ACTS 1:8e-h

Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
Summer 1997

Ac 1:8e “. . .both in Jerusalem,. . .”

Kingdom work allows no place for cowards. Jesus told His disciples to stay in Jerusalem. Otherwise the disciples would have gone somewhere (anywhere!) else. Rulers, soldiers, and the crowd who killed Jesus were still there. The eleven would have loved to wipe off their feet the dust of the city which crucified Jesus.
The eleven would have wanted to go home to nice quiet Galilee, but they had become the followers of One who never backed down in the face of danger. Jesus had attacked Satan at his stronghold–death. The devil kept trying to sidetrack Jesus, but Jesus kept coming. His followers were expected to show the same fortitude. Regardless of the dangers, the eleven were to stay in Jerusalem. They were to go where they could find the most need, not the most safety and ease.
We all need a good dose of courage. A friend and I were one night eating in a noisy restaurant. People all around us were taking God’s name in vain. Suddenly, my friend said loudly, “I’ve heard God’s name so much in here I feel like I’m in church.” That put a hush over the crowd. The disciples, courageous to the core, were not persecuted for being Christians as much as for being bold witnesses. They were sold out to God. Nothing was as important to them as pleasing Him.
Jerusalem was a tough place to serve, but they did what Jesus told them to do. Soon their detractors were forced to cry out, “Ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine” (AC 5:28). Refusing to be denied, they saturated their city with the message of Jesus. Tenacity was their theme. It is easy to tire of reaching out to others, to draw up into a shell and minister only to those who come to us, but our duty is to keep reaching and touching the world, beginning where we are, at home.

Ac 1:8f “. . .and in all Judea,. . .”

Jerusalem was tough, but at least had the advantage of being where they were. Judea required movement, travel, overcoming inertia. To reach Judea called for inconvenience, a change of plans, an altering of living arrangements. The disciples were willing to make the necessary sacrifices because they loved Jesus more than anything else in the world. He was the obsession of their lives.

Reaching people requires rearrangement of our priorities. One of the largest obstacles to a World View is the fanatic desire believers sometimes have for a comfortable lifestyle. Little worthwhile will be accomplished until time and money are given generously to God. “We must learn to live within our means, and to give beyond our means.” Prepare thyself to be inconvenienced. Even now begin getting out of credit card debt, and out of superfluous time-consuming activities.

Ac 1:8g “. . .and in Samaria,. . .”

Jews considered Samaritans their enemies, but Jesus set the example for His followers when He talked to, visited with, and converted the Samaritan woman at the well (JN 4). “Love your enemies” includes a responsibility to witness to them.
This can be difficult. Pretend being the one who carried the news of Saul’s conversion to the believers at Damascus. When we said, “Saul has been struck down” we would have been cut off in mid-sentence with shouts of joy. Imagine the shock as we restored order and said, “No, you don’t understand! God knocked him down, not to kill him, but to save him!” Ananias could not believe Saul had been converted, though the message was delivered by God Himself (AC 9:13).
Peter had deemed Gentiles unclean. When the vision came about Cornelius (AC 10), Peter resisted, and said the ultimate oxymoron, “No, Lord.” God Himself had to convince Peter this attitude was disallowed in the kingdom of Christ.
We Christians of today, for all our bravado about loving our enemies, are not doing as well as we should in carrying the Gospel to them. We are often too much like Jonah, who was actually saddened by the conversion of his enemies.

Ac 1:8h “. . .and unto the uttermost part of the earth.”

Since there is only one God, He has to be the God of all peoples. No group can stake an exclusive claim on God. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is for everyone.
This part of our Lord’s commission began to be fulfilled in earnest by the Antioch church. The church at Jerusalem began reaching out to others due to the persecution of Stephen, but the saints at Antioch fulfilled the great commission in a spirit of prayer and beautiful submission to God (AC 13:1-2). The latter church, the home base for Paul’s missionary enterprises, mattered because they had an outward view. “Congregations that spend all but a pittance of their resources on themselves are missing churches rather than mission churches” (MacGorman).

When Jesus said go to “the uttermost” He was stating the impossible dream. The task was geographically impossible–the whole world had not yet been discovered. The challenge was financially impossible–the early Christians were predominantly poor, they had precious little resources to support missionaries.
The mandate was linguistically impossible–Greek predominated, but the world nevertheless was divided into hundreds of languages. The task was numerically impossible–120 versus the whole world. Impossible, impossible, impossible!–but the disciples had heard Jesus say, “With God all things are possible” (MT 19:26), and they had seen evidence of the statement’s truthfulness in His resurrection. Therefore, they were willing to try the impossible. Jesus said do it and they lived and died trying. They determined it was better to burn out than to rust out.
When I think of Springfield Second undertaking a World View, my initial response is, “Impossible.” The task is geographically impossible–we still do not have freedom of access to every part of the world. The challenge is financially impossible–the cost of travel, mass media, Bible distribution, and supporting missionaries is overwhelming. The mandate is linguistically impossible–hundreds of languages remain untouched by Christian witness. The task is numerically impossible–2,000 of us versus multiplied thousands of them in Springfield, millions in Missouri and the United States, and billions around the globe.
For instance, can we communicate the Gospel to every person in Springfield? My first reaction is, of course not. My second reaction is, we have to, we have no choice, we have our orders. We have a similar response to our Judea, Samaria, and uttermost part of the earth. “Can not” has to be replaced with “must.”
Fortunately, we do not have to do it all. Other Christians and churches labor with us. We just have to find that part of the task God calls us to do. We do not run out and start doing things at random. This would lead to frustration and failure. We must saturate every plan and possibility with prayer, seeking to learn what God wants us to do, plus how, when, and where He wants us to do it.