by Pastor Adekoya Akinbode
Anything aside the HolyGhost is mere religious gyration. It is given not just as a seal on our salvation but also for the mission at hand. Under the influence of the Holy Ghost, impossibility is nothing! This is the life that we have received! Without the influence of the HolyGhost, Christianity is reduced to mere gnostic captivity activity (activity in captivity)
Until Unity is installed, the Divinity cannot function in us and through us as ordained and until you’ve come to wholly trust and rely on/in the name of Jesus Christ, as the solution to any situation, you’re yet to come to maturity!
When are where GRACE is absent, FAITH is futile; the flesh takes over and “sin” is inevitable. FAITH without GRACE is tantamount to religious struggle!
INTRODUCTION TO THE BOOK OF ACTS
Trusting the Lord, I welcome you to a wonderful, life-enriching adventure into the books of Acts. Let’s do a-Sabbath-day-journey sort of review of Acts 1 tonight, laying the foundation. We shall be launching into the deep, subsequently. Particularly when the great teachers of the word shall be taking over the stage after my session expires. Be ready and prepared to be enlightened, blessed and edified. Meanwhile, I regard it a privilege to kick start this review and I trust the Lord to guarantee us all a lasting encounter.
Acts: 1. 1. The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach,
Dr. Luke is writing to a Lover of God, or a God’s Lover – Theophilus! That may not be your real name but I guess you’re a lover of God, knowing fully well that He first loved us and commended His love towards us by sending His Son to die for our sins (and that means everything to.us, both now in time and in eternity to come)
Theophilus was a high ranking figure in the Roman Setting, a high-ranking official. The former treatise refers to what we know today as the gospel according to Saint Luke, written specifically to Theophilus:
Luke: 1. Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us, even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the word; It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus,
Theophilus – God’s lover, is addressed as “most excellent”. I guess there’s a “Theophilus” here? See yourself as most excellent! That’s not to stir up a prideful disposition but just seeing yourself as whom you are in Christ_ the son of the Most Excellency can only be ‘most excellent’. That is your identity and it shall be evident in all you do from henceforth!
Luke gave a most detailed and well scripted account of the earthly ministry of Jesus in his synoptic gospel account and a mouth-watering record of what ensued after Jesus’ ascension. The fact that these two treatises from Luke were written to the same person and (like I would often say, the Acts of the Apostles is majorly the acts of Apostle Paul!) Paul’s ministerial escapades and exploits are more pronounced has given rise to a thought that Luke probably wrote those two treatises namely: gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles – in the defense of Paul while awaiting trial before Caesar.
We see Luke together with Paul from acts 21-27 and that is said to be a period of about Two years together with Paul. Hence, Luke is suspected to have written to Theophilus in the defense of Paul.
Luke: 1. 4. That thou mightest know the certainty of those things, wherein thou hast been instructed.
Of course, it is not so obvious that Luke was writing a defence brief on behalf of Paul, but it is clear with what Luke wrote that, whoever, like Paul, that gives himself wholly into the propagation of the gospel of Christ is in line and in tune with God’s agenda (which Jesus came to kickstart or lay its foundation in His death and resurrection). Such a one is not a terrorist, a treasonist as Paul was often seen or painted to be.
Careful study will show that the book of Acts of the Apostles actually begins where the gospel of Luke ends.
Historically, any scroll that is more than thirty-five frets is considered as not handy enough to move about. So, Luke ended up writing to Theophilus using two scrolls. The contents of the first scroll is what we have as the gospel of Luke, detailing the things that Jesus began both to do and to teach till He was crucified, buried, resurrected and ascended.
Acts: 1. The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, Until the day in which he was taken up…
The second scroll contains what ensued from after Jesus’ ascension Until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen (Acts 1. 2): till Paul’s case before Caesar.
With the above background or foundation, I adjure us to await some key points I, by the Holy Ghost, will like to bring to our consciousness.
IN THE NEW CREATION, THERE ARE NO ACTS WITHOUT THE HOLY GHOST!
In every sense, the Acts of the Apostles can be said to be the Acts of the Holy Ghost through the Apostles_ the chosen/sent Ones, as it continues till date; till Jesus comes! It is (or, it should have become) a common knowledge that the New Creation began after Jesus’ resurrection. He being the firstborn of every creature; the firstborn from the dead and the head of the new Creation yet did not but give commandments to His disciples!
