(4/19) Here is a question. What is a Promise? How would you define a Promise?
The Merriam Webster Dictionary says that a Promise is:
A: a declaration that one will do or refrain from doing something specified
B: a legally binding declaration that gives the person to whom it is made a
right to expect or to claim the performance or forbearance of a specified act
After our Lord rose from the dead, He told the disciples to go back to Jerusalem and to wait for the Promise (Luke 24:46-49). Luke will pick back up here with His second letter to Theophilus that we call the Acts of the Apostles. Look at Acts 1:4. When Peter peached his first sermon in Acts 2, he said that Godís Promise is to you and to your children
and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.
What is That Promise? That promise is that whoever will believe and receive Jesus as their Savior and Lord, will receive forgiveness of sins, adoption as Godís child, Heaven as their Home, and the forever presence of Godís Holy Spirit in their lives. The Promise was given 700 years before Jesus. Letís trace this promise
Isa. 44:3, "For I will pour water on him who is thirsty, And floods on the dry ground; I will pour My Spirit on your descendants, And My blessing on your offspring;"
Ezekiel 36:26-27, "I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them."
Joel 2:28-29, "And it shall come to pass afterward That I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your old men shall dream dreams, Your young men shall see visions. 29 And also on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days."
John the Baptist in Matt. 3:11
"I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire"
Jesus in John 7:37-39
"On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, "If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. 38 He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water." 39 But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not
yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified."
John 14:16-17, 36; 15:26; 16:7; 13-15
16 "And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever 17 the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you."
This is the Promise that the Apostles were to wait for. This is the Promise that Peter said God would give to all that He calls to faith in Jesus. This is His Promise to you and me. (Watch Video Clip, A.D. The Bible Continues)
II. The Plan Ė Jesusí plan is to build His church (Matt. 16:18). It is that all people everywhere have the opportunity to hear the Good news of His Death and Resurrection for us. He could have chosen all the Angels of heaven to come down and tell everyone what He did. But He didnít do that. He could have written it across the sky, but He didnít do
that. His plan was to use the people who received His grace to share that grace with the world around them. But knowing what poor stuff we are made of, He promised to come and live inside us, to always be with us, to teach us and empower us to do and fulfill His plan. We, His Church, His body, are to carry on the life and ministry of Jesus, knowing that we are never alone and
that we can do anything God has called us to do. And to know that He will never, ever, under any circumstances, ever leave or forsake us (Cp. Matt. 28:18-20). Do you understand the plan? Brothers and Sisters, God is in the House.
We are to make the invisible God visible. When Jesus took a violent and angry man and transformed His life into a preacher and church planter, He gave Him this mission. This is our mission (Look in your bibles at Acts 16:15-18.). So I said, ĎWho are You, Lord?í And He said, ĎI am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. 16 But rise and stand on your feet; for
I have appeared to you for this purpose, to make you a minister and a witness both of the things which you have seen and of the things which I will yet reveal to you. 17 I will deliver you from the Jewish people, as well as from the Gentiles, to whom I now send you, 18 to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that
they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.í His plan is to use us to change the world. We have everything we need to get the job done. We have our past; our testimony. We have the Cross of Jesus and how He saved and forgave us, and we have the Bible. We have our present, with the Holy Spirit with us and the promises
of God. And, we have our future, no death to fear, heaven to receive, and our Friend and Brother to meet us when our days here are over.
Around a 120 years ago, William Booth, the founder of the Salvation Army made this statement about the then up-coming 20th century, "I am of the opinion that the chief dangers which confront the coming century will be religion without the Holy Spirit, Christianity without Christ, Forgiveness without repentance, salvation without regeneration, politics
without God, and heaven without hell." How on was he?
