Texted Questions 8/21/11

We started something new at Southside last Sunday.  People will be able to text questions during the sermon and we will try and take some time at the end to respond.  Those questions we do not get to we will provide responses to here.  The goal is to ask questions related to the sermon, but it’s understandable that sometimes additional questions might come up while we gather to worship…

Q: RE: “gifts of the Holy Spirit for the purpose of mission:” Would Muslims having dream encounters with Christ before meeting Christian missionaries be of the [spiritual] gifts and miracles in present day times? 

A: Yes, I think so…There are, at least, a couple of passages that indicate God’s sovereignty in revealing Himself through dream encounters and other supernatural phenomenon: Acts 2:17 (quoted from Joel 2:28):

“It will come about after this
That I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind;
And your sons and daughters will prophesy,
Your old men will dream dreams,
Your young men will see visions.”

Rev 14:6 —And I saw another angel flying in midheaven, having an eternal gospel to preach to those who live on the earth, and to every nation and tribe and tongue and people.”

A well-received book, first published in 1980, titled, I Dared to Call Him Father: The True Story of a Woman’s Encounter with God by Bilquis Sheikh, describes the process of a Pakistani noblewoman coming to a belief in Christ, through dreams and reading the Bible on her own.

Q: Growing up dispensational, now piecing things together between the three views (dispensational, covenant, and new covenant) I struggle with the lack of distinction.  If so I can’t choose Him first and ask for the Spirit without the Spirit within me.  Will you have more info on this on the blog?

A: It sounds like you are asking about the sovereignty of God related to salvation… There are two more distinctions within Protestantism that we didn’t speak to last Sunday: Calvinism and Arminianism.  These theological frameworks have both overlap as well as fundamental disagreements.  At the heart of the differences is the human will.  Calvinists believe that the human will is incapable of choosing Christ – that we are dead in our sins (Col 2:13) until God’s sovereign electing grace breaks in.  While the crux of Arminianism is the assertion that God has bestowed upon humanity an unimpaired freedom of the will and that those who choose to respond in obedience to Christ’s offer of grace will find eternal salvation (Heb 5:8-9).

Q: I am a Christian and I listen to some ungodly [music] – swearing, [graphic] language, etc. but I don’t let it influence me at all.  Is it a sin to listen to the music?

A:  Great question!  The word music comes from the word muse. Muse means to think of or meditate on. The ancient philosopher Aristotle (384-322 BC) noted that, “emotions of any kind can be evoked by melody and rhythm; therefore music has the power to form character.”  So, it seems that music is quite a powerful tool.  One way to think of it is that music opens the soul (our intellect, will, and emotions) and speaks its “truth” into us. I would encourage you to be careful and thoughtful regarding what you fill your soul with.  Paul, in Philippians 4:8 says,

“Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.”

Here’s an interesting quote by Confucius (551-479 BC): “A wise man seeks by music to strengthen his soul: the thoughtless one uses it to stifle his fears.”

Finally, let me say that Christian meditation[1] is a bit of a lost art in the Church today.  This last Sunday we spoke of the ministry of the Holy Spirit.  Often times it’s meditation that releases the warm presence and power of God into and through our lives.  Consider these words from J.I. Packer in the Christian classic, Knowing God:  How can we turn our knowledge about God into knowledge of God?  The rule for doing this is demanding, but simple.  It is that we turn each truth that we learn about God into a matter for meditation before God, leading to prayer and praise to God…Meditation is a lost art today, a Christian people suffer grievously from their ignorance of the practice.  Meditation is the activity of calling to mind, and thinking over, and dwelling on, and applying to oneself, the various things that one knows about the works and ways and purposes and promises of God.  It is the activity of holy thought, consciously performed in the presence of God, under the eye of God, by the help of God, as a means of communion with God.  Its purpose is to clear one’s mental and spiritual vision of God, and to let His truth make its full and proper impact on ones mind and heart.[2]


[1] Psalm 4:4 – “Meditate in your heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah.”  Psalm 27:4 – “That I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, To behold the beauty of the LORD And to meditate in His temple.”

[2] J.I. Packer, Knowing God, InterVarsity Press 1973: 18-19.

The Person and Ministry of the Holy Spirit

I. INTRO

Today we are studying the Person and ministry of the Holy Spirit.  We want to establish an ongoing theological[1] dialogue (vs. discussion).

Picture a continuum:

  • On one end of the continuum is what John MacArthur has called, “Charismatic Chaos.”
  • On the other end of the continuum is 2 Tim 3:5 – holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power.”

We don’t want to base our theology and practice solely on what we’re against, but what we are for – what we can embrace theologically.

My personal core values (unapologetically): As an active intentional follower of Christ, as a husband, as a father, as a grandfather, as a pastor, as a friend/mentor/coach:

  1. Theological – The study (and subsequent worship) of God is our highest calling.
  2. Relational – We are to love God, one another, and “seek the welfare of our city.”
  3. Missional – We serve a missionary God and we are called to be on mission with Him.

What will be our guidelines for theological engagement at SBF?

We want to work with what the Bible clearly and plainly teaches (today we will, eventually, consider the biblical phrase: baptism of the Holy Spirit).

