(Acts 1:2b)

Taught by:  Carolyn Sissom

Sunday, March 30, 2008

1:2:  ‘Until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen.”

1:13:  “  And when they were come in, they went up into an upper room, where abode both Peter and James, and John and Andrew, Philip, and Thomas, Bartholomew, and Matthew, James the son of Alphaus and Simon Zelotes and Judas the brother of James.”

“In his first volume (the Gospel) Luke tells of Jesus’ earthly ministry from His birth to His ascension.  His second volume, The Book of Acts, continues the history of Jesus after His ascension and carries it on for some thirty years.  The experiences of the apostles are an extension of Jesus’ own ministry.”  In the 80’s, I taught the Book of Acts to a group of people.  We were following week after week the heroic exploits of Paul.  The Lord spoke to me.  He said, “Be careful that the people do not worship Paul.”

“Luke confines himself to facts.  He does no preaching.  He doesn’t have to.  The facts speak eloquently by themselves.  If the church was not a supernatural movement, there is no way to account for Christianity.  The church had no wealth in those early days, certainly no military might.  There was no political power behind it.  When you think of the unfavorable conditions under which it developed, you wonder how it ever got started.  Its founder was a discredited Jew and His followers were insignificant nobodies. 

But there was something unique about it.  Those who got involved were utterly transformed.  Christianity not only survived, but spread because people were changed as they came in contact with the unseen Christ.  We read how two of these transformed nobodies astonished those who challenged them :”( C.S. Lovett)

Acts 4:13:  “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marveled, and they took knowledge of them that they had been with Jesus.”

“What happened to those two fishermen to make them so outstanding?  At Pentecost, the disciples were transformed by the outpouring of the Holy Ghost.  It was Pentecost that made ordinary people supernatural agents for Christ on earth.  The Book of Acts is primarily the story of the ministry of Peter and Paul.  Others are mentioned, but these are the heroes.  No doubt they should be taken as representative of the rest.  We have the Gospel of Matthew and John as well as the Book of Revelation and the stories of the twelve. 

The first twelve chapters feature the apostle Peter, while the last sixteen focus on the ministry of the apostle Paul to the Gentiles.  Luke closes his history with Paul still in prison enjoying unhindered freedom to preach the Gospel.  One thing is clear, Christianity is not a movement carried on in memory of a dead founder, but one which is energized by His presence as its LIVING LEADER. (C.S. Lovett)

The disciples were gathered in a prayer meeting in Acts 1:14, “And they continued in one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren.”

The disciples were going to go into the building business—the church building business.  That didn’t mean they were to go around building churches.  I don’t recall that a single one of them mentioned the building fund.  He called the twelve for the building of one church, His body.  He told them about it, though they didn’t realize the 3-1/2 years He spent with them was to get them ready for that particular job.  Although He did tell them:

Matthew 16: 18, 19:  “And I say unto you that you are Peter and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of hell shall not overpower it.  I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you shall bind on earth shall have already been bound in heaven, and whatever you shall loose on earth shall have already been loosed in heaven.”

When the Word says, “The apostles whom He had chosen”.  They were not selected as buddies or pals to keep the Lord company.  He had this job for them.  They were going to build the church—with Him!

Acts 1: 1-2:  The former book have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach.  Until the day in which he was taken up after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen.

Luke 24:  49-53:   “And behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you; but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until you be endued with power from on high.  And he led them out as far as to Bethany, and he lifted up his hands and blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven.  And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them. And they worshipped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy:  And were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God.  Amen.”

The last part of Luke pictures the disciples joyously returning from the ascension to await the coming of the Holy Ghost.  With the Ascension common to Luke and Acts, it becomes the turning point where the gospel ends and the Acts of the Apostles begin.  To understand rightly the reality of the Spirit realm, we must accept the ascension.  All the supernatural Acts of the Holy Ghost through the Apostles in the Book of Acts originates in the Spirit realm as the Holy Ghost carries out His Kingdom on earth as it is in Heaven. 

The word says, “He commanded them”.  Let us rejoice that they obeyed Him.

Acts3-5:  To whom also He showed himself alive after His passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.  And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which saith he, ye have heard of me.  For John truly baptized with water; but you shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.”

He showed Himself alive, not some shadowy figure having séances.  He returned in the same body and allowed them to examine it in broad daylight.  On one occasion He was seen by more than 500 people (1 Cor. 15:6).  He ate and drank with them and even held teaching sessions in which they were allowed to question Him about the Kingdom.  These appearances provided the apostles with immovable conviction.  They never again questioned the fact of His resurrection.  Instead, it became the basis of the “Good News” they proclaimed. 

