It was an important moment in the early church. There they were, assembled together in a room, more than 100 believers. Jesus—the resurrected Jesus was present.
Jesus loves being present with His people. What did He say? “Where two or three are gathered together in My name, there I am in the midst of them” (Matthew18:20). In our time He is present with gathered believers through the Holy Spirit. Understand what I am saying; Jesus is present here, now, with us.
But back to that room filled with believers. There they all were and then Jesus gave a command. It was not a mere suggestion, it was a command, a directive. They were the body of the church, He was its head, and He had a command for His body.
It might seem a strange command to us, the opposite to what we expect: don't go. His command was for them NOT to depart. They were to remain there, together, speaking and praying with each other, singing hymns I am sure as well. And they were not to depart. They were to wait for something He said would happen. There was a promise the Father had made which had yet to be fulfilled. That promise is very meaningful to us. What is this promise?
The Promise of the Father
John speaks of this promise several times. First in John 14:15-18:
If you love Me, keep My commandments. And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever—the Spirit of Truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.
The Father gives us another paraklete. Jesus is a paraklete—one who I called beside us to help us—and the Holy Spirit is another paraklete, called beside us to help us. He is the Spirit of truth. The world cannot receive the Spirit of truth because the world is under the influence of the prince of the power of the air. Satan rules minds in this world. All our hearts should be given decisively to God. That means that in a concrete way we will seek to discover His will, receive His help to do His will, and be agents of His kingdom here. Or else we will follow along influenced in our perceptions by the perceptions which are promoted by God’s enemies in the world.
We however know the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Truth. How? He dwells with us and manifests Himself in us. He comes to us.
Then there is John 15:26:
When the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of Truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me.
Jesus sends the Helper from the Father. The Spirit in turn, testifies about Jesus. John states this yet again in John 16:13-15:
When He, the Spirit of truth has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you.
So the Holy Spirit tells us about Jesus. Do you realize virtually all of the New Testament, which more directly tells us about Jesus, was written after the gift of the Holy Spirit was given to the church? The four gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, were all written after the promise of the Father, the gift of the Spirit, was given. The book of revelation, which is the revelation of Jesus Christ, after all, was also written after the church received the promise of the Father, the gift of the Spirit. When you read these writings, you are experiencing concrete manifestations of the gift God gave His people. These writings are inspired. These writings have changed the world. These writings, and the whole Bible tell us about Jesus.
But our study today proceeds mostly from Acts 1:4-8. And so Jesus makes clear in verses 4 and 5 that this promise is connected to Jesus, and he confirms it is the Holy Spirit. But verse four tells them to wait for this gift.
How many of us like waiting? We don’t like waiting. We have many things to do, and we want to do them right away. I’m like you. I don’t like waiting. But waiting is important. Waiting helps us rightly value and desire things. Waiting helps us to focus. Waiting is a discipline.
We see it over and over in the Bible. Joseph of Arimathea waiting for the kingdom of God, Simeon waiting for the kingdom, crowds waiting for Jesus, Daniel praying and waiting for understanding, Jeremiah faithfully prophesying and waiting for the nation to be delivered from captivity. We learn to focus our attention on the things that matter. Discipline is not a declaration; it is something that develops.
Jesus commanded believers to wait. Don’t depart, don’t rush out into the work when you don’t know what the work right now is. You may think you know what the work right now is, but you might not know what the work FOR RIGHT NOW is. So you, so I, often need to wait.
The disciples at that point knew a lot about what the work for them is. Even Jesus is with them. But Jesus Himself commands them to wait. He knows what they need. They need the promise of the Father. They need the Holy Spirit. Jesus is going up to the sanctuary in heaven to do what is needed there to accomplish the atonement. But He is sending them the gift of the Father, the Holy Spirit. They need to wait for this endowment. But they have never had this experience before. They don’t understand what they are lacking yet. So they don’t understand the call to wait.
Now here is some good news. Although they don’t understand the waiting yet, they wait. We often do not understand why we should wait. But we don’t have to understand. What we need to know how to do even more than to understand, is how to have faith and wait when God tells us to wait. Understanding often comes in the doing. But if we are not doing what God would have us be doing, then we aren’t even moving toward understanding.
To go we often must stop. To understand we need to exercise faith. To exercise faith we need to wait. We need to know what God wants us to do right now. And sometimes what He wants us to do is to hold still, get focused, and wait. The waiting isn’t for God’s sake, it is for ours. Many of us need to learn how to wait.
There is an important clue Jesus gives them. Jesus tells them they will be baptized by the Holy Spirit “not many days from now.” So they have to wait but only a few days. There is an important, a life-changing gift coming, it is just a few days, a few hours away.
