September 9, 2016
Brand Spankin' New Apostles
By Skip Heitzig
It was Thomas Edison who supposedly told his friend Henry Ford, "Give up the idea of motor cars. It can't be done." Think of it: one of the most famous, innovative inventors telling that to Ford. Now think for a moment of the impossible undertaking of Jesus Christ telling eleven fishermen, "Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to every creature." Yeah, right. Can't be done. But the book of Acts shows that in thirty years, the gospel went from Jerusalem, through Judea, up into Samaria, Syria, Asia Minor, and Greece, and penetrated the heart of Rome itself, spreading virtually to the known world.
When we open up Acts 1 after reading the Gospels, something feels decidedly new, fresh, different. It's as if there was this palpable excitement, this exhilaration of some new thing on the horizon. The disciples were the same disciples—same personalities, same flaws—but there was also something very, very new about them.
Acts 1:1-3 speaks of the first new thing with these apostles: they experienced a new presence. Verse 3 says Jesus "presented Himself alive" to them. Their Lord was alive, risen from the dead! This changed them from timid fishermen into bold evangelists, from cowards into heroes, from meager men into mighty men. And just as that presence of Jesus changed them, so the resurrection of Christ ought to change you and me. The resurrection means that we're not following a dead guy's teachings—Jesus Christ is alive! And what Jesus began to do and teach then He wants to continue to do and teach through His people. All of us are to take part in the work of kingdom spreading.
The second new thing was a new power: "[Jesus] commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, 'which,' He said, 'you have heard from Me; for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now…. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me'" (Acts 1:4-5, 8).
Put yourself in the disciples' sandals for a moment: you've seen the resurrected Christ and you're fired up and ready to go, right? But if you did go, you would be going in your own power, not His. To do any job we need the right equipment. So the second key to these brand-new apostles was a new power—the power of the Holy Spirit. The word power in verse 8 is where we get the word dynamic from. "You're going to receive a dynamic—an ability, an efficiency, a might—that will enable you to give a bold, clear, uncompromising, articulate witness."
The third thing was new perspective. "Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, 'Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?' And He said to them, 'It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority'" (v. 6-7), and He finished out what He was saying. They were wondering about the end times, and He dismissed that. I think every generation of New Testament believers has a tendency to focus on the date of the Lord's return rather than on the declaration of the gospel. But Jesus said, "The issue isn't the kingdom then and there, but the kingdom here and now." Your perspective should be "Jesus is coming, but until then, what am I doing now?"
Finally, the disciples were met with a new plan: "You shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth" (v. 8). Jesus told them what to do—where to begin and where to go—and the disciples did it. I think we should follow suit.
In our culture, we have more stuff, more things, and more activities than ever, and yet we have more bored people than ever. Where is the sense of excitement and thrill and possibility among God's people? For those of us who know the Lord, there ought to be a sense of adventure in following Jesus Christ every single day. Every day should bring the thought of new possibilities, of spreading His kingdom around the world. You ought to wake up and say, "What's going to happen today, Lord? Where are we going on this adventure? Who will You bring in my path?" What a possibility that we can be a part of His grand plan!
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