Today, we begin a new message series called “Power for Life.” Today is the first Sunday of 2018. It is a time of transition, from the old year of 2017 to the new year of 2018. God has a plan for you individually and for our church family in 2018. God’s plan for the New Year is built upon His plan for last year, but it’s not the same. God’s plan for 2018 is not the same as His plan for 2017.
God is infinitely creative and when you follow His plan, you will live the most exciting life that’s possible. Following Jesus is never boring. Now, the plan that God has for you this year will be impossible for you to achieve on your own. If you’ve got a checklist of what you want to accomplish in 2018 and you think I’ve got this, then that list is not God’s plan for the New Year.
Last Sunday, we talked about seeking God in a new way in 2018. You must seek God for His plan for your life and seek God for His power to carry out that plan. In 2018, we all need His power for life. In this January series, Power for Life, God wants to teach us to press in to receive His power in a new way.
Today, our message is entitled “Why I Need the Spirit’s Power.” The Scriptures that we’re going to be studying this morning come primarily from the first two chapters of the book of Acts. Just as we’re in a transition time from old to new year, the disciples were in an even bigger transition time at the beginning of Acts. Jesus had died, was resurrected and now was about to ascend back into heaven. The disciples wanted the know detailed plans about what was going to happen next.
Acts 1:6 (ESV) So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?”
They still thought that Jesus, as the Messiah, would begin to rule as King and overthrow the Romans. They wanted to know His plan and timetable.
Acts 1:7-8 (ESV) He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed 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 and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
First of all, Jesus told them, you don’t need to know God’s detailed plans as to when things will happen in the future. Not only do you not need to see these detailed plans, God is not going to show them to you. Jesus said, rather than knowing detailed plans for the future, what you need is an experience with the Holy Spirit. Jesus explained … That experience will give you the power that you need to carry out my audacious plan for your life and the life of every follower of mine down through the ages. That plan is to be a witness for Jesus to the ends of the earth, starting right where they were, in Jerusalem.
Now, the disciples at this time was afraid and in hiding from the Romans. Most had abandoned Jesus at his trial and crucifixion. Peter had even denied knowing Jesus. And now, Jesus was telling them he was leaving them and they had to be His witnesses to the entire world. No way that they could do that on their own. The disciples needed the power of the Spirit in their lives and so do we.
God’s plan for your life in 2018 also involves being a witness for Him, to your family, relatives, co-workers, neighbors and to the ends of the earth as well as we support missionaries. God’s plan for our church is to be His witness across St. Louis. Impossible right? That’s why we need the Spirit’s power, because we can’t carry out God’s plan in our own power. The church in America is virtually powerless, seeking to entertain people into the Kingdom. We need the Spirit’s power today in far greater measure than we’ve yet experienced. So, today, we’re going to answer the question, why do I need the Spirit’s power?
Acts 1:4 (ESV) And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me;
What’s going on here? Jesus had already given the disciples the outline of His plan for their lives and the lives of every believer in what we call the Great Commission.
Matthew 28:18-19a (ESV) And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations,
So, Jesus had commanded his followers to go to all the nations of the world and make disciples. But now in Acts 1, Jesus ordered or commanded His followers, not to go, but to stay in Jerusalem. They were to wait for something, which He had already told them about, the promise of the Father.
Luke 24:49 (ESV) And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”
The Gospel of Luke was the first book written by Luke and the book of Acts is the second. In this verse, Jesus had previously told them about the promise of the Father. He had also told them to stay in the city and not go anywhere until they were clothed with power. In other words, they were not to even try to carry out God’s plan without this special power. Jesus continues in …
Acts 1:5 (ESV) for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”
So the promise of the Father is the baptism with the Holy Spirit. This experience with the Holy Spirit will give the disciples the power they need to carry out God’s plan. We’ve already looked at Acts 1:8 which says that they will receive the Spirit’s power in order to be Jesus’ witnesses. Next week, we’re going to talk in more detail about what Spirit baptism is. But today, we need to make clear that the disciples at this point were full-fledged New Testament believers. They had put their faith in Jesus Christ for salvation, they were born again and the Holy Spirit was living inside of them. Yet, they needed additional power in order to carry out God’s plan.
As we go through this series, we’re going to see that the power Jesus promised was not just for the apostles, it was not just for the 120 seeking it in the upper room, it was not just for the 3000 believers on Pentecost, it was for every believer of all time. I believe that God wants every believer in our church to have the power that the Father promised and Jesus commanded.
To help you in seeking God for the Spirit’s power, I would first like to encourage you to read a chapter a day in the book of Acts during January. There are 25 days left in January and there are 28 chapters in Acts. So, you can double it a few days or finish in February. The book of Acts is God’s handbook for the supernatural life that He wants every believer to have. As you read, don’t just read it as history, although it is an accurate history of the early church. Read Acts to understand the kind of power that God wants you to have in your life. Although the benefit of the Spirit’s power to be a witness for Jesus is emphasized in Acts, this supernatural power will help you in every area of your life.
On the day of Pentecost, Peter preached about this power for life, beginning with a prophesy in the book of Joel.
Acts 2:17-18 (ESV) “‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; even on my male servants and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy.
The last days are the time between Jesus’ ascension into heaven and when He returns again. Since Peter was living in the last days, we are certainly also living in the last days. God is doing something new in the last days that never happened before in the Old Testament. The prophet Joel, quoted by Peter, said that in the last days, every believer would be able to receive this power to live supernaturally.
