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Acts 1:6-12 | Power to Be Witnesses

Sunday, September 20, 2020 • John Cole • Holy Spirit
What does it mean to be a witness for Christ? What kind of power does Jesus give HIs followers? Join us as we find answers to these questions in Acts.

 

 

Have you ever done something that you thought was impossible? Books and movies are full of stories about people overcoming the impossible.

 

As Jesus nears leaving His disciples by ascending to Heaven at the right hand of God the Father, He tasks His disciples and, by implication, all those to follow with an impossible mission. The fearful disciples who had been hiding from the Jews since Jesus' death were now being told to be Christ's witnesses and to preach His Gospel in the very place where Jesus was crucified—Jerusalem.

 

If that were not enough, they were told to go beyond there and do the same thing among their hated neighbors in Samaria, throughout the countryside of Judea, and throughout all the world. These fearful, doubtful, nameless, outcasts were instructed to continue Jesus' ministry far beyond places He ever took it and to do "greater works" than He had done.

 

John 14:12

12 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.

 

How could this be? Many of them were just labor workers,  certainly not powerful influencers.

 

Even more, their message was repulsive to most of their audience.

° Resurrection of dead bodies

° True King Who is sovereign and will return

° Sinful, depraved hearts

° Weaknesses of the law (both Jews & Romans wouldn't like this)

° Healing and receiving the sick, poor, sinners, and abominable as equals

° Love and forgiveness over law and sword

° Faith over wisdom

° Humility the way of exaltation

 

The message would not make sense to their hearers, if they could even afford or have the freedom to get it to them.

 

The truth is, Jesus gave them a mission they could not do—without Him.

 

This is why Jesus had told them to wait for the baptism of the Holy Spirit. He had also told them that after the Holy Spirit came upon them, they would receive power—for the mission. Power to be witnesses.

 

Not only would they be indwelt with the Holy Spirit, the very presence of God, but also they would be empowered by the Holy Spirit.

 

Instead of Jesus carrying on His ministry in His human body on Earth, Jesus would carry on His ministry in His church body on Earth.

 

This mission is not the disciples' mission. It is Jesus' mission through His disciples.

 

By having the Spirit of God in them, they have Jesus in them. Not only would God's promised presence bring comfort and security of salvation, but also His presence would enable them for the mission.

 

Without God's presence, Jesus' mission for His disciples would be impossible, but with and by His presence and power Christ's mission is still being carried out through His disciples—me and you.

 

Last week we looked at the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Today, we look at the given power of the Holy Spirit to be witnesses.

 

SCRIPTURE

 

Acts 1:6–12

6 When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?

7 And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.

8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

9 And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.

10 And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel;

11 Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.

12 Then returned they unto Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is from Jerusalem a sabbath day's journey.

 

ENORMOUS MISSION 

 

Acts 1:8

8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

 

° Geographically broad

° Ethnically transcendent

° Generationally carried out

° Operationally multifaceted

 

This mission is bigger than these disciples. It extends to disciples of Christ even to this day in His church, and it is only carried out as Christ's followers are empowered by the Holy Spirit.

 

We will focus more on the details of this enormous mission next week, but today, we will focus primarily on two words: power and witnesses.

 

EMPOWERED REPEATEDLY 

 

Power we naturally desire (vs. 6-7)

 

Acts 1:6–7

6 When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?

7 And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.

 

First, we must consider how the power Jesus promises is far different than the power we naturally desire. We desire:

° Physical: things we can see

° Earthly: dominions on Earth

° Controlling: directed by us

° Personal: for our own good


  For the Christian, the bottom line can never be the bottom line.
   Citation: Richard J. Foster, Money, Sex, and Power

 

Power the world chases cannot be the power we chase!

 

Matthew 16:21–27

21 From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day.

22 Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee.

23 But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.

24 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.

25 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.

26 For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?

27 For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.

 

Power Jesus gives to followers (vs. 8)

 

Acts 1:8

8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

 

Jesus promised power for things only important to born again followers of Christ:

° Spiritual: things we cannot see

° Heavenly: Kingdom of God

° Yielded: directed by the Spirit

° Others: for the good of others

° Missional: ability for the mission

 

To whom would this power be given, and how often?

 

Power that comes to yielded Christians (vs. 9-12)

 

Acts 1:9–12

9 And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.

10 And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel;

11 Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.

12 Then returned they unto Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is from Jerusalem a sabbath day's journey.

 

Notice these disciples were yielded to and under the control of the Holy Spirit and His revealed Word in Scripture. Once the Word of Christ was pointed out to them, they obeyed.

 

Vs. 11 Why stand ye . . .

 

Vs. 12 Then returned they unto Jerusalem . . .

 

Acts 2:4

4 And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

 

In Ephesians, we see a command for all believers to be filled with the Holy Spirit.

