Conversatio Divina

Part 2 of 10

The Kingdom Comes in Power

Originally given in a Sunday School class at Woodlake Avenue Friends Church

Dallas Willard

A study of the book of Acts for a Sunday School class at the church where Dallas Willard and Richard Foster met. Expositions of Mark 9:1 & Acts 1:8; 2:2

Dallas: Let’s briefly gather ourselves together in prayer before we set out and ask the assistance of this divine spirit that we are studying about.

“Lord, wilt Thou not quiet us this morning til we can hear Thy voice. Wilt Thou not touch us that we might be changed? That we might find the ways out of the blind alleys? The ways out of our sorrows and the stresses, our mistakes, our sin and into the joy and light which you created us to live in?

Assist our thoughts that we might praise you more effectively by our lives and by our words that “Thy Kingdom might come, that Thy will might be done in our lives as it is in Heaven.” On behalf of Jesus, we ask these things. Amen.” [1:38]

Now, if you will look briefly at the outline from last time, I want to complete just a few remarks that I was making there and then we will go on to the other outline.

I was discussing the lesson plan, as you see the first lesson was entitled, “The Book of Apostolic Acts and the Plan of God for all of Mankind.” I was attempting to place the events and the book of Acts in the context of the work of God throughout the ages. I am not going to review all of these points. Those of you who were not here last time, if you will please take the outline that you have of the first lesson, work through it point by point, and study the scriptures. Do your own thinking about this.

Try to understand the sweep of history as the field in which God is working to bring something about. Now, we are familiar with that idea. I think what we are not familiar with is the actual thing, which is revealed in the scriptures as the intention of God in history. If you look around you in the world and see what is going on, certainly you are bound to ask, what in the world is happening? Why are things going the way they are in this world? And you will have this nation, which will get up and say, in effect, “Well, the point of it all is to show that we are the greatest nation in the earth. We are the greatest nation in history.” You often hear that talk about the United State of America. This however is not what you’d find in the scriptures. [3:15]

If you look, you will find that the intention of God in history is to create an all-inclusive community of loving and happy persons dwelt in by God Himself—God Himself. What is so far removed from thinking in those terms that it is hard to believe—hard to understand what that could mean and of course, that’s exactly why Jesus Christ came was to show the reality of such a community among human beings and then in a certain point in time, He had to face out the wickedness, the evil which was in human beings. It came and destroyed Him physically, killed Him, put Him on a cross and as I say here, under your point 7 on the outline, “the best man is killed by the best people.” The people with the most advanced law from God’s point of view—the people with the highest level of personal righteousness—and believe me the righteousness of the Scribes and the Pharisees was nothing to sneeze at. It was more than most of us here perhaps have; certainly, more than most of the people who go to churches today have. It is something, which you need to look into to appreciate fully. But these “best people took the best man” and because of envy and fear and pride, they had Him killed. Now, the effect of that was to bring an end to the hopes of those within Israel who looked for the Kingdom of God. It brought an end to their hopes in the nation of Israel. [5:24]

Oh, they still had confused questions and we are going to see them asking some of them today in the lesson in which I have asked you to read, but they were despairing. Christ was the end of the law on point 8 of your outline for last time. Christ is the end of the law to them that believeth.

Now, I have given you passages of scripture here and all these scriptures reiterate the same theme—the Law does not bring any hope. It is hopeless! It’s hopeless simply because people won’t do what is right according to the law. And consequently, they wind up by taking some little part of the law, like circumcision or the rituals in the temple or whatever, and say now, “That’s what makes us Jews” and Paul and the others come right back and say, “A real Jew is one who has a circumcision in the heart—not on the foreskin.” The law is brought to an end as a means of making people right. [6:37]

Well, we are going to be hitting on that a lot as we go along. I want to skip it though I have a very hard time skipping off with just that remark.

Now, in place of the law, there is brought about a new community of grace. That is a community of people who accept one another, not because they are right nor lovely nor good but because there is someone in that community who has taught them how to love the unlovely, to be good to the bad, to do justice and not worry about the results, to love without saying, “Well, you don’t fit these and those conditions.” Just to accept them; that’s all. That’s the principle is simple love of this community.

