As the followers of Jesus wait in Jerusalem to be baptized with the Holy Spirit, Jeff highlights two vital ingredients that always precede a powerful move of God - obedience to Jesus and prayer.
Luke's Gospel tells us that when Jesus appeared to his disciples following his resurrection, he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures. What did credible Verse what is it like to have Jesus just open your mind to understand the Scriptures like that? In an instant they could connect the Jesus ending in front of them to all the Old Testament prophecies about the Messiah. In a moment they understood why he had to die on the cross and why his resurrection had changed everything. Reading from Luke 24, beginning in verses 46, it's on your outlines.
He that's Jesus also said to them, this is what is written. The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead. The third day and repentance for forgiveness of sins will be proclaimed in his name to all the nations beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And look, I am sending you what my Father promised.
As for you, stay in the city until you are empowered. The word literally means clothed with power from on high. After spending 40 days making appearances on the Earth as the risen Savior, Jesus led his disciples up the mound of Olives, a Hill just outside Jerusalem to the east. Acts chapter one, verses four and five tell us that Jesus repeated his instructions. It 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 have heard me speak about for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit in a few days.
When we reach Acts chapter two. Next week, we're going to learn what precisely this baptism of the Holy Spirit is. But Jesus makes it clear in Acts chapter in verses eight that it will give them power to travel throughout Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the Earth. Preaching the Gospel as eye witnesses to the resurrection, Jesus then physically leaves the Earth, ascending back to heaven where he currently resides. And with that, his earthly mission, the Incarnation was completed.
Verse twelve picks up the moment after the disciples lose sight of Jesus as he disappears into the clouds. Open your Bibles. Let's take a look at verse twelve together in Acts one. It says Then they return to Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day's journey away. That's about 1 km away.
It's just outside of the Eastern side of Jerusalem. When they arrived, they went to the room upstairs where they were staying. The disciples were already staying in Jerusalem because they were there to celebrate the Feast of Pentecost, which commemorated the giving of the Law to Israel by God at Mount Sinai. We studied that when we went through the Book of Exodus. For those of you who are with us, the upper room mentioned here could be the upper room where the Last Supper took place.
And or it could be where Jesus appeared to his disciples on resurrection day. Some speculate it could be above the house of Mary, the mother of John Mark. But there's no way to know if any of those theories are really true, and it doesn't affect the narrative whether or not they are. Verse 13 continues and lists the names of the eleven surviving disciples Peter, John, James, Andrew, Philip, Thomas, Bartholomew, Matthew, James, the son of Elfius, Simon the Zealot, and Judas the son of James. It says Judas the son of James, so that we don't confuse this Judas with Judas Escariat, who betrayed Jesus to the religious leaders.
He's also more plainly referred to in John 1422 as Judas, not Escariot, and I'm sure he had to say that phrase only about a million times over the course of his life. I would have just changed my name, to be honest. Verse 14 they all were continually United in prayer, along with the woman, including Mary, the mother of Jesus and his brothers. Verses 15 will tell us the number of those present for this gathering of what would shortly become the first Church was around 120 people. So let's look at who was included in that.
I put this on your outline too. We know that the remaining eleven of the twelve disciples were there. It mentions the woman. This would have included Mary Magdalene, Mary the wife of Clopus, Mary and Martha, the sisters of Lazarus, the dear friends of Jesus, Salome, and others. Some of these women had followed Jesus from Galilee down south to Jerusalem for the Passover where he was crucified.
They supported him with their finances. They helped feed him, and his disciples served however they could and were the first witnesses to his resurrection. It says, Mary, the mother of Jesus, was there as well, and I love that the word shows us what Mary was doing following the ascension. We don't find the disciples gathered around her praying to her or saying, can you get a message to Zeus for us? We find her among the disciples of Jesus, praying and worshiping him.
She is Jesus disciple first and his mother second. Jesus is her God first and her son second. This is the final picture of Mary that Scripture gives us. Praying with the disciples as a disciple of Zeus, Jesus brothers were technically halfbrothers as they were the biological offspring of Joseph and Mary. Mark six three tells us they were named James, Joseph, Judas, another one, and Simon what was likely as little as eight months before.
This time, Jesus and his brothers were sarcastically telling him that he should do his miracles in front of a larger audience because they didn't even believe that he was actually doing miracles. They didn't believe the reports. And yet here they are, worshiping him and praying to him. What happened? The resurrection happened when the brother you watched die on a cross, appears to you in a resurrected body, speaks with you in front of other witnesses.