 

Ephesians 5:15–21

15 See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise,

16 Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.

17 Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.

18 And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;

19 Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;

20 Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;

21 Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.

 

This is different than the one-time happening of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. This is a disciple's continual giving over of control to the Holy Spirit for every day Christian living.

 

This is a day-by-day and moment-by-moment yielding to the Spirit's work in us and revelation of Scripture.

 

Colossians 3:16–17

16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.

17 And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.

 

Notice here the same results:

° Teaching and admonishing one another

° Singing with one another

° Giving thanks to God

° Doing everything by our Lord Jesus

° Submitting to one another

 

One baptism. Repeat filling.

 

This makes possible . . .

 

ENABLED WITNESSES 

 

Gladly yielded to represent Christ and His message.

 

"Witness" comes from from Greek transliteration martyres.

 

From this, we get the word martyr.

 

Acts 6:8–10

8 And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people.

9 Then there arose certain of the synagogue, which is called the synagogue of the Libertines, and Cyrenians, and Alexandrians, and of them of Cilicia and of Asia, disputing with Stephen.

10 And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit by which he spake.

 

Acts 10:34–43

34 Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons:

35 But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.

36 The word which God sent unto the children of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ: (he is Lord of all:)

37 That word, I say, ye know, which was published throughout all Judaea, and began from Galilee, after the baptism which John preached;

38 How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him.

39 And we are witnesses of all things which he did both in the land of the Jews, and in Jerusalem; whom they slew and hanged on a tree:

40 Him God raised up the third day, and shewed him openly;

41 Not to all the people, but unto witnesses chosen before of God, even to us, who did eat and drink with him after he rose from the dead.

42 And he commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is he which was ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead.

43 To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.

 

Acts 16:7

7 After they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia: but the Spirit suffered them not.

 

Gladly yielded . . .

 

Strongly continued with conviction amidst persecution and trials.

 

Acts 7:55

55 But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God,

 

Acts 8:1–4

1 And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles.

2 And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him.

3 As for Saul, he made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison.

4 Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word.



  Death used to be an executioner, but the gospel has made him just a gardener.

    Citation: Unknown

 

Gladly yielded, strong convictions . . .

 

Boldly preached Christ so that others may believe.

 

Acts 4:8

8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost, said unto them, Ye rulers of the people, and elders of Israel,

 

Acts 4:31

31 And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness.

 

Acts 11:20–21

20 And some of them were men of Cyprus and Cyrene, which, when they were come to Antioch, spake unto the Grecians, preaching the Lord Jesus.

21 And the hand of the Lord was with them: and a great number believed, and turned unto the Lord.

 

1 Thessalonians 1:5

5 For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake.

 

Spiritually equipped to serve in the Body of Christ.

 

Romans 12:6

6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith;

 

1 Corinthians 12:1

1 Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant.

 

We will learn more about some of the various gifts that are described in a separate, future lesson—probably on a Sunday night.

 

Uniquely authenticated with sign gifts at the start of this new age.

 

Acts 2:4

4 And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

 

Acts 5:12–16

12 And by the hands of the apostles were many signs and wonders wrought among the people; (and they were all with one accord in Solomon's porch.

13 And of the rest durst no man join himself to them: but the people magnified them.

14 And believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women.)

15 Insomuch that they brought forth the sick into the streets, and laid them on beds and couches, that at the least the shadow of Peter passing by might overshadow some of them.

16 There came also a multitude out of the cities round about unto Jerusalem, bringing sick folks, and them which were vexed with unclean spirits: and they were healed every one.

 

Hebrews 2:3–4

3 How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him;

4 God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will?

 

Remember how we pointed out the natural repulsiveness of their message to the Jews, Gentiles, Greeks, and Romans? God bore witness of their message by the Holy Spirit's miraculous works of authentication.

 

The Jews require a sign, and God gave them many during the start of the church age, both in His earthly ministry and the ministry Jesus was doing through His disciples.

 

CONCLUSION



  To have God do his own work through us, even once, is better than a lifetime of human striving.
    Citation: Unknown

 

  Those first believers turned to Christ with the full understanding that they were espousing an unpopular cause that could cost them everything. Shortly after Pentecost some were jailed, many lost all their earthly goods, a few were slain, hundreds were 'scattered abroad.' They could have escaped all this by the simple expedient of denying their faith and turning back to the world. This they steadfastly refused to do.
  To make converts, we are tempted to play down the difficulties and play up the peace of mind and worldly success enjoyed by those who accept Christ. We will never be completely honest with our hearers until we tell them the blunt truth that, as members of a race of moral rebels, they are in a serious jam, and one they will not get out of easily. If they refuse to repent and believe on Christ, they will most surely perish. If they do turn to Him, the same enemies that crucified Him will try to crucify them.
  A. W. Tozer, Source unknown

 

Jesus saves sinners and makes them witnesses Being witnesses is impossible without God's power.