First, I would like to define some terms:

Three primary (and overlapping) theological camps in U.S. Protestantism:[2] Fundamentalism (“orthodoxy in confrontation with modernity” -James Davison Hunter), Evangelicalism ( Biblicism, Christocentrism, Crucicentrism, Conversionism, Activism),[3] and Liberalism (individualism, ecumenism, empericalism, skepticism, anthropological optimism, rationalism, ethicalism, social idealism, immanencism). Within Evangelicalism there is also three main camps (think of them as state boarders vs. national boarders…):

1.  Dispensationalism  –

Sees God as structuring His relationship with humankind through several stages of revelation. Each dispensation amounts to a “test” of humankind to be faithful to the particular revelation given at the time.

Dispe1nsationalism holds to a literal meaning behind all the figurative passages.

As a result of this literal interpretation of Scripture, dispensationalism holds to a distinction between Israel (even believing Israel) and the church. On this view, the promises made to Israel in the OT were not intended as prophecies about what God would do spiritually for the church, but will literally be fulfilled by Israel itself (largely in the millennium). For example, the promise of the land…

2.  Covenant Theology

Covenant theology believes that God has structured His relationship with humanity by covenants rather than dispensations. Old Covenants (OT) and the New Covenant (NT). These covenants are not new tests, but are rather differing administrations of the single, overarching covenant of grace.

Adam sinned and broke the initial, or old, covenant, and thereby subjected himself and all his descendants to the penalty for covenant-breaking — which is condemnation.

God in His mercy instituted the “covenant of grace,” through Jesus Christ, which is the promise of redemption and eternal life to those who would believe in the (coming) redeemer.

3.  New Covenant Theology

The essential difference between New Covenant Theology (NCT) and Covenant Theology (CT) concerns the Mosaic Law. CT holds that the Mosaic Law can be divided into three groups of laws: a) civil law, b) ceremonial law, and c) moral law. According to CT the ceremonial law and civil law are no longer in force because they were fulfilled in Jesus, but the moral law continues.

NCT argues that we cannot divide the law up in that way – so, the whole Mosaic Law is canceled by the coming of Christ (Christ Event) and is no longer binding on the believer.  The Mosaic Law has been replaced by the law of Christ.  Love God and love your neighbor as your self.  Proponents of NCT might say something like, “Love God with all your heart, mind, and soul – and do whatever you want…”  They may also quote 1 Cor 6:12: All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable.”

Do we have to choose one — Dispensational, Covenant, or New Covenant?? No, it’s just good to be aware of these distinctions as we build a theological framework.  Can we achieve doctrinal certainty?  Not completely on this side of eternity.  God and theology are much deeper and more mysterious that we could ever hope to grasp.

Having said that, the Five Solas are five Latin phrases (or slogans) that emerged from the Protestant Reformation that are intended to summarize the Reformers’ basic theological principles in contrast to certain teachings of the Roman Catholic Church of the day. “Sola” is Latin meaning “alone” or “only” and the corresponding phrases are:

  • Sola Fide, by faith alone.
  • Sola Scriptura, by Scripture alone.
  • Solus Christus, through Christ alone.
  • Sola Gratia, by grace alone.
  • Soli Deo Gloria, glory to God alone.

These solas will hold us in good stead as we refurbish our theological base during this transition season.  Can we move toward doctrinal clarity?  Yes!

4.  Eschatology — Greek éschato: last + -logy. 

We do not need to get caught-up in the rapture debate.

Mat 24:44 – “For this reason you also must be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will.”

As a church we will teach people to endure tribulation – and if Jesus come early, it won’t matter.

We will encourage our congregation to read Revelation devotionally.  Encounter the risen Christ in Rev 1…

5.  Holy Spirit Empowered Gifts

Cessationism – The spiritual gifts, primarily those listed in 1 Cor 12:4-11, have ceased.  The key verse is 1 Cor 13:10 —  but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away.”

1 Cor 14:1: “Pursue love, yet desire earnestly spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy.”

James 5:14-15: “Is anyone among you sick? Then he must call for the elders of the church and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; 15 and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him.”

While fear of a loss of control or emotionalism my drive some cessationists, their overwhelming desire is to protect the unique authority of the Bible and to protect the closed canon and not to have anything compete with Scripture in authority in our lives.

Continuationism – All the gifts are for today.  Consider  the context: 1 Cor 11, 12, 13, & 14…

II.  BODY

The Person of the Holy Spirit

“The Trinity: God eternally exists as three persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and each person is fully God, and there is one God.  -Wayne Grudem

“In no other subject is error more dangerous, or inquiry more laborious, or the discovery of truth more profitable.”  –Augustine, On The Trinity[4]

C.S. Lewis described the Trinity as a “dance” saying, “God is not a static thing…but a dynamic, pulsating activity, a life, almost…a kind of dance.”[5]

Tim Keller elaborates on this concept in the Reason for God in Chapter 14 – The Dance of God.[6]

The early leaders of the Greek NT church had a word for this – perichoresis.  Notice the root of our word ‘choreography’ within it. It means literally to “dance or flow around.”

The Father…Son…and Holy Spirit glorify each other…At the center of the universe, self-giving love, joy, delight – perfect fellowship is the dynamic currency of the Trinitarian life of God. The persons (not personalities) within the God-Head exalt, commune with, and defer to one another…

When early Greek Christians spoke of perichoresis in God they meant that each divine person harbors the others at the center of His being. In constant movement of overture and acceptance each person envelops and encircles the others.

