The Ministry of Christ Continues                                      Date: 12/31/17               Click Here for Audio

Acts 1:1-11

Here we are at the end of 2017.   As at the end of every year it’s a time for reflection.   Looking back it’s been a year of good encouraging things; and a mixture of sadness as well.  The year has brought perhaps to some people more heartaches than happiness. To some it’s been a closer walk with the Lord, and to others a discouraging time in their Christian journey.   No matter what has happened, the curtain closes on 2017.

One thing, however, does not end:  That’s our relationship to Christ, and our responsibilities to serve and minister on behalf of our Lord.   Our personal walk with Christ continues, and the message from God’s Word continues to speak to us regardless of the changing of the year.  It is for certain the transition into the new year will bring its own challenges and opportunities.   We do have confidence that God’s Word will speak to us in fresh new ways as we meet the challenges and opportunities of the new year.

“The Ministry of Christ Continues”  – that’s the message given in the opening of the book of Acts.  A transition is taking place.  Jesus is going back to heaven, and the church which Christ has purchased with His own blood will continue the ministry through the power of the Holy Spirit.  The ministry which Christ began will continue through His church.    It’s not so much a new year, as it is a new day for the followers of Jesus.    Just as the prophet Elijah passed his mantle down to the prophet Elisha, the Lord Jesus passes the mantle to the Apostles and to the church.

The Lord Jesus Christ did not leave his church powerless and helpless.  All that’s needed for the ministry to continue year after year has been given by our Lord.  What has been given to those early believers is available to us as well.     The first essential for a ministry to continue is one that is BIBLE-CENTERED.

  1. Bible-centered ministry

Notice Acts 1:1-2a

In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and

          teach, 2 until the day when he was taken up,

Luke tells his friend Theophilus that he has written a (former treatise);  a former writing, or book.  This is not the first time Luke writes to Theophilus.   He wrote to him the Gospel that bears Luke’s name.  Look at Luke 1:1-4

Luke never met Jesus in the flesh.   He gets information from eyewitnesses of Christ which means the Apostles.  “those from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word have delivered them to us” (Luke 1:2)

Before Luke writes his Gospel in 60 AD and Acts in 62 AD,  there is a strong indication he became a convert during Paul’s second missionary journey.  In Acts 16:10  Paul comes to Troas and Luke begins traveling with Paul, Silas, and Timothy.  For the first time uses the word “we”.  He includes himself without mentioning his personal name. Luke was a faithful companion to the Apostle Paul.   The last letter Paul wrote was 2Timothy and there he wrote  “Luke alone is with me”  (2Timothy 4:11).    He was valuable in the ministry for Paul. He was a careful historian writing in vivid detail under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.   Paul experienced beatings and incarcerations that required medical attention.  We learn from Colossians 4:14 that Luke was a physician.  No doubt Luke gave medical attention to Paul and also was careful to document the contents that we see as the book of Luke and Acts.

Luke writes the book of Luke and the book of Acts for a man named Theophilus.  His name means “friend of God”.  He’s a Gentile Believer.  In Luke 1, Luke calls him “most excellent Theophilus”.

That title was used for Governor Felix  “excellency”    Acts 23:26       “most excellent Festus”   Acts 26:25

Theophilus was no doubt an important Roman official with great influence.    Luke writes in Luke 1:4 “that you might have certainty concerning the things you have been taught”    There was a good chance that Theophilus was given the wrong information about Jesus and the gospel.  Luke wanted to set the record straight and give the “exact truth” about Christ.

If Theophilus was successful in presenting the Gospel of Christ,  he had to have the right information, the right message.  Luke refers to the former book – which is the book known as the Gospel According to Luke.        He gives to his friend, Theophilus– the Word of God.

That’s where we begin.  Apart from God’s Word there’s no gospel message,  there’s no salvation possible,  there’s no saving ministry to the lost, and no edifying ministry to  the church.

 

A second essential for a ministry to continue is for that ministry to be Christ-exalted.

 

  1. Christ-Exalted Ministry

Notice in v.1    Luke says in his former book he dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach

When Luke ends his first book, it’s not the end of the ministry of Jesus.  What Luke says is that his first book  (the Gospel of Luke) only deals with what Jesus began to do and teach.  He’s not finished with what He’s doing;  and   He’s not finished with what He’s teaching.    The  “doing and teaching” continues on.    There is something that is FINISHED.    It’s Redemption.  Our Salvation was purchased.  The Penalty of our Sins was PAID IN FULL at the cross.

 

John 17:4     I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.

John 19:20    It is finished

Hebrews 10:10   we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

The work of the cross is finish, but the ministry of teaching continues.  The ministry of doing continues.  His Truth continues to be taught through the Apostles and the church.  His Works continue to be done through the Apostles and the church.

John 14:12

Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.

 

The reason for the greater works is  “because I go to my Father”.    Notice  v.2  “until the day when he was taken up”       JESUS IS EXALTED.

