A few weeks ago, I wrote a Bible study entitled 80 Days Through the Gospels. It was a chronological study in which I took Matthew, Mark, Luke and John and using a parallel Bible reading plan, we walked through the events of the Gospels in the order in which they occurred.
I’m now writing another study on the Book of Acts. This will last approximately seven weeks long and is basically a study on what it looks like to live a life empowered by the Holy Spirit, which is a major theme of the book. Starting tomorrow, I’ll be posting daily study notes. But today, I’d like to share the introduction to the study. I invite you to join along.
“The Book of Acts is essentially the story of the disciples receiving what Jesus received in order to do what Jesus did.” -The New Spirit-Filled Life Bible
I really believe that what we are about to explore together can literally change our lives. And I hope it does. I hope this study awakens something on the inside of each and every one of us that drives us to discover more of who God is and the power He has made available to us through the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus’ life and ministry was not limited to what He taught or what He preached. His life and ministry was also marked by His ACTS – by what He did. The Bible says, He went about doing good (Acts 10:38). He healed the sick. He cleansed the lepers, causing their limbs to grow back. He opened blind eyes and caused deaf ears to hear. He raised people from the dead when the enemy had taken their life prematurely. And He cast out demons.
And all of that – not just what He said – but also what He did, (Acts 1:1) was the message of the Gospel. It was the message that communicated to the world, a new day has dawned. The enemy might have come to steal, kill and destroy your lives through sickness, through disease, through sin, but I have come that you may experience life the way God intended for you to experience it – to the fullest (John 10:10).
And so everything Jesus did and taught was with the intent of destroying the works of the evil one. (1 John 3:8b) In whatever form. In whatever shape. In whatever fashion.
If that meant that people needed to learn the truth of God’s ways so that they wouldn’t continue in the sinful patterns of their ancestors and keep destroying their lives through sin, then He sat down patiently and taught them. And when He was through, He would often say, now go and sin no more. Now that you know the truth that brings freedom, you don’t have to live like that anymore. You can live according to a way that brings life.
If that meant a woman needed to be healed from a terminal disease that was sucking her finances dry, stealing her life and making her a social outcast, then He healed her (Mark 5:21-43).
If that meant that the joy was stolen from a family through the premature death and loss of a child, then He raised the child from the dead (Luke 7:11-25, Mark 5:21-43).
And the message that all of this was communicating, is that the Kingdom of Heaven has come upon you, and soon, will be in you. Meaning, you can now access it for yourselves. You no longer need to live according to the tyrrany of the evil one. All the things that you see Me do, you will soon be able to do as well, when the Holy Spirit comes.
Here’s one of the most exciting truths about all of this: Jesus did all of that, not as God. But as man. Fully yielded to the Father and empowered by the Holy Spirit (Philippians 2:6-11). And after He died and rose again, He transferred His authority and His mission to us (Matthew 28:19) and basically said, now you go do what I did. Teach everything you heard Me teach, and observe (or do) everything you saw Me do. (Matthew 28:20) In fact, much more than what I did you will do (John 14:12-14), because when My Father sends the Holy Spirit, He will dwell inside of each of you. So now, you’ll be moving into a season of multiplication. Now, the message of the Gospel can reach – literally – the ends of the earth.
This is our spiritual inheritance. This new life is what we were meant to experience. A life of freedom. A life marked by power, accessed through a personal relationship with the Father, which Jesus made possible for us. A life where we are transferred into the kingdom of heaven (Colossians 1:13) so that even though we live in the world, we are not of the world (John 17:16). We operate according to a different system. A system that is supreme. A system that is marked by love.
We serve an amazing God who longs to display His power and authority to and through His people as well as to those who do not yet know Him. It is through the acts of the Kingdom that others can come to know God exists and that Jesus was who He said He was – the Son of God. This Kingdom starts with God’s rule being formed in us, and then spreads beyond us, to God’s rule in mankind.
How do we access this kingdom? Jesus said He is the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Him (John 14:6). Jesus is the door through which we access the Kingdom (John 10:7). So for those of us who have given our lives to God and made Jesus our LORD, we have been delegated His authority and we have been gifted with His power to operate in all the the things we saw Jesus operate in. The gift of the Holy Spirit in our lives is the proof – it is the seal – that we received what Jesus died to give us (2 Corinthians 1:22, Ephesians 1:13). We don’t need more of God, because when God gives the Spirit, He gives it without limit (John 3:34). He’s given us all we need (2 Peter 1:3). We simply need to learn how to access what He has already given us so we can start to see the acts of the kingdom become more evident in our lives.
This study is about to take us on an adventure. We are going to see first hand, through the Acts of the Apostles, what it looks like to live a life empowered by the Spirit. And I pray with all my heart that this awakens in us all a greater hunger to know more about who God is and to discover more of what He has made available to us through the gift of the Holy Spirit. I pray that if you don’t know God or if you’ve never experienced the baptism of the Holy Spirit, this lesson will change your life.
God is love. God is good. God is all-powerful. And may He may be greatly glorified through all the earth, for He alone is worthy.
Pressing on with you to lay hold of all He is,
Linda G. Riddle