It causes you to pause and say, I might need to reevaluate my perspective on whether or not my brother is in fact, God. They changed from skeptics who viewed Jesus as a mentally disturbed embarrassment to the family, to fully devoted followers willing to die brutal deaths for him rather than recant their testimony that he had risen from the dead. It's one of the great apologetic evidences for the resurrection, the change in the behavior and perspective of the brothers of Jesus. If you're going to claim to be the Son of God, there is going to be no one harder to convince than your brother, okay? It's just the way it is.
Oh, really? You're the Son of God? Now, is this a trick just to get out of doing chores?
James would become the first leader of the Jerusalem Church and write the epistle that bears his name. Judas, the brother of Jesus, would write the Epistle of Jude. There were also some there who had been part of the group of 70 disciples that are mentioned in Luke chapter ten. And there were probably some other odd male and female disciples of Jesus whose names we don't know. Luke's Gospel tells us that after watching Jesus ascend back to heaven, they returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and they were continually in the temple praising God.
Jesus tells his disciples to return to Jerusalem and await the baptism of the Holy Spirit. So that's exactly what they do. Between meals, these 120 followers of Zeus gather to pray in the upper room and worship God at the temple. Now, as an aside, why did they go to the Jewish temple? It's because they understood that Jesus was the Messiah prophesied in the Old Testament.
So understand this for Jesus, Jewish disciples, and all of these people are almost certainly Jewish. So for Jesus's, Jewish disciples, Christianity is just the continuation of Judaism for them at this point, they don't see it as a new religion. That's why they're in Jerusalem for the feast of Pentecost. And that's why when they want to worship God, they go to the temple. If you ask them, what are you?
They would have said, We're Jews, we're religiously Jewish, and we worship and follow the Jewish Messiah, who was prophesied in the Jewish scriptures by Jewish prophets. Throughout the Book of Acts, we will see Christianity emerge and separate from Judaism, as most Jewish leaders and people reject the gospel message that Jesus was and his Messiah. But at this point, the word Christian didn't even exist, and the followers of Jesus were still religiously Jewish in their minds. When you study Church history, you will find prayer at the center of every great move of God. Wherever revival has exploded, it has been preceded by a powerful prayer movement.
And so I want us to notice that before we get to Acts chapter two, before we get to the baptism of the Holy Spirit, we see a prayer movement taking place among the followers of Jesus. In his great high priestly prayer in John 17, Jesus prayed for his future Church. May they all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe you sent me. I have given them the glory you have given me so that they may be one.
As we are one, I am in them and you are in me, so that they may be made completely one that the world may know you have sent me and have loved them as you have loved me. Where does genuine unity in a Church come from? How do you get it?
Unity is produced when people submitted to God and his word gather to pray. When we gather to pray, when you gather with God's people to pray, His Spirit begins to bind your hearts together. Supernaturally. It's a work of God and of His Spirit. In that prayer, time is where God births the kind of love for your brothers and sisters that we're going to read about in the Book of Acts.
It's the kind of love that you can't stir up yourself. You can't hear a message on this on a Sunday and say, that's it, I'm deciding to love my brothers and sisters. Flick the switch. You can't do that because you don't even have that kind of love within yourself. It comes from the Lord, it comes from his Spirit.
It can only be accessed. It can only be stirred by the Spirit of God within us. And he chooses to do it where people gather to pray and then that unity and that love that grows. Here's the incredible thing. It actually empowers your prayers.
It creates this incredible, glorious circle of unity being birthed, love for the brethren being birthed, which makes you pray more effectively and more passionately and stirs you to pray even more. And this is how these prayer movements happen. People who just want to see God move, gather and pray and find the Spirit of God joining them together in the kind of agape love that can only be found in the Lord. And as they speak out, as they pray out loud, as they gather together to pray, all the different divisions and all the different strata and tears among the body of Christ become level at the feet of Jesus, the ground becomes even. And that is when we become brothers and sisters.
When the ground becomes level because God is doing something among us. Collectively. This dynamic is what Jesus is talking about when he says, Guys, when two or three of you gather and agree in prayer, I'm with you in a different way to the way that I am with you all the time. It's different. I move differently.
I do a different work when you gather together and agree in my name. So would you write this down? When believers who are submitted to God's word pray together. The result is love and unity. The result is love and unity, which must necessarily precede revival or remove of God.
Otherwise it cannot be sustained. It cannot hold itself now because it makes sense in terms of flow. We're actually going to look at verses 18 and 19 first and then come back to verse is 15 through 17. In verses 18 through 19, Luke gives us some details about the fate of Judas Iscariot. Haven't seen this one in a lot of kids.
Bibles now this man acquired a field with his unrighteous wages. He fell headfirst, his body burst open and his intestines spilled out. Lovely. This became known to all the residents of Jerusalem, so that in their own language that field was called Hakaldama. That is Field of Blood.
