Act 08:26-40 | How to Cooperate with the Holy Spirit

Acts 8:26-40

1.We must be surrendered to the opportunities of the Spirit—vs.. 26,39

2.We must secure the objective of the Spirit—vs. 35

3.We must be swift to obey the Spirit—vs.. 29,30    (1)because the time is right    (2)because the time is short

 

©Ron Dunn, LifeStyle Ministries, 2001

Act 02 | The Holy Spirit and the Christian

Acts 2

I. The Holy Spirit is the Abiding Possession of the Christian. Vs. 38, “you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

II. The Holy Spirit is the Activating Principle of the Christian.  His coming changed the disciples and sent them into the world to witness of Christ.

III. The Holy Spirit is the Authenticating Presence of the Christian.

In verses 32 and 33, Peter makes it clear that the outpouring of the Spirit was infallible proof that Jesus had been exalted and that their message was true.  It is the manifestation of the Spirit in our lives that authenticates our message.

IV. The Holy Spirit is the Attracting Power of the Christian.

Estimates of how many people had gathered  at Jerusalem on that day range from one million to three million.   Imagine—out of that vast, seething ocean of people, a small band of 120 nobodies got all the attention.

V.  The Holy Spirit is to be the Acknowledged Person in the life of the Christian.  “This is that.”

 

©Ron Dunn, LifeStyle Ministries, 2001

 

Act 11:19-30 | Worthy of the Name

Text: Acts 11:19-30

The last sentence in verse 26 says, “And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.” Has anybody ever called you a Christian? I know that you call yourself a Christian and I know that those who know of your affiliation with the church call you a Christian, but has anybody on the outside who did not know you, just on the basis of observation and detection, ever called you a Christian? It is interesting to note that this term “Christian” that we use so frequently and familiarly to describe ourselves is found only three times in the Bible and in effect it is never really used by Christians themselves with one exception. It is found here in Acts 11 and found again in Acts 26 where Paul is preaching before Agrippa and Agrippa says “…almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.” Then the other time it is found is in I Peter 4 and Peter there is speaking from the viewpoint of the world and he says “if any suffer as a Christian, he does well.”

We use that name all the time. It is a common name to us and yet it is found only three times in the Bible. The fact of the matter is that we don’t have any record outside of Peter’s reference and there I would say he is speaking from the viewpoint of the world, talking about persecution. We don’t have any record in the Bible of Christians calling one another Christians.

The name Christian did not originate with Christians. It didn’t even originate with God. It originated with the residents of Antioch. It was not necessarily a complimentary term but rather a label to distinguish these strangers from everybody else. They had migrated down from Jerusalem and were different in many ways and you have to label people. We have to be able to identify folks and so we attach labels to them. So they called them Christians. It was not a name that the Christians themselves took upon themselves. They called themselves “believers”, “disciples” or “followers of the way.” It wasn’t until after the first century that the term Christian came to be commonly used to describe the followers of Jesus Christ.

Now the word translated “called” is extremely interesting because it is not the usual word you find in the New Testament. Again and again you will read the phrases “we are the called of God”, “we need to live up to our calling” and “God has called us”. Well, that word always refers to the effective call of God to salvation but it is not at all the word that is used here. When it says “they were called Christians”, it is a word that originally meant, “I conduct my public business” and it referred to a person’s vocation….the job he worked at….his occupation.

It was a practice in the ancient world that a man’s surname came from his occupation. I stayed with a family in Bradford, England a couple of years ago by the name of Dyson when I was there in a meeting. This man said he had traced his family tree and learned that his ancestors had been “dyers”. Their occupation was to dye hides and fabrics and that was how they acquired the name. They were the sons of a dyer. That was a common practice during that time. I suppose the Bakers used to bake and the Fishers used to fish and the Grahams used to make crackers.

The name originally meant, “I conduct my public business” and referred to a person’s public occupation. Now, that is important. These citizens of Antioch are observing these strangers who have come all the way from Jerusalem and they don’t know what to call them but they seem to be busy about the occupation of having to do with Christ. When you listen to them and when you watch them, it seems that their public business has to do with somebody named “Christ”, so they called them Christians.

A number of years ago when I was a teenager we had a quite famous rodeo clown in our church. He had come to Christ and was a fantastic Christian and preacher. I remember hearing him give his testimony one time and he said that people often asked him what he did for a living. He said he always told them that he was a Christian….that was his business; he just rodeod to pay the bills. Now even as a teenager I knew that was good theology.

I am not making this in form of a motion, but it might not be a bad idea when someone comes to Christ for the very first time that we withhold the name Christian from them. We can call them something else….maybe “believers”, that is a good biblical name, or maybe “disciples”, that is a great biblical name and wait until somebody outside the church calls them a Christian before we call them Christians. Perhaps that term we take so lightly should be taken more seriously. We don’t have a right to call ourselves a Christian until someone on the outside calls us one. Maybe we need to earn that name before we take it for ourselves. It is something to think about. It may be that we call ourselves Christians because nobody else will.

I notice as I read the New Testament that the writers had the idea that you and I would live lives that would be such that people would ask questions. Peter said in that same epistle to “be ready always to give an answer to everyone who asks you concerning the hope that is in you.” Has anybody asked you lately about the hope that is in you? When everything went to pieces economically a few years ago and other folks were wringing their hands in despair and you remained steadfast and there were no frowns or creases of anxiety on your face, did anybody ask you where you got the hope that you had? What makes you different from everybody else?

Paul writing to the Colossians said “pray for me that I might be ready always to give an answer to them that ask me.” In those days they didn’t have to wear badges, beads, and bumper stickers to let people know they were Christians. Folks just knew it! Has anybody called you a Christian lately?

Why was it at Antioch they were first called Christians? Why weren’t they first called Christians at Jerusalem or somewhere else? What was so special about these folks at Antioch? What made them worthy of the name Christian? In discovering this, I think we will discover what makes us worthy of the name. Am I worthy of calling myself a Christian? None of us are worthy of being saved and our salvation doesn’t depend on our worthiness but when it comes to the name that we attach to ourselves, that is another matter altogether.

