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March 5, 2024

THE BODY OF CHRIST - PART 5

 

Well - we’ve been in this series, “The Body of Christ,” for several weeks now.  We’re looking at it from the standpoint of - What the Body of Christ Received and Operated In After the Baptism of the Holy Spirit.  We’ve been getting down to the nitty gritty of how it all works and the wonderful things that the Lord has made available to us through the Baptism of the Holy Spirit.  It is not just for ‘Super Saints” - it is for every single Christian.  It had a HUGE, HUGE, HUGE IMPACT ON THE WORLD 2,000 years ago and God really wants for the Body of Christ to get ahold of these truths and have an impact on our world today.

 

We’ve been in the book of Acts, and several, who have been coming each Tuesday, have received the Baptism of the Holy Spirit.  PRAISE THE LORD!!!!

 

Today, we’re going to move on a bit and learn some things from our Christian brethren from 2,000 years ago.  In Acts 6, the Christians were really helping their brethren in many, many ways - in feeding those who needed help - especially the widows.  So they needed more people to help the apostles.  The apostles decided that they shouldn’t stop doing the teaching they were doing to do the food serving.  Acts 6:3-4 says this - “Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, FULL OF THE HOLY SPIRIT AND WISDOM, whom we may appoint over this business; but we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word.”  By the way, they called them deacons.  

 

Now a man named Stephen was one of those 7!!  Now this verse says this about him - Acts 6:8 - “And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and signs among the people.”  Then some people who hated Stephen because of what he was doing in the name of Jesus rose up against him - so they agreed together to tell everybody that they had heard him say bad things about Moses and God.  They stirred up people with all the lies they were telling about him.  Then the high priest got involved and ask him if all this was correct that was being said about him.

 

Then in Acts 7, Stephen began to speak - and I believe it is the most condensed version of the Old Testament that there is.  This man was so led by, and filled with, the Holy Spirit, that he preached a message to prove the promises of the Old Covenant had been kept by sending Jesus - and His death for the sins of mankind.  Now - listen to these verses - Acts 7:54-60 - “When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed at him with their teeth.  And he, being full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God, and said, ‘Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.’  Then they cried out with a loud voice, stopped their ears, and ran at him with one accord; and they cast him out of the city, and stoned him.  And the witnessed laid down their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul.  And they stoned Stephen as he was calling on God and saying, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.’  Then he knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, ‘LORD, DO NOT CHARGE THEM WITH THIS SIN.’ And when he had said this, he fell asleep.”

 

I love, love, love this story about Stephen.  I think it is a perfect example of just an ordinary person who gets born again and then the Baptism of the Holy Spirit - and is so in love with God that he is available to the Lord for whatever He wants him to do - whether it is serving some widows who need help - or preaching a TRUE MESSAGE OF GOD to the point that it makes the haters of Jesus mad - so they kill him.  I have read Stephen’s message many times in my life.  He didn’t plan that message and write it down - it was coming from the empowerment of the Holy Spirit.  Stephen was just a guy in love with the Lord.  AND LOOK HOW GOD USED HIM - AND THEN TOOK HIM HOME!!

 

It is similar to when Peter preached on the Day of Pentecost, in that neither of them had it planned - but were led by the Holy Spirit.  That wouldn’t have happened if both of them had not received the Baptism of the Holy Spirit.

 

Now - what that boils down to is this!  We need to be in such an intimate relationship with the Lord that we think about His Word, and the way He does things, and what He has personally done for each of us, that - at any time - we are available for the Lord to use us.  Stephen didn’t plan that message - and he certainly didn’t plan to be stoned to death.

 

However, his relationship with the Lord was so real, and so SPIRIT FILLED that God could use him that day to be learned from by people like us 2,000 years later.

 

Now - I want to bring up a delicate subject here.  Did you notice that the last thing that Stephen prayed was for the Lord not to charge them with the sin of killing him?  NOW - THAT IS A POWERFUL EXAMPLE OF A NORMAL HUMAN MAN FOLLOWING THE EXAMPLE OF JESUS CHRIST!!!!!!!

