WHEN THE HOLY SPIRIT COMES ON YOU
Acts 1:1-8 Key Verse: 8
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
The book of Acts was written by Luke, a historian and physician, around 63 A.D. In this book, we see the Holy Spirit and the apostles co-working together in forming the early church and in spreading the Gospel of Jesus’ death and resurrection to all nations on earth. Through studying this book, let’s pray that we may receive the empowerment of the Holy Spirit, and have a clear direction to live as bold witnesses of the Risen Christ to all nations on earth. The book of Acts records the Acts of the Apostles of Jesus Christ.
Part I: “Many convincing proofs” (1-3).
Acts begins with an introduction to Theophilus. According to Luke’s gospel where Luke calls him, “Most excellent Theophilus,” we understand that Theophilus probably was a high government official who recently accepted Jesus Christ. Let’s read verses 1-3a together: “In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen. After his suffering he showed himself to these men and gave them many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God.”
The former book refers to the Gospel of Luke. The gospel of Luke gives us a detailed account, which covers specific facts from the time of Jesus’ birth, during his teaching ministry in Israel, the calling of his 12 disciples, and finally climax with his suffering, death, and resurrection. The Gospel of Luke is a very thorough account of who Jesus is and what he came to do. The book of Acts picks up right where Luke ends, and shows the transition of the work of God going on from the ministry of Jesus to the ministry of the Holy Spirit and the church. Soon, Jesus would return to heaven, and the disciples would take up the responsibility of carrying out Jesus’ ministry.
Although Jesus had to suffer rejection at the hands of the religious leaders, he overcame death by his powerful resurrection, then after his suffering, he appeared to his disciples and gave them many convincing proofs that he was alive. After seeing Jesus suffer on the cross, and then die a painful death, the disciples were convinced that he was dead. At that time, the reality of Jesus’ death struck their hearts. Yet, after rising from the dead, Jesus appeared to his disciples so that they might be convinced that he was not dead, but indeed alive.
Look at verse 3b. “He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God.” You may be curious about what Jesus talked about after his resurrection. This verse reveals that during the 40-day period after his resurrection, Jesus visited his disciples and talked to them about the kingdom of God. During his public ministry, the main theme of his message was the kingdom of God. And after his resurrection, as he visited his disciples, he spoke to them about the kingdom of God. This shows that to Jesus, the kingdom of God was so real, important and very practical that it held primacy above all other matters.
People were living on earth, thinking of the things of the earth and putting their hope on earth. In their eyes, the most important thing was to eat better food, drive better cars. They were born of the world, live in the world and died in the world; they lost the truth that they came from God and going back to God; they lost their identity as the children of God who were supposed to do glorious things for God. Jesus, the Son of God, then, came and taught people about the kingdom of God whenever he had a chance so that people might not be bound to the things of this world, but have the hope of the kingdom of God and live as decent children of God, and as holy pilgrims.
Part II: “To the ends of the earth” (4-8).
Look at verses 4-5. “On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: "Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit." At that time, the disciples were still in Jerusalem where the religious leaders were looking for them to kill. It was dangerous for them to stay in Jerusalem. But while they were enjoying eating fellowship with the Risen Christ, he commanded them not to leave Jerusalem but wait for the Holy Spirit because in a few days they would receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
We do not know why the disciples had to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit specifically in the city of Jerusalem. Maybe it was because of God’s plan to start his salvation work from Jerusalem which means, “Teaching of peace.” No matter what reason there might be, his command was very challenging to the disciples. What was the disciples’ response? Look at verse 6. “So when they met together they asked him “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” They totally misunderstood Jesus’ command. They thought that now Jesus would proclaim the Messianic kingdom in Jerusalem by turning over the disgusting Roman Empire upside down with his power and restore the kingdom to Israel.
Their question reveals their nationalist way of thinking. Restoring the kingdom to Israel was a very serious and urgent matter to them. It was a great disgrace that the chosen people Israel, a kingdom of priests and a holy nation became a mere Roman colony. When young Israelite brothers saw the Roman soldiers mistreating their fellow Israelites, their blood boiled within them. But there was nothing they could do except curbing their pride. When they demonstrated against the Roman government, they were crushed mercilessly by Roman soldiers. It was the hope of all the Israelites that someday the promised Messiah would come and destroy these terrible Roman controls, and then restore the kingdom to Israel.
So, when the disciples saw Jesus who was powerful enough to destroy the power of death, immediately they had a vision to destroy the Roman Empire and restore the kingdom to Israel. They asked the Risen Christ, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” To the eyes of these young Jewish disciples, this was the most urgent matter. How did Jesus respond? Look at verses 7 and 8. “He said to them: "It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." Jesus understood their mentality and concerned for the nation of Israel.
But he encouraged them to leave the political restoration of Israel in the hands of God because it was God who worked and controlled human history according to his own plans and purposes. He did not want his disciples to be narrow-minded or nationalists. Instead, he showed them that there was a more urgent and important task waiting for them, which they had been prepared for. The Risen Jesus Christ said, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” When the Holy Spirit came upon them, they would be all changed from lowly fishermen to holy shepherds and witnesses of the Gospel.
