The Mission of the Church                                         click here for audio

Acts 1:6-14

So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. 10 And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, 11 and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”

12 Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day’s journey away. 13 And when they had entered, they went up to the upper room, where they were staying, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot and Judas the son of James. 14 All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.

 

In the former book Luke dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach.  Luke’s Gospel was  just the beginning of what Christ was doing.   There’s not an ending to the work of Christ. However, there       is an END to something; There’s a completion of one thing,  It’s the purchasing of our Salvation. Redemption is a finished transaction.    Jesus prays to the Father “I have accomplished, or finished the work you gave me to do. ( John17:4)    On the cross before he died, Jesus said “It is finished” (John 19)   The Work of Redemption………He finished!

Work of Doing and Teaching…..Just began!

The Work of preaching the gospel;   The Work of bringing in all those who would believe…..just began… The Title for Acts  “the Acts of the Apostles” must be better titled “the Acts of the Risen Lord”.    One Bible teacher says the book of Acts is   “The Acts of the Risen Lord Jesus through his people by the Holy Spirit for the accomplishment of the God’s purposes.”  (Alan Thompson)

2 main things to remember as we study in Acts:

#1 –   The Book of Acts is a  continuation of the Work of Christ —  The Story Continues….

#2 –   the book of Acts is a fulfillment –   of  OT prophesies —

Luke 24:44-49

44 Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” 45 Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, 46 and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, 47 and that repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”

 

When Jesus was on the EARTH— He PREACHED saying –  Repent for the  The kingdom of God is at hand…  In Acts we will see what the Kingdom of God looks like with the RISEN CHRIST;  The ASCENDED CHRIST, and the OUTPOURING of the HOLY SPIRIT.

The Kingdom of God continues to expand…..  the first century church saw tremendous growth as the gospel spread into many parts of the world. …..now….here we are 21st century…most of us here lived in the 20th century and now we are in the 21st century….we are a continuation of the work of Christ’s and the proclamation of His Gospel through the power of the Holy Spirit.  THAT’S  OUR CONNECTION WITH THE BOOK OF ACTS.  IT’S OUR HISTORY.    Luke wrote his two volumes  (gospel of Luke and Acts) and sent it to Theophilus…  an important official, a Gentile…. With his influential position….Luke’s two volume books …were circulated….to a much wider audience….it’s preserved for us today….a part of God’s Inspired Word.

LUKE BEGINS  ACTS 1     I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach,  until the day he was taken up…….ACTS is a  “continuation” of the Lord’s Work…

Last time ….  What was Essential for a Local Ministry to Continue….

  1. Bible – centered (v.1)   “first book” …  Luke stayed with the text….He did not give his opinions…He gave an accurate account of all that Jesus began to do and teach
  2. Christ – exalted (v.1)  “all that Jesus began to do and teach”      the focus is on Christ….     It’s not only what Jesus BEGAN to DO and TEACH;   but  is also   what Jesus CONTINUES to DO and TEACH  through his apostles, and through his church in the power of the Holy Spirit.
  3. Fully persuaded –    Jesus showed with many infallible proofs regarding his resurrection;  the apostles were persuaded that Jesus is FOR REAL… they preached the RISEN Christ;  not the historical Jesus;   but the Exalted, Risen, Ascended  Christ who lives and reigns…
  4. Kingdom – focused – Jesus spent 40 days with the disciples speaking to them about the kingdom of God.    That’s the Lord’s focus.    It’s a spiritual kingdom,  not a political kingdom. In this world the Christians faces sufferings for the Lord Jesus.  Suffering is a big theme in the book of Acts.  It’s a big theme in history of the church, itself.    After the Apostle Paul was stoned in Lystra,  the preserved his life…he along with Barnabas said to the Believers:

strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.     Acts 14:22

  1. Spirit – empowered – (v.5)   for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”

Jesus told them to wait for the promise of the Father….clothed with power on high….

 

This prepares us for what’s coming up….

In the next section –    The Mission of the Church

Jesus has already told the apostles and all his disciples about the building of the church….

Matthew 16:18…..on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it

Matthew 18:17…….If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.

Jesus spends 40 days after His resurrection…..speaking to the apostles of the kingdom of God….you don’t spend that much time….and the subject of the church doesn’t come up….

 Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.  ACTS 20:28

 

The church is God’s called out ones,   ekklesia is the word in Greek.  A congregation, an assembly, …Not just an assembly, but a called out assembly…  Called for the purpose to be set apart for God’s purpose;    Called out from the world;  Called to be a part of the family of God.

The LORD did NOT CALL us to  leave us to ourselves,  to do as we desire;   He has given us a purpose,  a mission,  a mandate,  we are in the ARMY OF THE LORD and we’re given “marching orders”…..We are given a commission from our Commander in Chief,  the Captain of our souls.

