To the Ends of the Earth
August 29, 2021
Sermon Recap PDF
 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.” (ESV)
- As a pastoral team, we’re very excited to begin this new series because in this book we see the mighty acts of God as the NT church is birthed and established under the power of the Holy Spirit
- The book of Acts is the continuing story of the power of the gospel to transform lives, as the Good News spreads out from Jerusalem to the ends of the earth
- In this narrative we’ll read and hear about challenges that the early church faced, like
- Murderous threats
- Angry mobs
- Opposition from the authorities
- Persecution from unbelievers
- But nothing – not threats or mobs or authorities – could stop the ongoing ministry of Jesus and His gospel
- God had promised to draw to Himself a people from every nation, tribe, and tongue
- He will see that accomplished.
- In the book of Acts, we’ll see the beginnings of this great work of the Lord as the Holy Spirit comes, the gospel is proclaimed, and the early church is established and deployed in mission
Main Point: The unstoppable ministry of Jesus Christ continues, by the power of the Spirit, through the witness of God’s people
1. Jesus Calls His Disciples (verse 2)
- Verse 2 tells us that “He had given commands through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom He had chosen.”
- Jesus had chosen these disciples back in the account in Luke’s gospel – Luke 6:13. He called them specifically to follow Him.
- He’s been calling disciples ever since.
- God is still in the process of calling people to Himself in love.
- This is why He came – because God so loved the world, He sent Jesus
- He isn’t just looking to fill positions in His family – as if He has to fill a certain quota. Jesus came and Jesus calls to us, personally, because He loves us
- That’s why He sacrificed Himself, out of love – so that He could extend forgiveness to all who will receive Him
2. Jesus Empowers His Disciples (verses 4, 8)
- Jesus had been clear with His disciples all along that they had a mission to fulfill. But they needed His power and strength to do it.
- Jesus doesn’t call us to do something without equipping us with the power to do it.
- Jesus now commands them to wait “ordered them not to depart but to wait for the Promise of the Father” (v.4)
- John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance by water, but they would be baptized by the Holy Spirit!
- The promise of the Father was to send the Holy Spirit.
- During the Last Supper, Jesus told His disciples that the Holy Spirit would come after He left.
- He would not leave them alone, as orphans.
- Rather, they would have the presence and company and power of the Holy Spirit.
- What would the Holy Spirit do?
- “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you (verse 8)”
- He will give a boldness to take risks for Christ when naturally we would shrink back.
- He would enable effective proclamation of the gospel.
- He would grant the ability to remember the truth and retain it in their heart.
- He would grant power
- For victory over sin
- Power over the forces of evil
- For healing and miracles
- He would distribute various gifts for ministry (I Cor. 12)
- Before the Spirit would come, the Son must return to the Father!
3. Jesus Commissions His Disciples (verses 2, 8)
- Christ’s love for the world necessitated that the message get out to the world.
- This is the second time Jesus had commissioned them out to make and mature disciples (see Matt 28:19-20).
- How do we see this gospel going out in the book of Acts?
- We’ll see how the Holy Spirit was poured out at Pentecost, and the vibrancy of the early church began with a bang.
- Peter preached the gospel and 3,000 people were saved!
- We see these Jewish disciples of Christ carrying the message of the gospel to Gentiles.
- We see Saul, at one time persecuting the church, converted into Paul, the preacher of the church.
- We see missionary journeys which, in each successive journey, takes the gospel farther and farther from the epicenter of Jerusalem.
- And His kingdom is not small.Though His disciples in v.6 appeared to be only concerned with the Kingdom of Israel, God’s kingdom has a much bigger expanse.
- The Kingdom of God is not territorial, it is spiritual. The Kingdom marches on as His unstoppable gospel advances throughout all the earth.
- Jesus’ disciples are intended to GO and call all the family members together through the proclamation of the gospel.
“The Church is the pilgrim people of God. It is on the move – hastening to the ends of the earth to beseech all men to be reconciled to God, and hastening to the end of time to meet its Lord who will gather all into one.” – Lesslie Newbigin
- God is building His family!
- We’ve got work to do!
- There is a world which God is redeeming, and we’re to be part of that work!
- He’s chosen us
- He’s equipped us
- He’s empowered us
- Will we join Him in this glorious call?
4. Jesus Assures His Disciples (verses 9-11)
- Jesus ascending to the Father is the fulfillment of His promise made back at the Last Supper.
- His will be a glorious, bodily return, for all the world to see, to rule and to reign.
What effect did this assurance of His coming again have on the disciples?
- It brought comfort that He will return and gather them to Himself
- It motivated them to continue in the work of the mission
“The whole interim between Pentecost and the Parousia (His return) is to be filled with the world-wide mission of the church in the power of the Spirit. Christ’s followers are to announce what He had achieved at His first coming and to summon people to repent and believe in preparation for His second coming.” – John Stott
- Jesus’ going meant that now He could send the Holy Spirit. The Helper could come.
- Jesus said in John 16:7 “It is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send Him to you.”
- Now they could anticipate the coming of the Holy Spirit, to give them power, and effectiveness in accomplishing the mission that the Lord had for them.
- The effect the ascension would have had on the disciples is profound.
- Not only has their leader and Lord experienced and conquered death, but now He is physically ascending into Heaven.
- Only God can do that – no earthly powers can produce such events.
- And with the promise of His return someday, Jesus is accenting once again His dominion and power over all.
- So do these disciples think His kingdom is real? Would the ascension, and the promise of His bodily return motivate them to faithfully witness? You can be sure!
- If you are a Christian, God has invited you to join Him in His loving mission of spreading the message of Christ to the world
- He commands it. And that’s the most loving thing He can do
- But He’ll never ask you to do something for which He won’t also equip you to do.
- Every believer has been given the Holy Spirit.
- He takes up residence in our hearts, and empowers us for faithful service to our King.
- God will draw His people – no one that God intends to draw will be missed.
- Don’t you want to be a part of that glorious, eternal work?
Questions for Discussion/Application
- Re-read the text, Acts 1:1-11. What initial observations and insights do you have from reading this text?
- Jesus chose his disciples to accomplish His mission. Has does it make you feel when you consider that God has chosen you personally and specifically to participate in His mission?
- We saw in the passage that Jesus empowers His disciples by and with the Spirit for ministry. How should that reality impact us—that God has given us the Holy Spirit to help us to fulfill God’s mission to reach this world with the gospel?
- How should the return of Christ (verse 11) motivate us to proclaim Christ?
- What excites you about going through the book of Acts as a church?
- Take time to pray for this series, that God would move powerfully in our own lives and in our church, to help us be His witnesses!