With worldwide events flipping by our eyes like pages of a book being turned by the wind, it is perfectly natural to ponder our generation’s place in the cosmic chronology of things. Not only that, but it seems also that questions are constantly arising as to the timing of Jesus’ return as King and Judge as well as other mysteries of what we like to call “the end time.”
Although my opinion is that we are far closer to such things than we like to think, I am reminded of an occasion in which one of those questions arose in the Bible.
“…When they met together, they asked Him, “Lord, are You at this time going to restore the kingdom of Israel?” (Acts 1:6 NIV).
Consider it. Things had been skipping along pretty quickly, from the beginning of Jesus’ earthly ministry to His crucifixion and then His resurrection. It seems perfectly natural for Jesus’ disciples to wonder about “tying up all the loose ends” (as far as they were concerned).
But I note Jesus’ response to His disciples. It certainly wasn’t the kind of answer they were looking for. It wasn’t a “yes” or “no” but neither was it a rebuke for their having brought up the subject. He knew only too well the reasons for their asking it. Nevertheless, He established a mindset for them that would free them to hear next… something that they really did need to know.
“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 NIV).
So the answer was in essence, “Maybe. Maybe not.” But whether He was imminently overhauling the rule of the world or delaying it for as long as they could reckon, all they needed to know was that He is in charge, that such appointed times were in God’s keeping, and that they need not worry about it. Instead, they could simply focus on the task at hand, which was to carry their eyewitness accounts of what Jesus had done and Who Jesus is to every corner of the world that their lives would carry them.
This passage in Acts 1:8 is a little different than the one in Matthew 28:19-20 which says, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”
This passage is what we call “the Great Commission”. It is a charge to His children to deliberately and intentionally lead people to place their faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and to obey His teaching as Lord and Master. The passage is Acts 1:8 is not a charge, but an observation made by One Who sees what is to come with perfect clarity. It is a “prediction”, or rather, a “prophecy” regarding those disciples who physically heard those words from the Savior’s mouth as well as those who come in later generations who “hear” those words through the reading of His word.
In other words, you and I are a part of a generation raised up for such a time as this that we may be witnesses both of what Jesus has done in our lives and also of Who He is as both Lord and Savior, to every corner of the world that our lives will carry us.
This is an age in which there has been much said of “global thinking” and generally we tend to think that it is a recent concept. But God’s people, when awake and alert to His Spirit’s leading, have always been “global” in their thinking. Are you being a “witness” of Jesus’ love in your own “Jerusalem and Judea?” In other words, is your life a testimony to God’s presence, love, and lordship everywhere you are most at home? In your family? In your friendships? In your church?
And are you being a “witness” in your “Samaria?” At work? At school? In your civic organizations? All those places you frequently conduct the ongoing business of life?
If you feel that the answer is “yes” to the above, what about taking it further? Would you like to see just where God might lead you and what He might do through you if you’ll give Him the chance to do it? There is a whole world out there still in desperate need of the hope that Jesus Christ offers. If He has really made a difference in yours, whose life could He make a difference in through yours? If He really is your Savior and Lord, to whom could you be a witness that their destiny also might be changed from one of death to that of life?
Don’t be afraid that you’re being too forward by believing that God could use you to do such a thing. You’re already set forward. Remember that He says, “You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of Him Who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light” (1 Peter 2:9 NIV).
And don’t be afraid of not knowing enough or of being ineffectual. God has not called you to run in either your own strength or your own wisdom. Instead, “you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be My witnesses… to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8).
If you’re a Christian, then look for opportunities to grow and serve in a local Christian church. Be hungry for more of God in your life. Be thirsty for His Word. Be eager for His Spirit to open doors for you to share and to make a difference in every relationship you have.
If you are not a Christian, then consider the price of not coming to Christ. Consider the heartbreaking loss of losing forever the opportunity to know the joy of knowing God should your life end without having made peace with Him. But also consider the diminished joy of a life that continually puts on hold God’s invitation to salvation even if you think that “one day” you’ll get right with God. Don’t let the future that could be yours become a collection of sad “might-have-beens” by putting off receiving His gift of salvation now. Simply confess your need for Him and that He died because of your sin. Accept in faith that God will grant you His gift of forgiveness and grace. And then, if you have really done that, begin to let Him live His life through you in the company of other, forgiven Believers. And then just watch where God will take you and see how God will bless you!