Dear Theophilus, in the first volume of this book I wrote on everything that Jesus began to do and teach until the day he said good-bye to the apostles, the ones he had chosen through the Holy Spirit, and was taken up to heaven. After his death, he presented himself alive to them in many different settings over a period of forty days. In face-to-face meetings, he talked to them about things concerning the kingdom of God. As they met and ate meals together, he told them that they were on no account to leave Jerusalem but “must wait for what the Father promised: the promise you heard from me. John baptized in water; you will be baptized in the Holy Spirit. And soon.”
6 When they were together for the last time they asked, “Master, are you going to restore the kingdom to Israel now? Is this the time?”
7-8 He told them, “You don’t get to know the time. Timing is the Father’s business. What you’ll get is the Holy Spirit. And when the Holy Spirit comes on you, you will be able to be my witnesses in Jerusalem, all over Judea and Samaria, even to the ends of the world.”
9-11 These were his last words. As they watched, he was taken up and disappeared in a cloud. They stood there, staring into the empty sky. Suddenly two men appeared—in white robes! They said, “You Galileans!—why do you just stand here looking up at an empty sky? This very Jesus who was taken up from among you to heaven will come as certainly—and mysteriously—as he left.”
Maybe you remember when we spoke about the Prophesied Kingdom and how God, through the prophets, promised the exiles of Israel, that God would bring them back to their home country (the land God promised to Abraham) and how the temple would be restored and its glory would surpass that of the original temple, and God would be their God and they would be His people again. And how a lion would lay down with a lamb, God would create a completely new world!
The disciples knew all this, they were waiting for this moment, and after all, God promised it. And Jesus was the one through whom God would accomplish this, even more when He was raised from the dead. The King is here, the Perfect Kingdom must surely come any minute now!
Master, are you going to restore the kingdom to Israel now? Is this the time?
Jesus response? “You don’t get to know the time. Timing is the Father’s business.” –
Which, basically means: No, Not yet!
And then Jesus disappears into the skies and two angels tell them: “You Galileans!—why do you just stand here looking up at an empty sky? This very Jesus who was taken up from among you to heaven will come as certainly—and mysteriously—as he left.”
The Kingdom – now, and not yet
When the disciples were traveling around with Jesus, He talked about the Kingdom as a present reality – The Kingdom is Here!
And through everything Jesus said and did they had tasted a glimpse of the Kingdom
But on the other hand they could clearly see that The Perfect Kingdom, the Kingdom as it had been foretold by the prophets, had not yet come.
And Jesus is even leaving! But, the angels say, this very same Jesus will come a second time
The Bible calls the time between Jesus first coming (Christmas) and his second coming: “The Last Days“.
The Bible also tells us that, just as Jesus first coming was almost unnoticed, His second coming will be an event visible by everyone: every eye will see Him! (Rev. 1)
This event has not happened yet, so we’re still living “in between” Jesus first and second coming, in the Last Days.
One of the most important features of these Last Days is this “in- between-feeling”
Just like the disciples we have tasted something of the Kingdom, we have come to know King Jesus, but we’re still living in a broken world, the Perfect Kingdom hasn’t come yet.
It will only come when Jesus comes a second time. “Already, and not yet” – tension
Why isn’t Jesus restoring the Kingdom immediately?
2 Peter 3 Don’t overlook the obvious here, friends. With God, one day is as good as a thousand years, a thousand years as a day. God isn’t late with his promise as some measure lateness. He is restraining himself on account of you, holding back the End because he doesn’t want anyone lost. He’s giving everyone space and time to change.
God has deliberately delayed the return of Jesus so more people have a chance to hear about Jesus and repent before it is too late.
That’s why we call this period (in these sermons) the Proclaimed Kingdom – the proclamation of the Gospel is the most important feature of this time
Acts 1 “Wait for the Promise of the Father, the Holy Spirit /…/ And when the Holy Spirit comes on you, you will be able to be my witnesses in Jerusalem, all over Judea and Samaria, even to the ends of the world.”
Mat. 24 All during this time, the good news—the Message of the kingdom—will be preached all over the world, a witness staked out in every country. And then the end will come.
Jesus tells them to wait for the Holy Spirit – the Holy Spirit will give them power to proclaim the Good news of the Kingdom to the ends of the earth
So important is this proclamation, this witnessing, that God deems its necessary to send His very own Spirit to fill and empower his people.
In the Old Testament only very special persons, with a very special task, kings or prophets, were filled with the Holy Spirit.
But now all Jesus followers receive the Holy Spirit: we are all special people with a very special task –
1 Peter 2 “But you are the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be a holy people, God’s instruments to do his work and speak out for him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference he made for you—from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted.”
On the day of Pentecost Jesus followers receive the Holy Spirit. What happens is that they are all starting to speak in different “tongues” – languages.
Everyone hears them praising God in their own language! A very clear sign of God that the Gospel is for all the nations! (And a reversal of Tower of Babel!)
Peter who cowardly denied Jesus, filled with the Spirit, stands up and boldly preaches the Gospel.
And when we continue to read the story of Acts we see that Jesus followers don’t fear anything: they are mocked, persecuted, stoned – power of the Holy Spirit
And we also see that the Holy Spirit is “propelling” the church from Jerusalem to the ends of the world – all the nations!
The Holy Spirit brings new birth
“No one can see the Kingdom of God unless he is born again” (Jesus – Nicodemus)
One of my favorite examples is Peter’s vision on the roof (Acts) – vision of Holy Spirit – preaching Gospel to Romans, before finished they are all filled with the Holy Spirit.
Peter’s conclusion: God wants to save the Romans too! How did he know? Because the Holy Spirit gave new birth!
The Holy Spirit equips God’s people for their task
We can see this throughout Acts: Jesus followers are led, filled, empowered, speaking by the Holy Spirit to proclaim the Gospel
We cannot claim to be filled by the Spirit as individuals or churches if we’re not active in evangelism: proclaiming the Gospel is a major concern of the Spirit
The Holy Spirit produces holiness
The Bible speaks in 3 tenses about salvation
- We have been saved, in the past, from the penalty sin
- We will be saved, in the future, from the presence of sin and don’t have to fear Judgement Day (when God puts everything in perfect order)
- That leaves the present: we are being saved from the power of sin. In this life we’re never going to be sinless, but the Holy Spirit is helping is to “put to death the misdeeds of the body” (Romans 8:13)
During the last days, the kingdom of God is spreading as the Spirit works through the proclamation of the Gospel.
The promises of the kingdom are being fulfilled in remarkable ways
The new Israel is all those who trust in Jesus: the church
Jews and Pagans – Paul and Peter boldly use titles to describe their pagan audience that were previously reserved for Jews:
“You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God (1 Peter 2:9)
The Lord Jesus, the true temple of God, now ascended into heaven, but continues to be present in this fallen world.
Not in a building, but in his people.
He lives in us individually: “you’re body is a temple of the Holy Spirit” – honor God with your body (1 Cor 6)
But also as a community: “Do you not know that you (church) are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?” (1 Cor. 3)
God’s rule and blessing
The history of Israel as we read it in the Bible (and the history of humankind in general) shows us that left to ourselves we are unable to live up to God’s standard.
God gave us His Holy Spirit to live in a God-honoring way
Romans 7:4 Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God. 5 For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death. 6 But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code