 

You can’t live that way in true honesty and love without the power that God has placed in our new born again spirits - and the Holy Spirit helping us to see, hear, understand, speak, and act like Jesus!!!  Remember - the word, “Christian” means “Little Christs.”   We have to see things from God’s point of view.  We also must be surrendered to the Lord.  True surrender means that, even though we are hurt, treated badly, embarrassed, and on and on and on - God’s ways of doing things are more important than our ways.  AND THAT BECOMES MORE AVAILABLE TO US ON A DAILY BASIS THROUGH THE BAPTISM OF THE HOLY SPIRIT.

 

Now - we’re going to look at another man.  His name is Philip.  He was one of the deacons and God had been using him in the feeding of the widows.  He had been preaching and God was using him greatly.  Then one day something really different happened.  These verses are Acts 8:26-39 - “Now an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip, saying, ‘Arise and go toward the south along the road which goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.’ This is desert.  So he arose and went.  And behold, a man of Ethiopia, a eunuch of great authority under Candace the queen of the Ethiopians, who had charge of all her treasury, and had come to Jerusalem to worship, was returning.  And sitting in his chariot, he was reading Isaiah, the prophet.  Then the Spirit said to Philip, ‘Go near and overtake this chariot.’  So Philip ran to him, and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah and said, ‘Do you understand what you are reading?’  And he said, ‘How can I unless someone guides me?’  And he asked Philip to come up and sit with him.  The place in the Scripture which he read was this:  ‘He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; And as a lamb before its shearer is silent, So He opened not His mouth.  In His humiliation, His justice was taken away, And who will declare His generation?  For His life is taken from the earth.’  So the eunuch answered Philip and said, ‘I ask you, of whom does the prophet say this, of himself or some other man?’  Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning at this Scripture, preached Jesus to him.  Now as they went down the road, they came to some water.  And the eunuch said, ‘See, here is water.  What hinders me from being baptized?’  Then Philip said, ‘If you believe with all your heart, you may.’  And he answered and said, ‘I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.’  He commanded the chariot to stand still.  And both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him.  Now when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught Philip away, so that the eunuch saw him no more and he went on his way rejoicing.”

 

Oh - what a wonderful story!!!!!!  Now a lot of people read this story in the Bible and think that this kind of stuff only happened back then but they don’t happen today.  That’s not true.  Now think about this.  Philip was so in tune with the Lord, that God sent an angel to tell Philip what He wanted him to do.  Now - what I think is just so amazingly wonderful is that Philip didn’t question HIM.  He didn’t say, “Give me  a sign so I can know this is from God,” nor did he run to one of the apostles and run it all by him and get his opinion if this was really God.  He didn’t have a clue as to what he was going to be doing.  BUT HE BELIEVED GOD.

 

That never would have happened had Philip not received the Baptism of the Holy Spirit.  Brothers and sisters, God wants to guide our lives, help us, enlighten us, bring solutions to problems - but we have to be in tune with Him.  Philip was in tune with Him.  Don’t you know that this Ethiopian man was amazed by all this!!!!!  God sent a man to answer all his questions and lead him to the King of the universe!  AND THEN BAPTIZE HIM.  AND THEN HE JUST DISAPPEARED!!!!!!!!!!!

 

Now - what happened when Philip disappeared is called, “Being Translated.”  It’s about being one place and then suddenly you’re at another place.  Philip was translated to a place called Azotus, which was in the area of Caesarea.  He began ministering there because I’m sure that he knew that was where God wanted him!!!!

 

Now - that wasn’t just for those early New Testament people!  God still does that today!

 

I want to share a personal testimony with you.  My husband and I, with our two young ones, were living in Colorado.  My husband was pastoring a church in Indian Hills, Colorado, still in the mountains, but a little closer to Denver.  The charismatic renewal days had been going on and we had both received the Baptism in the Holy Spirit.  There were meetings going on in homes and basements of churches everywhere.  We were being invited to different places, meeting lots of people and we were loving it.  This one evening, we were on our way to a home meeting, in another part of that mountain area.  It was already dark, and we, with our children, were in our VW bug - on a mountain road.  As we started around a curve, which is quite common on the roads in the mountains, ALL OF A SUDDEN WE WERE AROUND IT ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE CURVE - AND THERE WERE PEOPLE, COPS, CARS, AND LIGHTS EVERYWHERE!  We didn’t know what on earth was happening.  This policeman ran up to us and said, “How did you get around that curve?”  We said, “We don’t know - what’s going on?”

