Commissioned and Empowered (Acts 1:1-14)
The Book of Acts (Acts) serves as a significant bridge between the Gospels and the New Testament Letters, written by Luke, the same author as the Gospel of Luke.
In the Gospels, the dominant religion is Judaism. Jesus is the main character. The setting is Israel, in synagogues and the temple. But in the NT epistles, everything takes place in Turkey, Greece, and Rome. Judaism is replaced by Christianity. And rather than the temple, all these churches are everywhere. The New Testament epistles, Ephesians, Romans, James are written to these churches that are everywhere. What happened? Who is Paul? Acts sheds light on this transformation and provides valuable insights into the early Christian movement.
As we first open this book, three verses stand out. Acts 1:5, 8, 11.
Acts 1:5, Acts 1:8, and Acts 1:11 hold profound significance, emphasizing the empowerment of the Holy Spirit, the mission of believers as witnesses, and the assurance of Christ's return.
These passages inspire faith, worship, hope, and action for all believers.
Acts 1:5 states, "for John [the Baptist] baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now."
Jesus instructs His disciples to wait for the baptism of the Holy Spirit, a new experience that would mark a significant shift. While believers today are indwelled by the Spirit upon their faith in Jesus, this concept was novel to the disciples. The Holy Spirit's arrival would empower them to fulfill their calling and proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
This is a commission: You shall be My witnesses. It's an identity: You shall be My witnesses. It's a promise: You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and, as a result, you shall be My witnesses.
The Holy Spirit makes us witnesses worth our salt. And this is something to trust Jesus with. Luke encourages us to do so, relying on the Holy Spirit's guidance and power.
Acts 1:8 declares, "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth."
Jesus promises that the Holy Spirit will equip His followers with the power to be effective witnesses. The goal is not to impress others with miracles but boldly proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ.
Christianity spreads through believers where we’re at—our city or hometown, neighborhoods, stores, and schools. Then it expands to the county we’re in, Judea, the Pioneer Valley; not our backyard but familiar enough. It’s the responsibility of churches and believers to evangelize their communities."
Yes, the Holy Spirit assures us of our identity in Christ, comforts us, guides us in truth. He also helps us carry out the mission of making disciples.
This verse inspires us to live as authentic witnesses, sharing the love and truth of Jesus in our communities and beyond.
Acts 1:11 reveals the assurance ofJesus' return: "This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven."
Jesus ascended to heaven in the presence of His disciples, signifying the end of His earthly ministry and His exaltation to the Father's side in glory. The angels assure the disciples that Jesus will return, just as He left.
This truth instills in us a sense of hope and anticipation, reminding us to live in light of Jesus' imminent return, His kingdom, and the glory that awaits us.
Live in the power of the Holy Spirit: As believers, we have the privilege of being indwelled by the Holy Spirit from the moment of our faith in Jesus. Let us rely on His guidance, wisdom, and strength in our daily lives. Cultivate a dependent relationship with the Spirit, trusting Him to empower us as witnesses and to comfort us in times of need.
Embrace the mission of being Jesus' witnesses: Jesus commissions all His followers to be His witnesses, testifying to what we have seen and heard about Him. This involves stepping out of our comfort zones, taking risks, and sharing our faith with others. Let us love people enough to get to know them, to care for them genuinely, and to share the good news of Jesus through our words and actions.
Pray for opportunities and the courage to act on them: Pray for those you know, who do not know Jesus. Pray for opportunities to build relationships with them, to show God's love, and to share your faith. Ask God for the right words and the courage to act when the Holy Spirit opens the door for you to share your hope in Christ.