Summary: God calls us all to be Jesus' witness to a lost and dying world. It is a command of Jesus. Will we "deliver the mail" or stash it away?
Acts 1:4–8 (NKJV)
OPENING ILL: In 1994 Congress investigates the mail system after millions of undelivered letters are uncovered in Washington. During a surprise audit, the U.S. Postal Service discovered that some local managers had temporarily stashed unprocessed mail in parked trailers so that supervisors wouldn’t notice it as delayed. Auditors found millions of pieces of undelivered mail, including 2.3 million bulk-business letters, some of which were delayed nine days, and 800,000 first-class letters, which had been held for three days. What should the penalty be when the people entrusted with delivering something fail to do the work? The world may not be expecting the delivery, but they are awaiting the message of the good news concerning God sending his Son. We must be faithful to deliver the message. (1)
We are officially now in the Christmas season. The time of year when we celebrate the coming of Christ into the world. However, look around, there our those in our culture who are doing all they can to take :Christ” out of Christmas. Is it possible to have a “Christless” Christmas? Yet many in the world is doing just that including many so-called Christians. Part of the problem is the world completely misunderstands why Jesus came into the world.
John 3:17 (NKJV) For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.
Herein is the situation, the whole world, apart from Jesus, stand condemned, damned to an eternity of separation from God. But, you know the verse, for God so loved that He gave, gave us Jesus, to pay the penalty of death because of our sins on the cross.
We have a message for the world. The good news of the Gospel has been entrusted to us. What will do with it? Hoard it away?
Stash it like yesterday’s newspaper? Wait for a more convenient time? Will we neglect to deliver the mail? Jesus gave us a command:
Acts 1:8b (NKJV) . . . you shall be witnesses to Me . . (most all other translations has "you shall be My witnesses")
We are going to examine this command. And it is a command. Jesus did not say you might be my witnesses. Jesus did not say be a witness if it is convenient. He said you shall, you will be, my witnesses.
Interesting word “witness.” In the Greek the word is “martyres.” This is where we get out word Martyr from. It means to bear a true testament, even to the death. The same root word is translated testimony. To give a testimony is a legal term. It means simply to tell what you know to be the truth.
The testimony of Jesus Christ is a powerful thing to possess and to profess. We read from revelation how the tribulation saints will overcome the evil one.
Revelation 12:11 (NKJV) And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.
By the blood of the Lamb and by their testimony. the Greek word is "martyria" and they love the word of their testimony more than their earthly lives.
But let’s put this command of Jesus to be a witness into context. To understand the depth of the command. let’s begin in verse 4
Acts 1:4 (NKJV) And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, “which,” He said, “you have heard from Me;
The disciples were not quite yet apostles. They were still followers and students. Apostles means the ones sent and sent with authority. They were not yet ready to go. They had not yet received the the Promise of the Father. And what was the promise of the Father?
Luke 24:49 (NKJV) “Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high.”
It was power from on high. The very power of God. How will this power come?
John 14:16 (NKJV) And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever—
The Holy Spirit is that Helper. The word in the Greek is "Parakletos" . The Spirit will help guide, will consul, and will give power.
Acts 1:5 (NKJV) for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”
These first disciples were first baptized with water, and then they received the baptism of the Holy Spirit. But later in Acts and as happens today, we receive the Holy Spirit at the moment of conversion, and we are then baptized by water to show the world what has already happened on the inside and spiritually. Here is the prophecy of John Baptist: