With every job description comes information about the task at hand: what have I to do? Who do I report to? What resources are available to me and where will I work?
In this short article I want to think about the ‘job description’ of the believer, using Acts chapter one verse eight:
‘But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.’ (Acts 1:8 KJV)
Who has authorised this mission? Where does the power behind our mission lie? What is the subject and extent of this mission?
The mission: its doctrine.
This verse tells us exactly what we should go out teaching. We are to be witness of HIM. We have to go out and share with the Lost who Christ is, what He has done and how people must respond to Him.
Paul says elsewhere: ‘But we preach Christ crucified’ (1 Corinthians 1:23). He counted it a privilege, as should we, to preach among the nations the unsearchable riches of Christ. Christ says ‘I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me’ (John 12:32).
The Doctrine of the Mission is the risen Christ. His virgin birth, His sinless life, His vicarious death for sin, His victorious resurrection and His future return. His goodness, glory, grace, gravity and grandeur, as recorded in His Word and enjoyed by the believer experientially is the grand subject of the evangelist’s discourse. Word-centred and Christ-exalting preaching is the only promised means of mission success. In order to fulfil this mission, there are indisputable truths about Christ that we must know, but beyond that we must come to know Christ from lived experience and preach out of that personal enjoyment, His indescribable glory and unspeakable riches. The person who makes Christ the subject of his study and the object of his adoration will never lack material worth sharing.
The Mission: its director
From Acts 1:8 we learn that the global mission is a divine imperative and instruction. The authority for mission comes direct from headquarters and the directive comes from the church’s head Himself, the Lord Jesus Christ. No higher authority is needed nor sought. Mission is simple obedience to our risen Lord. It is to our Saviour and Lord we owe a great debt of gratitude and the one to whose cause we have pledged allegiance, who commissioned us to His service with the words ‘Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel” (Mark 16:15). Let’s follow the example of Paul who said before King Agrippa: ‘I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision’ (Acts 26: 19)
Word-centred and Christ-exalting preaching is the only promised means of mission success
The Mission: its dynamism
Just as our directive is divine so too is our dynamism and power of divine origin. The mission will not be completed by human might, nor human wisdom. Human energy flags, human courage fails, human perseverance falters. Human knowledge is limited, earthly wisdom is lacking and human schemes must be laid aside. The dynamic power behind mission is the power of the Holy Spirit himself. It is so needful that we are endued freshly with the Holy Spirit’s power to enable and empower us for dynamic, effectual service in mission. We must take heed to the scripture that states ‘not by might nor by power but by my Spirit says the Lord of hosts’. There is a tendency on our part to rush to frenetic activity for the Lord but here, right at the beginning of the spread of the Gospel, a lesson is taught that perhaps we desperately need to relearn. The power for mission is that of the Holy Spirit. We must learn again to wait upon the Lord until we are filled with the Spirit, praying in the Spirit, being led by the Spirit and walking in the Spirit, endowed with the necessary power from above to fulfil our mission and calling.
The Mission: its direction
The believers, in Acts chapter one, were to be witnesses in their immediate locality, their own nation, the neighbouring regions and in an ever widening circle of missional activity – ultimately to the uttermost parts of the earth. We can be overwhelmed by the depth of the need, the magnitude of the task and the paucity of our own resources. This task was beyond them, as it is us, but they began where they were. No single evangelist can complete the mission. This is the corporate commission for the church throughout the entire day of grace, but within this we each play a part fulfilling our own calling whether local, regional, national or international. With eyes that are open to those in our immediate vicinity, we must each fulfil our local calling but with hearts, eyes and prayers large enough to catch the global vision of a God, whose gospel plans are bigger than we can conceive, that the gospel might ultimately reach to the uttermost parts of the earth. Like the believers in Acts 1, let us start from where we are and who knows where we will end up?
The Lord Jesus Christ is our director and our doctrine, the Holy Spirit provides the dynamic power to achieve what we never could alone and the direction of travel is that chosen by the great missionary David Livingstone ‘I will go anywhere, provided it be forward.’