Ed Stetzer: Finish the Mission Empowered by the Spirit

In Acts 1:6-8 we find the final commission of Jesus. In verse 6 Jesus is asked, “Lord, are You restoring the kingdom to Israel at this time?” It’s as if the disciples were asking Jesus, “Lord, have you read the latest installment of Tim LaHaye’s ‘Left Behind’ series?” Jesus’ disciples seemed inordinately interested in the end times.

At their question, Jesus kindly admonishes them, saying, “It is not for you to know times or periods that the Father has set by His own authority.” They want to talk about the end times. Jesus wants to send them on a mission.

Empowered by the Spirit

Churches are filled with people who are confused about the mission. It’s evident when we consider what packs out a conference or what sermon series excites the people. For many churches today, when pastors address questions on the end times, the church fills up. If you pull out prophecy charts, some dragons with horns, and start naming names and decoding the numbers, you can pack out a conference.

Yet, Jesus says it’s not for us to know. Jesus says “no” to the disciples’ request to know the timing of God’s plan, and he gives them something different entirely. He says, “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.” These words cause a shift that takes place in the disciples’ understanding of mission.

Luke’s story of the church on mission in Acts begins with two revolutionary events. The first event focuses the mission of the church toward the nations and informs the disciples how the mission will be accomplished (Acts 1:8). The second creates the church and empowers it for its mission (Acts 2:1-11). When Jesus responds to his disciples’ questions concerning when the kingdom of Israel will be restored (Acts 1:6), he is not trying to redirect their attention from eschatological speculation or from nationalistic hope in Israel’s kingdom. Jesus says the kingdom will be established through the power of the Spirit, and the hope of Israel is fulfilled by God’s mission being accomplished throughout the world.

We see a Trinitarian focus on the mission of God throughout Scripture. We see it in John 20:21:

“Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.’ After saying this, He breathed on them and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.’”

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Source: Church Leaders