What a beautiful story. These events are documented in Matthew chapters 26 and 27 and there appear to be contradictions between the accounts. But as is always the case with Scripture, the two accounts harmonize. When you begin to investigate the specific details, you'll recall that Judas Iscariot betrayed Jesus to the religious leaders in Jerusalem for a fee of 30 pieces of silver. The amount of compensation the law demanded to be paid to a slave's owner by the one who caused their death.
This money is what verse 18 refers to as unrighteous wages. After Jesus had been arrested, Judas felt guilty about betraying innocent blood. Now please understand it is possible to feel guilt and remorse without repenting. Guilt and remorse are not the same thing as repentance. They can lead to repentance or not.
You can feel overwhelmed by your conscience and remain steadfast in your refusal to submit to Jesus as Lord and Savior. Such was the case with Judas. He threw the money back at the religious leaders and then hung himself in a Potter's field. Unbeknownst to Judas, the priests took the money he threw at them and later used it to buy that very field as a burial place for the unclaimed dead. They did that because they felt it would be morally wrong to put the money in the temple offering due to it being blood money.
That's how hypocritical and spiritually dead the religious leaders were. They felt the money was tainted, but didn't feel any conviction over the fact that they were the ones who had tainted it by using it to bribe Judas to arrange the murder of Jesus. Eventually, Judas's hanging body swelled, fell out of the noose, and hit the Rocky ground where it burst open in the graphic fashion described in verses 19. As a result, people in Jerusalem came to call the place Field of Blood. That's the backstory of Judas's death.
I'm so glad I could build you up in your most Holy faith this evening and what a bleak picture it paints for us. The very place where Judas took his life was paid for literally by the blood of Jesus and the blood of Zeus has paid for everyone's sins. If you're here today, the blood of Jesus has paid for your sins. Yet many will choose to be their own God instead and therefore choose to pay for their sins themselves.
Many will die their own God and realize when it's too late that you cannot save yourself. And then they will go to their own place in the Lake of Fire for eternity. Whoever you are, the blood of Jesus has paid for your sins. It's been done for you. Scripture says he died for you while you were dead in your sins.
The only question is whether you will turn to Jesus, say thank you, and receive him into your life as your Lord and Savior. If you will eternal life will be yours. It'll be yours. It's a staggering thing to think about what Judas saw and heard. He spent three years with Jesus watching the miracles, hearing the Son of God teach on the Word of God.
He heard the Word of God expound on the Word of God. He was one of the Twelve, and yet he hated the Romans more than he loved Jesus. He loved money and power more than he loved Jesus, and as a result, he lost everything. No wonder Jesus called him the Son of Perdition, which means Son of waste. With that context regarding Judas in place, let's return to verse 15.
It says, in those days. So while they were waiting in Jerusalem, per Jesus instructions, Peter stood up among the brothers and sisters. The number of people who were together was about 120 underline 120 and said, brothers and sisters, it was necessary that the Scripture be fulfilled, that the Holy Spirit, through the mouth of David, foretold about Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus, for he was one of our number and shared in this Ministry. Now jump down to verse 20, for it is written in the Book of Psalms. Let his dwelling become desolate, let no one live in it, and let someone else take his position.
Some of the Psalms are known as Messianic Psalms. Many of them were written by David and they were written centuries before Jesus was born on the Earth. As a man, David was writing about his own life and experiences, but unbeknownst to him, he was also serving as a type of Jesus, meaning that what David was writing applied not only to his own life, but also served to prophetically point ahead and apply to the coming Messiah, who would be Jesus. There are aspects of David's writing and life that prophetically parallel the life of Jesus on the Earth. Peter quotes from two of these Psalms and applies them to Judas betrayal of Zeus.
His first quote is from Psalm 69 25 and the second is from Psalm 109, verse eight. Psalm 69 is clearly Messianic. Psalm 109 focuses more on a specific betrayer of a righteous man, which is obviously Judas more than it does the Messiah. But if you study Psalm 69 on your own this week, you'll find it fascinating to just try and pick out all the details in there that apply to the life of Jesus. Prophetically.
The word office that is quoted by Peter is the Greek word episcopen. It means position of Overseer, position of verse is. Peter references these two prophecies written by David in the Psalms. And he says, guys, David was writing prophetically about Zeus and Judas, and these prophecies give us direction as to what must be done. Next, we need to replace the member of the twelve who betrayed Jesus.
And Peter suggests this for a few reasons. First of all, most importantly, God prompted him to do it. God prompted him to do it. God is in control. Secondly, Peter suggested this because at the beginning of our study, I referenced from Luke's Gospel where it told us that Jesus appeared to his disciples following the resurrection and he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.
