Power to be His witnesses
Acts 1 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
The first account I composed, Theophilus, about all that Jesus began to do and teach, 2 until the day when He was taken up to heaven, after He had by the Holy Spirit given orders to the apostles whom He had chosen. 3 To these He also presented Himself alive after His suffering, by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over a period of forty days and speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God. 4 Gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, “Which,” He said, “you heard of from Me; 5 for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”
6 So when they had come together, they were asking Him, saying, “Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?” 7 He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority;8 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.”
9 And after He had said these things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. 10 And as they were gazing intently into the sky while He was going, behold, two men in white clothing stood beside them. 11 They also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? 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.”
12 Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day’s journey away. 13 When they had entered the city, they went up to the upper room where they were staying; that is, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon the Zealot, and Judas the son of James. 14 These all with one mind were continually devoting themselves to prayer, along with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers.
15 At this time Peter stood up in the midst of the brethren (a gathering of about one hundred and twenty persons was there together), and said, 16 “Brethren, the Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit foretold by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus. 17 For he was counted among us and received his share in this ministry.” 18 (Now this man acquired a field with the price of his wickedness, and falling headlong, he burst open in the middle and all his intestines gushed out. 19 And it became known to all who were living in Jerusalem; so that in their own language that field was called Hakeldama, that is, Field of Blood.) 20 “For it is written in the book of Psalms,
‘Let his homestead be made desolate, And let no one dwell in it’; and, ‘Let another man take his office.’
21 Therefore it is necessary that of the men who have accompanied us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us— 22 beginning with the baptism of John until the day that He was taken up from us—one of these must become a witness with us of His resurrection.” 23 So they put forward two men, Joseph called Barsabbas (who was also called Justus), and Matthias. 24 And they prayed and said, “You, Lord, who know the hearts of all men, show which one of these two You have chosen 25 to occupy this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.” 26 And they drew lots for them, and the lot fell to Matthias; and he was added to the eleven apostles.
Many people today seek to walk in the fullness of the power of the Holy Spirit. They wonder why we don’t see the miracles of Jesus or the early church today. In John 14:12-14 Jesus said: “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father.Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.” In Luke 9:1-2 it says: He called the twelve together, and gave them power and authority over all the demons and to heal diseases. And He sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to perform healing. In Matthew 16:18-19 Jesus said: “…upon this rock (the revelation that Jesus is the Christ) I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.” Why is it that we do not see the manifestation of these things in our day? In Matthew 17:20 Jesus said: “Truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you.” Yet it seems that often people of faith speak to the mountains that stand in their way and the way of others; mountains of sickness and infirmity, mountains of oppression, depression and addiction, and they do not move. Was Jesus a liar? Did the time of His power expire? The answer surely is no. Why then do we only see glimpses of the miraculous power Jesus said we would have?
There is perhaps no one simple answer, but today’s text might reveal a part of what is often missing. Before He ascended to heaven, Jesus said: “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.” The power of the Holy Spirit is given to be witnesses of Christ. A witness is called to testify. Very often today it seems as though people seek the power of the Holy Spirit for the sake of the power. The power is given to be witnesses. Even in the passage from Luke 9, it says: He sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to perform healing. In Mark 16:15-20, when Jesus commissioned His disciples and we see the results, it says: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. 16 He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned. These signs will accompany those who have believed: in My name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues; they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” So then, when the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them, and confirmed the word by the signs that followed. The signs and the power accompany the preaching of the gospel. The Lord worked with them. In John 14, Jesus said He will do it. The signs confirm the word. Perhaps that’s why more miracles are seen in countries where the gospel is being preached to unbelievers. Perhaps that’s why miracles often happen outside the walls of the church rather than inside.
Additionally, if we are to be witnesses for Christ; if we are to testify of Him; it is important that we are reliable witnesses. In a courtroom, if a witness does not have a reputation for honesty and integrity, their testimony is questionable at best. We too, if we are going to testify and be witnesses of Christ, should guard our integrity. In Matthew 5:17-20 Jesus says: “Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfil them. For truly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. Whoever then relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but he who does them and teaches them shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” We are witnesses not only by what we say, but also in what we do. If we relax the commandments of God in our own lives, we teach others to do the same, and so we are no longer reliable witnesses. Galatians 5:16-25 says: I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh… Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.
Heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ; precious Holy Spirit; may I truly receive and walk in the fullness of Your power. May I testify of the kingdom of heaven. May I also walk in the fruit of the Spirit, in: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control, so that I might be a reliable witness and You will confirm Your word as we work together. Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Amen.