The Gospel Unleashed - Unleashed By His Power

Sermon Summary

This message speaks of how the gospel is unleashed through the power of the Holy Spirit! When the Holy Spirit was given to the followers of Jesus He brought the presence of God into their lives in a powerful way. God's purpose for sending His Spirit was multi-purposed and was certainly so that He could be with His followers, but another clearly spoken purpose was to enable them to be His witnesses. When people saw the power of the Spirit working in the followers of Christ in a uniquely different way from the way the world uses power it was a powerful testimony to them of what God could do in a person's life. A few of the differences the Holy Spirit makes in a persons life are then discussed. His Spirit brings conviction to help us reject sin, discernment to help us choose ways of righteousness, the ability to know the truth and the joy of the Lord which is not dependent on circumstances. The message ends with an example of the power of the Holy Spirit to influence unbelievers to come to know Jesus!

Community Group Discussion Guide

1. People who are not followers of Christ depend on their own power to make it through the circumstances of life. This may work for them for a while or may not work at all. However, there are problems when a person depends on their own strength, their own resources, and their own wisdom to make it in this world. What are some of those problems?

2. What are some of the ways in which the presence of God's Holy Spirit has made a difference in your life? Hint: Conviction/Discernment/Truth/Joy.

Rom 15:13  May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Rom 15:14  I myself am convinced, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, complete in knowledge and competent to instruct one another.
Rom 15:15  I have written you quite boldly on some points, as if to remind you of them again, because of the grace God gave me
Rom 15:16  to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles with the priestly duty of proclaiming the gospel of God, so that the Gentiles might become an offering acceptable to God, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.

3. Read the following statement by Brother Lawrence in his letter to a friend who was facing difficult times. Discuss what he told his friend and how it might apply to your own life during times of troubles.

"We have only ourselves to blame if we turn from God, occupying ourselves instead with the trifles of life.
In the Lord's patience He endures our weaknesses.
But just think of the price we pay by being separated from His presence!
Once and for all, let us begin to be His entirely. Let us banish from our heart and soul all that does not reflect Jesus.
Let us ask Him for the grace to do this, so that He alone might rule in our hearts."

4. What are some of the ways the Holy Spirit's presence in your life will help you to reach out to your friends who don't know Jesus? In other words, what differences will they see in you that they might eventually desire to have in their own lives?

Mat 5:14  "You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden.
Mat 5:15  Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.
Mat 5:16  In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.

Full Sermon Notes

Unleashed By His Power

"You made a way when there was no way!" That's the difference between relying on your own power or allowing the gospel to be unleashed in your life by His Power! And make no mistake about it, The power of God is present in a believer's life because of God's presence in a believer's life through The Holy Spirit! Let's pray and ask God to help us discover how this can change our lives! Pray!

Folks, before we begin, I have an apology to make. Last week, I inadvertently gave you some wrong information. That's what happens when I get a way from my notes. I had researched several of the things in the gospel of Luke that are exclusive to Luke's gospel. The centurion at the crucifixion is not one of them. In the second service I realized my mistake further into my message so after the offering I jumped back up and alerted them to my mistake. Just wanted to clear that up. Let me say this, when it comes to the amazing privilege I have to preach and teach God's Word, I give Him all the glory and I can only take the credit when a mistake is made! Yep, I did that! And while I never blame God for my mistakes, I give Him my mistakes and let Him use them to showcase His grace!

Now, let's see how the gospel is unleashed by His Power. Our text is found in Luke's second volume of his writings, known as the Book of Acts. So let's read Acts 1:6-8...

Acts 1:6-8...So when they met together, they asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”
He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority.
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.”

So the gospel, the good news of Jesus was...

Unleashed with a Different Kind of Power

What do I mean by that? A different kind of power than the world's power! After everything the disciples had seen and heard, they were still stuck in their limited understanding. They were followers of Jesus and were astonished and amazed at seeing Jesus resurrected from the grave, and yet they were having such a hard time getting their eyes off the world and its ways. Like the teachers of the law and the religious leaders of their day they were still looking for Jesus to be their political Savior, their physical earthly king. They wanted to see Israel returned to her former glory when they were a world power and respected and feared by other nations. They wanted the power and prestige that comes along with that! They were looking for worldly blessings from God! Not that that wasn't going to happen at some point in the future, but Jesus wanted them to know and understand that God's Kingdom was so much more than simply being powerful in the things and ways of the world. The disciples were still under the impression that the only way to change the world was to be in control, to be in charge, to be the rulers, to be the political power brokers. They needed to understand that the Kingdom of God was different, very different! You may wonder what the Kingdom of God is. The Kingdom of God is anywhere in which God rules. But here's the kicker: While God is all powerful in every way, He only sets up His Kingdom rule where He is invited to rule and you might be surprised where He most desires to rule.

Jesus spoke of this place in The Gospel of Luke...

Luke 17:20-21 Once, having been asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied,
“The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation,
nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is within you.”