 

He said, “THERE’S BEEN A TERRIBLE ROCK SLIDE - THE ROAD IS GONE - THERE IS NO WAY YOU COULD HAVE GOTTEN AROUND THAT CURVE - TELL ME WHAT’S GOING ON!!!!!”  

 

We sat there in that car, looking at the policeman and at one another and at our kids in the back seat - and we just said, “GOD HAS DONE A MIRACLE FOR US.  WE’RE JUST HEADED TO A HOME MEETING TO MEET WITH OTHER CHRISTIANS!  WE DIDN’T KNOW ABOUT A ROCK SLIDE AND WE DIDN’T SEE IT!”

 

The policeman just shook his head and looked at us with absolute confusion - like he just didn’t know what to say next.  So he just walked away from the car.  The people were all running around - they were trying to find a way to get ahold  of someone who could get to the other side of the curve and close it down so nobody would be killed.

 

We sat there with our little ones in absolute WONDER!  Don’t you know that’s what Philip did when, all of a sudden, he was in Azotus?!!!  My husband and I just sat there - looking at each other - we were just speechless for a little while - and then, we both turned around in our seats, so we could see the faces of our children.  They were sitting there - quiet - and not moving - not knowing what on earth was going on.  Then, my husband told them, “Everything’s okay.  You don’t need to be afraid.  Daddy and Mommy are okay and you are both okay.  God just did a miracle for us to keep us from being hurt.”  And then - we prayed and thanked the Lord for protecting us.

 

We were still in so much AWE - that it was a while before we drove away from that area, on our way to the place we were headed for.  When we arrived there, of course, we told them all about what happened - and, of course, they all rejoiced.

 

Brothers and sisters, I will never forget that night.  THE SAME KIND OF THING THAT HAPPENED TO PHILIP HAPPENED TO US.  WE WERE TRANSLATED.  THIS IS A TRUE STORY.  GOD PROTECTED US AND OUR CHILDREN WITH A TRANSLATION MIRACLE!  

 

God still does things today that He did 2,000 years ago.  I can still remember the various emotions that I had that night.  But - most of it was just absolute AWE that God would do something so personal for our family and protect us from something which would have ended our lives.  BECAUSE HE LOVED US - AND - BECAUSE WE WERE IN COMMUNICATION WITH HIM.  WE HAD RECEIVED THE BAPTISM OF THE HOLY SPIRIT AND WE WERE BOTH SPENDING A LOT OF TIME PRAYING IN THE SPIRIT.  WE WERE TRUSTING HIM.

 

Now - I’m not saying that to pat ourselves on the back - I’m saying it because I have learned that, the closer you walk with Him and communicate with Him, through the wonderful help from the Comforter, the Helper, the HOLY SPIRIT - the more you are walking hand in hand with the LORD GOD OF HEAVEN AND EARTH.  

 

The Lord has knowledge and insight and help that we have access to, through the Holy Spirit - but, like I’ve said before, He won’t just whoosh down and control things, without our involvement.  He wants our lives to be so close to Him daily that He can communicate with us in all kinds of ways.

 

Now, I want to mention one other situation from the early Christians that we can learn a lot from.  I am not going to read the whole chapter - but I suggest that you reach ACTS - CHAPTER 10!  It is the story of a man named Cornelius, who had an encounter with the Lord.  The man was a gentile - a centurion - a Roman - but he was a devout man who feared God and helped people.  The Lord spoke to him and gave him specific instructions  - to send men to Joppa and bring a man named Peter back home with him.  He even told him where the man was staying in Joppa.  So he did what the Lord had told him to do and the men went.  Now, Peter was up on the rooftop by himself praying and God gave him a vision and spoke to him - and Peter didn’t know what on earth it was all about.  It was about a bunch of animals which the Jews didn’t eat because they were unclean.  While he was pondering, the Lord told him that three men were seeking him and He wanted Peter to go with them.  They had a discussion about all of it and stayed the night there where Peter was.  Then the next morning, Peter went with them back to the town that Cornelius was in and  lots of family and friends were waiting for them to get there.

