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Acts 1:8b-11

Sunday Morning Bible Study

 May 18, 1997

Introduction

We're in the time period where Jesus is about to leave earth, and ascend into heaven.

Jesus has told the disciples to wait in Jerusalem until the Holy Spirit is poured out on them.

Jesus said that the Holy Spirit would give them "power", that He would give them "enablement".

When the Holy Spirit comes upon us, He gives us the ability to do the things that God wants us to do.

:8 and ye shall be witnesses unto me

witness - martus (our word "martyr") - a witness, just like a person in court who comes to give testimony to what he's seen.

That's the whole idea of being a "witness", simply telling others what you've seen Jesus do in your life.

It's not a witness's job to get a person saved, it's simply their job to give their testimony.

But if a person pays attention to your testimony, and responds to the work that God is doing in their heart, then they receive salvation from God.

Lesson:

The Spirit gives us the ability to witness.

We talked last week how the filling of the Holy Spirit is like a hand filling a glove. Whatever the hand is able to do, the glove can do as well.

Jesus said,

Joh 15:26-27 But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, [even] the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me: 27 And ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning.

When the disciples are filled with the Holy Spirit, they will be "able" or have "power" to be witnesses, because the Holy Spirit has come to be a witness of Jesus.

In fact, the grammar here is not that Jesus is commanding the disciples to be witnesses, but He's simply stating the fact that in the future they will be witnesses.

This seems to be one of the primary things that happens when a person is filled with the Holy Spirit.

When Peter is filled with the Holy Spirit in Acts 2, he stands up to explain what has happened to the crowd, and 3,000 people get saved (Acts 2:41)

Later on, when Peter is arrested for healing a man, and brought before the rulers,

(Acts 4:8 KJV) Then Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost, said unto them, Ye rulers of the people, and elders of Israel,

And from there he simply is explaining what has happened, giving a "witness", a "testimony".

Keep in mind, this is Peter, who had denied the Lord when confronted by a young servant girl, now boldly witnessing to the rulers!

This shows us that it really was the Holy Spirit at work, and not just that Peter was a bold, eloquent preacher!

Do you have a desire to tell others about Jesus Christ?

You need the power of the Holy Spirit.

You can't be a witness without it.

Illustration

A garage man in Mangum, Oklahoma, answered the distress call of a woman motorist, whose car had stalled. He examined the car and informed her that it was out of gas. "Will it hurt," she asked, "if I drive it home with the gas tank empty?"

What a silly question!

Yet we can't be a witness for Jesus without the Holy Spirit either. The car won't even start.

:8 both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

Jerusalem - the capitol city, the place where they were right at that moment.

Judaea - the southern portion of Israel, the area surrounding Jerusalem.

Samaria - the area to the north of Judaea, where the half-breed Samaritan people lived.

Uttermost part of the earth - just as it sounds, everything else in the world.

We see here an outline to the book of Acts.

Acts 1-7, the gospel goes throughout Jerusalem.

Acts 8-12, the gospel spreads into Judaea and Samaria.

Acts 13-28, Paul begins his missionary journeys and the gospel goes even as far as Rome.

Lesson #1:

Growth begins at home.

I think healthy growth, whether personally, or as a church, starts at home.

God wants us to take care of the home front first.

Then we are to expand and reach out.

Yet too often, we can get so concerned about reaching out to the ends of the earth, that we neglect what's going on at home.

I see this in some of our personal lives, where we begin to put our ministry to others before our ministry to our families.

Illustration

Where Did the Years Go? (as one man looks back )

I remember talking to my friend a number of years ago about our children. Mine were 5 and 7 then, just the ages when their daddy means everything to them. I wished that I could have spent more time with my kids but I was too busy working. After all, I wanted to give them all the things I never had when I was growing up.

I loved the idea of coming home and having them sit on my lap and tell me about their day. Unfortunately, most days I came home so late that I was only able to kiss them good night after they had gone to sleep.

It is amazing how fast kids grow. Before I knew it, they were 9 and 11. I missed seeing them in school plays. Everyone said they were terrific, but the plays always seemed to go on when I was traveling for business or tied up in a special conference. The kids never complained, but I could see the disappointment in their eyes.

I kept promising that I would have more time "next year." But the higher up the corporate ladder I climbed, the less time there seemed to be.

Suddenly they were no longer 9 and 11. They were 14 and 16. Teenagers. I didn't see my daughter the night she went out on her first date or my son's championship basketball game. Mom made excuses and I managed to telephone and talk to them before they left the house. I could hear the disappointment in their voices, but I explained as best I could.