 

The Mission of the Church

Has 3 things important for its survival:

 

  1. Authorized Strategy.
  2. Ascended Savior.
  3. Assembled Saints.

 

  1. Authorized Strategy vv.6-8

The Strategy for the mission of the church –  v.8  (read it)

 

So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?”

Why did they ask this question?      They heard Jesus speaking about waiting for the promise of the Father…the Holy Spirit will come upon you….you will receive this baptism by me…A baptism of the Holy Spirit……THEY KNEW ABOUT THIS PROMISE…… IT WAS PROMISED IN THE OT.

Ezekiel 36:24-28

24 I will take you from the nations and gather you from all the countries and bring you into your own land. 25 I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. 26 And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. 28 You shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers, and you shall be my people, and I will be your God.

Ezekiel 39:25-29

25 “Therefore thus says the Lord God: Now I will restore the fortunes of Jacob and have mercy on the whole house of Israel, and I will be jealous for my holy name.

29 And I will not hide my face anymore from them, when I pour out my Spirit upon the house of Israel, declares the Lord God.”

Joel 2:28-29

“And it shall come to pass afterward,
that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh;
your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
your old men shall dream dreams,
and your young men shall see visions.
29 Even on the male and female servants
in those days I will pour out my Spirit.

Isaiah 32:15;  44:3-5;  Zechariah 12:10

 

LUKE 22:29-30

29 and I assign to you, as my Father assigned to me, a kingdom, 30 that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

The coming of the Holy Spirit in a new way…coming upon them….they knew about this…

The kingdom being restored to Israel….they knew about that too.

The apostles knew the Scriptures.  All they had was the OT.    They knew there was coming a day when the Lord will rule and reign on the earth.  They were familiar with Daniel’s prophecy –

……. the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed, nor shall the kingdom be left to another people.  (Daniel 2:44)

 

JESUS RESPONSE—–

they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?”       They put the OUTPOURING  and  the RESTORATION   side by side  as if they were to happen simulataneously.

They put the “Coming of the Spirit”  “baptism of the Holy Spirit”    AND   the Restoring of the Kingdom to Israel   to happen all together…

Jesus does not SCOLD them for the question.   Their theology is incorrect;  the timing is off.

7 He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority.

Jesus is SAYING —-   don’ think….with the coming of the Spirit….. that means the IMMEDIATE fulfillment of the KINGDOM.      DOES NOT MEAN   immediate  restoration of Israel..

BUT  (v.8)   HERE ‘s   what you CAN EXPECT to happen immediately  (or in a few days from now)…

YOU WILL RECEIVE POWER….   SAME thing in Luke 24…

Luke 24:46-49

46 and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, 47 and that repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”

SAME THING  in ACTS 1:8

This is God’s strategy for reaching the lost with the gospel of Christ –   called to be Witnesses

 

Our Strategy is NOT to be setting dates on the return of Christ….Our ROLE is NOT to be a Prophet, but a Witness

A Witness that is Empowered by the Holy Spirit…..

The Heavenly Father has FIXED the times and seasons by his OWN AUTHORITY….

There is an AUTHORITY given to us…    the Authority to be HIS WITNESS

From the LORD we’ve been given an AUTHORIZED STRATEGY TO REACH THE WORLD WITH THE GOSPEL….V.8

It’s called the GREAT COMMISSION

Great Commission –  Matthew 28:18-20

18 And Jesus came and said to them, All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

v.8   witnesses in Jerusalem      (Acts 1-7)

       witnesses in Judea and Samaria     (Acts 8-12)

      witnesses to the Ends of the Earth    (Acts 13-28)

Continues…even today…. 

The Mission of the Church begins with  an authorized strategy –  that’s our Purpose

 

  1. Ascended Savior vv.9-11

The Mission of the Church is possible because of the Ascended Savior – that means POWER

You can have a “purpose”  but if you don’t have  “power” to fulfill that purpose, it means nothing.

Jesus has already told them…..I MUST GO AWAY…

John 16:7

Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.

READ v.9

Luke’s records this in LUKE 24:50

50 And he led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them. 51 While he blessed them, he parted from them and was carried up into heaven.

While he blessed them with uplifted hands….he was taken up….  I’m thinking he’s blessing them….he’s speaking to them…giving them a blessing…..a word of encouragement….his hands uplifted…what all did he say  as he was blessing them, and at the same time being lifted up from the earth?   We don’t know….  Could he had said something like….

  • Stay in Jerusalem…wait for the Promise of the Father….wait for the Holy Spirit…
  • I’m leaving…..but I’m sending you some HELP…. I’m sending the Helper!   The Comforter!  The HOLY SPIRIT!
  • Remember what I’ve told you! (maybe with his uplifted hands  he pointed to the nail prints and said….remember the Cross…..that’s what you preach Peter…that’s what you preach all you Apostles!)

He could have said those things…because He has said those things to them before he left.