Acts: 1:2. Until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen:
It is important to note that He didn’t give commandments based on His own will, though in His glorified form all power (authority) in heaven and on earth already given Him, yet He still operated (and still operates) by the Holy Ghost. That’s teaching something profound and setting an example for us to follow.
The Holy Ghost is same as the Holy Spirit – the whole Spirit of God. In His absence, no agenda of God can be executed. He is the first member of the Godhead to be introduced in the process of creation (or recreation) Gen. 1:2. Same way, the resurrection of Jesus leading to the new creation in Christ was by the Holy Ghost. Meaning, there’s neither creation nor perfection without the presence of the Holy Ghost.
The Holy Ghost, though One with God, is third member of the Godhead that both inspires and empowers to do the will of God. So, in the absence of the Holy Ghost, the will of the Father cannot be done. Efforts can be made in the flesh but it will never amount to anything in the sight of God inasmuch as efforts are not made in the direction of His divine plan, as the natural man cannot perceive the things of God (1Cor.2:14) neither can the agenda of God be accomplished in the energy of the flesh (Zechariah4:6). Hence, the Holy Ghost is the Inspirer and the Empowerer in man’s quest to do the will of God. Anything beside that is mere religious gyration.
In all you do, ensure you do it inspired by, and do it through the Holy Ghost!
THE HOLY GHOST: THE EMPOWERER FOR EXPLOITS!
Understanding that live in the new Creation is as inspired and empowered by the Holy Ghost, Jesus (through the Holy Ghost) commanded His disciples to tarry till they receive the promise of the Father – the Holy Ghost.
4. And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. 5. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence. 8. But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
Note: It is easily for a law-minded fellow or preacher to quote Jesus giving “commandments” to His disciples, with emphasis on commandments, in other to reintroduce the believers in Christ back to the law. But remember that it is not written that Moses gave commandments to the Israelites through the Holy Ghost. In fact, Moses emphasis was on his very self as the “commander”:
1. And it shall come to pass, if thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe and to do all his commandments which I (Moses) command thee this day, that the LORD thy God will set thee on high above all nations of the earth: 14. And thou shalt not go aside from any of the words which I (Moses) command thee this day, to the right hand, or to the left, to go after other gods to serve them. 15. But it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe to do all his commandments and his statutes which I (Moses) command thee this day
Yes, he had the authority of God to direct the Jews in the right path but he didn’t do it through the Holy Ghost_ for the Holy Ghost was not yet given. Even, the Ten Commandments he brought from the mount was not through the Holy Ghost, but an angel! Acts 7:38 So, since that our lives and activities must be inspired and powered by the Holy Ghost, we have not business with anything from/of Moses. According to this chapter of Acts, we can see the fundamental commandment that Jesus through the Holy Ghost gave His disciples: that they should remain in Jerusalem until they are baptized with (empowered by) the Holy Ghost.
Acts: 1. 4. And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. 5. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.
That was very vital because, like I often point out, the disciples enjoyed abs had a sense of divine security as long as Jesus was around, or they were around Jesus. That added to the more reasons they were sorrowful when He announce His death and departure afterwards. Now, the time is ripe for the Master to leave, physically as He had said! Glory, He had promised not to leave them comfortless, or as orphans, or without the Father in the person of the Holy Ghost.
They were to remain in Jerusalem, witness about Christ in/from Jerusalem. The very place where the Master was arrested and crucified! They went into hiding when Jesus was arrested, so much that they saw the news of His resurrection as a game – too scared to open the door or the window that Jesus had to enter probably through the wall into their midst. John 20:19
Now, Jesus is leaving and they should remain in that same city?
You see, the baptism of the Holy Ghost imbues you with so much faith and confidence to dare the naturally impossible, and to do exploits for the kingdom. The Holy Ghost is given not just as a seal on our salvation but for the mission at hand.
Acts: 1. 8. But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
What a mission! A naturally impossible one because:
1. Jerusalem is naturally a fearful, insecure place to be as at that time as a known disciple of Jesus because that is where Jesus was executed!
2. Judea practically rejected the ministry of Jesus, so what can His disciples do?
3. Samaria and the Gentiles (the outermost part of the earth). Naturally, a Jew will not want to have anything to do with a Samaritan or a Gentile for the hatred and, the demeaning and disgusting views the Jews have about them.
