Why are we doing this “STORY” series? Well I believe it is VITALLY important that for the health of every Christian and non-Christian that they are a part of something bigger than themselves. For the Christian, that is the STORY of the Bible—the Story of God. It is in this Story we find joy, happiness and fulfillment.
So hear is what we have learned so far. God created this beautiful awesome world that is hard to imagine. And that is because our first parents rebelled against God and brought sin into the world. Every generation that has come after them has been in this cycle of sin and rebellion. God chose a certain family through which He would bring healing to the world. Jesus came from that family. Through Jesus Christ all the families are blessed.
What we will be looking at today is how Jesus empowers the Church to carry out His mission after His death and resurrection.
Theme: The Church continues Jesus’ mission by Jesus’ power.
1. Pay careful to Jesus’ instruction to understand Jesus’ Mission.
After the crucifixion of Jesus Christ the initial response of the disciples is not that great. They viewed the crucifixion of Jesus as a way of crushing all their hopes and dreams. Now if we view Jesus as just another extraordinary religious leader then He is merely martyred like many of them. Therefore, the HIGH their followers or disciples are on starts to wear off—reality HITS. The disciples are in this confusing part of the Story because they are watching Jesus do miraculous signs and wonders in their lifetime. These disciples grew up hearing stories about Moses, Elijah, Elisha, and many other prophets, but those stories always ended tragically. Many of the OT prophets were never seen or heard from again. They were mere men who taught a message, and their message lived on, but not them.
Let’s now look at LUKE 24.44-49. There are a few things we should be glaring to us if we have “UNDERSTOOD” the Story so far. First, Jesus says he always already talked to the disciples about this part of the Story (cf. Luke 24.44). So, what does this mean for us today? Well, it means we must come under Christ tutelage. To be someone’s disciple, under their tutelage, means we are under their protection and NOT ourselves. We are to follow Jesus’ instruction above anyone else’s instruction. Jesus protects us through His instructions. When someone gives you instruction you work through whether or not it is from Christ. In order to know that you need to know the Book Jesus wrote WELL.
Second, the disciples DID NOT understand the Story despite Jesus’ instruction (cf. Luke 24.45). So, be encouraged that just because you have some authority over someone does not mean they will get what you are trying to teach them. If this happened to Christ, then it will happen to us. But it also means we will NEED help in understanding the Story. People who were taught DIRECTLY by Jesus still did not understand it. What changed with Jesus’ disciples? The new covenant happened—Jeremiah 31.31-34:
“Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the LORD. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”—Jeremiah 31.31-34
We need an active relationship with the LIVING God in order to understand the instruction. Is this what your life looks like? Are you regularly experiencing a relationship with the living God? If not friend, then their needs to be a reevaluation of where you are with Jesus. You might not be a Christian, you might be a rebellious Christian, you may need help understanding what a Christ followers life should look like, or a host of many other problems. Thankfully this is why Refuge is here. We are here in this city, at this time in the Story, to help you and many others regularly experience the goodness, grace, greatness, and glory of the living God.
Third, the message Jesus PROCLAIMED is supposed to be proclaimed to ALL PEOPLE (cf. Luke 24.47). Therefore, the new identity attached to the Christian is an identity of a HERALDER—one who PROCLAIMS the GOODNESS of God, the GREATNESS of God, the GRACIOUSNESS of God, and the GLORY of God. Paul discusses this idea of a new identity in II Corinthians 5.17-20:
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.—II Corinthians 5:17-20
If we have understood the Story, then we know this is connected to fulfilling the Abrahamic Covenant. Remember Abraham’s family was supposed to be blessing to all the families of the earth. We are brought into the Covenant to tell the nations that the promise given to Abraham has finally come! Something they may have not even known, or even cared about, has now come to them in Christ Jesus. This is our MISSION.