III. The Presence Ė Prior to Pentecost, God came upon people to empower them to do His will. However, His presence was often temporary. He would leave people. He came upon Samson and then left Samson. He came upon Saul and then He left Saul. He came upon David and when David was confronted with his sins, He begged God in a song (Psalm 51) not to take
His Holy Spirit from him. David knew he could never be a good king without Godís enablement. But Jesusí promise was that those who received Him would receive and never be abandoned by the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit, the same Holy Spirit that moved on the face of the earth at creation (Gen 1:2), and moved men to write the Bible, and empowered Jesus, and raised Jesus from the dead, came upon His church. It began in Acts 2. Letís read the narrative (2:1-21; 37-39).
To be baptized with the Spirit is when Jesus places His Spirit inside everyone who believes and receives Him. There are no Christians without the Holy Spirit. Listen again to Paul. "For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. 13 For by one Spirit we were all baptized
into one bodyówhether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or freeóand have all been made to drink into one Spirit," (1 Cor. 12:12-13), and, "But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His." (Romans 8:9).
Jesus is alive, though He was dead, and He is living in us, to continue His life and ministry. Paul will testify to the change in his life and say this; For I through the law died to the law that I might live to God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I
live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. (Gal. 19-20) Say that again with me aloud, Christ Lives in Me! Again; Christ Lives in Me. Do you believe that? What difference has it made in your life that Christ lives in you? (Cp. Col.1:27), "Öthe mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints. 27
To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory."
IV. The Purpose Ė We could do a whole seminary course on this but let me tell you in a few words, why God wants to live in you. I am using the word TRIBES as an acronym. (We have done this before)
A. T is for Teaches. God wants you to know and understand His word. Itís how He wants to communicate to you and guide your life. Itís how you get to know Him. But sometimes it is hard to understand, so to teach you He has come to live in you as your tutor. (Look at John 14:26; 16:13-15; 1 Cor. 2:9-16).
B. R is for Regeneration Ė He has come to generate new life in a dead person. Just like Adam was a clay model until God breathed life into him, you and I were dead apart from Christ (Eph. 2:1-3). To be born again, Jesus told Nick, one had to be born of the Spirit. Listen to Titus 3:5, "not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to
His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit," 1 Cor. 6:17 says, "that He who is joined to the Lord is one Spirit with Him." And Romans 8:10! I have eternal life now, because I have the Spirit of Life residing in me.
C. I is for Indwelling. Ė This is not a temporary thing. Jesus said this in John 14:16-17, "He will give you another helper that He may abide with you forever." Paul will say, "Donít grieve the Holy Spirit of God by whom you have been sealed for the day of redemption (Eph. 4:30)." He permanently indwells you expressly for the return of Jesus. He marks
you as belonging to God. Thatís why Jesus would say, He would never leave us nor forsake us, He would be with is until the end of the age. Even back-sliding Christians have the Holy Spirit living in them. Listen to Paul I Cor. 6:19, "Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?"
D. B is for Baptism. In Acts 1 our Lord repeats the promise given by John and it began on that Pentecost and continues to every believer (1 Cor. 12:13). Jesus places His Holy Spirit in is and we are placed into a permanent relationship with Him; He is in us and we are in Him. And because the Holy Spirit is in each of us we are permanently united to
each other. We are bonded together as a family by the Holy Spirit and as such we are to make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Eph. 4:1-3)
E. E is for Enables. Ė The Christian life is not hard, it is impossible without the enabling of the Holy Spirit. Forgiving and praying for enemies, leaving all to follow Him and more would not be possible without the enabling of the Holy Spirit. Letís look at a couple of things.
1. John 14:11-17. "Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. 13 And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If you ask anything in My name, I will do it15 "If you love Me, keep My
commandments. 16 And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you foreveró 17 the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.
Greater works than Jesus did because He goes to the Father, and gives us the right to use His name to pray for great things to be done, and because He lives in us to do those great things. Jesus was one man filled with the Holy Spirit and He accomplished much. We are an Army equipped with the Holy Spirit. What might we do if we ever grasped this truth?