When Jesus died for you He was, and is, inviting you into the dance…when we discern Jesus moving toward us and encircling us with infinite, self-giving love, we are invited to put our lives on a whole new foundation…

Since the Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity and is true and eternal God, then we must invoke, worship, and serve the blessed Holy Spirit, even as we do God the Father and God the Son.

Jesus taught us to do this in Mat 28:19 (The Great Commission): Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.”

Now let’s consider the phrase “baptized with the Holy Spirit.”

The Holy Spirit is to be more than a doctrine.  The Holy Spirit is to be experienced.

Gordon Fee wrote, God’s Empowering Presence: The Holy Spirit in the Letters of Paul.  It’s 992 pages; Fee highlights, analyzes, exegetes, and summarizes every mention of the Holy Spirit in Paul’s writings. Pneumatology (the study of the Holy Spirit).

His findings can be reduced to three words:  “God’s empowering presence.”

Fee concludes that, for Paul, the Holy Spirit was more real and evident than we can possibly imagine in our day and age, the vital and experienced presence of the Holy Spirit was an assumed reality.

How do we experience the Holy Spirit?  Gal 5 is about “walking in the Holy Spirit.”  Paul says in the first 12 verses that they have opted for legalism (or moralism).

Then in verses 13-14 Paul lays it out: “…but through love serve one another. 14 For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, “YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.”  Paul takes them back to the Great Commandment: Love God with your whole heart, soul, and mind – and love your neighbor as yourself.”

And then here is the evidence of the Holy Spirit…Paul calls it “fruit.”  “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control” (Gal 5:22-23).

The baptism of the Holy Spirit means to be immersed in the Holy Spirit.  No power, no Spirit.  (Holy Spirit power is different than will-power.)

Four Reasons Why It Is Appropriate To Expect To Experience the Holy Spirit Baptism:[7]

1.  Terminology — The very term “baptized in the Holy Spirit” implies an immersion in the life of the Spirit. (Refer to hand out…)

2.  Power, Boldness, and Confidence

Jesus says in Acts 1:5 and 8 that baptism in the Holy Spirit means, “You shall receive power…and you shall be my witnesses.”

This is an experience of holy boldness, confidence, and victory over sin.

A Christian without power is a Christian who needs a baptism in the Holy Spirit.

Eph 5:18 – we are to be continually and regularly “filled with the Holy Spirit.”  The verb filled has an imperative mood meaning it is a command and addresses the volition and the will.  Why?  Because we leak…

There is no reason to think that for Paul the baptism in the Holy Spirit was limited to the initial moment of conversion. And for sure in the book of Acts the baptism in the Holy Spirit is more than a subconscious divine act of regeneration—it certainly seems to be a conscious experience of power (Acts 1:8).

3.  The Testimony of Acts — In Acts the Holy Spirit is not a silent influence but an experienced power. Believers experienced the baptism in the Holy Spirit. They didn’t just believe it happened because an apostle said so.

4.  It Is The Result of Faith

The fourth reason we should stress the experience of baptism in the Holy Spirit is that in Acts the apostles teach that it is a result of faith.

In Acts 11:15–17 Peter reports how the Holy Spirit fell on Cornelius just as on the disciples at Pentecost. “As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell on them just as on us at the beginning. I remembered the word of the Lord, how he said, ‘John baptized in water, but you shall be baptized in the Holy Spirit.’ If then God gave the same gift to them as he gave to us, when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I should withstand God?” 

Notice that the gift of the Spirit, or baptism in the Holy Spirit, is preceded by faith. The NASB correctly says in v. 17 that God gave the Holy Spirit after they believed.

How to Receive the Gift of the Holy Spirit.[8]  Peter’s instructions for how to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit in Acts 2:38–41…

1.  The Word of God Must Be Heard.  Peter has preached that in God’s plan Jesus was crucified, raised, and exalted as Lord over all the universe and that forgiveness of sin and spiritual renewal can be had from Him. God’s Word has been heard.

2.  God Must Call People To Himself.

The sovereign God must call men and women to himself, or we will never come. Verse 39: “The promise is to you and to your children and to all that are far off, everyone to whom the Lord our God calls to him.”

No one comes to faith in Christ unless the Father draws him (John 6:44, 65). The proclaimed gospel is heard with conviction and power only when the effectual call of God lays hold on the hearers.

3.  We Must Receive the Word.

Third, we must “receive the word.” Verse 41: “So those who received his word were baptized.”

Receiving the Word means that it becomes part of us so that we trust the Christ it presents.

  • We trust His provision for your forgiveness.
  • We trust His path for your life.
  • We trust His power to help you obey.
  • And we trust His promises for your future.

Radical commitment to Christ always involves repentance—a turning away from your own self-wrought provisions, paths, powers, and promises. And when we really turn to Christ for new paths, power, we open yourself to the Holy Spirit, because it is by His Spirit that Christ guides and empowers.

4.  We Express Our Faith Through Water Baptism.

Finally, we give an open confession and expression of faith in the act of water baptism (full immersion – like with the Holy Spirit, do you want to be sprinkled or immersed?) in obedience to Jesus Christ.

Baptism was the universal experience of all Christians in the New Testament. There were no unbaptized Christians after Pentecost. Christ had commanded it (Matthew 28:18f.) and the church practiced it. So we do today.

III. CONCLUSION

Finally, let’s affirm and critique the Charismatic and Pentecostal Movements:

Affirmation:

The most positive thing about the moderate Charismatic/Pentecostal teaching is that it is theologically appropriate to stress the experiential reality of receiving the Holy Spirit.

