Rev. E. Anderson
INTO GREATER SPIRITUAL GEAR
Reading Acts 1: 1-8
PROGRESS: Jesus Christ, before He left his disciples and leaders of His Church, was greatly concerned about its progress, growth and success. It was very much within His mind and heart that they should grasp this fact at the outset. There had to be development, advancement, enlargement and accomplishment with regard to their lives and ministries within his kingdom so that the Church would be blessed and benefit as a whole. All the time they had to learn to move up a gear so that greater progress would be known. There was to be no settling for a snail or tortoise pace. So much depended upon their vision, faith, incentive and spiritual drive so that they and the Church would attain its maximum.
ILLUSTRATIONS: Examples are known in natural life of the necessity of moving into higher gears in order to experience a faster pace so as to reach one’s goal much quicker. Having received direction and motivation there comes the time when there has to be a moving up into a fresh gear. e.g. A vehicle possesses a number of gears and it is imperative to learn how to use them properly. The consequences of improper use can prove disastrous and this is especially so if only one gear is employed. Fancy travelling to Joan O’Groats to Land’s End in bottom gear! e.g. An athlete has to train his body so that he can pace the race and know when to step up a gear, especially on the last stretch.
ACTION: In the book of Acts there is the clear demonstration of this in the life and experience of the leadership and membership of the early Church. It can be traced in Peter and John, Stephen and Philip, Barnabas and Paul, and Priscilla and Aquilla. There came the time and moment when they went into a more powerful drive and momentum and so moved forward at a greater rate and pace. As they were divinely wrought upon, by the hand of God, something occurred which propelled things forward in the right direction and to wonderful achievements. It happened in the matter of :
1/. THE OUTPOURING OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
There was the initial outpouring on the day of Pentecost – Acts 2, which became a significant factor in the life, dynamic and history of the Christian Church. Unquestionably, this was a precise moment when God put things into a glorious gear. It was but the starting point of what was to occur through the Spirit of God being present and active in the body of believers.
From then on, the vital concern was that people should be born again and filled with the Holy Spirit. The experience and the witness of this divine life and power was to become a visible revelation – c.f. Acts 4:31; 8: 14-19; 10:44-48; 19:2-6. This is called the baptism of the Holy spirit and is known as the earnest of the inheritance and the sealing of God – c.f. Eph.1:13,14. A key command was to be ‘filled with the Spirit’ and it was expected that every Christian believer should know this blessing. They were to live and move geared up and motivated by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit was being constantly poured out upon individuals and groups of people. It was not just a once and for all act on the day of Pentecost, special as that day was. The Holy Spirit has not ceased to be poured out because this is the age of the Spirit. This 20th century is ample proof that the Holy Spirit seeks to fill, inspire and use people in a God-ward manner. When people are filled with the Holy Spirit then there is a changing into a new gear and movement with divine thrust and power into lives and ministries.
Illustration : Pat Boone – the effect of the Holy Spirit on his wife and the conviction it brought to him.
2/. IN THE GIFTING OF PEOPLE WITH MINISTRIES
One of the great purposes of the Holy Spirit is not only to clothe with power but also to give divine abilities in order to act in a supernatural and spiritual way.
The gift to speak in tongues as on the day of Pentecost. Through this personal bestowment an individual is able to speak inspiringly to God from his spirit and God is able to understand immediately and correctly – Acts 2: 4; 1 Cor.14: 2. Through this faculty and facility God gives the power to both sing and pray to God in holy and wholesome worship – 1 Cor.12: 15. There Is the wonderful private ministry that can be conducted increased and improved upon towards God that enriches the whole life and ministry.
The gift to use one’s normal speech in a spiritual way with telling effect. Peter, on the day of Pentecost, used his mother tongue to preach the Good News of Christ with powerful results – Acts 2: 14, 40 and the sequel v41. In the book of Acts we note others starting to open their mouths in order to make known the Gospel. The tongue and mouth has to be put into motion to proclaim the message of Christ – e.g. Stephen, Philip, the people, Paul and Barnabas.
The gift of love and hospitality was a paramount feature amongst them. They opened their homes as well as their hearts. The Holy Spirit breathed a spirit of care and concern into the whole body and beautiful spirit of Christian communism becomes present and active – Acts 2: 44,45; 4: 34-37; 9: 36-42; 16: 14,15. When people move into a higher realm the rate of giving is born and intensified. This is evidence of God at work in a magnanimous manner and measure.
