#4 SERIES ON THE HOLY SPIRIT
"THE HOLY SPIRIT EMPOWERS!"
TEXT: Acts 1:8
INTRO: One of the greatest events in the New Testament was Pentecost. The Baptism of the Holy Spirit did more to transform the spreading of the Gospel than any other single event. These believers were filled with power after Pentecost ... yet so often many misunderstand the nature of this power. The church today still needs this great gift Jesus promised His followers when He ascended back to heaven … this promise of the father to be endued with power from on high.
ILLUS: THE NIAGARA FALLS ARE AN IMPRESSIVE SIGHT, SO MANY NEWLYWEDS HAVE GONE THERE TO SEE THE BEAUTY OF THE FALLS AND TO DISCOVER THE BEAUTY OF EACH OTHER IN THE PROCESS. THE RIDE AT THE BOTTOM OF THE FALLS ON THE MAIDEN OF THE MIST IS IMPRESSIVE AS YOU GO NEAR THE FALLS AND THE SPRAY FROM THE MIGHTY RIVER FALLS GENTLY ON YOUR FACE. THE LIGHT SHOW IS IMPRESSIVE TOO AS THEY LIGHT UP WITH COLORS THE FALLS AT NIGHT. IT IS QUITE A BEAUTIFUL SIGHT AND NICE FOR A HONEYMOON ... BUT IF YOU ARE GOING TO LIVE IN NIAGARA FALLS YOU WILL DISCOVER QUICKLY THAT WHAT YOU APPRECIATE IN THE LONG RUN IS THE POWER THAT COMES FROM THESE SAME FALLS. THIS IS POWER TO LIVE BY! THIS IS LIKE THE BAPTISM OF THE HOLY SPIRIT, THE TONGUES AND OTHER MANIFESTATIONS ARE WONDERFUL, BUT THE MAIN FOCUS OF THIS BAPTISM OF THE HOLY SPIRIT IS THE POWER IT GIVES US TO LIVE BY! THEREFORE, IT IS A VITAL NEED FOR EVERY BELIEVER. – SOURCE UNKNOWN
ILLUS: AS ONE MINISTER SAID IT, "THOUGH EVERY BELIEVER HAS THE HOLY SPIRIT (SALVATION), THE HOLY SPIRIT DOES NOT HAVE EVERY BELIEVER!" (BAPTISM OF THE HOLY SPIRIT) – SOURCE UNKNOWN
We truly need this power of the Holy Spirit in our lives today; it is no accident that the greatest missionary thrust in the world today comes from Pentecostals! The fastest growing segment of Christianity in the world today are Pentecostals, this also is not accidental. We need to understand the nature of this power, and we can best do this by looking at God's Word:
PROP.SENT: The Bible teaches us that we need the power of the Holy Spirit and that God has made this power available to all who will ask and receive in faith. This power is the power “TO BE” witnesses ... with the emphasis on the two words "TO BE!"
I. PROVISION 1:8a
1. There are two different Greek words for “power.”
a. One is “exsousia” ... which is translated "authority" in 1:7b. We get our English word “exertion” from this; it has more to do with conferred power.
b. The other word is "dunamis" which is translated here in 1:8a as “power.” We get our English word "dynamite" from it ... it has to do more with power in the sense of "ability."
2. Though Jesus had finished all His work and was ready to return to glory He knew that these believers were not ready to go out into the world in their own power or strength.
a. He had already given them His authority but now they would need another kind of power.
b. They would need a type of power that literally could transform them!
3. Doing any ministry in our own power will not work well, the world today is full of examples of Christians attempting to minister in their own strength!
4. Jesus here would not permit them to do anything. He instructs them to wait in Jerusalem for the promise of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit ... this will empower them the way they need to be empowered for doing the work Jesus was leaving them to do!
5. They needed something more than just authority, they needed transforming power!
1. The first part of this verse is very clear: "For you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you…"
a. This touch of the Spirit will be a real experience, one that is noticed!
b. This experience of the Holy Spirit is different from salvation, these people had already received the Holy Spirit; Jesus had "breathed on them" earlier and said “Receive the Holy Spirit.” (Jn. ) ... this Baptism of the Spirit was something apart from salvation!
