The Church: Evangelism Acts 1:1-8 Introduction: Scripture Focus Key Verse TDM Competency Overview Theme

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1 The Church: Evangelism Acts 1:1-8 Introduction: This is the introductory lesson in the series, The Doctrine of the Church. Throughout these lessons we will exam the church from the perspective of its mission, Master, mandates and methods. Every generation seems to go through a period in which they correct some of the doctrinal detours the previous generation may have erroneously taken. It is the hope that these lessons will cause us to correct our own detours and return to the simplicity and yet profound power and mission that Christ intends for His church. It is clear from Acts that the church is to be about three primary missions. First, the church is to exalt the Savior in all things. Second, the church is to evangelize the lost in all places. Third, the church is to edify believers with all Scripture. However, Acts is very narrow in its parameters for what is considered biblical edification or discipleship as well as very narrow in what is considered biblical evangelism. As we walk through Acts and other books of the New Testament, it will require that many of us edit down our definitions of evangelism and discipleship in order to purely align with Scripture. Bible Scholar Robert Saucy examines the misguided uses of the term church. He observes, It s meaning has extended to various contemporary uses: 1. A place of meeting, 2. A local organization of believers. 3. The universal body of believers. 4. A particular denomination, for example, the Lutheran Church, and 5. An organization of believers related to a particular area or nation, for example, the Church of England (Robert Saucy, The Church in God s Program, 11). In Greek culture the term for church was ekklesia, which was used to describe the gathering of an assembly for a specific purpose, normally for legistlative matters. Although the word, in its base form, means the called out ones, it was never used in that manner in Greek culture nor in the New Testament. Church was a term used to describe what the church did as they gathered. They gathered to worship, pray, study the Word and prepare to make disciples of all the nations. Church was not used to describe a meeting place (no buildings were built for the church to gather until the fourth century). The people met in homes. Church was a word used to describe believers uniting to live out the commands of Scripture. Scripture Focus Acts 1:1-8 Key Verse Acts 1:8 TDM Competency Biblical Proclaiming: Develop a proficient and passionate witness manifest in all personal relationships, life activities, and vocational endeavors. Overview Jesus prepares His followers for the coming of the Holy Spirit and the mission to which they were to give their all to carry out. He promises them power and then commands them to live, willing to die for their faith, for the sole purpose of making disciples of all the nations. Theme The indwelling of the Holy Spirit empowers all believers to go all the way to death in order to proclaim the gospel. 1

2 Desired Learner Response [Aiming at the Heart for Life Transformation] To repent of neglecting to carry out the mission that God called them to and for which the Holy Spirit indwelt them. To boldly proclaim the gospel in the normal course of all they do each day. To intentionally go places for the purpose of getting the gospel to all the nations. Outline I. Previous Presentation of Proof (vv. 1-3) II. The Promise of Power for the Mission (vv. 4-8) Lesson I. Previous Presentation of Proof (vv. 1-3) v. 1- Luke wrote Acts as a continuation of his Gospel. Acts defines the ministry of the Holy Spirit in the life of the church. The third person in the Trinity, being God Himself, is revealed in Acts as the One who establishes, equips and energizes the church. Do and Teach Luke gave a reminder that served as a motivating truth for these believers to serve and worship. Jesus not only taught truth, He lived truth. All believers in all generations are defined by those that are transformed by the truth and live according to the truth. Biblical living requires a constant examination of our lives with the Word of God. A major theme in Acts is that believers manage all of life by the mandates of Scripture. Further, this emphasis on teaching and doing carries throughout Acts. There is no gospel apart from words. We cannot simply believe and live godly lives as a means of proclaiming the gospel. Words must be spoken in order for the gospel to be proclaimed and for the nations to be saved. Ask: Why is it necessary to use words in order to fulfill the command of Christ to make disciples of all the nations? Note that living godly is needed, but the gospel was given by Christ in words, so speaking words is necessary in order to truly share the gospel. v. 2 See Matthew 28:19; Luke 24:26ff. Jesus ministry of teaching continued until His ascension back to the right hand of the Father. Chosen Luke places emphasis on the initiative of God in coming to the world to seek and save the lost. Further, that this word is included in the context of this verse demonstrates that God saves for a purpose, namely that all believers will be about His command to make disciples. Acts means to practice. This book has rightly been called the practical theology of the New Testament. We certainly agree that all theology is practical, but Acts clearly connects that which God made known of Himself and that which we as believers are to do as a result of that revelation. Particularly, Acts focuses on believers proclaiming the gospel to all people based exclusively on the worthiness of God to be proclaimed. Ask: Why do we share the gospel? Answer: Because God took the initiative (He chose) to come to us, and die in our place on the cross so that we could be saved from His wrath, and thus He is worthy of our lips telling that story. Ask: Did Christ choose to give you life so that you could do what you are doing? Note that the only way to answer that question is to point to specific verses of Scripture to which we are consistently obedient. Encourage your class to examine all their life considering whether or not all they do is honoring the purpose for which Christ took the initiative and saved them. v. 3 So that no legitimate doubt would come into the story of Jesus death, burial and resurrection, He showed Himself to many people after His resurrection. Take time and simply read I Corinthians 15:1-8 and note that the infallible proofs included many people in different places and times seeing Jesus physically alive. Note that during the 40 days between the resurrection and the ascension, Jesus continues to proclaim the gospel, thus establishing the pattern for all believers in all ages. His ministry of proclamation before and after the cross was imitated by believers 2