It’s the unity of the community and this community as some of you who were in the Ephesians study know, Paul laid great stress on how the unity of this community was built up by the spirit and how it was to be maintained in lowliness of mind and longsuffering with one another and not just pushing one another off and not hurting people by cutting them off and sending them away and how that Paul says there is “one Lord, one faith, one baptism.” [7:54]

Now you can’t make much sense out of that if you look at the religious world of today, can you? There are all kinds of faiths, all kinds of Lords, all kinds of Baptisms. But you see, we mustn’t be mislead into thinking that the churches which you find on the street corners today represent the community which God came to create.  That community is a spiritual community, which is not a way of saying, “It doesn’t really matter.” [8:25]

A lot of times we think of spiritual things of things that don’t really make much different anyway. They are the things which make all of the difference to human beings and the fact that we’ve got it turned around in our minds so that we, as Paul says, “we mind carnal or physical things all the time” simply means we are headed for death. We are headed for corruption and if you want to understand why the world is in the mess it is, just look and see what people put their minds on. [9:00]

That’s why I am asking you during these studies to put your mind on something else. I am asking you to study to transform your mind by minding spiritual things and if you mind spiritual things, if you sow to the spirit, you are going to reap everlasting life. If you sow to the flesh by dwelling on things of the flesh, you are going to reap corruption.

Now, the community in question is a community of the spirit but as we shall see even to the time that Jesus left, people did not understand this. They were still wanting something physical and we saw last time, did we not how that when God gave the Ten Commandments, immediately the people responded by saying, “give us an altar, give us a mediator, give us something to hold onto to, something we can kick, touch, lie down on, hit people with, something physical.” We saw how that after a long while, people would no longer endure having their leadership sent by the charismatic method upon the judges of Israel but said to Samuel, “Give us a King. We want to have a King like all the other people. We want to have a royal established mint—something you can see, something you can kick, something you can hit and something you can get hit with.” Carnal mindedness, carnal mindedness, you see; we want something physical. We don’t want something spiritual but God is spirit. So, you can see there is a little bind there. There is a little bind there. [10:48]

Now, the book of apostolic Acts is really—it is not the Acts of the Apostles. The title doesn’t even say that in the Greek.  It just says the apostolic practice–apostolic deed; it is not an attempt to cover the history of the early church to deal with all of the apostles. It is simply an attempt to show how the apostles of Jesus Christ under the governance of the spirit of God broke the community of God out of its Judaistic captivity, how it took it out of Jerusalem and before that book is done, we find the community functioning independently of Israel. [11:47]

Now, we tend to think of Jews as one thing and Christians as another but you can never understand the problem of the book unless you realize that Jewish Christianity is the oldest form of Christianity. Christianity was first of all a Jewish sect and we are going to find the passage later on in the book of Acts where it says, “at Antioch, they were first called Christians,” and we think, “Gee, that’s nice. They called them Christians there,” but we miss the significance—it was only at Antioch that the Christians began to stand out as something independent of Judaism. That’s why that passage is important. Everywhere else, they were what? Before then, they had been Jews—just more Jews! And, all through the book of Acts, you find, for example the Roman governors saying, “Well, we are not going to fool around with this argument because it’s within Judaism,” you know? Where they come out and try to kill Paul or something and say, “Well, that’s a question of their law. It’s within the Jewish religion, the Jewish nation but it wasn’t. It was gradually painfully emerging and the community of God which had been intended from the inception of the Jewish nation to be a universal community but which had been captured by the pride and the fear of the Jewish people and turned into something else so that when Jesus came, He would say to those who were really Abrahams children, he would say what? “You are not Abraham’s children. Abraham didn’t go around trying to kill innocent people like you do.” The community of God—the community of faith, which was arising out of Abraham, was captured and made into the private property of a certain group of people—people with a genetic connection with Abraham, but it had to be delivered from it. [14:02]

Now, I hope you will look at the point 10 on your first lesson—study that through. I am not going to read it but that sketches out the entire plan of the book of Acts and then goes beyond pointing out how that the community of God has suffered not only a Jewish captivity but very soon after it got delivered from that it suffered a Gentile captivity. And just as you had Jews looking down on Gentiles as not being the people of God for centuries, we have had Christians looking down on Jews. Sometimes doing more than looking down on them for various kinds of reason but all coming to the same simple point that the Jews are somehow inferior. They are culturally on the outside. They are not quite as good as we are. [15:02]

