Praying through the Psalms

Praying through the Psalms

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Can I Get A Witness?

Acts 1 Jesus Taken Up Into Heaven
1 In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach 2 until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen. 3 After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. 4 On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. 5 For John baptized with[a] water, but in a few days you will be baptized with[b] the Holy Spirit.” 6 Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7 He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”


So begins the book of Acts, also called the "Acts of the Apostles". The 12 apostles were those who walked with Jesus, witnessed his death and resurrection, and now were sent out in the world to be his witnesses. You will notice from the first verse that the author is Luke, the physician, who also wrote the gospel of Luke. Notice again he mentions Theophilus, who he addressed his first gospel to as well. After Jesus proved to them he was alive on many occasions before he was taken up to heaven, he told them to wait in Jerusalem for the gift the Father had promised. In John 17, we know this is the gift of the Holy Spirit, which Jesus promised to them before he left. The Holy Spirit would take from Jesus and make it known to them.

He uses the metaphor of being "baptized by the Holy Spirit", much like John had baptized with water. The idea is to be completely immersed, saturated, or completely covered. So to be baptized by the Holy Spirit meant to be completely immersed and completely covered by the Holy Spirit. Upon hearing this, the disciples wanted to know when Jesus was going to restore the kingdom to Israel. They were still somewhat unclear that although Jesus had brought God's kingdom to earth, it was not just about restore Israel's kingdom but God's kingdom. Jesus inaugurated God's kingdom here on earth, and one day he would bring it to completion. And he would do it through these apostles starting first in Jerusalem.

Jesus says something very important. He says, "It is not for you to know the times or dates by which the Father has set by his own authority." Many people throughout the centuries have tried to predict the second coming of Christ and the restoration of the new kingdom of Israel. But then Jesus makes the promise, "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."

So begins the book of Acts. Jesus is gone, but Jesus promises that the apostles would receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, who would empower them to be His witnesses. What were they witnesses of? They were witnesses of Jesus' resurrection. The resurrection proved that Jesus was the Son of God, and proved that all he had taught was true. Importantly though they would be unable to do this in their own power, the Holy Spirit would give them the words and the courage.

Get ready for our ride through the book of Acts. It is exciting to see what these ordinary men can do empowered by the Holy Spirit. And we will be reflecting all along about how this same Holy Spirit is empowering the church to spread the Good News to the ends of the earth.

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