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Presentation 03. Introduction One of the tragedies of the contemporary church is its growing preoccupation with both men and methods. We are more concerned.

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Presentation on theme: "Presentation 03. Introduction One of the tragedies of the contemporary church is its growing preoccupation with both men and methods. We are more concerned."— Presentation transcript:

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3 Introduction One of the tragedies of the contemporary church is its growing preoccupation with both men and methods. We are more concerned with what men can do for the church than with what God can do in the church. We believe, get the right man or the right method and church growth is guaranteed. In practice, the opposite is the case. It is only when we admit that our advance and success as a church is totally dependant upon God then we stand on the threshold of real fruitfulness. Todays passage serves as a helpful corrective for the church. Presentation 03

4 A Unique Event The disciples were told to wait in Jerusalem for the promised Holy Spirit. God was about to do a new thing! For the first time men and women of faith would be indwelt by God. Gods timing for the gift of his Spirit was perfect. The feast of Pentecost which acknowledged God to be Lord of the harvest had begun. By giving his Spirit at this time God was indicating that a greater harvest - that of human lives - was to be gathered in. Presentation 03

5 A Unique Event In what way was the gift of the Holy Spirit central to this objective? Jesus death had made it possible for a message of forgiveness and reconciliation to be preached. However, a barrier existed between the marvellous achievement of Christ upon the cross and the spiritual receptivity of man. You see, Jesus death did not automatically confer salvation upon men. This salvation needed to be applied to men and women. Presentation 03

6 A Unique Event Imagine someone is dying from a deadly poison. The poison is carried in the bloodstream and begins to attack the brain, the heart, the lungs, the kidneys, indeed, every organ that sustains life. Now an antidote to this poison is freely available. However, the dying man is unable to benefit from it unless the serum is injected into his bloodstream. Clearly, the gap between the mans need and the application of the remedy must somehow be bridged. Presentation 03

7 A Unique Event The Holy Spirit travels over the bridge built by gospel proclamation. He prepares the patient to receive Gods remedy. Before injecting the transforming truth of the gospel into mens lives, he makes them alive to God. The N.T. describes man by nature as dead to God. He is not unduly troubled by his spiritual condition. The poison of sin and its consequences neither alarms nor distresses him. But when the Holy Spirit begins his work he is alarmed by the seriousness of his spiritual condition. Note how Jesus describes the Spirits role, hell convince the world, of sin, righteousness and judgment to come, cf. Jn. 16v7-9. This is precisely what happens in Acts Presentation 03

8 A Unique Event The convicting work of the Holy Spirit is combined with the proclamation of the Word of God. Peter was equipped by the Spirit to communicate the message of salvation. Frightened apostles were transformed into bold witnesses! And as they preached Gods word they built a bridge over which the Spirit of God travelled with Gods life-giving, heart transforming message. When the Holy Spirit is present, the church does not need to rely on gimmicks, emotional manipulation, or upon the creation of the right atmosphere. Presentation 03

9 A Unique Event The Holy Spirit was given at Pentecost to equip the church to grow and to reproduce spiritual life. The church has often lost sight of this. She has retained her orthodoxy, believing the right things, but her vitality has often been exchanged for dull routine. Spiritual life is replaced by a creeping sterility and deadness. The risen Jesus challenges such a church ; You have a reputation for being alive but you are dead. Wake up! Rev 3.2. Only Gods Spirit can revive and quicken the church. Can we pray for that? Presentation 03

10 A Unique Event The local congregation is either a refrigerator church, or, an incubator church. A refrigerator preserves things that are already dead. An incubator generates and supports life. A refrigerator church may preserve the status quo but it does not give birth to new spiritual life. Now the disturbing thing is that refrigerator churches, like the church at Sardis, are seldom aware of the seriousness of their condition. Can the Spirit of God can change a refrigerator church into an incubator church? Yes! That is why we ought to pray for a fresh visitation of Gods Spirit? Presentation 03

11 The Role Of The Spirit What exactly are we praying for, when we ask God to come and revive us by his Spirit. The unique arrival of the Spirit on the day of Pentecost provides us with valuable insights, not least as we examine the symbolism accompanying his outpouring. The first symbol is described in v1 as a violent wind. Previously, Jesus had used the symbolism of the wind to illustrate the mystery of the Spirits work in his conversation with Nicodemus. The Holy Spirit chooses the time when he will begin to work in a persons life. In addition to this idea of sovereign initiative, when we turn to the O.T. we find that the wind is associated with the creative life giving power of the Spirit. Presentation 03

