The Focus Of Our Calling

                “He said to them, “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by His own authority.  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.””

                                                                                                                                                                                Acts 1:7-8

                As Luke continues to develop the theme of the Book of Acts he begins to deal with an issue that had the potential to derail the witness of the New Testament Church.  By the way this issue has disrupted the witness of the Church on numerous occasions and even today it continues to be a problem that we must deal with.  The issue is our shifting our focus away from our calling to bear witness to Christ and His awesome grace in order to focus our attention on the specific dates and seasons in which we find ourselves.  The disciples asked Jesus the question which we find so often on our own lips.  “LORD, are you at this time going to restore the Kingdom to Israel?”    We are a curious people.  We want to know the details of future history.  The bible prophetically tells us that the LORD is going to accomplish certain things in the future.  We know this.  We believe the prophesies of the Word of God, but as people who are intensely curious we want to know things that the Father has not chosen to reveal to us.  We search the Scriptures and discern elaborate answers to our questions.  Then we argue with others over our unique interpretations.  We are very much like the disciples.  Therefore the answer which Jesus gives them must form the foundation to our approach to these questions.

                Jesus tells them that it is not for them to know the dates or times that the father has set by His own authority.  Let’s ponder that for a moment.  Future history has been set by the Father’s authority.  He firmly holds it in His own omnipotent hands.  It is therefore secure.  What the Father has promised will be fulfilled in His time and in His way.  It is not up to us to make sure that it happens according to God’s Will.  Jesus tells us that the times and seasons to come are all under the Father’s authority.  This means more than just the date for the return of the LORD.  It means that times of revival and of persecution are set by God and are therefore under His Sovereign control.  When we are in a time of distress when the blessing of God seems to be absent we can look up in faith trusting that the LORD has a wonderful purpose even for this time.  We find ourselves trusting that a season of revival is coming.  We believe this because it is in the Father’s hands and He is absolutely trustworthy.

                Jesus takes His disciples further however.  They are not to speculate on the dates and times because that will take their focus away from the thing that they are to be pursuing.  This is to be firmly in the centre of God’s will by following Jesus into His missionary purpose of bearing witness to the Gospel in the power of the Holy Spirit.  This must begin at home, but the LORD calls the disciples to lift up their eyes and see with clarity the road that He is leading them upon.  As Steven J. Cole Pastor of Flagstaff Christian Fellowship writes in his September 10, 2000 sermon “Doing Jesus’ Work”.  “Note also that our witness must extend towards people that our culture (and even we, by virtue of being raised in our culture) may despise.  The disciples were to be witnesses in Jerusalem, where Jesus had just been rejected and brutally, unjustly killed.  They were to bear witness in Samaria.  The Jews hated the Samaritans and vice versa!  But they were to go into Samaria.  Beyond that, they were to go to the remotest parts of the earth.  Perhaps the disciples thought that they were to go to the Jews who were scattered abroad.  But they soon learned that the same gospel that converts Jews works on Gentiles!  Even so, we must take the gospel to people that we may not naturally like or be drawn to, remembering that it is the power of God for salvation to all who believe (Rom. 1:16).

                One final observation on verse 8: the disciples were to be Christ’s witnesses.  Is this a command or a prophecy?  Both!    There is a sense in which every Christian is a witness.  The question is, are we effective witnesses or are we a hindrance to the cause of Christ?  The word “witness” is a major theme in Acts, occurring 39 times.  Since it is the LORD’s command and since we cannot escape being witnesses of some sort, it behoves us to seek by our Godly lives and by our clear verbal witness to bring glory to Jesus Christ.

                Thus to do Jesus’ work, we need the tools of a solid foundation in the resurrection of Jesus and the message of His Kingdom.  We need the sufficient power of the Holy Spirit.  We need the sharp focus of the Great Commission.”

                It is to this focus that Jesus calls His disciples.  They were to concentrate on being witnesses to His Glory.  They were not to be focused upon that which the Father had reserved for Himself.  That was their task, and it is still our task as the Church of the LORD Jesus Christ today.

By retir158

I am a retired Baptist Pastor living in Leamington Ontario. I am a husband, a father to three and a grandfather to eight.

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