Now, Paul saw this coming. Paul saw all this coming and he tried to “head it off” and in the writings which you have in the book of Romans, the book of Galatians and else where, he points out it is true that being a Jew is no advantage to one’s righteousness who is positioned before God but it’s also true that being a Gentile is none of that and that’s just one of the divisions he takes—“neither Jew nor Greek, nor bond, that is slaves, or free or male or female”—three divisions that he dwells on and every one of them was so important because it had been assumed that females, slaves, and Gentiles were just sort of at the level of a dog or a little below and that consequently, those who were on the other side had an advantage before God but Paul says there is no advantage, none whatsoever; none. Now, that general sketch I wanted to get before you and I hope that you will study the verses, which I have put with it. [16:17]

I want to move on now directly to the book of Acts and if you will turn with me to that book, we will begin reading and commenting on some of the verses. You have two outlines before you. The one, the general outline on the book of Acts, I will not comment on in detail. I want you to use that in your studies. Now, each of the lessons, which I hand out, will be located within that outline. For example, the lesson for today is located within the first point under your main heading in the general outline. [Comment from person who needed the outline.] This is the main one we will be working on today. Let me find the other one here. This is the general outline. [17:12]

Now, if you see, I have divided the book of Acts in the general outline into two parts. First of all, the Divine Society or community comes within the Jewish nation and then secondly the Divine community moves its center outside of Judaism. Then I break it down into various headings under that and you will see, if you look at the verses accompanying the subheadings, you will find a continuous run of the verses there and that covers the entire book of Acts.

Now, the lesson for today is situated under Roman numeral I with Arabic I, that is the heading—The New Supernatural and Spiritual Community Formed Within Judaism. Now that’s all I will say about the general outline and I hope you will use it to argue with or to guide you or whatever way it can be of use to you. [18:13]

Look at the other outline now, which will guide us in our study for today. Before getting into the spiritual meat of the thing, I want to make just a comment or two about Luke and about his book. When one discusses these things, you are bound to be wrong on a large number of things because there is just so much we don’t know about it. It’s fairly clear that Luke was a physician and fairly clear also that he was located at Troy or Troas and that that’s where Paul initially picked him up and if you look in the 16th chapter of the book of Acts, as we will later on, you will see this. He met Paul on Paul’s second missionary journey and went with him apparently over into Macedonia and Philippi but that was perhaps all. That was just across the Aegean Sea and then apparently he returned to Troy and for a number of years, then Paul didn’t see Luke and then on his third missionary journey, he picked him up and from the time of his third missionary journey until the end of his life, Luke was apparently with Paul as his traveling companion. [19:30]

Luke was a physician as I say and physicians in those days weren’t quite like they are nowadays. Physicians, in those days, for example, often were slaves and it is quite a good possibility that Luke himself was a slave. There were all kinds of slaves and to be a galley slave and to be a physician who is a slave are two quite different things, of course. Some slaves were greatly respected and greatly relied upon. Luke may have been that kind of slave. He may have been a slave who enjoyed a great deal of freedom. Not all slaves—you know, we have an image of a slave as being chained to a door or something of that sort and can’t away but in those days, many of the slaves were quite free to move about and in many cases, there were bonds of affections between slaves and masters which were not reduplicated between free men. Possibly this is the case with Luke. [20:28]

It’s possible that this man, Theophilus, to whom he addresses his books was his master. Theophilus, if he was a genuine figure—I’m talking here in terms of possibilities to try to give you some kind of feel of what sort of book we may have before us. It’s quite possible that Theophilus was simply a pen name of some sort because it wasn’t all that comfortable to be a Christian in the days when this book was written–around 80 A.D. and it’s very possible that Luke’s master wanted to know more about these things and that he had Luke as his most learned servant and he simply set him the assignment, “Now I want you to do research and I want you to write this thing up. I want to know what has happened.” I’ll read to you. Don’t bother to turn—the opening verses of the book of Luke.

