12th June Ecclesiastes 11 Acts 1:1-11
Today we are going to begin a journey as we work though the book of Acts.
The first 5 chapters give us insight into the early church, what was happening and what church life was like.
• Luke writes with great clarity-
This book begins with an acknowledgement- it is addressed to a friend or patron of Luke. It is interesting to note that the name Theophilus in the Greek means “dear to God”. Some believe that this man didn’t exist, and this name represents all people, particularly those of the household of faith.
The words, “most excellent” may be a reference to Theophilus’s rank in life, It probable that through the reading of the Gospel of Luke, this prominent individual came to faith. So Luke sets out to further enlighten him and to encourage him.
Another thought is that the title is a used to protect a prominent Roman citizen who was converted to the faith.
Regardless to whom it is written Luke wants his readers to understand that the HOLY SPIRIT is central in God the Fathers plans for His church.
About 6 weeks have passed since the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. The best was yet to come; on the 7th week the church was to receive that great promise, the promise of the Advocate, the comforter, the HOLY SPIRIT!
This wasn’t to be a small affair, something that would not be kept secret; God had meant it to impact Jerusalem and eventually the whole known world.
- One of the many things I find encouraging in the Word of God is that timing is everything. God knows the times and the seasons, and contrary to popular belief He does have a plan- and there is such a thing as finding oneself in the centre of God’s will. The early church was to learn the truth of this.
Acts Chapter one gives us great insight into the minds of the first believers.
The body of faithful were charged with the responsibility of waiting that they may receive that promise.
We should take special note of vs 5 For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”
This is no throwaway line John the Baptist introduced the Messiah, and what he did was also symbolic of what the Lord Jesus would do literally.
Water baptism, represented cleansing, it was an outward act. It represented the desire to say to God that you were sorry, and you wanted to change, for many religion became a task master, a job, a set of rules and regulations that could be easily abused. John spoke to his people pointing to a better way. The way of the cross: the way of the Holy Spirit
“I baptise you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptise you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”
I am sure that the followers of the Lord remember John’s words as the Lord Himself confirms the truth of John’s prophecy.
I am also certain that they didn’t fully understand what was about to happen. I say this not to condemn them, or criticise, the truth of the matter is that for many of us things are revealed in stages, it is important to realise that to see one step ahead is all that we need. It is not sin or a lack of faith to admit that we just don’t know what tomorrow will bring. It is not sin to acknowledge our fear and anxiety of the future.
Faith is taking a leaf out of these believers’ book and patiently waiting for God’s plan and promises to be fulfilled.
Waiting patiently doesn’t mean that you don’t ask questions
His is an honest look at how the disciples felt and what they were thinking- even at that stage of their lives they did not fully understand where this faith was to take them- they were fixated on the nation of Israel and the kingdom of God being a political rule; a kingdom of power on earth.
It is obvious that Luke wanted his readers to see their frailty and humanness, they had got it wrong- this did not bring condemnation- only a loving rebuke, a simple word of explanation- “hey guys trust me there is more to what is happening than what you see” may have been the Lord Jesus’s words.
6 Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7 He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority.
“The kingdom of God which they were commissioned to proclaim was the good news of God’s Grace in Christ” F.F.Bruce.
In verse 8 Luke repeats what he has already said at the end of Chapter 24 of his gospel. See how this wonderfully dovetails together.
8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” 9 After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.
I can imagine how they felt, “are we dreaming, is this real?” could have been their thoughts.
We should also understand that there is now a shift in emphasis, a change of attitude on the part of the disciples; “instead of political power which had formerly been the object of their ambitions, a power far greater and nobler would be theirs. When the Holy Spirit came upon them, they would be clothed with heavenly power”-(F.F.Bruce)
- Their work would now be to herald the kingdom of God, to witness to the life death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus to pronounce the coming of the kingdom of God, a kingdom that begins in God’s heart and revolutionises the minds and hearts of mankind.
- This too is the call of the Church, not just for the 1st Century, it is God’s call to us Today. and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
- Let me finish with a well-known passage from Matthew 28
16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshipped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said,
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
What I love about this verse, what I am most encouraged about this verse are the wonderful words f the Lord Jesus:
“I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”