3 throughout the early church and should continue to be the practice of all believers. To do what Jesus did is to, at its core, proclaim the gospel. Ask: Why was it so important for the disciples to know that Jesus had risen from the dead? Emphasize that the resurrection demonstrated that all Jesus promised and proclaimed was true. Further, a risen Savior is the only kind that is worthy of our praise to God and proclamation to all the nations. II. The Promise of Power for the Mission (vv. 4-8) v. 4 Time with Jesus and knowledge they had gained from His teachings may have caused them to think that they were ready on their own power, but it would only be by the power of the Holy Spirit that their knowledge and experiences with Jesus would be effective. It must have been difficult for this group of eager men to wait on the Holy Spirit, but Jesus taught that the ministry of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer was not just important, it was absolutely necessary to do anything Jesus commanded. Psalm 127:1 is a great commentary on this verse as it reveals the vanity of all of life and work apart from the hand of God. Jesus first gave the disciples this command in Luke 24:49 and repeats it here. Promise of the Father John 14:16-17 are referenced in this phrase. God promised another which is a word that promised that the Holy Spirit would be another of the same kind as Jesus. He is the third person in the Trinity so just as much God as the Father and the Son. Three persons in one God is a mystery yet again revealed as truth in Scripture. Ask: What does this verse teach us about experience, training, education and knowledge? Note that it teaches believers that none of that is of any value apart from the Holy Spirit, but is used by the Holy Spirit in the life of a submissive believer. v. 5 I Corinthians 12:13 corrects any misconceptions related to the baptism of the Holy Spirit. The third lesson in this series deals more in-depth with this work of God. For now, Jesus is emphasizing that the immersion of a person by water served as a good picture of that which the Holy Spirit would do. In the life of every believer and at the moment of salvation the Holy Spirit comes and dwells in the heart. He also immerses every believer, at the moment of salvation, into the body of Christ. Just as a person is fully immersed in water baptism, so too is a person fully immersed into the body of Christ in Spirit baptism. Such a work is the sole means by which God empowers the believer to make disciples of all nations. The manner in which the Spirit comes in Acts 2:1-4 does not establish precedence for how He comes in the hearts of all believers of all time. Not all believers have a Pentecost experience of the Spirit, but all believers are indwelt by the Spirit and baptized by the Spirit at the moment of salvation. To say all believers must have an Acts 2 type experience would be synonymous with saying that in order to be a true American one must experience the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Just as people can become American citizens without the experience of being at the signing of the Declaration, so too are believers indwelt and baptized by the Spirit without experiencing all that the believers experienced in Acts 2. The church, in the New Testament, is not an organization that one joins, but rather a living body into which one is immersed by the Holy Spirit at the moment of conversion. The New Testament also refers to the filling of the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18). The filling of the Spirit is better described as the stirring up of the Spirit within the heart of the believer as the believer yields himself to the Lord. The following chart, provided by Dr. Daniel Akin, is a helpful tool in explaining the difference 3