If we are going to call ourselves Christians, it means that there is something of Christ to be seen in our lives….something visible. There is an interesting little note there in verse 22 and 23. There is a great revival going on at Antioch. Now because Stephen has been persecuted, a lot of these believers fled Jerusalem and many of them have gone as far as Antioch. It is important to note that Antioch is 300 miles from Jerusalem and as they have come there, the hand of the Lord is upon them and people are being saved right and left. Verse 22 says, “Then tidings of these things came unto the ears of the church which was in Jerusalem.” I never read that without smiling to myself. I don’t know why Luke couldn’t have just said, “they heard about it.” The church at Jerusalem had big ears. I mean they could hear a sin drop a mile away. You see, Jerusalem was the headquarters….the Nashville of their day….and everybody fled Jerusalem except the apostles who stayed there to set up headquarters. They kept hearing reports of the great things that were happening in Antioch and perhaps got a little concerned and thought they should send someone down there to check those folks out and make sure they are doing everything the way they ought to be doing….you know, they might be ordaining women or they may be using some other literature other than the Sunday School literature and, who knows, they may be raising their hands or clapping. We need to be sure they haven’t gone off the deep end. So, they commissioned Barnabas. The word here means “an authoritative representative”. He was basically a spy to see if they were doing everything right.

Notice it says in verse 3, “who when he came and had seen the grace of God was glad” and you could translate that, “he was surprised!” By that it means there was such a manifestation of the grace of God that he was surprised, he had never seen anything like this. Have you ever seen the grace of God? What color is it? What shape is it? What catches my attention is that you can’t see grace. Grace is an invisible quality, an intangible virtue that is not visible to the human eye. It is no more visible than love, anger, hate or greed. You say, “But I have seen all of those.” No, what you have seen are the manifestations of those things. This means the grace of God, the spirit of Christ, the character of our Lord is so expressing itself that Barnabas immediately recognized it. I have been in a number of churches where I wasn’t certain what to call what I was seeing, but every once in a while I will be in a place and there is no doubt about what I am seeing and I can say, “this is the grace of God.”

I am afraid many times in our Christian living instead of making it clear what we are, we are raising questions marks. “Well, I don’t know if that is the real thing or not, I don’t know if it is real holiness or just false piety.” What a refreshing thing it was to the eyes of Barnabas when he beheld the behavior of those people at Antioch. He saw the grace of God! It was obvious and he had no doubt about it. He didn’t need surveying equipment to check it out. If you and I call ourselves Christians, there ought to be something obviously seen about our lives.

Let me mention two things that are mentioned here that manifest the grace of God:

One, we manifest the grace of God by the way we receive one another in the name of the Lord. There is an interesting little statement down in verse 25. Understand, Barnabas has walked into a revival and he has picked up his part of the load. He started teaching and even more people now are being saved. But suddenly Barnabas, for no good reason, leaves. It says he departed to Tarsus to seek Saul. You know who Saul was, later to become Paul. He had just freshly been saved. He hasn’t been saved long enough to change his name. Barnabas thinks of him and seeks him out. The word “seek” indicates he didn’t know where he was but he finally found him at Tarsus and brought him back and they stayed there for a year teaching the people. What is going on?

You remember that when Saul was first converted he had trouble being accepted by the church. Folks were a little reluctant to take him in. After all, he was a well-known persecutor and they said, “Is this not the man that dragged off our fellow Christians? How do we know that this fellow has really been saved? How do we know that he has not come here under cover and is taking our names down and one night the knock will come on our door and the legions of Rome will drag us off and throw us to the lions?” They sort of held his past against him and they were reluctant to take him in. Saul had rough going for a while. I think when Barnabas got there to Antioch he saw the spirit of Jesus so filling and flowing out of those people, he said to himself, “Here are a bunch of folks who will open their hearts to Saul.” They won’t hold his past against him. They will receive him as being accepted by the Lord Jesus Christ and this will be a good place for Paul to start his ministry.

I remember back in 1970 when the Jesus revolution was at its height and I pastored a very straight and square church there in Dallas. I fit right in. We were all good ole Southern Baptist rednecks….just good folks and blue collar workers; American, apple pie, and 4th of July. We were all a little stunned to see these teenagers walking around with hair down to their waist, barefoot or in sandals. All of a sudden we found ourselves ministering to what we called then, street kids, now the “counter culture”. Most of them had run off to LA to the strip and some of them migrated back east and came as far as Dallas and suddenly we were overrun with street kids. Most of them had been strung out on drugs and a bunch of them had found Jesus and all of a sudden we found ourselves in the midst of these people and began winning them right and left.

Well, I was happy to win them to Christ but they wanted to come to our church! I am just being honest with you….I didn’t know how in the world my church would react. If you win someone to Jesus are you going to say they are good enough to go to Heaven, but not good enough to come to your church? You lock yourself in when you preach grace! I baptized 28 of them one night. It scared everybody to death. Our baptism service was usually very dignified and solemn. No one ever got excited about baptism, but I baptized this guy and he came up out of the water throwing up his arms saying “Praise the Lord!” It shook everybody up. Of course, they didn’t know the language and instead of “amen” and “praise the Lord”, they would say, “Right on, brother!” I nearly forgot my sermon.

We had one young couple and the man looked like Jesus. He had a beautiful beard, a beautiful smile but he always wore old blue-bibbed overalls and never had on any shoes. His wife always wore a dress that looked like it was made out of a Purina feed sack. Remember that? I don’t think she wore a pair of shoes, either. They drove an old red van, came all the way from California and half the time the van wouldn’t start. They had a little baby and they didn’t put the baby in the nursery. This was when the New American Standard Bible had first come out in that big old orange edition and this couple would come in late every Sunday morning. Here we were in a dignified Baptist church for Sunday morning worship and they would march down the aisle to the front late every Sunday morning. He would be in his blue-bib overalls, barefoot, and here she would come with a baby on one hip and a New American Standard on the other.

I didn’t know what that would do to my church but I tell you it was an everlasting monument to the grace of God in the lives of those people. They never batted an eye or flinched. They opened their arms to those people with all their hearts. I knew then my church was real. I held a revival for one of those fellows not long ago. That was sweet. I know not all those kids lasted. You don’t always have 100%. But a great number of them did. One of those fellows is on the mission field today. If just one makes it through, it is worth it. God has drawn a circle that includes us all and we dare not draw a circle that excludes anybody that God has included. Whether I like you or not, if you are good enough for God, you ought to be good enough for me. You manifest the grace of God by the way you receive people.

We manifest the grace of God also by the way we respond to the needs of people. Did you notice verse 27 that says, “And in these days came prophets from Jerusalem unto Antioch and there stood up one of them named Agabus and signified by the spirit that there should be great – dearth throughout all the world: which came to pass in the days of Claudius Caesar”. I have to ask myself why these prophets come all the way to Antioch, 300 miles away, to make this announcement that there is going to be famine in the land. Why didn’t they do it up in Jerusalem? Maybe they did but no mention is made of it here.

