An Introduction (Part 2)


Series: Acts

Passage: Acts 1:4-11

Speaker: BJ Chursinoff

After Jesus rose from the dead, He spent 40 days with His disciples before ascending to Heaven before their very eyes. During these 40 days, He taught them about the Kingdom of God and shared some final words that not only shaped the rest of the disciples' lives but the Church itself for the past 2,000 years.

Transcription (automatically-generated): 

versesWhen Jesus rose from the dead, he did not go straight back to heaven. After He rose from the dead. Jesus went on to spend the next 40 days with his disciples. Then he was taken up to heaven. Can you imagine how awesome that time would have been for them? They thought their friend, their teacher, their messiah, their God. They thought he was dead and gone forever. But now he was alive and he was with them again. What better reunion could there possibly be? It wasn't all just fun and games during those 40 days, though. During those 40 days, the disciples were having private Bible studies with the resurrected Jesus. The content of those studies in Acts Chapter one, verse three, Luke tells us that Jesus spent those 40 days speaking to them about the Kingdom of God. And then in what turned out to be the final face to face teaching time that Jesus had with his disciples, he gives them a command and a promise. We read this in chapter one verses 4 to 5.

Says while he was with them, he commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for the father's promise, which he said you heard me speak about for John. Baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit in a few days. Jesus gave them a command. He said to them, Do not leave Jerusalem. But wait. Wait for what? The promise. He said to them, You'll be baptized with the Holy Spirit in a few days. Jesus says, Wait for the promise and you will receive the promise. If they waited, the disciples of Jesus were each going to receive power that came down from heaven. And this power was in the person and presence of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of God was going to come upon them if they waited. We're going to see the fulfillment of Jesus words come to pass when the disciples get baptized with the Holy Spirit in Acts two. We'll look at that in more detail when we get there in a couple of weeks. The scene we're looking at in chapter one right now, the scene where Jesus is teaching his disciples about the kingdom of God, where He's giving them a specific command and where He's giving them a precious promise.

This scene took place 2000 years ago, but there's something timeless in the scene that we need to see for our lives today. In these verses, we can see a simple two part sequence of events that leads people to a profound personal experience with the living God. I don't want us to miss this because the sequence of events that we see unfold in the beginning versus of act describes for us one of the primary truths in the Christian life. In these verses, we see the connection between obeying the command of Jesus and experiencing the power of Jesus. I don't think I know of any Christian who doesn't want to experience more of God's power in their life. More of this power to them and in them and for them. More of his power in the way they know him and walk with him on a daily basis. More of his power in their heart, mind, soul and body. More of his power through them to impact others. More of his power in the various relationships we have with parents, siblings, spouse, kids, friends, brothers and sisters in the church and the people in the world.

We're trying to love into the Kingdom of God. Christians want more of God's power in their life, and we should want more. But why do so many of us experience so little of his power? Most of the time, if we're honest. I think one possible reason is that there can be times where there's a kink in the hose, so to speak, when it comes to the flow of God's power in our lives. You're outside in the summer. The kids are having a blast, having a water fight, and then all of a sudden, the hose stops working. Why isn't the water coming out of the hose is going into the hose from the house, but it's not coming through out through the other end of the house. Then you notice that there's a kink halfway down the hose and stop the kink and unleash the flow. See, God's power has been made available to us, just like it was made available to the disciples. And yet there could be things in our lives that keep us from availing ourselves of that power.

In verse four, Jesus told the disciples to stay in Jerusalem and wait. He gave them a simple command. And you know what would have happened if they didn't obey this command from Jesus? Nothing. If they didn't obey this command from Jesus, then they would not have received the promise of the Holy Spirit. They would not have received this power from heaven if they went fishing instead of obeying Jesus. If they took a nap instead of obeying Jesus. If they started to feed the poor instead of obeying Jesus. If they did anything other than obeying the simple command of Jesus to go and stay in Jerusalem and wait, then they would have missed out on experience. The power Jesus promised them. But since they obey this command, they got to experience more of God in their life than they ever thought was possible. It's a simple and yet life changing principle. It's so simple the connection between obedience and experience that I think we can miss it. So write this down on your outline. It's the first feeling to experience God's power in your life.

You must obey God in your life. To experience this power, you got to obey him. Here are a couple hypothetical scenarios that illustrate how this truth might look like in playing itself out in a person's life. Scenario number one. You've been living with shame and guilt over something you've done or over something that's been done against you. And it's weighing you down, suffocating you, making it seem impossible that you could ever experience freedom and joy in your life again. You've been carrying this burden for a week, a month, a year, or even more. The power of God's love seems to have been choked out of your life. God's command to you, confess your sins to someone and let them pray for you so that you may be healed. It's a simple command from God found in James. Chapter five, verse 16. Obeying this command from God means bringing your issue into the light and letting someone you trust hear about it and pray for you. And this will lead you to experiencing God's healing power in your life.

