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Introduction to Acts (part 3)


The introductory verses of Acts, 1:1-11, serve as Jesus final briefing on the mission that he gave to the disciples. Yesterday I posted the first two portions of the briefing, that being the objective (implement the Kingdom) and the resources (the risen Lord and the empowering presence of the Holy Spirit).

The third item covered in Jesus’ briefing was directed to the available personnel for the mission. Who is included? In Acts 1:8, Jesus said, “You shall receive power…” The word “you” is plural, so we can easily deduce that the personnel for the mission was everyone. The words of the briefing were spoken to the 120 who witnessed Jesus ascension. Each one received the same assignment. No one was excluded or exempt.

Jesus went on to introduce the strategy for the mission. The personnel were to take the resources Jesus provided and be “witnesses in Jerusalem, in Judea, in Samaria, and to the uttermost parts of the world” (Acts 1:8). In other words, they were to begin where they were and to move from the epicenter of home in concentric circles to the furthest reaches of the world.

The word witness is literally “martyr.” It is used some 28 times in the Book of Acts. Today when we think of being a witness, we usually have an image of one who testifies to the truth of a situation or circumstance, like in a court of law. That’s not a bad take, however the imagery changes some when it is viewed through the lens of martyrdom. When I think of being a martyr, I think of laying down my life for a particular cause. So what’s Jesus saying? Witnessing is an activity. But living as a martyr is a commitment that calls for full sacrifice. Being a living martyr (cf. Luke 9:23; Romans 12:1-2) involves a daily sacrificial commitment to the mission versus making protracted attempts toward telling others about Christ when the situation arises. Beginning where I am, I am to lay down my life each and every day for the sake of the gospel.

Finally, the time frame to complete the mission is the return of Jesus Christ. Acts 1:9-11 indicates that Christ will return some day, and until that day comes we are to be busy about taking the resources God has given and implement the mission, laying down our lives each day until Jesus comes again.

So why study Acts?
In his book, The Rise of Christianity, Rodney Stark reports that during the first three hundred years of post resurrection Christianity, half of known world came to faith in Christ. Numerically, Stark suggests 33 million people out of 60 million people were professing Christ. In Acts 1, 120 people took the mission and the resources and chased a movement that continues today. They didn’t have facilities, programs, educated staff, or a completed Bible. They didn’t have technology, the internet, or the printing press.
What could we do if we utilized the resources and gave our lives to the gospel? Dare we dream about changing the world?

Categories : Acts, Luke, Missional Church

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