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Spoke About the Kingdom of God

by David Johnson

     It’s great to be together again as we look into the Word of God.  The title for the lesson is “Spoke About the Kingdom of God.”  And our text is taken from Acts chapter 1 verses 1 through 5. Please listen to the Word of God.

     “In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen. After his suffering, he showed himself to these men and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days, you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”  This is the Word of God. May He add His blessing to the public reading of His Word.

     The gospel of Luke records “an orderly account,” Luke Chapter 1 verse 3 of what Jesus Christ began to do and to teach in His human body.  The book of Acts, also written by the same writer,  Luke, records what Jesus Christ continued to do and to teach through His spiritual body – that is his church.

     We’ll embark beginning today, on a series of lessons covering the book of Acts chapter 1 and 2.  Chapter 1 should be vitally important to all Christians in that it describes the preparation for the church.  Imaging how confused we would be if in reading the New Testament, we turned the last page of the gospel of John and the next section was the book of Romans! No ‘book of Acts! We might possibly say to ourselves “How did the church get to Rome?”  Well, the answer to that question is found in the book of Acts; it’s a history of roughly the first three decades of the church age, in which are, of course, still in.

     In the first chapter of Acts, we learn of the believers taking care of ‘unfinished business,’ and getting ready for a supernatural Pentecost.

     In the gospels Jesus the Christ gains immortality, for His personhood will never ever be forgotten. In the book of Acts the presence, power, and influence of Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit on the world is immortal, for He ever lives to impact mankind. Of course, the Son of God is preexistent, but He did have a beginning in His incarnation as deity became flesh. Deity in bodily form.

     Some men leave an effect in the world which cannot die. Bible commentator William Barclay illustrates on a much, much lower level. “Sir Francis Drake was the greatest of English sailors (He lived from 1543 to 1596). And to this day, in the twenty-first century,  the British Royal Naval Barracks at Plymouth is call ‘H.M.S. Drake’, His Majesty’s Service Drake, so that there may always be sailors armed with that crested and prevailing name.”

     The Lord Jesus Christ is the greatest of all humankind. And to this day He is acknowledged by billions in 196 nations who proudly wear His title: Christian!

     Let’s begin: Acts chapter 1 verses 1 and 2 “In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen.”  “former book” of course was Luke’s gospel book which begins somewhat similarly in Luke chapter 1 verses 1 through 4.

     In the book of Acts, the evangelist Luke turned historian continues covering about 30 years after Jesus was ascended into heaven. During that short time the church was established, and the gospel of salvation was spread throughout much of the known, then known world, even to the capitol of the then Imperial Roman Empire, the city of Rome.  Those preaching and teaching the gospel of Jesus Christ, although primarily ordinary people, were empowered by the Holy Spirit of God. In the book of Acts, we Christians today, can learn the methods of taking the gospel to our generation, by the same, exact Holy Spirit.

     “Theophilus” this name means ‘friend of God,’ or ‘one who loves God.’  In Luke chapter 1 verse 3 he is referred to as “most excellent Theophilus” suggesting he was an important Roman official.  Possibly he was a Christian or at least a seeker who was carefully studying the Christian faith.  Beyond that nothing else is known with any certainty.

     Luke did not write a complete account of the first 30 years of the church age. Instead, he selectively chose those truths, events, and persons that suited his inspired purpose as he was carried along by the Holy Spirit. He was a remarkably accurate historian. Luke wrote with such accuracy that nineteenth-century British archaeologist Sir William Ramsay wrote: “I found myself often brought in contact with the book of Acts as an authority for the topography, antiquities, and society of Asia Minor. It was gradually borne in upon me that in various details the narrative (of the book of Acts) showed marvelous truth.” More recent scholars in many fields of study have confirmed Ramsay’s view of the historical reliability of the book of Acts.

     Acts chapter 1 verse 2 “After giving instructions through the Holy Spirit.”  That is by the coming presence of the Holy Spirit (as Jesus was to physically leave), and by His power they were to continue Christ’s work especially as heralds of the good news – the gospel message, the glad tidings. Some biblical scholars maintain that a more accurate title would be ‘the Acts of the Holy Spirit’ or ‘the Acts of the Apostles through the Holy Spirit.’

     Acts chapter 1 verse 3 “He appeared to them over a period of forty days.”  That is the time between Christ’s resurrection and ascension. Jesus appeared at intervals to His apostles which would leave no doubt in their minds that He really was alive again, risen out from amongst the dead. So, what did Jesus teach them primarily about during these forty days? Answer: verse 3 “spoke about the kingdom of God.” 