Now, no one is saying this is easy. Obeying this command from God means putting yourself in a vulnerable position. You have to let someone know that you aren't perfect. They already know that, by the way, but and that you actually have problems. And they may not understand you perfectly. And they might not give the best counsel. These are all possibilities. But what's the alternative? If you don't obey this command from God to confess your sin and have someone pray for you, nothing will happen except that you'll continue to try to carry the weight of that sin in your life and the shame and the guilt that's attached to it. And it will permeate everything else in your life. The experience, God's power in your life, you must obey God in your life. Obeying God will unlock the house to the power. Yes. A second scenario. Scenario number two. If you're a Christian, you want to see people get saved more than anything. You want to see them experience the power of God in their life.

You want them to receive forgiveness for their sins and become born again and have the love of God filled their life to overflowing. And then you want this. And then you come across a particular individual, and as you are in conversation with them, you realize God is asking you to do something. In that very moment, God's personal command to you. In that moment when you hear from him. Share the gospel with them. God puts it on your heart to tell them about what Jesus has done for them. And the proclamation of this truth has the power to change their life. The Bible says that Romans 116 says the power, says the gospel is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes. And obeying this command from God means giving the person an opportunity to experience the saving power of God in their life. And they might hear the gospel from your lips. They might repent on the spot and be saved again. No one is saying this is easy. Obeying this command means you might have to reschedule the rest of your day.

It could mean that you open yourself. You open yourself up to ridicule or even persecution. It could mean you suffer a loss at some level. But again, what's the alternative? Disobeying this command from God and keeping your mouth closed when you know God is telling you to speak is a guaranteed, guaranteed way to block the flow of God's power in your life. People will never receive the Gospel from us if we refuse to share it with them when God tells us to. To experience God's power in your life. You must obey God in your life. Obeying God will unlink those to His power. These are just a couple of hypothetical scenarios. If none of these examples are applicable to you in this season of your life, then just ask God. God. Is there anything in my life right now that you're asking me to do? Can you please make it plain to me, whatever it is? And when you show me the Lord, can you give me the strength to obey you, whatever your command to me might be?

See, the disciples obeyed a simple command from Jesus, and then they experienced his power in their lives in a radical way. And if we give ourselves to obeying the commands of Jesus, we too can experience His power in our lives in radical ways. Okay. Jumping back into our text, the disciples respond to this command and promise from Jesus in verses 4 to 5. In an interesting way, we read this in verse six. So when they had come together, they asked him, Lord, are you restoring the kingdom to Israel at this time? The disciples were like, Yeah, yeah, yeah, Jesus, Jerusalem, baptism, Holy Spirit, we get it. But is it kingdom time now? Jesus. That's what we're really stoked about. It's like the disciples have always had the kingdom on their minds, as all Jews would have. They were fascinated with the kingdom. And this makes sense if you know a little bit about Israel's history. If you were a Jew, then there would be the constant reminiscing of days gone by, the glory days when the Kingdom of Israel used to be the world power during the rule of King David and then King Solomon.

If you were a Jew, there would be the many promises about a future kingdom spoken by the prophets in the Old Testament. And there are a lot of kingdom promises. Here's one of them from Daniel. I put this on your outline, Daniel. Chapter seven Verses 13 to 14 read like this. I continued watching in the Night Visions and suddenly one like a son of man, was coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the ancient of days and was escorted before him. He was given dominion and glory and a kingdom so that those of every people, nation and language should serve him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will not be destroyed. Daniel is saying that when the Messiah came, then it would be kingdom time. Remember, this is just one kingdom promise and there are lots of other ones like this in the pages of the Old Testament. And the disciples would have known this. Then during his public ministry, Jesus also spoke more about the kingdom.

He even instructed the disciples to pray for God's Kingdom to come. We pray that, too. And we pray the Lord's Prayer. Your kingdom come. Then on top of that, on top of the rich kingdom history in Israel, on top of the prophets telling Israel for years about a coming kingdom, on top of all the teaching about the kingdom the disciples received during the three years that they spent with Jesus. On top of all of that, the disciples received bonus teaching about the Kingdom after Jesus rose from the dead during the 40 days He spent with them. I mention this verse already, but I'm going to read it again is Acts one three and it says After he had suffered, he also presented himself alive to them by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over a period of 40 days and speaking about the Kingdom of God. The disciples were receiving this fresh revelation about the kingdom straight from the mouth of the resurrected Jesus. So by the time we get to this point in verse six, in the disciples minds, the king of the kingdom has come.