I think they came to Antioch because these prophets realized that there were folks in Antioch that were so much like Jesus that if you told them there was a need they didn’t have to set up a committee first to study the effects of malnutrition on unborn babies or something like that, but they would do something about it, right away. You notice it says in verse 29, “…then the disciples, every man according to his ability, determined to send relief unto the brethren in Judea, which also they did.” You will not find a needy person in the New Testament church. Why? Because every time someone was in need, that need was met by a brother because these New Testament believers looked upon their possessions not as their own but as a stewardship from God to be given and shared as God showed them the need.

John said, “How can I say the love of God dwells in me and I see my brother in need?” I was in Athens, Georgia a couple of weeks ago and the pastor and I were driving around and came to an intersection and there was a fellow in the middle of the intersection and a glass-lined water heater still in the carton had fallen off the truck and it was right there in the middle of the intersection and bless his heart, he was trying to lug that thing out and it was too big to get out of the street by himself and he was pushing and pulling that thing. We were sitting right there and the pastor said, “You know somebody ought to help him.” All of a sudden I realized what had happened and I said, “Yes, let’s pray that God will send somebody by to help him.” That’s the way we are. We are too busy, too preoccupied to help with a need. The way you manifest the grace of God is the way you respond to the needs of others.

All right, there is something that must be seen, secondly, there is something that must be shared if I am going to be worthy of the name. Notice in verse 19 it says, “Now, they which were scattered abroad upon the persecution that arose about Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch, preaching the word to none but unto the Jews only.” Remember, Christianity is new to these folks. Some of them still believe that salvation is just for the Jews, but there are others, men of Cyprus and Cyrene, who came to Antioch who knew that salvation was for everybody. They spoke to the Grecians, the Gentiles, preaching the Lord Jesus. The interesting word there is “preaching” because it does not refer to a formal sermon such as I am preaching. It says in Acts 5, “they that were scattered abroad went everywhere preaching the Word.” You get the idea that they were going around carrying a big Bible under their arm with a portable pulpit. No. The word refers to normal, everyday conversation of an individual. Now, I believe there is a place for the formal, homiletically prepared presentation. I believe there is a place for Evangelism Explosion and CWT and the Four Spiritual Laws. I have always believed in church visitation. But I am here to tell you that that is not the most effective form of witness. The most effective form of witness is that which flows out of the every day conversation of the believer. When you are so full of Jesus and so full of what he has done for you….

I was in a group the other night and this girl kept going around doing her finger like this. She had an engagement ring on and you couldn’t have shut her up no matter what. I can remember when I loved Jesus that much and you couldn’t shut me up. That is what he is talking about. Jesus said “out of the abundance of the heart does the mouth speak.” Whatever your heart is full of, it comes out of your mouth.

If we are ever going to see genuine, real revival in our country, it is not going to come from the pulpit. It is going to come from these folks in the marketplaces just as they open their mouths to talk about weather and politics they will talk about Jesus. It is normal conversation. I was in Texarkana the other day going from Dallas to Little Rock. I was getting hungry, it was late at night. I noticed a billboard advertising one of these fast food hamburger places. I thought that sounded good: a hamburger, covered in onions, pickles and mustard along with some french fries and a chocolate milkshake. I was ready to pull in and I had my CB radio on and about the minute I started to get off the Interstate, somebody came on the radio and said, “Anybody out there want an upset stomach?” He said, “If you do, go to the place I had just seen advertised.” No sooner had he said that until someone else came on the radio and said. “Boy, that is right I got a hamburger there last night and I was up all night so you know what I did? I just kept on heading for Little Rock. You say, “Well, what about all that advertising?” I don’t care about that. I had just heard from two of their customers!

I guarantee you that the average man who walks into this church from off the street and listens to the preacher or the evangelist knows that we are paid advertisers. We all know that the greatest form of advertising is a satisfied customer. When I see Roger Staubach advertising Rolaids, I can’t help it, I think, “Roger, you are paid to say that. You probably use Tums.” But you see, we stand up here and preach and preach and you believe it because you are saved. But I am talking about that man whose heart is broken, his wife has left him and his son is strung out on drugs and we keep talking about how Jesus can make your life full and give you peace that passes understanding. He sits there and thinks, “He’s a preacher and he’s paid to say that.” So when I hear of someone who has really tried that product and says it really works, that’s when I believe. What the gospel needs today is a bunch of satisfied customers that are out there in the market place talking about Jesus. If you are worthy of the name ns there is something to be shared.

The last word is this. If I am going to be worthy of the name, there is something to be sacrificed for Christ. I ask myself what are these folks doing at Antioch anyway. What would posses these people to move from Jerusalem to Antioch? You know it is not easy to move. I don’t know how you feel. I hate to move after I have been in a place for a long time. I was born in Oklahoma, raised in Arkansas, so I call Arkansas home, but we have lived in Dallas/Ft. Worth since 1958. I always thought I would go back home after I finished seminary but I was called to churches in the Dallas area and stayed there and then in 1975 after I left the church and went into the traveling ministry and you can live anywhere you want to. We have been saying we will go back home to Arkansas for 10 years but it is just hard to move. We’ve lived there for so long, we have friends there, our children were born there, and we’ve got credit there. It is hard to move. Imagine how hard it would have been in those days 300 miles away. That was another world. They didn’t go by bus, car or plane. They went by camel or foot.

What in the world would possess people to tear up roots and move to a new world 300 miles away? I will tell you why. Because of the persecution that arose. They were suffering for Jesus. They come to the outskirts of Antioch and talk among themselves saying, “We had to leave Jerusalem because we were talking about Jesus and if we go into Antioch talking about him, we will have to leave Antioch, too. Here is what we ought to do. We have an opportunity to start a whole new life and no one in Antioch knows us. If we will just sort of slide in unobtrusively and maintain a low profile and not call any attention to ourselves and just blend in, we can make a good life for ourselves. Maybe after we have been here for a year or two, we might hand them a track or invite them to church. But if we go in there preaching Jesus like we did in Jerusalem, we will get run out of there, too, and we can make a good life for ourselves here and go in and play it safe.”

I am afraid that one of these days when we find ourselves sitting safe in glory we’ll realize that we allowed the world to intimidate us. But that is exactly what we do. We maintain a low profile. Here I am in West Palm Beach, a big metropolis area, a big church. I don’t want to attract attention to myself, I don’t want to be a fanatic, I can still go to Heaven, I can make a good living and have a lot of friends, so I will just blend in with everybody. But sooner or later, if you and I are going to be worthy of the name Christian, there is going to have to be some sacrifice made. I love that old hymn they have taken out of the Baptist Hymnal, “Jesus I My Cross Have Taken, all to leave and follow Thee, destitute, despised, forsaken, Thou from hence my all shall be. Perish every fond ambition, everything I’ve ever hoped or known, yet how rich is my condition, God in Heaven, still my own.”

