Everything’s Looking Up, Part 1

“But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you;

and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Acts 1:8 (KJV)

I have now added the Book of Acts to my list of favorite Bible books. Why? Because it bears witness to the fact of what can happen when ordinary people (and the Church) cooperate with supernatural power (the Holy Spirit). And what is the result? Extraordinary ministry! I’m sure the disciples felt that things were “looking up” since once again Jesus was present with them. But they had much to learn from Jesus before He ascended to heaven.

It had been forty days since Resurrection Sunday and Jesus wasted no time in completing His earthly ministry. After His ascension, Jesus would give His commandments to His “sent ones”, the newly commissioned apostles through the Holy Ghost (Acts 1:2). Knowing His departure was rapidly approaching, Jesus directed His energies to two activities: presenting evidence of His resurrection and teaching concerning the kingdom of God (Acts 1:3).

How did Jesus prove His resurrection? Not only by the witness of others (1 Cor. 15:4-7) but Jesus Himself would offer “infallible proofs.” Perhaps He showed unbelievers His nail scarred hands and His pierced side. For those who challenged the stories of His resurrection, Jesus might have walked through closed doors as He did Easter afternoon with his disciples (John 20:19) or suddenly joined scoffers at their evening meal and ate in their presence to prove He was no ghost or apparition (Luke 24:41-43).

What did Jesus teach His disciples concerning the kingdom of God? The kingdom of God was the future Millennial Kingdom—the thousand year bodily reign of Jesus upon the earth (Rev.20:1-6). Jesus had spoken to the disciples before about an earthly, literal kingdom (Matt. 19:28; Luke 22:28-30). Through the Millennial Kingdom “God would burst into human history in a spectacular way to establish His rule on earth.” [1] Perhaps He reminded the disciples of the faithfulness of God in His promise to establish the throne of David’s kingdom forever (2 Sam. 7:13; Jer. 33:17-21). Knowledge of God’s faithfulness and eternal promises would outweigh any deterrent they might face in the future (2 Cor. 4:17-18).

Jesus left his disciples two instructions. First they were to wait for the “Promise of the Father”, the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:4). Jesus also waited for the Holy Spirit before beginning His ministry (Matt. 3:16). The new apostles would need the Spirit’s power to accomplish their work. Second, they were commanded to be witnesses of Jesus “in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8). The spreading of the Gospel would require the disciples to move from the familiar to the unknown, expanding their territory and their audience. However, if they followed Jesus’ instruction and the Holy Spirit, the result would be “extraordinary ministry.”

In this time and place, there is both the need and the possibility to create extraordinary ministry. Jesus has given us the commission to go and to make disciples, to teach and to witness, just as He did (Matt. 28:19-20). We need not wait for the Holy Spirit. He is living within every believer and is ready to empower us to complete the work that Jesus began. Jesus has provided us witnesses and infallible proofs within the Gospel narratives and the Bible in general. We have the guarantee of eternal promises that begin now and extend into eternity. It’s time to move out of our comfort zones and embrace the work that Jesus has gifted us to do. Let us live each day with intentionality creating extraordinary ministry. Are you ready?

Good to the Last Byte…
John’s disciples had baptized (dipped or immersed) with water. Jesus disciples would be baptized with the Holy Spirit–here the idea is one of “uniting with” Him (1 Cor. 10:1, 2). This supernatural power would also become the means for doing “signs and wonders” therein demonstrating Christ’s authority and power. Uniting with the Holy Spirit is still possible today and is the only means of accomplishing the mission and vision of Christ in the world.