We’re kicking off our brand new October series… Church in the Wild! Throughout the series, we’ll walk through the book of Acts and learn how to be the hands and feet of Jesus in our current culture.
This week Pastor Eric Jones shares part 1 with us as we explore the first 2 chapters of Act as we discover the 3 ingredients we need to go From a Flame to a Fire. We’re learning about the birth of the church and exactly how it grew from a small flame of 120 disciples into a wildfire of 3,000 people within just weeks of Jesus’ resurrection. Let’s dive into our foundational passage of Scripture for this message:
Acts 1:4-8 (NKJV) 4And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, “which,” He said, “you have heard from Me; 5for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” 6Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7And He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. 8But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
Pastor Eric kicks off From a Flame to a Fire with a powerful personal story about the rapid expansion of wildfire he witnessed in Montana, all from which began with the smallest of flames. He goes on to share an all-too-relatable 4th of July firework fiasco that further exemplifies the undeniable truth that the greatest of fires all begin with just an ember, just a spark, just a flame.
In the same way we know this to be true physically, it also holds true spiritually–it just takes one person who has a little flame on the inside of their heart to start an abundant wildfire for God. In Acts chapter 1, we see Jesus–the one who has now been resurrected–preparing to ascend to heaven and He’s sharing His final words with the disciples.
There’s about 120 believers who are standing before Jesus and seeing the resurrected Savior with their own eyes. They’re passionate! They’re lit on fire for the Lord after what they’ve just witnessed! Get this: After 3 years of dynamic ministry, Jesus–the Son of God on earth, healer of bodies, feeder of thousands, walker on water–He died and was resurrected by the power of God and the end of his ministry finished with 120 people at the time of his crucifixion.
When we’re feeling discouraged, like our lives aren’t amounting to what we want them to, let’s remember that Jesus Himself had only 120 faithful, passionate followers. They were a small group, but like a small flame, they grew like wildfire and forever impacted evangelism of the gospel. By the end of Acts chapter 2, the flame of 120 had grown into the wildfire of 3,000 people.
The Holy Spirit empowered them to be witnesses across the earth and we are given that same power. Like those disciples, we too have an assignment! We are here now testifying with Christians all over the world, the fire is continuing, and we’re reminded that, especially in this transition season for our church, we’re not too different from those original disciples!
2 Timothy 1:6 (NIV) I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands.
The same passion and fervor and commitment that the original disciples had to the message of Jesus is the same passion we are called to have! We have been given the same command to go and witness and grow From a Flame to a Fire. Amen!
So how do we grow from a flame to a fire? Acts chapter 1 and 2 teach us 3 key principles for making that transition. We can apply the disciples' strategy to our own lives to impact our world in the same way they impacted the culture of their time. These are the 3 ingredients needed to shift from a flame to a fire: Wait, Wind, and Witness. Let’s dive into each one of these elements and see how we can apply them to our everyday lives as we strive to share the light of Jesus!
Acts 1:4 (NKJV) And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father…
There are many, many seasons we will experience in which God simply asks us to wait–to wait for His promise, to wait for His timing, to wait for His plans, to wait for His justice. Oftentimes, it’s in the waiting that we find the strength to do the going.
Isaiah 40:31 (NKJV) But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.
Jesus knew that if the disciples didn’t first wait on the Holy Spirit, they would try to figure it out on their own, using their own strength, their own ideas, their own passions and end up doing something that God never intended. When we wait, we find the strength of the Lord. When we wait, we slow ourselves down from going our way and create space to attune our hearts to God’s to hear His plan. This is how we surrender and lean into God’s promises!
Psalm 27:14 (NKJV) Wait on the Lord; Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the Lord!
“The waiting itself is beneficial to us: it tries faith, exercises patience, trains submission, and endears the blessing when it comes. The Lord’s people have always been a waiting people.” –Charles Spurgeon
Mark 16:15 (NKJV) And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.”
Just 3 books before our foundational scripture in Acts, we see God telling us to go…so which is it…go? Or wait? This highlights the concept of tension in following Jesus. We need to learn the rhythm of waiting and going, waiting and going.
