Acts 1 – By the Spirit We Are Obedient
What did you learn about the Holy Spirit?
- The Holy Spirit gave orders through Jesus to the apostles (1:2).
- The Holy Spirit comes to the disciples through a baptism of the Holy Spirit (1:5).
What did you learn about the Spirit-filled community?
- The purpose of the community being filled with the Holy Spirit is in order to tell the world about Jesus (1:8).
Notes from Pastor Mark
For the last 90 days, we have learned more about God the Son, Jesus, by reading the gospels. For the next 90 days, we will learn more about the most mysterious member of the Godhead, God the Holy Spirit. And we will see how He was at work building the early church of disciples into a force of disciple-makers that changed the world. We will read at a slower pace- one chapter a week- and we will chew on it a little more thoroughly! Each Monday, we will post one blog for the week that will help launch the reading of that week’s chapter.
The book we know as “Acts” was not a book at all; it was written as a letter to “Theophilus,” which means “God-lover and may be a pseudonym to hide the real identity of a prominent person who was considering following Jesus. This is the same guy to whom the gospel of Luke was written (see Luke 1:1-4). This means that Acts is really a “Volume 2” of a two-part work written by Dr. Luke. Luke is the only non-Jewish (gentile) author in the New Testament. He was a physician who accompanied the apostle Paul on his journeys, as we will see later in the book. In fact, you can tell where Luke joins the traveling band because the writing moves from “they” to “we” (Acts 16: 6-10).
The title “Acts” was added later. The full traditional title is “The Acts of the Apostles,” mostly the acts of Paul, some of Peter and a few others sprinkled in. But the book could just as easily be called “The Acts of the Holy Spirit,” because from the first chapter, we are introduced to the third person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit. In Acts we discover that the Holy Spirit is not just an impersonal force; rather, He is God…the Spirit of the resurrected Jesus…who was given to the Church after Jesus ascended back to be with the Father, exactly as he promised he would do in John 14.
In the Sermon on the Mount, especially chapter 7 of Matthew, Jesus taught that his disciples are obedient. In Acts 1, the launch of Christian discipleship without Jesus around in the flesh, the disciples have a chance to practice obedience. In the first few verses, Jesus gives his parting shot to them. He tells them two seemingly contradictory things. 1) I want you to wait in Jerusalem; and 2) I want you to be my witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and to the ends of the earth.
So…which is it? Stay…or go? Of course, it was both. They had to stay until they had received the Holy Spirit…because it was He who would empower, equip and inspire them to do the impossible task of reaching the world for Jesus. The apostles, especially action-oriented Peter, might have been tempted to “get going!” If they were going to reach the whole world, they better get started. But FINALLY they appear to be willing to obey Jesus… and they wait… kind of.
The one thing they DO do is pick a replacement for Judas. They do so by casting lots. Matthias “wins.” And yet, we never hear another word about him. I’ve always wondered if, even in that, they got ahead of the Lord. I’ve wondered if Paul was the twelfth apostle that God intended to replace Judas and that in “filling the slot” when they did, they weren’t doing what God had planned.
Conjecture, of course. But the key learning for me in this chapter is this: no Christian can possibly make disciples for Jesus without the Spirit of Jesus alive and well and overflowing from within them. The disciples waited for the filling and the guidance of the Spirit. Good news is, if we belong to Jesus, we HAVE his Spirit in us. But we still must be listening to Him, sensitive to his “yes” and his “no” if we hope to be used by God in a powerful way. So…are YOU aware that the Spirit of Jesus is within you? Do you ever pray to this person of the Trinity? Do you recognize his promptings, his convictings, his encouragings and his giftings? Presbyterians who are filled with the Holy Spirit…THAT will be a force to contend with!