 

How about it, are we ready to be witnesses? Ready to continue with conviction amidst enemies and persecution? Ready to boldly share the word of Christ? Ready to serve within the church?

 

It all starts with repentance from sin and faith in Christ. That is when we are baptized with the Holy Spirit.

 

The power to be witnesses comes to yielded Christians who desire to be controlled by the Spirit and His revealed Word.

 

 

FOLLOW-UP DISCIPLESHIP

 

Stones as witnesses.

 

Genesis 31:44–48

44 Now therefore come thou, let us make a covenant, I and thou; and let it be for a witness between me and thee.

45 And Jacob took a stone, and set it up for a pillar.

46 And Jacob said unto his brethren, Gather stones; and they took stones, and made an heap: and they did eat there upon the heap.

47 And Laban called it Jegar-sahadutha: but Jacob called it Galeed.

48 And Laban said, This heap is a witness between me and thee this day. Therefore was the name of it called Galeed;

 

 

The Law says there must be at least two or three witnesses for someone to be put to death.

 

Deuteronomy 17:6

6 At the mouth of two witnesses, or three witnesses, shall he that is worthy of death be put to death; but at the mouth of one witness he shall not be put to death.

 

Jesus is His own witness. He doesn't need us. He has chosen to work through us.

 

John 8:13–19

13 The Pharisees therefore said unto him, Thou bearest record of thyself; thy record is not true.

14 Jesus answered and said unto them, Though I bear record of myself, yet my record is true: for I know whence I came, and whither I go; but ye cannot tell whence I come, and whither I go.

15 Ye judge after the flesh; I judge no man.

16 And yet if I judge, my judgment is true: for I am not alone, but I and the Father that sent me.

17 It is also written in your law, that the testimony of two men is true.

18 I am one that bear witness of myself, and the Father that sent me beareth witness of me.

19 Then said they unto him, Where is thy Father? Jesus answered, Ye neither know me, nor my Father: if ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also.

 

1 Timothy 6:13

13 I give thee charge in the sight of God, who quickeneth all things, and before Christ Jesus, who before Pontius Pilate witnessed a good confession;

 

Matthew 27:11

11 And Jesus stood before the governor: and the governor asked him, saying, Art thou the King of the Jews? And Jesus said unto him, Thou sayest.

 

Revelation 1:5

5 And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood,

 

Revelation 3:14

14 And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God;

 

Revelation 19:11

11 And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war.

 

Luke 19:35–40

35 And they brought him to Jesus: and they cast their garments upon the colt, and they set Jesus thereon.

36 And as he went, they spread their clothes in the way.

37 And when he was come nigh, even now at the descent of the mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen;

38 Saying, Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord: peace in heaven, and glory in the highest.

39 And some of the Pharisees from among the multitude said unto him, Master, rebuke thy disciples.

40 And he answered and said unto them, I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out.

 

It is our privilege to be witnesses/testimonies for Christ.

 

As we considered this morning, being a witness is often difficult.

 

Peter later told believers to glorify God by being partakers of Christ's sufferings, and he wrote of himself as a witness of the sufferings of Christ.

 

1 Peter 4:12–5:1

12 Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you:

13 But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.

14 If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified.

15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men's matters.

16 Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.

17 For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?

18 And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?

19 Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator.

1 The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed:

 

Paul needed filled with the Spirit to bear Jesus' name as a witness who would suffer for Jesus' name.

 

Acts 9:10–18

10 And there was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias; and to him said the Lord in a vision, Ananias. And he said, Behold, I am here, Lord.

11 And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and inquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold, he prayeth,

12 And hath seen in a vision a man named Ananias coming in, and putting his hand on him, that he might receive his sight.

13 Then Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem:

14 And here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on thy name.

15 But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel:

16 For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name's sake.

17 And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost.

18 And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized.

 

John writes the words of Christ to the church of Pergamos, both correcting them for permitting false teachers and acknowledging their faithful witness.

 

Revelation 2:12–13

12 And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write; These things saith he which hath the sharp sword with two edges;

13 I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan's seat is: and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth.

 

Stephen is called a martyr with the same Greek word for witness.

 

Acts 22:20

20 And when the blood of thy martyr Stephen was shed, I also was standing by, and consenting unto his death, and kept the raiment of them that slew him.

 

The Holy Spirit not only empowers us to witness, but also He is God's witness to us.

 

Romans 8:14–18

14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.

15 For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.

16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:

17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.

18 For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

 

John 1:12

12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:

 

1 John 5:10

10 He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son.

 

Romans 5:1–5

1 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:

2 By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

3 And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience;

4 And patience, experience; and experience, hope:

5 And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.

 


 

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