who called him to save the people, it was God who sent the miracles and brought Israel out of Egypt. 

Charges Against Israel

The people worshipped false gods rather than the One True God.    God turned away from them (Romans 1:21-28).

The people carried the tabernacle of false gods in their hearts.  Again, God turned away from them (2 Kings 17:5-18). (Molech was the sun god to whom children were often sacrificed.  The idol had the head of an ox and arms that stretched out.  There was a hollow place underneath the arms where a fire was built.  The fire consumed the sacrifices lying in the outstretched arms above.  Molech was the god of the Amorites.  Remphan was a god of the Egyptians, Arabs and Phoenician.  It is thought to have been the worship of the planet Saturn.)

The people had no excuse.  God had given them the tabernacle, great leaders, the temple.  Still they chose the world instead of God.

The people did not understand the temple.  They did not understand that God was not limited to one place (1 Kings 8:27; 2 Chronicles 6:18; John 4:24).

The present generation of Israelites were rejecting God just as their fathers had done.  They were “stiff-necked” (sklerotracheloi) – hard necked, obstinate, stubborn.  They were “uncircumcised in heart” (aperitmetoi kardiais) – idolaters, false worshippers, ungodly.  They “resisted” – deliberately opposed or rushed against God, actively struggled and fought against God. 

The people persecuted all the prophets – the very ones who predicted the coming of the Messiah  (2 Chronicles 36:14-16).

Acts 7:54-60 (The Amplified Bible) – Now upon hearing these things, they [the Jews] were cut to the heart and infuriated, and they ground their teeth against [Stephen].  But he, full of the Holy Spirit and controlled by Him, gazed into heaven and saw the glory (the splendor and majesty) of God, and Jesus standing at God’s right hand; and he said, Look! I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing at God’s right hand!  But they raised a great shout and put their hands over their ears and rushed together upon him.  Then they dragged him out of the city and began to stone him, and the witnesses placed their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul.  And while they were stoning Stephen, he prayed, Lord Jesus, receive and accept and welcome my spirit!  And falling on his knees, he cried out loudly, Lord, fix not this sin upon them [lay it not to their charge]! And when he had said this, he fell asleep [in death]. 

Do I have the faith and courage of Stephen?

Is my testimony so great that I could possibly take some sort of physical torment by unbelievers?

Stephen was totally innocent of wrong doing in his life according to the Scriptures.  Could we fit that category – totally innocent?

Have we ever cried out in a loud voice about the goodness of God?  Is our testimony so great and persuasive that some might stop their ears?

When we are receiving verbal or possibly physical abuse for our stand for the Lord will we have the same forgiveness as Stephen?

Unlike Achan in the Old Testament who deserved punishment for his sin, Stephen did not deserve the treatment he received.  How do we respond to harsh treatment by others?  How do we respond to verbal abuse or criticism concerning our faith?

Arrested

Acts 4:1-22

Now as they spoke to the people, the priests, the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees came upon them, being greatly disturbed that they taught the people and preached in Jesus the resurrection from the dead. And they laid hands on them, and put them in custody until the next day, for it was already evening. However, many of those who heard the word believed; and the number of the men came to be about five thousand.

And it came to pass, on the next day, that their rulers, elders, and scribes, as well as Annas the high priest, Caiaphas, John, and Alexander, and as many as were of the family of the high priest, were gathered together at Jerusalem. And when they had set them in the midst, they asked, “By what power or by what name have you done this?”

Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders of Israel: If we this day are judged for a good deed done to a helpless man, by what means he has been made well, let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole. This is the ‘stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.’ Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus. And seeing the man who had been healed standing with them, they could say nothing against it. But when they had commanded them to go aside out of the council, they conferred among themselves, saying, “What shall we do to these men? For, indeed, that a notable miracle has been done through them is evident to all who dwell in Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it. But so that it spreads no further among the people, let us severely threaten them, that from now on they speak to no man in this name.”

So they called them and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered and said to them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.” So when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding no way of punishing them, because of the people, since they all glorified God for what had been done. For the man was over forty years old on whom this miracle of healing had been performed.

  • Arrested for Proclaiming the Truth
  • Arrested “as they were speaking.” 
  • Arrested by the religionist leaders.

The religious establishment was threatened by what the disciples were preaching.  If Jesus had arose from the dead, then He must have been what He claimed to be – the Son of God.  If that were true, they had murdered the Son of God.  If Jesus was really the Messiah, their very existence as priests and leaders in the Temple would be done away with. 