The fact of the matter, the very minute our Christianity starts costing us or becomes inconvenient, that is the minute we start compromising. We don’t know what it means today to suffer for Jesus or to sacrifice for Him. Our greatest sacrifice will be coming to church in the rain….that is about the extent of our sacrifice and we really feel we have done something. I get so under conviction. You mean I so glibly take the name Christian, take the name of the one who was willing to suffer the abuse of all men and to be despised and rejected and die in my place. I take that name and call myself Christian and yet I won’t make the slightest sacrifice for him….I wouldn’t miss a meal for Him, I wouldn’t miss a TV program for Him, I wouldn’t miss a bowling league for Him, I wouldn’t take the chance of being snubbed by a neighbor by knocking on their door for Him….and I call myself Christian?

Has anybody called you a Christian lately? They were called Christians first at Antioch. Sometimes I fanaticize and wonder what it would be like to start all over and not call ourselves anything and scatter us to a new place and see if anybody would know that we were Christians.

© Ron Dunn, LifeStyle Ministries, 2005

Act 04:23-33 | When the Church Prays

Text: Acts 4:23-33

If you study the history of revival, you will discover this undeniable fact: In the recorded history of the church there has never been a mighty outpouring of the Spirit in Revival which did not begin in the persistent, prevailing prayer of a desperate people. Revival has never come because men “planned” it and put it on the calendar.

I. WHEN THE CHURCH PRAYS THE PRESENCE OF GOD IS PERCEIVED.

“The place was shaken where they were assembled together.” This expression symbolizes God’s presence and activity. You’ll find a similar phrase in Acts 16:26. Imprisoned, Paul and Silas conduct a midnight prayer and praise service and “suddenly there came a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken…”    This is a manifestation of the presence of God. It is God manifesting Himself, letting the people know He is present and has the situation under control.

But, you say, isn’t God always present when two or three are gathered together in Christ’s name? Yes, but God being present doesn’t necessarily mean we perceive His presence. Jacob could say of Bethel:  “Surely God was in this place and I knew it not.”

When the church goes to its knees in real prayer, the presence of God is perceived. Suddenly we know He is with us, working, moving, answering.

We must pray in unison. They were all there and they were all doing the same thing. It wasn’t just the apostles who prayed. They all prayed. Here was a group of believers concerned enough to gather in one place for one purpose—to pray. This is a testimony to united prayer.

We must pray in unity. “They prayed with one accord.” Not only were they all there and all praying but they were all praying for the same purpose. There wasn’t a man over here praying for his pet project and another huddled in this corner praying for his pet project. They were gathered in unity with one heart and one soul. It reminds me of the verse in the Old Testament that tells us that on a certain day all the men of Israel came together with one heart to make David king. That’s the kind of praying that shakes the place. When God’s people come together with one heart to make Jesus king! When all our different little concerns are thrust aside and our hearts flow into one main stream . . . that’s when the presence of God is manifested and people are conscious that God has taken the field.

II. WHEN THE CHURCH PRAYS THE POWER OF GOD IS RECEIVED.

“And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost.” Upon the conclusion of their prayer the Spirit of God filled every believer gathered in that room. “They were ALL filled,” the record states. Not just the apostles, but every member of the church. There had been a filling on the Day of Pentecost but the church cannot operate on past experiences. The church’s experience of God must always be fresh. Every new task demands a new filling.

There is something remarkable about this incident. As a result of their praying they were filled with the spirit, but did you look at the prayer closely? The Holy Spirit isn’t even mentioned in the petition. They didn’t pray to be filled but they were filled.

I believe if we examine the content of their prayer we’ll discover what kind of praying results in the full­ness of the Spirit.

1. We must recognize God as Sovereign. In verse 24 we have these words: “And when they heard that, they lifted up their voice to God with one accord, and said, Lord, thou art God, which hast made heaven and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is.”

The word translated Lord here is rare. It is not the same word rendered Lord in verse 29. This is an extremely strong word meaning despot, one who rules with absolute and unrestrained authority. Omni­potence is in the word.

This is where they started—not with the threats of the enemy but with the absolute sovereignty of their God. And that’s where victory always begins—with the recognition that God is our Sovereign Lord.

His Sovereignty is seen in His creation of all things. They prayed . . . “Thou art God, which has made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is.

They acknowledged God as creator of heaven and earth and the sea, and “all that in them is.” Why? Because they were having problems with some of the “all that in them is.” They recognized that the Sanhedrin were creatures and that their God was the Creator. They looked beyond the creation to the Creator, beyond the visible to the invisible. You might say they were telling God on them. Part of the creation was troubling them and they were appealing to the Creator.

But His sovereignty is also seen in His Control of all things. Look again at their prayer.

Verses 26 and 27: “The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against his Christ.

For of a truth against the holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together.”

What a formidable host that gathered against Christ! And what did these enemies of Christ come together to do? Look at verse 28. It’s tremendous.

“For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel DETERMINED BEFORE TO BE DONE.”

These persecuted believers looked back to the darkest day of their lives—the day their hopes and dreams disintegrated with the death of Christ—and saw God in charge of it all. And if it was true with the crucifixion of the Lord how much more with the persecution of His disciples. What a display of His absolute sovereignty!

2. We must recognize ourselves as His servants. In verse 29 they refer to themselves as servants, bond-slaves. This was a prayer of submission. They didn’t complain about the circumstances or call down fire upon the Sanhedrin. They didn’t ask God to move them to a more favorable situation! They simply asked God for more of what got them in trouble in the first place— boldness.

(a) This is submission to the God-allowed circumstances.

(b) And then there was submission to the God-appointed commission. The point of the whole prayer is that they would have the boldness to continue speaking the word and that Jesus would be glorified. And that was what God called them to do in the first place.

Now let’s put it all together. In their prayer, which brought a fresh supply of the power of God they acknowledged God to be their sovereign Lord and submitted to Him and His redemptive purpose. And any Christian who recognizes and submits to His Lordship will be filled with the Spirit.

When the Holy Spirit finds a Christian who wants what He wants they “get together.” The Spirit is interested in only one thing—glorifying Jesus as Lord and Savoir. And He is ready to empower any Christian whose sole desire is to see Jesus glorified in his body.