He has risen from the dead, all authority and heaven and earth is his. This has to be the time. Right? Jesus. Is it kingdom time? They don't get the answer they were hoping for. Jesus says, No, it's not kingdom time yet, guys. And we read Jesus response to them in verses 7 to 8 in our text. He said to them, It's not for you to know the times or periods that the father is set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and all Judea and Samaria. And to the ends of the earth. Now notice that Jesus doesn't shoot down their idea of a kingdom being restored to Israel. Jesus doesn't squash the disciples desire for the kingdom when they bring it up in verse six. It's just that Jesus refocuses their attention to a task at hand that must proceed. The coming of the kingdom. After all the events of the Book of Acts end up taking place, Jesus will go on to reveal even more details about the future kingdom to the Apostle John.

Those details are recorded for us in a little book of the Bible called Revelation. You might have heard of it. Spent a year study. You've heard of it, right? Okay. Jesus tells John more about the kingdom that is to come, and Jesus tells John about the Millennial Kingdom, right? This thousand year time period documented in Revelation Chapter 20, where Jesus rules as a literal physical king here on this earth when he comes back. That kingdom. Time is coming. And when? And then that's when the disciples are going to party. And we'll party with them. But that kingdom time was not yet at the time. Jesus is talking with his disciples here in verses 6 to 8. There's a reason it wasn't Kingdom Time yet. Think about it. If the kingdom was installed on earth right when the disciples wanted it to be, the kingdom wouldn't be as full of citizens as Jesus wanted it to be. Only those who believe in Jesus will enter his kingdom. And at the time that his disciples wanted the kingdom to come, there were only about 120 people who belonged to Jesus.

And for the record, Jesus wants way more than 120 people to be with them in His kingdom. When it comes. Increasing the number of people who will populate his kingdom was and still is, the priority of Jesus and empowering his disciples for the task of gathering more people into His Kingdom was and still is, the means by which Jesus is going to get that job done. So when they receive the power that Jesus promised them, the same power that filled Jesus at the beginning of His ministry when he was baptized. The same power that rose Jesus from the dead. When the disciples got this power, they would go on to call people into the Kingdom of God by telling people about the death and resurrection of the King and inviting people to believe in him and receive him. The disciples were going to receive power from heaven so that they could take the name of Jesus to the ends of the earth, calling people to repent and to believe in Jesus as King, Lord and God. It wasn't wrong for the disciples to long for the kingdom to come.

But his kingdom coming is only good news for those who are a part of his kingdom. His kingdom coming is terrible news for people who are not a part of it and who will be excluded from it when it does come. And that's why Jesus responded to His disciples the way He does in verses seven and eight. That's why He sent the Spirit to his disciples and then sent them out so they could bring more and more people into the kingdom. It's why he keeps giving his spirit to believers today. Can you feel Jesus is heart in this? He wants the people in your life who aren't Christians. He wants them in his kingdom. If you're here tonight and you're not a Christian yet, Jesus wants you in his kingdom. That's the heart of the king. Now there's an exhortation for the church here in this text. There's a way we can identify with the disciples and receive the same challenge for our lives that Jesus gave to them. It's no secret that the disciples wanted the kingdom to come, because when the kingdom came, then it would be a really awesome time for them.

And there's nothing wrong with wanting the fullness of God's promises fulfilled in our life. There's absolutely nothing wrong with that. There's nothing wrong with us wanting the fullness of God's promises fulfilled in our life today. It's okay for us to want to have an amazing church so that we can enjoy all the blessings that come with having an amazing church. It's okay to want Gospel City Church to be the best church ever. I hope every local church wants that for themselves. It's okay to want to have great worship, great teaching, great stuff for the kids, great coffee, great home groups, great discipleship, great fellowship, great everything. It's okay to want the presence of God to fill this place in a powerful way. Every time His people meet together in his name, it's okay to want that. We pray for it every week. It's okay to want all of those things. But it's not okay. If that's all we want. It's not okay if we want all those things and strive for all those things and even one day experience all of those things, if at the same time we don't care that people are perishing all around us without a saving relationship with Jesus.

That's not okay. But it's okay to want those things. Great kingdom, great church. And at the same time, leverage our entire lives so that we can be used by the Lord to bring people who are outside his kingdom, into his kingdom, to bring those who are outside of his church into his church. Isn't that the heart of what Jesus is saying to His disciples in verses seven and eight? I think that's the point of his response to the Disciples Kingdom. QUESTION The disciples were like, Is it kingdom time now? Jesus and Jesus was like, Not yet, guys. You've got to get more going, get more people and bring them in first. So for us here at Gospel City, let's do both. Let's ask God to do some incredible, miraculous things in our church. And as we ask him to do that, let's give ourselves to inviting people who aren't a part of the church yet to come and join us. Let's do both at the same time. So write this down on your outline.

Being God's people means we care about those who aren't as people. Being God's people means we care about those who aren't his people. Jesus cares about people because he does. He wants more people to become citizens of the kingdom that is one day going to establish on this earth. And so he sends out those who are a part of his kingdom to go and tell as many people as possible about this king and this kingdom and call them to enter it. But he doesn't send us into the world to accomplish this task empty handed. He doesn't send us without power. He gives us the Holy Spirit so that we can accomplish the task at hand. And this is a task that every Christian is called to participate in. No Christian is called to be a spectator on the sidelines in this endeavor. Christianity is not a spectator sport. Christianity is an all hands on deck. Get in the game. Get your hands. Dirty kind of sport. Every Christian is appointed with the task of being a witness for Jesus telling the world about Jesus.

