May 22 2022 Acts - Joining Jesus in His Kingdom Work
22nd May 2022
We are hoping to re-shape our church – creating a sense of participation and body-life. Witt posted some videos and interviews.
Lord, thank You for this time of worship – You won the victory over death – and we are encouraged and thank You. Help us to learn to serve You faithfully – to engage in the work of Your kingdom – that was is done in heaven would be done in our lives.
We are starting the Book of Acts – how do we interpret and apply – like, How do you Solve a Problem like Maria? There is a wide array of opinions about how Acts should be interpreted and applied.
Some would say it is a historical account of the first century church and has some good examples. Others would say it is a blueprint to be replicated today.
First – does Acts describe the ideal church? Did they do it right?
Are the things that happened in the book of Acts – normal for today? If we say Yes – to these questions – then, in what ways is it a model, and to what degree is it a model? What things should we imitate.
Probably many of us were taught a version of the blueprint. I’m guessing that is what most of us were taught – and I believe that came from a good heart! Over the years, I have developed a more nuanced view of the Book of Acts – the first question we have to ask ourselves – what kind of a book is it?
It is a Bible book! But yes, the Book of Psalms is very different from Genesis. Acts is different from all the other books in the New Testament. For me – I wrote out my statement on it.
It is a historical narrative that describes how Jesus, through the holy Spirit, taught the disciples to live Christian lives.
We have much to learn from them. From the church in the book of Acts – as we try to live out the gospel in our context! Our context is very different from theirs! We need to understand it will relate to us differently – Seeing as it is the work of the Holy Spirit, we should never try to replicate the work of the Holy Spirit – the Spirit will move as the Holy Spirit will move – and our job is to figure out how the Holy Spirit is working in our church.
Acts 2:45 – Acts 4:32 – Luke talks about how they had all things in common – and no one claimed ownership.
When I first became a Christian – we tried to replicate this – it was kind of a hybrid commune – we didn’t move to a farm, but we had houses that were near each other and lived together and pooled our money together – and that was exciting! It was revolutionary and it came from a really good heart – but eventually, our context changed – and as people had big boy and big girl jobs, we had children – and we thought, some of this is not working the same as it did – and our thinking needed to change.
Acts was right after Passover – and thousands of Jewish pilgrims would come to Jerusalem – Peter preaches his sermon – and thousands heard and stayed. It was a unique situation that required radical action to meet the needs of the people who were there.
Interestingly – after the church in Jerusalem, the New Testament never repeats this – but there were things that were modeled – Sacrificial giving, sharing – things that were modeled throughout the New Testament and should be modeled today.
In one sense, it is not a blueprint, but in another sense, there is a model there that we can follow.
This is a recap on the expansion…. Like, last week, no Star Trek…
In my first book I told you, Theophilus, about everything Jesus began to do and teach 2 until the day when He was taken up to heaven, after He had by the Holy Spirit given orders to the apostles whom He had chosen
Theophilus, a man of wealth and position – and Acts is a continuation of what Jesus did and taught in the gospels. He continued his work and teaching through the disciples empowered by the Holy Spirit.
. 3 To these He also presented Himself alive after His suffering, by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over a period of forty days and speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God.
Forty days He taught them things concerning the Kingdom of God.
What is that? The reign of God over heaven and earth. Jesus is the king over the kingdom. In the incarnation of Jesus, we see what it looks like for Jesus to reign. We see what that is like in the person of Jesus.
When Luke tells us all that Jesus did and taught – it is all things Luke told us in his gospel.
4 Gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, "Which," He said, "you heard of from Me; 5 for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now."
In 2 weeks, we’ll talk about the Holy Spirit – Pentecost…
6 So when they had come together, they were asking Him, saying, "Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?
Forty days – He is talking about the Kingdom of God – and the disciples still don’t get it – their focus is on the Kingdom of Israel – the revitalizing of their nation.
They were to partner with God to bless the whole world. Israel failed to do this throughout the Testaments.
Jesus replies: 7 He said to them, "It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority;
God will restore Israel – they were not to be concerned about the how or when…, but in the meantime:
8 but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth."
The primary concern and task of the disciples is to be witnesses empowered by the Holy Spirit.
The Old Testament uses language of ruling – wealth and being a world power.
Jesus is saying – it is not time to rule over, but to witness to, the world.
There will come a time when we will rule – but this is not that time. This time is a time to witness, not rule. As Christians, we should not try to be ruling. Paul rebukes the Church in Corinth (ch. 4) – you are acting like we are ruling – You have become Kings – but it is not time for that – a time to witness, not rule.
We talk about Kingdom work – a buzzword in the Christian world right now – the problem with kingdom language – it becomes narrow – some Kingdom work is evangelism and that is all. For others – it is justice and helping the poor and that is all – but it is much broader than that – it encompasses everything we do as Christians. We talk about building the kingdom – but that is not our job. Our job is to enter into and to participate in the kingdom.
What does it look like for us to join Jesus in His kingdom work? What did Jesus do and teach in the gospels? So, what I am going to do – a quick journey through the gospel of Luke to see what it means to be engaged in the Kingdom.
It begins – when Jesus is an adult – The Holy Spirit comes upon Jesus in the form of a dove – He is filled with the Spirit and goes to the desert to be tempted. He goes to confront the spiritual powers of evil. That is kingdom work.
Ephesians – our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the spiritual forces in heavenly places.
We have a lot of battles – Personal battles, relational battles, religious and theological, political and cultural – but our focus needs to be the one of spiritual battle – that must be the priority – that is kingdom work.
It is easy as Christians to use war language – and Paul talks about Spiritual warfare – but that war language should be used strictly for Satan and not for other Christians or the people we are trying to reach!
Chapter 4 – first sermon – he says – Releasing and setting free those held in bondage – and sight to the Blind – Kingdom work – both physically and spiritually – and we see that with the rest of His life. He forgives sinners and heals the sick and feeds the poor and sight to the blind – that – all of those things – Kingdom work. A
After that – Jesus goes about the restoration of status as image bearers – made in the =image of God.
The woman who anoints his feet… Pharisee – doesn’t He know what type of woman she is? Some type of sexual sinner – but Jesus sees her and restores the image of God to her.
He does that all the time in Luke’s gospel. Matthew. Zacchaeus. Everyone hated him. He was short. His name says it. He restores him.
He makes clean the unclean. Jesus spends so much time restoring the unclean to the spiritual life in Israel. The woman with the hemorrhage. He restores her. The lepers – He restores them.
And then – the next thing - in the inclusion of Gentiles and Samaritans. In his first sermon in Luke 4 – two heroes of the faith – and they are both Gentiles – and that is why they want to throw him off the cliff.
The good Samaritan – the enemy the hero.
The ten lepers – the one who returns? Samaritan. He is continually including those Israel excluded.
Finally – on the cross -the work of the Kingdom requires self-sacrificial love. Everything He did was centered around that. That is the work of the kingdom for us.
One last verse – Matthew 4
Jesus was going throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness among the people. (Mat 4:23 NAU)
Kingdom – of heaven, kingdom of God – it was all the same thing.
What specifically was He proclaiming? It was NOT His death and resurrection.
What comes after 4? FIVE! What comes next? The sermon on the mount! What does it mean to be involved in kingdom work? The Sermon on the Mount. That is where we learn what it means – those who enter – the poor, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness. – and He goes through all these practical things about what it means to live as a kingdom person.