Empowered to be Sent!

“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 Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance for the 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.’” (Luke 24: 44 – 49 NIV)

This was Luke’s report of the event as Jesus appeared among His followers just before His ascension. Luke went on the write an account of the coming of the Holy Spirit, the promise of the Father:

“When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They say what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.” (Acts 2: 1 – 4 NIV)

One of the most notable events for me that confirms the power supplied by the coming of the Holy Spirit was the amazing transformation of Peter. Before the coming of the Holy Spirit Peter was basically a man who loved Jesus but did not know how to express his love. His actions from his own strength were cursing, denial, using a sword without effect, unbelief, fear, and a love for fishing greater than his love for Jesus. After being filled with the Holy Spirit Peter became an articulate spokesman, a man of faith to heal others, a man of courage who could stand boldly before the Sanhedrin who had condemned Jesus to death, and the leader of the apostles and the new Church with authority.

Peter represented some of the awesome changes that took place among the followers of Jesus. There were some other signs of the coming of the Holy Spirit that are noteworthy:

  1. Signs and wonders – “Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles.” (Acts 2: 43 NIV)
  2. Common possessions – “All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need.” (Acts 2: 44, 45 NIV)
  3. Daily community – “Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with gland and sincere hearts, . . .” (Acts 2: 46 NIV)
  4. Continual praise and favor – “praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people.” (Acts 2: 47a NIV)
  5. Continual growth – “And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” (Acts 2: 47b NIV)
  6. Bold witnessing – “And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the world of God boldly.” (Acts 4: 31b NIV)
  7. Single attitude – “All the believers were one in heart and mind.” (Acts 4: 32a NIV)

We have a wonderful opportunity today to allow the Holy Spirit to empower us to carry on the work of Jesus just as the early Church did. We are under attack. We are under attack by fundamental Islam. We are under attack by those who ally themselves with Islamic State; ISIS; or ISIL, depending on the designation you give it.

Basically, we are under attack by those who have taken up the call of those who believe in the fundamental teachings of Mohammed. Their stated goal is to conquer the world for Islam and thereby bring about the end of the world.

I am stating strongly and categorically that the work of Mohammed is a direct reaction to the life and teachings of Jesus and the action of God in the death and resurrection of Jesus. The work of love that God revealed by giving Jesus for the salvation of the world was denied by Mohammed and is denied today by his followers. They state and define a different God than the God and Father of Jesus. They deny that Jesus is the Son of God.

The full result of the teaching of Mohammed is not revealed by the quiet Muslims who live among us. Just like so many of all religions; they do not live out the teachings of their founder but only live an outward appearance of doing so.Many followers of Jesus are the same. We dedicate an hour on Sunday to mouth the words of our confession and feel we have really done a lot to follow Jesus; after all, so many do not even go to church! We feel that by doing this we are paving our way to heaven.

I will be strong in my language here, please forgive me if you take offense. Most Christians live a surface devotion and proclaim by their actions, “To Hell with the world, God will save me out of it when it really gets bad. I kind of hope that my family and friends make it to heaven, also!”

Well, have you considered that the current events have been arranged by God to wake us up and that He won’t save you when the knife is at your throat? Our opportunity to react is now. I do not mean that we are to support the bombing and military action so that we will limit Islamic State to the Middle East. What I do mean is that we need to accept the fact that the Holy Spirit has been sent into the world to empower us to pray and to witness. We must get on our faces and pray and then get on our feet and witness!

Hassan Ammar/Associated PressThe beheading of 21 Coptic Christian men by ISIS in Libya has caused outrage in neighbouring Egypt.
ReutersFighting between rival factions in Tripoli is just one feature of the widespread chaos in Libya.