The next question that we want to answer from our consideration of Acts 1:8 is “where?” We have answered, who? You! You and I as followers of Jesus are the audience and target of Acts 1:8. What? Witnesses! We are to be witnesses: people who have had such an experience with Jesus Christ that we are willing to lay down our lives for Him and His mission. When? When the Holy Spirit has come upon us. When we see with Jesus’ eyes what He saw and feel what Jesus felt in His gut so that we are pushed to our knees in prayer for God to send laborers into the harvest, and are willing to be one of those laborers we know that the Holy Spirit is on the move. Today, we answer the question, “where?”
The answer to where is very clear in Acts 1:8. “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.” Where? In Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest, or uttermost, part of the earth. For our purposes, we will treat Jerusalem as our own cities, town, and communities. It is where we live and do life. It is where we are most comfortable. All Judea and Samaria, we will treat as those areas that are nearby, but outside of our comfort zones, or those people who are nearby, but not like us. Finally, we will treat the uttermost part of the earth as the regions of the world where unreached and unengaged people reside; all the nations. Let us take time to consider each of these regions, or areas. As we consider these different areas, we are going to use Matthew 28:18-20 as our guide for how to engage them. Jesus said in Matthew 28:18-20, “And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
Our Jerusalem is where we have lived most of our lives. It is home. We are to be witnesses locally first and foremost. We can learn what it means to be effective witnesses in Matthew 28:18-20. We must first go. Jesus said that all authority was His, therefore go, or more literally, as you are going. As you go about your daily life at home, at school, at work, in town, make disciples. We are to intentionally make disciples as we go about our life. I don’t believe that the word disciples here refers to Christians. Rather, I believe it refers to learners. That is what a disciple is. It is someone who is learning. Jesus is telling us, as we go, to make learners. Find people who are willing to learn and who are willing to be your own disciples as you teach them about the gospel and about Christ.
If you read the New Testament you might notice that the word disciple is the “word of choice” in the Gospels. After Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection Jesus followers begin to be called believers. I want to propose that disciples, at least in the gospels, may or may not refer to true believers. This is made clear in John’s gospel as he describes the response of many of Jesus’ disciples (not the 12) to some of His most difficult teachings. John 6:66 says, “As a result of this many of His disciples withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore.” Clearly disciples were learners, exploring the claims of Christ, but not necessarily fully committed followers of Christ. According to Matthew 28, we are to go and make learners. Find people who are willing to explore and consider the claims of Christ. Then, those who believer and are converted, we baptize.
After the converts are baptized, we then teach them to obey. Notice that we are not just to teach them. Churches have been teaching information for information’s sake for decades! We teach, teach, and teach more, but we aren’t real great at teaching people to obey. Maturity is based on obedience, not just knowledge. A person who has knowledge of 90% of the Bible, but is obedient to only 10% of what they know is far less mature than the person who only has knowledge of 10% of the Bible, but is obedient to 90% of what they know. We are to teach people, not just for the sake of knowledge, but for the sake of obeying! So, in order to reach our Jerusalems, as we go, we are to make learners. Those who go beyond learning, and believe, are baptized. Then we invest in those people teaching them to obey the commands of Christ, remembering that Jesus is with us through this entire process.
We will look at Judea and Samaria tomorrow. Until then....