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The Main Agenda of God's Spirit: Transformation, Part 3

Insight for Living / Chuck Swindoll
The Truth Network Radio
August 18, 2022 7:05 am

The Main Agenda of God's Spirit: Transformation, Part 3

Insight for Living / Chuck Swindoll

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August 18, 2022 7:05 am

Flying Closer to the Flame

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We can only imagine what it was like for the twelve disciples who had walked with Jesus and loved Him when they discovered that their Lord would be crucified.

Doubtless, they were heartbroken and confused. Today on Insight for Living, Chuck Swindoll is teaching from the Gospel of John and recreating these unsettling moments. Today, we resume a message that Chuck titled, The Main Agenda of God's Spirit – Transformation. Lord, help us to never forget what we were like before you transformed us, because they were changed. Let me give you four examples of transformation. First, their very human frailties were transformed into supernatural gifts and abilities.

Their very human frailties, which we've looked at, were transformed into supernatural gifts and abilities. Chapter 3 of Acts. Peter and John going up to the temple at the ninth hour, the hour of prayer. A certain man had been lain from his mother's womb, carried along, whom they used to set down every day at the gate of the temple in order to beg alms of those who were entering the temple. When he saw Peter and John about to go into the temple, he began asking to receive alms. Peter, along with John, fixed his gaze on him and said, Look, look at us. He began to give them attention.

Peter said, I do not possess silver and I do not have gold, but what I do have, I give you in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth. And seizing him by the right hand, he raised him up. Please observe the secret of a miracle, the word immediately. Immediately, his feet and ankles were strengthened.

Immediately, with a leap, he stood upright and began to walk. Second, their fearful reluctance was transformed into bold confidence. Back to chapter 2. Their fearful reluctance is transformed into bold confidence. Look at verse 36.

That's where I want you to turn. Peter is concluding his message. Let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Jesus both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified. That's a rather bold statement. He says it without hesitation. When they heard this, they were pierced to the heart and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, Brethren, what shall we do?

Will you look at that? These are the men who only days before were not wanting to talk to anybody and now they're out in the streets boldly proclaiming Jesus Christ without fear. Verse 40, with many other words, he solemnly testified and kept on exhorting them, be saved from this perverse generation. So then those who received his word were baptized and there were that day added about 3,000 souls.

By the way, I love verse 13 of chapter 4, a very interesting verse inserted by Dr. Luke in this early church history record, 4.13. He's describing the reaction of the unsaved pagan officials as they observed the confidence of Peter and John. And as they understood that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were marveling and began to recognize them as having been with Jesus. Well, I've got to hand it to them. They had a little bit of savvy. They recognized that there was nothing unusual about their physique, about their training, about their background or their own human emotional makeup. They were just plain folks and they realized something about their relationship with Jesus had transformed them and they took note of that.

They weren't like they had been before. Third, their spirit of intimidation is transformed into a spirit of invincibility. A spirit of intimidation is transformed into a spirit, a sense of invincibility.

You're in chapter 4. Look back in chapter 3, verse 18. The things which God announced beforehand by the mouth of all the prophets that his Christ should suffer, he has thus fulfilled.

And now look at these absolutely unintimidated, invincible men. Repent therefore in return that your sins may be wiped away in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord and that he may send Jesus the Christ appointed for you, whom heaven must receive until the period of restoration of all things about which God spoke with the mouth of his holy prophets from ancient times. It doesn't sound to me like a man that doesn't quite know his theology. Chapter 4, verse 1. As they were speaking to the people, the priests and the captain of the temple guard, the Sadducees came upon them. And look who's disturbed. The people who were going to arrest them, being greatly disturbed because they were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead. They laid hands on them and put them in jail until the next day for it was already evening.

And these guys aren't intimidated. Many of those who had heard the message believe the number of the men came to be about 5,000. So on top of the 3,000 in Acts chapter 2, we now got 5,000 more. Came about the next day, the rulers and the elders and scribes were gathered together in Jerusalem. Annas the high priest was there.

What a wicked man. And Caiaphas and John and Alexander and all who were of the high priestly descent. They were corrupt, every one of them. These were the people who had a hand in Jesus' trial, which was a kangaroo court and his being put on a cross, humanly speaking. The same ones who had put Jesus on a cross are now examining Jesus' apostles. I'll tell you, that's an intimidating scene under normal circumstances. And when they had placed them in the center, they began to inquire.

So they put them in a lineup. Or really right in the center of a group of people and they said to them, by what power in what name have you done this? And Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, rulers and elders of the people, if we are on trial today for a benefit done to a sick man as to how this man has been made well, let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by this name, this man stands here before you in good health. Verse 12, there is salvation in no one else for there is no other name under heaven that is given among men by which we must be saved.

I love it. Peter looks at the man and says, I'm glad we called this meeting. I have a chance to tell you about Jesus Christ and how he has changed my life and how you, sinful though you are, and guilty though you are for having crucified the Son of God, I'll tell you there is salvation for you that is available through his name. I want to ask you, is that being rather invincible or are they intimidated? They're standing like steers in a blizzard. They are unmoved. There is a courage they never had before.

