The opening of Acts of the Apostles. This is after the resurrection of Jesus, but before the giving of the Holy Spirit promised as far back as Ezekiel – “And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” Ezekiel 36:26 ESV. The book of Acts is the continuation of Jesus’ ministry on earth. It did not end with his death on the cross. He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God.
This, of course, is the point of the exercise – that Jesus Christ rose from the dead. All of our sins died with him on the cross, there is no condemnation for us who believe in Him, and we have a new life in His righteousness just waiting for us to claim. This resurrection is the center of what the apostles preached. Not the virgin birth, not the miracles, but the resurrection of the man of Jesus of Nazareth. This was not a resuscitation, like Lazarus after four days, where there is still a death to give. This is a resurrection into everlasting life with no looking back, no death to pay again later. The defeat of death for us all!!
Just as the apostles were His witnesses, so are we. We still do not know when the Kingdom of God will come again. As Jesus says here, the Father has fixed these things on His own authority. It is not our time, but his time, and no amount of stressing on our part, thinking, deciphering, is going to make it clear to us when Jesus will return. It is, simply, not for us to know.
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.” This is for us to know – we are his witnesses!! We are to take the Good News of the Truth of Jesus Christ to the world. Our world begins with those right next to us. Probably some that we don’t even like. We are take what we do know, and be prepared at all times for that which we don’t know – the exact timing of the return of Christ!! Remember, we may not know the “when”, but we do know the “what” – that Christ WILL return. Most of us have trouble with this, sharing the Good News of Christ, but I will refer you to the words of Jesus – “So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 10:32-33 ESV.
One of the scariest verses in the bible. Whether I participate or not, the earthly ministry of Jesus Christ will never die. I’m trying to train myself to live this verse and be intentional about it. I do know this – I would rather feel a little discomfort here talking to people than a lot of discomfort at the gates of heaven because I refused to share the best news in the world!!
“In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach, until the day when he was taken up, after he had given commands through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God. And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” 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.””
Acts 1:1-11 ESV