Tuesday, May 6, 2014


Acts 1:8, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

Today we embark on a fascinating journey, as we read through the book of Acts, of the remarkable account of the birth and expansion of the church.  Acts 1:8 is a key verse in the book.  Jesus’ parting words to His disciples serve both as an overview and outline of that which takes place.  In a real sense, the book of Acts continues to this day.  The mandate given by the Lord Jesus to His disciples still stands.  Christ’s witnesses still proclaim the very same message.  They do so by the sufficient means He has provided through the leading and empowering ministry of the Holy Spirit.

It is good for us to re-consider the straightforward instructions of the Lord Jesus regarding our witnessing efforts.  Some are obviously confused.  They’ve misunderstood the mandate to have been something like this: “I’ve got a mission for you.  Nickels and noses is what it’s all about.  Do whatever it takes to get people inside the doors of your church.  Consult the church growth experts.  Give the people want they want.  There are plenty of programs you can use to garner interest.  Be careful to cater the music to the demands of the people.  Do the same with the message.  People don’t want to hear about sin—don’t talk about it.  They are generally not too keen about the cross either—leave that out.  Use your intellect and charisma.  Do whatever it takes to garner people’s interest.  Dress up the message with promises of health, wealth and prosperity.  Add some degree of human effort to the salvation message—people like to think that they’ve done something to deserve it.  By all means, be culturally relevant—that’s the key.”

I don’t know about you but I much prefer the inspired version!  It is a simple formula that Christ has given to His church: A Mandate > A Message > The Means.  What is the mandate?  “Be My witnesses.”  The noun form of Greek term translated “witnesses,” is martur, from which we get the English martyr.  It means “one who can or does aver what he has seen or heard or knows.”  The verb means simply “to bear witness to.”  The disciples were eye-witnesses to Christ’s resurrection (Cf. Acts 1:22).  Though we have not seen Him, we are nonetheless witnesses, as believers, to His saving power and indwelling presence.  The mandate given to the disciples applies to all of us.  We are witnesses to a glorious and risen Savior!

The Apostles proclaimed many truths, but preeminent amongst them all was the message regarding Christ’s death and resurrection (Acts 2:23-24; 3:15; 4:10; 4:10; 4:33; 5:30; 10:40; 13:30, etc.).  This message, the gospel (1 Corinthians 15:3-4), is the “glorious good news” (1 Timothy 1:11) of God’s power to save (Cf. Romans 1:16).  Though some deem it foolish, it represents to us “the power of God and wisdom of God” (1 Corinthians 1:24).  Though others work to distort it (Galatians 1:7-8; 2 Corinthians 11:4), we labor to preserve, protect, and proclaim it (Cf. Jude 3).  The message of salvation by grace through faith in Christ is the glorious truth we are to proclaim (Cf. Ephesians 2:8-9; 1 Corinthians 2:2).  We are witnesses of a glorious and powerful gospel!

He has not left us without means in the task.  He spoke to His disciples of the Spirit’s coming (Cf. Acts 1:8).  He told them to “stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high” (Luke 24:49).  They were not to proceed in their own wisdom and strength.  To do so would be a foolhardy endeavor.  The Spirit came (Cf. Acts 2), and by His presence the weak were made strong.  Before Jesus’ sufferings and death, Peter had boldly declared his unwavering commitment to stand by Jesus.  But then he denied Him and utterly failed as a witness (Cf. Matthew 26:69-75).  But a miraculous transformation took place once he was indwelt and empowered by the Holy Spirit (Cf. Acts 2:1-13).  Peter boldly proclaimed the truth regarding Christ before a crowd of thousands (Cf. Acts 2:14-41).  Later he would do the same before the hostile religious leaders (Acts 4:19-20).  It was as the believers “were all filled with the Holy Spirit” that “they continued to speak with word of God with boldness” (Acts 4:31).  By the Spirit’s power, ordinary, unlearned, and timid men were transformed into bold and effective witnesses for Christ (Cf. Acts 4:13).  We are witnesses by the power of the Spirit who indwells us!

We’ve been given a mandate, a message, and the means.  The mandate still applies.  The message is still powerful to save.  The means, the indwelling Spirit, is still at work to empower Christ’s followers to boldly witness to the truth. 

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