“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.” Acts 1:8
It will take great risk in order to fulfill the great commission. The last frontier of missions, filled with unreached and unengaged peoples, is still before us because it is a hazardous, difficult, uncomfortable frontier. Obviously risk will be involved in getting the gospel to these riskiest places. As we introduce our study of Acts 1:8 we are going to answer 6 questions from 20,000 feet, so to speak: who, what, when, where, how, and why. We will then spend the remainder of our study digging in to each of those six questions one by one. For now, let us get the 20,000 feet view.
The first question we want to ask is, “who”. The answer to who is simply, you and me. Jesus said, “You shall receive power.” Obviously, He is speaking directly to His disciples and followers on Mount Olivet. Obviously, He is speaking directly to His first century followers. However, He is speaking indirectly to all of His followers throughout Christian history. If we can not take the words that Jesus directly spoke to His followers and apply them to all of His followers, then we have a problem with the whole New Testament!
The fact of the matter is, Christ has not reserved this commission for preachers, pastors, and evangelists. He has not reserved this command for missionaries or for some elite group of believers. This is a privilege for all of his followers. Jesus has made it clear, if we are His followers then this is for us. He gave us this great commission in all four gospels and here in the book of Acts. He said in Matthew 28:19-20, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” In Mark 16:15 He said, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.” Again in Luke’s gospel in the chapter 24 and verses 46-47 He said, “Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.” In John 20:21 He said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” And finally, here in Acts 1:8.
We cannot brush this off or pass this off. We cannot excuse ourselves. Not only do we have the commands from Christ from above; we have been called from all around. Somewhere between 1200 and 3000 unreached and unengaged people groups are joining with the Macedonian man who came to Paul in a vision saying, “come over here and help us” (Acts 16:9). They are crying out to the established churches in the west and around the world saying, come and help us! We have been called from above, from around, and even from below. Multitudes of souls who have stepped into a Christ-less eternity are joining with the rich man who appealed to Abraham to send Lazarus to his brothers so that they could avoid “this place” (Luke 16:27-28). Finally, if we are true believers, and the Holy Spirit of God is within us, we are compelled from within. With Paul, we cry, “woe is me if I preach not the gospel” (1 Corinthians 9:16). Jim Elliot shared the clarity of the call when he wrote, “Consider the call from the Throne above, “Go ye,” and from round about, “Come over and help us,” and even the call from the damned souls below, Send Lazarus to my brothers, that they come not to this place.” Impelled, then, by these voices, I dare not stay home while Quichuas perish. So what if the well-fed church in the homeland needs stirring? They have the Scriptures, Moses, and the Prophets, and a whole lot more. Their condemnation is written on their bank books and in the dust on their Bible covers. American believers have sold their lives to the service of Mammon, and God has His rightful way of dealing with those who succumb to the spirit of Laodicea.”
We have, for the most part, reduced missions to a calling. It is not a calling. It is a command! We have reduced missions to a program in the church. Missions is not a program in the church. It is the program of the church. The answer to who, is you. This commission is for every follower of Jesus. Stay tuned tomorrow for the answer to the next question...."what?"