THE POWER OF THE LORD!
Acts 1: 6-7
At the beginning we are introduced to the narrow concept of the disciples
from which Christianity had to free itself: "Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?"
They had assumed that the kingdom belonged to Israel.
No doubt the disciples had by now been freed from the earlier idea of a temporal and political kingdom,
but they still placed a national interpretation upon the kingdom.
Somehow, they felt that the kingdom would expand within Judaism,
for Judaism was to them a nation as well as a religion.
So the apostles were curious about prophecy, and in their last conversation with Jesus
before His ascension they asked Him when He was going to set up the kingdom.
He did not rebuke them, but neither did He answer their question.
He simply told them that this matter was something about which they need not be concerned.
Never before have Christians seemed as certain as they seem today
that the Lord's coming is near - of course it is 1900 years nearer than it was at Pentecost.
It isn't wrong to be keenly interested in this subject, for Christ's return is our "blessed hope."
It should also motivate us to personal purity (1 John 3: 3) and to diligent and faithful service (Matt. 24: 24).
To be obsessively preoccupied with Christ's return, however, is wrong.
Some Christians read only books and magazine articles that deal with last things.
They want to know not only what but where and when.
Many such Christians are more interested in predictions
than in the proclamation of the Good News which gives light and life.
We ought to be knowledgeable about the coming again of our Lord,
but our major responsibility, as Christians, is to tell others about the One whose coming we expect.
Jesus did not come to satisfy man's curiosity about God's time schedule.
He came to reveal God to man and to lead man into a right relationship with God.
We must remember this!
Christ's last words were words of correction.
Their question is filled with several wrong elements:
- Their question is filled with materialism -- material conquest, material thrones,
material crowns, and with all the pageantry of earthly kingdoms.
- Their question is filled with prejudice -- their idea of temporal dominion
which they had been taught from childhood to anticipate.
- Their question is filled with ambition -- they were looking forward to ruling
possibly as the leading ministers in such a kingdom with all the privileges.
- Their question is filled with curiosity -- they were prying into that which was not in their province.
They should have directed their interest to Christ and in serving Him.
Jesus said, "It's not for you to know ... times or seasons."
Jesus was saying that the kingdom will not come by rules of the calendar,
but through witnessing to the ends of the earth by Christians empowered by the Holy Spirit.
One of the greatest concepts of the New Testament is " the kingdom of God."
It is misunderstood when earthly kingdoms are used as a pattern for this spiritual concept.
An earthly kingdom is a land and a nation on which the king depends.
Take away his people and he ceases to be king.
But God Himself makes His kingdom.
It depends wholly upon Him.
It could not exist without Him.
God's kingdom is found wherever God is and rules by His power, grace, and glory.
He makes His own domain and His own people and never they Him.
So our curiosity is also checked by Christ in order that our attention might be centered upon Him.
Our attention must be centered upon Him!
"But ye shall receive power!"
The great need for the church's effective ministry is that the church be empowered by the blessed Holy Spirit.
Nothing can take place of that endowment.
- Without it, the finest church building is only a monument to an architect and to the skill of a contractor.
- Without it, the most comprehensive organization will be futile.
- Without it, leadership however capable and efficient
will not be able to lead that church in accomplishing God's will.
On the other hand - when empowered by the Holy Spirit, a church of any size
can use even an inadequate building to the glory of God,
can win the lost and discover a leadership whose vision and wisdom are works of the Spirit.
What is the church's power? It is to be possessed by the Holy Spirit!
What is the church's function? It is to be His witnesses!
Jesus points out that this indwelling is not a ritual, but a reality; not a program, but a power.
What kind of power is Jesus talking about?
This is a most wonderful thing!
It is resurrection power!
It is the power of a risen Lord!
There is no way to overthrow it.
There is no way to stop it! It is a glorious power for it does not need any props or outside help.
- It does not need to borrow anything from the world.
- It doesn't need a cup of coffee to get started in the morning.
- It operates most visibly where everything is dead, dull, and lifeless.
Resurrection power changes lives from within rather than from without.
It does not start on the outside.
It does not start with the environment, or with circumstances,
or with any external situation -- it starts within and works outward.
It hammers and it heals.
It draws people together and breaks down walls of hostility.
It brings people together in harmony.
This totally different kind of power is what we receive when we receive the Holy Spirit.
Jesus also says that this power will result, not in propaganda, but in witnessing.
Christians are not to be like salesmen going out to peddle a product.
Christians are not to be recruiters to get people to join a religious club.
When we do this - the church has become false and truly has lost its power.
In contrast, Christ's power has a personal note about it.
Jesus says, " You will talk about Me because you have experienced Me."
Jesus says, " You will talk about Me because of what I have done for you."
The mark of a carnal church is that it loves to talk about itself!
These early Christians never witnessed about the church itself -- they witnessed about the Lord!
They witnessed about what He could do!
They witnessed about His amazing love and grace!
They witnessed about how He could change a human heart --
how He could take sin away -- how He could give eternal life!
We must get our eyes off ourselves and focus our attention upon Jesus!
"Jesus only is our message,
Jesus all our theme shall be;
We will lift up Jesus ever,
Jesus only will we see.
Jesus only! Jesus ever!
Jesus in all we sing!
Savior, Sanctifier, Healer,
Glorious Lord, and Coming King!"
Sermon by Dr. Harold L. White
Email Dr. White at firstname.lastname@example.org