4 between the Baptism of the Spirit and the Filling of the Spirit. v. 6 The disciples question reveals that they still had a very Jewish mindset regarding the purpose of the Messiah. Jews looked for a Messiah that would come, overthrow Rome and establish the Kingdom of God on earth. Although prophecies are numerous pointing to the eternal Kingdom of God, the New Heaven and New Earth from which Christ will rule and reign for all eternity is yet to come. As the disciples would soon see, the movement of God at the coming of the Holy Spirit would far exceed their ideas of a messianic kingdom on earth. God would do far beyond what they ever considered possible. Ask: What causes us to seek to know that which is beyond what God has simply commanded us in His Word to do? Share with your class that it is a sinful desire that seeks to know, control or manage more than what God has called us to in His Word. Note that we often have a tendency to try to control or over organize what God is doing. Such a desire is sinful and should be repented of. Jesus was not calling His followers to be a part of an earthly kingdom in which they would serve as administrators and rulers. Rather, He was calling them to build His Kingdom through the proclamation of the gospel, which for most of them would result in their own death. This same sinful tendency is a temptation for many in the church today. The desire for control, knowledge of all that is happening and the development of policies that man can control seem to hinder many churches. We often see man-made policies become a hindrance rather than a help to the work of the gospel; possessions and property take financial and man-power resources away from the gospel; people become secondary and the protection of the man-made kingdom becomes the priority, all to the neglect of the simple commission of Jesus to make disciples of all the nations. The disciples were possibly very near following these temptations, but Jesus quickly rebukes and corrects them. v. 7 Jesus corrects them for even asking the question. He was preparing them for the greatest mission in the world. That they stay free from any other concerns was paramount to the mission. Paul reiterated this to Timothy in II Timothy 2:4. Jesus gives them a theological answer to their practical question. He refers them to the character and nature of God who alone knows all things and is in control of all things. It was sinful for them to try to manage, control or question the timing of God s plan, especially when they had been given specific responsibilities as God s redeemed. 4

5 It is noteworthy to comment briefly on the time references in verses 6 and 7. The disciples were eager for the coming kingdom to be inaugurated. Jesus tells them that they should not concern themselves with time, but should aggressively pursue the ministry of the gospel to which God had commissioned them. Although Jesus could return at any moment, such a time rush is not necessary for a believer to aggressively pursue souls with the gospel. The fact that God has commanded that as we go we make disciples should be sufficient for men and women that love Jesus. Ask: Based on verse 7 what are some things in our lives that may be a distraction from the proclamation of the gospel? Ask: What should we do with these things? Remind your class that true repentance is not first getting rid of the distractions but rather repenting of the sinful heart s desire that first led to those distractions becoming a part of our lives. Such a prayer of repentance is then followed by the removal of the distractions. v. 8 Refocusing the disciples on their God-assigned mission, Jesus reminds them that in their current state they are powerless. But you shall is a promise but also an evaluation of their current condition. They had walked with Jesus, heard Him teach, seen His miracles, and performed great works in His name; but without the permanent indwelling of the Spirit of God, they could do nothing. All education and experiences are fully useless in kingdom work without the presence of the Holy Spirit. power The word, contrary to many common contemporary interpretations, did not mean dynamite power. Dynamite had not yet been developed in the first century, so we cannot assign a meaning to the word that would have been fully unfamiliar to the original audience. Jesus was simply contrasting their current powerless state with that which would occur at the coming of the Holy Spirit. All that they lacked to carry out the work of the gospel would be fully supplied by the indwelling of the Spirit. Ask: How do you respond to a person that says, I do not have the gift of evangelism so I really can t witness? Note that according to this verse there is one of two options. 1. They are either lost and without the Holy Spirit for all believers have the Holy Spirit who empowers us all to witness. 2. They are believers in rebellion against God who promised to give them all they need to witness. You should encourage your class to ask which one of these two options describes them. witnesses Jesus gives an incredible promise to these men. The word witness would have been translated in the first century as martyr. We often have a tendency to focus only on the promises of God that seem to make our lives better or happier. But this word carries an equally great promise of God. When the Holy Spirit enters the heart of a believer at salvation, He gives that believer all he needs to die for the cause of Christ. Jesus gave no picture of wealth, power, influence or luxury to those that would follow Him. He gave a beautiful promise that God would give all of us all that is necessary to preach the gospel all the way to death. The four regions of gospel proclamation were intended to convey the idea of Matthew 28:19. Jerusalem conveyed the idea of the here and now. Share the gospel right where you already live. Judea included all of the Davidic Kingdom coastal territories, where most people were familiar with the Old Testament and deeply devoted to Judaism. Samaria was in that same region but contained people that had no knowledge of God s law, prophecies or promise of a Savior. End of the earth was a common phrase that referred to places that were unknown to man but known by God. These geographical areas serve not only as an outline for the progressive spread of the gospel throughout Acts, but also as a specific mandate for all believers in all times to take the gospel where you are and where you have never been. Wherever we go and as we go we go with the mission to make disciples. The verse carries the idea of every where you regularly go about your business and 5

6 places you will need to plan to go. Regardless of where you are, as a Spirit-filled believer, you are there for the God-ordained purpose of spreading the gospel. Instruct: List all the places you went on any given day last week. Beside each place write a person s name or description of that person with whom you did not share the gospel. Trust God this week by sharing with all people as you go and wherever you go. 6

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