You see, in the Old Testament, only a select few people were empowered to prophesy or speak God’s Word. Only a select few would hear God speak through dreams and visions. But in the last days, God is opening up His power to every believer. And He is offering new gifts that were not even available in Old Testament times. Why is God doing this? The book of Acts begins with this verse.
Acts 1:1 (ESV) In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach,
In the Gospel of Luke, Luke wrote about everything that Jesus did and taught. But here Luke is saying that that was just the beginning. After Jesus’ ascension into heaven, He would continue to minister supernaturally through ordinary believers like you and me. As you read through Acts, you will see that happen again and again.
Acts 2:22 (ESV) “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know—
This verse is Peter’s summary of the supernatural ministry of Jesus, miracles, healings, deliverances and teaching God’s Word. And by the end of chapter 2 of Acts, the disciples, who had been hiding in secret rooms were publicly doing the same supernatural things that Jesus had been doing.
Acts 2:43 (ESV) And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles.
Jesus had done wonders and signs, His disciples were now doing the same things. And what was the purpose of all this? To make more disciples of Jesus.
Acts 2:47b (ESV) And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.
The ministry of Jesus had exploded from the 120 believers in the upper room, to an additional 3000 saved on the day of Pentecost and more and more being saved every day.
We need the Spirit’s power to live supernaturally. This is not just for pastors and evangelists, as we’ll see in the next point, it is promised by God’s Word for every believer. The power of the Spirit can totally turn a person’s life around. Peter had denied Christ at His trial. He had decided to go back to fishing after the resurrection. He was hiding from the Romans and scared to do anything at all. Yet, after receiving the Spirit’s power on the day of Pentecost, He was transformed. He preached to thousands and as you read on in the book of Act, you will see him moving in supernatural power in every aspect of his life.
The power that we’re talking about in this series, the baptism in the Holy Spirit, will make God’s power available to you in every area of your life. This power will give you victory over sin, it will help you in your family relationships, it will give you wisdom in discerning God’s plan for your life, it will help you on your job. It is a very practical power that we need to live the exciting supernatural lives that we were created to live.
So, today, I’m going to be encouraging you to do three things. First of all, read a chapter in the book of Acts a day. Secondly, take time every day to pray and ask God to prepare you to receive more of the Spirit’s power in your life. And of course, don’t miss any of the messages in this four-part series. If you can’t be here in person, you can listen to it online, either on our website, Youtube or Facebook. So, if this power is not automatically received at salvation, how does a person receive it?
Acts 2:32-33 (ESV) This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing.
In Acts 1, Jesus ascended back into heaven, where He is today, seated at the right hand of the Father. On the day of Pentecost, Jesus, the Son, received from the Father, the Father’s promise, the promise of the Holy Spirit. He then poured out the Holy Spirit on the 120 believers praying in the upper room. What were those believers doing? They were seeking God and praying to receive the gift that Jesus had told them to wait for. That gift was the baptism in the Holy Spirit.
The picture is of Jesus pouring out the Spirit like a might rushing river of water, deluging those seeking God for His power. Our theme image is of a mighty wave breaking over our lives as an image of the Spirit’s power. In the Greek language to be baptized in water is to be completely immersed in water. To be baptized in the Holy Spirit is to be completely immersed in the Holy Spirit so that every part of your being is filled with the Spirit. At the end of his message, Peter said …
Acts 2:38-39 (ESV) And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.”
Here we see God’s three steps for living a supernatural life of power. First is to repent and put your faith and trust in Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord. Second, is to be baptized in water as Jesus, our Lord has commanded. Thirdly, is to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit that Jesus offers and commands every believer to receive.
Who is the promise of the Holy Spirit’s power for? Who is the baptism in the Holy Spirit for? Peter mentions three groups of people. First the gift of the Holy Spirit was for the thousands of people listening to him preach. Secondly, the Jesus’ gift was for their children. As young children can be saved and water baptized, so they can be Spirit baptized. Finally, the gift of the Holy Spirit was for everyone of all time who the Lord calls to himself, that is every believer in Jesus Christ.
Next week, we’re going to be talking in more detail about what the baptism in the Holy Spirit. During this series, I’m asking you to do three things. First was to read a chapter of the book of Acts every day. Second was to pray and seek God for His power every day. Third, I’d like to encourage you to read a great new book out this year by Assembly of God pastor Jeff Leake, it’s called Power for Life. It is an easy read, full of current stories of God’s power working and explaining from God’s Word, why every believer needs to be baptized in the Holy Spirit. It’s only 9 chapters long and if you read a couple of chapters a week, you’ll complete it in January. My guess is that when you start reading, you won’t be able to stop and you’ll finish long before the end of January.
Today, in our first message in the Power for Life series, we’ve talked about Why I Need the Spirit’s Power in my life. Jesus commanded us as His followers to not try to follow Him in our own strength. We need the Spirit’s power that Jesus poured out for us. God created you to live an exciting supernatural life. To do that we need the Spirit’s supernatural power. Finally, Jesus is pouring out the Holy Spirit on everyone with the faith to receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit. Not only do we need to be baptized in the Holy Spirit, but we need to grow in our experience with Him to fully live in the power He has for us.