The book of Luke—“For as much as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us.”—see, among us? He’s bringing the one he’s addressing into the community. Saying, “For as much as a lot of people have looked in to this matter even as they delivered them unto us which from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the Word.”—now, he’s referring here to the oral traditions, which were handed on in the church. “It seemed good to me also having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first” but notice, he was not an eyewitness.  “To write unto thee in order;” that is—to put these things in order. [22:19]

Now, if you read the other three gospels, one of the most notable things about them is that they are not in any order. They don’t form a continuous story and this had bothered Luke apparently or perhaps bothered Theophilus, whoever that was and he said, “I am going to put these things in order” and that’s the point of the phrase “in order, most excellent Theophilus that thou mightiest know the certainty of those things wherein thou hast been instructed.” Thou hast been instructed. Luke approached it as a scholar as well as a Christian. His object was to put in as good a historical order as he possibly could with as good a historical evidence as he possibly could the things which actually happened and which they believed. [23:16]

Now, Luke is the only Gentile who’s writings aren’t preserved in the Bible and probably no one but a Gentile could ever have written the book of Acts. Probably in the first century, it would have been difficult for Paul himself to have written it before he was killed because there is a great deal of vacillation in Paul’s own mind; not as much as in Peter’s as you will see. But, the story of the book of Acts is the story of the community of God being taken a way from the Jewish people and it is almost impossible to conceive of a Jewish writer being able to do that in this period.

Luke, a Gentile, obviously very educated man, not just in medicine but also in other things. A companion of Paul and as a companion of Paul, he met practically everyone who was of any note in the early church. He had opportunities to talk with them, visit with them; you will see in the book of Acts as we go along how he was actually in the presence of people who were in the church at Jerusalem through all of the persecutions—all of the events of the early church. We don’t know exactly how he went about it. Again, we don’t know whether he went with Paul specifically on assignment to do this or whether he went with Paul for other reasons and then later on the assignment was given. We don’t know these things. We simply have the book before us, which records Luke’s efforts—a Gentile writer to set out on the basis of the best evidence, the best research what actually happened. [25:15]

It’s important for you and I to know this. One of the sources of instability in our spiritual life is ignorance of facts and primarily the facts that are in the Bible. We are stuck down in our own little manholes ad we are being torn and beaten by the forces which are at work on us and it gets pretty rough sometimes, doesn’t it? It gets pretty rough.

Q: Is it also a possibility that Luke was preparing these writings for Paul’s defense in Rome? [25:52]

Dallas: Well, I suppose it’s possible but Paul’s defense in Rome, I think didn’t turn on much that’s in these books. Paul’s defense in Rome was not, and if you recall as you’ve read the book of Acts, you will recall that he wouldn’t even had to go to Rome had he not appealed there against the Jews. His primary defense was against the Jews and there is nothing that could be said in here that would convince the Jews.

Comment: (Cannot be heard…Paul was freely preaching the gospel.)

Dallas: Well, freely he was in prison but he had preached it to the Gentiles.

Comment:  Was it house arrest?

Dallas Yes, house arrest. Yes, he was relatively free—house arrest but he was preaching to the Gentiles. I don’t know. I’m afraid that the book might be taken more as an indictment of the Jews than a defense of Paul and perhaps the ending of it is most indicative in that respect. You will remember how it winds up. The Jews, you just keep on rejecting me so I am going to forget about you and preach to the Gentiles.

Well, as I was saying, we wind stuck down in our little holes and we don’t understand what the possibilities of life before God is and it is by looking at what actually happened in this period that our minds can be enlarged to receive possibilities for ourselves today. Are we going to get deliverance?—to live the kinds of lives which we want which we know to be good, we know to be right—how are we going to get this? The answer is we are going to get it from the truth—the truth about God—the truth about Jesus Christ and the truth about the spirit of God who lives and works today in the present world. [27:59]

The Acts of the Apostles would really be better named the Acts of the Holy Spirit. It wasn’t the apostles’ power. It wasn’t the apostles’ acts. It was the Holy Spirit’s acts and the Holy Spirit’s acts which made the difference. What is important is not that we take Paul or Peter or even Jesus Christ after the flesh and enshrine Him and make some sort of little idol out of Him. The important thing is that we understand what God is doing now—what God is like—how He works with us—what He wants of us and what He would do in us. That’s what is important and that’s what the Acts of the Apostles is really about—the book of the apostolic acts. [28:56]