Philippians 2:9-11

9 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: 10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;   11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

The GREATER WORKS involve the gathering in of His ELECT.   IT’s the building of His Church.

The Lord will bless the ministry of the local church when the church seeks to EXALT Christ.  We EXALT Christ when we are submissive to His Lordship;     when we honor Him in our everyday lives; when we do His commands;   when we love Him supremely;   and love each other; and show compassion and love for the lost.      When the ministry of the church reaches out to the hurting, the suffering we in turn are honoring Christ.    Jesus said,  whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me…(Matthew 25:40)

  1. The WORKS of Christ continue. We’ll see more of that work as we make our way through ACTS.
  2. Also, the TEACHINGS of Christ continue.   The Lord’s teachings are not “great ideas” to remain high upon a shelf.   They are not just noble thoughts to admire.  They are commands.    NOTICE  2   “until the day….  He had given commands through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen.”

Jesus said to his disciples,  “If you love me, keep my commands.”      John 14:15    The Lord’s commands are not just to be heard only, but to be done.    We are to be “doers” of the Word, not hearers only.”  (James 1:22)

The Book of Acts (as well as the entire Bible)  are filled with commands.

For example:  Acts 17:30  “…he commands all people everywhere to repent”

The church of the Lord Jesus Christ is blessed when it seeks to EXALT Christ by continuing the ministry of both  doing, and teaching.

The ministry of the local church will continue as long as it is…..

  1. Sincerely Persuaded

The Apostles needed to be fully persuaded,  profoundly persuaded.  NOTICE v.3

He presented himself alive to them after his suffering (death)  by many proofs,  appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God.

 

Go to – Luke 24:39–40, 42–43

Go to –  John 20:24-29-     there were   “many other signs”  that Jesus did in the presence of the disciples  according to John 20:30

But these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.    (JOHN 20:31)

The disciples witnessed the Resurrected Lord Jesus.  They saw Him in His risen body.  For 40 days they were given proofs of the reality of His resurrection.  The walls of their houses could not prevent Jesus from passing through….He gave them convincing proof that He was alive .

John Piper makes this comment      “Jesus had broken the power of death and that he was alive with indestructible life, and therefore could never be defeated and that his cause was unstoppable…”[1]

They needed to be fully persuaded because they will be called upon to suffer for what they believe. As one church father has said    “the blood of martyrs is the seed of the Church.    No one preaches Christ the Risen Lord at the risk of being burned at the stake, or being beheaded UNLESS THEY ARE FULLY PERSUADED that Christ is truly ALIVE.

Preaching the Risen Lord – got these Apostles in hot water…..  Look in Acts 4:1-4

The gospel was unstoppable.      They arrested them …..but many believed the number of men was about  5000.

 

The ministry of the local church continues when it operates under full persuasion of the resurrection of Christ.

 

  1. KINGDOM Focused

v.3  during the 40 days Jesus spoke about the kingdom of God

The subject of the “Kingdom of God” is huge.     The Lord Jesus is Sovereign King over all the universe.  Jesus said in John 18:36    “my kingdom is not of this world”     There is the coming kingdom of righteousness that only the redeemed will be a part of.  In John 3  Jesus said to see and enter the kingdom of God a person must be “born again.”

To be KINGDOM Focused is to see and realize  the BIG picture.     Jesus tells the apostles that the mission is to reach the entire world with the gospel.    It starts in Jerusalem but reaches to the end of the earth.

Being Kingdom focuses  helps us to look outward,  and prevent from being  SELF absorbed.

We have those in our church who make mission trips.   Also, we plan to have missionaries from other parts of the world to come and visit with us this year.    A pastor from Poland is coming, Lord willing. We are making plans to help Pastor Julio in Los Moches, Mexico in completing their church building.  He has already had Russian Christians coming to do  construction on the church building.

We first have a mission in our own community, but we should also keep looking outward.   Starting with our own Jerusalem and reaching out even to the end of the earth.    Missions is everywhere we can go with the gospel.

That’s how the Lord wants us to pray.

Our Father, who art in Heaven,   hallowed be Thy name… THY KINGDOM COME,  Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven….

 

It’s God’s will to look outward even to the ends of the earth.

Being Kingdom Focused is essential for a ministry to continue….also

  1. Spirit – Empowered

vv.4-5

go back to Luke 24:48-49

In Acts 1:13  …..they  WAITED in Jerusalem  in the UPPER ROOM….

 

  • What were they doing? See  14   “…..devoting themselves to prayer…”

In chapter 2 – coming of the Holy Spirit….   baptized with the Holy Spirit

Go back to 1:5 For John baptized with water….  That’s all John could do….

JESUS –   wait for the promise of the Father

SEE  John 14:16-17, 26        and      John 16:7, 13-14

 

Holy Spirit is a MUST…to be effective witnesses      see  Acts 1:8

[1] https://www.desiringgod.org/scripture/acts/1/messages