READ  vv.10-11      (two men…white robes…..angels that took the form of men…..simply saying…you can stop gazing into heaven…he’s gone now….he will come back in the same way…..there’s nothing more here to see

 

Jesus is gone into Heaven….He is at the Right Hand of God the Father

Psalms 110:1

The Lord says to my Lord:
    “Sit at my right hand,
until I make your enemies your footstool.

Romans 8:34

Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.

Acts 7:56

56 And he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God…………… (usual position is sitting at the right hand….. stand….demonstrates Concern for his Own people…)

 

Jesus ASCENDS    to Send back the Holy Spirit….the baptism with the Holy Spirit….  

We will look more at the subject of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit later on in our studies…

Even though there is one baptism….there are many “fillings”    Be filled with the Spirit…is what we are commanded in Ephesians 5:18…..be clothed with power…I have no problem using the term  “baptism of the Holy Spirit”  because it is scriptural,  and it simply means to be  IMMERSED.

It’s one thing to have an everyday  common Christian life…it’s quite another  to experience an unusual outpouring of God’s Spirit…..

Martin Lloyd Jones gives an illustration in his book  “Joy Unspeakable”  explaining the difference between common Christian living and being “clothed with power”  or  the Spirit comes upon a person with unusual power.

He says it is like a child walking along holding his father’s hand. All is well. The child is happy. He feels secure. His father loves him. He believes that his father loves him but there is no unusual urge to talk about this or sing about it. It is true and it is pleasant.

Then suddenly the father startles the child by reaching down and sweeping him up into his arms and hugging him tightly and kissing him on the neck and whispering, “I love you so much!” And then holding the stunned child back so that he can look into his face and saying with all his heart, “I am so glad you are mine.” Then hugging him once more with unspeakable warmth and affection. Then he puts the child down and they continue their walk.

This, Lloyd-Jones says, is what happens when a person is baptized with the Holy Spirit. A pleasant and happy walk with God is swept up into an unspeakable new level of joy and love and assurance and reality that leaves the Christian so utterly certain of the immediate reality of Jesus that he is overflowing in praise and more free and bold in witness than he ever imagined he could be.

The MISSION of the Church is   useless   apart from the POWER of the Holy Spirit.

That’s one of the main reasons we see in the ASCENDED  SAVIOR…..he sends back the Holy Spirit baptism….the Power from on High.

 

Also,  the Mission of the Church is NOT possible apart from the  “gathering” of the Saints….so we have in vv.12-14    “the Assembled Saints”….

  • Assembled Saints vv.12-14

 

  1. The Place – Jerusalem – the upper room

 

They go to Jerusalem…that’s where Jesus said they were to stay.    (READ  v.12)

12 Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day’s journey away.     (Sabbath day’s journey ….less than  ½ mile)

UPPER ROOM    And then they are in the UPPER ROOM    (may have been same place  Lord’s Supper)

 

 

  1. The People

11 Apostles…..   Judas Iscariot is OUT of the picture…..he is the betrayer…   (next time)

Women….

Mary the mother of Jesus –-and his brothers  (brothers and sisters)

No worship of Mary….  Last time we see Mary in the scriptures….

No is lighting candles to Mary….she is not the one they worship….

Notice in  v.15 Peter   “stood up”     that means they were probably all kneeling as they prayed…

 

 

Mary – is not co-redeemer…as some teach…this doctrine reaches back into paganism….   We don’t bow our knee, to OUR LADY…

We bow our knee to OUR SAVIOR.

Notice  v.15  Peter stood up…. Implies they were all kneeling…..

Mary was not standing up…she was kneeling along with everyone else…

She recognized Jesus as Savior like the rest.

She recognized herself as a sinner in need of saving grace, like the rest.

 

  1. The Purpose

PURPOSE —  devoting themselves to prayer….

 

All…one accord….devoting themselves to prayer…

Eyes were upon Jesus.     Last verses of Luke 24  after Jesus ascension  it says  “they worshipped him”…..continualy in the temple blessing God

 

The Mission of the Church — requires that we     “come together”   for the purpose of worshipping God…exalting and worshipping Christ….pray for His blessings…. Pray for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit…..to come upon us in a fresh anointing….

 

Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.

Hebrews 10:25

Our mission as a local church –  get the gospel out to others….be His Witness among all people groups….

We are a small “spec” in this huge enterprise  called the KINGDOM OF GOD.    We are a part of that kingdom….and the Lord reigns over His kingdom…

 

The kingdom of God,” John Stott says, “is His rule in the lives of His people by the Holy Spirit. It is spread by witnesses, not by soldiers, through a Gospel of peace, not a declaration of war, and by the work of the Spirit, not by force of arms, political intrigue, or revolutionary violence.”

Our purpose is not to give a platform for political leaders.  Our purpose is not to be an advocacy for other causes….   It’s not our job to stop all the drugs flowing through the county.

It’s not our job to feed all the hungry in our community.

It’s not our job to be a Recreational Center or a community center.

We are not advocates to good causes…..We are witnesses to an Amazing Christ!

Jesus said   “you shall be my witnesses”