III. WHEN THE CHURCH PRAYS THE PURPOSE OF GOD IS ACHIEVED.

“And they spake the word of God with boldness.” There is a chain reaction here. When a church is filled with the Spirit it will inevitably speak the word of God with boldness. You cannot divorce the fullness of the Spirit and witnessing. The power of God is given to accomplish the purpose of God. And unless we are willing to be instruments of His purpose it is useless to pray for his power. Witnesses aren’t made by training programs. Such programs are good and may teach a man how to witness but they will not make him a witness. Only the compelling power of the Holy Spirit can do that.

1  The obligation to witness. Verse 33 says they “gave” witness. The word translated “gave” carries the idea of repaying a debt, fulfilling an obligation. The fullness of the Spirit awakens a man to his sense of obligation; it makes an honest man of him and an honest man always pays his debts.

2. The operation of this witness. “They spake the word of God with BOLDNESS.” Boldness is one of the great words of the New Testament. God uses this word to characterize the lives and ministry of the New Testament Christians.

3. The object of this witness. They gave witness of “the resurrection of the Lord Jesus.” The object of all our witnessing is that Jesus is Living and Jesus is Lord. And this brings us right back where we started. When the place is shaken and the presence of God is perceived it is easy to convince men that Jesus is living and Lord. When the Philippian jailer stood amid the rubble of his demolished jail and heard Paul and Silas praying and praising and saw all the prisoners still there, he was convinced and cried, “What must I do to be saved?” He wasn’t a prospect for the God is Dead movement! He had perceived the presence of God.

The church must go to its knees. Spiritual revival and national survival demand it. I think we ought to consider what it was that brought the church in Acts 4 to its knees—active opposition to the Gospel. The American church has known little of this and perhaps in our complacency we feel no desperate need to pray. It may be that God will have to allow persecution and opposition in order to get us on our knees in persistent and prevailing prayer. But whatever it takes, it will be worth it.

©Ron Dunn, LifeStyle Ministries, 2003

Act 02 | Why We Fail to Grow

Text: Acts 2

The book of Acts is similar to the first two chapters of Genesis in one way. The first two chapters of Genesis reveal to us what God intended the world should be like before sin entered. And the first few chapters of the book of Acts, I think, or most of the book of Acts, or most of the N.T. reveal to us what God intended the N.T. church to be like before it apostatized. And what I am doing in the next – this morning, and tonight and next Sunday, and for a few Sundays – is preaching of those things that I think distinguish the N.T. church. This morning I preached on what I consider to be one of the distinguishing characteristics of the N. T. church, as well as the people of God throughout all of history, that of constantly, vocally praising the Lord. You cannot read the book of Acts without just being overwhelmed by that note. I think that is a missing note in modern day Christianity. Next Sunday morning, the Lord willing, I am going to preach on the believer’s authority over the devil and demons. This is something else that you cannot miss as you read carefully, not only the book of Acts, but the entire N.T., that God intended a N.T. church not to be subject to the devil, and not to be intimidated by him, but that he has definite authority, given to him by Christ, through the power of the Holy Spirit, over the devil. Now I want, if the Lord leads in that matter, as He is now, to preach on that next Sunday morning.

Tonight I am preaching on what I call “THE PERMANENCE OF PENTECOST”, and I want you to open to Acts chapter 2, we are going to begin reading with verse 1. Reading down through verse 8, and then we are going to read verses 38 and 39. Verse 12 also. “in doubt” … now that is interest­ing, they couldn’t figure out what was going on. And perhaps one of the great differences between the N.T. church and the modern day church is, that the world knows exact1y what’s going on, they can figure it out. You just have to look at it and there is a logical explanation for every­thing that we do. But on the day of Pentecost they couldn’t figure it out, they were all in doubt, they were amazed, they were perplexed, and the Greek has the idea that they were running one to another saying, “do you know what’ s going on?” They were consulting one with another. Saying, “Do you know what’s going on?” No — Well let’s go over here and ask him. Do you know what’s going on? No, I don’t know what’s going on. And so finally they care to the source. Scare of them said, well, they’re drunk. They’re full of new wine. But Peter, standing, (v. 14) it was just the third hour of the day. Now that excuse wouldn’t hold true today, because you know today men get drunk at 9:00 in the morning. He said, no, they are not full of new wine, it’s only 9:00 in the morning…. vv 16, 17, 18, and so on, and he launches into that famous Pentecostal sermon. Now the conclusion of that sermon is this in verse 37 …. 38 … 39

Pentecost is a magic word in the vocabulary of the Christian. Because we recognize that on the day of Pentecost, God did something that He has never done since. That the apostle Peter preached a sermon that nobody has ever preached since. That they gave an invitation and the results were such that have never been repeated. And anytime any preacher begins to feel a little bit down and begins to be discouraged about the plight of modern day Christianity, he always goes back to the N. T. church and they always go back to Pentecost and I don’t know how many times I have heard preachers pray, “Oh Lord, give us another Pentecost.” Of course, they are praying erroneously. Pentecost is a once for all event in one sense of the word. We are going to see in a moment, in another sense of the word, that every time someone is saved, that is another Pentecost. but, Pentecost symbolizes, for most people, all that we as a church are supposed to be. And it signifies all that we as a church are supposed to experience.

What I want to talk to you tonight is about the most important element of Pentecost. The permanent factor in Pentecost. A lot of things happened on that day. There was a sound from heaven as a rushing, mighty wind. Now it must have been something to be there in that upper room with those 120 Christians and praying, and really not knowing what was going to happen. You see, Jesus had said, you are going to be endued with power from on high and so you tarry until this happens. Well they believed the word of Jesus but they did not know exactly how it was going to cane to pass. And can you imagine how they must have been terrified when they heard this tornado like wind, the mighty rushing wind. That was one of the elements of Pentecost. And it filled all the house where they were sitting vs. 3 … what a phenomenon that must have been, to see in everybody’s mouth a cloven tongue like as unto fire. But more than this, they were all filled with the Holy Ghost and then they begin to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. Now any logical reading of this passage will recognize that this other tongue was a foreign language. It is not the same tongue that is recorded in I Corinthians chapter 14. That’s different altogether. But here on the day of Pentecost, in Acts chapter 2, all of a sudden these Galileans who had never been to seminary, who had never been to foreign missionary language school, all of a sudden, these unlearned, ignorant Galileans began to speak in foreign languages. At that tine on the day of Pentecost, people from all over the nation, from every nation under heaven were gathered, of all races and of all tongues. And here’s what would happen: Old Simon Peter would stand up and he would speak Galilean, and somehow miraculously by the tine it pierced the ear of that Roman, it was translated into Latin or Greek or whatever nationality the man was. Every one of them was speaking, but somehow God miraculously translated that into their own language so that everybody heard in their own tongue. We produce this same thing at the United Nations … the man up there is speaking, he is speaking in a foreign tongue and we cannot hear him. We have the microphones on and what he says comes through an interpreter, and it comes through our ears in our own language. Now God did that just by a miracle, without microphones, without translators. And the most miraculous thing of all that happened was that when Peter, that unlearned man, untrained in sermonizing in homiletics, he preached and when he gave the invitation over 3,000 people were born into the family of God. Arid all of this happened at Pentecost. Now what was the one outstanding permanent of Pentecost? It was not the rushing mighty wind, it was not the cloven tongues as of fire, it was not the foreign languages, it was not even the 3,000 souls that were saved, but the significant thing about Pentecost was that for the first tine in human history, the spirit of God filled a human being. This is the significance of Pentecost. And you