We should not be surprised if we are condemned, talked about, persecuted when we witness for Christ.  We should not be surprised if the very ones who cause us the most trouble are those who seem to be so righteous.

  • Their preaching bore results in spite of the persecution.

Man may hinder our witnessing, may make it more difficult, but he cannot stop the truth of God’s Word

NOTE:  The Sanhedrin was the ruling body of the Jews.  It had 72 members and was presided over by the High Priest.  The priests were made up of the male descendants of Aaron (Exodus 28:1, Numbers 3:1-3, Numbers 18:1-7).  By the time of Jesus there were over 20,000 priests.  Since there was only one temple, the priests were divided into groups.  Each group served in the temple for one week twice a year (1 Chronicles 24:1-6).  The High Priest was supposed to be a spiritual office appointed by the Jewish leaders, but by the time of Jesus, it had evolved into a political office and the Roman government appointed the high priest.  Caiaphas was the high priest appointed by the Romans.  However, Annas, who had been removed by the Romans, was apparently still the power behind the throne, and had tremendous influence among the Jewish leaders. 

  • Christ is Credited with the Power
  • Peter was “filled with the Holy Spirit.” 

Matthew 10:18-20 – And you will be brought before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles.  But when they deliver you up, do not worry about how or what you should speak, for it will be given to you in that hour what you should speak; for it is not you who speaks, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you.

Mark 13:11 – But when they arrest you and deliver you up, do not worry beforehand, or premeditate what you will speak. But whatever is given you in that hour, speak that; for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit.

Luke 21:12-15 – But before all these things, they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons. You will be brought before kings and rulers for My name’s sake. But it will turn out for you as an occasion for testimony. Therefore settle it in your hearts not to meditate beforehand on what you will answer; for I will give you a mouth and wisdom which all your adversaries will not be able to contradict or resist.

  • Peter and John took no personal credit
  • It was the name of Jesus Christ.  To the Jewish mind, a person’s name was the same thing as the person themselves.
  • To sign your name to a document was to pledge yourself.  The name of Jesus simply stands for the power, the might, the very being of Jesus Himself.  There is no magic in the words Jesus Christ.  The power is in the person behind the name.
  • Jesus had been crucified.  He had died.
  • Jesus had arose again.  He was alive.

NOTE:  Remember, we are reading this in the English translation of the Greek.  However, Peter would have been speaking in Aramaic.  What He would have said was Jesus the Messiah.  Christ is the Greek word for Messiah.  Peter was bolding telling the Jewish leaders that Jesus was the long awaited Messiah, the promised Savior of their nation. 

  • Jesus Christ is the Source of Salvation.        
  • He is the Chief Cornerstone.  The main foundation. 

Psalm 118:22 – The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone…

Matthew 21:42 – Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures: ‘The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone.  This was the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes’”

Ephesians 2:20 – having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone.

1 Peter 2:6 – Therefore it is also contained in the Scripture, “Behold, I lay in Zion a chief cornerstone, elect, precious, and he who believes on Him will by no means be put to shame.

  • Jesus Christ alone saves.  There is no other name to call on. 

John 3:16-17 – For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.  For God did not send His son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.

John 14:6 – Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through Me.

1 Corinthians 2:2 – For I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ and him crucified.

1 Corinthians 3:11 – For no other foundation can man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

NOTE:  The words used here – salvation and whole – are the same Greek word – sesotai.  It means to be saved, to be made whole, to be safe and sound, to be healed.  It means that a person is made whole and continues to be whole.  It means that the man was made whole in both body and soul.  Salvation in the Biblical sense includes all of man – spirit, body, soul (mind, emotions and will).

  • Fellowship with Jesus Christ Changes Men
  • Boldness
  • Power
  • Knowledge

Here is a challenge to us.  Do we spend enough time with Jesus that the world notices our boldness, our power, our knowledge (knowledge that does not come by natural means)?  Jesus longs for our fellowship with Him.

Matthew 18:20 – For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.

John 14:23 – If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.

John 17:20-24 – I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word (that’s you and me); that they all may be one, as You, Father are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us….I in them, and You in Me;….that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.  Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am….

Revelation 3:20 – Behold, I stand at the door and knock.  If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.