In other words, God's Kingdom is a kingdom of the heart! God created this world and has ultimate power over this world and can exert that power at any moment or time, but He purposely gave humankind a choice when it comes to His Lordship in our lives and we must decide whether or not we will allow His Kingdom to be established within our hearts. Jesus also said this when speaking to Pilate, just before the crucifixion...

John 18:36 Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews.
But now my kingdom is from another place.”

What place is He talking about? I believe He's talking about a kingdom of the heart! And how does God set up His Kingdom in a person's heart? How do we allow the power of God to reign supreme in our hearts? It's when we allow The Holy Spirit of God to fill up our hearts with the presence of God! If you've never placed your faith and trust in Jesus it's about inviting God into your life by way of His Holy Spirit! It's admitting you're not perfect and need a Savior. Then simply call His name and ask Him to give you His Holy Spirit. For those of us who have already made this decision it's about allowing the Holy Spirit free reign in every area of your life. You may have heard me say this before, but being filled with The Holy Spirit is not us getting more Spirit, but The Spirit getting more of us! And when that happens, power to live life in victory regardless of circumstances takes place! And all of this happens because The Holy Spirit brings God's presence into our lives in a very tangible and meaningful way.

When we do the opposite and follow the world's way of dealing with life we will seek to be in control of everything. We will try to use our own power, our resources, our strength, and our own human wisdom to get the upper hand. The problem is the world is relentless and circumstances are ever changing and the truth is you and I simply cannot control life! I don't care how much physical power you have, or financial power, or political power, you will at some point realize your power is not enough. The tragedy many times is this: People who depend on the world's power and resources leave a path of destruction in their pursuit to control their lives or they just get discouraged and give up on life. Either way it's not good. But when we allow The Holy Spirit to bring the presence of God into every situation and circumstance we can overcome. Over 300 years ago a man known as Brother Lawrence wrote some letters to a friend who was going through some tough times. His friend published the letters and the resulting book is the classic titled: "The Practice of the Presence of God!"

Listen to what Brother Lawrence told his friend in his thirteenth letter...

"God knows very well what we need and that all He does is for our good.
If we knew how much He loves us, we would always be ready to face life--both its pleasures and its troubles.
You know, the difficulties of life do not have to be unbearable. It is the way that we look them--through faith or unbelief.
We must be convinced that our Father is full of love for us and that He only permits trials to come our way for our own good.
Let us occupy ourselves entirely in knowing God. The more we know Him, the more we will desire to know Him.
As love increases with knowledge, the more we know God, the more we will truly love Him.
And we will learn to love Him equally in times of distress or in times of great joy.
Although we seek and love God because of the blessings He has given us,
or for those He may give us in the future, let us not stop there.
These blessings, as great as they are, will never carry us as near to Him...
as a simple act of faith does in a time of need or trouble.
Let us look to God with these eyes of faith. He is within us; we don't need to seek Him elsewhere.
We have only ourselves to blame if we turn from God, occupying ourselves instead with the trifles of life.
In the Lord's patience He endures our weaknesses.
But just think of the price we pay by being separated from His presence!
Once and for all, let us begin to be His entirely. Let us banish from our heart and soul all that does not reflect Jesus.
Let us ask Him for the grace to do this, so that He alone might rule in our hearts."

Now you might be thinking: "But that guy, Brother Lawrence, doesn't know what I'm going through. He doesn't know how difficult my situation is. It's easy to say what he said when things are going good." Well let me read to you the next two sentences of his letter...

"I must confide in you, my dear friend, that I hope, in His grace, that I will see Him in a few days.
Let us pray to Him for one another."

Brother Lawrence was sick and passed away just a few days later, on February 12, 1691. What amazing faith and power of the presence of God was in his life. I often tell folks who are gravely ill, "God will either give you a miraculous healing or a miraculous grace!" In Brother Lawrence's situation it was a miraculous grace! He was slipping from this world but was more concerned for his friend. The world knows nothing of that kind of power. This man, with only a few days left in this old world was consumed with a passion for God and wanted his friend to trust the presence of God in his life with the circumstances he was facing. What an example of practicing what you preach and this brings us to our next point.

The Gospel was unleashed by His power and that power was…

Unleashed for God's Purpose

Acts 1:6-8 So when they met together, they asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”
He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority.
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.”

"And you will be my witnesses." God had a purpose for pouring out His precious Holy Spirit on His followers. It was multi-purposed, but one of the reasons was so they could be His witnesses to the whole world. More on this in just a minute, but first look at what Jesus said: Jesus told His followers: "you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you." He was referring to Day of Pentecost when the Disciples would receive the Holy Spirit. God had been with them in the flesh through Jesus, but Jesus was about to ascend back to heaven, which happened right after Jesus promised them the Holy Spirit. Acts 1:9-11...

Acts 1:9-11 After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.
They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them.
“Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven,
will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”

Now we usually associate this statement by these two heavenly beings with the second coming of Jesus to the earth in physical form. That will happen some day, and may have been exactly what they were referencing, but Jesus would return to His followers by way of His Holy Spirit in just a few days and for a divine purpose!
In fact, Luke had recorded Jesus' words about the coming of His Holy Spirit in the story we read last week about Jesus' appearance to the two men on the Emmaus road. Remember, it was just days after the death of Jesus and they didn't recognize Him until He broke bread with them and then disappeared from them. Let's pick up the story from there...

