Bible Reading: Acts 1:1-11
“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.” (Acts 1:8)
If we believe in the power of the Gospel, the power of the Gospel is not a fairytale myth. It is the power and wisdom of God that is actively working throughout the ages. Just before Jesus left, He promised the coming of the Holy Spirit and the witnessing of His message. What happened after Jesus ascended into heaven?
In Acts 2:1-13, the Holy Spirit came at Pentecost. Why did the Holy Spirit come? He came to anoint the Word of God. He came as a helper and counsellor for God’s people. The Holy Spirit who empowered and enabled the apostles to preach back then is still the same Spirit alive today, anointing God’s written Word to penetrate and change people’s lives. In a short while, the first fragment of Jesus’ statement came true.
As soon as the Holy Spirit came, Peter was filled with the Holy Spirit and began preaching to the “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem”. Peter proclaimed the Gospel boldly, and His sermon is recorded in Acts 2:14-40. Around three thousand people repented that day and were numbered amongst the believers. God was working in Jerusalem, just like He said He would.
Now, in Acts 8, persecution arrived for the Christian church in Judea. Stephen had just been stoned, and Saul was on the move to ravage and imprison Christ’s followers. Yet, in God’s sovereign plan, God used these events to scatter His people for further witnessing. Acts 8:4-5 recounts, “Now those who were scattered went about preaching the word. Phillip went down to the city of Samaria and proclaimed to them the Christ”. Phillip witnessed Christ’s Gospel in Samaria, and again, Jesus’ statement before He ascended into heaven was fulfilled.
God is full of surprises, and in Acts 9, Saul, the tormentor, repents and becomes Paul the apostle. Now, Paul was a Roman citizen, meaning He had civil rights in the Roman Empire. Along with his call to minister to the Gentiles, Paul witnessed the Gospel in Cyprus, Southern Galatia, Greece, Ephesus, and many other places. However, Paul the persecutor eventually faces persecution himself.
In Acts 21:30-31, Paul was seized. He was put on trial by the Jews and eventually sent to Felix, the Governor. However, because Paul was a Roman citizen, he appealed for trial in the highest court before Caesar. Caesar lived in Rome, and Rome was considered “the end of the earth” at that time. It was the world centre of politics and trade, so Paul had longed to spread the Gospel there. He had not been able to go there, but now, he was sent to Caesar in Rome as a prisoner.
The book of Acts ends with Paul at “the end of the earth”. “He lived there two whole years at his own expense, and welcomed all who came to him, proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance” (Acts 28:30-31). In some sense, what Jesus said at His ascension was somewhat fulfilled by the end of Acts.
See how God’s Spirit is alive, and the power of the Gospel penetrates and works to witness the good news where it must be witnessed. Today, the “earth” or civilisation as we know it has expanded to every crook and cranny of the globe. Jesus’ statement still stands. His Holy Spirit will work to bring witness to the end of the earth. He is working today. Who will He use for this glorious work?
Lord, thank You for the power and truth of Your Gospel that is working to change lives. As You have worked in Your early church, continue to work in Your church today: rise, people who will continue to witness Your Gospel to the ends of the earth. And, make me a witness of Your Gospel today. Let me experience the power and truth of Your Gospel and then work through me so others can experience it also. Thank You, God. In Jesus’ name, amen.