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!