When we read the NT honestly, we can’t help but notice a BIG difference from a lot of our contemporary Christian experience.

For them the Holy Spirit was a fact and reality of experience.  For many Christians today it is only a fact of doctrine.  The Charismatic renewal has something to teach us here.

Critique:

That the unity of their fellowship is too often based around their experience – not theology.

Whether Paul sought to bring encouragement or correction to the churches in the NT, he wrote theological essays… Paul generally spends the first half of his letters laying out theology and the second half he describes how to implement, or engage, the theology.

When Paul wanted to go to the church in Rome and develop them into a missional sending church (for his intention to travel to Spain), what did he write?  Theology.  Experience is the fruit of biblical theology, not the goal.  Our impatience tends to confuse fruit for goals (e.g., love, joy, peace, etc. cannot be pursued on their own accord, they are the “fruit” of the settled presence of Christ in our hearts/lives).

This brings me to my second critique:  The gifts of the Holy Spirit were given for the purpose of mission and not personal gratification.  One good description of the kingdom of God is:  speaking the words of Jesus and doing the works of Jesus.  Words and works help to make the invisible kingdom visible.

We serve a missionary God:

The Father sent the Son, the Son sent the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit sends you.

The ministry of the Holy Spirit is, basically, 4-fold: He 1) Saves, 2) Seals, 3) Sanctifies, and 4) Sends.

My prayer for us as a community of believers: “That we would experience Jesus Christ, the sovereign, risen, living, Lord of the universe; and that He would continue to become THE source and content of our real hope and joy.”

This coming Sunday:  Beatitudes.  Read Matthew 5:1-12.  See you then!!


[1] Theology means the study of God.

[2] Protestant Reformation – Martin Luther is regarded as the primary catalyst when he nailed his Ninety-Five Theses to the church door at Wittenberg for the in 1517.  (While Pope Leo was corrupt, the upshot of Luther’s theses was that followers of Christ are saved by grace alone, through faith alone.)

[3] Triperspectivalism (cut-and-paste this word and search for it on this blog and you will find an article).

[4] Book 1.3.5.

[5] Mere Christianity: 136.

[6] Pgs 214-221.

[7] Adapted from John Piper.

[8] Also adapted from John Piper.

Gospel-Shaped Power

By David Herring (June 26, 2011 @ Southside)

Acts 4:1-12 And as they were speaking to the people, the priests and the captain of the temple and the Sadducees came upon them, 2 greatly annoyed because they were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead. 3 And they arrested them and put them in custody until the next day, for it was already evening. 4 But many of those who had heard the word believed, and the number of the men came to about five thousand. 5 On the next day their rulers and elders and scribes gathered together in Jerusalem, 6 with Annas the high priest and Caiaphas and John and Alexander, and all who were of the high-priestly family. 7 And when they had set them in the midst, they inquired, “By what power or by what name did you do this?” 8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders, 9 if we are being examined today concerning a good deed done to a crippled man, by what means this man has been healed, 10 let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by him this man is standing before you well. 11 This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. 12 And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

Acts 4:13-37 Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus. 14 But seeing the man who was healed standing beside them, they had nothing to say in opposition. 15 But when they had commanded them to leave the council, they conferred with one another, 16 saying, “What shall we do with these men? For that a notable sign has been performed through them is evident to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it. 17 But in order that it may spread no further among the people, let us warn them to speak no more to anyone in this name.” 18 So they called them and charged them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. 19 But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, 20 for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.” 21 And when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding no way to punish them, because of the people, for all were praising God for what had happened. 22 For the man on whom this sign of healing was performed was more than forty years old. 23 When they were released, they went to their friends and reported what the chief priests and the elders had said to them. 24 And when they heard it, they lifted their voices together to God and said, “Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them, 25 who through the mouth of our father David, your servant, said by the Holy Spirit, “‘Why did the Gentiles rage, and the peoples plot in vain? 26 The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers were gathered together, against the Lord and against his Anointed’ — 27 for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, 28 to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place. 29 And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, 30 while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” 31 And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness. 32 Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common. 33 And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. 34 There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold 35 and laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need. 36 Thus Joseph, who was also called by the apostles Barnabas (which means son of encouragement), a Levite, a native of Cyprus, 37 sold a field that belonged to him and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet.

Acts – How does the Gospel get from Jerusalem to the rest of the world?

Our passage – the Gospel impacts Jerusalem on the day after Pentecost (5000 believe)

  1. Gospel silence is demanded
  2. Gospel boldness is requested
  3. Gospel power is displayed

Big Idea: The Gospel produces unnatural boldness and humility in believers.

1. Gospel silence is demanded – the Jewish authorities demand silence about the Gospel

4:13-22 Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus. 14 But seeing the man who was healed standing beside them, they had nothing to say in opposition. 15 But when they had commanded them to leave the council, they conferred with one another, 16 saying, “What shall we do with these men? For that a notable sign has been performed through them is evident to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it. 17 But in order that it may spread no further among the people, let us warn them to speak no more to anyone in this name.” 18 So they called them and charged them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. 19 But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, 20 for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.” 21 And when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding no way to punish them, because of the people, for all were praising God for what had happened. 22 For the man on whom this sign of healing was performed was more than forty years old.