This is for all of us. We are all witnesses. But I'm not sure. I'm not sure if you're aware of this. I wasn't until just recently. None of us is called to be a witness in the exact same way that the apostles were. Go ahead and write this down and we're going to talk about it. A Christian today is not the exact same kind of witness as the apostles were. For as long as I could remember. Whenever I read Acts Chapter one, verse eight, I always pictured myself personally receiving these words from Jesus in the exact same way that the Apostles received these words from Him. I'd always assumed that Christians were to be exactly like the apostles in the way we witness to the reality of Jesus. And to be sure, there are some similarities between us and them in the way we should carry out the mission of God. But there's an important difference between us and them that we need to be aware of. The Apostles were a certain kind of witness to Jesus. They were eyewitnesses to Jesus.

They were eyewitnesses of Jesus's life and they were eyewitnesses of his death and resurrection. They were personally commissioned and sent out by Jesus into the world in verse eight, with the task of witnessing to the historical reality of the words Jesus taught, the life Jesus lived, the death He died, and His Resurrection from the dead. In the days that came after Jesus went back to Heaven, the apostles could tell people we were there. We heard and saw the whole thing. The Apostles were responsible for passing down the words that make up the New Testament of the Bible. Luke, the author of Acts he wasn't an apostle, and yet he wrote a large chunk of what we have in the New Testament. But listen to what Luke says at the very beginning of his gospel narrative. You have this on your outline. Luke Chapter one verses 1 to 4. He says many have taken to compile a narrative about the things that have been fulfilled among us, just as the original eyewitnesses and servants of the word handed them down to us.

So it also seemed good to me, since I have carefully investigated everything from the very first to write to you in an orderly sequence, most honorable Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things about which you have been instructed. Luke's writing was based upon eye witness testimony from those who were actually with Jesus when he did and taught the things he did. And these eyewitnesses were the apostles. Then when we get to chapter two, verse 42, we see that the early church devoted themselves to the apostles teaching. Everybody in the church had the Holy Spirit, but not everyone was teaching. The Apostles were teaching. And what was the content of their teaching? I can tell you this. They weren't making up new ideas on the fly. They were doing the very thing that Jesus told them to do in the Great Commission in Matthew Chapter 28, verses 18 to 20, Jesus told his disciples to go and make disciples and then to teach them to observe, which means obey everything he commanded them.

The Apostles passed on to the church the things that Jesus personally commanded them while they accompanied him for three years. He spent during his public ministry in and around all of Judea. The Apostles taught the church the very things they heard from Jesus with their very own ears. The Apostles play a unique role in redemptive history because they were eye witnesses to Jesus. And so when you consider these things, none of us are like the apostles in this sense, because none of us are eyewitnesses to the life of Jesus. But in case you thought this. It doesn't mean for 1/2 that we don't share in their task of witnessing to the reality of Jesus. Although none of us are apostles, all Christians have the same power as the apostles did. When we get to chapter two, we will see that it wasn't just the apostles that received the Holy Spirit, but the whole company of 120 who were there that day all received the same spirit. And then from there on out, whoever repented of their sins and trusted in Jesus also received the same spirit.

We have the same power in us that the apostles had because we received the same baptism of the Holy Spirit that they did. We have the same spirit as the Apostles, and we have the same mission that was given to the Apostles by Jesus. The call to take the Gospel to the ends of the Earth. Even though we aren't eyewitnesses exactly like the apostles were. That doesn't mean we aren't witnesses to the reality of Jesus Christ, too. We can't say that people believe everything I tell you about Jesus because I was there. We can't say that. Please don't say that to anyone. We can't tell people things about Jesus. Sorry, but we can still tell people things about Jesus that will help them believe in him. We can point people to the things the actual eyewitnesses of Jesus said about him. We have their words in the Bible. We can tell people the gospel message with great confidence because there were eyewitnesses who saw everything that happened in the Gospel. We can tell people that Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead on the third day.

We can tell people that because there were people there who were eyewitnesses to that. And there's still still even more we can do. We can tell people what Jesus has done in our lives. Do not underestimate the power of personal testimony. Most people you will talk to about Jesus won't know much about what the Bible says. But do you know what they will know something about if they know you? They'll know something about your life. People will see your life and they will see something different in you. That's because the Holy Spirit of God is living in you. They will see that and you can tell them about what Jesus has done in your life. This is your testimony that he is alive. He's alive because he is the reason for the transformation that people see in you. You don't have to graduate from Bible school to tell someone what Jesus has done for you. You can walk in the footsteps of the blind man that Jesus healed and draw. Nine. When pressed by the religious leaders to explain the miracle that happened to him, the Heal the Healed man said, Here's all I know.