2. This is where they who already had the Holy Spirit would now have the Holy Spirit have them!
3. This “Baptism of the Spirit” would deliver to them real POWER ... "dunamis," meaning "ability."
4. While there have been arguments for centuries over the tongues part, there has been agreement over the fact of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit as a work of grace from God!
a. Some of the greatest men and women of history have recorded this experience in their lives and the resulting power it gave them!
b. There can be little doubt that Pentecost had a dramatic effect on the early believers and their ability to witness for Christ and change the world!
ILLUS: ON DECEMBER 26, 1899 AT THE FUNERAL OF D.L. MOODY, DR. SCOFIELD SAID, “MOODY WAS BAPTIZED WITH THE SPIRIT AND KNEW THAT HE WAS. IT WAS TO HIM AS DEFINITE AN EXPERIENCE AS WAS HIS CONVERSION.” MOODY HIMSELF HAD SAID, “THE BLESSING CAME UPON ME SUDDENLY, LIKE A FLASH OF LIGHTENING. FOR MONTHS I HAD BEEN WALKING THE STREETS OF NEW YORK. I HAD NO MORE HEART IN THE BUSINESS I WAS ABOUT THAN IF I HAD NOT BELONGED TO THIS WORLD AT ALL. RIGHT THERE, ON THE STREET, THE FIRE OF GOD SEEMED TO COME UPON ME SO WONDERFULLY THAT I ASKED GOD TO STAY HIS HAND. I WAS FILLED WITH A SENSE OF GOD’S GOODNESS, AND I FELT AS THOUGH I COULD TAKE THE WHOLE WORLD TO MY HEART. THIS HAPPENED YEARS AFTER I WAS CONVERTED. – SOURCE UNKNOWN
ILLUS: THE STORY OF JONATHAN EDWARDS AND THE GREAT NEW ENGLAND REVIVAL THAT CAME FROM HIS PREACHING STARTED WHEN HE DETERMINED HIMSELF TO RECEIVE GOD'S POWER. HE SPENT 3 DAYS AND 3 NIGHTS FASTING AND PRAYING AND THEN HE PREACHED HIS MESSAGE "SINNERS IN THE HANDS OF AN ANGRY GOD." THOUGH IN MANUSCRIPT FORM, AND THOUGH HE READ IT FROM THE PULPIT THE POWER OF GOD WAS SO GREAT THAT PEOPLE LITERALLY CRIED OUT DURING THE SERMON, SOME HELD ONTO THE POSTS FOR FEAR OF SLIPPING INTO A FLAMING HELL, PEOPLE GRABBED ONTO CHAIRS, PEWS, POSTS ... ANYTHING THEY COULD FIND BECAUSE THE POWER OF GOD TOUCHED THEM ... SCORES WERE SAVED, AND THE POWER FILTERED OUT OF THE CHURCH AND INTO ALL OF NEW ENGLAND! THIS IS POWER! – SOURCE UNKNOWN
5. Their new ABILITY clearly came as a result of being baptized in the Holy Spirit!
6. We need this touch of the Spirit today as well!
II. POSITION 1:8b
1. Jesus states here that when the power of the Holy Spirit comes upon them they WILL BE witnesses.
2. The emphasis of this passage is on these two little words -- TO BE or WILL BE!
a. The transformation of their character is in view here ... they will be dramatically changed!
b. What is recorded in Acts following this Pentecostal experience is proof positive of that transformation!
3. These men and women who earlier had been afraid, had hidden for fear of their lives, who often squabbled among themselves now are united, bold, and have a clear sense of mission with power!
a. Peter stands up in the midst of the crowd to explain what was happening ... he clearly connects it with Scripture lest the crowd think something bizarre was taking place!
b. He preaches with new power, this was a transformed Peter!
c. The rest speaks for this new power as well, at least 3,000 people got saved that very day, a new record for ministry for these guys!
4. The Baptism of the Holy Spirit did not make Peter better than the other brothers in Christ but it did make Peter better than Peter!
a. The Baptism of the Holy Spirit doesn't make us better than other Christians, but it does make us better than ourselves!
b. Hence the real value of this gift of the Spirit and its power!
5. They looked the same but they were different, even the crowd took notice of the transformation of these guys and gals, they were asking if these were the same guys and gals they had known before?!
