Aug 28 2022 The Power of the Holy Spirit in the Gospel

Acts 1:8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you;

When we think of the Holy Spirit’s power, our natural tendency is to think of the miracle gifts of the Holy Spirit – Healings, etc.

But the Book of Acts focuses on other gifts of the Spirit. First – the next line:

and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.“

The Holy Spirit gives us His power for us to witness!

The next verse – from Acts 4:

When they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God courageously. (Act 4:31 NET)

He gives us the power to witness – and the power to witness with boldness and courage. That comes from the Spirit working in our lives.

The New Testament connects bold witnessing with a gracious and winsome approach.

Jeff talked last week about being winsome and not offensive. As he mentioned, the gospel is offensive – but that offense should never be US.

I went searching for the word offense in the gospel – 1 Peter 2 and Romans 9 – Peter and Paul quoting Isaiah – the cornerstone – a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense. What is the offense – or should I say, WHO is the offense? It is Jesus. The offense of the gospel is Jesus. SO I thought, Wow, that is a little different from how I normally think.

So I went to 1 Cor. 1 – Paul knew nothing among them except Jesus and Him crucified – “A stumbling block to the Jews – and foolishness to the Gentiles” – so when we preach the gospel, and Sue mentioned this in the discussion time – what we are proclaiming is Jesus - and when we proclaim that Jesus is the Messiah – Lord and Risen – that is a stumbling block and offense. That should be our only stumbling block in the presentation of the gospel. As Jeff said, it shouldn’t be US and how we present it.

When we talk about the enthronement – and why the Jews had such problems with that – it is putting Jesus equal with God. And the reality is – if we do that with some people – Jesus is the true and only God – that in and of itself will be an offense.

The other thing – the Messiah’s humility and suffering – that is not the Messiah they wanted – nor the type of salvation and redemption they wanted. They wanted the Messiah to come on their side and destroy the enemy – which is what He did – the enemy of darkness – but not what they were expecting.

2 Cor – Paul said HE is the aroma of life and death – so it was Paul’s proclamation of the gospel, but also the life he was living that was an aroma of life or death. Do we stink? Or are we a sweet aroma?

The aroma can come from performance and proclamation of the gospel. Paul preached clearly nothing but Jesus. Lord and Messiah. He said that over and over again.

There is a book out – be like Jesus – not the church! And it is a good little book – but the Bible is clear that there are certain things that Jesus will cause offense.

SO the second aspect of the Spirit’s power is in Acts 2:17

17 'And in the last days it will be,' God says, 'that I will pour out my Spirit on all people, and your sons and your daughters will prophesy, and your young men will see visions, and your old men will dream dreams. 18 Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy.

This is directly from Joel – and the Last Days have been going on for 2000 years – after the Pentecost story – as the Spirit was being poured out.

I want to look at HOW we emphasize this –

17 'And in the last days it will be,' God says, 'that I will pour out my Spirit on all people, and your sons and your daughters will prophesy, and your young men will see visions, and your old men will dream dreams. 18 Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy.

The focus is on the supernatural stuff going on – and that is important – it is good – and an emphasis of the passage – but it may cause us to miss something else that is equally important.

17 'And in the last days it will be,' God says, 'that I will pour out my Spirit on all people, and your sons and your daughters will prophesy, and your young men will see visions, and your old men will dream dreams. 18 Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy.

The second aspect of the power of the Holy Spirit is that He breaks down human barriers.

Now, in their context, the words prophesy, vision, and dreams – were normal. For some of us, it makes us a little nervous! But when Paul starts equalizing this indiscriminate distribution of His power – that would have made THEM nervous. Their culture was dominated by MEN – and MEN OF POSITION, and AGE – and he is saying – in the Last Days, and the Spirit is poured out – will be to change all of that. Sons and daughters, young and old – men and women.

And Peter does something – He changes scripture – he adds the word MY servants – Peter takes the lowest group and says they are MINE. Joel just talks about the slaves in the community.