I once was blind. And now I can see. And it was this guy Jesus, that did it. He didn't quote scripture. He didn't try to persuade them to believe his story. He just told them what he knew. Jesus changed my life. Look in this look like in someone's life. Well, let me give you an example of how a person can witness to the reality of Jesus using their testimony. I'm going to do this for you right now by sharing part of my testimony with you. Want to show you how easy it is. And if you've only gotten to know me over the past several years, you won't recognize the parts of my life I'm about to share with you. And that's part of the point. I used to be a certain way. And Jesus has changed me. When I was growing up, I had a terrible self, had terrible self-esteem issues and crippling fear of man. I wanted acceptance from people in an unhealthy way. I was a very angry individual. I had a lot of fun and laughed on the outside, but on the inside there was a lot of anger living inside of me.

In my early twenties, I was probably on my way to becoming an alcoholic. Also, in my early twenties, I was addicted to pornography in a brutal way that I was powerless to overcome in my own strength. I tried to stop on my own so many times, and I couldn't. And when I turn my life over to Jesus, not only did I receive forgiveness of sins and eternal life, I received power from heaven. That changed the way that I experienced this life. Over time, I no longer cared about what people thought about about me in a good way. And I'm no longer hindered by poor self-esteem. That's because the love of God has flooded my life since God loves me. Why do I need to strive in an unhealthy way to get everyone else to love me to? Over time, he's replaced my anger on the inside of my life with a gentle demeanor. Over time, he let me see that I didn't need to get drunk in order to become the kind of person that other people would like.

And over time, Jesus powerfully broke the chains of addiction that pornography had over me. He freed me from that. And those are just some of the things that Jesus has done in my life, and he's still doing things in me. I'm a different person now compared to when I wasn't living for Jesus. And that's because the Holy Spirit of God is alive in me. So that's a short, simple testimony of the power of Jesus in my life, a testimony that witnesses to the reality of Jesus. And if you're a Christian, you have a story that witnesses to Jesus, too. Whether you think you do or not. The people you're trying to reach for Jesus are probably not reading the Bible, but they are reading your life and the story God is writing through you. Don't minimize that. So as witnesses for Jesus today we have his spirit. We have the written word. We have the testimony of eyewitnesses. And we have our own personal story of a life changed by Jesus. We have more than enough to tell people what they need to hear in order to believe in Jesus for themselves.

So we have the same power in our lives the apostles had in theirs, and we also have the same global mission that they had. Go ahead and write this in on your outline. The Church today has the same mission that Jesus gave the Apostles. The Church today has the same mission that Jesus gave the Apostles. The mission that Jesus called them to is the same mission he calls every Christian to participate in today. That mission is to witness to the reality of the risen Jesus Christ starting in Jerusalem, then to the wider areas of Judea and Samaria. And then to the ends of the Earth. That's what Jesus says in verse eight. Then the Book of Acts goes on to detail for us how Jesus brought about the fulfillment of those words in Acts Chapters 2 to 7. We're going to see the witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ spread throughout Jerusalem. Then, in chapters 8 to 12, we're going to see the witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ spread throughout Judea and Samaria. Then in chapters 13 all the way to 28, we see the witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ make its way to the ends of the Earth reaching all the way to Rome by the end of the book.

Now, the mission that Jesus gave his apostles doesn't end in the 28th chapter of the Book of Acts in Rome. In the first century, Jesus didn't finish his work in the Book of Acts. He was just getting started. He has been fulfilling this promise to his apostles in verse eight, right up to this very day. And every church today has a share in this mission. And Gospel City Church is no exception. So let's ask a practical question of ourselves. How are we as Gospel City Church going to participate in Jesus mission of bringing a witness to the Gospel to the ends of the earth? Buckle up, okay. Because I'm going to talk to you about some ideas that are way too big for our little church to accomplish. And these things I'm going to share with you would be impossible for us to do unless. God gave us his spirit. Which she has. Which means these things are possible. And that's the point. I put on your outline a diagram of two sets of concentric circles.

The set on the left shows a picture of how the gospel spread in the Book of Acts. The way Jesus said it would in verse eight started in the city of Jerusalem, spread, spread from there throughout the country of Israel, which at the time was made up of Judea in the south and Samaria in the north. Judea was made up of people like the disciples. The Samaritans were considered othered by the Jews. Then, from Judea and Samaria, the gospel spread to the Gentile nations to the ends of the Earth. And this pattern should inform the way that we pray and plan to fulfill the great commission in our church today. The set of circles on the right side of the diagram. Take AX Chapter one, verse eight as a model and shows us the same approach that we can take in spreading the gospel to the ends of the earth. In that inner circle, you see pork equivalent, and this includes the Greater Tri-City area. This is our Jerusalem. This is where we begin. This is home base.

