PASTOR DON'S CHRISTIAN ED NOTES
Part 9
Print This Sermon
Sunday, December 2, 2007 -

I wanted to include an examination of the baptism in the Holy Spirit in this series. Doctrinal squabbles abound, which is so deadening to the spiritual dynamic God longs for His people to have. This subject is relevant to this series. We’re not just looking at techniques of prayer. We’re looking at how the Holy Spirit works in prayer. Prayer is deadened when studied the way one would study mathematics. Prayer is fuelled by the Person of the Holy Spirit. Today we study one of the ways in which the Holy Spirit involves Himself in Christ’s church at prayer:

Luke 24:45-49 - "Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. {46} He told them, "This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, {47} and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. {48} You are witnesses of these things. {49} I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high."

Acts 1:4-5, 7-8 - "On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: "Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. {5} For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit...He said to them: "It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. {8} But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."

Acts 1:14 - "They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers."

Some things are easily overlooked. Please note these important points:

1) THESE PEOPLE WERE ALREADY FOLLOWERS OF CHRIST AND THEIR FAITH HAD ALREADY BEEN CONFIRMED BY HIS RESURRECTION

They had already left everything they had to follow Jesus. They had already acknowledged who Jesus was. Remember Peter’s words, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God!” And remember Jesus’ reply that God Himself had revealed this inwardly into Peter’s heart - Matthew 16:16-17 - “Simon Peter replied, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ [17] And Jesus answered him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.’”

Also, they had already ministered in His Name. Peter and the others had already confessed their supreme love for Jesus over all else. And Jesus had already told them their names were written in heaven - Luke 10:20 - “Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven."

This is an important insight. Jesus isn’t discussing their entrance into His kingdom at this point. He is speaking about their readiness and enablement to fulfill the task of His kingdom. Or, to say it slightly differently, the issue here doesn’t appear to be conversion but ministry and empowerment. Clearly, there are two subjects being married in these verses - commission and power. There's an assignment for these disciples and there's an enablement available to help them do it.

I know how easy it can be to create neat systems. But perhaps there is some instruction here for those seeking to understand and experience the baptism in the Holy Spirit. Jesus seems to indicate He is the Spirit of missions, not just the Spirit of blessing. Jesus ties this bestowal of the Spirit to deep involvement in the carrying of the gospel to ears that haven’t yet received the good news. The Spirit doesn't come just to start revivals (as important as that may be). He comes to reach the lost. Quite simply, we must share the deepest interest of Jesus, the risen Giver of the Holy Spirit.

2) JESUS SPECIFICALLY TOLD THE DISCIPLES THAT THEY COULD NOT FULFILL HIS COMMISSION WITHOUT THE POWER OF THE SPIRIT'S BAPTISM

They were forbidden to try to work for Jesus in their own strength before the Spirit was outpoured. This is striking. The first step was not to witness, set up tent meetings, organize miracles crusades, organize fund raising, or establish Bible Colleges. Rather, they were to wait for the “promise of the Father,’ the baptism with the Holy Spirit.

The important point here is that we must never allow anyone to paint this teaching as merely a point of Pentecostal doctrine. These were the instructions of Jesus Himself to His church.

3) OBSERVE THE WAY THESE DISCIPLES GAVE THEMSELVES TO CONSTANT PRAYER

Acts 1:12-14 - “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.”

What did they think about as they waited for several days in prayer? We’ll never know for sure. But they probably thought about the vastness of the commission they had just received from Jesus - Acts 1:8 - “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."

This was an overwhelming assignment. And they knew, having just seen the ascension of Jesus into heaven, they would be doing all of this work without the physical presence of Jesus. They were painfully aware of His absence in the form they had come to know and love. All of this probably birthed a keen sense of their own inability and inadequacy for this task. No doubt they began to consider the obstacles and difficulties that would lay up the road. After all, they had just recovered from going into hiding when Jesus was crucified. They knew how dangerous following Jesus could be.

All of these factors help us understand why it was necessary for them to wait for the coming of the fulfilment of the promise from Jesus. Listen to these wise words from Charles Finney: "As they waited, they must have renounced utterly the idea of living to themselves in any form, and devoted themselves with all their powers to the work set before them. This consecration of themselves to the work, this self-renunciation, this dying to all that the world could offer them, must, in the order of nature, have preceded their intelligent seeking of the promised bestowal of power from on high"

Notice that there was a continuous waiting in prayer. They did not sit and plan how they would reach the world. They did not get up and leave after 30 minutes of prayer. They did not each go about his or her own business and come to the upper room when time was convenient.

Perhaps this is why Jesus’ command to wait for the outpouring of the Spirit came with an open-ended time commitment. They had to put everything else on hold. They didn’t know how long they would have to meet and wait and pray. Their priorities were being tested and formed. They had to hunger and pray and expect. It is ever so.