If you are boxer, you know that when you climb into the ring you will face someone who is trained to hurt you, whose goal is to knock you out and defeat you. But if you are a Christian, you also have an opponent whose intent is to destroy you; the devil desires to destroy your reputation, health, relationships, etc. Do we even understand the great extent of this battle? But even more important than understanding the battle we face is knowing the power that we have when we walk with God. God’s desire is to use us for miracles!
Even more important than understanding the battle we face is knowing the power that we have when we walk with God. God’s desire is to use us for miracles!
The Life, our new series on the book of Acts, is an account of how the world got turned upside down when people lived faithful to the influence of the Holy Spirit. This is the world-changing life that God intends for us, not a sub-par version that many Christians are content to live.
1. The 'what' of the book of Acts:
Acts is the fifth book of the New Testament, immediately following the four gospels
Luke, a doctor and the only Gentile New Testament author, wrote a detailed account of Jesus' life, a continuation of the gospel of Luke
30-year history of the Birth of the Christian Church
Bridge between the gospels and the rest of the New Testament
The four gospels present what Christ taught and modeled about THE LIFE
Acts - arrival and ministry of the Holy Spirit
Believers were first called Christians in Antioch. Acts 11:26
2. The 'who' of the book of Acts:
Four people - three apostles and one Holy Spirit
Peter in Jerusalem and Judea
Philip in Samaria
Paul - ends of the earth
and the Holy Spirit
Six epistles written during those journeys
3. The 'how' of Acts:
“But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Acts 1:8
For us, Jerusalem is San Diego, Judea is California, Samaria is the United States, and the ends of the earth are the ends of the earth! Jesus intends his followers to be His witnesses everywhere!
Witness - μάρτυς – Martoos (This is where we get the word martyr. Being a witness doesn’t mean just going to church on Sundays, but laying down your life for Christ.)
a. A witness has and shares experiential knowledge of God.
A witness tells others about his/her experiences. If you love football and your favorite team is in the Super Bowl and you have front row seats, and your team wins the game, there is no way that you would have nothing to talk about when someone brings up the topic. You would be excited, changed, amazed. Similarly, there is no way that you can have nothing to say about your experiences with the God of the universe if He has truly has consumed your life!
Tell someone what God has done in your life. How has He transformed YOU? Don’t lock him into his room and only let Him out while you sit in church. He wants the keys to every area of your life.
b. A witness must deny self to make room for their experiential knowledge.
If you want to have a God experience, you have to say “no” to yourself. Walking with God is not about you, it’s about Him. Move yourself out of the way to make room for all of Him. This is why fasting is an act of self-denial – so that you can see more clearly God’s will by putting yours to the side.
c. A witness will suffer persecution for sharing that knowledge. Acts 22:20, Revelation 2:13, Revelation 17:6
Christ’s witnesses will be persecuted. All through the book of Acts, they were falsely accused, arrested, beaten, stoned, and even murdered, but what they received in the end was worth it all.
When you deny yourself, it is like all of a sudden you can see that you don’t need the things you though you needed. You have clarity about your relationships. You see the pain of those who have hurt you and can develop the compassion to pray for them. Persecution opens up a new, more godly perspective.
d. The testimony of the witness brings eternal blessing to the kingdom of God.
The Bible is full of numbers because God chooses to use numbers to give meaning to events. Measurements are important. We can even find a vast measurement of love, knowing that God gave His ONE and only Son for us. Jesus tells us more about God’s love by saying that a man had 100 sheep and lost 1, so he left the 99 to look for 1. Doesn’t that show us how important we are to God?
In Acts, numbers pop up in many places to show us the vast numbers of people who were being saved. (See Acts 2:41 and 4:4). Why is this important? It reveals the power and persuasion of the gospel and the Holy Spirit to transform lives. If you are a Christ follower, then you have access to this kind of radical power, too. How will your testimony bring about radical worldly change?