Intro. We have been looking at the characteristics of those men that God used to reach their generation with the gospel of Jesus Christ. So far we have discovered that they were men of prayer; men of faith; men who denied the self-life; men of the word. Now we see one more characteristic, which is the most important of all. They were men who were filled with the Holy Spirit. Jesus had said to them that they would receive power after the Holy Spirit had come upon them. We now see them as they are empowered by the Holy Spirit.
I. THE PLACE: THEY WERE STANDING BEFORE THE SUPREME COURT OF THE JEWISH GOVERNING BODY.
And it came to pass on the morrow, that their rulers, and elders, and scribes,
And Annas the high priest, and Caiaphas, and John, and Alexander, and as many as were of the kindred of the high priest, were gathered together at Jerusalem.
A. This territory is familiar to Peter, he has been here before. Matthew tells us about it.
And they that had laid hold on Jesus led [him] away to Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders were assembled.
But Peter followed him afar off unto the high priest's palace, and went in, and sat with the servants, to see the end.
Now the chief priests, and elders, and all the council, sought false witness against Jesus, to put him to death;
1. The last time Peter was here, he was trying to sit in the background to observe what would happen to Jesus.
2. This is when the young maid approached him and asked if he were one of Jesus' disciples, which he denied.
3. It was a place where the weakness of Peter's flesh was manifested in his threefold denial of the Lord.
a. As Jesus had said to him, "The spirit indeed is willing but the flesh is weak."
b. He was so fearful of the power of this august council that he denied that he ever knew Jesus.
B. Now Peter is not standing outside of the council, but in the midst of the council, he is on trial. He is not standing by the fire, he is in the fire.
1. He is not denying Jesus in front of a servant girl but boldly proclaiming to the whole council that Jesus is the only way to salvation.
C. How can you possibly explain such a radical difference in a man in just a few short weeks?
1. We see it in verse 8, "But Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit." The words filled with the Holy Spirit tell us the reason for the difference.
2. This is the power that Jesus was talking about when He promised them the gift of the Holy Spirit.
a. "But you shall receive power after the Holy Spirit has come upon you and you shall be witnesses of me."
b. Back in the gospels Jesus had said to them:
And when they bring you unto the synagogues, and [unto] magistrates, and powers, take no thought how or what thing you shall answer, or what you shall say:
For the Holy Ghost shall teach you in the same hour what you ought to say.
II. THE NECESSITY OF THE POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT IN ANY ENDEAVOR FOR CHRIST.
A. God does not desire the works of our flesh.
1. Jesus said, "Apart from Me, you can do nothing."
2. When we stand before the Lord to be judged for our works we are told that the judgment will be of what sort they were.
Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is.
If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.
If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.
3. Works motivated by anything other than the love of Jesus, profit me nothing.
And though I bestow all my goods to feed [the poor], and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.
B. God does not even acknowledge the works of my flesh.
1. To Abraham God said, "Take now your son, your only son Issac, and offer him as a burnt offering on a mount that I will show you.
2. Wait a minute, God, aren't You missing something here? What about Ishmael, is he not a son of Abraham?
3. Ishmael was the work of the flesh, Issac was the son of promise.
4. God did not recognize the work of the flesh.
C. Paul writing to the Romans in chapter 4 said that if Abraham were justified by his works then he would have something to glory in, but not in the Lord.
D. Had Peter been able to stand against the pressures of the little maid and not denied His Lord then he could have boasted in his strength.
1. It is interesting that before his denial, he was boasting in his flesh, he declared to the Lord that though all of the others would forsake Jesus, he would never forsake Him, that he would die with Him.
2. Peter in his own strength failed.
3. Peter by the power of the Spirit triumphed.
III. WE SEE HOW THE HOLY SPIRIT ENABLED THE BELIEVERS IN THE NEW CHURCH.
A. They were filled with the Spirit.
B. They were led by the Spirit.
Was returning, and sitting in his chariot read Esaias the prophet.
Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot.
While Peter thought on the vision, the Spirit said unto him, Behold, three men seek thee.
Arise therefore, and get thee down, and go with them, doubting nothing: for I have sent them.
As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them.
Now when they had gone throughout Phrygia and the region of Galatia, and were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia,
After they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia: but the Spirit suffered them not.
And they passing by Mysia came down to Troas.
And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us.
And after he had seen the vision, immediately we endeavoured to go into Macedonia, assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us for to preach the gospel unto them.
C. They were empowered by the Holy Spirit.
1. The question of the leaders indicated their desire to know by what power they had made the lame man to walk.
And with great power gave the apostles' witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all.
And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people.
D. When I am filled with the Spirit, and led by the Spirit then God can use me in effective Christian Service.