But, the disciples are to go on a witnessing mission to all these seeming impossible places. The exciting thing is that, the baptism of the Holy Ghost doesn’t make one to decide whether or not to witness. If you’re baptized, you shall be a witness! When the Holy Ghost finally came and they were baptised, they lost every sense of fear and of shame, they became bold witnesses. Even when threatened, they were undaunted!
Under the influence of the Holy Ghost, impossibility is nothing! This is the life that we have received. This is the life we are called to live. A life of exploits, inspired and empowered by the Holy Ghost, making us in every area and aspect of life, “incorrigible” witnesses of Jesus.
THE KINGDOM OF GOD IS HERE!
The underlying plan behind God creating the heavens and the earth is to have His Kingdom established in various spheres – in all realms of existence. Of course, God is not running the affairs of/in all realms all by Himself but through His creatures, planted and established in various realms, to whom He delegates His Authority. Understand that the presence of the Holy Spirit in a being is God’s way of delegating His Authority. Whoever the Spirit indwells carries out God’s mandate according to the mind and plan of God, as the Spirit motivates and empowers. Don’t be surprised to know that Lucifer (now Satan) was God’s delegate to oversee the affairs on earth long before his fall that led to the chaotic state of the earth in Genesis Chapter One. It was after God had recreated or renovated the earth that He introduced another representative called Man. That is why God cannot not practically do anything on earth without human agency. Man is God’s representative, to whom God has delegated His Authority to run the affairs of the earth.
Psalm: 115. 16. The heaven, even the heavens, are the LORD’s: but the earth hath he given to the children of men.
Remember, however, that whoever God assigns as His delegate or representative has God’s power (ability) and authority assigned him, through the indwelling presence of His Spirit. What was breathed into Adam (the earthy man) in Genesis chapter Two was not mere breeze to power his existence, but the mechanism of divine operatives. So, Adam could take decisions and act according to the mind and plan of God until he fell.
Since the fall of Adam, there was no vessel fit to carry divine presence as a representative of God on earth and a delegate of divine authority to rule on the behalf of God.
As it were, Satan took over the baton and began to run the affairs of the earth through his fallen angels and as men began to multiply, he engages human beings in his operations. Adam (God human delegated authority) permitted that through his disobedience.
Luke 4:5. And the devil, taking him up into an high mountain, shewed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. 6. And the devil said unto him, all this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it.
Did you notice ‘for that it is delivered unto me’?
Matthew didn’t capture that, though very crucial. Thank God for Dr. Luke!
Jesus didn’t argue or rebuke Satan that the kingdoms were not his, for Adam truly delivered them to him since the time in the garden. Also, Satan could give the kingdom to whoever he pleased to run it. History is inundated with men and women who have lived so sinisterly that they have been mistaken for the antichrist. But, since the fall of man, Satan has not had any human agent to fully assign the dominion he took from Adam, since he cannot by himself use that power on earth without a human agent. That power will be assigned to the coming antichrist and he will fully exercise that authority and power of Satan over the earth because, the presence of the Holy Ghost would have been withdrawn at the rapture of the church. That is what has been resisting full-force satanic dominion over the earth through human agency.
Till Jesus came, died and resurrected, God’s presence could only be at a particular place, upon a particular sanctified or chosen vessel at a time. That is why, Jesus was always teaching about the kingdom – that is what He can to introduce and re-establish.
KJV: Neither shall they say, Lo here! Or, lo there! For, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.
ESV: nor will they say, Look, here it is! or There! for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.
NIV: nor will people say, Here it is, or there it is, because the kingdom of God is in your midst.
Reading several translations of a particular obfuscating verse can help in having proper understanding. Those translations quoted clears the air on the various views theologians have regarding whether Jesus was referring to Himself as the kingdom in their midst or He literarily mean that the kingdom was within them as at that time.
Certainly, the physical presence of Jesus on earth denote the kingdom of God on earth. Being God in human body, He was the singular carrier of the Holy Spirit without whom the kingdom of God cannot be established. God’s plan however, is to have His authority delegated to all men, all over the surface of the earth. That would mean the bodily presence of the Holy Ghost in all men! The believers in Christ Jesus are the present carriers of the divine presence. Hence, God’s delegates on earth to introduce and establish the kingdom (the plan, the dominion, the supremacy, the authority) of God in every place and over all things.