The coming of the Holy Spirit meant for them to receive power that worked both in the physical realm and in the spiritual realm. By their own zeal and ability, they were still imperfect and limited in many ways. Yes! Carrying out God’s plan for world salvation was far from them. However, the gift of the Holy Spirit from God would empower them to do mighty works of God. Yes! They became fearless men of God who delivered powerful messages to the rulers, rebuking them of their sins and challenging them to repent, despite these religious leaders’ attempts to kill them. They performed many miracles, healing the sick, driving out demons and even raising the dead.
When the Holy Spirit came on them, they could live in God’s dimension being able to serve God’s purpose. They became far more powerful than their enemies; they became literally untouchable and invincible. With the power of the Holy Spirit, they fought the battle for Jesus Christ so powerfully bringing so many lost souls to the kingdom of God. At that time, they were weak, lowly and nationalistic. But Jesus had faith that only when the Holy Spirit came on them, all of them would become his powerful witnesses bringing the gospel of salvation to the ends of the earth. There might be so many problems with Jesus’ disciples both individually and collectively.
But despite all the negative facts, Jesus said to them, “But… when the Holy Spirit comes on you…” In Jesus’ eyes, the coming of the Holy Spirit was the answer to all the problems of his disciples and of the world. Only when the Holy Spirit comes on them, would they become powerful witnesses of Jesus’ death and resurrection bringing God’s salvation to the ends of the earth. Here we see the fundamental solution to all our problems. So many people suffer because of their weaknesses, character flaws, and sin problems. So many people are so fearful about their future marriages and security. So many people are largely dysfunctional only because of their human thinking, anger, hatred or jealousy. It is because of these problems, that many of them have great difficulty to live as God’s servants, and their lives are miserable.
What would Jesus say if he were here with us? What would he do if he saw all these problems? He would say exactly the same. No matter what you have in mind for your future, his solution is the same, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you…” Seeing all the problems you have, seeing all terrible weaknesses you have, Jesus says, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you…” Seeing all the problems and limitations we have, He wants to give us the Holy Spirit to empower us so that we can overcome all these problems by the power of the Holy Spirit, and live as his servants, bringing the good news of salvation to the ends of the earth. Jesus wants to give us the Holy Spirit to empower us to do his work powerfully.
We must crave for the coming of the Holy Spirit because Jesus says, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you.” Who does not want to receive power? Who does not want to become a powerful man or woman of God delivering the message of repentance fearlessly and performing many miracles? You do not want to remain powerless bound to your human weaknesses; you do not want to be limited by your own sin problems. Instead, you want to be a blessing even for the whole world. You want to do mighty works of God. I want to raise the 12 excellent bible teachers. Yet, wishful thinking is not enough; instead each of us must receive the empowerment of the Holy Spirit; so we must cry out loudly to Jesus.
“Lord! Send me the Holy Spirit!” “Empower me!” What’s the purpose of this empowerment through the Holy Spirit? Jesus says, “You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” The purpose is not for us to enjoy some emotional high or feel cool about ourselves. The purpose is to empower us so that we all may live as bold and powerful witnesses of Jesus. You may have some obstacles in doing the work of God. Maybe, your family members persecute you. Maybe, you are a little intimidated by proud and brilliant looking people. Maybe, your English is not that fluent. Maybe, you lack time. Maybe, you are so shy.
But the Holy Spirit empowers you so that you can proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ boldly and effectively overcoming all these obstacles. When you are empowered by the Holy Spirit, you will rise above all those matters; you will never concern about those small things any more. Human power is limited; human persuasion does not work in the spiritual realm. But together with the Holy Spirit, we can enter spiritual dimension, God’s dimension, and there, we can do the work of God, saving souls, destroying enemies’ camp and expanding God’s kingdom. How far should we go to testify about Jesus? Only in DuPage? Maybe in Chicago Land?
Jesus says, “You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Jerusalem was the place where the disciples were at that time. Yes! Starting from where they were, they would spread and expand the territory of their mission field, in Judea, Samaria , and to the ends of the earth. How long will it take for his believers to reach to the ends of the earth? So far, it has been about 2,000 years, and still his world mission is going on and it will go on until the gospel of Jesus Christ is preached to the ends of the earth. Jesus’ disciples are to serve this mission; they are to live for this purpose. When the first generation disciples served this mission, and died with this mission still half done, the second generation of his disciples would continue on this mission. Amen!
*Conclusion: With this world mission command, Jesus set a clear life direction of all his believers and disciples. Are you Jesus’ disciples? Then, what should you do? You live as the witnesses of his death and resurrection to the ends of the earth. We start from our own schools; we give ourselves fully to this mission, and after conquering our schools, we expand our territory to surrounding colleges and universities. We started from COD, then, we have spread to IIT, Elmhurst, Benedictine, and Lewis University. May God establish your servants and send them to pioneer 12 Colleges in Chicago land. From there, we will spread to the USA, and to the ends of the earth. May God bless our Acts Bible study this year!