This is social class – young, old, male, female – all equally receiving the power of the Spirit.

The least and the last, Jesus says, will be the first and the greatest.

Acts 8:26 – Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch –

26 Then an angel of the Lord said to Philip, "Get up and go south on the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza." 27 So he got up and went. There he met an Ethiopian eunuch… Then the Spirit said to Philip, "Go over and join this chariot." He had come to Jerusalem to worship, 35 So Philip started speaking, and beginning with this scripture proclaimed the good news about Jesus to him. 36 Now as they were going along the road, they came to some water, and the eunuch said, "Look, there is water! What is to stop me from being baptized?"

SO the spirit says – Go talk to him…

Ethiopian Eunuch – means he was from Ethiopia – a black man – and a eunuch – and the Old Testament excludes eunuchs from the assembly of God – eunuchs, unclean, defective – all excluded, but the Spirit COMMANDS Philip to go share – breaking down the barrier.

And the next one breaks down social, economic, and political barriers:

Acts 13: Now there were these prophets and teachers in the church at Antioch: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius the Cyrenian, Manaen (a close friend of Herod the tetrarch from childhood) and Saul. 2 While they were serving the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, "Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them."

What does that have to do with this? The names… Why list the names? Maybe that is important. Barnabas – a Greek-speaking Jew from Helena – a Jew that was adopted – Simeon called Niger – Dark skinned African. Lucius – Cyrenian – Northern Africa – modern day Libya – People from every nation –

Manaen – Herod’s friend from childhood. There are these political parties – and the one that this guy belonged to was the one that everyone else hated!

God pulls all of these people together from such diverse backgrounds – and specifically this passage that launches the gospel to the rest of the world – He wants them to know that His kingdom will be utterly diverse.

To the practical end of this – I like to feel and think – that for many of us – in the natural human way – would say – I cannot feel comfortable and grow unless church is filled with people similar to me. I know you don’t believe that way – but I know that most Christians act that way – that is how people choose a church! There are some churches that are changing this.

There is one constant characteristic of the New Testament church – they were a diverse people – and Paul was always dealing with the conflict due to the diversity – Romans, Ephesians, etc. – There is conflict because of the differences in background, class, nationality – and their unity comes from one place – Jesus. It will never come from anything else. It will not come from finding agreement on issues – it will only come from a focus on Jesus.

What amazed the outsiders – they gathered all these people who never gathered as community. The people in the church -the slaves with the rich and powerful – Jews with Gentiles – Women and men – all coming together worshiping together – and it would have caused such strife in their world. But they loved one another. There were writings from Romans who were STUNNED – who could not figure out how they did this.

Here are my suggestions – we can’t just create a church of people from every walk of life. I mean, it could be done – but the only thing we have control over is to focus on me – And to join together with others of different views.

I realized that in coming together with the pastors of Cuyahoga Falls – these churches that have such differing beliefs – who love Jesus and can make explanations from the word for what they believe.

I find that I learn more from those I disagree with – even if we don’t come to agreement – the realationship and challenge is so value.

We have made changes –

I also go back to where I was and allow that to speak to me! There is value – whatever the spectrum of Christianity someone is on – there is value in that.

This is not just a good thing – I think it is necessary – something we must do.

Fourth – it keeps you humble – and it humbles you. That is important for all of us. I just don’t know everything.

First – Christians of different perspectives –

Second – engage with people on the ‘other side’ – be it political, gender, social, etc – engage in relationship with those people! Studies show this – when you think of the ‘other side’ – if you get your information primarily from media, social media, youtube, and twitter – you probably have little understanding of the truth of the other side – however, when you get your information from people on the ‘other side’ then you begin to understand. That is convicting, because it is easier to watch a youtube.

We have had some people of color move into our neighborhood – and we’ve tried to initiate.

Finally – we need to act together as mutuals – as men and women – in the church. Galatians 3:28 – no longer Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female. That is critical to learn that.

Lord, thank You -

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