TEXT: Acts 1:10-14
10 And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel;
11 Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.
12 Then returned they unto Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is from Jerusalem a sabbath day’s journey.
13 And when they were come in, they went up into an upper room, where abode both Peter, and James, and John, and Andrew, Philip, and Thomas, Bartholomew, and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon Zelotes, and Judas the brother of James.
14 These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren.
The Power of the Resurrection and the Work of the Church (Powerful Life Lessons from the Aftermath of the Resurrection #5)
When the disciples gathered at the Mount of Olives for their last meeting with Jesus Christ on Earth, the Resurrection was already in the rearview mirror. It was already a past event. The greatest thing that had ever happened in history had already taken place. However, Jesus Christ had previously told the disciples of a second coming — of a return of the King — when He would finish fulfilling the work of the Messiah in the Earth. Surely as Jesus ascended into the clouds, the greatest question on the minds of the disciples was simply, “When is He coming back?”
As we look at the immediate aftermath of the Resurrection, we see the community of believers taking its baby steps as a church. What can we learn from their experience that applies to our Christian lives here and now?
First, we see that we ought to have a missional focus. After Jesus ascended into the sky and disappeared from their site, the Bible tells us that the disciples “looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up.” The disciples were fixated on Jesus’ ascendancy; they were fixated on His entrance into Earth, his exit from Earth, and when and how He would come back. They were so glued to this thought that two angels had to come and ask them, “Why stand ye gazing up into heaven?” And, then, as if to assure them, they said, “this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.”
The angels had to snap them out of their mindset. As you recall from our previous message, Jesus had just commissioned the disciples to be “witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” The angelic message was a gentle nudge to let them know, “You don’t need to be standing here, gazing up into the sky, wondering when Jesus is going to come back. Jesus is going to come back. But, right now, you have work that needs to be done.”
J.P. Lange said, “The question gently rebukes the contemplative, inactive sadness and longing of the disciples, whose glances and thoughts were still directed upwards, as if they wished that it were possible to hasten after their Lord, and abide in his presence; their vocation, on the contrary, consisted, not in gazing inactively in the direction whither he went, but in zealously and vigorously doing his work on earth.”
The church today still has work to do. Jesus Christ will return at the right time. While we wait for His coming, our focus ought to be outward not upward. We ought to be missional in our outlook. The term missional simply means having a missionary understanding of God. In Leadership Journal, Alan Hirsch writes, “By his very nature God is a ‘sent one’ who takes the initiative to redeem his creation. This doctrine, known as missio Dei—the sending of God—is causing many to redefine their understanding of the church. Because we are the ‘sent’ people of God, the church is the instrument of God’s mission in the world.”
Whatever situation you are in, you should see yourself as a missionary — an ambassador — a man or woman on a mission. And that mission is to share the message of the Gospel with a lost and dying world.
Second, we see that we ought to have a unified spirit. After the angels sent them back to Jerusalem, we read that “they went up into an upper room, where abode both Peter, and James, and John, and Andrew, Philip, and Thomas, Bartholomew, and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon Zelotes, and Judas the brother of James. These all continued with one accord…with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren.”
Being with Jesus had caused an unlikely group of people to come together. There were several fishermen, a former tax collector, a former prostitute, women from all walks of life, some whom the Bible called wealthy women, as well as Jesus’ earthly family members. They came together in one accord because Jesus Christ had changed their lives and had sent them out to do His work in the world.
The word “accord” means to bring into agreement or to reconcile, and that is exactly what Jesus did. Not only did He reconcile us to God, but He enabled us to be reconciled with each other. For two thousand years, people who otherwise normally would not come together, have come together under the blood-stained banner.
One commentator notes, “They remained with one accord together, for ‘in union there is strength.’ Still, they did not vainly imagine that they possessed any strength of their own… They were, moreover, not led by pride of office to draw a line of demarcation between themselves and others, but, on the contrary, cordially united with all others who believed on Jesus.”
In the church today, if we cannot agree on anything else, we ought to at least be able to agree on Jesus Christ and on the mission He has sent us out to do in the world. We can have different economic backgrounds, different races, and different cultures, but we can come together in one accord for the proclaiming of the name of Jesus, for the preaching of the Gospel, and for the salvation of lost souls.
Third, we see that we ought to be faithful in service. The Bible tells us that “These all continued…in prayer and supplication.” The Greek word used for continued indicates that the action was repeated over and over again. The word is used to describe existence. In a way, we can understand this to mean that the church existed and endured through the continuous actions of prayer and supplication. Prayer and supplication were the lifeblood of the early church. Why? Because the early believers knew that they could not do all that they set out to do on their own. They still needed Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit just as we do today.
