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Jesus promised His disciples, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you…”[1] and that promise was fulfilled for the early church when by Acts 5:16 miracles, healings and deliverances became so common that it is written:  Crowds gathered also from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing their sick and those tormented by evil spirits, and all of them were healed.  The power that was coming out of the apostles was such that Luke recorded for us:  As a result, people brought the sick into the streets and laid them on beds and mats so that at least Peter’s shadow might fall on some of them as he passed by.

Indeed, there were even the dead raised and the Holy Spirit was able to work with some disciples to such an extent that men like Philip experienced translation in space, so that one moment he was walking and talking with the Ethiopian and the next moment he was gone.

The purpose for the power was to allow disciples to be witnesses for Jesus so that their preaching may be backed up with tangible physical displays of signs, wonders and miracles in order to testify to the Truth, Way and Life of Jesus Christ.  The reason for the power was to allow the disciples to finish the work required to satisfy the conditions of Jesus’ return sooner, so that it was very much in God’s plans to have Jesus return shortly after He left. 

Many look at the command of Acts 1:8 when Jesus said, “And you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the Earth,” as a command that would take millenniums to fulfil, so that when they look back on the last 2000 years and see how the Gospel had gone to Asia Minor, Africa, Europe, and from Europe to America and Asia by slow and painful means through courageous missionaries who often gave their lives doing so.  We think that is the way God planned it.  No, that is the way it happened, not the way God planned it.  The present Earth is the result of what happened because of man, but it in no way reflects what God had planned originally.

Jesus told the twelve, “When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another.  I tell you the truth, you will not finish going through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes.”[2]  This was directed at them for them.  It is the only place where Jesus even gave any hint of when He would appear as the Son of Man, for in Matthew 24, He again said to the twelve, “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in Heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.  As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.  For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away.  That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.    So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect Him.”[3]

Jesus was not speaking to the twelve in order that they may tell us to remember that Jesus would come when we do not expect Him.  Rather, Jesus was speaking to the twelve that He would come at an hour that they, the twelve, would not expect, and that hour would happen after the persecution promised in Matthew 10:23 had broken out and they had not finished going through the cities of Israel.

If that was the original plan, then how could they or we fulfil the command to “Go into all the world and preach the Good News to all creation”?[4]  And more importantly, did Jesus not say, “And this Gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come”?[5]  At one moment, Jesus seems to be speaking of a very soon and impending return, and at the next moment, He seems to be speaking of a passage of time that would surely take centuries and millenniums preaching to the whole world, especially for a people whose swiftest means of natural transport was on horseback at ten kilometres per hour.  What a contradiction when in fact it is no contradiction. 

You will understand this if you look up and see a modern passenger plane flying.  Those heavy behemoths cannot naturally glide much less fly unless their engines are pumping out power.  Power!  The soon return of Jesus after the Gospel had been preached to all nations, was to be accomplished with the power of the Holy Spirit.  The same power that He demonstrated when He translated Philip from the side of the Ethiopian outside of Jerusalem to Azotus,[6] after the eleven failed to scatter from Jerusalem to the cities of Israel at the persecution as Luke recorded for us:  On that day a great persecution broke out against the church at Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria.[7]  All except the apostles, when it was to the twelve including Judas that Jesus had said, “When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another…”

You see, Jesus was leaving these instructions to men who knew through their scriptures that Elijah, Elisha and Jeremiah had been able to travel great distances by the power of the Holy Spirit.  Indeed Jeremiah testified that he took the cup of God’s wrath to Jerusalem and the towns of Judah… to Egypt… and all the kings of Uz, all the kings of the Philistines (those of Ashkelon, Gaza, Ekron, and the people left at Ashdod); Edom, Moab and Ammon, all the kings of Tyre and Sidon; the kings of the coastlands across the sea; Dedan, Tema, Buz and all who are in distant places, all the kings of Arabia and all the kings of the foreign people who live in the desert; all the kings of Zimri, Elam and Media; and all the kings of the north, near and far, one after the other—all the kingdoms on the face of the Earth…[8]  One man delivered the cup of God’s wrath to all the nations of his day in less than a lifetime at a time when there were no planes or steamships.  Impossible, except if it was done by the power of the Holy Spirit as it was done with Elijah, Elisha and with Philip.  Now can you see the similarities of what Jeremiah said and what Jesus told the disciples to do?  “But you will receive power… and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the Earth.”[9]  Compare that with Jeremiah going to Jerusalem and the towns of Judah… Ashkelon, Gaza, Ekron, Ashdod[10]… all the kingdom on the face of the Earth.  If the power of God was given to one man to deliver God’s wrath, how much power would be given to a group of people to deliver God’s Gospel, especially a Gospel that brings justice to His Son Jesus and puts an end to suffering for mankind?