In one hand, we learn the value of waiting, ensuring that we live lives that are submitted to God. We follow His plans, purposes, direction, and Word, slowing ourselves down enough to hear from him. In the other hand, we remember that we are an action people. We’ve been called to go, moving by faith to make bold declarations and decisions. We have a calling, a purpose; there’s something in our lives for us to accomplish. We wait and we go. The disciples give us some guidance on how to differentiate between the two seasons:
Acts 1:12-14 (NKJV) 12Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day’s journey. 13And when they had entered, they went up into the upper room where they were staying: Peter, James, John, and Andrew; Philip and Thomas; Bartholomew and Matthew; James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot; and Judas the son of James. 14These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers.
How do we know when it’s time to stop waiting and start going? We pray. We seek God and attune our hearts to His. We spend time talking and praying and asking God for wisdom and direction, praying ahead of where we’ll go. Prayer paves the path we walk on!
In seasons of waiting, what do you ask the Lord for in prayer?
Are you in a season of waiting now? What does that look like and what challenges have you faced during this time?
Acts 1:4-5,8 (NKJV) 4And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, “which,” He said, “you have heard from Me; 5for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” [...] 8But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
We cannot move From a Flame to a Fire without the wind of the Holy Spirit. When the disciples were encouraged to wait, they were waiting for the promises of the Father for the Holy Spirit to come into them.
Acts 2:1-4 (NKJV) 1When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. 2And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. 4And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
There’s a Greek word, pneuma, that directly translates to “wind or spirit” but also has a deeper meaning that speaks to the idea that the Holy Spirit has so many layers and ways that He works in our lives. The Holy Spirit is tangible and real; He’s a person, the third person in the Trinity. He works in our lives metaphorically as wind, as the breath of God. The Holy Spirit is like God breathing into the things we are doing. These next 3 scriptures highlight the ways the Holy Spirit moves us From a Flame to a Fire:
Romans 8:26 (NKJV) Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.
John 16:13 (NKJV) However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.
Acts 4:31 (NKJV) And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.
Ephesians 5:18-19 (NKJV) 18And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, 19speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord…
Everyday, the Holy Spirit leads us when we proactively engage with Him and depend on Him. Amen!
In what ways do you experience the wind of the Holy Spirit?
How is the Holy Spirit different from God the Father and God the Son?
What is the Holy Spirit’s role in your everyday life?
Acts 1:8 (NKJV) But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
The purpose of the waiting and the wind was all so that the disciples could go and be witnesses to the ends of the earth. When the Holy Spirit comes upon us, the natural response of receiving the promise of God’s power is that we actually become witnesses. We don’t just go out to witness; we are witnesses.
Acts 2:14 (NKJV) But Peter, standing up with the eleven, raised his voice and said to them, “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and heed my words.
What does a witness do? It’s simple: A witness tells what they’ve witnessed. The way we help people in our world know Jesus better and transform the flame on the inside of us into a fire that spreads throughout our social circles, our workplace, our community to start telling people about what we’ve seen and experienced Jesus do. He saved us and forgave us and set us on a new course in life!
When we choose to make Jesus an active part of our everyday lives, it doesn’t require struggle and effort to be a witness. It just flows naturally! Even in one small conversation, someone’s life can be radically changed by Jesus. In From a Flame to a Fire, Pastor Eric shares an incredible moving story about one small conversation just like this from over 30 years ago that drastically impacts our church and our world today.
Romans 10:13-15 (NKJV) 13For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” 14How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? 15And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, Who bring glad tidings of good things!”
Let’s be willing to witness and allow God to use our lives as a part of the beautiful story He’s writing to help all the world!
Acts 2:41-42 (NKJV) 41Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them. 42And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.
What does being a witness look like?
How can you witness this week to someone in your workplace? Your neighborhood? Your gym?
Why is witnessing so important to God?
From 120 people to 3,000 people, the church has been birthed. But the story of the church is just beginning! Next week we’re continuing in our Church in the Wild series and diving into Acts chapter 3 to continue exploring all the things that God does through the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen!
Father, we love you! We’re so grateful to be called your church. Please speak to us as we open your Word. We know that as it goes forth, it does not return back void but accomplishes the work you set for it to do. Thank you for your teachings and for your lovingkindness. Help us to be a church full of people who burn like a wildfire for you, Lord! In Jesus’ holy name, Amen!