Why? The intimate Spirit of God has come into their life and freed them from their fears. God has not given us a spirit of timidity but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

There is no more timidity in these men. In fact, we should look at what they say in chapter 5 verse 27. They're back in jail. They're in jail all the time in these early days of the church. Verse 27, when they brought them, they stood them before the council. This is the supreme court of the Jews, the Sanhedrin. Seventy men, if you have ever been in court, you know again the feeling of intimidation, and the high priest questioned them saying, we gave you strict orders. Can't you just see him grit in his teeth not to continue teaching in this name? And you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and intend to bring this man's blood upon us. Peter and the apostles answered and said, we must obey God rather than men. Wow. It's kind of like Daniel in the lion's den.

Verna McGee had it right. The lions didn't need him because he was three-fourths backbone, the rest gristle. I mean, that's Peter. He says, listen to me, you guys. I'm not on trial.

You were on trial. This is the very idea that we are brought in. We are speaking for the living God. I'll tell you, that is a marvelous example of an unintimidated, invincible messenger of God. And it's Peter.

Let me mention one more. Their grim feelings of abandonment were transformed into joyful perseverance. Their grim feelings of abandonment were going to be orphaned, were troubled, were anxious, Lord.

We want to go where you're going. That's before the Spirit of God. But after his coming and his transformation in their lives, why, look for yourself.

Look at this joyful perseverance. Look at verse thirty-three. When they heard this, they were cut to the quick and they were intending to slay them. But a certain Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law, respected by all the people, stood up in the council and gave orders to put the men outside for a short time. And he said to them, Men of Israel, take care of what you propose to do with these men. For some time ago Thaddeus rose up, claiming to be somebody, and a group of about four hundred men joined up with him. He was slain and all who followed him were dispersed and came to nothing. After this man, Judas of Galilee rose up in the days of the census and drew away some people after him. He too perished, and all those who followed him were scattered. He's going back into the records.

He's using case studies in good legal fashion. He mentions Theudas and he mentions Judas. And so in this present case, I say to you, stay away from these men and let them alone. For if this plan or action should be of men, it will be overthrown. But if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them or else you may even be found fighting against God.

And they took his advice. And after calling the apostles in, they flogged them and ordered them to speak no more in the name of Jesus, then released them and look at what happened. So they, the ones who had been flogged, went on their way from the presence of the council rejoicing. While their shirts, their robes were stuck to the blood on their backs, before they even have their wounds dressed from the flogging, they are rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for his name.

Don't miss verse 42. And every day in the temple from house to house, they kept right on teaching and preaching Jesus to Christ. It's like a little ornery bulldog. They just kept coming back and biting them on the heels.

Just kept coming back, biting them on the ankles. They considered, they rejoiced that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for his name. Amplified Bible says they were dignified by the indignity. What an honor to bear in our bodies the marks of the Lord Jesus. He whose life was changed by the cross, whose body will bear the marks the rest of eternity.

What a privilege it will be to have scars on our backs for the cause of him who gave himself for us. They are transformed men. Now, what did it? Possible options I've written down in my notes. What are some possible options as we look at this kind of a straight forward analysis and kind of interpreting quickly here as we wrap things up.

What was it that transformed them? Well, some could say positive thinking. Now that Christ has left, it's time for us to grow up and be responsible. Very, very doubtful. Positive thinking never helped anybody rejoice through getting the skin whipped off their backs. Positive thinking never made a person who is naturally, normally, regularly intimidated in a moment's notice invincible before the public. Another possibility is a better environment. Maybe things lightened up. The public maybe was more open and willing to accept the blame for crucifying Christ.

Quite the contrary, things got increasingly intense. Well, perhaps someone taught a course. How to endure suffering. Twelve easy steps toward a successful life.

No. If you ever go to Rome, don't miss the catacombs. Just take my advice. Stop by the catacombs.

Take a walk. You won't be the same. Through the narrow paths in the labyrinth down in the bowels of the catacombs, you will see the graves. You'll be able to touch them. Slender little births where broken bodies were placed. Back in earlier days, you could see the writings.

You could touch the signs of the fish and the cross. The markings. The victorious statements. And you could see in the remains how they had died of torture. And yet on these markings, these grave markings are words of victory and triumph and joy and confidence. The best conclusion is Acts 1-8. These people had received power. When the Spirit of God came upon them and they became witnesses.

The word frequently is translated from the term from which we get our word martyr. You shall become my martyrs. Romans chapter 8. I read it to whet our appetite for our next study. Because I think you're starting to get itchy. You're ready to get past the apostles and you want to get it personally in your life.

And that's only natural. So much of our life is described by Paul in Romans chapter 7. For seven heavy, dark chapters, he has provided a panorama of sin.

It's a sinorama in panorama. And he admits his own struggles in the middle of chapter 7 and he comes finally to the conclusion in chapter 7 verse 24 of Romans, wretched man that I am. Who will set me free from the body of this death? How long will I live in this struggle between the drag of the flesh and the desire of the Spirit?

