Have you ever been that person who asks the question that everyone in the room wants to ask, and the whole group silences to hear the answer…but it is ignored and redirected? We’ve all been that guy or girl, and in fact, even the disciples were that guy! One of my favorite examples of this is in Acts 1:6-8, where Jesus gives them a new world view.
“So when they had come together, they asked Him, ‘Lord, are You restoring the kingdom to Israel at this time?'” (v. 6). The Jewish people were preoccupied with the physical kingdom of Israel and believed their salvation would come in the restoration of the kingdom. This perspective is why, throughout the Gospels, the people are continually bringing up the “kingdom” and why Jesus was frequently addressing the concept of the kingdom. And, this is why the disciples ask this question. Jesus had risen, proving that HE was the Messiah. So, salvation…it was about to happen, right?
Jesus does not respond directly to their question but instead shifts the conversation from a focus on Israel’s restoration to a focus on a global restoration. He corrected them by directing them away from their preoccupation with times, dates, and their thinking that salvation was just for Jews. Here, Jesus gently reminds them of the providence of God, then moves the conversation to a more relevant topic—their purpose.
“He said to them, ‘It is not for you to know times or periods that the Father has set by His own authority. BUT you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you, and you will be MY witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (emphasis added, vv. 7-8).
Here are four truths (and God’s will for us) that we can take from Jesus’ response in Acts 1:8:
1. You are not alone!
Christ was giving them a promise that He would not to leave them alone and that they would have HIS power—the same power that raised Him from the dead! Even though He was about to leave, they had security in knowing that they were not going to be alone. There are a lot of times in life, as believers, when we feel like we are lonely or isolated. But the Triune God dwells within us as the Holy Spirit. He is a community, and when you enter into a relationship with Him, you become part of that community. John 1:14 says, “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us,” and now he is dwelling within us! We have His power, grace, and truth with us!
2. You are HIS witness to the world!
You are a witness (Acts 1:8). This isn’t saying one day you might be, or you could be, or someday you can be, but it says you will be. That is pretty direct and to the point. There is no waiting once you have entered into a relationship with Christ through accepting Him and putting your faith in Him. You will have the Holy Spirit, you will be a disciple, you will be a witness for Christ, and this statement will apply to you! We are His “My” declaration of grace and restoration to the world (v. 8). We are Christ’s witness. We are not the church’s, Christianity’s, Paul’s, Peter’s, or even your witness, but Christ’s witness. We are God’s plan A to get to Revelation 7:9 “After this I looked, and there was a vast multitude from every nation, tribe, people, and language, which no one could number, standing before the throne and before the Lamb.”
3. Missions is not a destination.
Acts shows us that the mission movement tended to move in circles, not a straight line. As you read, you see an apparent ever-increasing circle of witnesses from Jerusalem moving outwardly, that had a way of doubling back. Missions is about people, not about a place. Jesus demonstrated that missions is not a destination, but a lifestyle focused on going to people. It’s about encountering people and engaging them with Christ. It is not another role to be tossed into the balancing act of life, but the lifestyle that learns to balance God’s heart for the nations and a heart to use us as His witnesses.
4. We see the inclusivity of salvation.
Jesus was continually reminding the Jews that the kingdom and salvation were not just for the Jewish people. In Acts, we see the journey of how the early Jewish Christians grasped the vision of a more inclusive people of God, a global church that transcended man’s prejudices. It is the same today, a call for witnesses for Christ is to exceed all barriers of human prejudices no matter if they are in “Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (v. 8). We see that throughout Scripture—the Triune God is on a journey with humanity and helping them understand that He has a love for the nations and a desire to be inclusive of them in His Kingdom.
We never see the ends of the earth reached in Acts. The Acts 1:8 command is not complete, and it remains in progress. It remains open and inclusive of us today as Christ-followers. This command from Christ was not just for those on the hill that day, but also for us today. We are to engage in Acts 1:8.
Missions is not a cookie-cutter program! Missions is about stewarding and using who God created you to be, the gifts and passions you have to be a witness of your encounter with Christ, and how He changed you. As a college student, you have roughly eight semesters, three to four summers, and four Spring/Christmas breaks. Would you be willing to tithe a semester, summer, break, or your first two years after college to go to the nations?
Take every opportunity to go. Take every opportunity to engage and be Christ’s witness.
If you are looking and want help, check out imb.org/students for a list of opportunities to go for whatever time you can give! We want to help you find a place in Acts 1:8 for you to be Christ’s witness.
Sarah Farley is the Southeast Student Mobilizer Associate with the International Mission Board. She is an Enneagram 7 that loves students, coffee, burgers, SEC football, and connecting with people.