Saturday, June 2, 2012

Acts 1

The first few verses of Acts are a review of the last few verses of Luke. The disciples were instructed to stay in Jerusalem until "the promise" of the Father came. This promise is found in John 14:15-31--the Holy Spirit had not yet been given. Now when a person believes in Christ, the Holy Spirit is given immediately and we have the privilege of the blessings of the Spirit from the moment of conversion (Eph. 1:13-14); but the believers at the time of Christ's life/death did not have that. They had to wait for Pentecost when the Spirit was given to the Jews assembled. Throughout the book of Acts we see the Spirit "given" to others--Saul (Acts 9:17-19) and the Gentiles (Acts 10:44-48) on or around the time of their conversions. I'm so thankful I didn't have to wait for someone to come and bestow the Spirit on me when I believed! What a blessing to have the immediate working of the Spirit in my life!

So from the time Jesus came until He was crucified His "agenda" was to bring to pass the kingdom of God. Had the Jews listened to His message instead of rejecting Him (and ultimately putting Him to death), history might have been much different! The disciples knew the old agenda and were eager for Jesus to take His rightful place as King, to defeat Rome's tyranny against the Jews (v. 6). In the next two verses Jesus revealed a new "agenda"--to be witnesses and tell others about Christ's suffering and death, His resurrection and the forgiveness of sins (Luke 24:46-49). The scope of their witness encompasses the whole world--Jesus instructed them to begin at Jerusalem (their immediate community/city), then go into all Judea (the surrounding area), then into Samaria (farther away socially and proximately), and finally to the end of the earth (everywhere). They couldn't be fulfilling God's new plan by just staying where they were--they had to radiate outward and tell everyone! Similarly we are to be involved in ministry not just in the immediate area we live in, but also our surrounding community and in the world at large. What a privilege to be involved in God's plan for the nations!