 

Then Cornelius shared with Peter, in front of everybody, what the Lord had shown him and, then, Peter, knowing that the man and his people were Gentiles - understood what God had shown him and what it meant.  I love this verse - Acts 10:34 - “Then Peter opened his mouth and said, ‘In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality,’” and then he began to preach the message about Jesus to them.  He knew that he knew that he knew that SALVATION THROUGH JESUS WAS AVAILABLE TO THE GENTILES - AND WHILE HE WAS PREACHING, THE HOLY SPIRIT FELL UPON ALL OF THEM.  AND THEY ALL BEGAN TO SPEAK IN TONGUES!  THEY IMMEDIATELY TOOK THEM TO WATER AND BAPTIZED THEM.

 

What a miraculous and wonderful day - the Lord told the Jews that the Gentiles could also be saved through the blood of Jesus Christ!  

Now the reason I am sharing this with you today is that we are all gentiles - and on that day God made it known to the Apostle Peter that the gentiles could be saved too.  That was a whole new thing to the Jews.  For all those years - from Adam - Abraham - Moses - David and all the others as well as all the prophets - relationship with God was limited to Jews - AND NOW THE DOOR WAS OPEN TO THE REST OF THE WORLD.  This was a whole new way of thinking.  Can you imagine how Peter had to deal with this himself, as he preached to them, and baptized them!!!!

 

Here’s the man who denied that he knew Jesus while He was being crucified - THREE TIMES - but then - he received THE BAPTISM IN THE HOLY SPIRIT!  Now he was so in tune with God that God could speak to his heart and open up the door for people like you and me to become children of the MOST HIGH GOD - THE BODY OF CHRIST!

 

This man, who had been known as Simon, but who now was known as Peter, was just a normal human being like us, who had made mistakes - but had now become so close to the Lord that He could use him to open up salvation to the rest of the world!

 

What a wonderful example this is for all of us.  We’re just ordinary people who have been born again - mostly all gentiles - and it took a man named Peter, who was walking in such a close communication with the Lord, through the Holy Spirit, to hear from the Lord that salvation was available to the gentiles - not just the Jews!

 

Isn’t that a perfect example of how God can - and wants to - use us - each one of us - to bring His plans into this earth.  Without The Baptism in the Holy Spirit, Peter would not have had this intimacy with the Lord.

 

Oh brothers and sisters - that’s the kind of intimate relationship He wants with you and me.  WE ARE THE BODY OF CHRIST and He wants to use each of us in a unique way.  We are all different (just like those early Christians were) but God has ways of using our uniqueness in all kinds of ways.  BUT IT WON’T HAPPEN UNLESS WE SPEND TIME COMMUNICATING WITH HIM THROUGH THE HOLY SPIRIT.  

 

All these miracles we’re talking about only come through our surrender to the Lord - to the point that He is more important to us than anything or anyone else.

 

So - these stories we’ve been talking about today - about Stephen, Philip, and Pester - are all things that happened in the BODY OF CHRIST after the Baptism in the Holy Spirit had occurred on the Day of Pentecost.  Being born again is accepting Jesus as Savior - which insures that we are going to heaven when we die, and it also is about receiving a NEW SPIRT, REPLACING THE DEAD SPIRIT BECAUSE OF MAN’S SIN.  

 

BUT THE BAPTISM IN THE HOLY SPIRIT IS ABOUT THE HOLY SPIRIT HELPING US IN OUR CONNECTION WITH GOD AND PROVIDING A WAY OF PRAYER TO HELP US PRAY ABOUT THINGS THAT ARE WAY BEYOND OUR MINDS - WHICH IS PRAYING IN TONGUES.  THROUGH HIS WONDERFUL GIFT FROM THE LORD, WE ARE ABLE TO RECEIVE WISDOM, ENLIGHTENMENT, AND MIRACULOUS ABILITIES IN OUR LIVES, AS WELL AS BEING AVAILABLE TO GOD FOR HIM TO USE US AS NEVER BEFORE.

 

I really believe that I would not be here today, had I not received the Baptism in the Holy Spirit.  We would all have been killed in that rock slide.  

 

The ability to communicate with the Lord in a very personal way is a hugely important gift that God has made available to His children - THE BODY OF CHRIST.  BUT WE MUST REALLY USE IT.  GOD WANTS TO USE EACH AND EVERY ONE OF US WHILE WE ARE HERE ON THIS EARTH!!!!!    

 

Scriptures for this lesson

Acts 6:3-4

Acts 6:8

Acts 7:54-60

Acts 8:26-39

Acts 10

Acts 10:34

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