The second and third circles is our nation, Canada. Canada is our Judea and Samaria. And we look for places in our nation that the gospel hasn't reached yet. And we do this by engaging places in our country where there isn't a culture gap to cross. And we also look to take the gospel to places that requires us to do cross-cultural ministry. This is the picture of Judea and Samaria. The outer circle is the ends of the earth like the early church did. We look for anywhere in the world that hasn't heard the gospel yet and we see if God is sending us there. We preach the gospel and live the gospel where we are. And as we are disciples and as we make disciples, we constantly ask God where He would want us to send the Gospel Witness somewhere in our own country, the people of the same culture and the people of a different culture. And eventually the somewhere else in the world. The two things should shape our vision for to send people who are ready to preach the gospel and make disciples, number one.

We have to recognize where God is calling us to go. This trumps anything else. We throw disciple making and church planting strategies out the window. If the Holy Spirit tells us to go to a very particular place. But two, we need to look for and learn where there are people who have never heard about Jesus and then move towards bringing a gospel witness to them. A local church who wants to join God in fulfilling his word to the Apostles in Acts one eight should focus their mission on making disciples and planting new churches where there isn't already a gospel witness. We shouldn't try to send missionaries and church planters from our church to a geographical region where there's already a faithful gospel witness. That doesn't make any sense. And to quote the illustrious Captain Kirk. We need to boldly go where no man has gone before. That's bad. Level ten from ten out of ten. But this is some pretty big stuff I'm sharing with you. It's not lost on me. But did you know that this is what we're about here at Gospel City Church, that we're about taking Jesus words in Acts chapter one, verse eight, personally and seriously.

If anyone here is nervous when you hear me talk like this, know that we're likely several years away, at least from actually being able to do this. A handful of years away from experiencing this reality means that we need to think and pray and begin working towards this goal. Yesterday. Today. So how are we going to accomplish this? Number one hopefully is obvious by now. But number one, by God's power, by the same power that came upon the apostles. It doesn't matter how small we are if we have the power of God with us. Number two, by praying, by asking God to give us a heart for his mission and the wisdom to carry it out. And then three, by getting ready for it, we're going to accomplish this by planning for it. And we plan for it by training people for it. This is one of the many reasons why we care so much about membership in the local church. In case you were wondering, one way to view membership in the church is that a group of people understand what it means to be a Christian.

They understand what it means to be a part of a local church and on mission for Jesus. And then they figuratively raise their hands to the elders of the church and to the other members of the church, and in effect, say, I want you to disciple me in a way that I will be trained up to use my life to fulfill Jesus mission in the world. That's one thing that membership does. It identifies those who want to do everything Jesus asks them to do. And then we're going to take people seriously when they tell us that that's what they want. We're going to invest in the members of the church so that we can do God's word together, not just be here as of the word, but be doers of it together. Now, not everybody wants to be treated like that, and we know that. So you need to know that we are not going to force anyone who comes to Gospel City Church to do anything they don't want to do. If anyone's like, Bro, I'm just here for the pizza after the service and I have zero interest in making disciples.

You're welcome here. And we're not expecting that person to give themselves to the mission of God in the kind of way that we're expecting members to. That's one reason why church membership is so necessary in the local church. It identifies those who are ready to give their lives away for Jesus. So membership is one thing, but investing time and energy into the site members is another. We're going to disciple believers in Gospel City Church to become disciple makers and to live whole heartedly on mission for Jesus. We just don't want anyone to be surprised about this. This is why we have a discipleship course that we take members through. This course is called Pipeline, and it's an optional discipleship course that is open to any member of Gospel City Church. We have three years worth of training in this course that will take any that we will take any member through who wants to be equipped to live on mission for Jesus. And by the time someone's done this training, they will be equipped to live on a mission for Jesus in this city.

And they will be equipped to answer the call of Jesus to go into a new town or province or country, to make disciples for Jesus there. It doesn't mean they will automatically be sent anywhere, but they will be ready to go if that's the call that Jesus has on their life. Membership discipleship. Then there's Elder Ship. You guys need to know that Jeff and I have a desire and a plan to raise up other elders in Gospel City Church for a couple of reasons. One is to help us in the job of leading and pastoring Gospel City Church on a day to day basis, too, so that we have enough elders in place that when God calls us to plant another church, we have enough to send a plurality of elders to start this new church. And so that we would still have a plurality of elders left here to continue pastoring Gospel City Church. So if you do the math, that means means we need at least four elders before we can send out a plurality of elders and keep a plurality of elders here.

In light of all this, can I ask you to consider a few things? Number one, if Gospel City Church is your home church and you're not a member yet, would you consider becoming a member? If that's you, you can check the circle on your credit card that says, I would like to become a member of Gospel City Church and we'll help you get started in that process or help you discern that process. We'll start this week with you. And if you don't think God's calling you to become a member here. Ask him which local church he is calling you to become a member of. Because any way you slice it, if you're a Christian, you should be a member of a local church. And if you're here just checking the church out or if you're not a Christian yet. We're so glad you're here with us tonight. And we debate. We invite you to keep coming back so that you can keep hearing more about how awesome Jesus is and what it looks like to follow him.

