I’ve been on the road the past few days and where I had been it wasn’t possible to get onto the internet.
Before I continue with the message in Acts about the different regions where the gospel was spread, I first want to say something more about Acts 1:6 and Acts 1:8.
In Acts 1:6 the apostles asked: “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”
Through this question, the apostles demonstrate their lack of understanding for God’s plan for the world. In this short sentence, they are basically making three serious errors, which I usually describe as:
- The “who” error
- The “when” error
- The “where” error
The “who” error
The apostles still expected Jesus to do all the work. Jesus had come to earth. Jesus had died. Jesus had been resurrected. And now Jesus had to complete the work by making the kingdom come. The answer that Jesus gives them is: “…you will be my witnesses…” For this, the Holy Spirit was given. God, in His wisdom, chose not to send legions of angels or even to leave Jesus on earth to do the work. It is the task of the believers, making use of the power of the Holy Spirit, to proclaim the kingdom of God to all nations.
The “when” error
“Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” Jesus answers them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority.”
This answer is clear enough. But I think that there is something much deeper in the question that was asked. The apostles had experienced the power of God. They had been chosen by God. As far as they were concerned they were ready to go to heaven. Therefore, in their way of thinking, the logical thing would be for God to bring an end to everything. Those who have been saved will go to heaven and those who had not been saved will be left behind. But this is an extremely selfish way of thinking. From the start it was God’s intention that all nations would be saved. As God had said to Abram: “…all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” A Christian is saved, not (only) to ensure that he / she has everlasting life, but (also) to help other people to find the same salvation.
The “where” error
“Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” The apostles were still focussed on Israel, not realising that God had the entire world in His mind. From the start (Abram) God wanted the whole world to be saved. Israel was merely the tool that He intended to use to proclaim God to all the nations. And therefore Jesus answers: “…you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”