Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The need to wait on The Holy Spirit

Acts 1:1-2 "The first account I composed, Theophilus, about all that Jesus began to do and teach, 2 until the day when He was taken up to heaven, after He had by the Holy Spirit given orders to the apostles whom He had chosen."

We find reference to the Holy Spirit some 40 times in the book of Acts.  In this post today we aim to understand the Spirit's purposes in leading us to wait.  Acts 1:1-2 tells us that "after He had by the Holy Spirit given orders to the apostles whom He had chosen". Acts 1:3-8 proceeds to tell us what Jesus told his apostles and followers to do from the time He ascended until the Holy Spirit came - namely wait. The word "wait" is a word we Christians often do not like to hear.  We often equate "waiting" with "inactivity".  However there are times in seasons of waiting that the Lord will pour into us insights that will empower us to do His bidding.  Notice the two purposes of waiting here in Acts 1:3-8

The Spirit has us to wait for the purposes of illumination. Acts 1:3
Notice what Acts 1:3 states - "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."  Christian conversion is a work wrought by the Spirit of God whereby He shows Jesus to you. The Christian life following conversion is all about the Spirit of God making Jesus known in you.  By the agency of the Holy Spirit, Jesus in His physical, post-resurrection state illuminated his chosen apostles to truths hither-to-fore unrealized by them.  

They got to know Jesus in His post-resurrection power and appearances and gained greater insight about God's kingdom.  The Old Covenant era had been legally drawn to a close at the cross, however what was legally accomplished at the cross needed to be applied in the realm of their hearts and minds by the Spirit. It would be in Acts 2 that the New Covenant age would be ushered in by the full-manifestation of the Spirit on the day of Pentecost. The disciples were getting a "down-load" from the post-resurrected Jesus of all they would need for the New Covenant church age that was dawning upon them.  

Waiting is prescribed by the Spirit to illuminate us.  1 Corinthians 2:12 "Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God". Ephesians 1:18 has Paul praying: "I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints." The Apostle John writes about the illuminating work of the Spirit in 1 John 2:27 "As for you, the anointing which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you abide in Him." Now notice a second reason why the Spirit has us to wait...

The Spirit has us to wait for purposes of empowerment. Acts 1:4-8
As the Spirit of God has the believer to be in a holding pattern, illumination to new truths or already known truths from the word is certainly one purpose.  However its not just about information but transformation. Acts 1:4-5 states - "Gathering 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; 5 for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” 

In those seasons of waiting there will be a time where we wonder about the purpose in the waiting.  I have heard many Christians and even myself say something to the effect: "well lets get this over with, I want to learn whatever God has to show me quickly so that I can then move forward once again." In waiting, God will illuminate, and then He will grow silent and do a deeper work of empowering.  

The disciples said to Jesus in Acts 1:6-7 "So when they had come together, they were asking Him, saying, “Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?” 7 He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority."  They were ready for another theology lesson.  However Jesus' whole point in gathering them by His Spirit was just for instruction, but empowerment.

From the time Jesus would ascend into the sky before their very eyes until the Holy Spirit would come in full power would be ten days.  Until He came, the disciples were to keep on waiting in the upper room. From what we can tell, their waiting time was not one of complete inactivity.  In that time God had them united in one mind and purpose to the point where they were continually praying. (Acts 1:12-14) Evidently Peter and the remaining disciples concluded by examination of the scriptures that a twelfth man needed to be chosen to replace the traitor Judas. (1:15-23) Such an activity led to further praying and further seeking until the answer was made known. (1:24-26)

Unless the disciples and early Christians had waited, they would not had been ready.  God "scooped them out" in that waiting time in order to fill them and empower them to do His bidding in Acts 2.  As you walk the rest of the way through the Book of Acts, we see the Apostles preaching nearly 20 sermons and multiple outpourings of the Spirit's power on his people.  Such seasons of empowerment were the only explanation as to why the church was able to advance as far as she had. 

Conclusion: It pays heed the Spirit's call to "wait"
Imagine what would had happened if those early Christians had ignored Jesus' instructions by the Spirit to "wait". There would had been no illumination, no empowerment. By the Spirit's empowerment, what began as a small gathering of 120 people in an upper room exploded into the movement and phenomenon called the early church. In a span of nearly 30 years, the Gospel had come to blanket Europe and a large portion of Asia minor by the end of the Book of Acts.  The Holy Spirit will lead you and I into those seasons of waiting not to put us on the shelf, but to position us to do greater and more effective works than we could ever think or imagine on our own. 

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