We see the effect of that here. Peter has had these Psalms stored up in his mind for years. He's a good Jewish student. He's memorized the Torah. He's memorized probably most of the Old Testament.
But when Jesus opens his mind to understand the Scriptures, suddenly the dots start connecting between Jesus and his death and life and the cross and resurrection. All the dots start connecting between what has just happened over the past three years and all of these Old Testament prophecies and Peter. Peter can now see it. He can now discern the connection. So Peter speaks up because he believes these scriptures reveal the actionable will of God now.
Thirdly, Peter does this because he understands on some level that Jesus is establishing his Church around this time. He doesn't know what's about to happen in Acts chapter two. But he understands Jesus is going to establish his Church because Jesus had spoken about it during his Ministry to Peter. He doesn't understand all the details, but he understands that just as Israel was established on the twelve tribes of Israel, Jesus is going to establish his Church on twelve disciples. Two additional observations on Peter's words in these verses.
Peter also uses these Psalms to explain to the other disciples that Judas betrayal had always been part of God's plan. It had been prophesied for centuries. Can you imagine the astonishment that would have gripped the disciples when they began to connect the dots with Peter, ending them and realize that Jesus gas is absolute control of everything that had happened down to the smallest detail. This wasn't a plan that had been derailed. This was the plan before the foundations of the world.
No aspect of the cross had been a tragedy. It was a triumph, a staggering Symphony of scandalous Grace conducted at every measure by the Lord Zeus. I also noticed that Peter teaches the concept of the divine inspiration of Scripture. When he says and underline it if you haven't the Holy Spirit through the mouth of David. I love that phrase.
In other words, the Holy Spirit, Peter says, inspired David to write those Psalms just as he inspired the over 40 men who wrote all the Scriptures. Two Timothy 316 plainly declares, All Scripture is inspired by God. And the interesting thing is that if you look at the original Greek of Two Timothy 316, the word all means all. It means all. All Scripture is inspired by God.
So if you ever find yourself in a Church or a Bible study where people want to claim that certain parts of the Scriptures are not inspired, leave, leave. Because once you decide that you can choose which parts of the Bible should be considered divine, you're playing God. You're saying, I'm going to be the editor of the Word of God.
Not good. And the evidence of that will be revealed when the version of God that you end up with happens to share all of your preferences and opinions. It's amazing how that happens. In verses 21, Peter reveals the criterion that Judas's replacement would need to meet to verse is a witness along with the rest of the 12th. It says this in verses 21.
Therefore from among the men who have accompanied us during the whole time, the Lord Zeus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John until the day he was taken up from us. From among these it is necessary that one become a witness with us of his resurrection. So to be one of the Twelve, to be the replacement for Judas or to just be any member of the Twelve, you had to have been present for the entire duration of Jesus Ministry, witnessing his baptism in the Jordan by John the Baptist, his miracles, his teachings, his crucifixion and death. You had to encounter Him in the days following his resurrection and see him ascend back to heaven. By the way, this is why it is not an error that Paul is not chosen as the replacement.
Paul was not an eyewitness to the Ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus for those three years and he could not. Therefore, verse is a witness in the way Jesus intended. The Twelve to Paul did not meet the criteria. Jesus wasn't looking for the twelve best Apostles or the Twelve most famous. He was looking for twelve witnesses to the entire Ministry of Jesus and his death, resurrection and ascension.
Paul had a unique calling in Ministry that was different, a special Ministry to the Gentiles. Verse 23 So they proposed two Joseph called Barcebus, who was also known as justice and Matthias. Then they prayed, You, Lord, know everyone? S hearts. Show which of these two you have chosen to take the place in this Apostolic Ministry that Judas left to go where he belongs.
Then they cast lots for them and the lot fell to Matthias and he was added to the eleven Apostles. They pray, they ask the Lord to lead them, they cast lots, and they add Matthias to the 12th. And I know the casting of lots things seems really weird, but it was a common way of seeking the Lord at that time. Those of you who were with us when we studied Exodus, chapter 28 may recall the Urum and Thummim used by the high priest. They were likely a black and white stone of identical size, stored in a little pouch, and if you wanted to ask the Lord a yes or no question, you would pray and then the priest would pull one out and this would reveal the will of God.
Really, coveting lots was essentially a way to do the same thing when the high priest wasn't available. It was a common enough occurrence that Solomon wrote in the Book of Proverbs, the lot is cast into the lap, but it's every decision is from the Lord. This was not a haphazard way of discerning God's will. The disciples carefully determined the qualifications of any potential replacement for Judas, whittled it down to two candidates that were endorsed by the rest of the group, prayed and asked the Lord to reveal his decision and then cast lots. They did the best they could based on what they knew to do at the time.
