The Fruit of Empowerment

Heaven on Earth  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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The coming of the Spirit is the coming of the Kingdom and represents the arrival of the power of the age to come during the present evil age.
The present significance of the kingdom is that God’s people in the present age (now) are citizens of the coming age, we are people whose identity is determined by what Jesus has done and who they now are, not by what we have been or by our status in the world
And as citizens of the coming age, The Spirit is in us now as a guarantee of that coming age and working in us now.
Where the Spirit is working to transform human beings, the kingdom is active.
We have a new master and king, and our bodies are no longer to be used to carry out our own will, and hence we should “glorify God” in our bodies.
We no longer live for ourselves but for him who died and rose on our behalf.
We have a new goal and new aim - to magnify Christ in our remaining time on earth.
As we have examined the first 2 chapters of Acts, the emphasis has been on the Spirit’s empowerment to be a witness of Jesus. Empowerment for missions and empowerment for evangelism.
We then see this fulfilled with the Spirit filling the assembled believers followed by speaking in tongues and Peter’s sermon to the people. The structure of his sermon being all about Jesus.
Acts 2:37-47 “When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” Peter replied, “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.” With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day. They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”
For our purpose today we want to look at Luke’s concluding remarks following the question, what should we now do? What does a lifestyle of repentance look like?
Effective evangelism (2:41) -
Devotion (persevere devotedly) to Apostle’s teaching, shared worship, meals, and prayer (2:42) - it is the believing community’s lifestyle that leads to continuous conversions.
Shared possessions (2:44–45)
Shared worship, meals, and prayer (2:46)
Effective evangelism (2:47)
Luke’s emphasis following their repentance is, fruit of the disciples empowerment.
Devotion to Apostle’s teaching, shared worship, meals and prayer
Doctrine is of first priority, Doctrine creates your theology.
Everyone is a theologian. There is no such thing as no theology. THEOLOGY theā̈lʹ-ə-Jē[ < théos-‘god’ + lógos-‘word’]. “Theology” etymologically means “a word about God”
There is only bad theoology and good theology.
Psalm 14:1 “The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, their deeds are vile; there is no one who does good.”
Bad theology is just as forceful to your life as good theology.
Your theology is a direct force to your life. Your life being your character which is made up of your habits and decisions.
Doctrine goes beyond just what is right or wrong, though that is very much included, it creates a new worldview in its subjects based on an objective reality or what we call truth. The center of our worldview, our reality is Christ.
Francis Schaeffer said, “Christianity is not merely religious truth, it is total truth-truth about the whole of reality.”
A worldview: is a biblically informed perspective on all reality. A worldview is like a mental map that tells us how to navigate the world effectively. It is the imprint of God’s objective truth on our inner life.
Just as we all have a theology, we also all have a worldview good or bad. Our worldview in our head answers the questions of who we are, where did we come from, what is the purpose of life. And these that are shaped by the doctrine we believe, produce and are the force behind our actions, behaviors, habits, and decisions.
Your life is a direct reflection of what you think of God, your worldview. I can look at your habits and behaviors and see your worldview, your theology.
In a recent survey by a sociologist at North Carolina University (an evangelical) we find both good news and bad news. Good news is that the vast majority of christians held the right views of who Jesus is, the inerrancy of Scripture, the importance of religion to their life. The bad news is that not a single person in the survey was able to articulate a biblical philosophy of business, politics, or culture.
In other words, christians are doing a fine job in their private devotional life but are not asking the question of why did God create the State, why did God create economics and how was that redeemed, etc.
Why are so many young people leaving the faith once they arrive on a University campus? Why have only 47% of Christians returned to corporate worship post covid.
Heart vs. Brain
The divide of modern societies:
Private Sphere Personal Preferences / Public Sphere Scientific Knowledge
Religion is not considered an objective truth to which we submit but only a matter of personal taste which we choose. Which has led to the divide of arbitrary, existential decisions:
Vales Individual Choice / Facts Binding on everyone
There is the two-realm theory of truth:
Upper Story non rational, noncognitive / Lower Story Rational, Verifiable
Lower story is made of science and reason which are considered public truth, binding on everyone. The upper story which is the place of personal meaning… Where we get the phrase “That may be true for you but it’s not for me.”
Today’s modern two-story truth:
Postmodernism Subjective, Relative to Particular Groups / Modernism Objective, Universally Valid
When secularism does this well, that can say that they respect religion while at the same time denying that it has any relevance to the public realm. You will not have any problems as long as you don’t treat christianity as any real “knowledge”
You won’t encounter any obstacles or enemies in life as long as you keep your faith isolated in the upper story.
