Peninsula Community Church
April 15, 2018
Empowered for the Mission
Acts 1:6-11 So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”
I love this passage. I love the fact that the Bible does not hide the difficulties and the lack of understanding the disciples exemplified in regard to the mission of Christ. Last week we discussed the issue of having a crisis of faith. Once again, here in this passage, the disciples seemed to fall short in their understanding of the purpose and plan of Christ. They continued to have the false understanding that Christ was going set up an earthly kingdom ruled by political aggression.
The problem is that they did not comprehend that their timeline did not match Christ’s timeline. So it is with us, our timeline does not always match God’s timeline either. The disciples failed to understand this as they were still concerned about the events that were to come. They in essence wanted it to happen now, while God’s plan was something much different. This was in part because they were still struggling to face the truth that Jesus was not living up to their idea of what they thought He should do. It was a problem then and it continues to be a problem today when we try to force Jesus into our box, or into doing what we think He should be or do. While they continued to debate these issues, Jesus continued to remind them that He did not do anything outside of the will and authority of the Father. Therefore, it was His timeline and not theirs.
I am reminded that God has a timeline for your life as well. No matter what you are walking through, He will see you through every situation. The problem for us is that we are confined to time, as time as we know it, was created for us as created beings. That is why we want God to do things now, or at least by Friday. For that reason, we must be reminded that God does not need time, as we know it. He does not move by chronos time, but rather He moves by Kairos time.
In the Greek language, in which the New Testament was written, there are two words for time. There is chronos time which is measured by our watches, clocks, calendars, and iPhones. Secondly, there is Kairos time which relates to the right, critical, or opportune moment. When we understand that God is not defined by time, but rather by opportunity and the right moment for His will to be accomplished, we will make the connection that at the right time He will show up. Peter understood this when he stated But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day (2 Peter 3:8). Peter understood that at times a day seems like a thousand years and vice versa.
In the passage before us today, Jesus reminds the disciples and us that they did not need to know the “when” or “why” as much as they needed to know the “what.” It is the what that changes us. It is the what that focuses us on His plan and purpose. Until the timeline was fulfilled, Christians were called to be witnesses. That is a huge what. This is what He wanted them to do until He returned, which He will in His on time.
In Jesus final words we are called to be witnesses. A witness is one who tells a story about what they know about a person and or an event. We most recognize this when it comes to court and the legal system, especially when one is called to be a witness for the prosecution or the defense. As a witness, they must present the truth they know about a person or an event. When it come to being a Christian witness, we tell the truth about Jesus. Witnesses testify to what they know is truth and that which is real. Listen to this exchange “And one Ananias, a devout man according to the law, well spoken of by all the Jews who lived there, came to me, and standing by me said to me, ‘Brother Saul, receive your sight.’ And at that very hour I received my sight and saw him. And he said, ‘The God of our fathers appointed you to know his will, to see the Righteous One and to hear a voice from his mouth; for you will be a witness for him to everyone of what you have seen and heard. And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name’ (Acts 22:12-16).
The disciples certainly had much to share about Jesus. They had a story to tell. As we see in the balance of the Book of Acts, they told that story. It was and is the story of redemption. They were preaching and teaching about the work of Jesus and His saving power and grace. We see this in particular with Peter, Paul, and Stephen. Every opportunity they had, they related the story of the work of Christ to those with whom they encountered. The result was changed lives and the expansion of the church and His Kingdom.
Secondly, witnesses have experiences to share. The disciples had watched as Jesus healed the blind, touched the lepers, made the lame to walk, and He reached out to those undeserving of the grace of God. They saw how Jesus had knelt in the sand and how He rebuked the Jewish leadership, that were ready to stone Mary Magdalene for adultery, when they themselves were dealing with their sins perhaps those which were just as serious in nature. He released her with the command to go and sin no more. Not only had they witnessed Jesus heal and give grace to those who did not deserve it, they also experienced the amazing grace of God, personally. After all, these were the same disciples who had rejected Christ. They were absent from the events at the cross. They ran to hide in fear, doubt, and desperation. But, when Christ rose, He came to them so they would know He loved them, had a plan for them, and accepted them right where they were. They knew His love and they knew His grace. They had much to share. Throughout their ministry together, Jesus forgave them and continued to accept them as His disciples even though they failed, they sinned, they judged others, they walked in doubt, and they never fully understood Jesus.
Not only did Jesus call them to be witnesses, He also defined the scope of their mission. They were to go into all the world and preach the gospel. While this certainly relates to the world at large, it also refers to the world in which we live. As individuals we may not have the capacity to reach the whole world per se, but we can reach the world we are in and the one God has given us. Wherever we live and whatever sphere of influence we have, we are witnesses of Christ. God has placed you in a community, you have a specific job, you volunteer for various organizations, and so on. We share through our words, our actions, and our attitudes. I can guarantee you that people are watching you and they will know what kind of witness you are. So are you a witness for Christ, or for the persecutor of the people.
Finally, Jesus not only calls us to be witnesses, He not only gives us the scope of our mission, but He also empowers us to accomplish the task we have been called to. Christ promised us that He would fill us with the Holy Spirit and He would empower us to be witnesses. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth. Jesus did not just give them the command to be witnesses. He did not just give them the responsibility to do so, He gave them power to fulfill what they needed to do. They were given the power of the Holy Spirit to fulfill their mission.
As a kid I loved super heroes. As some of you, I grew up with Batman & Robin, Superman, the Green Hornet, and others. Each of this superheroes either had special powers, or they had unique tools that made them special heroic crime fighters. As believers, we have been given supernatural power to be witnesses for Christ. Unlike the super heroes of yesteryear, we do not need a special costume or a Bat mobile to have power. We have been given a power to accomplish the task we need to do each and every day and at every moment.
So what does this power do? It leads us to truth. To be a good witness we must speak the truth. Even before a witness takes the stand they are sworn to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Listen to the words of John. “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you (John 16:12-15).
The Holy Spirit will lead us to truth. He will allow us to speak in the authority of God. He will give us the words to speak when we need them. He will glorify Christ and point to the Father. He will give us all we need to accomplish His purpose in life and ministry. So are you ready? People today need to hear the message of hope that Christ’s brings, so will you share it?
For an audio of this message go to http://pccministry.org/media.php?pageID=14
Copyright © 2018 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom