By Ken R. Speakman
Member, Tulip Grove Baptist Church, Old Hickory
In Acts 1, the resurrected Lord is about to ascend to the Father. The Holy Spirit will descend in a matter of weeks and the New Testament church will be created. The book of Acts is volume two of the gospel of Luke (Luke 1:3-4) and is extremely important to understand the work of the Holy Spirit and establishment of the church. It would be confusing to go from the gospels to Romans.
In the first five verses of Acts 1, the disciples are in numerous places and are being taught by the Lord, who during a 40-day period, would randomly appear after His resurrection. In verse 4, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for the gift His Father promised which they had heard Him speak about. In Luke 24:23-24, the disciples are eating together and suddenly Jesus appears. In verses 48-49 Jesus tells them, you are witnesses of these things. I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city.
In Acts 1:6, they asked Jesus if He would restore the kingdom to Israel? Why did they ask that? They were looking for freedom from Roman domination. They put together the teaching of Jesus related to the literal kingdom of God on earth (which will happen one day), with their limited understanding of Old Testament prophecy (Zechariah 14:4). There was something the prophets did not know and had not seen. Between the first and second coming of the Lord, there would be the creation of something new, the church age. In this age of dispensation of grace, the message of redemption would go out not only to the 12 tribes of Israel, but to the Gentile nations of the world. In Acts 1:4, they were together in a room, but in verse 6, they were gathered together on the Mount of Olives (1:12-13).
They were told in verse 7 it was not for them to know the times and dates the Father has set. They were to return to Jerusalem and wait for the coming of the Holy Spirit. Acts 1:8 is a key verse. It informs us that the power of the church comes from the Holy Spirit (Zechariah 4:6). They were to receive power — ordinary people will be able to do extraordinary things because the Spirit of God is at work in their lives. The Holy Spirit is absolutely necessary in our lives if we are to fulfill the mandate to be witnesses for Christ. Jesus told the disciples not to set a date for the coming Kingdom, but to prepare their hearts and lives for the coming, baptizing, indwelling, empowering ministry of the Holy Spirit, whom He has entrusted to His children. You notice He did not say when the Spirit comes upon you, you will begin to witness. He said you shall be my witnesses. Jesus isn’t dealing with what we do. He’s dealing with who we are. We are witnesses!