Can you imagine how the disciples felt after they saw Christ alive? I’m sure they were ready to go out and conquer the world. They probably wanted to tell everybody that Jesus was alive and that Christ through his death and resurrection had made it possible for man to be reconciled with God. However, in quite an anti-climatic fashion Jesus commanded them to do something strange: to wait.
That is what we find in Acts 1:4-5,
“And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.”
Remember that in the first few verses of Acts Luke is summarizing what he had already written in his first book. We find the original command in Luke 24:49, “And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.”In both of these verses we find the phrase, “The promise of the Father.” They were to remain in Jerusalem until that promise was fulfilled.
So what was the promise of the Father? That God in the person of the Holy Spirit would dwell permanently in the lives of those that believed in Christ. (John 14:16-17) This would be a unique ministry of the Holy Spirit for New Testament saints. In the Old Testament the Holy Spirit empowered and enabled individuals for a particular task and then left them, but in the New Testament He ministers in and through us continually.
Now even though Christ’s command to his disciples that they wait until the coming of the Holy Spirit seemed strange it turned out to be the key to the church’s success in the first century. It has been correctly noted by many Bible commentators that the book of Acts is the record of the acts of the Holy Spirit through the apostles. We could have the best training available and all the confidence in the world but all of that is useless without the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives. The lesson is clear: We cannot complete Christ’s mission on this earth without the power of God.
It would have been very easy for the disciples to think that the outcome depended on them, but Christ’s command for them to tarry in Jerusalem confirmed that the success of the mission is a God thing. We cannot save anyone. We can only do our part and faithfully preach the gospel. The work of drawing, convincing and regenerating is His. We completely depend on Him. We can’t even live out our Christian lives without Him. Thankfully we received all of the Holy Spirit the moment we were saved. We don’t need more of Him; He needs more of us. God has given us all that we need to accomplish the mission of evangelizing the world. We have the sufficient power to conquer the world with the gospel. We simply need to submit to the control of the Holy Spirit in our lives. We can do nothing apart from the power of the Holy Spirit. What’s wonderful about that truth is that when we see success in the ministry the glory goes to God and not to us. Next week we will discuss Christ’s blueprint for world evangelism.