     From the earliest times in Israel, God was acknowledged as King. Consider from the second book of the Bible, Exodus chapter 15 verse 18 “The LORD will reign for ever and ever.” Kings in a kingdom reign. God’s kingship is universal. Consider Psalm 103 verse 19 “The LORD has established his throne in heaven and his kingdom rules overall.”  But God’s kingdom is evident most clearly, by believers who recognize His kingship and obey Him as they submit to His will as His subjects. Subjects of the King.

An over-arching prophecy of the final phases of God’s kingdom reign is as revealed in Daniel chapter 2 verse 44 which says in part “the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, nor will it be left to another people.  It will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will itself endure forever.”

     God’s final kingdom will have a thousand-year reign on this which will be a restored earth, according to Revelation chapter 20 verses 4 through 6, followed by an eternal future kingdom with a new heaven and a new earth, according to Revelation chapter 21 verse 1. Therefore, the kingdom of God will be manifested in its fullness at the second coming of Christ to this earth and then into eternity.

     However, now the kingdom of God, the phase we are in now of the kingdom of God is the realm where God rules inwardly in the hearts of His subjects, the church, and the sphere of salvation. The Old Testament did not reveal the church age phase of God’s kingdom, it was a mystery, a mystery of God revealed only in the New Testament.

     Consider the words of the apostle Paul written to the church. Colossians chapter 1 verses 13 and 14 “For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”  The Son of God is Messiah-King and head of His church, according to Ephesians chapter 5 verse 23 and He reigns over His spiritual kingdom now. 

     Jesus reminded them in Acts chapter 1 verse 4 which says in part “wait for the gift my Father promised.”  This, of course, refers to the gift of the empowering Holy Spirit in all born-again baptized believers, Christians. During the church age, then God mediates His kingdom rule through believers indwelt by the Holy Spirit, as according to Romans chapter 8 verse 9, who are obedient to His will.  That is why the apostle Peter can refer to the church as “a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God…”  First Peter chapter 2 verse 9.

     Then Luke elaborates recording Jesus’ words in Acts chapter 1 verse 5 “For John baptized with water, but in a few days, you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”

     The giving of the Holy Spirit was foreshadowed by the ministry of John the Baptist. They being baptized with the Holy Spirit would be in ten days after Jesus’s ascension.

A commentator writes: “Despite the claims of many, the apostles and early disciples experience is not the norm for believers today. They were given unique enabling of the Holy Spirit for their special duties. They also received the general and common baptism with the Holy Spirit in an uncommon way.

      All believers since the church began are commanded to be filled with the Holy Spirit, Ephesians chapter 5 verse 18, and to walk or live in the Spirit, Galatians chapter 5 verse 25.  Yet these early apostles and believers were told to wait, showing the change that came in the church age.”

     In the church age the normative and common experience for genuinely repentant believers is to be water baptized outwardly and simultaneously be Spirit baptized inwardly by receiving the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit. Acts chapter 2 verses 38 and 39 “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, for all whom the Lord our God will call” So, water baptism is a command and Spirit baptism is a promise.

     Note also in Ephesians chapter 4 verses 4 through 5 “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called to, one Lord, one faith, one baptism.”

     The New Testament affirms that in the church age there is but one baptism not two. Therefore, baptism with water and baptism with the Spirit happen at the same time. And all born-again Christians experience inwardly baptism with the Spirit not just some select or privileged Christians.

     Consider First Corinthians chapter 12 verse 13 “For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free, and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.”  Baptism with the Spirit is a gift not a baptism that needs to be sought after.

Moreover, the Baptizer is God the Holy Spirit and God the Son Jesus Christ with Spirit as a divine act. Really? Consider what is written of John the Baptist in John chapter 1 verses 32 through 33 “Then John gave this testimony: ‘I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him.’  I would not have known him, except that the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is he who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’”  So, Jesus Christ also is the baptizer with the Spirit, the Holy Spirit. This truth is reinforced in Titus chapter 3 verses 4 through 6.

     Brother Richard Ramsey has written: “The hands of men can baptize you in water, but only God’s Spirit can impart that new, inner, life unto men. John chapter 3 verse 5 “Jesus answered, ‘I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit.’”  That is, there must be both the outward demonstration of obedience to the Lord by entrance into the water of baptism, and also the inner regeneration which is the work of the Spirit.”

     So, dear listener are you baptized?  It is commanded by Jesus Christ in Matthew chapter 28 verse 19. Baptism is part of obedience that comes from faith.”  Romans chapter 1 verse 5. Do not delay be “baptized, that is immersed into Christ Jesus,” as according to Romans chapter 6 verse 3.

 

    David Johnson is minister of the Sellersburg Church of Christ in Sellersburg, IN.




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The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

John 10:10