After they received the baptism of the Holy Spirit, which will come up next week in Acts Chapter two. The followers of Zeus will never again cast lots because the Church will have the Holy Spirit to verse is a guide for future decisions of importance. Because we know God is sovereign, we can trust that God ensured the outcome he wanted when the stakes were high. God wasn't in heaven going well. I kind of had a different candidate, but I guess it's too late now.
It's going to be super bummer if I have to go down there and be, like, wrong, it's him. It's inconceivable to suggest that this was somehow an oversight by God. He chose Matthias as surely as he chose the other eleven, and Matthias was by no means a lesser member of the twelve than any of the others, and the fact that we don't find them mentioned again in scripture doesn't change any of that. Heaven forbid we mistake notoriety for effectiveness and Ministry. The name Matias means gift from God.
Beyond that, we don't know anything about him with certainty, as he's never again mentioned in the Scriptures. There are some details, but they can't be verified. I'll share them with you. Ezabius, the fourth century Christian historian, wrote that Matias was part of the group of 70 disciples referenced in Luke Chapter Ten. Church tradition holds that he became a missionary to the Ethiopians, where he was martyred, or that he traveled to Damascus and later died in Judea, or that he ended up spending most of his time in Jerusalem, where he died.
We just don't know. Also, according to Ezabius, Philip's daughters told Papius that Joseph called Barcelos, who was also known as justice, once drank snake venom when challenged by unbelievers and remained unharmed. I don't even understand what that story means. I mean, they set down a shot of snake venom in front of him, and they're like, we don't believe you're from God. And he's like, how about now?
It's just a really odd bit of Church history. But I guess in that moment, the Holy Spirit is like, do it, do it, drink it. He's like, all right, let's go. That's all we know about the other guy. With Matias selected, the twelve was reconstituted and everything was ready for the birth of the Church, which would follow shortly.
You know, it's incredible. When we're making a big decision or facing a challenge of some sort in our lives, we'll wrestle with it internally. We'll talk to our spouse about it. We'll read a book about it, we'll Google it. We are so reluctant to ask our brothers and sisters in the Church to pray with us.
Some of us will even ask people to pray for us, but we don't want them to actually do it immediately if they're like, Well, let's pray. We're actually like, oh, no, I meant like, you pray for me when I'm not here so that we don't have to do it together. Do that. But most won't even do that. If you were coveting a curriculum to teach Christianity to a new believer, you would learn how to pray with other Christians in kindergarten.
Hear me on this. You would learn how to pray with other Christians in kindergarten. It's that elementary. It's that foundational. And yet, let me be honest with you.
Most of the time, in my experience, the people who seem to understand this kindergarten level aspect of Christianity are those who come from a deep, deep place of brokenness or new believers or have covet out of addiction, where they've just got over whatever this thing called embarrassment is. They'll seek out people to pray with them. But us middle class or upper class Christians, us more experienced Christians, I hear a constant stream of news. Oh, so and so is really struggling with this. They're going through a hard time.
Oh, so and so is making a huge life decision. They're just trying to figure out what to do. But most of the time they don't share it at all. And the Church just learns about it after the fact. Most of the time, what never comes back to me is, oh, this person is looking for brothers and sisters to pray with them.
And our actions reveal one of two things. Number one, we don't actually believe that praying with our brothers and sisters accomplishes anything, or we believe that keeping up appearances is more important than unleashing the power of God over our lives that is released through praying with our brothers and sisters. Those are the only two options you're making a big decision. You're struggling with something and you're not asking your brothers and sisters to pray with you. Either you think prayer does nothing or you think keeping up appearances is more important.
Heaven forbid I look like I need God. Heaven forbid. The Bible says if we're struggling with sickness, we should call the elders to lay hands and pray for healing. The Bible says if we confess our sins to one another, we will be healed. The Bible says that if two or three gather together and agree in the name of Jesus, he's there.
Paul wrote, So if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it. If one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it. Now you are the body of Christ and individual members of it. If you get this, if you are seeking brothers and sisters to pray with you about major decisions and struggles in your life, praise God. You're doing well.
But I have to ask this as an elder, why does it seem like I constantly hear reports of people wrestling with big decisions and facing challenges but not asking anyone to pray with them? Not picking up the phone, calling somebody and saying, I need you to pray with me for a few minutes, not grabbing somebody after the service and saying, Pray with me. I'm dealing with some stuff. Do we not believe that we have a God who hears we have a God who loves us? Do we lack the humility to just get over ourselves and actually admit to another human being that we need God?
