By Shawn McMullen
Before he ascended into Heaven, Jesus said to his disciples, “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 1:8).
Jesus’ final instructions to the apostles couldn’t have been clearer. They continue to guide the church in its mission today.
The Voice of Authority
Jesus’ words, “You will be my witnesses . . . to the ends of the earth,” were delivered with divine authority. As the one to whom “all authority in heaven and on earth” has been entrusted (see Matthew 28:18-20), the Lord has the right to demand of us whatever he chooses. And he chooses to send us throughout the world in order to reconcile all nations to him.
The Promise of Power
“You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you.” The Lord didn’t send his disciples out ill equipped. He empowered them with his Holy Spirit to carry out the work he called them to do. Today God’s Holy Spirit dwells within every Christian and accompanies us as we bear witness to Christ at home and abroad.
The Plan of Action
The Lord gave his followers a simple and workable plan for making disciples: start at home and branch out from there. They were to bear witness to him “in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
For many of us, our Jerusalem may include the neighbor next door, a coworker, or even a member of our own family. We serve as his witnesses in this mission field by living with integrity, modeling holiness, and following the pattern Jesus prescribed to a grateful man he freed from demonic possession: “Go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you” (Mark 5:19).
Our journey to Judea and Samaria might involve witnessing for Christ by serving in a regional ministry, taking the gospel to the inner-city poor, or assisting with a church plant in another part of the country. The apostle Paul may not have traveled to the ends of the earth, but he was able to say, “So from Jerusalem all the way around to Illyricum, I have fully proclaimed the gospel of Christ. It has always been my ambition to preach the gospel where Christ was not known, so that I would not be building on someone else’s foundation” (Romans 15:19, 20).
Finally, we bear witness for Christ to the ends of the earth by supporting missionaries in other parts of the world, spearheading the adoption of unreached people groups in our local congregations, and traveling personally to other countries to spread the good news of the gospel.
Getting the gospel to the ends of the earth may seem like a daunting task. But when God’s people take Christ’s commission seriously and do their part to help fulfill it, the work gets done. And souls get saved.