So that's number one. Number two, if you are a member of Gospel City Church, consider enrolling in one of our pipeline discipleship courses. The next time they start in September. We'll have more information about Pipeline in the summer as we ramp up to launch in the fall. And then number three, if you are a mature, godly man who is also a member of Gospel City Church, ask God if he might be calling you to become an elder at Gospel City Church one day. Just ask him. And if you ever feel like the answer is yes, then please make sure you let Jeff and I know so that we can come alongside you and help discern that call on your life. May God make us into the kind of church that gives itself to doing everything Jesus calls us to do in his word. Amen. The men. Now, if you were with us last week, you might remember that I raised a question in that message that I didn't answer because I was going to answer it today.

Last week we looked at Acts chapter one verses 1 to 3, and we saw that Jesus began to do and teach certain things in Luke's gospel, and the implication was he was going to continue to do and teach those same things that we see in the Book of Acts. And the question I had was, how can Jesus do and teach anything if he's physically in heaven right now and not on earth? How can he do anything on Earth if he's not here? The answer to this question is as mysterious as it is real. Jesus is on earth doing the things in the Book of Acts because Jesus is in his people. So go ahead and write this down. Next film on your outline. When the Holy Spirit comes to live in us, Jesus comes to live in us. One of the great mysteries and realities of the Christian life Christ in us, when we receive the Holy Spirit into our lives, after we become followers of Jesus, is God Himself who comes to live in us. The Holy Spirit is God and He is in us.

When the Holy Spirit comes to live inside believers, he doesn't come by himself. When we receive the Holy Spirit, we also receive the very presence of the Father and the Son to. When we see the believers do the things in the pages of acts that we see Jesus do in the Book of Luke, they are only doing those things because the presence of Jesus is in them. It's his presence and his power in us. We are the body of Christ, empowered by the Spirit of Christ doing the work of Christ. Jesus is in us and we see this truth taught plainly in Scripture. When Jesus is teaching His disciples in the upper room on the night that He was betrayed, he tells them about this mystery of him being in us. Listen to what he says. John, chapter 14, verse 20. Jesus says, On that day, you will know that I am in my father. You are in me and I am in you. John 15 verse 4 to 5. This is also Jesus speaking.

Remain in me and I in you. Just as a branch is unable to produce fruit by itself unless it remains on the vine. Neither can you unless you remain in me. I am the vine. You are the branches. The one who remains in me and I in him. Produce as much fruit because you can do nothing without me. Can you hear the mystery that Jesus is talking about? He is saying that he would be in us. Fast forward from there, past Jesus death and resurrection, past the point of the Holy Spirit in Acts two into the early days of the Church where a Pharisee named Saul was violently persecuting the believers of Jesus. Jesus meets with Saul one day and has a word with them. Listen to what Jesus says, and I put the Scripture on your outline or listen to the scene. Chapter nine. Verse one. Now, Saul was still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord. He went to the High Priest and requested letters from Him to the synagogues in Damascus so that if he found any men or women who belonged to the way he might bring them as prisoners to Jerusalem.

As he traveled and was nearing Damascus, a light from heaven suddenly flashed around him. Falling to the ground, he heard a voice saying to him. Saul. Saul, why are you persecuting me? Who are you, Lord? Saul said, I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting. He replied. Saul was physically persecuting Christians. He wasn't physically persecuting Jesus because Jesus wasn't in heaven. And yet Jesus told Saul that Saul was persecuting him. How is that possible? It's possible because of this mystery that Jesus Christ lives in his people, by the way, of the Holy Spirit living in them. We are so intertwined with the life of Jesus that when someone persecutes us, they are persecuting the very Son of God. That's what Jesus is saying to Saul. So it becomes a Christian and his name is changed to Paul. And this is the Paul that wrote most of the New Testament. Listen to what Paul says about Christ in us in a couple of his letters written to the church as he says this to the believers in Rome.

Romans nine Chapter eight verses 9 to 10. You, however, are not in the flesh, but in the spirit, if indeed the spirit of God lives in you. If anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, He does not belong to Him. Now, if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin. But the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. And then in Colossians chapter one, verse 27, Paul goes on to say this God wanted to make known among the Gentiles the glorious wealth of this mystery, which is Christ in you the hope of glory. These are just a few examples that show us how Jesus is doing things on Earth. He's doing them here because in a very real way he is here. When Satan planned and orchestrated the crucifixion of Jesus. Satan thought he won, but things backfired on him in a big time way. It reminds me of this one video I've seen on the Internet where this guy tried to kill a big fat spider not knowing it was pregnant.

