Thursday, August 27, 2015

Positive Acts - A Promise with Orders

"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" (Acts 1:8).

Well this is certainly a familiar verse. We've all read and heard it hundreds, possibly thousands, of times. And while familiarity doesn't breed contempt when it comes to scripture, it can dull our ears. Do you see the amazing promise in the above verse?

The Holy Spirit had not yet come upon those with Christ at his ascension, but the implication is that the Spirit will soon. We see this happen in stunning fashion at Pentecost. And when this occurs, they certainly "receive power." What sort of power is Jesus talking about? It is the power to unashamedly, boldly, and effectively proclaim the gospel. This happens immediately in Peter's case. He goes from denying Christ three times out of fear to preaching Christ crucified even when the religious leaders tell him not to.

This promise has a purpose. One of the primary reasons the Holy Spirit came was to empower Christians to be witnesses for Christ all over the earth. The Spirit is not limited to certain places, as if some locales or situations are too difficult for him. Instead, the Spirit's presence with all believers ensures that we have all we need to be effective witnesses for Christ wherever we go.

In just one little verse Jesus provides his people with both a promise and orders. The promise is of a person - the Spirit - who will make their evangelism efforts successful. The orders are to be faithful witnesses wherever and whenever.

This should give us great hope. The Holy Spirit is as alive and active today as he was then. Also, we have much easier means to get our witness to the ends of the earth. It is the church's responsibility to see that happen. Let's work together to make it so.


Eric said...


Thank you for your interest in my blog. However, I am not going to post any more of your comments that call the Trinity into question. I cherish the Trinity becaue I believe it to be true; so does the vast majority of the church. Additionally, this post has little to do with the Trinity. I do not know why you desire to consistently steer the conversation toward that topic. If I do post specifically about the Trinity then you are welcome to comment about it. Thanks.

Joel Zehring said...

Let me know if I'm off base or mishandling any of the text on this one...

The word "power" is interesting in Acts and the Pauline letters. When "power" shows up, frequently it's singular when referring to God's power, and plural when referring to powers at work in the world.

In Ephesians, Paul prays that believers in that city would know "his incomparably great power for us who believe." He goes on: "That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come."

The whole book of Acts seems to beg the reader to answer the question "how great is the power of God?" Jews, Gentiles, pharisees, the Sanhedrin, Roman soldiers, and even Roman and foreign nobles are all faced with this question, and their responses show us that ultimately, we are all defined by how big and powerful we believe God to be, and we are ultimately bound by our failure to recognize his power.