– The boldness of the disciples astonishes the authorities

4:13 “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus.”

They had made the connection between their boldness and the relationship with Jesus.

– The product of the miracle silences the authorities

4:14 “But seeing the man who was healed standing beside them, they had nothing to say in opposition.”

– Their astonishment and their silence evaporates when they have a council

– What evaporates their bewilderment? They consider the influence these men and this miracle will have on the rest of the people – perhaps these men have more power and will use their power to displace us.

4:16-17 “What shall we do with these men? For that a notable sign has been performed through them is evident to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it. 17 But in order that it may spread no further among the people, let us warn them to speak no more to anyone in this name.”

Their greed for power blinded them to the meaning the miracle and the Gospel behind it.

– Peter identifies the authority issue.

4:19-20 But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, 20 for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.”

-Why would they fear the spread of such a message? If people came to believe in this Jesus, then they would probably overthrow those who crucified Him

– Therefore, they use all the authority they have to forbid the spreading of the Gospel

4:18 “So they called them and charged them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus.”

2. Gospel boldness is requested The disciples pray for boldness to speak about the Gospel

4:23-31 When they were released, they went to their friends and reported what the chief priests and the elders had said to them. 24 And when they heard it, they lifted their voices together to God and said, “Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them, 25 who through the mouth of our father David, your servant, said by the Holy Spirit, “‘Why did the Gentiles rage, and the peoples plot in vain? 26 The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers were gathered together, against the Lord and against his Anointed’ — 27 for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, 28 to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place. 29 And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, 30 while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” 31 And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness. 

– The disciples are released, so they go and report everything to their friends

-What is their response to this power move?  a bigger power move – prayer; although they have been threatened by the “temple” authorities, they appeal to the King who reigns in the true temple

– Notice the language of authority and power:

4:24-26 “Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them, 25 who through the mouth of our father David, your servant, said by the Holy Spirit, “‘Why did the Gentiles rage, and the peoples plot in vain? 26 The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers were gathered together, against the Lord and against his Anointed’

– They interpret this “power struggle” through Gospel lenses with this quote of Scripture

4:27-28 for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, 28 to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place.

– Notice their theology of predestination and God’s sovereignty doesn’t stifle their praying or evangelizing, it emboldens them to request what He promises

4:29-30 And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, 30 while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”

They don’t pray for vengeance against the temple authorities, they pray for boldness in Gospel witness because they expect God to continue to be merciful (“while you stretch out your hand to heal”).

– God grants their request:

4:31 And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.

3. Gospel power is displayed – The power of the Gospel is displayed in the radical generosity of believers.

4:32-37 Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common. 33 And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. 34 There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold 35 and laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need. 36 Thus Joseph, who was also called by the apostles Barnabas (which means son of encouragement), a Levite, a native of Cyprus, 37 sold a field that belonged to him and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet.

– Luke is doing 2 things in these 6 verses: summarizing and preparing us for the next development

– Now what would you expect after a moment like verse 4:31?  it seems like you would expect this next section to be exploding with more miracles, healings, and exorcisms

– What do you find instead? the miracle of generosity in believers

-Remember what they prayed for:

4:29-30 And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, 30 while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.

4:33 And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all.

– Their theology transforms their practice – we have something in common with everyone (our need of the Gospel)

– They met the urgent needs of their friends:

4:34 There was not a needy person among them

Religious authorities:

– Cowards (weasels)

– Selfish (prideful)

Believers:

– Courageous (lions)

– Generous (humble)

May God grant us the same courage and generosity because the Gospel produces unnatural boldness and humility in believers.

Gospel Shaped Prayer and Passion (Acts 1:12-14)

Series: Gospel Chronicles: How God Shapes and Builds the Church.  A Study in the Book of Acts Part 1

I.      INTRO

A.   Last week we spoke of some implicit core values that were seeded throughout the first two chapters that helped to shape the Jerusalem church as it launched (which we’ll look at next week).

  1. They valued the kingdom of God.
  2. They valued humility and prayer — and as a result they grabbed a hold of unity.
  3. They valued the work and ministry of the Holy Spirit.
  4. They valued contextualized[1] Gospel presentations.
  5. They valued honest, and straight-forward Gospel presentations
  6. They valued an outward missional focus.
  7. They valued discipleship in the context of authentic community.

B.    Today, in our study of the book of Acts, I’d like for us to consider how we can become people of passionate prayer.  Passion driven…fighting unholy passions or getting in touch with God’s holy passions.

C.    I am going to take a different approach than you have probably heard regarding this subject of prayer.

D.   CS Lewis[2] has this fascinating quote that speaks to the issue of passion:
“Indeed if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires [i.e., passions] not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased” (Weight of Glory pgs 25-26).

E.    Most teaching on prayer focuses on petitionary prayer. Today I would like to focus more on preparing our hearts for petitionary prayer.

F.    We will be looking at 4 passages today:  Acts 1:12-14; Lk 11:2-4; Rom 14:17; & Jer 29:7.

G.   Acts 1:12-14 –  

12Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day’s journey away.

13When they had entered the city, they went up to the upper room where they were staying; that is, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon the Zealot, and Judas the son of James.

14These all with one mind were continually devoting themselves to prayer, along with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers.

H.   I’d like to look closely at the phrase, from v. 14, continually devoting themselves to prayer.  (The NIV Bible says, They all joined together constantly in prayer.)  What  does this mean??  Our English Bibles do not do this phrase justice.

