Spiritual People Empowered for the Kingdom

Spiritual People Empowered for the Kingdom

Pastor Joe Fuiten, January 17, 2016, 21 degrees

In this message I want to show the beginnings and subsequent work of the Holy Spirit in the ministry of Jesus.  Having shown that, I then want to show that Jesus expected his same pattern to be that of the disciples as well.  Finally I want to show that the Early Church had the same expectation and pattern, the very pattern that we should be following today.

First, Luke clearly tied the baptism and anointing of Jesus with the beginning of his ministry and not at some other time. Luke 3:21-23 “When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too. And as he was praying, heaven was opened 22 and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” 23 Now Jesus himself was about thirty years old when he began his ministry.” NIV

Just to eliminate confusion, Matthew tells us that Jesus had come up out of the water before the Spirit descended upon him.  Here Luke told us that Jesus was praying.

Then Luke shows us the beginning of his ministry activity which is in the power of the Holy Spirit.  Luke 4:1-2 “Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the desert, 2 where for forty days he was tempted by the devil.”

Later in that same chapter he shows Jesus working in the power of the Spirit. Luke 4:14-19 “Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside. 15 He taught in their synagogues, and everyone praised him. 16 He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. And he stood up to read. 17 The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written: 18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” NIV

Luke also wrote Acts which is the beginning of the ministry after Jesus.  He was very clear in showing the parallels between the beginning of the ministry of Jesus and the beginning of the ministry of his disciples.  Here is how Luke begins part two of his story of Jesus:  (Acts 1:1-5) “In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach 2 until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen. 3 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. 4 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. 5 For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”    I was struck by the phrase “after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit…” and wondered what it meant.

Luke wrote both the Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles.  In each book he emphasizes the work of the Holy Spirit first in the life of Jesus and then in the followers of Jesus.  Here, the Holy Spirit has something to do with the words of Jesus.  At the end of verse 2 the Western text adds “And ordered to proclaim the gospel.”[1]  That is, Jesus was speaking through the Holy Spirit to the apostles who would take the Gospel to the whole world.

The reason Jesus is going to baptize the believers with the Holy Spirit is so they could be an empowered witness.  This is made clear in verse “8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

Jesus is going to do more than command people to do a particular thing.  He is going to be the example of it.  So when Jesus speaks, he does so through the Holy Spirit.  It seems that it is important to Luke to emphasize the Holy Spirit in the life of Jesus.  Luke’s characteristic phrase is “Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit…”[2]  Jesus received the Holy Spirit’s anointing on the banks of the Jordan in the same way that the disciples will receive it in Acts 2.

One of the church fathers, Arnobius, even goes so far as to compare the tongues miracle of Acts 2 with what Jesus did.  In Book 1, Section 46, Arnobius was speaking of all the incredible things that Jesus did.  He mentions his miracles of every type.  Then he says, “Was He one of us, who, when He uttered a single word, was thought by nations far removed from one another and of different speech to be using well-known sounds, and the peculiar language of each.”[3]  Arnobius says when Jesus spoke a word, it was thought by the listeners from other nations to be in their own language.  This is precisely the miracle that happened on the day of Pentecost as the disciples spoke in tongues.  Whether we can prove Jesus spoke in tongues even with the testimony of Arnobius is doubtful.  But there is no doubt Arnobius was drawing a parallel.

You can see a parallel role for the Holy Spirit in the ministry of Jesus and the ministry of his disciples.  Jesus received power when the Holy Spirit came upon him and went in the power of the Spirit around Galilee.  In Acts 1:8 he wants his disciples to operate in the same way.  Jesus experienced it.  He wants his disciples to do the same.  It was also what the Early Church prayed for.

“The Divine Liturgy of James, the Holy Apostle and Brother of the Lord,” which Neale[4]  says is earlier than AD 200,” makes the same connection.  Three times in the liturgy there is a prayer for the gifts of the Spirit. In the third prayer, which comes as part of the lengthy communion, the liturgist prays for the Holy Spirit who is described as the one, “that descended in the form of a dove on our Lord Jesus Christ at the river Jordan, and abode on Him; that descended on Thy apostles in the form of tongues of fire in the upper room of the holy and glorious Zion on the day of Pentecost; this Thine all-holy Spirit, send down, O Lord, upon us, and upon these offered holy gifts.”

Today we are asking God to empower your mission whatever it might be.  Everyone has a mission because God gave us all something to do.  He intends to supply the power and the ability. We tend to focus on our inability and often give up before we start.  God wants us to focus on the assignment and upon the power supplied by the one who assigns it to us.  This is why we pray for the Baptism of the Holy Spirit.  We want the same thing for our lives.

[1]Robertson’s Word Pictures in the New Testament, © 1997, 2003 by Biblesoft, Inc. © 1985 by Broadman Press.

[2] Luke 4:1.

[3] Arnobius, “The Seven Books of Arnobius Against the Heathen,”  Book 1, #46, Ante-Nicene Fathers, Alexander Roberts, D.D., and James Donaldson, LL.D., eds., (Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson), Vol. 6. page 425.

[4] General Introduction to the History of the Holy Eastern Church, p. 319, cited on p. 553, Vol 7 Ante-Nicene Fathers.