  • Refusal to Compromise the Message
  • Regardless of threats
  • God must be obeyed
  • We cannot help but share what God has done for us

Matthew 5:11 – Blessed (happy) are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake.

2 Timothy 3:12 -“And all that will live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.

1 Peter 3:15 – …be ready always to give an answer to every man that asks you a reason for the hope that is in you….

1 Peter 2:9 – But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that you should show forth the praises of him who has called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

Matthew 5:16; John 15:8; 1 Corinthians 6:20; Colossians 1:12; Psalm 9:11; Psalm 35:28

The prophet, Jeremiah suffered persecution for proclaiming the message of God to Israel.  Finally, he said, “I will not make mention of Him, nor speak anymore in His name.”  He concluded that “But His word was in my heart like a burning fire (fire shut up in my bones); I was weary of holding it back, and I could not.”

How could someone find a cure for Aids or cancer and not tell it to the world?  How could someone find a solution to the violence in our schools and not tell it to the world?  How could someone find an answer for all our abused children and not tell it to the world?

Well, we have the answer! It is Jesus Christ, crucified and risen again. 

SHOUT IT OUT!!!! LET THE WORLD KNOW THAT JESUS SAVES (heals, makes whole, makes safe, complete, sound.)

NOTE:  After the disciples were released in today’s story, they reported back to the church all the threats that had been given to them.  Notice the church’s response.  They did not, as we would probably do, cry out for protection.  They did not question why God had permitted these threats?  They did not ask for God to rain down judgment on their accusers?  They did not ask God to please stop the threats or the persecution.

Rather, they asked for more boldness for themselves that they would continue to speak the Word and not be intimidated by the threats.  They asked for signs and wonders to be done through the name of Jesus.

Perhaps we need to change our prayers.

The Day of Pentecost Experience

Acts 1:8

But you shall receive power (ability, efficiency and might) when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses (one who tells what he has seen or heard or knows – comes from the same root word as our word for martyr – one who bears witness by his death) to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.

Acts 2:1-4

When the Day of Pentecost had 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 the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

  • The Pentecostal Experience
  • To be baptized with the Holy Spirit is to be filled with the Spirit of God.  It is described as an outpouring of the Spirit by which the believer is filled with the presence of the third Person of the Trinity, who serves the believer as Paraclete (advocate of intercessor).  This indwelling as Paraclete gives the believer the special endowment of the power of God. 
  • The Scriptures use the term “baptize” with the Holy Spirit when God poured out His spirit on the disciples on the day of Pentecost.  This term is also applicable to the other instances recorded in the book of Acts where believers received the gifts of the Holy Spirit. 

Acts 8:14-17 – Now when the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them, who, when they had come down, prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit. For as yet He had fallen upon none of them. They had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit

Acts 10:44-48 – While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word. And those of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God.  Then Peter answered, “Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then they asked him to stay a few days.

Acts 19:1-6 – And it happened, while Apollos was at Corinth, that Paul, having passed through the upper regions, came to Ephesus. And finding some disciples he said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?”  So they said to him, “We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.”  And he said to them, “Into what then were you baptized?”  So they said, “Into John’s baptism.”  Then Paul said, “John indeed baptized with a baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe on Him who would come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.”  When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied.

  • The special characteristic of this experience is that the believer is filled with the Spirit.  In Ephesians 5:18, this concept of being filled with the Spirit stands in contract to being “drunk with wine.”  To be filled with the Spirit is to be brought under the influence of the Spirit of God so that the Spirit governs the personal nature of the believer in mind, emotions and will.
  • The Holy Spirit is the personal agent for the revelation of God.

1 Corinthians 2;9-11 – But as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”  But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God.

  • His various titles in Scripture identify Him as the Spirit of God. 

Matthew 3:16 – When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him.

See also Isaiah 11:2; 61:1 and Luke 4:18

  • In Romans 8:9 we see that He is called the Spirit of Christ.  In Galatians 4:6 we find Him called the Spirit of His (God’s) Son.  There are many other titles of the Holy Spirit and special characteristics of these titles are that they identify the Holy Spirit in His relationship in the holy Trinity, i.e., in His divine nature.
  • The experience of the baptism of the Holy Spirit is promised to those who believe on Jesus Christ for salvation.

John 14:15-17 – “If you love Me, keep My commandments. And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever— the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.

  • After giving the promise of the Holy Spirit in John 14:16, Christ prayed for the sanctifying (cleansing, purifying) of the disciples in John 17. 
  • To be filled with the Spirit is to be freed from the law of sin and death.