I.      There is one Greek word for the phrase, continually devoting themselves.  And that word is HOMOTHUMADON, which comes from two Greek words:

1.     HOMO – meaning same. homo – same; hetero – different

2.     THUMADON – Comes from the Gk word thumos and is often translated as rage or wrath.  There is, however, a noble thumos that burns for the good of others, for God’s will to be done on earth as in heaven, and thus it motivates people to act.  Wrath or rage anger is usually personal; born of envy, self-absorption, or vengence. Thumos is often translated as “spirited” or “passion.” It implies a focused indignation or fight.  (It is also the word we get our English trademarked word Thermos[3] from.)

HOMOTHMUDON is used 10 of its 12 NT occurrences in the Book of Acts.[4]

3.     So, our English translations certainly do not do justice to this volatile Greek word.  We can define HOMTHUMADON as: To be together, to become unified with a passionate fierceness and indignation – it’s a crying out for God’s purpose and order to be established.  (Remember, our battle is NOT against flesh and blood [Eph 6:12] – so the fieriness and indignation is not directed toward people – it speaks more of an attitude of desire.)

4.     Today we are going to ask the question – How does this happen?  How does this come about?

II.    BODY

A.   There are 2 holy passions I’d like for us to consider as we pursue passionate prayer for the upcoming season of fruitful ministry here at Southside…

A PASSION FOR GOD’S NAME TO BE GLORIFIED.

A PASSION TO SEEK THE WELFARE OF OUR CITY.

1.     A PASSION FOR GOD’S NAME TO BE GLORIFIED.

a.     Luke’s shorter version of the Lord’s Prayer

2And He said to them, “When you pray, say:
‘Father, hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come’” [Very important words concerning prayer!]

3‘Give us each day our daily bread.
4‘And forgive us our sins,
For we ourselves also forgive everyone who is indebted to us.
And lead us not into temptation.’

b.     The Lord’s Prayer is a template.  There is both form and spontaneity (like jazz).

c.     Notice how v. 2 is God-focused – or, upward focused and vs. 3-4 begin to teach us about petitionary prayer.  For our purpose today, I’d like to zero-in on vs. 2.

d.     V. 2a — Father, hallowed be Your name

  • We address God as Father (Mat – “Our Father” in a family context)
  • When we pray, we are to begin with God.  Passionate prayer begins with a concern for and a preoccupation with God.
  • When we pray, Hallowed Be Your Name we are both asking for and declaring that God’s reputation, God’s renown, and God’s fame would be set apart esteemed, and honored as holy, — That God’s Name would be worshiped, treasured, and loved.
  • We are speaking (declaring) this both to ourselves.
  • And to our city.  (This is what was going on in the upper room!)
  • May our thoughts and emotions that arise at the mention of Your Name be worthy of God.  We don’t want to treat God lightly, or flippantly.  We don’t want God’s name to be treated as common — or of little consequence.
  • But that God would be primary – and at the center of our hearts and minds.  We seek this for ourselves AND for the people in our city (and around the world).
  • **We don’t need to make bigger commitments regarding prayer, the real need is to believe truer and more lofty thoughts about God…

e.     2b — Your kingdom come…

  • Last week we defined the KOG as the “rule and reign of God.”
    • The Christ Event established the KOG on the earth and it will be consummated when Jesus returns.  (Jesus pulls eternity into the present at stakes it with the Cross.)
    • Meanwhile we have partial but growing access to eternity.  The presence and power of God has been unleashed across the earth. (2 Cor 5:2 [NIV] “Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling…”)
  • We position ourselves for passionate prayer by aligning ourselves with the God’s rule and reign in our lives.  This is also what was happening for those 10 days in the upper room (Acts 1:12-14)
  • When we pray: “Your Kingdom Come,” it’s a prayer that seeks to banish all the other modern day idols from our lives (primarily money, sex, and power).
  • Rom 14:17 – 17For the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking [temporal things], but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
    • Gospel fruit – Where God reigns He brings these things into our lives.
    • Righteousness – (It’s like being pregnant – you either are or you aren’t.)  Roms 5 clearly tells us that righteousness is a gift – SO if we are lacking a sense of right standing (before God) there is either poor theology of what God offers us in Jesus OR there is resistance on our part.
    • Peace — Prince of Peace does not rule and reign in your heart?
    • Joy – Perhaps other masters have taken dominion?
    • Christ alone by grace alone, through faith alone (Mat 7:22-23).
  • The primary objective of God’s kingdom is not to get us into heaven, but to get heaven into us… (There are still people to be saved from the wrath of hell.)

f.      So what am I saying about positioning ourselves for passionate prayer?

