I’m starting a series of occasional posts on the book of Acts that are relevant to church planting.
Acts 1:1-11 Be confident…
Pregnant with God’s purposes – beginning to hit criticalmass as a church plant and getting ready to become established as “Church”!
Keith’s prophecy from last Autumn
I saw by the HolySpirit that there is like water, there is like a wave that’s gathering. I see agathering wave. It’s like the wind has got under it and it is gathering. Andthe Lord says that from where you to stand on the beach it looks not much morethan like a ripple. But from where he stands, it is a wave that is beginning toflow. It is a wave that is going to being to flow onto this church into thischurch and God says that the cry of the heart of the people of this church hasgone up to Heaven and has been heard. The Lord says that there is coming a timeof the Holy Spirit in this church which requires you to prepare, which requiresyou to get ready. The scriptures say that Jesus said to the disciples "Iwant you to go up into the upper room and prepare a meal because I am going toeat with you" and God says there is a time of preparation for the church.God says don’t just look at the wave. Get ready for the wave. Don’t just say awave is coming. Prepare for the wave. The Lord says that there will be aningathering in this place that will cause you to be so busy that if you haven’tprepared you will be swamped and overwhelmed. The Lord says: Don’t try and makethe wave happen. Don’t try to drag the wave along. Just get in the wave as itcomes. Allow the Holy Spirit to do this. There is going to be an outflow ofevangelism into this community, says the Lord. I am going to stir up the giftof God that is in some of you. There is some of you that have never doneanything for God and never heard anything from God and sometimes don’t knowwhether God knows about you. I declare to you tonight that God is going torelease you into active work in the kingdom of God. The work of the kingdomhere is going to increase, says the Lord. The Spirit of the Lord is upon you.The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on you.
David’s preach “establish your heart” – is part of thatpreparation as individuals establish their hearts and we do so as a church too.
I’m going to dive into Acts for a week or two to help us preparethe ground for the next phase of church life together.
Early chapters of Acts pregnant with God’s purposes – actively waiting forGod to establish the early Church
Read Acts 1:1-11
The first thing that struck me looking at this passage isthat there are quite a number of things we can “Be confident of”. Confidence isa big deal – it’s the kid that knows he has a big brother on the playground.When we are confident of some stuff in God, we know we have an even biggerbrother in heaven and in us!
Be confident of the Bible verse 1
Luke and Acts were written by the same guy – a doctor calledLuke who was an eyewitness of much of the stuff that happened in Acts and wentround and interviewed eyewitnesses of the stuff in Luke. Here he writes “In myfirst book O Theophilus, I have dealt with all the Jesus began to do and teach…”
In Luke 1:1-4 he sets out his method “followedthings closely” and wrote an orderly account“so we can have certainty about the things we have been taught. We can beconfident of his writing and the whole Bible!
Luke’s attention to Historicalaccuracy is amazing. Modern scholars have demonstrated that Acts is aremarkable accurate piece of writing. His attention to detail shows that he hadbeen to many of the different places with their different populations, culturesand administrations. He knows that Cyprus, Achaia and Asia were governed byproconsuls and that in Philippi praetors had jurisdiction. Time and again hegets trivial details right – in stark contrast to Dan Brown who gets mosttrivial details in his Da Vinci code completely wrong – showing that he hadn’tbothered to visit the places he was writing about! Luke’s attention to detail isn’t justpedantry – he is a careful author who was there or spoke to people who werethere and recorded it with such detail that we can almost smell the atmosphere.
We can be confident of Faithfulcopying over centuries – and can even go to see manuscripts from as earlyas 180AD in the British museum and Dublin. If you talked to a Muslim whoregards the Gospels as Scripture too, but believes they were corrupted in the 4thCentury – you can point them to London or Dublin and say no!
We have goodtranslations worked on by namedteams of the best Greek and Hebrew scholars to give us the best translationsfrom the original languages – unlike the very poor translation the JWs havewhich was doctored to make Jesus less than God.
We can be confident of the Bible!
