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Jack Graham - Transformed

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    Jack Graham - Transformed
TOPICS: The Power of Spiritual Engagement, Transformation

After the Cross and Resurrection, another great event took place in the life of Jesus, and that is the ascension of our Lord. When Christ elevated and ascended back to the Heavenly Father. And that took place on the Mount of Olives. And before Jesus left His disciples, He gave them and us a commandment to be witnesses, to go into all the world, to share the gospel, beginning in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, the uttermost parts of the world. And he also not only gave us a commandment, but he gave us the power to get it done. He promised us the Holy Spirit after the Holy Spirit has come upon you. And when the Holy Spirit fills us, He uses us and we are transformed, our lives are changed and we have a story to tell. And it's the story of Jesus and how he changed our lives. So today, in the message, we're going to take a look back to a message I delivered in 2007. This is a timeless truth regarding the Holy Spirit and how God's Spirit takes residence in our lives. And just like on the day of Pentecost, we can now experience what believers have experienced through generations. And that is a transformed, triumphant life. So let's go to the message right now.

Take your Bibles and turn with me to the book of Acts, chapter 2. We're talking about the POWER OF SPIRITUAL ENGAGEMENT. So let me ask you a question as we begin this message. Is your life everything God expects it to be? Are you living in obedience to His commands and His calling upon your life? Or maybe another question: Are you living the life that you desire to live in Christ? You see so many Christians are not spiritually and powerfully engaged. They don't know the power of God in prayer. And they don't know the joy of worship, elevating, uplifting worship. They don't know victory over life's battles and struggles ah, through life's problems. They don't know the victory that we have in Christ. And many who name the name of Christ are not engaged in sharing their faith and being a light to the world.

You're not effective in being a parent or effective in a partner in your marriage. And maybe you're wondering what is this Christian life and how am I going to live it? How can I be a part of changing the world? You say, "Wait a minute, Jack. Don't talk to me about changing the world. I could barely get out of bed this morning to get here, much less change the world"! Well, I want you to consider that two centuries ago there was a group of believers led by twelve men who were armed with nothing but the simple yet powerful message of the Gospel and these, along with those who joined them, turned the world upside down. They changed the world!

I really should say they turned the world right side up because you see the world was going in the wrong direction. It is upside down and the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the message of God's salvations turns peoples' lives around. Turns us upside right instead of upside down. But this is what happened when believers were engaged, fully and powerfully engaged. They began with a prayer meeting, 120 of them in an upstairs room. Humanly they had no advantage. They certainly didn't have any kind of media or publishing abilities. They had no satellite technology. They had no cameras in which they were to communicate the Gospel. They had no financial resources. They had no beautiful magnificent buildings! But they had something that transformed their lives. Because you see these Christians not only survived against all odds, against opposition, against persecution. They not only survived this, but they thrived in this and they fulfilled the mission of Christ, and they delivered the message of Christ.

Now maybe you're thinking, "Well, sure, these guys were disciples. These were apostles. I'm just an average ordinary person. How can I change the world? Sure, Peter and John, those men could change the world". Well, let me remind you that these men were common, ordinary men. They were not extraordinary men. Not at all. They were from the back woods. They were rural. They were sometimes rude and full of rage. John was known as the son of thunder. He had to get over an agitated temperament. And Peter himself was a denier. He was often saying the wrong thing at the the wrong time. They were ordinarily ordinary!

And the whole point of the story that we discover in the book of Acts is that God takes ordinary common people, gives them an uncommon calling, and an extraordinary power of His Spirit, and He uses us to change the world, starting at our own doorstep. Even though you may feel very ordinary as I do, if you will live in obedience to Christ, you will experience His presence, His power! It is the Spirit filled life and this is the normal Christian life. This is the way it ought to be! What happened? After Jesus gathered His disciples and ascended up into heaven, He promised the coming of the Spirit, the promise of the Father. The disciples obeyed Him, went and prayed, and what happened that changed them, transformed them and changed the world?

Somebody said, "The Savior went up, the Spirit came down, the church went out, and the lost came in". What happened on a day of days we read about in Acts chapter 2, verse 1: "And when the Day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire, appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance".

What an amazing experience! This was the Day of Pentecost. And while there is a sense in which we are expecting another Pentecost... Historically the Day of Pentecost has happened. We wouldn't pray for another Pentecost anymore than we would pray for another Bethlehem or another Calvary. There are historical events, and in the case of Pentecost it was the day in which the church was birthed, when the Spirit of God came down and filled the believers. And it was accompanied, this presence and power of the Holy Spirit was accompanied by amazing, miraculous signs, as these men and women were transformed. How so? That's what we're going to talk about today. How can you be transformed? What does Christ do, what does the Spirit of God do in us in transforming us?