Now, I want to read with you some of the verses out of the first chapter into the second chapter and just comment briefly on some of the things that were coming to pass. I would like to talk further at length about the book, about what it was; for example, a lot of People don’t know such things, as there was many, many Acts of the Apostles. Did you know that? Written in the early church. It was a literary form.  I think there were about 5 or 6 but we still have at least fragments of acts of Paul, acts of Thomas, acts of Peter that were written in that time. As it seems, the Acts of the Apostles set off a whole stream of literary endeavors along these lines.

All of these acts are; they are kind of romances, novels and they are extremely imaginative. If you are interested in such things, you might look into that; hopefully, you would find it illuminating to get a view of what the early church was like to realize that for example, many people were converted and blessed greatly by pieces of literature, which were essentially novels about the things that happened to the apostles and the church. I want to get into some other things if possible and I won’t go on any further. [30:20]

My first point here that I have on your lesson outline—The Kingdom Comes in Power—the second lesson is The Last Visible Contact with the Incarnate Word with His Jewish Followers. This was like pulling eyeteeth but Jesus had come down to the point now. He had been with them in flesh. He had been killed. He had been resurrected.

Now, in this resurrection period before His ascension, some things happened which were designed to help His followers get off of the old physicalistic and materialistic base. He began to work with them through the Holy Spirit. Watch what it says, “until the day he was taken up”—the second verse—“after that He proved the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom He had chosen—through the Holy Ghost.

That is, Jesus had begun to deal with His apostles in a way other than face to face in encounters. As far as we can tell, there are about ten times that He met with the apostles but He was not with them all of the time; in fact, He was with them very little. But, during that time while He was still here in visible manifestation, He was instructing them. He was giving them commandments through the Holy Ghost. He was teaching them without His presence. You see, He was just leading them along so gently. He had prepared them before He died for His death but for a little more because they couldn’t receive. Now, after His death, He is preparing them for the time when He is going to go away entirely and He would deal with them entirely by the Spirit.  Step by step—that’s the way we go in the spiritual life and that’s what He is doing. After that HE, through the Holy Spirit had given commandments to the apostles whom He had chosen. He also showed Himself alive. He did that. [32:28]

Then there seems to have been a final gathering—a time of final instructions—the fourth verse—I think I’d better say just a little more on verse 3. When Jesus was resurrected from the tomb, He did not have a mortal body such as you or I have. There have been all sorts of confusions here because some people on one hand said, “Well, it’s impossible that there should be a resurrection from the dead.” And some people in order to defend that have come back insisting that bodies raised from the dead are just the same old bodies brought back to life. Now, that is not true. That is not true; and the body which Jesus had when He came forth from the tomb was not just that “same old carcass” which he had drug around for 30-some years on the face of this earth. It was a different kind of body. It was a visible body but if you will look at the events of those days, you will see it was an extremely usual body. I am not going to launch into that but I want to refer you to the 15th chapter of 1st Corinthians and see what Paul has to say about the kind of bodies. [33:54]

When it says that “He showed Himself alive after his passion by many unmistakable or infallible proofs, being seen of them 40 days and speaking of the things pertaining to the Kingdom of God,” let’s remember, that was a very unusual body—a very unusual body and then being assembled together with them commanded them, here is the final instructions which Jesus gave—“Do not depart from Jerusalem, but wait. Do not depart from Jerusalem, but wait.”

Isaac was the son of promise. Was he not?  Isaac was promised to Abraham after he was beyond the point when he and Sarah could have children and Sarah was barren anyway, but God did not give that promise with the intention of immediately fulfilling it. Abraham had to wait. Now, what did Abraham do? Did he wait? No, he didn’t wait. He and Sarah got together and said, “Now, look, I have a handmaiden here and you can go in under her and she will have the child and we can call it ours.” That was the beginning of a vast amount of trouble, which lasts even up to this day. Abraham didn’t wait.