2. Acts 1:8 Ė You shall receive Power Ė dunamis power, dynamic power, the power to speak great things and the power to do awesome things, in His name like the disciples in the book of Acts. Power and boldness to speak courageously about Jesus comes from His presence in us (cp. Acts 4:31). Power to change lives and the world with the truth of the
3. Ephesians 3:20 Ė "Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us," We have the ability to do greater stuff than we can imagine. That includes serving each other as we minister to the world, because He gives us all a special way to share grace with each other and others and
we all have a special way. We refer to it as a Spiritual Gift. And when we all use our giftedness, the end result will be that our church will look like Jesus. Listen, we canít do any of this on our own. Jesus said that without Him we can do nothing. But Paul says that with Him we can do all things through the one who gives us strength (Phil 4:13)
F. S is for Seals (Eph. 1:13-14; 4:30; 2Tim. 2:19) Similar to the I for
Indwelling, the idea that we are sealed by the Holy Spirit, implies 3 things.
1.) The Transaction is Complete. There is the raised seal of the state we are born in, on our birth certificate. This is the official document. We are citizens of the U.S.A. You are a citizen of Heaven, your name is recorded there and the Holy Spirit is your Official Seal on your Birth Certificate.
2.) The Ownership is Identified. You have the Brand of God on you and in you by the Holy Spirit. "Nevertheless the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: "The Lord knows those who are His," (2 Tim. 2:19a)
3.) You are Secure Ė Because you have Him in you, nothing can snatch you away from God. It is forever.
Now there is more, but this is plenty to grasp to understand how important a gift it is that the Holy Spirit is in us. The Spirit who hovered over the chaos and breathed into it the creation, the Spirit through whom Jesus was conceived in the womb of Mary, and the Spirit through whom we are born again; this creative, dynamic Spirit wants to be birthed
into time and space in our lives today. The Spirit who was poured out on the disciples on the Day of Pentecost wants to be poured out on your life today.
V. The Power
Every Thursday, I met with a dozen pastors and for 7 years we have been praying for Revival in America. We know that for a real revival to occur, Christians have to wake up to the power and potential that God has placed in their lives. In Acts 17:6, it says that, "these who have turned the world upside down have come here too." We can change the world.
But our concluding question is how? I believe the truths we just stated, but how do we employ them and change the world; how can we do greater things than we can imagine? The answer is relatively simple.
A. Study the Bible (2 Tim 2:15; 3:14-17). What did Jesus do and what He did He tell us to do? What is His Will for you? What has He commanded us to do? Joshua 1: 8 This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will
make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.
B. Trust God. (Prov. 3:5-6)
C. Commit yourself to God by prayer. I am yours Lord, I am your child and your servant. I give myself completely to you (Rom. 12:1-2).
D. Do it. Yield your will to God. 1 Cor. 16:13-14 ESV says, "Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. 14 Let all that you do be done in love." Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have
good success[a] wherever you go. (Joshua 1:7) This is outside of my comfort zone, but I am willing to do Godís will. Whatever you say Lord, this we will do. Folks, these simple things are what the Bible means by several expressions like, be Filled with the Spirit, Live in the Spirit, and Walk in the Spirit. We will change the world when we stop thinking of our Faith as a
Sunday morning exercise and start realizing it is our very life and duty.
E. One more, dare to dream a little. What is one thing that should be done, could be done, ought to be done, but isnít being done, that would help people and glorify God? Go and do it. Maybe it is something that would give you pleasure as you use it to honor God. God is in you- Church. He is in the building. And He wants to use you to change the world.
Several responses should flow out of this lesson
1. Is worship and awe as we realize that God is in me forever. I am secure. Loved with everlasting love, I am His and He is mine.
2. Is a Thirst. Arenít you thirsty for more than just religion? You have the ability to accomplish something extraordinary for the glory of God and the good of people. Stuff you canít even imagine.
3. Is a Commitment to discover and use my gift for the encouragement and building up of the body of Christ. God is in you to do something extraordinary. But to do that you have to give yourself to Him to use, and then do what He puts in your heart.
4. Have you ever repented of sin and received Jesus and the Gift of His Holy Spirit? You can today. This Promise is for you and your children and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.
Read other thoughtful writings by Pastor Gary Buchman