Lastly, the next part of the Story Jesus wants them to understand is that something new in the Story is about to happen. And that is the Church, God’s new people, will be CLOTHED with Christ’s power (cf. Luke 24.49). So with the rest of our time today this what I would like to focus on—what does it mean to be clothed with the power of Christ?
2. We carry out Jesus’ Mission by Jesus’ Spirit.
First I want us to understand is that we will not be able to cover this all today. Starting today, and the next 7 weeks we will be exploring what it looks like to be filled and clothed with the power of Jesus Christ. We will hopefully head into the NEW year with a new enthusiasm of what it means to be God’s people and how we can learn to live like that together, as a new covenant community, as the church of Jesus Christ, the City of God.
So now, lets turn to Acts 1. Before we explore this wonderful book let me give some preliminary thoughts on Acts. The book of Acts has been one of the most misused and abused books of the NT. The point of the book is NOT to focus on what the people in Acts are doing, but what Jesus Christ is continuing to do through His servants to build His City by the power of the Holy Spirit. So friends DON’T get distracted from that VISION. Please REMEMBER the main point of Acts is to see Jesus is still doing His thing.
What I would like to concentrate on as we explore this part of the Story is, “are you truly a part of this Story?” Some of you are still single in the room, and some of you are fresh into a new marriage. What I am challenging you on is if you are married to Jesus, then that should look a certain way. If Jesus has covenanted with you, and you have covenanted with Him, then your life should look like you are married. Many of use grow observing marriages. Some good ones, some bad ones. But we see them. While you can “know” a lot of FACTS about marriage it does not mean you are married. Everyone who has been married for some time can say, “WHOA! This was not I thought it would be or what I envisioned.” There is a difference in observing marriage and experiencing marriage.
At this point in the Story the disciples had been watching Jesus live by the power of the Spirit, but now they will begin to live by the Spirit. Jesus invites us all to live that way, TODAY, RIGHT NOW! So, let’s read ACTS 1.6-11.
What can we “observe” here? Well, the disciples want to know if the Story is over. Jesus tells them, NO! He wants them to understand they will no longer be observers, but will live the way He lived, they will continue to carry on His Mission, because it is not done. I love what these two men in robes do! They say, “Stop observing! Jesus will come back, so get to work!”
Now, what was the instruction they we given? In order to understand we need to go back to Luke 24.49-53. Jesus told them to STAY in the city, continue to WORSHIP me, and WAIT until I send the Spirit. So that’s what they do. They wait in Jerusalem, and what are they doing? PRAYING—read Acts 1.14. Just because they were promised something does not mean they quit requesting. Some of you hear today have never asked for Spirit of Christ to come into your life, and you are not experiencing the power of the Spirit because you have never asked. You watching other people enjoy the Spirit, but you are not. Others of you have asked for the Spirit of Christ to come into your life, but have not continued to ask for that. It like someone saying, “I’ve ARRIVED! I can’t get any better.” While you may think that, the rest of us know better—especially your wife. The point I am trying to make here is the way we prepare for the coming of the Spirit of Christ in our lives is FIRST through WORSHIP and PRAYER. As you study the Bible observe the relationship between Spirit, worship and prayer— Acts 4.23-31. Turn with me to Acts 8, and lets briefly explore this story on Simon the Magician—Acts 8.18-24. Peter wants Simon to understand you cannot OBSERVE the Spirit and think you will experience Him. No, we need to plead before the living God, and worship Him through prayer. Look what Paul says in I Thessalonians:
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit.—I Thessalonians 5.16-19
This week I want you to PRAY friends. Let that be your act of WORSHIP toward God this week. Take some time this week to think of 5 works of God you observe (5 graces of God), and take at least 5 days to worship God through prayer. I would strongly encourage you to write them down. Then you might try sharing those with someone else. It could be a family member, church member, co-worker, neighbor, or whomever the LORD lays on your heart. Ask God who He wants you to share these graces with. Don’t just make your decision in the flesh, but worshipfully and prayerfully seek God’s counsel.