The Unshakeable Unstoppable series looks at the Book of Acts more closely. Andrew started off with some important backgrounds and introduction to the series on the weekend of 16/17 May, 2020.
In the second part of the series, focuses on the Book of Acts 1:8. “… you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
This statement is very profound, because it is the very last statement of Jesus to His disciples while He was on earth. When Jesus made this statement, his followers had an earthly and politically oriented view of the Kingdom of God. They were expecting that when God’s Kingdom comes, it would make Israel great again. They were hoping for a political liberation from the Roman oppression.
Jesus had to spend 40 days to share with them about His Kingdom to talk them out of this distorted view of God’s Kingdom. “He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God”. Acts 1:3
It seems that Jesus had to tie up some lose ends to some of His teachings on the Kingdom and realigning their thinking by giving clear instruction.
After receiving this important instruction, the disciples of Jesus went into a lockdown for ten days waiting for the Power of the Holy Spirit in Jerusalem. The moment they received the power of the Holy Spirit, they started witnessing about the death and the resurrection of Jesus. In Acts 2 – the Holy Spirit came upon them and 120 of them were filled with the Holy Spirit power. Thousands of people in the City of Jerusalem, who came to attend the Pentecost festival from all around the Roman Empire, descended on the house where the rushing wind of the Spirit landed. It was so spectacular!
Simon Peter, got out and preached Christ to the gathered crowed outside of the Upper House. In one sermon, 3000 people were added to the first Church. There number kept on increasing to 5000 and in no time this tiny group became a significant movement to reckon with in Jerusalem.
Within 30 years, Christianity spread to Rome - the Imperial Capital of the Empire. Rome is located within 4,000 km distance from Jerusalem. Paul & his apostolic team went on planting churches throughout the Roman Empire cities such as Antioch, Corinth, Philippi, Galatia, Ephesus, Thessalonica etc.
Within one generation the centre of Christianity moved from Jerusalem to Rome, the Capital of the Gentile nations.
A historian by the name Douglas Stuart stated, “It was explosive in the way Christianity spread, Christianity went everywhere…it seems like the whole Mediterranean basin, the whole Roman Empire, within a number of decades was hearing the good news of Jesus.”
By 300 Ad the Emperor of Rome, accepted Christianity and declared it as the official religion of his empire.
At that time, historians estimated the number of Christians were 7 million. About 2 million were killed for their faith.
Jesus gave the command to us to be His witnesses to all people around the world by travelling geographic, linguistic, and cultural distances by crossing racial and political limitations.An Update on Global Mission:
According to the Joshua Project, 41% of the world population is unreached. Out of 17,424 people-groups, 7,416 of them need to have a spirit filled churches planted. The remaining task is still huge.Why did the early Christians succeed in their witnessing?
1. They depended on the Power of the Holy Spirit.
When Jesus left this earth, He did not leave the disciples with any resources; He only promised to give them the Holy Spirit.
The one & only resource that they needed was the anointing of the Holy Spirit.
When the Holy Spirit came, He gave them courage & boldness to preach the Word followed by signs and wonders. He empowered them to overcome persecution, threats and death.
During this lockdown season, let’s sincerely seek intimacy with the Holy Spirit. Let’s be hungry for the power of God! Experiencing the Baptism of the Holy Spirit is essential to receiving the power of God.
2. They gave their self-less service to the needy and the poor in times of social crises.
During the two plagues of the 2nd and 3rd century, Christians actively serviced the needy in their communities.
It is quite encouraging to see the dedication of our church community in serving the needy and the forgotten people in our community. Let’s continue with our generosity and service to the needy in our community specially during this pandemic season.
3. They were willing to suffer hardship & persecution.
In Heb.11:35-38 – we read that the early disciples were tortured, imprisoned, mistreated and were killed. This Scripture is very graphic and descriptive. The early Christians, however, were determined to witness about Jesus.
God is looking for passionate men and women who are willing to suffer for the cause of the Kingdom.
I encourage you to stand up for Jesus and not to be ashamed of the gospel. Jesus is calling us to partner with him in His mission to save the world.Discussion Questions
1. During His earthly ministry, Jesus used to emphasise the importance of the coming of the Holy Spirit. Read the following Scriptures and discuss on the following questions (John 16:7; Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4).
- Why did Jesus emphasise the importance of the coming of the Holy Spirit?
2. Jesus gave a clear plan saying ‘you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria & to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1:8. What does that mean for us today?
3. Reflect on the following three things that the early disciples have done in being effective witnesses for Christ:
- The early disciples depended on the anointing of the Holy Spirit. What does that mean to you today?
- The early disciples were sacrificially serving the poor and the needy. How can we serve the needy in our community?
- The early disciples were enduring persecution and suffering. Are we prepared well for persecution and suffering for the cause of the Kingdom? If not, how can we prepare well?
Join Andrew Chisholm and his guests in The Conversation as they unpack each week’s message. Watch now.