Luke 24:33-49 They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together
and saying, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.”
Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread.
While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.”
They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost.
He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds?
Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.”
When he had said this, he showed them his hands and feet.
And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, he asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat?”
They gave him a piece of broiled fish,
and he took it and ate it in their presence.
He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you:
Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.”
Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.
He told them, “This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day,
and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.
You are witnesses of these things.
I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”

Did you notice how Jesus reminded His followers of what He had suffered in order to make a way for them to be made right with God. He then revealed the purpose for which the power of The Holy Spirit would be sent to them...

Luke 24:47-49...repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.
I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”

There's the purpose of the coming of the Holy Spirit into the lives of the followers of Jesus! So that repentance and forgiveness of sins would be preached in His name to all nations! And when we allow the Holy Spirit to fill our lives with the very presence of God we also receive the power to be personal witnesses of the difference the presence of God makes in a persons life!

And did you noticed He said they would be clothed with power from on high? Clothed with the Holy Spirit. In other words He will impact your very appearance to the world because your whole life will be under the influence of the presence of God. Okay, there's no way I could give you an exhaustive list of the differences the Spirit will make in your life, but we're going to spend the last few minutes of our time today looking at a few and end with an example. And just know that when He does these things, He's there to make a difference in your life, but also He's unleashing the gospel by His power through your life to the world around you!

The Difference of Conviction

John 16:7-9 But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away.
Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.
When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment:
in regard to sin, because men do not believe in me;

The Holy Spirit will use His power to convict you of sin. And remember, it's not for the purpose of condemning you or making you feel bad, it's because the Spirit knows what sin will do to you and He wants to cloth you with the power to overcome the sin that destroys life. And when you turn away from sin and embrace real life, those around you will notice. Hopefully they will see the difference in your life and begin desiring to have what you have. At first they will think it strange, but hold on to your convictions in love and you will be a witness to them. They may at some point ask you to tell them your secret to life because living in sin is killing them. Jesus also said the Holy Spirit would bring conviction in regards to righteousness.

The Difference of Discernment

John 16:8-10 When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment:
in regard to sin, because men do not believe in me;
in regard to righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer;

Jesus was going to Father so The Holy Spirit would now be the One to help us discern the better choices in life, the righteous choices. So your witness to the world will not just be what you don't do and what you're against, but it will be the righteous, good things you will do in love that will draw the lost to Christ! We should be better known for what we stand for rather than what we're against. I can't tell you how many times the Holy Spirit has given me discernment in various situations and helped me make the right choices. In fact I can't imagine not having this direction and leadership of His Spirit! I would be lost without His leadership, not only as a pastor, and chaplain, but as a husband, a father, and as a man living in a fallen world!

The Difference of Truth

John 16:12-15 “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear.
But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth.  
He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.
He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you.
All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you.

How powerful is that? For the disciples at this time Jesus said "when He, the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all truth." For us we know the Spirit of truth has already come into this world, so when we invite Jesus to come into our heart we receive the Holy Spirit! When we allow Him to fill every area of our life, every day, we have daily access to God's truth! And talk about a witness to the world! Living our lives according to God's truth will unleash the gospel to those around us in a loving and powerful way. Jesus said "the Spirit will take from what is mine and make it know to you." In other words, the same knowledge of truth Jesus had, we have access to. Talk about power for living! Okay, one last thing, and it's important.  

I tell people all the time that we don't live by feelings or emotions. Feelings and emotions change with circumstances, and that can lead you to live a roller coaster life. Nothing wrong with an occasional roller coaster ride at an amusement park, but you don't want to live on a roller coaster! The ultimate goal for a Christian is not happy, happy, but joy, joy.

The Difference of Joy

What is the difference? Happy is based on circumstances, joy is based on a relationship with Jesus and the truth of His promises. Jesus knew the disciples were about to go through a really hard time. They were going to witness His crucifixion. They were going to feel defeated, lost and hopeless. But Jesus knew the end of the story. Here's what He told the disciples...

John 16:20-22 I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy.
A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come;  
but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world.
So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.

And how true that was. Once the disciples realized Jesus had defeated sin, death, and the grave they could not contain their joy and  they spread it to those around them. And even when persecuted and imprisoned for their faith, nothing could take away their joy because God was with them through His Holy Spirit, and as a result, the gospel was unleashed on the world!

I'll close with that example from Luke's volume two, Acts 16:25-34...

Acts 16:25-34 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them.
Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken.  
At once all the prison doors flew open, and everybody’s chains came loose.
The jailer woke up, and when he saw the prison doors open,
he drew his sword and was about to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped.
But Paul shouted, “Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!”
The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas.
He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”
They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved —you and your household.”
Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house.
At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his family were baptized.
The jailer brought them into his house and set a meal before them;
he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God—he and his whole family.

Let's pray!