Because news flesh. We desperately need God. We desperately need Him to help us. And there is no great move of God that is going to happen in your life or in this Church that doesn't involve you being willing to publicly admit that you need Jesus. It's not going to happen.
Apart from that, there's no version where that happens and you get to stand in the back keeping it all together and just bootlegging off. A move of God caused by the prayers of other people doesn't happen.
If you are facing a significant decision, if you are facing a challenge or a struggle, whatever it is, do not leave here without asking somebody to pray with you. If you do leave without asking somebody to pray with you, just know this and let me offend some people for a Godly reason. You are not a mature follower of Jesus yet. I don't care how long you've been going to Church. If you haven't learned how to ask your brothers and sisters to pray with you, you are not a mature believer, yet you're fooling yourself.
This is Christianity one on one. This is foundational. It's elementary. Scripture says God resists the proud but gives Grace to the humble. He gives Grace to the humble.
Would you write this down? God moves when his people pray together. God covet when his people pray together. We pray every Sunday in this gym at 04:25 P.m.. Come to Church early and pray with us.
Make it a priority. Be here. Be here. Bj leads a prayer meeting every other Friday evening. If you want to learn more about that, talk to him after the service.
Now look at verse 15 again, because there's something I want us to notice. If you haven't underlined it yet, I want you to, it says. And in those days, Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples. Altogether, the number of names was about 100 and 2120 underline 120. Now, Jesus likely had some followers elsewhere.
For example, most Bible scholars believe that Jesus appeared to the 500 as described in one Corinthians, one five, six in Galilee. Jesus had only commanded his disciples to wait in Jerusalem a few days ago, so there would not have been time for someone to make the journey back to Galilee, gather the followers of Jesus who were there and bring them back to Jerusalem. But this number 120, is still staggering because it was Pentecost, one of the major annual feasts of Israel, and it was Jerusalem, the center of the Jewish world. Don't forget that when Jesus died, a bunch of people rose from the dead and walked out of their graves and went back to their families. I'm pretty sure they had something to say about Jesus.
Jesus had taught and worked miracles in Jerusalem. And yet after three years of God in the flesh, walking and ministering among them, there are 120. That's it, 120. You've got the twelve, the 70 disciples from Luke, ten, the woman, and maybe a few more. That's it.
That's all decades later, the Church would number in the millions. That happened for two reasons. Number one, God worked a miracle. The Church was and is a miracle. But secondly, those 120 people, to a man, to a woman, were willing to die for Jesus not once, but every single day.
They were ready to lay down their lives daily for the cause of the gospel and for the glory of Jesus. I believe Jesus is still looking to work miracles in his Church, and he's looking for men and women who are willing to die for him every day. He is looking for churches where people gather to pray. He is looking for churches where people have actually figured out how much they need him. And he's looking for churches where people are willing to Orient their entire lives around the gospel.
My prayer is that he'd find that here. And my prayer is that if you haven't thrown yourself into that mission along with us, that you will.
There's one more thing I want to highlight today. Bj alluded to it briefly last week.
And man, I know I'm going hard today, but I'll tell you why I'm going hard, because we're going to reach Acts chapter two next week. And all through the Book of the Book of Acts, there's going to be these incredible deep things of God, these deep moves of God. And everyone gets excited about them. And Christians talk about them, and they talk about how excited they are. But we need a reality check before we go forward with that, because next week, God's going to send the baptism of the Holy Spirit to this group of believers, and they will be transformed into the Church.
They will be clothed with God's power, and they will never be the same again. But in order to receive that baptism and power, they had to obey Jesus.
They had to exercise simple faith and obedience to Jesus command to return to Jerusalem and wait for the Holy Spirit to come upon them. They had to literally obey that in the Christian life. Hear me on this. It is impossible to grow into the deeper things of God apart from obeying God. And yet believers try to do it all the time.
Imagine your walk with Jesus, your faith journey as a straight and narrow path. At specific points, Jesus will put an obstacle in your way. And the only way through that obstacle will be to trust and obey Jesus. And until you choose to trust and obey him in that specific area, with that specific issue, your faith journey will become stationary. It will become stationary and stagnant.
But let me tell you what the overwhelming majority of Christians do is we fool ourselves. We deceive ourselves in two ways. First way we do it is we convince ourselves that we've just climbed over the obstacle. I didn't have to deal with it. I just climb right over it and carry on my mercy seat.
The truth is that we haven't. We're just pretending the obstacle isn't there. We're in denial. We haven't moved an inch. The second way, we deceive ourselves and this one man.
This is what we're at risk of. In a Church that loves the Bible the way we do and teaches verse by verse. We fool ourselves by continuing to add to our intellectual knowledge of God. That's how we fool ourselves, right? And we convince ourselves that we're growing in our faith journey because, oh, yeah, I'm really growing because I'm learning all these new things.