Be confident of Christ’s death and resurrection verse 3
“Presented himself alive after hissuffering by many proofs“
Christianity stands or falls on the resurrection of Jesus.Paul in 1 Corinthians 15 tells us that if the resurrection didn’t happen thenwe are to be pitied more than men – because we are deluded. The resurrection iscrucial because it shows that Jesus death on the cross wasn’t for his own sin. Itshows us that Jesus died for our sin and broke the power of sin and death forus. Luke records that Jesus “presented himself aliveafter his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days andspeaking about the Kingdom of God“
He really did die. John’s gospel records that “one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear and at oncethere came out blood and water. He who saw it has borne witness – his testimonyis true and he knows that he is telling the truth – that you may also believe“The water would have been from the pleural cavity between the lungs and chestwall and the blood from the heart itself. Jesus was dead.
People have tried to have come up with a number ofexplanations of why Jesus’ body was gone from the tomb
Wrong tomb -guarded and sealed – would have been easily shown up.
Romans took thebody – would have produced as Christians became a nuisance
Jewish rulers tookthe body – again would have produced the body
Graverobbers -more interested in the grave clothes and spices which were left behind!
Disciples hid thebody – psychologically improbable. They had scattered but were emboldenedby the resurrection. Jesus’ followers faced great persecution for their claimsabout Jesus, yet, after his death, not one of them retracted those claims.Before Jesus’ death this was not the case; famously, Peter denied Jesus threetimes. Something transformed the early Christians into fervent witnesses to theresurrection. What could have done that other than a genuine resurrection?
Not Hallucinations– emotionally disturbed and druggies not sceptics and burly fisherman
500 at once -collective hallucinations impossible
Saul – ahostile witness persecuting Christians transformed by his encounter.
People at the time convinced by the “manyproofs“
Are you saved?
d to die and rose again because it was the onlysolution to the problem of your sin and mine. We are not naturally good byGod’s standards. Taking just 3 of the commandments – every one of has lied, hascoveted and used God’s name in vain. We are guilty and when we die we wouldn’tdeserve to go to heaven and there’s nothing we can do about it. We can’t begood enough to pay for the bad stuff. Jesus died on our behalf in our place androse again so if we repent of our sin and place our trust in him we can beforgiven and know God. Are you saved?
Be confident of God’s purposes verse 6-7
John Stott says of Verse 6 that there are as many errors aswords in the disciple’s question! And so Jesus tells them look times and datesare not what you need to worry about. God’s purpose is that we would bewitnesses to in
Jerusalem – our town
Judea – our area
Samaria – those who don’t like us much
Ends of the Earth – the nations
Be confident that God has called every one of us to bewitnesses going from here to the ends of the earth and nowadays the ends of theearth can be next door!
Be confident in God’s promises v5,8
For the early church…
1. You will be baptised v5
2. You will receive power v8
Both of which are you birth right available to you the verysecond you get saved! For the early churches they were promises they held on toclosely as they prayed and waited for the fulfilment of what God had said tothem between Jesus going to heaven and Pentecost – weeks later.
Whole number of things God has said to us – which are infull on the website and ads snippets on the back of the newssheet.
Pick out a few…
Notice the promise had conditions with the confidence
Conditional on “waiting” for the early church – they devotedthemselves to prayer v14
Conditional on “preparing the ground and sharpening theplough” for us – we need to pray, we need to be equipped evangelistically, weneed to keep casting the nets, we need to get a bigger venue and we need to beprepared for growth.
Last thing that I want to pick out is
Be confident of God’s power v8
“you will receive power to bewitnesses” The same power that raised Christ from the dead is the powerof the Holy Spirit that works in you as you live out your Christian life beinga witness and witnessing!
It’s the “Lo when we go” Matt 28:19 “go therefore and makedisciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son andHoly Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded and LO I amwith you always to the end of the age”.
Be confident of the Bible, the Resurrection, in God’spurposes for the Church, God’s promises over us and God’s power to work in andthrough us.
This stuff is all true whether you feel like it or not.