Summary: God honors his people with ambassadorships in his government.
Today we read the introduction of a letter written by the physician, Luke, to a dear friend. Since at least AD 300, the church has called this book, “The Acts of the Apostles,” because Dr. Luke tells the continuing story of the work of Jesus through his chosen and appointed messengers. But from around the eighteenth century, many pastors suggested that we call it, “The Acts of the Holy Spirit.” The apostles certainly were the instrument through whom God worked, but God was working!
When skeet shooting, you must have a gun; it is essential to the task. But without shotgun shells, the gun is useless. The ammunition is the action, the power, the force within the gun. So it is similar with man and God in the continuing work of the King. People are essential to the work—you are essential—because God has ordered that his kingdom spread through your ambassadorship; you are his representatives. But we are cold steel, dead and useless, unless and until the Holy Spirit fills our chambers and empowers our service. The analogy is imperfect, but the reality is close—we are both essential and useless, “jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us” (2Corinthians 4.7). The power belongs to God, yet he honors us with an extraordinary privilege. With that honor ringing in our ears, let us hear how Jesus appointed the apostles and established the pattern for spreading the grace and truth of his kingdom. [Read Acts 1.1-11. Pray.]
At our Sabbath group, I asked each person to share their favorite verse or story from the Bible. Many wonderful passages were remembered, showing us (among other things) that God uses the whole of his word to touch the hearts of his people; he applies each according to his or her needs.
One of my favorites is in 2Corinthians 5: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
Those words touch my heart for many reasons; this morning, however, I would draw your attention to the phrase: “we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us.” Wow! If it were not in the Bible, we would think it heresy to give such honor to a human. An ambassador is a direct representative, one who speaks for another.
In the context Paul is discussing the work of the evangelist, so some might suspect that this applies to me (the pastor) but not to you. However, Peter says that God has made all Christians into a “chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1Peter 2.9).