You see, by Acts 5, the church in Jerusalem was at least 5000 families strong, for 3000 were added in Acts 2 with the first preach, and by Acts 4, Luke recorded:  But many who heard the message believed, and the number of men grew to about 5000.[11]  5000 men and women means 2500 pairs who could be sent out.  By Acts 8, there were more than enough pairs to be translated to all the kingdoms and tribes and nations on Earth then for the Gospel to be preached to all nations in one day with many more to spare!  Imagine, 2500 pairs of disciples translated by the Holy Spirit, as He did to Jeremiah to the Barbarian tribes of Europe and England, to the Indian tribes of America, north and south, to the Eskimos, to the Asians from Persian to the islands of the Pacific and to the Aboriginals of Australia in one day —impossible with men, but possible with God.

The Lord allowed the Jerusalem church to be built up from Acts 1 to 8 until it reached a critical size, a size big enough to supply enough ministry teams to be translated instantly to all parts of the world, so that the Gospel would be preached to all nations in a very, very short period of time, and the end would come.  Jesus would arrive with the angels, and His elect would be gathered from the ends of the Earth to join Him.  His elect who had been scattered by the persecution to the ends of the Earth.

All this would have happened and could have happened except for one thing —all except the apostles were scattered, when the whole purpose of the persecution was so that the apostles would scatter to the cities of Israel so that the Son of Man could come. The plan of that day depended on the eleven scattering so that the Holy Spirit could release His power to scatter the rest of the church to the whole world and have the command of Jesus of Mark 16 and the condition of His return in Matthew 24:14 fulfilled.

But no apostle scattered, Matthew 10:23 was not fulfilled, and no power was available for that scattering, for the full power of the Holy Spirit can only be released when the apostles, the leaders themselves, are obedient to the plan.  Though the rest of the church scattered, the eleven did not, and that produced a scattering that was not miraculously powerful, but humanly painful, as the church became refugees travelling by foot and hoof to wherever they went and preached the Gospel.  From Acts 8 onwards, the Gospel would be preached to the whole world at men’s pace, and not God’s pace.

So the present state of the world with a powerless, religious church trapped in a world where wars, earthquakes, disasters and famines are increasing, with no way out of their quagmire except through death, is not at all the way it was intended.  Once more, we are seeing what men have done to God’s plan and not what God’s plan would have done for men.

So, the present restoration of real power to testify for Jesus as His witnesses with blind men seeing, lame men walking, and the sick healed is but a drop of the amount of power the Holy Spirit has for the church that will listen to what He has to say, and it is the work of the elect to bring the church back to listening to the Holy Spirit.  And the time that this will take will depend on our obedience.  The greater our obedience the shorter the time, for the Holy Spirit will shorten the days of distress for the sake of His elect[12] like any good father shortening the time of distress for an obedient son he loves, and if not obedient, at least repentant.  That is why I remind you it is continuous repentance that is expected of you the elect, and if you are to keep your election. 

Do not be surprised that your election can be lost.  Look at Barnabas who was one of the original elect when he and Paul parted company over the argument about Mark.  By the time Paul wrote the letter to the Galatians, Barnabas himself had been led astray.  See how Barnabas was led astray for the moment.  Paul wrote:  When Peter came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he was clearly in the wrong.  Before certain men came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles.  But when they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group.  The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray.[13]

Barnabas was led astray because he followed the majority view and not the singular view of the Holy Spirit.  An elect must be one who follows only the view of the Holy Spirit, even if it means separating himself from the majority view.  One who can do that is truly one with the Holy Spirit as Jesus is One with the Father.  That oneness, that aloneness in the Holy Spirit, is not an excuse to have it all your own way, but rather a true aloneness in the Holy Spirit can be tested by the ability of your aloneness to make peace as Jesus makes peace, so that truly you are a son of God because you are a peacemaker.

Elect, learn the lesson of Paul and Barnabas.  Let no one, nothing, no argument separate you from one another, and if it does, repent to one another and forgive one another from the heart, for an elect no longer is working for his reward in Heaven.  Indeed, like the Holy Spirit, you work for no reward or personal glory, but to bring glory to Jesus and the Father.  Glorifying Jesus and the Father is your reward, your recompense and your own hope of glory through the Spirit of Christ in you.

The eleven did not scatter in Acts 8:1 because of the temptation of power, not because they were brave and steadfast, though they may have been that as well, for they were commanded clearly by Jesus in Matthew 10, “When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another.”  And do not tell me that they forgot what Jesus said, because if you say that, then you are really saying that the Holy Spirit was failing Jesus, because Jesus said, “The Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in My Name… will remind you of everything I have said to you.”[14]  You can be sure the Holy Spirit would have reminded them, but like you and me, sometimes it is more logical to do things our way rather than His way, especially when we have the ability to do it.  Such is the temptation of power—it gives us the ability to do things our way rather than listen and do things God’s way.  Each and every time I do things my way with God’s power, I slow down the Holy Spirit, and every time I do things His way, the days are shortened.  That is my testimony.

