Acts 1:1-11: You Will Be My Witnesses
January 1, 2023
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
When we start to read any book—especially a book of the Bible—it is important to have a basic sense of direction and the purpose and style or genre of the book. Acts is the second volume in Luke’s two volume work of Christian origins. His first volume, known to us as Luke’s Gospel, was also written to “Theophilus,” probably a high-ranking official who was the benefactor of Luke’s writing. In that first volume, Luke set out to show the “certainty” of the things that we have been taught about Jesus. That Jesus really did historically and factually live, die and rise again.
But now we come to his second volume. What is Luke’s purpose with what is known to us as “the Book of Acts”? Luke frames his work around the matters of the kingdom. Luke’s concern is to show Jesus’ ongoing and continuing work—the work of his kingdom—by his Spirit through the faithful witness of his people, the church. The gospel of the kingdom is announced at the start of Acts as something that will go from Jerusalem to Judea to Samaria to the ends of the earth. And by the end of the book, we find Paul witnessing to the gospel of this kingdom in the center of the known world at the time, the great ancient city of Rome. But by finishing as Luke does, he indicates that the expansion of the kingdom of Jesus did not finish with the close of Acts chapter 28. It still carries on—and so the purpose of Luke in his second volume of Acts is to cast a vision for God’s people to be involved in kingdom expansion by witnessing to the resurrection of Jesus in the power of his Spirit.
We are, as it were, not to be passively wondering when Jesus will return (1:10), but instead actively witnessing to him in the power of his Spirit (1:8).
In other words, as you read these words at the start of this New Year would you do three things.
First, would you ask God to empower you by his Spirit to enable you to be witnesses to Jesus at home, at work, and through your own personal ministry? Prayer for the Spirit’s empowering is the great secret to effectiveness in Christian witness. Would you pray for God’s Spirit to empower you this New Year to witness boldly and without fear of man to the risen Lord Jesus.
Second, having asked Jesus for his empowering, would you then act in faith that he will empower you. This does not mean shoving the gospel down the throats of every person whether they are willing recipients or not. But it does mean keeping an eye out for opportunities and then making the most of them when they come. In other words, don’t simply ask Jesus to empower you, having asked, then act in faith that when you open your lips to witness God will give you words to say.
Third, would you do what is necessary this year to stay filled with God’s Spirit? That will mean going to church regularly. Attending each week. The early disciples met together in worship every single day. Once a week is the least we can do. Would you get into a small group for fellowship and accountability? Would you pick three good books to read and then read them? Would you repent of any known sin and ask God to help you be holy this year following the principles of holiness in the Bible? In other words, do not only ask for God’s empowering of his Spirit, do not only act upon the faith that God will empower, but also seek to become the kind of person who is increasingly like Christ and so witnesses not just in what you say but who you are to the power of the risen Lord Jesus.
The Book of Acts is one of the most exciting books to read in the New Testament. We are in for quite a ride. I invite you to join as we study it together each morning, and invite others to sign up for the devotionals by clicking here.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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