Like I mentioned before, God has never left the earth completely without His presence to give room to Satan to do whatever he pleases, He has always been manifesting through His chosen vessels amongst the Jews (God’s Old Testament people chosen as a nation to be His representative on earth). In exceptional cases, He has made use of Gentiles like King Cyrus (Isaiah 45:1) to mostly teach the Jews some lessons whenever they transgressed. Till the nation of Israel was taken captive under Caesar, awaiting their messiah to politically restore the dominion of the world back to Isreal.
With all the above, you can now understand why the Jews expectation was high at the birth of Jesus for those who believe Him to be the coming messiah and the disappointment of many that deserted Him, particularly when He was arrested to be crucified. It is not in prophecy that their messiah would be overpower, rather, he will conquer and subdue the kingdoms and make Israel world champion again.
The Twelve disciples somehow kept the faith and managed to stay with Him (even though they did not so much believe, until moments after His resurrection) but always having an unanswered question in their mind “When will this man make Israel great again, as it is written, if He’s truly the messiah? He’s always talking about his death and resurrection. Anyway, let’s watch!”
That is why, after His resurrection, the disciples’ hope was now in the highest gear, expecting Jesus’ messianic mission to Israel to kickstart. According to Luke’s account in Acts Chapter One, upon all that Jesus was saying about the kingdom and the coming Holy Ghost, when will the kingdom be restored back to Israel was their own concern.
3…., being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God: 4. And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. 5. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence. 6. When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? 7. And he said unto them, it is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. 8. But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
Did you notice that the disciples were perhaps not so much interested in what Jesus was saying about the baptism of the Holy Ghost? Instead of asking questions like “Master, does that mean we don’t need baptism with water anymore, since it’s now going to be by/with the Holy Ghost?” and so on. Since Jesus at least mentioned “Kingdom” they seize that opportunity to ask the question on their mind. You should also notice that it was not one of them that asked, but “they asked him”!
Jesus also knew that His answer to that all-important question will either encourage His disciple He’s sending forth to go on with the mission ahead or discourage them. Peter would just go back to his finishing business!
His answer rather preached two interwoven messages:
1. It’s indeed the plan of God to restore the kingdom back to Israel but you should not busy yourself with when that would be, as it is the exclusive right of the Father to decide. With that, they cannot get angry with Jesus, except they have questions for the Father!
2. While waiting for the kingdom to be restored back to Israel, there is the now-agenda of the Father the entire realm of humankind needs to hear the Good news about me, and you are going to be my witnesses. Starting from Jerusalem, down to all Judea, Samaria and to the Gentile world the uttermost part of the earth! That’s giving them a sense of mission while in anticipation of kingdom restoration. Also, they have what to look forward to beside the kingdom been restored to Israel, and that is the coming of the Holy Ghost.
Had Jesus had told them point-blank that it is until after Two Thousand years that the kingdom will be restored to Israel, that would have been most heart-rending. They would naturally feel like they’ve wasted their time following Jesus all the while! Rather, Jesus gave them a sense of expectation in another direction (the coming of the Holy Ghost, which the Father has promised) and a sense of mission – evangelism, through the preaching of the gospel of Christ.
Little did the Jews know that God is not just going to restore the kingdoms back to Israel but He was going to raise more people from among the Gentiles to be part of that kingdom. Hence, the witnessing must get to the uttermost part of the earth, which refers to the gentile world.
We can therefore conclude that, God has us in mind, to be raised in Christ Jesus through the preaching of the gospel so that when He shall come to practically fully establish His Kingdom on earth, we shall reign with Him. Hallelujah!
Meanwhile, as we look forward to that (just like the Twelve) we as well share the same mandate of reaching out to the unsaved with the gospel of Christ, as His witnesses. This we can do through the presence of the Holy Ghost with us and in us. The presence of the Holy Ghost is the kingdom of God in us and with us right now! Through the preaching of the gospel of Christ, we introduce the kingdom of God to every heart, in every place and that is confirmed and established as faith is born in the hearts of men and the Holy Ghost takes the stage.
Again, no matter what you’re personally expecting, and as we all look forward to that most glorious life in the world to come, let’s all be awakened to the kingdom that is here and now; take responsibilities by practically engaging in witnessing Christ to all men. This you can do, and that you will do through the power of the Holy Ghost in you, for the Holy Ghost is given to us, among others, for that purpose!
