Sermon Title: “Deficient Discipleship” (Click Here to watch Sermon)
Scripture Reading: Acts 19:1-10
Pastor Richard J. Brown
As we approach the season of Pentecost, the time when the Holy Spirit was poured out, we are also in this
season of development preparing to build for better. We have started to talk about the Holy Spirit. Last
week, Pastor Dennis talked about getting your 2020 in 2021. He was speaking about the things of the
Spirit of God and the necessity of the Spirit of God.
There is a deficiency in our discipleship, a deficiency in the way we are serving God and we want to
address that. The study of the Holy Spirit is termed as pneumatology. And the teaching of the Holy Spirit
is one of the most divisive topics in all Christian circles; it is most controversial. The theological history
is this. The first exegesis of the subject of the nature of God convened through the first council of God in
Nicaea. This took place around AD 325 in modern day Turkey. A group of bishops got together and
convened the council and their topic was the nature of God. This ecumenical council was the first to gain
some kind of consensus throughout the church. The main accomplishment was to cover Christological
issues of the nature of God – God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. This council came up
with the first doctrine or creed of Christianity. Followed by that council was the council of Constantinople
where they further expanded their study to include the study of the Holy Spirit and His relationship with
God the Father and God the Holy Spirit. This doctrine was the doctrine of the trinity. This comes from the
latin word trinitas and there is another latin word for trinity but they both mean “threefold” suggesting
both unity and diversity. This view holds that God is one – One God – that the One God exists in three
persons but that this One God within this sphere has both unity and diversity.
So the Father has a role and the Son has a role and the Holy Spirit has a role and their role is unified in
diversity and their role is best seen in diversity. This is best seen when Jesus went to be baptized in the
river Jordan with John and the heavens opened and Father God said “This is My beloved Son, in whom I
am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17) and the Holy Spirit descended in the form of a dove (v 16). This
validated Jesus’s assignment on the earth. From the aforementioned councils, there came more debates
and many other topics arose. Things like the baptism of the Holy Spirit. They counseled and debated on
what it means to be filled by the Holy Spirit; they talked about the gifts of the Spirit, the fruits of the
Spirit and the anointing of the Spirit.
Glossolalia is the theological term for speaking in tongues. They talked about all of these Christian things
that come about through the Holy Spirit. The topic of the Holy Spirit is the largest source of division. The
difference is clearly seen in the movements and the understanding of the Holy Spirit. We could go into a
traditional church and their response to the Holy Spirit would be a lot different than a pentecostal church.
In a pentecostal church, we believe and acquise to the power of the Holy Spirit manifesting through the
speaking in tongues and the gifts of the spirit. There are so many different beliefs that cause division.
Some will tell you unless you speak in tongues you aren’t saved. Others will say yes you are born again
but you need to be baptized in the Holy Spirit.
In the text, Paul just left Corinth with the husband and wife Aquila and Priscilla. Apollos had an
inadequate understanding of Jesus Christ. He knew of Jesus only as far as the ministry of John the
Baptist. Neither did he know of the events of the day of Pentecost. Aquila and Priscilla explain these
things to him more accurately. Meanwhile, Paul goes onto Ephesus where he encounters some disciples
and he asks them a question. “Have you received the Holy Spirit?” They responded they hadn’t even
known there was such a thing as the Holy Spirit.
The question is, why did Paul ask them whether they received the Holy Spirit? These disciples were followers or disciples of John the Baptist. Paul noticed that something was deficient in their knowledge of Jesus Christ. One major role of the Holy Spirit is that He is a revealer of Jesus Christ – “He will speak of Me, glorify Me”, magnify who Jesus is. Something in their conversation signals to Paul that there is a lack in their understanding of Jesus Christ. It is possible to go through the motions of religiosity and never encounter the life-changing power of the Holy Spirit. It is possible to sing all the words and go home and not be changed and not be set free. So what God really requires and desires is not that you be religious but that you enter into a relationship with Him. The only way to do this is by the means of the blood of Jesus and by the channel of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit challenges and convicts us and brings about real lasting transformation in the life of a believer. If your life is not transformed, then there is a deficiency in your discipleship. It is possible to praise and talk about God but never experience the presence of God.