do not need to look today for a sound of a rushing mighty wind. If God wants to do that, that’s all right. But it doesn’t say it’s going to happen again. You do not need to look for cloven tongues of fire, and you do not need to look for 3,000 souls to be saved every time you preach.’ That may be, and it may not be. More people have been saved than that in other services in some parts of the world. That’s not the greatest thing that happened. The greatest thing that happened on that day of Pentecost was the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Christ, came to dwell and to fill the lives and hearts of those men and women who knew Jesus Christ as Savior. Arid that is the one energizing principle, that is the most important difference that transformed and changed the lives of all of those N. T. Christians and made the N. T. church what it is. That is what caused them to go about daily praising God, this is what gave them authority over the demons and the devi1s. This is how Paul was able to raise the dead, this is how they were able to heal the sick and the lame and give sight to the eyes of the blind. This is how they were able, within the space of 24 months to preach the gospel to every soul in Asia Minor. Can you imagine that? In 24 months, in the space of 2 years, every person living in Asia Minor heard the gospel. Acts chapter 19 and verse 10. All of it, every­thing that happened in the N.T. church, all of the miraculous things that God did through them, He did because on the day of Pentecost, the spirit of God came to dwell in them. When I begin to think about what are the distinguishing characteristics of the N.T. church, one of the outstanding is this, they were conscious of the possession of the Holy Spirit in their lives. Now I want to say four things and I am going to give you my outline in case I don’t finish. Four things about the Holy Spirit: (1) First, He is the Abiding Possession of the Church, (2) Secondly, He is the Activating Principle of the Church, (3) Thirdly, He is the Attracting Power of the Church, (4) Fourthly, He is to be The Acknowledged Person in the Church. Now, if I run out of gas before I am through, well you will have the sermon.

First of all,

THE HOLY SPIRIT IS THE ABIDING POSSESSION OF THE CHURCH

Notice what Peter says in Acts 2:38 – he has preached his sermon. The people have seen the difference in these man’s lives and they have come and said, “we want what you’ve got.” Tell us what do we have to do? And Peter said, “Repent       now NOTICE: and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. Notice he doesn’t say you might receive it, if you pray through, if you live a good kind of life, if you become a super saint, you may, perhaps receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. He says, if you repent of your sins and you acknowledge that repentance by public baptism in the name of Jesus Christ, you will receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. And the Greek word receive is in the tense that means receive for once and for all.  It. is an abiding possession. It is an impossibility for a Christian to receive the Holy Spirit today and to lose Him tomorrow. Or to lose Him in 10 years. He said you will receive Him once and for all.  Repent and be baptized for the remission of sins and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. Now you need to distinguish between the gift of the Holy Ghost and the gifts of the Holy Ghost. There is a difference. In  I Corinthians chapter 12 Paul talks’ about the gifts of the Holy Ghost. Now the gifts of the Holy Ghost are those super natural abilities, those gifts, those special endowments that the Spirit of God gives you. For instance, he says there is the gift of healing; there is the gift of tongues. There is the gift of prophesying, which is testi­fying. There is the gift of faith. In Ephesians chapter 4 he speaks about the gift of evangelism, or the gift of a teacher, or of a pastor. Now there are gifts of the Holy Spirit. And the spirit of God moves upon a person’s life and He has God’s will for your life and so He endows you for what God wants you to do and what God wants you to be. Remember, there is a difference between the gift, singular, of the Holy Spirit, and the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Now the gift of the Holy Spirit is He himself. He himself. And the great thing, the great thing about Pentecost is that God gave to them the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Now every time a person is saved, Pentecost is repeated because he receives the gift of the Holy Spirit. Every time a young boy or a young girl turns to Jesus Christ and receives Him as Savior, at that moment the Spirit of God comes to dwell in him. And that’s what makes him a member of the body of Christ. Now, many of us get confused about terminology. I remember when I first began preaching, I got a book on the baptism of the Holy Spirit. And I prayed and sought for many days that God would give me the baptism of the Holy Spirit, and it wasn’t until I really began to read the Word of God that I decided and discovered that this is an erroneous term. The baptism of the Holy Spirit is when the Holy Spirit makes you a member of the body of Christ. Paul says we are all baptized one spirit into one body. Every Christian has been bap­tized by the Holy Spirit. Now mast people, what they mean when they talk about the baptism of the Holy Spirit, they mean the filling of the Holy Spirit, for power and service. But when the New Testament speaks of the baptism of the Holy Spirit it is speaking of the moment, when as a person you trust Jesus as Savior and the spirit of God baptizes you into the body of Christ, He makes you a member of the body of Christ. That is the baptism of the Holy Spirit. And Paul says we have all, and notice who he is writing to again. I don’t know what I would do for illustrations if it wasn’t for that lousy bunch at Corinth. They provide the best illustrations of lousy Christians you’ll find anywhere. And sane of the greatest things that Paul ever said, he said to Corinth. The Corinthians, he called then saints – and yet there were people there living with their step-mothers, in immorality. They were carnal. He said, you walk as men, they were just like lost people. And yet, Paul said, we have all been baptized by one spirit into the body of Christ. Now I want to tell you something, if that bunch at Corinth – if all of then were baptized by the Holy Spirit, then my chances are pretty good. The baptism of the Holy Spirit is when you trust Christ as Savior and He makes you a member of the mystical body of the Lord. You are a member of the body of Christ. And so Paul says in Romans chapter 8 verse 9, “if any man have not the spirit of Christ he is none of his.” You know what I think is the greatest heresy and the greatest danger abroad in our churches today? It is this:  That salvation is based upon relationship to an organization. And I tell you, as your pastor, I stand tonight just scared to death that when talk to children, and when I talk to lost people, and give an invitation, I may, somehow give them the idea that what they are doing is they are coming and they are relating to an organization. Salvation is not being a member of an organization, and so many times instead of introducing people to Jesus, we are introducing them to the organization. Introducing them to the church. Paul said if any man have not the body of Christ, he is none of his — or rather, if any man have not the spirit of Christ. If the spirit of Christ does not dwell in me, convicting me, guiding me, motivating me, then I do not possess the Spirit of God. I do not belong to Him. This is why I get concerned about some members of our church who year after year are as faithful to this building as anybody can be, but there is absolutely no appetite for spiritual things. They don’t want to be any better spiritually. They don’t want to be any more holy than they are. Do you know what I am saying? There is a difference. I am afraid that so many people are rightly related to an organization and yet are not rightly related to the body of Christ. If any man have not the spirit of Christ, he is none of his. You say, well how do you know if you have the spirit of Christ? Well, the spirit of Christ will tell you. And this is the amazing thing about it all. In Romans chapter 8 he says this … (vv 15-16) … The Spirit Himself beareth witness – he says the same thing in Galatians chapter 4, that he hath sent the spirit of adoption into our hearts, crying Abba Father. I want to tell you tonight that I know that I belong to Jesus because His spirit witnesses with my spirit. You say, that is a very subjective thing. Well I don’t know where we ever got the idea that religion was not subjective. It is a very subjective thing. It does something inside you. The Holy Spirit of God is the abiding possession of the Christian. And in Ephesians chapter 1 he says that we have been sealed unto the day of redemption, and this is why I praise the Lord for the Holy Spirit.