But you're not actually growing. You're just adding mental intellectual knowledge. There's nothing going on here. You're stuck in the same place because you're actually refusing to obey Jesus. But you keep diluting yourself into thinking that because I'm ending intellectual knowledge, I'm becoming more like Jesus.
Except you're not. And the people closest to you know it, and they can see it because you can't fake becoming more like Jesus for very long. I think I've got up to about 2 hours, and then it all just falls apart for me. You can't fake becoming more like you just can't keep it up. But we say, oh, yeah, come to Church, listen to Bible studies.
Add to my knowledge, add to my knowledge. I'm growing in my faith journey. No, you're not. You're just getting smarter. You're just learning more intellectual knowledge and trivia and history about the Bible.
But you're not actually becoming more like Jesus because you cannot grow. You cannot be sanctified to a greater degree while saying no to God. We deceive ourselves. Oh yeah. Making great strides in my faith journey, are you?
Are you? How ridiculous would it have been for someone who heard Jesus say, Return to Jerusalem and wait for the Holy Spirit to respond by saying, oh, I want the deep things of God. I hunger for the deep things of God. But I'm going to go back to my home in Capernum. It would be ridiculous because that person's actions would not be lining up with their words.
It would be ridiculous because they would be claiming to want more of Jesus while simultaneously refusing to obey Jesus.
Let me be real here. Far too many Christians claim to want more of Jesus while simultaneously refusing to obey Jesus. Oh, I want more of Him. Well, this is what he wants you to do. Not going to do that, but I want more of Jesus.
Let me push some buttons.
I don't like to sing when the Church gets together, so I just stay silent. But I want the deep things of God. I'm not comfortable praying out loud with other Christians, but I want the deep things of God. I'm not willing to ever admit weakness or fear or failure to another believer. I'm not willing to admit or ask for help, but I want the deep things of God.
I know I'm being harsh to my spouse. I know I'm walking in bitterness, but I want the deep things of God. Just hunger for them. I don't go to home group because I don't feel like I get enough out of it hasn't even crossed my mind that maybe I should go to bless somebody else. And maybe it's not actually all about me.
I know Paul devoted an entire chapter One Corinthians Twelve to explaining how desperately I need my brothers and sisters. I know that Jesus great high priestly prayer in John 17 was for unity in the Church, but home group is not just for me, but I want the deep things of God. I know that God calls me to trust him with my finances and give sacrificially to his Church, but I'm not going to do that. But please don't take that as a sign that I'm not interested in the deep things of God. I'm all about the deep things of God.
Can't commit to serving a Church 2 hours every three weeks. It's just too much of a commitment. I know that means the most faithful members will just have to do more, but I'm okay with that. And please know I want the deep things of God. I can feel people thinking like, oh, that's typical.
That's all the Church wants. They just want your money. They just want you to serve and come to their services and programs. It's so much worse than that. Those things are the bare minimum.
We actually want you to devote your entire life, every day completely to Jesus. We actually want you to view everything you have as belonging to the Lord. But instead, most of the time we find ourselves trying to convince believers to do the bare minimum. But I want the deep things of God.
We're fooling ourselves acting like clowns some of the time. Instead, most of the Western Church seems to believe that by doing the bare minimum to show some evidence of Salvation, they're radically laying down their lives for the gospel. The Church is nowhere near all she could be because far too many believers refuse to obey the simple commands Jesus has already given.
I want a grad level course in Christianity. I want the deep things of God. You got to pass kindergarten first. We're having some trouble down here. Oh, but I'm really advanced.
I can skip those grades. No, you can't. No, you can't. Then you're just a fool among grad level students. Grow up in Christ.
Grow into maturity by saying yes to the Lord, by obeying the things you know he's already called you to do.
What are you even praying for? To discern the will of God for your life if you won't even obey the things he's already told you to do? What are we doing? I'm so excited about the Book of Acts to learn about the deep things of God. Are you ready for the deep things of God?
Are you? Or are we just going to be adding intellectual knowledge while we go through this? I have no interest in making you smarter. None. I mean that.
I'm so done. I am so done with playing Church. So done. I got no interest in that. None.
I told some dear friends the other day, I don't need friends. I need brothers and sisters. I can go to a gym and get friends. I need the Church. I want the Church to be all that it can be.
And I want to be part of that Church. And here's the thing. If you're offended by anything I'm saying, it's because you're not doing it. If you are, you're out there going, Amen. You're like, Kyle, you're like, this is hilarious.