Number one, we're transformed from emptiness to fullness. Now these believers had seen Christ, they'd experienced His living presence, His physical presence, but He was no longer with them physically. And so in one sense they were spiritually empty, yet Jesus promised that He would not abandon them, He would not leave them orphans. He said, "I will be with you". How so? He said, "I will send the Comforter. I will send the Holy Spirit and my living Spirit will now indwell you. My Spirit will now live in you". And therefore, when the Day of Pentecost came, the arrival and the anointing of the Holy Spirit came upon that day, and upon these believers.

Now when you talk about the Day of Pentecost and this baptism of fire and the filling of the Holy Spirit, of course, we raise questions. Especially we wonder what is this baptism of the Spirit? What is this baptism of fire? Maybe someone has said to you, "Do you have the baptism of the Spirit? Have you been baptized with the Spirit"? And if someone asks me that question, "Have you been baptized by the Spirit"? I say, "Yes, absolutely"! Because the day that I came to faith in Jesus Christ, His Spirit came to live in me.

Now you know we're talking here about water baptism. Water baptism is symbolic of this spiritual baptism. The word baptism means to immerse or to submerge. And so to be immersed in God's Spirit. To be submerged is to be identified with Christ. The baptism of the Spirit, listen to me now, The baptism of the Holy Spirit takes place simultaneously and instantaneously and permanently when we receive Jesus Christ into our lives as our Lord and our Savior.

You say, "Okay, prove that". I would be glad to. Acts 2, verse 38. Look at it first. Acts chapter 2, verse 38. Peter is giving the invitation, having preached a powerful message on the Day of Pentecost. And here's what he invites the people to do in verse 38: "Peter said to them, 'Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for'", or literally because of, "'the forgiveness of your sins and'", watch this, "'you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.'" You will receive the gift, not gifts, the gift of the Holy Spirit. In other words, Peter is very clear. People wanted to know: what do we need to do to be saved, what do we need to do? He said repent of your sin, which means you were going in one direction.

We'll get to this message in another sermon later on. But it means to repent means you're going in one direction. You come face to face with Christ, His claims upon your life. You repent of your sin by turning from your sin and going in a brand new direction. It means that you have repented by responding in faith to the Lord Jesus Christ. He said repent, follow Christ in believer's baptism as a testimony of your faith. He said you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. So the Spirit of God lives in us the moment we believe and receive Christ! First Corinthians 12, verse 13, look at it. Same subject. The Bible tells us that we are in "one Spirit all baptized into one body—whether we are Jews or Greeks, whether we are slaves or free—and we're all (see that?) all made to drink of one Spirit".

All means everyone. Not someone having a subsequent experience to salvation; not someone having an esoteric experience after salvation, but rather, when we are saved, when we are born again the Spirit of God immerses us and fills us with His very presence. Did you know according to Romans chapter 8 and verse 9 that if you don't have the Holy Spirit you are not saved, for the Scripture says anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to Him. You cannot even say Jesus is Lord, the Bible says, apart from the work of the Holy Spirit. It is the ministry of the Holy Spirit to convince men of Christ and of the Gospel and to convict men of sin, righteousness and judgment, according to Jesus. It is the convicting and convincing work of the Holy Spirit. No one can come to Christ without the work of the Holy Spirit. The sovereign and supernatural work of the Holy Spirit in us when we are enveloped into Christ, when we are identified with Christ, when Christ lives in us. That's the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

Now that doesn't mean therefore that everyone who's a member of a church has been baptized in the Spirit because not everyone's who's a member of a church has been saved. There are problems we've got today in the church. The church is filled with people who have never had a life-changing, transforming experience with Jesus Christ. They've joined the church, they grew up in the church, they were baptized into the church, they made a decision in the church, they show up every now and then at church, they're identified with some church, but they don't know Christ. They're not identified with Christ. And I'm speaking to some of you right now, you're not saved. And the reason you don't have spiritual power in your life is because the Spirit of God is not living in you. Jesus is not living in you.

It concerns me sometimes because you know we just transfer one member from one church to another and sometimes it's sort of like taking a body out of one funeral home and just putting it in another funeral home! Because there's no spiritual life! We are made alive in the Spirit! We have life! We have liberty in Jesus Christ! And then because of that, the Spirit of God is in us to testify of Christ. The Holy Spirit never draws attention to Himself. Jesus said, "He will speak of Me". And the Spirit of God lives in us, sealing us until the day of redemption, until the day of salvation. And also witnessing to us of our assurance of salvation. Look, you're looking at a man who knows he's saved. How do I know I'm saved? Because I've done exactly what the Scriptures tell us to do in responding to the invitation to repent and receive Christ. And also the Spirit of God is living in me and testifying that I belong to Him.

Second thing, a transformed life is when we are transformed from defeat and failure to faith and spiritual fire. These believers, they lacked faith, they lacked spiritual fire. They wondered if God could ever use them, especially after their great failures at the cross. They wondered how it was going to be possible for them to achieve the mission of Christ. So many I believe are on the bench spiritually because you failed God in some way and you wonder if God could ever use you again. And you're living in defeat and failure in your Christian life and you've almost given up because you don't recognize and realize that the spiritual presence of Christ is in you to renew you, to restore you and to fire you up again, if you will respond to Him.