  • Passionate prayer begins with being God-focused, God-centered.  We don’t begin with our petitions, we begin with God.
  • We ELEVATE, WORSHIP, and GLORIFY the NAME of GOD. (Mission exists because worship doesn’t. –John Piper)
  • SURRENDER (ABANDON) your life to the KING.  God will take your sin (infection) and exchange (Luther) for right standing, peace, and joy.
  • Worship is not about the music – it’s, first and foremost, about the heart.
  • Baptism is important (Anabaptists – 16th century)

2.     A PASSION TO SEEK THE WELFARE OF OUR CITY.

a.     Jeremiah 29:7 — Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf; for in its welfare you will have welfare.’

b.     This verse helps us to refocus toward a KOG orientation.  Church is great, but is not the goal.  Church is the fruit of kingdom activity/ministry.  Kingdom ministry begins with seeking the welfare of the city.

c.     What is our city? In the Bible it was the regional hub.  Paul was urban centric – because he knew if he reached the cities he would reach the culture – and the countryside.  Historians estimate that by 300 AD somewhere between 1/3 to 1/2 the population of the Roman Empire was Christian.

d.     If you want to affect your world for Christ, seek the welfare of Manchester; if you want to affect the nations for Christ, seek the welfare of Manchester (the world is coming to Manchester, is it not?).

e.     The is Missional reorientation taking place in churches around the world.  We will be talking/praying about the more in the coming days – here it is in a nutshell…

  • How churches measure success is being redefined.  From “How do we get people to come?” to “How do we equip and mobilize our people to go?”

f.      You might be saying, “I’m already to busy just trying to keep my head above water!”  The missional question is, “How will we – or how do we – best represent Jesus Christ where God already has us?  Family, friends, neighborhoods, work, clubs, sports.”  Are you good news, bad news, or no news?

III.  CONCLUSION

A.    How do we become people of passionate prayer?  Ask God – individually and corporately – to grow IN us and then THROUGH us:

  1. A PASSION FOR GOD’S NAME TO BE GLORIFIED.
  2. A PASSION TO SEEK THE WELFARE OF OUR CITY.

B.    Next week: Gospel Shaped Mission (Acts 2)


[1] The message never changes, but the methods do.

[2] One of the most prolific and profound Christian authors of the 20th century.

[3] Genericized Trademarks – like Jacuzzi, Cellophane, Google – Thermos is a trademark name for a vacuum flask.

Gospel Shaped Core Values (Overview of Acts 1-2 developing some key core implicit values)

I.     INTRO – Sermon notes from May 8, 2011

A.  Diagnostic weekend – June 9th-12th.

B.  A team of about 7 people will be here to interview as many people from Southside as they can

C.  There will be an all-church meeting on Sun, June 12th where an initial oral report will be presented.

D.  We’ll be asking a lot of you that weekend to come in for an interview and then attend the all-church meeting to participate in the report.

E.  Why study Acts?

  1. Intro Acts Series: The Gospel Chronicles: How God Shapes and Builds the Church.  A Study in the Book of Acts Part 1 – Part 1 (Acts 1-9).
  2. We will be in Acts 1&2 for the next 3 weeks.
  3. In addition to the themes covered in the first few chapters of Acts (that Dana spoke about last week), I can think of at least 3 similarities between Acts 1 and SBF…
  • The Christ followers were a people in transition…as we’ll see, things didn’t turn out the way they expected.
  • In the midst of some anxiety and disappointment, they began to connect the dots and run with a vision they never expected.
  • A relatively few people (120) blossomed into a church that reached its full redemptive purpose.

F.    7 Refocusing questions that we will address here at Southside during this transition season:

  1. Who has God shaped us to be? (Core Values)
  2. Why do we exist as a church? (Biblical Mission)
  3. Where is God leading us in the future? (Fresh Vision)
  4. Whom has God called us to reach? (Ministry Focus)
  5. Which ministry model best facilitates our vision? (Building authentic community)
  6. What ministry goals can we believe God for?
  7. What is our plan for ministry for the next 2-3 years? (Strategic map)

G.    What’s a Core Value?  An enduring belief, a preferred choice.  Core values are the essence of a church’s identity.

  1. Those few, select distinctives that are non-negotiable.
  2. Where is Southside’s God-given potential for greatness?
  3. There is a difference between stated values and practiced values.  Stated values are often religious values that people/churches think they should
    have.  Practiced values are the unique distinctives that a church is actually doing.  Practiced values ask the question, “What are we currently doing that has the potential for greatness?”
  4. There is a difference between implicit values and explicit values.  Implicit values are implied values – while they may be clearly formed or articulated, they are not stated.  Explicit values are definitive and clearly stated.  Churches, with explicit, practiced values know who they are and who they aren’t.  All opportunities for ministry are evaluated in the light of God given values, mission, and vision.

H.   Today we will look at some of the practiced, implicit values that launched the church in Acts.  These implicit values are salted through the first 2 chapters.

I.   We can think of it like a football game – we don’t know what play they called in the huddle, but when they run the play we find out what play was called.

II.   BODY

A.    Implicit Values of Acts (Alternatively known as The Church I Would Join)

1.     They were Kingdom Focused — Acts 1:3 (NAS) “To these He also presented Himself alive, after His suffering, by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over a period of forty days, and speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God.”  

a.     The Kingdom of God – Quite simply is: The rule and reign of God.

