We have celebrated the Ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ and in several days, we will celebrate the first Outpouring of the Holy Spirit, called the Day of Pentecost.
Doctor Luke wrote that Jesus made use of the time before He was taken up to heaven teaching about the primary understanding of the works of the Holy Spirit to His disciples. We, as His disciples, also need to properly understand this matter to avoid the misleading explanations on the works of the Holy Spirit that have been spread widely in the form of articles in blogs, bulletins, books and even explanations on Youtube.   

How did Jesus explain the works of the Holy Spirit according to in Acts 1:1-8 (both in His direct explanation and answers to His disciples’ questions)? There are three understandings of the works of the Holy Spirit:

The former account I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, 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, 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.

1.1. The Kingdom of God explains all the things that Jesus has done and taught (Acts 1:1-2a)

It is worth mentioning that the Book of Acts was written by Doctor Luke (a non-Jew and a gentile) to Theophilus the Great as a title of the non-Jew personage (Luke 1:1). So, the Book of Act was written by a gentile addressed to a gentile personage. That is why it is important for us, as gentiles/ non-Jews, to listen to, pay attention to and learn it. 

By the Spirit in Jesus, the Father sends Him to the world to:

·      Proclaim the Gospel to the poor (Luke 4:18)

·      Proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind and also liberty to the oppressed (Luke 4:18)

·      Proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord  (Luke 4:19)
It is crystal clear that Jesus came to Israel with a promise that also applies to the gentiles. The promise is to free the lost, especially the outcasts (poor, sickly, ignored) and those in bondage (sins and bad attitudes). 

Also, the same promise is to proclaim the acceptable year for the salvation of the gentiles (idol worshipers). Therefore, the Kingdom of God has nothing to do with worldly pleasures and material blessings. To make people believe, the right Kingdom of God is to proclaim with the authority of the Holy Spirit instead of force, violence, intimidation or threats. 
1.2. The Kingdom of God contains commandments for the disciples (Acts 1:2b)

Those who have become the citizens of the Kingdom of God actively do Jesus’ commands with the help of the Holy Spirit.          A Holy Spirit-filled person definitely obeys the Word of God that controls his personal life, marriage, family, social life, godliness and ministry. For example, if we obey the Holy Spirit, we can worship and serve God with full responsibility and discipline.      

1.3. The Kingdom of God marked with suffering (Acts 1:3).

We need to konow what Jesus did and taught while He was on earth. He did many miraculous healings, multiplied bread and fish, raised the dead, etc. but ended up with sufferings on the cross. Didn’t those who had experienced the miracles also yell, “Crucify Him!” and choose Barabas to be released? There were only 120 people in the upper room waiting for the Father’s promise. 

Where was the multitude who had experienced the power of His miracles? In fact, the Kingdom of God is related to sufferings and Jesus left His footsteps with us to follow in (1 Peter 2:19). For example, the ex-governor of Jakarta, Ahok, was accused of religious defamation and jailed for two years. He suffers because of His Christian belief. God let all these things happen to change our perspectives on the Kingdom of God.         
We should be thankful if we live in prosperity but we must not run away when God lets us suffer for the motto of the Kingdom of God is not UUD (Ujung-Ujungnya Duit = heading for money) but UUH (Ujung-Ujungnya Hidup = heading for life). Life here on earth is not a matter of rising from the dead (a sheer physical and mortal miracle). 

Instead, it should be like the victorious  life of Jesus who has conquered death. Therefore, a sermon on the Kingdom of God that focuses on the promises of healing, prosperity and riches is not inspired by the Holy Spirit because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life (Matthew 7:14). Only the Holy Spirit empowers us to live a victorious life.  

2. The Holy Spirit reminds us of the Father’s promise (Acts 1:4-5)

2.1. The Father promised to give the Holy Spirit and the disciples waited for His promise (Acts 1:4).

His promise came to pass after Jesus ascended to Heaven (Acts 2:32-33) and we must believe that we possess the Holy Spirit sealed in our hearts. The Holy Spirit guarantees and ensures that we obtain all God’s promises (Ephesians 1:13-14). The Holy Spirit keeps encouraging us to read God’s promises written in Genesis through Revelation. His promises are always linked with His Kingdom. The promise that we are waiting for is that His Son will come again, not to suffer but to display His glory.  
The Holy Spirit also shows what is to come (John 16:13) so that our focus will be on the approaching fulfillment of God’s promises. One of them is the second coming of Jesus. Only the Father knows when it will take place. (Matthew 24:36). 

2.2. The Holy Spirit shifts what we focus on – from a human figure to God the Trinity the Heavenly Father, Jesus and
       the Holy Spirit (Acts 1: 5).

Jesus admitted that John the Baptist, who baptized people with water, was a great figure (Luke 7:28). However, the smallest in the Kingdom of God is much bigger than him. In the other words, no matter how great the charism and the Spiritual gift a human figure may possibly have, he is nothing compared to the Father and Jesus who baptizes people with the Holy Spirit. That is why the Holy Spirit is not pleased with the way we idolize any servant of God because the Holy Spirit in us doesn’t glorify Himself but the Father and Jesus (John 16:14).

3. The Holy Spirit gives us power to be witnesses (Acts 1:6-8)

3.1. The Holy Spirit does not work to restore a worldly kingdom (Acts 1:6-7).

The Holy Spirit in us does not empower Christianity to rule over the world the way worldly kingdoms rule their respective territories. Therefore, we do not need to be sad and worried when listening to the issues of the overthrown worldly kingdoms or the oppression of Christian minorities etc. Remember, God will, without a doubt, establish His Kingdom in this world with His super power and rule over even the greatest kingdom on this planet earth but we do not know when. The Holy Spirit and the Father in Heaven have their own time schedule. So, keep the Lord’s prayer in mind, “Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come” (Luke 11:2).

Let this prayer be our comfort and hope without any hidden ambitious intention – conquering, ruling, fighting – to establish worldly power. Instead, believe in what the prayer says all your life; there will be a time when the Father will actualize His Kingdom on earth (Luke 22:24-30). 
3.2. The Holy Spirit uses us to ‘dominate’ the whole world with the witnesses of Christ (Acts 1:8).There are two kinds of witnesses:

-    Verbal witnesses through our mouths. Remember that in the middle of troubles slanders and false accusations, we, being Christians, are empowered to testify and glorify God (Luke 12:11-12).

-    Visual witnesses through our attitudes and acts. Can people around us see the Holy Spirit controlling our lives anywhere, anytime and in any conditions? Take, for example, the same public figure, Ahok, the ex-governor of Jakarta. With his determination to drop his appeal and restrained attitudes, his living testimony has ‘gone international’ across the globe. How about us? How far do we testify with the Spiritual fruits (Galatians 5:22-23) in our lives? At home, in our neighborhoods, at work, in our ministries or inter-ministries, do we serve others with the characteristics of the Holy Spirit in the way we speak and act?   
Now we understand that the works of the Holy Spirit are revealed through us. Therefore, we who believe and have the Holy Spirit in us should actively talk about the Kingdom of God. We should always remember the Father’s promise that Jesus will return someday. Let us be living witnesses of Christ wherever we are until He comes again and takes us to live with Him forever and ever. Amen.

Interpreter  : Josephine
Proofreader : Budi 

By Lay Pastor Jusak Pundiono
Lemah Putro, Sunday, May 28, 2017


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