Acts 1:8 (KJV) “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.”
The world of the Disciples had been turned upside down by His influence, teachings, and model. He had been all their Hope, their Dreams, and their Security. But – Jesus was leaving! Jesus had prepared them for such a time as this. They were ready to continue His work – the Will of the Father. They were more prepared than they knew. All they had to do was follow His model. They just needed to take one step at a time – one day at a time! What do we learn from these disciples that will help us in “such a time as this?” We must…
I’ve often meditated on how the Disciples might have felt as they watched Jesus rise into the air as He ascended into heaven. I’m certain they wanted to go with Him; but, His desire was that they would continue His Mission – to “Seek and to Save the lost.”
The Scriptures do not present my theory precisely, but it neither requires a great imagination, nor does damage to Scripture, to believe that the Disciples “steadfastly looked toward heaven” for a long time. I believe they were so awestruck that they thought He would return “VERY” soon that they decided to stay there until He returned! Remember, Jesus revealed Himself to Mary, the sister of Lazarus (John 20:17), and told to tell His Disciples that He was ascending to “His Father, and to your Father, to His God, and to your God.” Perhaps they thought Jesus was going to return immediately again!
After standing there looking “steadfastly toward heaven” for quite a while, God sent His angels to tell them that Jesus would return some day – BUT, not today! Therefore, they must “Leave” like Jesus, “Love” like Jesus, and “Live” like Jesus.
Of all the Apostles, only John witnessed the death of Jesus. Now, that is important to meditate upon! Only one Apostle could testify “first-hand” as an eyewitness about the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Judas had already betrayed Jesus, regretted his betrayal, and committed suicide because he did not trust God’s ability to forgive. (Satan is still convincing lost souls of this lie!) Peter denied Jesus and ran away to weep bitterly. All the others fled to their “safe places” and left Jesus to face His death alone. That is, all EXCEPT John!
John stood at the feet of Jesus as He hung on the Cross. Only John would be able to testify of His death! But, ALL the Disciples would be able to testify of the “LIFE” of Jesus – Before and After His Resurrection!! That is why Jesus said, Acts 1:8 (NLT) “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Emphasis Added).
In the movie, “The Last Samurai,” the young Emperor asks the American Captain who fought alongside “The Last Samurai,” if the Samurai “died well.” I love the response – “He died well. Let me tell you how he lived.”
Now, please let me explain my heart’s intent in this writing. I shall eternally be grateful for the Death of Jesus Christ on Calvary’s Cross for the “sins of the world!” I identify with Paul as he states, “I determined to know nothing among you, save Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.” However, I also relish what Paul said, “For me to live is Christ, to die is gain.”
The death of Jesus Christ provided the redemption of our souls! His Blood purchased our Salvation. BUT, His “Life” is what guarantees us “Eternal Life!”
John 14:19 (KJV)“Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also” (Emphasis Added).
The Disciples had to return to Jerusalem, so they could be endued with the Same Power with Whom the “Man, Christ Jesus” had been empowered. The evidence that Jesus was the Son of God was His ability to “Live” as He did. His “Life” was made manifest in His character and in His charisma.
John 10:37-38 (KJV) “If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not. But if I do, though ye believe not me, believe the works: that ye may know, and believe, that the Father is in me, and I in him” (Emphasis Added).
John 14:11-12 (KJV) “Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works’ sake. Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father” (Emphasis Added).
Apostle Paul was NOT an eyewitness of the death of Jesus! Apostle Paul was NOT an eyewitness of the “Life” of Jesus. However, He WAS an eyewitness of the “Resurrected Jesus” (1 Corinthians 15:8).
Before Apostle Paul became an eyewitness of the “Resurrected Jesus,” he was an eyewitness of the “Transformation Power” of Jesus’ “Life.” He was there to witness the Stephen calling upon the Lord as he was dying. He witnessed the “Life of Jesus” manifested in an ordinary man who was willing to die for Jesus rather than deny Him! Because of this, Saul was transformed into Apostle Paul.
“The proof of Christianity is not a book but a life. The power of Christianity is not a creed but a Christian character; and wherever you see life that has been transformed by the grace of God, you see a witness to the resurrection of Jesus.” — William M. Woodfin, Leadership, Vol. 8, no. 1.
Paul understood that the Risen Savior cannot be appreciated with encountering Calvary. Paul taught us that identifying with the Death of Jesus will produce His “Life” in us.
Galatians 2:20 (KJV) “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”
I love what the Book of Acts reports…
Acts 4:13 (KJV) “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus” (Emphasis Added)
“There are four ways in which substances react to light. Some are transparent. The light passes through them. Some are translucent. They scatter the light. Some are opaque. They bar the light. Some are like mirrors. They reflect the light. We want to be mirrors, reflecting the light.” — Robert C. Shannon, 1000 Windows, (Cincinnati, Ohio: Standard Publishing Company, 1997)
When Christ is “Living” in, and through, us, the world will “see” that Jesus is alive! That is our purpose!
Where is the Spirit?
I want to share with you a question by Martyn Lloyd-Jones, who is certainly not known as a Pentecostal preacher. When he held the great pulpit at Westminster Chapel in London as the great preacher of Reformed theology, near the end of his life–and some say at the very pinnacle of his ministry–he asked his congregation a question. He said, “I want to talk to you today about the baptism of the Holy Spirit. You may call it what you want, but I want to know, have you experienced the fullness of the Spirit? I know all of you listening to me come as I do from a Reformed background. But it’s not good enough. I know that all of you would want to say to my question about the Holy Spirit, ‘Well, we got it all at conversion; there’s no need for any more experience.’ Well,” said Martyn Lloyd-Jones, “I have only one other question to ask you. If you got it all at conversion, where in God’s name is it?” — Robert L. Roxburgh, “The Right Ambition,” Preaching Today, Tape 61.