His Proclamation (Acts 1:8)
Have you ever had the experience of wanting to ask someone for something, but been very nervous or afraid to do so? I was speaking with a gal a while back who was feeling quite tense, so I asked her “Why?” She told me that she’s worked a good deal of overtime, for quite a while, and has not had her regular vacation in a long time. I asked, “Why?” She told me that even though she had more than enough vacation time, and had put in countless hours of overtime, she was nonetheless nervous to talk to her manager about taking time off. The manager had continuously complained about how busy they were and that they did not know what they’d do if they were short-staffed, etc. My friend played an important role in the company and just couldn’t bring herself to request the much needed time off. She was fearful.
I think many of us have had the same experience. We get a knot in our stomach when we have to speak to someone about a difficult topic. In a similar way, many get nervous, not because we have to address our boss concerning a difficult topic, but when we’re asked to speak in public. Many of us would rather contract the measles.
Have you ever been asked to speak in public? Perhaps give a speech, i.e., a toast to the bride and groom? A brief speech at work or even worse, give a full-on sales presentation or product review. There’s a reason someone has said, “Give a speech…I’d rather take a dip in the frozen Atlantic in January”. Over 75% of people report feeling some degree of anxiety when public speaking. They even have a technical term for it, glossophobia.
Many Christians feel that sort of dread – the dread we experience when we have to “see” the boss about something or have been asked to “speak in public” – when called on by the Lord to testify to the gospel of His grace. We’d rather do anything else He asks us, just not that. We often feel anxious when we know the Lord is leading us to speak to others about what He did for them on the cross. Jesus knows our fears, and He has a plan, just as He knew the disciples’ fears and began that plan with them.
Jesus has just been rejected, tried, and crucified in Jerusalem. Yet He has risen from the dead and now appears to His disciples who are fearing for their lives. It is to these disciples, fearful of what will happen to them – since they had attached themselves to the very person who was just a moment ago put to death. It is to these disciples, as surely as it is to us today, that He comes with a plan to deal with our fears and to ensure that we have the strength to testify, to bear witness to Him and to His death, resurrection, exaltation and present reign (all of what was promised in the OT and now carried out in and through our Lord and Savior).
“And You Will Receive Power”
So, Jesus comes to His fearful disciples in Acts 1:8 – disciples who were distracted by their hopes for an immediate restoration of Israel’s worldly kingdom – and He tells them: “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 farthest parts of the earth.”
First, note that He assures us, if we will just trust Him, that He has a plan to overcome our fears of witnessing to friends and family, enemies and despisers, about His cross, resurrection, and reign as Lord (cf. Acts 2:36). He will send the Holy Spirit – the Author of Mission Himself – to come upon us, indeed, to indwell us and give us the power necessary (1) to rightly understand the gospel message, (2) to overcome our fears, and (3) to effectively communicate His truth to all people. The book of Acts is all about what happens when God’s people, though often weak and timid, yield themselves to the power of the Spirit, who then spreads everywhere the message of God’s gracious offer of salvation in Christ through them. Do you know that message? If not, be sure to watch Signs of Your Guide and Meeting Your Guide to gain a clear understanding of the gospel. As Peter said, “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among people by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
“And You Will Be My Witnesses”
Second, as Christians who have come to know the gospel (and its powerful blessings), we have come to trust the risen Christ offered to us in and through it. We know that we have been forgiven by His grace through faith, and that we have entered into new life with the One who was crucified for our sin and was raised to life for our justification (Rom 4:25). If the Spirit of God has taught us anything in our inward man, we know that it is because of His death and resurrection – because of who He is and what He accomplished in our place, and through that alone – we have obtained our right standing with God. He has raised us up and put our feet on solid ground, says the psalmist (cf. Psalm 40:2). We know through the Spirit that the true Jesus is now Lord and Savior and will return someday to judge the living and the dead (Acts 17:31). So, we bear witness to the living, exalted and reigning Christ, who through our sharing of the scriptural gospel, summons men and women, young and old everywhere, to repent and turn to Him in faith. He promises to pardon them and bring into a right relationship with the One who created them and now calls them back home (cf. 1 Peter 3:18). As Paul says, “We do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus as Lord…” (2 Cor 4:5; Phil 2:6-11). It is truly good news for those who turn to Christ in repentant faith and trust.
“To The Ends of the Earth”
Third, I have had the privilege of working with some folks starting their own businesses, a few entrepreneurs, and they’re always amazing people – if not naïve sometimes regarding how much they think that everyone and their dog will want whatever it is they’re selling. Having built a client list for a couple businesses myself, I can share in their enthusiasm. But, here’s the point: if we’re willing to put in the effort, struggle and strain for an earthly prize (1 Cor 9:24-27), how much more then, should we invest efforts in personally sharing the best news ever with everyone on the planet (1 Cor 9:16)? How much more should we humbly and prayerfully give our time, talents and treasures to the accomplishment of the Great Commission, i.e., the spreading of the gospel of Christ and the building up of His church (cf. Matt 28:19-20; Col 1:28-29)? We are to take His message to the ends of the earth!
There is no plan B. By the power of the Holy Spirit we are God’s ambassadors for the gospel, as Paul says (2 Cor 5:18). So, as Romans says, “how are they to call on one they have not believed in? And how are they to believe in one they have not heard of?” (cf. Rom 10:13-17) The answer is, they won’t, unless we wisely and lovingly share the good news with them. Again, Christ promised us that the Holy Spirit who indwells every Christian by definition (Rom 8:9), will grant us the requisite power as we intentionally make ourselves available for the task! God bless you as you humbly communicate the Good News as you travel the Pathway journey with Christ.