Acts 1:6-8 So when they had come together, they were asking Him, saying, “Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority; but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”
The apostles are asking the Lord a question regarding the restoration of the Kingdom to Israel. They wanted to know if the Father was planning to remove the Romans who occupied their land and thus allow the Jews to once again control their own homeland. In fact, maybe it would be as in the days of King David when Israel controlled more land than ever before or ever again – right down to the Egyptian border and north into what today is Syria and Lebanon.
These men were serious. They believed that God wanted them to have an earthly form of the Kingdom of Messiah; that God would reestablish it. (see Luke 19:11 and Luke 24:21). And Jesus did not tell them that this would not happen. He simply said that the timing of this ‘reestablishment’ was not something they needed to know. The Father has fixed the date and only He knows when that day will be. This aspect of the Kingdom was under the Father’s authority.
This was not a dumb question. First, Jesus did not tell them it would not happen; just it was none of their business when it would happen. Secondly, they probably asked the question because when Jesus was talking about the pouring out of the Spirit their minds would immediately go back to two scriptures that they knew well – Joel 2 and Ezekiel 36. These connect the outpouring of the Spirit of God Jesus was talking about to a Messianiac Kingdom. Thirdly, they would have remembered, as Jesus talked about the Kingdom (verse 3), that He had spoken numerous times about a Kingdom established upon the earth.
If this question had been inappropriate (as I was taught it was) or simply wrong (as I thought it was) – then on such a crucial issue one would have expected Jesus to correct them. In fact, this earthly Kingdom reign will begin at the second coming. It is a fact revealed and taught – just the timing in unrevealed.
Jesus then turns to His followers and tells them that to fulfill what He has called them and the Church to do they are going to need power. When Jesus, after His resurrection, appeared to His disciples in the Upper Room He breathed on them and they received the Holy Spirit in them – they were born again. Now, He tells them to stay in Jerusalem untill the Holy Spirit comes upon them (Acts 1:8).
Every person born physically into the world has the Holy Spirit with them (John 14:16-17). His task is to bring them to the foot of the Cross and salvation. When they accept Jesus as Lord and Saviour the Holy Spirit comes to live inside them. (John 20:22). Here Jesus tells them to wait until the Holy Spirit comes upon them. This is a second encounter with the Holy Spirit subsequent to salvation seen constantly throughout the Book of Acts. We call this the Baptism in the Holy Spirit.
They will need this power from God because they are called to be witnesses to the resurrection of Jesus Christ. To be a witness means preaching and teaching with signs and wonders following the ministry of the Word. So, power will be needed. Jesus needed this anointing as seen in Luke 4:18-20. So do we.
The word “witness” in the Greek meant: “People who tell the truth” (about Jesus Christ). It also meant “one who dies for his faith” and it was very common to pay this price when telling others of the offer of salvation and forgiveness through Jesus Christ. So, power to honour God in death as well as to testify that Jesus really was raised from the dead and is alive!
They were to be witnesses starting at home and heading out in ever widening circles. This the early Church did. And, this Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the uttermost parts of the earth flow is also the natural breakdown of the Book of Acts.
Many today in the Charismatic Church who are baptized in the Holy Spirit have forgotten the purpose for the baptism. It is not so we can prophesy over other believers and bring healing to each other during the ministry time on Sunday. It is not so we can pray for one another and be slain in the Spirit. The purpose for the Baptism in the Holy Spirit and the resulting nine gifts of the Spirit is to get us out on the highways and byways witnessing to those who cannot and do not hear God for themselves (Isaiah 59:1-2).
Those inside the Church should not need us to “witness to them” as they can hear God for themselves and have a relationship with The Healer and so can have their needs met directly within their relationship with God.
We need the Baptism of the Holy Spirit and the resulting power so that we can be witnesses – light in the darkness. Read the Book of Acts and see the gifts in motion convincing and convicting the unsaved of their need for a Saviour and that He is alive as proved by the miracles, signs and wonders ordinary believers did apparently on a daily basis.
Who have you witnessed to recently? Did you do it in the natural (flesh) or the supernatural (Spirit)?