The question rings true today, have you received the Holy Spirit? If you haven’t, there is something missing and out of alignment. You aren’t heading in the right direction if you haven’t opened yourself up to everything He is. Deficient discipleship is like a car with no batteries – it looks good but it isn’t going anywhere. You are on but you cannot be changed. Paul was in their presence having communion with their disciples and it was evident that someone was missing – something was missing. You can talk about the things of God and into that conversation you can realize someone is missing – the power of the Holy Spirit. The role of the Holy Spirit is not to be downplayed. He is God and we need Him more than ever in this day and age.
What is deficient discipleship?
- Seen in a lack of evangelism
- Verse 7 of our text mentions he [Paul] meets 12 disciples. Ephesus was one of the largest
cities with over 250 000 citizens. Ephesus was a bustling and a large city overflowing
with many thousands of people – yet there were only 12 disciples. The first sign of the
Holy Spirit is that He gives you power to witness. It is a spirit of evangelism. The bible
says in Act 1:8 “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you:
and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria,
and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” That is the first sign of the Holy Spirit. It is not
shouting or speaking in tongues but an unquenchable desire to make Jesus famous. To
make Him known. It is that desire to share the life changing power and love of Jesus
Christ. It is not about running up and down the aisles. The Apostle Paul said he spoke in
more tongues than all others. Pastor Brown speaks in tongues every day of his life but
that is not the first sign of the Holy Spirit. There has to be a desire to share Jesus Christ.
That is the number one role of the Holy Spirit – to magnify and make Jesus large. When
you have the Holy Spirit, everyone will see Jesus in you. There should be no need for a
department for evangelism because every believer ought to be an evangelist. After they
were filled with the Holy Ghost, the tongues they spoke in the day of Pentecost were
languages known to men because God wanted the message of Jesus Christ out and
everywhere in that day gathered were devout Jews from all over and they all heard them
speak about the glories of Jesus. They heard them speak about how He came and died
and rose again. When they spoke in tongues, they were speaking of Jesus Christ and the
gospel. They were declaring the gospel. The first sign of deficiency is when you don’t
share the gospel. You have to have a passion for souls.
- Lack of discernment
- When they conversated with Paul, they identified themselves as disciples of John. Yet
John’s assignment was complete and he had gone on to his eternal reward. He was the
one who prepared the way for Jesus Christ. Jesus came on the scene and lived a sinless
life for 3 and a half years then he was crucified, he was buried and went into the lower
chambers of hell and he preached deliverance and salvation to the captives. He went and
preached back to all who died and did not receive the promise. He looked at Isaiah and
said “I am the one you spoke about.” Three days later, he left captivity captive and He
rose from the dead triumphantly and ascended to God the Father and He put the disciples
on assignment to preach the gospel and yet there are these disciples still speaking about
John. They were ignorant of the new season. Anytime you find yourself ignorant of what
God is doing – there is a deficiency. You have to be current. Your relationship with the
Holy Spirit will reveal to you where God is and where He is not. You have to discern the
season by the Spirit of the Lord. The question is, are you intune with what God is doing
right now? The Holy Spirit will have conversations with you and challenge you as to why
and how you are where you are. His role is to guide you and lead you into all truth. The
Holy Spirit will let you know when that task is seen through to completion and will give
you what you should say and what you should be doing in your life. He will let you
know whether you should sign that contract, the Holy Spirit will let you know whether
that’s your wife or husband or job. The Holy Spirit will be a discerning agent in your life.
The Holy Spirit will make you like the sons of Issachar. The Holy Spirit will bring to us
discernment. He will bring to us the mind of God. Paul was teaching the Corinthians,
who hath known the mind of God? (1 Corinthians 2:11) Because we’ve received the Holy
Spirit, we can know the mind of God, we can know when we are going into error, when
we want to wreck our life. The Holy Spirit will cause us to discern from what is good or
evil. There was a lack of discernment in the Ephesian church.
- Lack of unity
- After they were baptized and received the Holy Spirit, Paul took them into the synagogue
to preach the gospel. They were Jews newly converted and as they are preaching in Acts
19, the hearers rejected the word. Paul therefore withdraws and takes the disciples and
takes them to a school or a lecture theatre owned by a man named Tyrannus and Paul
preached there for 2 years and both Jews and Greeks received the word. There is a
deficiency in your discipleship where there is no unity. In Christ Jesus, there is no Jew
nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in
Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:28). The Holy Spirit destroys division. Anytime you can’t get
along with other christian believers, anytime there is ongoing gossiping and slandering
there is a deficiency in your discipleship because the Holy Spirit destroys division. On
the day of Pentecost, they were gathered with one accord (Acts 2:1). He gives them the
instruction that they are to tarry until they receive. I believe the Holy Spirit was waiting
for them to get on one accord. The Holy Spirit of God will not come where there is no
unity. He will wait for you to be unified. The power of God is available. The presence of
God is available to everyone, even people you don’t understand, that you wouldn’t have
time for outside of Christ. You don’t get to decide who can enter the presence of God.