ILLUS: LIKE TWO NEEDLES THAT LOOK IDENTICAL ... IF YOU TOOK ONE OF THEM AND PUT AN ELECTRIC POWER THROUGH IT, IT WOULD BECOME MAGNETIZED AND THOUGH IT WOULD LOOK THE SAME AS THE OTHER ONE IT WOULD ALWAYS POINT IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION NOW THAT IT HAD BEEN EMPOWERED! IT NOW CAN HAVE A NEW AND IMPORTANT USE OTHER THAN JUST SEWING! – SOURCE UNKNOWN
6. The transformation is that of the person ... not just the tongue!
a. It was "power TO BE."
b. The emphasis of the verse is on the "you will be."
c. Charismata without character is not the work of the Spirit of God ... God’s Spirit works on both, with a major emphasis on character transformation!
7. Paul alludes to this same principle with the Corinthians who had an abundance of manifestations but were lacking in the character of love, the fruit of the Spirit!
8. The Work of the Spirit is to transform and empower us! This is why the Baptism of the Holy Spirit is so important for believers!
a. Anything that empowers us TO BE better than we can be in our own strength should be sought! “To be or not to be, THAT IS THE QUESTION!”
b. There is little room in Jesus' statement here for guesswork on the results of being baptized in the Holy Spirit; He clearly says that they WILL BE WITNESSES!
1. What a testimony this power gave these guys, their transformed lives became so evident that the whole community was awed by their testimony of change!
a. As Jerusalem watched, these newly empowered saints became a powerful community of believers, sharing with each other, encouraging each other, serving one another out of a powerful love, all evidences of a true revival!
b. Yes there were great miracles of healings, great prophecies, great manifestations in other ways, but nothing gripped the community as much as the testimony of these believers and the change in their lives!
2. As wonderful as the miracles were, what really transformed the world was the testimony of the people who were radically changed by God's power, the miracles attracted attention but the changed lives attracted converts!
a. Many times the miracles performed were explained away by the unbelieving.
b. But they couldn't explain away the changes in people lives!
ILLUS: IN EAST LONDON, MOODY HAD TRAVELED AND HAD RENTED A HALL TO GIVE A SERMON. HE INVITED FOR THAT EVENING ATHEISTS, SKEPTICS, AND FREETHINKERS. A MAN BY THE NAME OF BRADLAUGH, WHO WAS THE AREA CHAMPION OF ATHEISM, HEARD OF THE MEETING AND QUICKLY CALLED UP ALL HIS LEADERS FROM ALL HIS CLUBS TO HAVE THEM ALL ATTEND THAT NIGHT THE MEETING. ALL THE CLUBS OBEYED AND OVER 5,000 OF THEM SHOWED UP THAT NIGHT. THEY ALL LAUGHED WHEN MOODY OPENED THE SERVICE BY ASKING THEM TO SING ONE OF THEIR FAVORITE HYMNS, FOR THEY HAVE NONE! MOODY THEN WENT ON TO SPEAK, READING A TEXT AND THEN SHARING A GREAT NUMBER OF STORIES ABOUT THE DEATHS OF SAINTS AND SINNERS AND THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE TWO. HE SHARED THE TESTIMONIES OF THOSE WHO DIED IN THE LORD ... AND THE STORIES OF THOSE WHO DIED WITHOUT CHRIST. WHEN DONE, HE ANNOUNCED A HYMN AND THEN ASKED ANYONE WHO WANTED TO, TO LEAVE. NO ONE MOVED! MOODY THEN WENT ON AND ASKED THIS, “ALL YOU WHO WOULD RECEIVE CHRIST PLEASE STAND AND SAY ‘I WILL.’” ONE PERSON STOOD, THE LEADER OF ALL THE ATHEISTS AND THE CLUBS, HE STOOD AND SHOUTED, "I WON'T!" MOODY THEN SAID, "MEN, YOU HAVE YOUR CHAMPION HERE IN THE MIDDLE OF THE HALL WHO SAID, 'I WON'T,' I ASK EVERY ONE HERE WHO BELIEVES THAT MAN IS RIGHT TO RISE AND SAY, "I WON'T" WITH HIM." NO ONE MOVED! MOODY THEN EXPRESSED A "THANK GOD!" AND THEN ADDED, "NOW WHO'LL RISE AND SAY, "I WILL"? THE HOLY SPIRIT CAME UPON THAT CROWD AND 500 MEN SPRANG TO THEIR FEET SAYING ALL AT ONCE, "I WILL!" I WILL!" THOSE TESTIMONIES WERE USED POWERFULLY BY THE SPIRIT OF GOD TO DO THE WORK! – SOURCE UNKNOWN
3. Witnessing is not just a work of verbal skills, it is the work of the Spirit of God in the life yielded and this transformed life speaks loudly of the power of God!
