“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 As we introduce our study of Acts 1:8 we have been answering 6 questions from 20,000 feet, so to speak: who, what, when, where, how, and why. We have already answered, who, what and when, and where. Today, we will answer the questions, how and why.
How do we respond to what we have learned thus far in Acts 1:8? While the specific answer to this question is not found in the actual text of Acts 1:8, I would be remiss if I did not give some guidance as to how to apply this command of Christ. The obvious, and simple answer would be, go be a witness. But, I believe there is more to obeying the Great Commission. I believe we can be obedient by taking four strategic steps.
First, we must pray. Jesus in Matthew 9:35-38 saw the harassed, helpless, and hopeless crowds of people. The sight of them caused His heart to break for them. He looks at His disciples and tells them how to respond to the great need before them: pray. We read, “Jesus was going through all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness. 36 Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then He said to His disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. 38 Therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest.’” Step one in embracing this Great Commission of Christ is praying, and specifically praying that the Lord of the harvest would send out laborers!
Secondly, we can obey the Great Commission by giving. We have a financial obligation and responsibility to get the gospel to the ends of the earth. Consider the reality that 1.3 billion people live on less than $1.50 a day and 2 billion more live on less than $2.50 a day. That means that roughly 40% of the world makes less than $900 a year! That means that if you make more than $32,400 a year, you are in the top 1% of the richest people in the world. That should cause us to pause when we recall Jesus’ words in Luke 18:24, “It is hard for those who have wealth to enter the Kingdom of God.” Could you imagine what a difference it would make if we saw the responsibility that we have to use our resources to get the gospel to the ends of the earth. The average church attender gives 2.5% of their income to the church. If we really believed the Great Commission was important would we increase our standard of living at every opportunity and keep sending our nickels to the nations or would we totally revolutionize our lifestyle to give to the cause?
A third way that we can obey the Great Commission is by going. Virtually every one of us can serve as missionaries in Jerusalem and Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth, if we are creative enough. One out of every six German Moravian believers in the 1700’s left their homes to spread the gospel to the nations. They took their businesses and set up shop wherever the Lord sent them. As they worked in their new land, they shared the gospel. As we consider the reality that most of the unreached and unengaged people groups are located in the riskiest places, this approach to missions will be necessary once again. Business as mission makes it possible to get to the hardest place in this world because even Yemen and Somalia need engineers, teachers, and medical personnel.
Finally, we must obey the Great Commission by sending. Organizations do not send missionaries. Churches do. We must call out, train up, and send out missionaries from our churches. We must make it our goal to find those within the congregation that God might be calling out to serve as missionaries. We then must train them to be godly, disciplined people of the utmost integrity. We must ensure that they have solid doctrine and are good examples of what a follower of Christ looks like. We do not want to be like the Pharisees that Jesus rebuked in Matthew 23:15: “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you travel around on sea and land to make one proselyte; and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves.” They were exporting toxic religion to their proselytes. We have to ask, what are we exporting and do what we can to ensure that we only export the truth and a good testimony. When those called out are trained up, we must send them out. We pray, we give, we go, and we send long term to engage the ends of the earth with the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Finally, we ask our sixth question fo the text: Why? Why do we do this. Obviously, we could say because Jesus told us to. Obviously this it true. Some of us might say that we should go because we love the lost. There is truth in this as well. We know that it is important to love people. Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels and have not love I am nothing. We may be able to prophesy the future, unlock the mysteries of the past, and have faith enough to move mountains, but without love we are nothing. Love alone is not nearly enough however. The unreached and the unengaged often are not very lovable. If fact, after spending some time with them and seeing the fruits of their false religion, their sin, and the damage it does to those who are young, weak, and often innocent, we might walk away thinking that these people deserve to go to hell. And they do. And so do we. We need more than a romantic idea of missions and a feeling of love in our hearts. If we go to them primarily because we love them, we will discover that they are unlovable.
So why do we go? We go primarily for the glory of God and for the sake of His Name, with a love for mankind. We go because the One True God is not worshipped (Psalm 96:3-10). We go because Jesus is worthy of worship, praise, honor, and glory. We go because the bride groom is worthy of His bride. We go because Jesus is worthy of worship from every nation, tongue, and tribe. Paris Reidhead, in his sermon 2 Shekels and a Shirt tells the following story about 2 young Moravians that illustrates the ultimate “why” of missions. He said:
In the late 1700's a British planter owned an entire island in the West Indies off the coast of South America. Several thousand slaves toiled in the sugar cane fields under the burning sun. The atheist planter vowed that no missionary would ever set foot on the island to talk about God. He had said, "No preacher, no clergyman, will ever stay on this island. If he's ship wrecked we'll keep him in a separate house until he has to leave, but he's never going to talk to any of us about God."
3000 slaves were doomed to live and die without hearing of Christ.
Two young German Moravians heard of the island. They sold themselves to the British planter for the standard price for a male slave used the money they received for their sale to purchase passage to the West Indies. The Moravian community came to see the two young men off, who would never return again, having freely sold themselves into a lifetime of slavery.
Family members were emotional, weeping. As the ship slipped away with the tide and the gap widened. The housings had been cast off and were curled up on the pier. The young men saw the widening gap. They linked arms, raised their hands and shouted across the spreading gap "May the Lamb that was slain receive the reward of His suffering."
This is why we go! We go so that the Lamb may receive the full reward of His suffering. We go for the glory of God and for the fame of the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ. We go because He is worthy of worshippers from every nation, tongue, and tribe.
1. Who? You
2. What? Witnesses
3. When? When the Holy Spirit has come upon us
4. Where? Jerusalem and Judea, Samaria, and the Ends of the Earth
5. How? Praying, Giving, Going, and Sending
6. Why? For the Glory of God and the fame of the Name of Jesus Christ