Now, finally through the process of history, God had gotten some people to whom he could say, “Wait” and they would wait. That’s very hard to do. That’s very hard to do but the arrangements were such that they weren’t going to run them out and they couldn’t go anywhere else. They knew now what the law was and they knew now that there was no hope in it. They were cut off from the people around them; at least for the time being and if they weren’t cut off, they didn’t want to go back to them anyway because they were the ones who had killed the greatest thing that had ever conceded with their lives—Jesus Christ Himself. [36:32]

Jesus says, “Don’t depart from Jerusalem.” Now, obviously it’s not just wait but stay at Jerusalem. That means don’t go home to Galilee. Don’t go back to your nets, your carpenter shop—stay here! Stay in Jerusalem “but wait for the promise of the Father which sayeth He ye have heard of me. For where John baptized with water but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.” [37:11]

Now, do you think they understood that? Well, they had a little blinking idea about what this meant but how little they understood of it you can see from the verses that follow. They heard this and they all gathered around and they said, “Jesus, will you at this time restore the Kingdom to Israel? Are you going to set up the Kingdom? Are you going to give us back our Kingdom—our domination over those around us, our earthly rule?” Now, who can say the next two verses? Look, what did He say? And He said unto them, “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:7-8) Check out 14—He’s already said it. God’s already said it too!

“It is not for you to know the plans of Jesus because you are not going to be governing them, friend.” You don’t need to know the plans of Jesus because you are not running the show! The word there—and he said “the Father hath kept in His own power” is a very strong word—it’s “ex huzia” and it’s a derived from the participle for being and it means out of the being of God. This is something, which is appropriate only to the being of God to know these things because God—let’s get it straight, once and for all, He’s the only One who is running the show. [39:00]

Now, says Jesus, “I’m going to show you what I am going to do. You want a Kingdom so you can have power, right? I am going to give you power without a Kingdom—get that contrast? Get that contrast. We want Kingdoms; we want appointments; we want positions so we can exercise power over people, but the inversion here is so total back now as Jesus says, “The one who is your leader will be the servant of all. He will have no position; no authority; no power in this worldly sense; He will be your servant.” [39:45]

We have so hard a time getting it into our heads that God alone is Lord and we would just like it if He would delegate a little of that to us. We would like to have a vicar here, a representative there, which would give us the word. Oh, no; that’s not the way because that’s the way that leads to people having domination over other people. That’s what allows people to get others under their thumb and a whole lot of the law Paul saw so clearly meant one thing—people would get a bunch of little hoops so they could jump through and then they had backed you into a corner—jump through my hoop or else.

“Ye shall receive power”… ability! You see here—it’s very funny how we think, “well, we’ve given the man a PhD; we will give him a professorship and he will be a teacher.” Then we say, “Give him the Kingdom and then he will have the ability.” Now, we all know that you can give people PhD’s and professorships and they can’t teach a lick. The Kingdom does not guarantee the power—the ability, but we desperately want that Kingdom. That isn’t the way it works in God’s community. In God’s community, we are given power but not for our purposes; we don’t run the show. [41:44]

Well, what’s going to happen when we get power? When that power comes, then Jesus says, “When you get that power, you ought to go out and witness to people.” What? What? What?  He didn’t say that? So, I missed it? I don’t think what people say, aren’t you supposed to witness? Don’t you have an obligation to witness?  That’s pretty sound teaching today, isn’t it? You ought to witness? I’m not the one who said it. He said, “Ye shall be witnesses.”

That’s where it’s going to be. When you have the power, you are going to be witnesses. Where? You can start right where you are; that’s where your witness is going to be and it’s going to happen. When you start right where you are in Jerusalem and all of Judea and in Samaria and the uttermost parts of the earth. “Ye shall be my witnesses.” That’s the way it happened. Power without a Kingdom but not power for our purposes. Power is simply to show forth the wonderful works of God. [43:15]

The ability to go out to your neighbors, to the people who live in your apartment building and across the street, the ability to witness to them of the goodness of God—to show it forth—to body it forth. Not the power to go around and select someone who is lost as distinct from those who are saved and exact that lost person with something. No!—the power to indiscriminately show forth the goodness of God to the saved, to the lost or whatever category; to the male and the female, to the Jew, the Greek, the Barbarian, the wise, the unwise—for goodness sakes. You shall be witnesses.