You know, there are some things that you know and there are some things that you know, and I guess ever since I have been preaching and studying the Bible, I knew that the spirit of God dwelt in ire because the Bible said so. But not too long ago, I couldn’t sleep at night and I was laying there in bed just thinking about a lot of different things, and all of a sudden, all of a sudden it just came to me, the scales just fell from my eyes, that the Holy Spirit of God was right there inside me. Just right there inside me. Just right there dwelling inside me. And that He was going to watch out for me, He was going to take care of me. And my prayer life has been different ever since, and when I go to pray I know the Holy Spirit is right there. You know, some people have trouble praying, but when I began to realize, and became conscious of the Holy Spirit dwelling in me, it just changes everything. I know that I am not trying to pray off to some God that’s way up yonder some where, I just let the Holy Spirit take my words and my thoughts and my motives and He relays them to the Father on the throne – that’s what Romans chapter 8 says. He seals us unto the day of redemption. You know what a seal is, it’s a sign of security, it cannot be broken. Ephesians chapter 4, verse 30 “    “ And when a person becomes a Christian – at that moment, the gift of the Holy Spirit is yours, never to leave you. To bring you joy, and to bring you peace and to make you miserable when Jesus Christ isn’t Lord. This is why I have said so often if you can deliberately and willfully, and knowingly go against the will of God and feel no conviction and no compunction, then you must not be saved. Because you see if the Spirit of God dwells in me, when I willfully, deliberately, when I knowingly go against the will of God, He convicts me. He makes me miserable. As somebody has said, “He comforts the afflicted and He afflicts the comfortable.” It is the Holy Spirit that does this work in us.

All right, the Holy Spirit is first of all: THE ABIDING POSSESSION OF THE CHRISTIAN – and you can never lose the Holy Spirit, but not only this. He is also:

THE ACTIVATING PRINCIPLE OF THE CHRISTIAN . He is the activating principle of the Christian  As I read the second chapter of the book of Acts,  I find something amazing in the lives of  these people   I remember that Simon Peter was a man who was so afraid that he wouldn’t even speak a word for Jesus before a little worm. And before a servant.  And before a soldier. But I find, once the spirit of God has entered into him and dwells in him, he has activated him, in giving him a boldness that he can witness, and he doesn’t care what anybody thinks about it.  I began to do a little research this past week on the Holy Spirit, and I discovered something. That every time you find the Holy Spirit, you find movement, you find energy. He brooded over the chaos, in Genesis chapter 1, and made it a cosmos. In Luke chapter 1, He brooded over Mary and brought  forth Messiah. In John chapter 19, He brooded over the grave of Joseph, and brought forth a g1orified Jesus. In Acts chapter 2, He came up upon a bunch of weaklings and turned them into a band of witnesses. He activated them, He changed then. He did something to them, He transformed them. And the one thing the Holy Spirit wants to do in your life is to get you up and to activate you, to fill you, to use you, to motivate you, to do what God has saved you in order that you can do. As I preached last Sunday morning – a lot of the useless preaching that we do – there is only one thing that will make a person a real witness for Christ, and that’s when he lets the Holy Spirit activate him.

I had someone come to me not long ago – they were interested in being filled with the Holy Spirit, and they said, do I have to get victory over all my sins before I can be filled with the Holy Spirit? They said, I heard a preacher say that you had to get victory over your sins before you could be filled with the Holy Spirit. I said, “No, no such thing. You can’t get victory over your sins unless you are filled with the Holy Spirit.” All you have to do with your sins is just confess them – and you know, that’s the glorious thing about it. Have you noticed, the Bible never even tells us to ask for forgiveness? You read I John 1:9, It says, if we just confess our sins, He forgives us. And the prerequisite for the Holy Spirit activating me, and motivating me in my Christian life, is not that I get victory over my sins, it is just that I acknowledge my sin and confess it. He is the one that gives me victory over it when He has control of my life.

All right, the third thing (and I like this, I think, best of all):

THE HOLY SPIRIT IS THE ATTRACTING POWER OF THE CHURCH. He is the attracting power of the church.

Do you know what the day of Pentecost was? It was a feast day. It came 50 days after Passover – and it was one of the greatest festival times in all the Israelite nation. And no matter where the Jews were scattered they wanted to make Pentecost, and they would all come to Jerusalem. Now we don’t know how many people were in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost, but most scholars make their most conservative estimate is that on the day of Pentecost, there were one million Jews in Jerusalem. Now that’s a fair sized city.

