The Set-up of Obedience.

Acts 1:1-8 New King James Version (NKJV)
The former account I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, 2 until the day in which He was taken up, after He through the Holy Spirit had given commandments to the apostles whom He had chosen, 3 to whom He also presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs, being seen by them during forty days and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God.

4 And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, “which,” He said, “you have heard from Me; 5 for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” 6 Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7 And He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. 8 But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

As you read through this passage what stands out for you? Try to identify four things.

“Jesus began both to do and teach “. Jesus didn’t just have a message but demonstrated His message in the power of the Holy Spirit. He loved people, healed them, performed a miracle for them and took time to connect with them in conversation and even over a meal. Jesus’ ministry was not only in teaching but in a demonstration.

Mark 16:20 New King James Version (NKJV)
And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs. Amen.

1 Corinthians 2:1-5 New King James Version (NKJV)
And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. 2 For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. 3 I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. 4 And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5 that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.

The early disciples, like Jesus, not only preached but had a demonstration of the power of the Spirit, too. Paul even said that his preaching wasn’t with words of human wisdom but was in a demonstration of the Spirit and power. Christianity isn’t just in good teaching, but God wants to confirm our message a demonstration of the Spirit’s power. Christianity shouldn’t just be another message like other religions but a message of life with accompanying life-giving power!

“And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father…” Jesus “commanded” the disciples to go receive the Holy Spirit’s empowering before they obeyed the Great Commission to “go make disciples of all nations.”

Why do you think it is so important that they obeyed the command to receive the power before they obeyed the command to “go”?

The empowering of the Holy Spirit gave the supernatural-miracle-working ability to the disciples so that they would be an effective witness of Jesus in all the world. The gospel is not “good news” if it is just a message to be believed, but the gospel is a message which releases life-giving power (Romans 1:16-17) which brings salvation (healing, freedom, prosperity and wholeness) when believed. When preached, the gospel must be followed by a miraculous demonstration which shows the hearer that this is not just intellectual but tangible!

I know that for many people the words “commandment” and “obedience” seem legalistic, and they can be. It all depends on how you look at them. The Bible says that Jesus “commanded” His disciples to go and receive the empowering of the Spirit. These disciples of Jesus obeyed Him. Was this because of fear? No. Was it because they had to? No. Before Jesus’ ascension, there were hundreds if not thousands of followers who saw Him (the risen Christ) and sat under His teaching during this time. No doubt that many heard the command to “go and wait in Jerusalem for the Promise”. Out of the hundreds of disciples that heard the command, only 120 made it to Jerusalem to wait and receive the power. How many missed out on the blessing of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit because they thought that whatever else they planned to do was more important than them being obedient? Harsh truth but a truth we have to be confronted with! Our obedience to God sets us up for great blessings and amazing opportunities. We see this throughout the book of Acts. The commandments or instructions that God gives us (whether in His Word or personal words of direction through the Spirit) are for our benefit, for the benefit of the Kingdom and will always lead to life. When we choose to be obedient, we are not trying to get acceptance or blessing from God, we are obedient because we are overwhelmed by His love and we want to love Him back! We choose to be obedient not because we feel obligated but because we know that what our Father has for us is what is best for us and we want to live in a way which is pleasing to Him. Our obedience positions us to walk in God’s blessing and purpose. When we are disobedient, God still loves us and His blessing still belongs to us, but we certainly remove ourselves from the flow of it and prevent ourselves from walking in the plan that He has prepared for us (Ephesians 2:10).

Is there something that you need to be obedient in today? Is there instruction in God’s Word, or something that you know that the Spirit spoke to you about which you have not been obedient? You are missing out on some blessing that God has for you! He is not withholding it from you, but you have rejected it. Thank God for His grace! If you need to make a course correction in your life, whether it is a big one or a small one, I want to encourage you to step out and obey. “To obey is better than sacrifice” (1 Samuel 15:22).

Even Jesus said that obedience is important when He gave the Great Commission.

Matthew 28:20 New King James Version (NKJV)
teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.

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