Monday, February 9, 2009

Acts 1:1-11: Sermon Outline

Here is the outline of the sermon I preached this Sunday (08/02/09), questions for discussion at the bottom.
In the first book, Theophilus, I wrote about all the Jesus began to do and teach from the beginning until the day when he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. After his suffering he presented himself alive to them by many convincing proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the Kingdom of God. While staying with them he ordered them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait there for the promise of the Father. “This,” he said, “is what you have heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”

• Acts is a sequel, and like all good sequels starts with both a recap (of Jesus’ ministry on earth) and links the two parts together (how we got from A to B, from Christ to the Church).
• Jesus ministry/work is not finished with his earthly ministry, death, and ressurection, he still has more to do, Jesus the baptizer- see Luke 3:16 (this, of course, does not exhaust Jesus' "heavenly" ministry, see esp. Hebrews on that one).
• And the disciples’ job is to wait. Even after all that good teaching (pre and post ressurection), knowledge is not enough.
So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?” He replied, “It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

• Not only is knowledge not enough but it is not for us to have complete knowledge.
• It is not for us to have all the details of the end times, BUT it is for us to receive God's power to witness (to fulfil God’s saving mission in Jesus). We cannot all be evangelists, but we all must be witnesses.
• Holy Spirit is not wishy-washy feeling based nice churchy experience, but the Spirit of the living God that empowers our words and deeds to witness to the saving action of God in Jesus Christ. Spirit-ual not spiritual. Spirit-uality always comes from God then moves out from us to others.
When he has said this, as they were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. While he was going and they were gazing up toward heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood beside them. They said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up toward heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”

Understand God's story of salvation in Jesus and where we fit into it. Understand that we cannot play our part without the Holy Spirit's enabling. Know that this story ends with Jesus returning to earth and bringing heaven with him.
Stop looking up to heaven wondering what the time is; it is time to be Christ's witnesses.
Wait for the Holy Spirit. There is a time to go, and a time to wait. To receive first and then give from what we have received. How much time do you give for the Spirit to work and speak in your life, or are you just running around on empty wondering why nothing is happening?

Questions for discusion:
  1. Can you find any other passages in Luke-Acts where the movement of the Spirit is outwards towards other people? Have you been aware of this movement at any point in your own life?
  2. What does Luke mention in his 'recap' at the beggining of Acts and what does he miss out? Does this surprise you? What can we learn from this?
  3. What does it mean practically to wait on the Holy Spirit as an individual, as a family, or as a church?


  1. I really enjoyed your sermon on Sunday, and was somewhat challenged by the conclusion.

    Your observation that Luke's sequel didn't recap the death and resurrection of Christ was really interesting.

    I disagree that spirituality is wishy-washy feelings (with crystals and whale-watching). Clearly, Paul uses the term spiritual to mean the opposite of banal, or carnal - anything requiring higher thought or greater connection. Of course, I agree that we are to be more Spiritual, too.

  2. when i was talking about spiritual verses Spiritual i was talking about our language today not Paul's use, perhaps i should have made that clear. But regarding Paul's use Paul always uses spiritual with a capital S so to speak, that is in reference to the activity and effect of the Holy Spirit not in reference to a general sense of 'spirituality'. See Gordon Fee's magnificent work God's Empowering Presence, you wont regret it!