And when he slammed it with a broom. Dozens and dozens of little spiders streamed out of it. And then that guy was in real trouble. Jesus was killed. But then Jesus rose from the dead and ascended to heaven. And from there, He sent the Holy Spirit to fill his people. And now the presence of Jesus is not just located in the physical body of Jesus in Heaven. The presence of Jesus is spread around the globe in every one of His people. Jesus, His death and resurrection led the tens of thousands to millions of people around the world, embodying the presence of Jesus. Jesus is literally everywhere around the globe today because His presence fills his people. Satan thought he won when Jesus was killed. He had no idea what was going to be unleashed on this world because of it. Hashtag ultimate backfire. After Jesus gave the disciples these words in verse eight, which are His final words to Him. To them, he's taken up to heaven before their very eyes. We read this in verses 9 to 11.

After he said this. He was taken up as they were watching and a cloud took him out of their sight. While he was going. They were gazing into heaven and suddenly two men in white clothes stood by them. They said, Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up into heaven? The same Jesus who has been taken from you into Heaven will come in the same way that you have seen him going into heaven. Like a young child who lets go of their balloon and then watches it as it rises into the sky before their very eyes. Jesus was taken into heaven like that, right before the eyes of His disciples. Two men in white come and interrupt them mid stare. These two men are quite possibly the two angels who appeared to the women at Jesus Empty Tomb on the day of His Resurrection, recorded for us in Luke, chapter 24, verse 1 to 7. In verse 11, these two men in white clothes give the disciples information about the second coming of Jesus, a topic also dealt with extensively in the Book of Revelation.

Jesus went up to heaven that day, physically and visibly, and those two men tell the disciples that Jesus is coming back to Earth one day to physically and visibly. When he does. Do you know what time it'll be? It'll be kingdom time. Next week, Jeff's going to pick up the story from here. After they see Jesus leave, the disciples make their way to Jerusalem, just like Jesus told them to. I'm going to ask Jeff to come back up and get ready to lead us in worship as he does. I'm going to pray for us. Would you join me? Father. I pray that. Then we got to just a taste. Tonight, looking at your word, looking at the the beginning story of the birth of your church. And I hope none of us here tonight or whether we know you were not leave this room thinking to ourselves, Oh, my, Christianity is so boring. God, you've literally saved us and called us to be agents of change that will have internal, eternal implications.

And you call us to invest our entire lives so that we can reap and experience and benefit the fruit of our of our sacrifice, the fruit of our pouring our our lives so that we can see people come to know you and we can enjoy that fruit here in this life. Oh, but, Lord, I pray you'd give us an eternal vision, a heavenly, a vision to understand that when we lay our lives down so that people can know you and we see those people in heaven one day, they may come up to us and say, I'm so thankful that God used you. As part of his means to bring me here. Help us, Lord. Have a passion in our heart for your name. A passion to experience, you know, but a passion to obey you. In Portugal home. Canada, maybe to the ends of the Earth. Would you make gospel city church a church that is actively fulfilling your mission with the power that you give us? Do that. Jesus, I pray.

I pray for my brothers and sisters who are here tonight, who know you, who have the spirit of God in them. I pray you build them up in their identity tonight, Lord, in what they've heard. I pray for anyone who has ever thought, even even tonight thinks they think so. So little of themselves. They believe the lie that the enemy just keeps spewing at them. That they'll never amount to anything. They'll never, ever overcome that failure. And I just pray, Lord, that the reality of what we've heard tonight would shatter those voices. Because no matter what we've done or haven't done as Christians, if we belong to you, Lord, you're pleased to make your home in us. You will love us so much that that's how close you want to be with your people. You want to be on the inside of us. And there's nothing that we could do to ever get you to discard us or leave us. Oh, I pray, Lord, that your church we've built up in that identity.

I'm a child of the king, and he loves me. If everyone failed me, if everyone abandoned me, Jesus never would. And his opinion is the only one that matters. And he says, Child, I'm for you. So let that build us up an identity. Identity, Lord, I pray, would also affect the way that we look at each other in the church. Then we will see our brothers and sisters. We don't just see mere human beings, but we see people embodying the very presence of Jesus. Let that affect the way that we think about our brothers and sisters, Lord, how we talk to them or talk about them or serve them, that when we see them, we see Jesus. And I know that we would give you the shirt off our backs. But mobilize us to be a church that loves that way, that we'd give our shirts off our backs to anyone in the church. And lastly, I pray, Lord, that this reality of you being in as Jesus would affect the way that we love people who we know don't have you yet in them.

Fill us with compassion to reach them so that they can believe. Yes and go to heaven. Yes. But we want them to be filled with the same presence of Jesus as we have in our lives. So help us love people. What way? Give us compassion to do that. Jesus. Thank you, Lord, for your word. Thank you for your church. Thank you for your promises and your spirit. Do what you will with us. Jesus. We pray all these things in your name. Amen.

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