Sometimes, when speaking of the Great Commission, we get the idea that Jesus Christ is up in Heaven looking down at us waiting for us to get ourselves together and carry out His command. That is not the case at all. We fail to really grasp the latter part of the Commission in which Jesus states, “Lo, I am with you always.” We are not alone in our efforts to carry out the work of God in the earth. Ray Stedman said, ” It was never the intention of the Lord that the whole job of planning the strategy of reaching out to the ends of the earth and of mobilizing the resources should fall upon the Christian. When the church attempts the work on this basis, the Lord simply folds his arms and lets us go about our busy ways. He watches us try to fulfill this Great Commission in our own strength, while he stands by and quietly waits until we get over it.”
We need the presence of God and the power of God in order to complete our mission as the church. We need the presence of God and the power of God in order to faithfully carry out our service for God’s kingdom. We can gain that presence and power through continuous prayer and supplication. The early believers spent their time in prayer and supplication in the days before Pentecost when the Holy Spirit came. They prayed for direction and guidance in reaching the Jews. It was through prayer that Peter’s heart and mind was opened to taking the Gospel to the Gentiles as well.
As the early church was consistent in prayer for God’s presence and power, God answered those prayers through the guidance of His Holy Spirit. When Philip was in Samaria preaching the Gospel, a great city-wide evangelistic effort was taking place, but the Holy Spirit told Philip, “Rise and go down into the desert.” Philip went, and he met the Ethiopian eunuch. In Acts 13, the Holy Spirit tells the church at Antioch, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” in Acts 16, Paul says that they tried to go to a certain location, but the Spirit told them no.
The Great Commission was carried out by the early church’s commitment to being faithful to the task to which they had been called by relying on the Holy Spirit through prayer and supplication.
The missional spirit of the church is spurred on by the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The unity of the church is brought about by the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The faithful service of the church is made worthwhile by the resurrection of Jesus Christ. As Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15, ‘if Christ is not risen from the dead, then our preaching and our faith is in vain.’
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If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior, allow me to share with you briefly how you can be saved from your sins and be guaranteed a home in Heaven with God today.
First, please understand that you are a sinner, just as I am, and that you have broken God’s laws. The Bible says in Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”
Please understand that because of your sins, you deserve eternal punishment in hell. Romans 6:23 says “the wages of sin is death…This is both physical death and spiritual death in hell. That is the bad news.
But here is the good news. John 3:16 says “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
If you believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead, and you want to trust Him for your salvation today, please pray with me this simple prayer: Holy Father God, I realize that I am a sinner and that I have done some bad things in my life. I am sorry for my sins, and today I choose to turn from my sins. For Jesus Christ sake, please forgive me of my sins. I believe with all of my heart that Jesus Christ died for me, was buried, and rose again. I trust Jesus Christ as my Savior and I choose to follow Him as Lord from this day forward. Lord Jesus, please come into my heart and save my soul and change my life today. Amen.
If you just trusted Jesus Christ as your Saviour, and you prayed that prayer and meant it from your heart, I declare to you that based upon the Word of God, you are now saved from Hell and you are on your way to Heaven. Welcome to the family of God! Congratulations on doing the most important thing in life and that is receiving Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour. For more information to help you grow in your newfound faith in Christ, go to Gospel Light Society.com and read “What To Do After You Enter Through the Door.” Jesus Christ said in John 10:9, “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.”
God loves you. We love you. And may God bless you.
Daniel Whyte III has spoken in meetings across the United States and in over twenty-five foreign countries. He is the author of over forty books. He is also the president of Gospel Light Society International, a worldwide evangelistic ministry that reaches thousands with the Gospel each week, as well as president of Torch Ministries International, a Christian literature ministry which publishes a monthly magazine called The Torch Leader. He is heard by thousands each week on his radio broadcasts/podcasts, which include: The Prayer Motivator Devotional, The Prayer Motivator Minute, as well as Gospel Light Minute X, the Gospel Light Minute, the Sunday Evening Evangelistic Message, the Prophet Daniel’s Report, the Second Coming Watch Update and the Soul-Winning Motivator, among others. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Theology from Bethany Divinity College, a Bachelor’s degree in Religion from Texas Wesleyan University, a Master’s degree in Religion, a Master of Divinity degree, and a Master of Theology degree from Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary. He has been married to the former Meriqua Althea Dixon, of Christiana, Jamaica for over twenty-seven years. God has blessed their union with seven children. Find out more at www.danielwhyte3.com. Follow Daniel Whyte III on Twitter @prophetdaniel3 or on Facebook.