If you're out there, you're mad at me or you're like, I am so tense right now. It's because this applies to you. And if I'm offending you by calling you to follow Jesus, we might need to have a conversation about what Church is. I can't believe I went to Church and they told me I should be obeying Jesus. Who does that guy think he is?
That's kind of what we do here. That's kind of what we do.
I want to be with people that want to follow Jesus. Whatever he wants, whatever it looks like I'm in. You need to know that this Church. You're my ride or die. This is it.
Till Zeus comes back to the end of the world, we're in it together. Some of you are like, Is this where he reveals the compound they just purchased? No, I'm not going there. Although I know at least half of you would be like, I wish you would, but that's not where I'm going with that. Listen, Church.
The deep things of God are not for the best, the brightest, the wealthiest, or those who've been going to Church for the longest amount of time. The deep things of God are for those who are willing to obey Jesus. Would you write that down? The deep things of God are for those who are willing to obey Jesus. When I say, I'm done playing Church, this is what I'm talking about.
There are Christians all over the world, have been Christians for decades, and they're stuck in kindergarten. They're flunking the test 40 years later, still won't do it. And there are Christians who have been Christians less than a year. And they're flying through the grades not because they're smarter, but because as soon as they learn that Jesus has asked them to do something, they're like, yes.
When Jesus says, hey, I need to ask, they're like, yes, whatever it is, I don't care. Whatever it is, yes, I'm in man. That should be an encouragement to you wherever you're at. The deep things of God are for those who are willing to obey Jesus. That's who they're for.
And we want the deep things of God in this Church. And so we're determined to obey Jesus, whatever that looks like. If there's an area of your life where you're not obeying Jesus and you know it repent and start coveting him, it's that simple. If you don't, your spiritual growth will become or has been for years, stagnant. You might grow in intellectual knowledge, but you will not grow in Christ likeness.
You won't actually become more like Jesus. You won't mature. The deep things of God are for those who are willing to obey Jesus. Listen, some of you have no idea the miracles that God wants to work in your life that are being held back by your disobedience. There are miracles that God wants to work in lives in this room that are being held back by disobedience.
Hear me on this. Obedience is the action of faith. Obedience is the action of faith. And the Word says that without faith it is impossible to please God. And without faith, we limit the power of God in our lives.
Remember when Jesus went to his hometown of Nazareth and he said he could not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith?
Faith is not a feeling. It's not just a mindset. It's not just a belief. Faith is evidenced in obedience to Zeus. So don't delude yourself saying, I'm a great man or woman of faith.
If you're not willing to obey Jesus, the person who has faith says, Even if I don't understand it, even if it's scary, even if it's intimidating, even if it's hard, I'm willing to do it because I am a follower of Jesus. And so where he leads, I follow that's faith. Obedience is faith in action. Let me ask the worship team to come up. Let's pray together.
Would you buy your head and close your eyes?
Father, thank you so much for sending Jesus to take our place on the cross, to die in our place to pay for sins that we might be forgiven. And we know that it doesn't end there. You're the source of abundant life. And Jesus, you sent your spirit so that we could walk in that abundant life day by day. Lord, I pray that we would not play games with you, whether we're a new Christian or been following you for decades.
Lord, if there is anything that you're calling us to do in obedience to you that we are not doing, would you show it to us clearly? If you haven't already done that during this time, would you illuminate it in our minds that we might repent and begin to obey you whether the issue is big or small? Jesus, we love you and we trust you. When you look at Gospel City Church, we want you to find people that are all in for loving you, serving you, whatever that looks like. Zeus, give us that heart.
Give us the heart that gripped 120 in that upper room where they were just so consumed with you. They were just so in love with you that you just eclipsed everything else in their lives. We want to love you like that, Lord, and we don't want to learn our way through the Book of Acts so that we can become smarter or no more Bible, trivia or history. Lord, we want to learn what it means and what it looks like to follow you completely in practicality to be a Church that is sold out completely to you. So we ask for what we know you already desire.
Lord, we ask that you would stir us to pray. We ask that you would bind our hearts together in genuine unity. Lord, we ask that we would be a Church that openly confesses to a man, to a woman, that we desperately need you. We desperately need you, and we don't care who knows it. And Lord, I pray that there would be people here today who would reach out and ask a brother or sister to pray with them today, that they might experience the promise of your word, that you give Grace to the humble.
So, Lord, would you pour out your Grace on your people as we believe in faith that there will be people in this room repenting people in this room asking for prayer? Lord, do it. Pour out your Grace upon us. Lord, make us the Church that you want us to? To be?
That you might be blessed? That you might be pleased? Because you deserve? Nothing? Less?
Than our whole hearts? And our whole lives? Jesus? Nothing less? You are so?