SESSION 2 — “BEING THE CHURCH,” A Bible study of the Book of Acts

I am excited to offer you a video Bible study of the Book of Acts, and I invite you to watch the video of “Being the Church” on Youtube OR Vimeo . . . for Vimeo, see the link in the Blogroll in the right column on my blog screen. Just as with my sermons, I’ll post notes to accompany each Bible study video. Session 2 will be up on both Vimeo and Youtube on 5/17/17.

Session 2 — Acts 1:1-8

Last time, we talked about how Jesus — out of love and necessity — briefed the disciples on who the Holy Spirit is, and what He would do in and through them. With that background, we begin the Book of Acts.

Verse 1 — The Book of Acts was written by Luke, as a continuation of the Book of Luke.

How do I know that? The Book of Acts is addressed to Theophilus (“lover of God”), as was the Book of Luke (Luke 1:3). And Luke mentioned “the first account,” which was the Book of Luke, in which he wrote about all Jesus did and taught prior to His crucifixion, and wrote of His resurrection.

Verse 2 — He “did and taught”  until He was taken up (to heaven). His ascension is detailed in Acts 1:7-10, which we’ll look at next time.

Heaven is up, as He spoke in Matthew 26:64 when He was being interrogated, and He looked up when He was healing the deaf man (Mark 7:33-34).

And now ascended, He is at the right hand of the Father (where He began, per His prayer in John 17:5, and Stephen’s vision in Acts 7:56, among other references).

Now, He gave orders (charges, commands) by His Holy Spirit, even as He stood before them and walked with them after His resurrection. He gave these orders to His apostles — the Twelve. Luke emphasizes that Jesus chose them (just as He chooses you and me).

What did He command them? We will see in the upcoming verses. Why did He order them? Because unless they obeyed, the church could not be formed!

Verse 3 — He presented Himself alive to them. 1Corinthians 15:5-7 records that over 500 were eyewitnesses that He was alive after His suffering (His crucifixion). He offered many proofs to them, recorded in the gospel accounts. He was with them for 40 days, and spoke about the kingdom of God. Why the kingdom? They would be the kingdom’s ambassadors, when they became the church, at Pentecost.

Verse 4 — He gathered His apostles together, and again Luke emphasizes that He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem. His command? Wait until they received what the Father had promises, “which,” He said, “you heard of from Me . . .”

Luke records this command in Luke 24:49 — stay in the city. For how long? Until you are clothed with power (Greek dunamis, God’s miracle-working power) from on high.

But the apostles had been given authority in Matthew 10:10 to heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, and cast out demons. What was this power they would receive?

Look at the Father’s promise, in Ezekiel 36 —

Ezekiel 36:25 “Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. 26 “Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 “I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances.”

And in Jeremiah —

Jeremiah 31:31   “Behold, days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, 32 not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them,” declares the Lord. 33 “But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the Lord, “I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.”

The promise of the Father was a new heart and His Spirit literally within them, just as Jesus promised in John 14:23! It was to put God’s actual love in their hearts, just as Jesus prayed in John 17:26! Then they would operate in God’s power, having been drastically changed, inwardly! It was to be a NEW kind of power, over the sin nature, that they had not yet experienced.

They would no longer require Jesus’ authority (Matthew 10:1) to do His work — He would be IN them, in all His power!

Verse 5 — And how would they receive this power? Jesus says John baptized with water, but promised the apostles they would be baptized in the Holy Spirit, “not many days from now.”

John the Baptist spoke of this baptism, with the Holy Spirit and fire (see Matthew 3:11 and Luke 3:16). It was not a water baptism, but a fire baptism!

Verse 6 — As they were gathered together, they asked if at this time, He was restoring the kingdom to Israel. Their question revealed that they did not understand yet. God’s kingdom was not an earthly kingdom, but a heavenly one. They thought Jesus would sit on David’s throne in Jerusalem, restoring the Davidic order and judging righteously. And they would be part of His court. In Matthew 20:20, James and John asked their mother to ask Jesus if they could sit on His right and left as He sat on His throne! They still didn’t realize that theirs would be a spiritual conquest over the powers of darkness that pervaded the world! But if they did as He ordered, they would understand!

Their hearts still had selfish motives — for them, it was, “What’s in it for me? Can I occupy an important place in Your earthly kingdom, Jesus?”

Verse 7 — He reproves them. You aren’t to know the time when the Father has established by His own authority. It’s not for you to know. They do not yet understand that they were to go in and possess the land, as an occupying army, until that time! See Deuteronomy 2:31!

Verse 8 — So, Jesus said, stop thinking that way! Here’s what I want you to focus on — receiving power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you (when He has supervened, arrived, come in, in the original Greek)! THEN “you shall be My witnesses.” Where? Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the remotest part of the earth! He commanded them to stay and wait until they were baptized in the Holy Spirit and the power of God would come into them. No longer would authority be necessary. God would be literally within them, giving them new hearts, and working through them!

Next time, we’ll talk about His ascension, and the wait in the Upper Room!