Now comes an interruption. In verse six the disciples ask a question about the kingdom. Great subject matter. You would think it is a right topic. But no. This is a distraction. It was not the Spirit of God who led them to ask this question. They asked the wrong question. Jesus tells them He’s not giving them an answer to that question right now. It is not the right time. That is in the Father’s keeping. You have a different mission. Before we ask we should pray that we will ask god the right questions at the right time.
We also learn there that they were not in one place together the whole time. They were meeting and then returning home and then meeting again. Presumably they returned to their homes at night and returned to a prayer-meeting or revival meeting the next day. It was after one of these reassemblies that they asked their mistaken question.
When the Holy Spirit comes upon You
The disciples would receive something when the Holy Spirit came upon them: power. They would receive dunamis, not so much authority to witness but persuasive help in their sharing. There would be a before and after difference.
When we are thinking of the baptism of the Holy Spirit we are thinking about supernatural power. This is more than conventional. Somehow we train ourselves not to expect the supernatural. That is a mistake. Rather, we should anticipate that we will see the power of God. But when will we see it?
We will see the power of God when the Holy Spirit comes upon us. Not when it comes upon them, when it comes upon us. Are we afraid of the Spirit? Why don’t we seek for it to come upon us? That should be part of what we seek. That He will come and that He will come upon us.
You Shall Be
We need the Spirit so that we can be. Jesus said, “You shall be.” We will be witnesses for Him when we have received the Holy Spirit. The gift is essential. Are we seeking this? Are we a little bit unsure? Are we waiting for a brother to receive the gift first? A sister? Do we want to see what happens when they receive the Holy Spirit? How can we be so tentative? We should all desire this gift from Jesus from the Father now.
We need the gift so that we can be empowered witnesses, supernaturally empowered witnesses. Do we secretly fear being too zealous? Why do we not seek for the gift?
God wants to use us. ML Andreasen understood. Listen:
Sin, like some diseases, leaves man in a deplorable condition—weak, despondent, disheartened. He has little control of his mind, his will fails him, and with the best of intentions he is unable to do what he knows to be right. He feels there is no hope. He knows that he has himself to blame, and remorse fills his soul. To his bodily ailments is added the torture of conscience. He knows that He has sinned and is to blame. Will no one take pity on him?
Then comes the gospel. The good news is preached to him. Though his sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. All is forgiven. He is ‘saved.’ What a wonderful deliverance it is! His mind is at rest. No longer does his conscience torment him. He has been forgiven. His sins are cast into the depths of the sea. His heart wells with praise to God for His mercy and goodness to him.
As a disabled ship towed to port is safe but not sound, so the man is ‘saved’ but not sound. Repairs need to be made on the ship before it is pronounced seaworthy, and the man needs reconstruction before he is fully restored. This process of restoration is called sanctification, and includes in its finished product body, soul, and spirit. When the work is finished, the man is ‘holy,’ completely sanctified, and restored to the image of God. It is for this DEMONSTRATION of what the gospel can do for a man that the world is looking….
When the work is completed, when he has gained the victory over pride, ambition, love of the world--over all evil--he is ready for translation. He has been tried on all points. The evil one has come to him and found nothing. Satan has no more temptations for him. He has overcome them all. He stands without fault before the throne of God. Christ places His seal upon him. He is safe, and he is sound. God has finished His work in Him. The DEMONSTRATION of what God can do with humanity is compete.
Thus it shall be with the last generation of men living on the earth. Through them God’s final DEMONSTRATION of what He can do with humanity will be given. He will take the weakest of the weak, those bearing the sins of their forefathers, and in them show the power of God. They will be subjected to every temptation, but they will not yield. They will DEMONSTRATE that it is possible to live without sin—the very DEMONSTRATION for which the world has been looking and for which God has been preparing. It will become evident to all that the gospel really can save to the uttermost. God is found true in His sayings.(TSS 300-302)
Friend, God wants to make us His witnesses. He wants us to want it. He wants us to want to have the Holy Spirit in us. He wants us to want to tell others about what Jesus has done for us personally.
And where? Locally. Wherever you are. God may send you somewhere special sometimes, but mostly He calls you to bring the good news of Jesus to wherever you are. It may be in Jerusalem, in all Judea, in Samaria, or the uttermost parts of the earth. It may be in Muskegon, it may be in Detroit, it may be in the lower peninsula, it may be in California or Nepal, but God calls you to be a witness for Him.
That is something for you to come to grips with. His power awaits.
Muskegon MI SDA church 2021-08-07
Fremont MI SDA church 2021-08-21