AS HE ASCENDED, HE WILL DESCEND (RETURN) – ‘IN LIKE MANNER’!
The birth of Jesus was so supernatural not only in the sense that He came through a virgin but, despite all the devil did to stop Him from coming, He did came! Interestingly, He didn’t just appear on the scene, He came as ‘the seed of the woman’ as declared in Genesis Chapter Three, from after which Satan began to try everything possible to stop His being born. He was born, Satan tried to kill Him at an infact age, and he failed! He died on the cross as prophesied, Satan thought he got Him. Satan realizing his stupidity and error, he regretted moving men to put Jesus to death. He would have tried everything he could to stop Jesus’ resurrection including giving the chief priests the puerile idea of securing the sepulchre. Yet, he failed! We have recorded how the chief priests and the elders tried to cover the news of Jesus’ resurrection from the people, not just for political reasons but a satanically inspired idea. Yet, I and you know and believe that Jesus resurrected!
Same way, the devil is using many today to try to explain away the second coming of Christ. Some said He has come. Some said He won’t come. Others said His second coming refers to His appearance in us. Despite all, we shall hold on to the veracity of the word of God as documented in the bible. Hence, we await Him to return in the same manner He was received to heaven:
A. His disciples watched or beheld Him received up, all men shall see Him when He shall return.
B. He was received up by a cloud, He’s coming back with the cloud!
C. He was not received up as an escapee, He bodily went up levitating in the presence of the multitudes, He’s not returning as a ghost!
Until we see Him appear in the sky (first rapture, when we shall be caught up to meet Him) we keep awaiting His coming in the same manner He went up!
9. And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. 10. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; 11. Which also said, ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.
There’s a school of thought that those two men are Moses and Elijah, another says they ate angels. I believe it is the same two men that appeared to Mary Magdalene and her fellow women in Luke 24:4, breaking the news about Jesus’ resurrection. Whether they be angels or Moses and Elijah is not the message here. The message is that, the same Jesus that His disciples beheld received up is coming back in the same manner He was received into heavens. Hallelujah!
I have this on my mind to ask. Based on Acts Chapter 1 verse 26. (Right after the Holy Spirit had spoken with the disciples) these men resulted in casting lots to nominate Judas replacement. In decision making especially when trusting God for direction on about an issue, aside trusting our inner minds can we cast lots?
Let me state that, though it was the will of God, as long prophesied by David that someone else takes the place of Judas (a human type of the antichrist among the disciples – that’s another topic though!), seeing that Christ Himself later appointed Paul the apostle raised the notion that the eleven apostles acted too fast that Paul might be the one that God has in mind to replace Judas and be the one to reach the uttermost parts of the earth.
The notion is laid to rest with the conclusion that, when we get to heaven, we shall see whose name is part of the twelve foundations of heaven – whether Matthias or Paul!
Well, that said!
Note that prior to making this decision, the Holy Ghost (who was to guise them into all truth) was not yet given. So, even though they did the right thing by praying concerning the subject matter, there’s no way to ascertain who is chosen of the Lord. To avoid any game or blame of favoritism, they in agreement resorted to casting lots trusting the Lord to use the process to confirm who should join them as a way of answering the prayer the already offered. Of course, casting lots to make a vital decision on choosing an apostle of Jesus could not be the best way to God, but they had no option, having not received the Holy Ghost.
After that they had been baptized with the Holy Ghost, every step taken and decision made was as “the Holy Ghost said!”
23. And they appointed two, Joseph called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias. 24. And they prayed, and said, Thou, Lord, which knowest the hearts of all men, shew whether of these two thou hast chosen, 25. That he may take part of this ministry and apostleship, from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place. 26. And they gave forth their lots; and the lot fell upon Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.
2. As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. 3. And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.
Did you see the difference? There was no casting lots because the Holy Ghost has spoken. In acts one, there was no Holy Ghost to speak.
Lastly, understand that administratively, the apostles were not getting it right, right from the beginning. Not even immediately after that the Holy Ghost has been given. That was why they still has to fast even after that the Holy Ghost has spoken – exhibiting both the religious, the mosaic and the Judaic traits in them. It was a new assignment they had never been given before and a new work (church administration) they had never done before. So there were a lot of trials and errors. Until Paul came on scene, then a lot of things were corrected. That is why you cannot use the book of acts as a doctrinal outline or guideline, except the epistles. Particularly that of Paul.