God chose for the earthly church to start at Jerusalem.  In the very place where His Son was so hated, the Savior’s grace was to flood forth.  In the very city where He was despised, His glory was to be displayed in power by the conversion of thousands and by signs and wonders.  The disciple’s commission read…”Beginning at Jerusalem… (Luke 24:47)  Jesus’ plan called for the gospel to go forth from Jerusalem, thence to the uttermost parts of the earth.  From Jerusalem, the Lord’s spirit was to proceed like a torrent from heaven. 

His words about spirit-baptism cause their minds to leap once again to thoughts of political power.  Again they bring up the idea of Israel being restored as the ruling world power per O.T. promises.  For 3-/12 years Jesus tried to shift their minds from a political kingdom to His spiritual kingdom which is “not of this world”.  (John 18:36)

(8) “You shall receive power after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and you shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.”

If it’s power they want, its power they’ll get—but not the kind they think.  Instead of political power that would see Israel exalted as the empress of the world, they are going to receive a supernatural power that is “out of this world.”  They will have the ability in Christ to do things in the spirit-realm.  They are going to be able to release captives from Satan’s kingdom and transplant them in to Christ’s. (Col. 1:13).  No military force can do that.  It can’t capture the minds of men, let alone their hearts.  Ah, but spiritual power is unseen and works by faith.  The disciples forgot all about political power once they tasted the spiritual power of Pentecost.

The Lord has actually given them the “keys of the kingdom,” and He limits His action to their obedience (Matt. 16:18).  The disciples will be backed by Jesus’ power as they go into the world.

The Power of the Holy Ghost is for those who are sent and faithfully witness.  To those, He will give the Witness of the Holy Ghost in power.

(9)And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.”

The cloud is the sign of the Son of Man.  (Matt. 24:30):  “And then shall appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven; and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.”

We have three great events in the New Testament connected with Jesus and the Cloud:

  1. His transfiguration where He talked with Moses and Elijah.  (Matt. 17:5)
  2. His ascension described here.
  3. When he comes again in glory…”Mk. 13:26:  You shall see the Son of Man coming in clouds with power and great glory.”

I believe this is the same Shekinah Cloud of glory which hovered over the tabernacle in the days of Moses and indicated God’s presence with His people (Ex. 40:34).  This is the Glory Cloud in the Tabernacle of Jesus Christ.  The Holy Ghost is the Lord Jesus’ Tabernacle in a people.

(10)    “And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel;  Which also said, ‘You men of Galilee why stand you gazing up into heaven?  This same Jesus, which is taken from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as you have seen him go into heaven.”

1.  These angels confirmed that Jesus did actually go into heaven.

2.  They also announced that He will one day return in exactly the same manner.

The disciples already had His promise of a return via the Holy Ghost in them, but this was different. The angels speak of another physical return of the Lord.  We can assume these were the same two angels who rolled the stone from His tomb and spoke to Mary.  It is what they are saying that counts, not who they were.  Is it not supposed to be that way with all of God’s messengers even today.

These angels give us a lot to go on.  They tell us the glorious return of Christ will be visible, unexpected, and the same Jesus is to return.  The plural clouds will be clouds of saints (1 Thess. 3:13, Heb. 12:1).

If the ascent of the humiliated Christ was spectacular, the return of the glorified Christ will be breath-taking.

12-13:”Then they returned unto Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is from Jerusalem a Sabbath day’s journey.  And when they were come in, they went up into an upper room which abode both Peter and James, and John, and Andrew, Philip, and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus ,and  Simon Zelotes, and Judas the brother of James.”

The prayer meeting continues for some days.  Things are a little too quiet for Peter.  He’s not one to sit around for long without action.  A little over 40-days ago he denied the Lord.  The Master graciously healed the trouble between them that morning on the beach.  Yet even that same morning, Jesus had to rebuke him for poking his nose into someone else’s business (John21:22).  Now he’s at it again.  He seizes the initiative, insisting the group conduct a little business while waiting for the Lord to come and take charge of His church.  Peter is going to help the Lord out.  Remember, he still has only his old nature.  As yet, he has not been born of the Spirit.  He decides to conduct church business, but there is no church yet.  It will not be born until the Holy Ghost comes.  Even so, he will propose the group fill the vacancy among the twelve apostles caused by Judas’ defection.   Here the Apostles are trying to choose the Twelfth Apostle.  Remember, it is Jesus Christ who chose His Apostles.  He is the one who chose Paul to be the twelfth.  The Lord Jesus Christ still chooses His Apostles.

Carolyn Sissom, Pastor

Eastgate Ministries, Inc.

Scripture is quoted from King James Version, Text is from Lovett’s Lights on Acts by C.S. Lovett.

Comments are my own.

Next Week we will continue our Study of Exodus 

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