You see, by Acts 8, the eleven knew they had the power to heal the sick, to drive out demons and so on, and as long as they remained together, they could survive the persecution, and with their miraculous powers intact, they would be able to rebuild another congregation, whilst visiting the new congregations that had sprung up because of the scattering.  It seemed that good had come out of the evil, did it not?  And yes indeed, it was good that came out of the scattering of Acts 8, for churches were started all over the place, as Luke recorded:  Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went.[15]  But the perfect never happened, and as you know, it is the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil that brought death.  In Acts 8, the apostles set the church on the good path and not on the perfect path, and since then, everyone in church has been dying to await the resurrection to happen instead of having to await the Resurrection to return.

You have been each given a small foretaste of the power of the Holy Spirit with the healings, signs, wonders and miracles, and to those who have, more shall be given.  The temptation of that power is to tempt you to remain where you are—comfortable, able to resist whatever comes against you, so that you can live a blessed life, do a few good deeds, heal a few people, preach a few sermons, and even build a big congregation until you die and go to Heaven.  That is what a little bit of power can do to you and me.

What then can full power do to you when you do have the power to do the things that Jesus has been doing and doing the greater things at will because whatever you wish and will will be done for you?  At the benign level, it will be the desire to do even more good—heal even more sick, relieve even more famines, end the wars, and so on.  At the malignant level, it will tempt at least one of the elect to take that full power to have himself eventually declared as ‘God’ and fight Jesus to prevent His return.

You see, in the coming days of distress for this world, days of distress unequalled since the creation of this world, you will be tempted because you can heal all the sick, feed all the hungry, change the blood to water, give the thirsty water to drink, end the droughts, and so on.  And forget that the whole purpose that power was ever given to disciples was so that they could testify for Jesus and be His witnesses and finish the preaching of the Gospel so that He can come back.  The power of the Holy Spirit to bring the church to full power is not so that the church can reign on Earth as a benevolent vessel of God’s dispensing His mercy, but to bring Jesus back to Earth so that He can be enthroned in Jerusalem and rule over all the nations of the Earth.  So that His Father’s promise to Him may be fulfilled, as it was written in the Psalms:  “You are My Son; today I have become Your Father.  Ask of Me, and I will make the nations Your inheritance, the ends of the Earth Your possession.  You will rule them with an iron sceptre; You will dash them to pieces like pottery.”[16] 

Be careful whom you heal after you have full power, lest these words that were spoken to King Ahab are spoken to you:  “You have set free a man I had determined should die.  Therefore it is your life for his life, your people for his people.”[17]  That will never happen if you will diligently listen and obey the Holy Spirit’s voice to you, whether it is the voice that reminds you of what Jesus has said, or the voice that tells you what is yet to come, or the voice that teaches you what questions to ask so that you may receive.  It is all His voice that is speaking to you in fulfilment of the work that Jesus has set for Him.

You see, full power is being unleashed for it is the time for all things to be reconciled.  Just as the flood came as soon as the ark was ready, so the power of God will be unleashed into the church once one of the elect is and ones of the elect are ready, and the age of signs, wonders and miracles will begin where it left off, so that not only will the world know that in Jesus’ Name anyone who has faith in Him can perform signs, wonders and miracles.  But also full power is being released so that the man of lawlessness can be revealed and the rebellion can begin; the rebellion that will end with Jesus’ arrival.

Regardless of whether we are ready or not, whether we have done what we should, enough has been done for the release to occur and the world will begin to witness the church of Jesus Christ once more displaying miraculous power.  In the midst of all that is good and wonderful that is happening, never forget the reason and the purpose for the power and you will not be tempted.  “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.  The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.”[18]

Bringing Jesus back is all that counts, nothing else.  So scatter if you are told to scatter, stay if you are told to stay, for it is not sacrifice and burnt offerings that God wants, but obedience and acknowledgement of God.   Amen

And what shall the Lord find waiting for Him at the Mount of Olives?  A church at full power?  Yes, but will He come home to a family that is living in harmony?

[1] Acts 1:8

[2] Matthew 10:23

[3] Matthew 24:36-40,44

[4] Mark 16:15

[5] Matthew 24:14

[6] Acts 8:40

[7] Acts 8:1

[8] Jeremiah 25:17,19-26

[9] Acts 1:8

[10] Note that this is part of Samaria

[11] Acts 4:4

[12] Mark 13:20

[13] Galatians 2:11-13

[14] John 14:26

[15] Acts 8:4

[16] Psalm 2:7-9

[17] 1 Kings 20:42

[18] Mark 14:38


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