"When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord,
wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? And he said
unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the
Father hath put in his own power. 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 1:6-8)
In the weeks that followed His resurrection, Jesus taught His disciples
"things pertaining to the kingdom of God" (verse 3). In answer to a
question about the timing of Gods Kingdom, the Lord told them not to be
concerned with when the Kingdom will come, but rather to concern
themselves with the task He had given them to accomplish before His
return. A vision of that task and of the means by which it would be
accomplished is given to us in Acts 1:8.
". . . 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."
Gods Spirit was to come upon them to give them power to witness for
Christ. Then they would actively engage in Spirit-empowered witnessing in
Jerusalem where they were, in the whole country of Judea, then in
neighboring Samaria, and eventually to the ends of the earth.
The promise in this verse, of course, anticipated the coming of the
Spirit on the Day of Pentecost. Some say that the events of Pentecost
will never be repeated. Although dispensational and incidental aspects of
that day would be unique, the Christian cannot ignore the fact that many
of the days events have indeed been repeated. The most basic definition
of what happened is in Acts 2:4, ". . . they were all filled with the
Holy Ghost, and began to speak . . .." Two chapters later almost the same
words are used to describe another coming of the Holy Spirit upon the
same but much enlarged congregation:
". . . they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word
of God with boldness." (Acts 4:31)
In some real sense, Pentecost has been repeated again and again, and the
pattern of Acts 1:8 has been enacted repeatedly both in scriptural and
later history. The ever-expanding witness of the Jerusalem church (from
the city to the whole country to the next country to "the uttermost" was
re-enacted at Antioch, Ephesus, and Thessalonica without a doubt! Find
the records in Acts 11, 13, and 19, and also in I Thessalonians 1.
". . . from you sounded out the word of the Lord not only in Macedonia
and Achaia, but also in every place your faith to God-ward is spread
abroad; so that we need not to speak any thing." (verse 8)
The powerful truth is that the words of the Lord Jesus recorded in Acts
1:8 tell us what God wants to do everywhere!
I. Pour Out His Spirit Upon His Servants.
The Lord said, "Ye shall receive power after that the Holy Ghost is come
upon you." This coming of Gods Spirit upon His people was promised in
the gospels and in Acts 1:5 in these terms: "ye shall be baptized with
the Holy Ghost." When it came at Jerusalem, the Bible says, "they were
all filled with the Holy Ghost" (Acts 2:4). In his Pentecostal sermon,
Peter referred to it as the experience prophesied in the words, "I will
pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh" (Acts 2:17). Peter later called it
"the gift of the Holy Ghost" (Acts 2:38). All of these terms were used in
the Book of Luke (the first volume of Lukes two-book contribution to the
New Testament) and related to the ministry of the Lord Jesus. Find these
references in these places:
"Baptized with the Holy Ghost" -Luke 3:16;
"Filled with the Holy Ghost" -Luke 4:1;
"Pour out My Spirit upon" -Luke 3:22, 4:18;
"Gift of the Holy Ghost" -Luke 11:13.
These terms all applied to the same experience, the event that occurred
Ephesians 1:13 says that when we believed in Christ for salvation, we
"were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise." Since the Lord Jesus
arose and ascended to Heaven, every believer in Him has been sealed with
the Spirit when he believed. It happens automatically: Gods Spirit comes
to live in our bodies. The sealing with the Spirit requires no conscious
decision on our part beyond trusting Christ to save us. Ephesians 4:30
agrees with Ephesians 1:13-14 that the Holy Spirit seals us "unto the day
of redemption." We can grieve the Spirit by our sinful attitudes and
actions according to this passage, but He will never leave us until
Christ comes for us.
Then Ephesians 5:18 commands believers to "be filled with the Spirit."
This is a command to be obeyed and requires our conscious cooperation.
Therefore everyone who has been sealed with the Holy Spirit has the
privilege and the obligation to be filled with the Holy Spirit. This is
what God wants to do for all of His people. To be filled with the Spirit
is to experience the full impact of His ministry in our lives. It is to
be controlled by Gods Spirit Who lives within us!
The fullness of the Spirit requires our unquestioning obedience to God.
"And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost,
whom God hath given to them that obey him." (Acts 5:32)
Experiencing the fullness of the Spirit is associated in Luke and Acts
with earnest prayer.
"If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children:
how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them
that ask him?" (Luke 11:13)
"And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled
together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost . . ." (Acts 4:31)
To know the fullness of the Holy Spirit is to enjoy the full range of His
ministry in ones life. In order to receive these blessings, believers
must submit to the will of God and ask in faith for the Spirits power.