Romans 8:2-4 – For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

  • It is also to walk in the Spirit, manifesting the graces of Jesus Christ. 

Galatians 5:16-25 – say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.  Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.

You Shall Receive Power – for What?

Acts 1:8

But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you; and you shall be witnesses to me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.

For many of us who are from or in a Pentecostal church we sometimes forget that the “power” we are to be recipients of is more than the shouting kind of power, more than the jumping-the-pew kind of power, more than the speaking-in-tongues kind of power.  The power we have received as baptized believers is the power to be servants, the power to be witnesses, the power to be hourly and daily over comers living our lives as spiritual creations of our God rising above the sin and strife of this world.

The Word of God says where there is no vision the people perish. 

            I don’t want my family to perish.

            I don’t want my neighbors to perish.

            I don’t want my community to perish.

            I don’t want my state, my country, this world to perish.

God’s Word states that He is not willing that any should perish, but rather all to receive everlasting life.

We celebrate around the world the coming of the power of the Holy Spirit on the disciples and those gathered in the upper room.  His coming was to empower them for service, to empower them with grace, to empower them with the Holy Spirit to go forth and be witnesses and win the lost to Jesus Christ.

We have a great responsibility.  I am not talking about talking in tongues or the gifts of the Spirit.  I am not talking about the other things we equate with Pentecost – the emotional things.  I have no problem with speaking in tongues – it is in the Bible.  I have no problem with being slain in the Spirit – it is in the Bible.  I have no problem with the other emotional things done in Pentecostal churches- it is in the Bible.  I have been involved in these things and it is real. 

But we need to know that the Holy Spirit was not given for you to feel good.  The Holy Spirit was not given to you just so you could experience the emotional things we sometimes exhibit.  The Holy Spirit and His endowment of power was given so we would be witnesses of the grace of God.

The Holy Spirit and power will change your life.  The Holy Spirit and power will give you strength to overcome all the temptations that you are faced with.  No more will you walk around with “I don’t think I’m going to make it.”  You will be changed and you will stand and you will say, “By the grace of God and the power he has placed within me, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

God’s Spirit gets down inside of you and you cannot help but tell of the glory of God and His power.  It is time for us to get on fire for Jesus Christ.  It is time to lay down some of the habits that we picked up when we were in the world.  It is time to lay them aside and say, “By the grace of God, I will do what God has called me to do.”

You must stand determined in the power of God.  You must stand in purity and holiness.  You must stand and, having done all, stand.  You must be willing to go forth and be the witness God has called you to be.

When the Gifts of the Spirit Come to Church

Acts 1:8

But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you; and you shall be witnesses to me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.

It all began on the day of Pentecost.  John the Baptist had foretold of someone coming who would “baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire” (Matt. 3:11).  Jesus had told his disciples that when He had returned to the Father, He would send “another Helper that He may abide with you forever” (John 14:16).  Then, just before He ascended into heaven, He instructed them to “wait in Jerusalem” until they were filled with power from on high (Luke 24:49).  He told them that they would “receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you shall be witnesses to Me” (Acts 1:8).

The Early Church was founded and grew by the power of the Holy Spirit.  Throughout the book of Acts we read where the disciples healed, preached and answered their accusers as they were “filled with the Holy Spirit.” 

Peter in Acts 4:8 was “filled with the Holy Spirit” when he answered the rulers of Israel’s accusations after he had healed the lame man.

Peter told Ananias and Sapphira that it was the Holy Spirit they were lying to in Acts 5.

When there was a complaint about the division of daily food between the Hebrews and the Hellenists, the disciples’ answer was to find men “full of the Holy Spirit” to take care of the daily administrative needs of the church (Acts 6).

Stephen was “full of faith and power” when he did great wonders and signs among the people.  Acts 6:10 tells us that the Jewish rulers could not “resist the wisdom and the Spirit by which he spoke.”  When he went to his death he went “full of the Holy Spirit” according to Acts 7:55. 

Another lay person, Philip, went to Samaria and preached Christ and performed miracles by the power of the Holy Spirit (Acts 8).   Later the spirit directed Philip to leave the revival at Samaria and sent him into the desert to share the Gospel with the Ethiopian eunuch.  After baptizing the eunuch, it was the Spirit that conveyed Philip away. 

