Read This Week: Acts 1
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight. They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.” – Acts 1:8-11 NIV
God is all-powerful and ever-present. Jesus is alive, and as we just learned in Romans, at the right hand of God interceding for us (Rom. 8:34). The Holy Spirit is empowering and active in the lives of those who believe (1:8). All of these things point to the fact that life with God is not meant to be inactive, dormant, or just talked about. It is a living, vital movement of people bearing witness to the life-changing power of the gospel and accomplishing God’s purposes now and throughout eternity.
In the book of Acts, Luke builds a bridge between his gospel account and what happened after the believers left the temple praising God. He does so by taking us to this scene where they are gathered around Jesus after the resurrection. He is teaching them about the kingdom of God and their mission to advance the gospel around the world. Jesus then tells them how they will accomplish this; how the movement will not only begin but how it will keep going through the ages. Verse 8 says:
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
After saying this about the Holy Spirit’s transcendent power on their lives and what is to come, Jesus ascends into heaven in a display of majesty and might. Then something curious happens. The people, who had been sent to change the world and promised supernatural ability to do so, just stood there gazing up into heaven. Jesus gave them the ultimate assignment and assured them of the capacity to accomplish it, and they got caught standing around looking. Verses 10-11 tells us what takes place next:
Suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”
This is a key moment because it communicates what Christians should be about in our lives. We have a commission from God to live for Him, share His gospel, banner His truth, and love and serve others. But we often get caught standing around looking. It is fine to talk about what the Holy Spirit can do, yet we must not fail to engage the very mission that the He has equipped us for in the first place.
Like the early Christians, we need encouragement to not stand there looking, but to be an active part of God’s movement in our community and the world every day. The message of Acts is that the power of the church comes from God, and we experience repeated fillings of His Spirit as we face new opportunities, challenges, and obstacles. Ordinary people are able to do extraordinary things because of the Spirit’s work in us and in every environment we find ourselves.
Every Christian can be a faithful and powerful witness to the Savior if we don’t just stand there. Doing church or going through the Christian motions is not very effective. Being the church, building the kingdom of God, and seeing the world change for his glory is not only successful, but eternal, and worth it all.