3/. IN THE SPREAD OF THE GOSPEL
This was certainly the mind and will of Christ. It was to start in Jerusalem but not to end there in the sacred city – Acts 1:8. It had to move into a new gear, Judea, then another, Samaria, and then into top gear, the uttermost parts of the earth. The mandate was the world of nations. No limit was to be placed on any country, culture or creature – Matt. .28: 19; Mark 16 :15.
The vision of Christ as far as the Gospel is concerned is made known in His own prophetic word in Matt.16: 15 “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.”
The NT Church set about its task as the Lord initiated and motivated it and the program. God raised up the people and personnel in the first century that were not only prepared to be moved by His Presence and power, to be active and effective for Him. Christianity had arrived with Christ at its centre and the Holy Spirit was ascendant inspiring the witnesses in witness. The record of Acts affirms what took place resulting in the exclamation “These men that have…..have come here also..” – Acts 19: 20.
Now is the time for the Christian Church to move optimistically into top gear and reap the end-time harvest. God has given a mandate to His Son – Acts 2: 34,35. He has also stated what His Son should ask for – Ps.2: 8. If God did so much for David in his time in putting him on the throne and expanding the kingdom, what are His plans for Christ, His beloved Son, through the Christian Church? The purpose today is for extensive growth and the Church to move upward into greater momentum.
4/. IN THE MANIFESTATION OF THE MIRACULOUS
It is apparent from Christ that He anticipated that things should be stepped up after He had ascended into heaven to His Father following His completed work and mission – John 14: 12. As far as He was concerned there was to be no relief on this front. The resources of heaven would be at the disposal of the whole Church on earth to conduct business on supernatural lines. This promise has never been rescinded. There has been no change of plans or orders in this connection. The Christian Church was expected to move into this gear and anticipate phenomenal things.
The first thing that occurred was the wonderful miracle of the man at the gate called beautiful – Acts 3. It certainly became beautiful that day when such a marvellous thing took place in the man’s deliverance and five thousand turning to Christ – Acts 4: 4. This was to be followed up with something extra-special for Peter – Acts 5: 15, 16; 9: 36-43.
But then came Stephen on to the scene and begins to move into a higher gear and realm – Acts 6: 8. There is not only the serving of the tables, there is the mighty ministry of the supernatural. This man is touched in an extraordinary fashion and begins to function in a powerful way. As he moves out in and with the Holy Spirit things take place in miraculous ministry. He discovers his true calling and anointing.
When he goes, he is replaced by Philip and he goes to Samaria with outstanding divine visitation and results – Acts 8: 5. It was time to move on and out with God and to expect even greater things. Philip finds expression for his evangelistic and supernatural gifting.
Then Paul comes and is converted and ready for an enormous workload and programme in this area of the miraculous. He knew the miraculous intervention of Christ in his own conversion – Acts 9. Later on special miracles were to be wrought through him – Acts 19: 11,12. Further still, he is miraculously preserved and this opens out to greater witness – Acts 28: 1-9. There was to be no slackening off.
In these final days and 20th century, it is evident that there has to be a restoring of the miraculous. Mankind must not be left with any excuse in reality to the Christian message. God confirmed the work of His Son, the early Church and so for us – Heb.2: 3,4. These days must know an up-to-date witness.
5/. IN THE PLANTING OF CHURCHES
The Church in the beginning got into gear and drive in the planting of groups and congregations of Christian believers. In Jerusalem there was a vibrant church that affected the city and disturbed the Jewish Sanhedrin – Acts 4: 16-18’ 5: 24,38,39. The city must have been filled with groups and the apostles had their hands full – Acts 6.
But then there was the planting of the church in Samaria – Acts 8; Caesarea – Acts 10; Antioch and elsewhere – Acts 11: 20-23. From Antioch the missionary movement gets into action – Acts 13: 1-4. Asia is reached and then Europe.
The Lord is desirous again for this to initiated and intensified. Many parts of the world is witnessing the Church moving up a gear in its evangelism. God would sees groups arising all over as lights in their communities.
The question and challenge comes to us today : do we want to move up into another new gear ? It will take faith, vision, enterprise and commitment to respond to God in these things. God does not want to find us out of gear but truly in gear, not ticking over but in full and greater movement and going
It is essential to know where we are, whether we have the dynamic of the Holy Spirit and to be aware of what gear we are in and to the places where God wants to bring us in His purposes. He would fully service us so that we are ready for the days in which we live in an effectual manner.