I do hope you can pick up this important contrast now between having a Kingdom and having the power and I do hope that you will be able to see that we can have power without a Kingdom. We don’t need to sit around waiting and saying, “Well, I just wish the Lord would give me a Kingdom so that I could exercise a little power. I would exercise it for such good purposes.” [Laughter] “I would be such a blessing to people if I were in just the right position.” No, no! The position will corrupt. The Kingdom will corrupt you. The Kingdom is God’s. Jesus taught us to pray, “for Thine is the Kingdom and the Power and the Glory.” If ours is the Kingdom, you can be sure who’s going to get the glory—we will, and God knows this so well that He is not going to give us our kingdoms but he will give us power. Power for one purpose and one purpose only and that is to witness, to show forth the goodness of God, to show what a delight it is to live in the Kingdom of God, in the Kingdom of Heaven, to show indiscriminately. [45:28]

And let me just add this one point because I think it is so important. Where are we to witness? My dear friend, you are to witness to the people that you come in contact with; and that’s where you do witness, and that’s only where you witness. The people you live with, your neighbors, the people who come to your door, the people you work with—you witness to them. Oh, we witness to them and if we know the goodness of God, we witness the goodness of God and if we know the liberty that is in Christ, we witness to the liberty of Christ.

The primary places of our witness is our children, our husbands, our wives; the people who live across the street. If you want to work according to the plan of God in witnessing, take your apartment house, take the houses around you and pray for those people and stop looking for others who will somehow “fit in;” just take them as they are and pray for them and reach out to them and exercise the little human decencies which will enable you to make contact with everybody. Smile at them. Love them. That’s where the Kingdom of God is to come and when we start doing that, then we will start seeing things happen. When we start expecting God to work there, He will work there if we are His children and are in the right way with His teachings, He will work there. [47:14]

What do we do? Do we come to church once a week expecting maybe God is going to do something there? Possibly we do.  Many people come to church and don’t even expect that. It was necessary that Jesus go away in order that we could get our eyes completely off of every localized, physical instrumentality at the grace of God so that he could have complete free reign to work.

If you look on your outline here, I have pointed out why He had to go away. I have given you a verse. I want you to memorize verse 7 & 8 of John, chapter 16 for next time—why He had to go away. Precisely for this purpose—to get us where we didn’t think that God only worked around one person, Jesus Christ as a physical entity in this world. Jesus Christ went away so that we could get over this hopeless localization of God’s grace and start in seeing that God wants to work in His entire world and that the way He comes into the world is through His people and where His people are, they witness. [48:32]

I hope you will study carefully this passage now, John 16:7. We will be taking up with that somewhat next time. I will try to work through the remainder of this lesson. At the bottom of your lesson sheet which we’ve just been going over, you will see for next Sunday, study Acts 2:14 through 3:26 and memorize John 16:7-8. If you do that, then I think perhaps we won’t have so much preliminary materials and we will be able to catch up to the end of the next lesson. [49:06]

But now, watch as you study, Watch what happens. Watch what men don’t do and what God does. See how thoroughly it is the word of God and not of men that comes to pass here. In the 2nd chapter and the 3rd chapter of the book of Acts, it is not the apostles who are acting; it is God who is acting.

Now, one final thing, I want you to try to be thinking how it would be if in your life God began to act in the same way and ask yourself, why is it not that I know more of this by experience? God actually doing things in my life to those around me in this way because Peter is going to be saying in the chapter we will study, “the promise is unto you and to your children and to them that are afar off even as many as the Lord our God shall call.” The promise here, you see mustn’t slip into the pattern of thinking, well this is some special event which happened a long time ago and it doesn’t have anything to do with me. The only point of studying it is so that we can bring open ourselves more to God who can form more into this community than we have formed here.

“Lord, we are thankful for the opportunity to study Thy word and pray that you will have complete supervision over our minds and our bodies in these weeks as we think and as we pray. Teach us how we may rely upon you and teach us how to wait and expect and see you do your work in our midst. And the praise will then surely be Thine and Thine alone in Jesus’ Name.”