Don't ask where the years have gone. Those little kids are 19 and 21 now and in college. I can't believe it. My job is less demanding and I finally have time for them. But they have their own interests and there is no time for me. To be perfectly honest, I'm a little hurt.

It seems like yesterday that they were 5 and 7. I'd give anything to live those years over. You can bet your life I'd do it differently. But they are gone now, and so is my chance to be a real dad.

Dr. Oswald J. Smith used to say,

"The light that shines the farthest will shine the brightest at home."

Take care of home first.

Lesson #2:

A pattern for growth.

We see this in the modern church.

Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa

Over 30 years ago, God called Chuck Smith to pastor a small group of 25 people in Costa Mesa, their first service was on the first Sunday in December, 1965. After their first time together, the whole church went out to lunch at Sizzler's on 17th street in Costa Mesa.

They started studying through the Bible on Sundays, and began home Bible Studies almost every night of the week, along with men's and women's intercessory prayer groups.

After about two years, they outgrew their building, ended up sharing space with the Newport Harbor Lutheran church over on Dover, and started to reach out to the hippies. The Lutherans allowed them to start a Thursday night Bible Study at the church.

After a year, they outgrew that church, and purchased the property over on Sunflower and Greenville (that became "Maranatha Village")

They began to build a new sanctuary to seat 300 people, and started a Monday night youth study on the slab while they were building. By the time the building was finished, it was already too small, and the people were overflowing out onto the patio.

They went to double services, then triple services, and this was with 500 extra chairs on the patio.

Then they purchased the current property on Fairview and Sunflower and put up an old circus tent with seating for 1600 people, and went back to two services. But as soon as they set it up, it was too small, and they had to add an addition to the tent with seating for an extra 400 chairs.

About that time some of the young men began to go out and establish new churches.

Jeff Johnson went to Downey where he had been a drug dealer.

Mike MacIntosh went to San Diego, Chuck Jr. turned his Bible Study in Riverside over to Greg Laurie, and Raul Ries started a Bible Study in his Kung Fu studio in West Covina.

About this time Wayne Taylor started his fellowship in Seattle, Lewis Neely started the work in Sacramento, Jon Courson left the Jr. High ministry to move up to San Jose and then on up to Applegate Oregon. Bill Galatin moved back to New York, Joe Focht to Philadelphia, Skip Heitzig to Albuquerque and Tom Stipe to Denver.

Today in the listings of the 25 largest churches in the United States, 9 of them are Calvary Chapels. There are about 700 churches in the United States, and another 150 around the world.

For us, we have no doubt that God has called us to be in Fullerton, this is our "Jerusalem".

I think these early years for us as a church ought to be aimed at settling into the community and asking God for help to reach our city with the gospel.

As our church grows and matures (don't worry, I don't have any grand dreams of being another Calvary Costa Mesa), there will be a day when we will have an increasing witness further and further from the church.

In a way, this happens on a small scale already through our missions giving, and having folks like the Kings leaving us to start a church in Arkansas.

Lesson #3:

Discomfort can lead to growth.

Jesus told them that the witness was to expand from Jerusalem to Judea and Samaria, and then to the rest of the world.

But when you look closely at the book of Acts, you find that the jump from Jerusalem to Judaea and Samaria didn't occur until persecution hit the church.

Acts 8:1 And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles.

Sometimes we get kind of comfortable the way things are, and when God wants us to grow and move on, we aren't always too willing.

I wonder if this is what happened to the early church.

Illustration

At Calvary Anaheim we got kind of comfortable in several of our locations through the years. For many years, even though Mark's original vision was to be in Anaheim, at one point we spent quite a few years in Garden Grove.

At Rossier school in Garden Grove, the neighbors rose up and took up a petition against us because of the parking problem we had on Sunday mornings. We moved to the Jewish Community Center in Garden Grove.

At the Jewish Community Center, after about six years, the School District revoked the Center's lease, and we had to be out in 18 months.

We finally moved up into Anaheim, but it took a couple of good shoves from the Lord to get us there.

Some times we don't like to be uncomfortable, but perhaps it is times like this that move us to where we need to be.

:9 he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.

The idea is that the disciples are watching Jesus when He suddenly begins to start rising off of the ground and keeps going until He goes right into the bottom of a cloud above them and they cannot see Him any longer.

:10 they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up

The disciples have their eyes locked on the sky, staring intently as they watch Jesus rise up into the cloud.