The great leader Paul was filled with the Holy Spirit before he began his great ministry to the Gentiles.  We could speak of the Spirit falling upon Cornelius and his household in Acts 10, of the prompting of the Holy Spirit upon a man called Agabus to prophecy of a coming famine that led to the church at Antioch taking up what was probably the first relief offering in the church, about the Holy Spirit speaking to the church at Antioch to set Barnabas and Paul forth as the church’s first missionary team to the Gentiles. 

The Bible even claims for itself that it was written by holy men of God as they were moved by the Holy Spirit so our Bible is a book whose writer is the Holy Spirit.  Every time we read the Bible, we are reading the word inspired by the Holy Spirit.

Even our last book of the Bible, Revelation, was given to John as he was “in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day” (Rev. 1:10).

So, we see that the Early Church was a church in which the Holy Spirit was recognized as an essential part of the Godhead and an essential part of the believer’s life.  As the church began to become more accepted, believers began to allow the beliefs, ideas and philosophies of the world penetrate the church.  Slowly, over time, the church lost its power with God as it gained power with man. 

Still, the church record is full of times and peoples when the church returned to its desire for God’s power.  In those times, there are records of the Holy Spirit falling again as it did on the day of Pentecost. 

There have been revivals of the Pentecostal experience in our recent history.  In the early 1900’s revival came in our southern states and in California giving birth to the Assembly of God and other Pentecostal denominations.  Again, in the late 1950’s there was a move of the Spirit in the mainline denominations.  This is often referred to as the “Charismatic renewal.” 

The word “Pentecostal” – 50 – came from the feast which occurred 50 days after the Passover.  It was the Feast of Weeks or the Day of First fruits, a celebration of the first buds of harvest.  How appropriate that the Lord was crucified on Passover and the Church was born on Pentecost. Charismatic – from the Greek word charismata is used in 1 Corinthians 12 to describe the gifts of the Holy Spirit. 

In recent years there has been a great revival of Pentecost in South America.  Pentecostal churches are growing so fast in what was formerly predominately Catholic countries that the Pope is sitting up and taking notice of this move of God.  We look at the church in America and we think the days of signs and wonders are over.  We think “it was only for a particular time or a particular place.”  Yet, everywhere in the world except for the USA, Canada and most parts of Europe, the church is growing by leaps and bounds and it is exhibiting the marks of the Early Church.  People are being baptized in the Holy Spirit, the gifts of the Spirit are operating.

Is it important that the gifts of the Spirit operate in our church today?  Should we be concerned if the gifts are not in operation?  Whose responsibility is it for the gifts to be in operation?

It is important only if the following things are things we desire in our church.

  • For souls to be won to the Lord.  We see by what our Lord Jesus said that it takes the power of the Holy Spirit for us to be witnesses.  (To Know, To Be, To Tell). 

Acts 1:8 – The Holy Spirit is the Person and the Power by which assistance and ability are given for serving, for sharing the life and power of God with others.      

  • For the church to be strengthened and to grow.

Ephesians 4:12 – The Holy Spirit gives the Church gifts so that we may each find our place of ministry, fill that place and see the church grow (numerical expansion) and edified (internal strengthening). 

1 Corinthians 12:7 – Profit – to bring together, to benefit, to be advantageous. 

Whose responsibility is it? 

  • The leaders – Ephesians 4:11-12 – And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ
  • The individuals – 1 Corinthians 12:31 – But earnestly desire the best gifts. Desire – to burn with desire, to pursue zealously, to desire intensely.

How do we see the gifts of the Spirit come to the church? It has always come about when there has been a real recognition by God’s people of a need for renewal in their own lives and in the lives of their church and community.  When there has been a definite effort on the part of sincere believers to receive this power of the Holy Spirit and to allow the Holy Spirit to have control and move in their lives.

Equipping Ministry Gifts – Ephesians 4:11 – And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers

  • Apostle
  • Prophet
  • Evangelist
  • Pastor
  • Teacher

Body Ministry Gifts – Romans 12:3-8 – For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith. For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.

  • Exhortation
  • Teaching
  • Service
  • Administration
  • Benevolence
  • Giving
  • Hospitality

Manifestation Gifts – 1 Corinthians 12:8-10 – for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues.

  • Word of Wisdom
  • Word of Knowledge
  • Discerning of Spirits
  • Faith
  • Healings
  • Miracles
  • Prophecy
  • Tongues
  • Interpretation of Tongues