Now, I want you to notice as we read in verses  5 and 6  doesn’t’ t mean they lived there, means they had their homes there temporarily     and the most conservative estimate is that there were a million Jews that had cane there for Pentecost. Now verse 6 now you just think about that for a minute. Here is the greatest festival of the year, it is the Mardi Gras of the year, a million Jews have traveled, they have saved their money throughout all the year, many of them have gone bankrupt in order to make this pilgrimage to the holy city on this day, all of the feasts that are going on, and all of the revelry that is going on, all of the fanfare that is going on — and over here stuck out somewhere in the corner of Jerusalem are 120 people, just a drop in the bucket. And all of a sudden that 120 people became the most important and the most exciting and the focal point for a million Jews. I don’t know if that strikes you or not, but it certainly does strike me. They had done no advertising, they didn’t have any famous personality, they didn’t advertise Billy Graham or anybody else. Here was just a bunch of Christians, 120 people that nobody knew anything about. Their leader had been slaughtered a few days before. They were the of the flesh; there were a million Jews there, and all of a sudden, the whole city of Jerusalem was focused on one group of 120 people over there. And they all came together and they said, what in the world is going on?  THE HOLY SPIRIT IS THE ATTRACTING POWER OF THE CHURCH.

And, I believe God is humiliated and grieved and blasphemed when the church of Jesus Christ today is worrying about how are we going to attract the crowds, and how are we going to get the attention of the people, and we go to the world and ask them how to do it. And we try to pattern our ways after the world, and adopt their philosophy, and say if we will just lower the bar a little bit, or if we will do this and such, or if we will put on a program and have this dance in our church,  or have this thing in our church, well then we are going to attract the crowd. That’s not the way, that’s not the way the church attracts the people. The amazing thing about those bunch of Christians in the book of Acts is they never lacked for an audience, and they never lacked for a crowd. Why? Because they let the Holy Spirit of God completely and fully possess them, and THE ATTRACTING POWER OF THE CHURCH is the spirit of God working in the lives of the people. You don’t have to avertise a fire, people just go because they love to see the fire.  John Wesley said, “If you will get on fire for the Lord the world will come and watch you burn.” I was reading the other day and I came across something pretty interesting…     I thought Billy Graham was doing pretty good until I read where George Whitfield – now listen — George Whitfield who lived in the 1700s  and didn’t have an advance man, made no advertising, didn’t have a P.A. system, but he preached – and in one field there were 300,000 people listening to him. They came in the winter time. They, husband and wife, would ride a horse and when the horse got weary, the man would walk down in knee-deep snow and lead the horse with his wife on it, and some of them, it took 10 days to get to the place where George Whitfield was preaching. And 300,000 people out in the freezing wind and in an open field heard George Whitfield preach. And there is no explanation, except that George Whitfield read through Matthew Henry’ s commentary on his knees, praying that God would fill Him with the Holy Spirit. THE HOLY SPIRIT IS THE ATTRACTING POWER OF THE CHURCH.

Do you know why he is the attracting power of the church?  Let me tell you why. Because Jesus said, “when the spirit of God is come He shall glorify me, he shall testify of me •“ And Jesus is the marvelous magnet and men will always be drawn to Jesus, and when the Spirit of God occupies and controls a man, makes that man like Jesus, and the people are magnetized, and they are drawn to that person and to that church. Someone has said there are three ways to fill a church:  One is by promotion, advertising. The other is by prizes, giving green stamps, and the other is by the power of the Holy Spirit. BE IS THE ATTRACTING POWER OF THE CHURCH.

Let me close with this one word. If all of this is so, then the Holy Spirit is to be the ACKNOWLEDGED PERSON IN THE CHURCH.

It must have been mighty tempting for Simon Peter – he always thought too highly of himself anyway – and all the people came together and they said, “Listen here, Simon, what’s the cause of all of this?” And perhaps Simon could have said, well, you know I’ve gone to seminary for three years, I was with Jesus, I went upon the Mt. of Transfiguration, Jesus had a special conference with me, after His resurrection Jesus called me aside and He gave me special instructions, and after all, I am the leader of the group. It would have been very tempting and very easy for Simon Peter to say, “well we have been praying for 10 days and that’s why.” Or, “We are a holy people, that’s why”, “we don’t accept open communion or alien immersion, that’s why.” But you notice — when the people came together and said, “what’s going on?” Simon Peter said,  “It’s not us, it is not anything we have done, it’s just what God has done through us, through the HOLY SPIRIT. HE ACKNOWLEDGED THE PERSON AND THE POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT IN HIS LIFE.

This is just so simple that you and I are going to stumble over it tonight. Let’s acknowledge Him, be aware of His presence, carry on a conversation with Him as you drive to work tomorrow–as you wash your dishes, as you change the diaper on the baby, you carry on a conversation with the blessed Holy Spirit that dwells within you, ask him to lead you, don’t grieve Him, don’t grieve Him. I wish we had the time to read, well, we just will, over in Acts chapter 4 where he is talking about not grieving the Holy Spirit, Ephesians chapter 4 …. (v. 25..) I tell you, just stop lying, stop exaggerating, speak every man the truth with his neighbor. Verse 26 that’s pretty hard to do, to be angry without sinning. I don’t know many of us that can do it. Don’t let the sun set and be able to say in your heart there is somebody on the face of this earth that I an angry with. Listen, as the sun sets tonight in about another hour, if there is anybody on the face of the earth that you have got malice or ought against, then you are grieving the Holy Spirit of God, and He is not in control. V. 27, 28, 29. You are grieving the Holy Spirit. Verse 31 — that’s sour resentment against people, and wrath, that’s outbursts of temper — that’s gossip ,,, verse 32. You see, that’s ACKNOWLEDGING THE PRESENT OF THE HOLY SPIRIT in your life. And so when someone comes up to you after church tonight and says, “did you hear about so and so?” and you are tempted to listen, you ACKNOWLEDGE THE PRESENCE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT in your life. Oh, I’d rather not listen to gossip and have His fullness. There isn’t any gossip, there isn’t any story you can tell about anybody in this church that means as much to me as having the Holy Spirit’s blessing in my life. When you are tempted to tell an off color joke, or use some foul language, you stop and remind yourself -ACKNOWLEDGE THE PRESENCE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT in your life. Surely no joke is that funny. When you are tempted to lie a little bit for personal advantage, surely there is no greater personal advantage than having the Holy Spirit filling you and blessing you. Just ACKNOWLEDGE HIS PRESENCE IN YOUR LIFE. That’s what Joseph said when pharaoh’s wife tempted him, he said, “how can I do this thing and sin in God’s sight?” And when the devil whispers to you about this temptation and that, why don’t you just say to yourself, how can I do this and grieve the Holy Spirit that dwells within me? I’ll tell you, the characteristic mark of the church that Jesus gave his blood for is a church that is ACKNOWLEDGING THE PRESENCE OF THE SPIRIT.

©Ron Dunn, LifeStyle Ministries, 2004