It's kind of like when you take your grandma to the airport, and you watch her 737 take off and fly off into the horizon. You like to stay and watch until you can't see it anymore.

Keep in mind, someone flying like this doesn't happen every day!

I imagine their mouths are also open.

:10 two men stood by them in white apparel;

These are angels. They are standing next to the disciples, not floating above them.

:11 why stand ye gazing up into heaven?

This shouldn't be a surprise to the disciples because Jesus had talked before about ascending into heaven.

Joh 20:17 Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and [to] my God, and your God.

Why was the ascension important?

1. Without it, the Holy Spirit wouldn't have been sent.

(John 16:7 KJV) Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.

I think one of the principles involved was to get the disciples' eyes off of a physical person to depend upon, and get their eyes on the invisible.

Too often we find ourselves depending on the people we see, and it's not until they're taken away that we start trusting God directly.

2. Jesus had work to do in heaven.

He was going to heaven to serve as our High Priest before God.

Heb 7:25 Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.

:11 this same Jesus

Their friend, their master, not another Jesus.

:11 shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.

When He returns, it will be in the same manner, in the clouds, in the sky:

Rev 19:11-15 And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. {12} His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. {13} And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. {14} And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. {15} And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.

It has been suggested that the clouds may in fact be the saints in their white robes, and from a distance they look like a giant cloud.

We know from the Scriptures that one of the ingredients of the last days has to do with the rebuilding of a Jewish Temple in Jerusalem.

"According to Jewish tradition a third Temple will be built by the Messiah. Which of course, makes it so much easier for me." Ehud Olmert, Mayor of Jerusalem, on the prospects of a third temple being built in the city. AOL Live - May 1, 1997

This is fascinating, since according to Jesus, the temple will already be in place when He returns. I think the Jews have their tradition a little off, it's not the Messiah that rebuilds the third Temple, but it could be the Anti-christ.

This was pulled from various articles from the Jerusalem Post concerning the temple:

In 1967, Israel passed a law forbidding Jews to pray on the Temple Mount, the location of the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa mosque. Currently when the Jews pray at the "Wailing Wall" (Western Wall), they are outside the actual Temple Mount.

When Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was elected, he did so by promising to change the laws that prohibit Jews from praying on the Temple Mount (he has since backed off on that promise).

In late September of last year, one of the tunnels under the Temple Mount, called the Hasmonean Tunnel, was opened and several hundred people were allowed to go in.

According to Oded Wiener, director of the Religious Affairs Ministry's Holy Sites Division, another tunnel was found branching off, leading into the Temple Mount, but sealed with a meter of concrete and stones.

He rejected a journalist's suggestion that Israelis would try to find the implements of the Temple, which according to the Talmud had been hidden on the Temple Mount before the destruction of the Second Temple. "When the messiah comes, we will find them. We have no interest in finding them now," he said.

Wiener also pointed out a small arched spot in the wall which oozed with water. It was, he said, the place opposite the Holy of Holies.

From the Jerusalem Post: "Netanyahu won't change Temple Mount status" quo by BILL HUTMAN (7-26-96); "Tunnel vision" By Abraham Rabibovich (9-27-96); "Hundreds tour Hasmonean Tunnel" by HAIM SHAPIRO (9-30-96)

This week's Newsweek (5-19-97) contained an article called "The Strange Case of Israel's Red Heifer"

In it, we read of a cow named Melody.

"Some would like to put a bullet in her head. Others want to burn her to cinders. But the greatest troubles Melody knows are the flies that swarm about her pen. Melody, a red heifer, was born on an ordinary farm in northern Israel last year. But to observant Jews, there is nothing ordinary about her. A couple of millenniums ago, in the era of the first and second Jewish Kingdoms, the ashes of a red heifer, butchered in her third year, were mixed with water and used to purify Jews before they could approach the Holy Temple on Jerusalem's Temple Mount."

A red heifer hasn't been born in Israel since A.D. 70, when Rome destroyed Jerusalem.

What's the big deal?

"Some devout Jews see Melody's birth as a sign from God that the coming of the Messiah is nigh. Many Muslims, and some less observant Jews, are concerned that extremists might take the red heifer as a signal to destroy the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa mosques, which now occupy Jerusalem's Temple Mount. That would clear the way for the construction of a third Jewish temple--and possibly provoke a war."

Lesson:

Are you ready?

Every day that passes gets us closer to the time when Jesus will return in the clouds.

Are you one who is looking forward to His return, or one who dreads it?

Paul wrote:

(2 Tim 4:8 KJV) Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.