One final word: They were transformed from emptiness to fullness; the Spirit now resides in them. They were transformed from failure and fear and defeat to faith and victory and fiery witness for Christ. And finally, they were transformed from fear and reluctance to courage and boldness. Because the Bible says they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and they began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. Now three miracles took place on the Day of Pentecost. One was a miracle of sound, for "they heard the sound of a mighty rushing wind".

The word for Spirit in the New Testament is pneuma, it means breath. The Hebrew language Ruach means breath. It is the breath of God. And so when the wind blew, symbolic of the breath of God, there is now life in God's people and in God's church. But not only was there a miracle of hearing, a miracle of sound, but there was a miracle of sight, for this gigantic ball of fire, I mean, it went nuclear in that room that day! This gigantic ball of fire exploded and the Bible says, "It was like fire".

See, it was what they saw. It appeared as fire. And then the fire divided and danced on the head of these believers. It was as though they became human candles, ignited, fueled by the Holy Spirit. And, of course, our God is a consuming fire. When God gets in anything, there is fire. Remember the burning bush? Moses came to that bush and it kept on burning, burning and burning, because the presence of our God was in that bush! And when the fire came that day, it was symbolic of the power of God, the presence of our God! Fire consumes! Fire cleanses! Fire changes everything! You know if a Christian would just get on fire for God, the whole world would come and watch him burn. And may we be on fire for God, symbolized here by this miracle of sight. But then there was a miracle of speech because they began to speak, the Scripture says, with other tongues. Literally with other dialects.

Now the purpose of this message is not to debate the issue of speaking in tongues in our culture today. But let me tell you exactly what this passage tells you about speaking in tongues in this place at this time. What they did was to speak in languages, not unknown languages, but known languages! You say, "How do you know that"? Because the people who were on at the Day of Pentecost came rushing up at the sound of the wind, the explosive experience of that day, and they heard these men speaking, and when they heard it, they heard in their own dialect, their own tongue. You see people were from all other places around the world. They'd gathered there and this was as though God was just putting on fast-forward the getting of the Gospel to the world, because He brought the world to them.

And these men and women who were praising God and proclaiming Jesus Christ. Everyone who heard because of this miracle of the Holy Spirit, heard in their own language! It was as much a miracle of hearing as it was a miracle of speaking! So these were not unknown tongues. This was not babble. These were tongues to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And I would dare say some of us need to be less concerned about speaking in other tongues and start using the one tongue that we have to proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of our lives! They spoke with boldness and courage. Peter preached. The same Peter who had denied Christ. The same man who was a wimp, a weakling, is now a warrior for God!

Later on when Peter and John were arrested and beaten to within an inch of their lives, told never to speak in the name of Jesus again, and they observed in Acts 4:13 the boldness of Peter and John. And they realized that even though they were untrained and unintelligent men, they had been with Jesus. Their lives had transformed. They were now courageous and bold. What's the biggest problem we have about sharing our faith with others? Fear. Most of us are not afraid of persecution but we are afraid of opposition in some way. We're afraid that someone is going to laugh or mock us. Somebody might think you're a freak, a Jesus freak if you talk about Jesus. Maybe you're afraid of the rejection. You can't handle the rejection.

And some of you are just silent. When it comes to sharing our faith, silence is not golden, it's just plain yellow. And we need... What do we need? Do we need the latest course on evangelism? Do we need to go to seminary and get trained to share our faith? Do we need some powerful explosive experience to get zapped in order to start sharing our faith? No, what we need is the present power of the Spirit of God working in us, propelling us, passionating us in order that we might share the Gospel at every opportunity we've been given. And we've been given amazing opportunities. Most of us pass up scores of opportunities each day to share our faith, to share Jesus Christ with others. Sometimes it's not because of fear, it's just because we don't really care.

Before evangelism is a program it's got to be a passion in your heart. Sharing Christ boldly. You see they were filled with the Spirit. They were filled with Jesus. And when you're filled with Jesus you spill out on others. It's the supernatural work of God's Spirit. And while you have been baptized by the Spirit if you are a believer, when the Spirit is presiding in you is He president in you? Is He ruler in you? And so I simply ask you today, are you at a place in your life where you're willing to come to the altar and say, "Lord, let the fire fall on me! Spirit of the living God, fall fresh on me! Holy Spirit, breathe on me".

Are you willing to allow the Spirit of God to take central command and control of your life so that you would be transformed? I'll tell you what will happen. You're be a better man, a better woman, you will begin to obey God, you will start obeying His commandments rather than living in rebellion of His commandments. You'll have the power to do it. You'll start winning life's biggest battles. The struggles that you're facing in your home, your family, your marriage, you will have spiritual power in order to deal with these. You'll have all that you need to live a godly life and build a Christ-like character in your life, the fruit of the Spirit. And you will be an effective witness for Jesus Christ wherever you go. That is the power of spiritual engagement.
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