4. WE testify about God with not just words, but also our walk!
5. This is where the Baptism of the Holy Spirit finds its greatest work, in the transformed lives of those who receive this gift, not just in the fascinating manifestations that come!
a. It is not just what the Holy Spirit does through us!
b. It is also what the Holy Spirit does IN us!
III. PLACEMENT 1:8c
1. The last part of this verse stresses how this power will find its tactical expression.
a. First in
b. The impact begins at home! First among the brothers and hometown people!
2. The Power of the Holy Spirit should make itself felt first in our homes!
a. God's love should shine forth toward others.
b. There should be a greater desire to serve!
c. There will be a great desire to know God's Word.
d. There will be humility in great abundance.
e. There will be signs and wonders as a natural outflow!
3. The first city to be impacted by all this power was Jerusalem! Their changed lives made a great impact on the hometown folks!
a. Notice later what happens, the church is united and loving!
b. The saints shared with one another; in humility they considered others first and sought ways to serve one another.
c. They met daily to study the Word of God and the Apostle's teaching!
d. They took a loving interest in the lost of the world.
e. They were a people of prayer and many miracles accompanied their ministry!
4. As they spread out S0 did the Gospel, the whole world took notice of their lives, not just their worship style!
5. The more they were scattered the more the power of God revealed itself through their lives and ministry!
6. The Lord today still tactically puts Christians in unique places to show the world what a transformed Christian really is! (Like when our daughter Christel became Miss Vermont Teen U.S.A. 1994, she had many opportunities to share her faith and give a good example of what it means to be a Christian in a secular world.)
ILLUS: LARRY MCKENZIE, WAS THE 1951 POLIO POSTER BOY. HIS PICTURE AND STORY HAVE BEEN USED BY THE NATIONAL FOUNDATION FOR INFANTILE PARALYSIS TO HELP THOUSANDS OF OTHER STRICKEN CHILDREN ... BUT HE IS ALSO A WONDERFUL CHRISTIAN. FREQUENTLY AS HE TRAVELED AND SPOKE HE ALWAYS INCLUDED HIS TESTIMONY OF FAITH IN CHRIST AND HIS LOVE FOR THE LORD STRENGTHENING HIM. HIS TESTIMONY HAS BEEN PRINTED UP IN A TRACT ENTITLED, "RISE UP AND WALK!" BY THE AMERICAN TRACT SOCIETY. IN THAT TRACT LARRY STATES HOW HE MET SUCH FAMOUS PEOPLE AS PRESIDENT HARRY S. TRUMAN, J. EDGAR HOOVER, CHIEF OF THE FBI, AND OTHERS. BUT HE SAYS, "I THINK OFTEN ABOUT THE TIME I WILL MEET THE LORD JESUS, AND UNTIL THEN I REALLY WANT TO SERVE HIM ANY WAY I CAN" – SOURCE UNKNOWN
a. We would be amazed to discover how much of our history has been influenced by Christians in tactical places!
b. God takes His people and fills them with power and then scatters them in a world that desperately needs to see transformed lives!
7. This occurred all through the pages of the New Testament and is still happening today!
a. God has a PLAN!
b. God has given us the POWER!
1. The last phrase of this verse might mean not only to the ends of the known earth but until the end of time as well!
a. This Baptism of the Holy Spirit was not just for the first century saints as though we are better than they were, as if we don't need what they needed!
b. It was the Gift of the Spirit for them ... and for us today!
c. It was meant for all believers, for all time!
2. We all need the Baptism of the Holy Spirit! In Acts, they were “ALL FILLED!” They were all told to “wait” until the promise came.
3. Peter in his sermon mentioned Joel's prophecy, which stated "in the last days."
4. If the early church needed the Baptism of the Holy Spirit surely we do today as well!
5. We might do well to heed Jesus' word "to wait" until we are “endued with power from on high” too ... it is a gift for all … for all time!
CONCLUSION: What is the power of the Holy Spirit? Is it power just to express manifestations? No, it is power TO BE witnesses! While manifestations come with the Spirit's power the principle power is that of transforming us! The disciples before Pentecost were weak and wavering, after Pentecost they were a force to bee reckoned with! The Power of the Spirit made them witnesses not just in word but also in character. The baptism of the Holy Spirit makes me better than me, not necessarily better than others! Have you received power, and why wouldn’t you?