Paul comes out of the synagogue and preaches the word to both Jews and Gentiles and
they all receive.
- Lack of consecration
- When they heard the gospel, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. They were
baptized into the authority of who Jesus is. The mission and the mandate of Jesus. They
were baptized into His name and everything He stands for and everything He wanted to
accomplish. They were previously dedicated to a method not the Master. They were in
methodology but had no relationship to the Master. There was no consecration or
dedication to Jesus. That’s why we get baptized. It is an outward show of an inward
dedication to Jesus Christ. The only way to receive the Holy Spirit is to have Jesus. Jesus
only – no smoke and mirrors – just Jesus. Away with the gimmicks, when was Jesus not
enough? Jesus in my walking in my talking in my living in my giving give me Jesus. No
Jesus, no Holy Spirit. We can’t receive the power of the Holy Spirit unless we receive
Jesus in our life and heart. When you receive Him, He will change your life. Today there
is a deficiency in our church because there is a lack of consecration. This is more than
standing in water and someone calling the name of Jesus. Pastor Brown is talking about
being baptized into everything that He is and everything He came to do. When you are
baptized into His mission and His mandate, it will change your life. Things that you used
to do, you will do them no more. The Holy Spirit will bring about consecration and
dedication to the things of God. When they were baptized, they spoke with tongues and
prophesied. The Holy Spirit will change your life and future. He will change what you
say. When you are consecrated to Christ, you will speak forth – foretell and forthtell – you
will speak in the Holy Spirit and know what is to come is better than what has been.
You’ll stop talking about the past. The Holy Spirit will fill you with power to know.
There are 9 gift categories of the Holy Spirit:
The first three gifts consist of the power to know. This is the word of wisdom, word of knowledge and the
spirit of discernment. Once you receive the Holy Spirit – more than a shout or a groan at the altar – He will
give you a word of wisdom and knowledge.
The second category is the power to do and to act. The gift of faith, miracles and healings. Once you are
consecrated to God and when you are filled with the Spirit there is nothing you won’t believe God to do.
You will have faith to conquer anything. The power to act. He will fill you with miracles. He will bring
about a level of healing in your world.
The power to speak is the third category. When we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, we receive the gifts
of tongues, prophecy and interpretation. He will give us a new tongue, a heavenly language where your
citizenship is. He will fill you with prophetic utterances. He will cause you to press your ear into the heart
of God and He will reveal to you the unadulterated word of God. You can forthtell the things of God. You
will be able to rightly divide the word of truth. The Holy Spirit will bring about consecration.
As we look at the deficiencies in the ephesian church, we see the same deficiencies – a lack of
evangelism, unity, discernment and consecration. As we move toward Pentecost, the bible says in Acts 2
that when the day of Pentecost came, there were sounds of a mighty rushing wind.
Now why did Luke (the author of Acts) choose to use the phrase of a “mighty rushing wind?” Because
the first hearers were people who were accustomed to sailing, they were accustomed to a seaport. They
knew the wind gave direction. When the wind comes, it will control where you are going. God gave every
believer direction, guidance and control. If you don’t have direction and there is no control in your life
and behaviour then there is a deficiency in your discipleship. The question for us today is: “have you
received the Holy Spirit?” The Holy Spirit is right where you are. The Holy Spirit is everywhere and all
knowing. He wants to save and fill us to overflowing. If you are caught up with other methods but not the
Master, let me introduce Jesus to you. Jesus bought our redemption with His precious blood. He went
down to hell and brought the keys the devil had and rose to life. He rose to victory. This Jesus wants to
change your life and fill you with His Spirit. He wants to bring you to the point where you are
unquenchably focused on the spreading of the gospel of Jesus Christ. He wants to bring about a level of
discernment in your life so that you may know what you should do from what you shouldn’t and so you
know where you are. He wants you to be unified in the mission and to bring consecration to your life. He
wants to change your speech and your outlook for your future.