How can I get out of this body of flesh? Then he for the first time in the book of Romans introduces the secret. And it's the Holy Spirit. Romans 8.

But he starts by that transitional verse 25. Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God but on the other with my flesh the law of sin. There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.

Why? Because the law of the Spirit of life in Christ has set us free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did. Sending his own son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, he condemns sin in the flesh. In order that the requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but walk according to the Spirit. For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh and or but those who are according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. What an intriguing comment. The things of the Spirit.

We're going to look into that next time. Verse 10. If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the Spirit is alive because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who indwells you.

That is a wonderful hope. The same transforming power that changed those apostles is still available to God's people. Romans 12. Remember the verse? One of the great verses. I urge you, therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship, and do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed.

It's a command. Allow yourself to be transformed. Cooperate with the plan of God in becoming transformed.

How? By the renewing of your mind that you may prove what the will of God is, namely that it is good, acceptable, and perfect. We'll delve into that when we have time. Probing question I want to leave with you.

Only you can answer. Is the intimate Spirit of God allowed, being allowed to transform your mind? Is the intimate Spirit of God being allowed to transform your mind?

And I have to add, if not, why not? There are only two possible answers. Either one, you don't have the Spirit because you don't know the Lord, or because you prefer to walk in the flesh. And tragic though it is, that really is the answer for most. We prefer old habits, we prefer our old ways, we prefer our standard way of thinking. We fix our minds on the same old stuff, and we live our lives as though we haven't even the power to change.

We'll look more closely into that next time. On that convicting note, let's bow for a few moments of thought. Our Father, as we have probed your glorious word, we have come to realize again that you have provided all that we need. And the problem is not because of the bad environment, it is not because we have missed some course that somebody's taught somewhere. And the need is not some psychological mental apparatus that allows us to do a technique or a number on our minds, thinking.

Our problem somehow is a blockage between what could be and what is. Between the working of the Spirit of God within us, just as he worked in the lives of those of old, and the struggle with the flesh that seems to dominate us. Give us new insights, give us courage to try new things, give us an openness of mind, help us to at least tolerate these thoughts, though they seem at first a bit frightening and almost too good to be true. May the intimate Spirit of God begin to make a difference within us so that we might know transformation like those men of old who once knew it. We pray this expectantly and believingly in the dear name of Christ our Lord.

Amen. And with his closing prayer, Chuck Swindoll wraps up our three-day study called The Main Agenda of God's Spirit – Transformation. It's just one portion of his much larger teaching series called Flying Closer to the Flame.

This is Insight for Living. To learn more about this ministry, we invite you to visit us online at insightworld.org. You'll be glad to learn that Chuck wrote a book that parallels today's topic. It's called Embraced by the Spirit – The Untold Blessings of Intimacy with God.

To purchase a copy right now, go to insight.org slash store. Bear in mind that while you're listening to Chuck's teaching today, you're joined with fellow listeners around the world. Many of them are just learning how to walk with God, and some are recovering from poor decisions they made long ago. But there's a common thread of gratitude in the messages we receive. God is using Insight for Living to transform the hearts of willing listeners through the power of our companion, the Holy Spirit. These transformational stories are made possible in part because people like you give voluntary donations. And if you're among those who give, let me encourage you with a comment we received. This person said, Well this listener gave his gratitude to Chuck, but it really belongs to those who partner with us.

As you can readily see, this person is still on a journey toward transformation. God is the one who changes lives, but He invites us to play a critical role in broadcasting the truth. So you can have confidence that your gift to Insight for Living is making a difference. To give a gift today, call us.

If you're listening in the United States, call 800-772-8888 or go online to insight.org. In March 2023, Insight for Living Ministries is hosting an unforgettable journey to Israel. Carefully plan to deepen your understanding of the Bible and draw you closer to God.

Here's Chuck Swindoll. For thousands of years, no place has been more meaningful to God's children than the land of Israel. The rugged landscape reminds us to find refuge in God alone. The fertile valleys invite us to follow our shepherd. Jerusalem's position at the very center of the world announces the good news of Christ to every nation. And now you can see Israel with Chuck Swindoll and Insight for Living Ministries, March 5-16, 2023. Every time I visited the Holy Land, I returned home with a refreshed heart for God and a renewed vision for the world.

Really, I mean it every time. And so I want you to have the same life-changing experience. To learn more, go to insight.org slash events or call this number 1-888-447-0444. Insight for Living Ministries Tour to Israel is paid for and made possible by only those who choose to attend. I'm Bill Meyer.

Join us when Chuck Swindoll's series called Flying Closer to the Flame continues, Friday on Insight for Living. The preceding message, The Main Agenda of God's Spirit, Transformation, was copyrighted in 1992, 1993, and 2003. And the sound recording was copyrighted in 2003 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights are reserved worldwide. Duplication of copyrighted material for commercial use is strictly prohibited.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-09 13:18:26 / 2023-03-09 13:27:29 / 9

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