  • The KOG is our destination.
  • Jesus established the Kingdom at his first coming and will consummate the Kingdom at his second coming. Jesus reaches into eternity and pulls it into the present – and stakes it into the ground with the Cross.  “We live in the presence of the future.”  “The already and the not yet.” 
  • As we live in the presence of the future there is paradox (seeming contradiction).  We are saved, but working out our salvation; we are sanctified, yet being sanctified; we are healed yet being healed. It’s both present and future
  • One of the most dynamic aspects of the present reality of the KOG, is that within it is the power that raised Jesus from the dead is made available to us.  The Greek word is dunamis – the same word we get “dynamite” from – and which we find in Acts 1:8. 
  • The Church is the fruit of kingdom activity.
  • The demands of the Kingdom are that we repent; we are to place God first, and follow him at any cost.

b.  Kingdom is a gospel word – along with the Cross and Grace that form a theological construct to help us see the under-girding of the gospel throughout the Bible from Genesis to Revelation:

  • The Cross – Speaks of the Atoning Work of Jesus Christ
    • This is shorthand for the “5-Fold Christ Event”: 1) Virgin Birth, 2) Miraculous Ministry, 3) Degrading Death, 4) Victorious Resurrection, 5) Missional Ascension of Jesus Christ. 
    • Apart from the atoning work of Christ, we would be forever guilty, ashamed, and condemned before God.
    • The way of God is suffering/humility – and then glory.  This is what baptism is supposed to be about – I will die to my previous life and come alive to God – and the gospel of Jesus Christ.
  • Grace – The unmerited favor of God.  Acceptance is given to us freely at God’s expense.  Martin Luther calls it, “the great exchange.”
    • It’s important that we understand there is common grace and saving grace happens when we take up residence within the KOG.  
    • Definition: All that God is, lavishly poured into you. 
    • Jonathan Edwards speaks of grace as, “the very Holy Ghost dwelling in the soul and acting there as a vital principle.”[1]

2.     They were Humble, Prayerful, & Unified“And when they had entered, they went up to the upper room, where they were staying…14These all with one mind were continually devoting themselves to prayer, along with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers.”   Acts 1:13, 14 (NAS)

a.     Humble prayers of confession and repentance before/with God and one another.

b.     Corporate prayer leading to intercession – reminding the Lord of His word/promises.

c.     Unity is a fruit, not a goal

3.     They were Holy Spirit Empowered

1:4Gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, “Which,” He said, “you heard of from Me; 5forJohn baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”

2:1,4And when the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place…4And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit…

a.     John 4:24 — God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.

b.     Eph 5:17-21 –  17So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.

18And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit, [we apparently need to be continually, or regularly, filled with the HS – Why?  Because we leak!]

19speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord;

20always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father;

21and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ.

    c.  Two points

  • (Jn) We are to seek to live in the healthy tension of spirit and truth.
  • (Eph) HS infilling occurs when our hearts are worshipful, when we are grateful, and we walk in mutual submission.

d.  John Piper: “Mission exists because worship doesn’t.” (Supremacy of God In Missions)

4.  They delivered Contextualized Gospel Presentations16No! What you see this morning was predicted centuries ago by the prophet Joel”   Acts 2:15,16 (TLB)

5.  They engaged in Honest/Straightforward Gospel Presentations – Acts 2:23, 36…

23this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death.

36“Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ–this Jesus whom you crucified.”

6.  They were Outward Focused (Missional)“Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.”   Acts 2:41 (NIV)

a.     There is a missional refocusing going on in the Church today.
b.     We are all called to be missionaries.  The Father sent the Son, the Son sent the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit send us.
c.     Changing metrics…

7.     They were Intentional About Discipleship and Authentic Community (They lived Community in the context of Discipleship) – Acts 2:42-47

And they were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43And everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles.  44And all those who had believed were together, and had all things in common;  45and they began selling their property and possessions, and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need.  46And day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, 47praising God, and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.

8.     As a result of living out these values – they were Fruitful

a.     “A sense of awe,” or a healthy fear of the Lord (v.43)

b.     Wonders & signs (v.43)

c.     Community (vs.44-47)

  • Identification
  • Equality
  • Unity
  • Enthusiastic joy
  • Praise
  • Favor with all the people
  • Salvation’s (v.47)

III. CONCLUSION

A.   What does it mean to be Gospel centered? (Or, Christ centered?)

B.    My experience is that the North American Church has lost, or squandered, much of the power – and the breadth of the Gospel.

  1. I have been reminded recently that the Gospel is not advice – it is news.  It is, in fact, the ultimate Good News. Sunday mornings are not the place to give advice.
  2. Gospel-centered ministry is rooted in remembrance.  On Sunday mornings we are to remind one another primarily of what Jesus Christ has done, not what we must do.

C.    Many of us have tended to view the Gospel a message that we responded to many years ago – and then moved on from.  Yet the Gospel is more like an ocean.  It is deep, and wide, and vast.

  1. We are called to view, and engage, and respond to the gospel with every passage of Scripture we read, or study.
  2. I would suggest that the essence of Christian maturity is when the Gospel itself gets worked in – and through our lives.
  3. Here is my goal for you – and for Southside: My aim is that you would experience Jesus (my goal for you is experiential) as the sovereign, risen, living, Lord of the universe – and as the source and the content of your real hope and joy. Two things are necessary:
  • God’s liberating truth
  • God’s liberating grace.

4.  What is the evidence of salvation?

  • Fruitfulness
  • What is your deepest desire?
  • True Christians have conflicted desires to be sure.  True Christians struggle, and sin, and mess up – to be sure. Yet, the deepest desire of the true Christian is for Jesus and the unfolding of the gospel.
  • Non-Christians – and you could say false Christians also have conflicted desires, yet their deepest desire is for themselves, or for ease, or comfort – something other than the person of Jesus Christ.  (The simplest definition of idolatry is making a good thing an ultimate thing.)

Next week: Persistent and Passionate Prayer (Acts 1: 13-14).


[1] Jonathan Edwards, TREATISE ON GRACE.