Let’s see if you can catch the subtle split between private and public spheres:
This was from a position paper put out by the Arkansas Science Teachers Association: “Science strives to explain the nature of the cosmos while religion seeks to give the cosmos and the life within it a purpose.”
Notice that in this definition, religion doesn’t give any actual knowledge about the cosmos; it addresses only questions of “purpose”. Even then, it doesn’t reveal purpose of the cosmos but instead gives it one- language implying that purpose is not objectively real but only a human construction that we impose upon the material world.
Thus the importance of devotion to doctrine. Developing a biblical worldview and theology which will shape your behaviors and habits and equip you to fulfill your biblical mandate to redeem culture.
Luke follows the emphasis on doctrine with fellowship, breaking of bread and prayer.
Notice the emphasis is on community.
The entire Christian life, including spiritual growth, battling sin and Satan, and serving God, are intended to be done in community
We as human beings are communal beings. We cannot find real fulfillment in life unless our community life is meaningful.
The body of Christ is incomplete without us, and we are incomplete without the body of Christ. Community life is not an option for a Christian, but a basic aspect of Christianity
The most vulnerable person is an isolated person.
We need authentic relationships, that is why we have small groups, they are integral to your spiritual growth and freedom.
The sickest spiritually i had ever been was the time of my life where I did not have that kind of open and honest relationship. I could quote all the scriptures and pray for hours yet I failed to grow and get free.
Get in a Small Group
“All believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need.” Acts 2:44-45
The imperfect tense in the verbs here suggests that Property was sold according to need.
Thus, we do not have here a case of enforced sharing, as in communism. Nor was it a once-for-all disposal of all private property in the church.
The important point is that at the heart of the outcome of the new life of the Spirit is not only the Spirit’s power and gifting for ministry, but fruit. This fruit- Spirit empowered believers loved one another so much that they valued one another more than they valued their possessions.
What seems to be a critical expression of the fruit of the Spirit working and moving in the hearts of men is generosity - giving in worship to God and people in need.
Before I speak on generosity, we must touch on the tithe.
Obviously the debate today is on whether the tithe is required for the New Testament believer.
I want to share a few thoughts on that but first frame it with: If we do anything out of fear or guilt or manipulation, it isn’t right. I know many churches have taught tithing from a place of almost straight up manipulation. And I submit to you, that even under the law tithing was never portrayed as something we have to do but rather get to do.
Dueteronomy 12:5-6 - Deuteronomy 14:24-26 an amazing privilege to bring your tithes to God and eat and rejoice in the presence of the Lord.
Malachi - post exilic from Babylon, building as they await the coming Messiah
Church - post excilic from Satan, building as we await the Messiah (Christ will build His church) It’s time to build
Both Nehemiah and Malachi reveal that the tithe (in this time of building) was
1 - for God’s house,
2 - for the Levites,
3 - for reverential worship.
Deuteronomy presents the tithe as gratitude to grace. We even see the revivals in the time of Moses coinciding with extravagent giving.
One thing is absolutely certain: The sacrifices of the New Testament are greater and on a higher level than the Old Testament, we don’t sacrifice for but because. It is a higher level.
It’s obvious we aren’t under the Law, we can learn from it, but it isn’t for us today. So where do we look?
Tithing preceded the Law with
Abraham tithed to a preincarnate Jesus in response to grace. Abraham was not under the law, he was under grace. He was not commanded nor compelled other than his own heart of worship. Now he is called the father of faith and we are to walk in faith just as he did, so that is something of note. How does the father of faith respond to the grace of God? With worship of the tithe.
Jacob who promises God that he will tithe off of everything God gives him. Everything.
Tithing is not framed as something we have to do in Scripture, it is always framed as an insane privilege of worship and honor to God.
The widows mites, the rich young ruler, in Acts- these stories are not prescriptive, they are descriptive. He isn’t saying to all of us to give it all away. Though maybe he will. If he did, it would be absolutely logical and rational, the whole of us belongs to JESUS.
This leads to 3 different thoughts:
The NT believer should tithe because of Abraham and Jacob
If you don’t tithe, fine, give like the New Testament… Because you are so radically generous you are obsessed with giving, you give way above 10 %.
Realize where we are in building - Malachi. Those that aren’t tithing or giving, they are not Romans 12 people, they aren’t partnering with Christ. Robbing God of worship and glory due to his name.
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