12 The Role Of The Spirit On one occasion the prophet Ezekiel was taken by God to a valley of dry bones and asked, Can these bones live? Ezek God was saying, My O.T. church is like this graveyard – an ineffective heap of bleached white bones. Then Ezekiel was told to prophesy/ preach. As he did so, the Spirit of God breathed on the dry bones. And the bones came together and then they were clothed with flesh and transformed into a mighty army ready to advance Gods purpose. Presentation 03

13 The Role Of The Spirit This O.T. background would surely have filled out the disciples understanding of the symbolism of the wind. Can we grasp what God might do today if by his Spirit he should choose to breathe new life into the dry bones of his church? Does that prospect stir your heart to cry out to God to grant us a fresh visitation of his Spirit? Presentation 03

14 The Role Of The Spirit Secondly, were told that tongues of fire rested on the disciples. This fire burned but did not consume. Why is Gods Spirit represented by fire? Fire in scripture is represented as a cleansing and purifying agent. It is fire that separates dross from pure metal. When the Holy Spirit begins to work in power in the lives of Gods people, he equips them to battle with all that is defective in their lives. His goal is to burn up all of the impurities. Think of the way in which the Holy Spirit helped Peter deal with his cowardice. The man who weeks previously behaved like a wet paper bag when a young girl suggested, he was a follower of Jesus, is now transformed into a bold and courageous disciple. Presentation 03

15 The Role Of The Spirit The fact that v3 speaks of tongues of fire further suggests that the Holy Spirits ministry is closely connected with the communication of the gospel. The rest of the chapter bears this out. Preaching is a God-given, Spirit- empowered method of communication. Paul told the Corinthians that it was through the foolishness of preaching that God saves those who believe, 1Cor.1v27. It is the proclamation of Gods word rather than any alternative that makes a lasting impact upon men and women. Presentation 03

16 The Role Of The Spirit Samuel Chadwick the famous Methodist minister wrote; Sensational methods and startling advertisements are unnecessary to announce a fire: it announces itself... Fire may always be relied upon to bring a crowd. It attracts all kinds of people The activity of the Spirit of God is his own publicity. Slick campaigns are not necessary when he is present in power to touch human hearts. Does this mean that we are to be inactive? No! Every significant movement of the Spirit of God that has been experienced in the life of the church can be tied in some way to the sustained agonising prayer of the people of God. Presentation 03

17 The Role Of The Spirit There is a further aspect of the apostles preaching to consider cf. v8... The strangers in Jerusalem heard the gospel preached in their own language. What was the significance of that? Surely this is a sign from God providing a clear indication that the gospel message was to be universally proclaimed? More immediately, it was designed to gain the attention of pilgrims, who had come from all over the Empire by addressing them in their heart language! This strange phenomenon of hearing apparently ignorant men address them in this way pinned their ears back and prepared them to listen intently to what they had to say. Presentation 03

18 The Response How did the first hearers of the gospel respond? Some were amazed and wanted to hear more about Jesus. Others mocked and ridiculed both message and messengers v13 dismissing all they had seen and heard as the product of drunkenness. Blame it all on alcohol! They were unwilling to recognise that they were witnessing something that went beyond the boundary of human reason. There was a supernatural element in all of this that they wanted to shun. They wanted to be in charge of their religious life! They did not want a religious life that would take charge of them! Presentation 03

19 Conclusion How do we respond to the work of the Holy Spirit? He continues to convict, to point to the spiritual poison in our systems. Are we prepared to experience his life-quickening cure? Or, do we try to laugh the whole thing off closing our ears to what he says? Are we content to be bones in a graveyard of dead orthodoxy or, do we long to be part of a mighty army engaged in advancing Gods kingdom? Dare we pray for increasing evidence of the Spirits work in our individual and our congregational lives? Your attitude towards the Spirits ministry will determine whether your church fellowship develops a reputation for being a morgue or an incubator. What a responsibility is ours? Presentation 03


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