Acts 2:1-36 Three "Timing Principles" of God's Empowering

What does God use to empower people today in their walk with Him? How can we know God’s power and use it for His glory? Our second part in a series on the Book of Acts will uncover the principles of God’s empowering work for believers both individually and in the “called out” group we know as the “church”.

I. Before – The Early Church Leaders Got Empowered Only After:

A) They were promised by Jesus (1:8; cp. John 16:8). B)
They were prayer-filled (1:14). C) They were peaceful (united, 1:14b; 2:1). D) They were prepared (1:26-2:1). Preparation involved: Obedience (1:4) and being at “full strength” (1:26).

The “Before” Principle: God empowers prayerful and obedient believers that are working together and ready for Him to control them to do a great work. God can use anybody in any situation, but the richest blessings are to those who follow this pattern!

II. During – The Early Church Leaders Got Empowered When:

A) God chose the time and place to suit His purposes (2:1, “Pentecost”). B)
God showed it was from Him because it was: 1) Consistent in appearance with His previous works (2:2-3) and 2) Consistent in purpose with His previous works (2:4-11).

The “During” Principle: God empowers believers in accord with His previously stated purposes in a way consistent with His past work.

III. After – The Early Church Leaders Found the empowering work:

A) Brought skeptical reactions in the world: 1)
Some were shocked and could not understand what God was doing (2:12). 2) Some mocked and thought it was a prank (2:13). 3) Others Needed clarification (2:14-41):

1.       With a Requirement: Only those who carefully considered the claims would grasp the meaning of the events (2:14-16)

2.       Using a Standard: The evidence for the validity was not their experience, but the promises of God’s Word (2:17-21).

3.       Offering a Message: The central message was the death, burial and Resurrection of Messiah the signs pointed to – not the signs themselves (2:22-28). This was consistent with God’s promises to David (2:29-31).

4.       By a Witness: The personal experience of the disciples led them to witness to what happened to Jesus (2:32-36).

B) Forced people to make a choice concerning the truth of Jesus (2:37-40). C) Pressed open the hearts of some hearers of the message (2:41-47).

C) Real responders:

1.       Went Public: Accepted the message and were public about their desire to change direction (2:41)

2.       Stuck by the Stuff: Committed themselves to understanding the Word of God and sharing their lives with the other believers (2:42;46).

3.       Were Expressive: Shared the joy and wonder of God’s work among them (2:43).

4.       Became Generous: Shared the things God provided for them with others (2:44-45).

5.       Got Loud: Praised God and enjoyed unity (2:47).

6.       Saw Growth: God added people to them (2:28).

The “After” Principle: God empowers believers when they commit to His truth, and they get the benefit of an exciting and powerful journey that attracts others naturally!

Acts 1: Questions to Pose before following a New Leader

Religious leaders often claim they are following God’s leading. How can we know? How does God lead people today? How can we know it isn’t just the manipulation of some leaders, or the misguided sense of some group that we may follow? As we begin a series on the Book of Acts, we will uncover the questions we can pose as we consider who should lead us spiritually:

Questions to Pose Before you commit to follow a leader:

Jesus intended to begin a work that continued in other’s hands when He left (Acts 1:1). Question: Is the nature of the ministry objectives of any leader that is claiming to be of God in harmony with the kinds of ministry Jesus BEGAN?

Jesus’ plan was exposed in His Spirit-empowered teaching to leaders that He chose to be His messengers (Acts 1:2). Question: Do people that claim to be leading us by God’s direction have a track record of both knowing the teachings of God’s Word and leading others to understand that Word?

Jesus spent time carefully instructing the Apostles, convincing them of His Resurrection with specific evidences for a period of time (Acts 1:3). Question: Do the people that would lead you spiritually have real and measurable time invested considering the claims of Messiah and are they convinced of the truth of the message?

Jesus instructed the men to remain at Jerusalem and wait for the coming of the Spirit of God to empower them as the Spirit had empowered Jesus for ministry Acts 1:4-5). Question: Is the leader walking in obedience to the specific teachings of Jesus found in His Word?

The disciples, even after 40 days of intense training, were still not fully comprehending the program of God (Acts 1:6). Question: Does the leader have to be perfect in his understanding of the Word of God? No, but they do have to be humble enough to be open to the fact they do not know it all.

Jesus told the disciples not to put their emphasis on trying to decipher how God works, but to put their energy into reaching out with the Good News, and ministering both near and far simultaneously (Acts 1:7-8). Question: Is the leader consumed with a theoretical faith and a theological definition, while they seem reticent to minister the Gospel to people?

Jesus was lifted off the Mount of Olives, and the apostles stood in wonder gazing upward until some angelic messengers prompted them to go (Acts 1:9-11). Question: Does the leader have his head “in the clouds” with no sense of what God wants done in the here and now?

The Apostles returned to Jerusalem and met together in a room for constant prayer and unity together (Acts 1:12-14). Question: Is the leader divisive and self-willed, or does he show a willingness to work with others prayerfully?

The Apostles realized the need to replace among their ranks the leaders when they lost them (as the position of Judas was now vacant), and they sought the Lord about the hearts of each men, trusting God to lead them (Acts 1:15-26). Question: Do the leaders see themselves as accountable to one another, or does anyone feel “above the law”?