In John 14-16 (where the Spirit is called our Comforter or Helper) we
find a list of benefits the Holy Spirit came to bring us:
A. Help in prayer (14:13-14; also Romans 8:26-27);
B. Help in obeying Christ (14:15-17);
C. Help in sensing the presence of God (14:18-23);
D. Help in understanding Gods Word (14:24-26; also I Corinthians 2:12-15);
E. Help in having the peace, love, and joy of Christ (14:27, 15:9-11; also
F. Help in bearing fruit for God (15:1-5, 16, 26-27winning others to
G. Help in showing sinners their need (16:7-11); and
H. Help in getting guidance (16:12-15).
Sadly, many Spirit-sealed Christians know little of the Holy Spirits
ministry in their lives. There is a great need for them to be
Spirit-filled, and God wants to grant this fullness to all of His people.
To be filled with Gods Spirit is not a second work of grace; it is to
know the fullness of what God gave us in the work of His saving grace!
The fleshly way most Christians live and most churches operate proves the
great need we have today for teaching about the Spirit. When believers
are full of the Holy Spirit, there is revival. The very definition of a
New Testament revival is a return to New Testament Christianity, which
can only be lived in the power of Gods Spirit. God wills to pour out His
Spirit, and He waits for His people to repent, submit, and seek Him for
Let us not stumble over the definition of terms in the crucial quest for
revival. Many good people equate being baptized with the Spirit (as in
Acts 1 and 11) with being baptized by the Spirit (as in I Corinthians
12). They want to identify Spirit-baptism with Spirit-sealing rather than
with Spirit-filling. Disagreement on the definition of this term has
existed among Gods people for a long time, but it need not hinder us
from seeking revival. Surely it is clear in Ephesians that those indwelt
by the Spirit are not automatically controlled by the Spirit. Every
believer in Christ should seek to be dominated and empowered by the
Spirit of God for both victory and fruit. "Be filled with the Spirit"!
God has answered the prayer of countless humble Christians who have
sought His fullness over the centuries. He will answer such prayers
II. Make All of His People Into His Witnesses.
Jesus said, "Ye shall be witnesses unto Me." When Gods Spirit is poured
out upon His people, each of them is empowered to be effective in his
witness for Christ. We can see this all over the book of Acts! When the
multitude heard Spirit-filled Peter preach the Gospel on the Day of
Pentecost, "they were pricked in their heart, and said . . . Men and
brethren, what shall we do? . . . and the same day there were added unto
them about three thousand souls" (Acts 2:37 and 41). The Spirit-filled
Christians at Jerusalem went on to win thousands more to Christ in their
city in the weeks that followed, according to Acts 4:4, 5:14, and 6:7.
These soul-winning witnesses were both preachers and laymen, men and
women, old and young, and God used them all! "And with great power gave
the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great
grace was upon them all." (Acts 4:33) God wants to use all of us as His
Sadly, soul-winning today is relegated to a very few in the churches. But
God wants to make all of us into soul-winners! What we lack primarily is
the boldness we need to talk to others about Jesus Christ. When the early
church sensed the tendency to be less bold, they prayed for a new filling
of the Spirit. See this in Acts 4.
"And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants,
that with all boldness they may speak thy word . . . And when they had
prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they
were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with
boldness." (verses 29 and 31)
The prayer for boldness led to a new filling of the Spirit, and the new
filling made powerful witnesses out of everybody!
Chapters 3 through 5 of the Acts emphasize how two apostles in particular
(Peter and John) were made powerful witnesses for Christ. Then Chapters 6
through 8 show how He made two deacons (Stephen and Philip) into
effective witnesses. Acts 8:4 states plainly that most of the people
witnessing for Christ in the early days were what we call "laymen,"
church-members with no gift or calling to preach or pastor. When the
Jerusalem church was broken up by persecution, the members were
"scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the
apostles" (Acts 8:1). Then we read that "they that were scattered abroad
went every where preaching the word." Non-preachers were preaching the
Word! Chapter 9 of Acts tells us that newly-converted Saul "straightway
preached Christ" (verse 20). Without question, the great spiritual
awakenings of the first century were produced by the boldness of the
Christians in proclaiming salvation in Christ.
New Christian churches were organized throughout Judea and Samaria
through the witnessing members of the Jerusalem church (See Acts 8:5-6,
12; 9:31). The Ephesian church formed churches all over the province of
Asia, and among them were the churches to which the Book of Revelation is
addressed (Chapters 1-3). When the members of a Christian congregation
were filled with the Holy Spirit, they were made into fruitful
evangelizers and their efforts produced conversions and new churches all
over the area. Of course, this was the promise of Acts 1:8!
God wants you to be a powerful witness for Christ. God wants your church
to be a great team of Spirit-endued soul-winners! There are many that no
one can reach except you. The world will never hear the Gospel as long as
Christians depend on the pastors and evangelists to do all of the
witnessing. We can be sure that God desires to transform the lives of
believers today to make them all dedicated ambassadors for His Son.
III. Give Every Local Church a Worldwide Ministry.
It was to the core of the Jerusalem church that the Lord Jesus said,
"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."
A very important word in this promise is the word "both." Every local
church is to witness for Christ "both" in its local community or city,
and in the surrounding area, and also in the neighboring country, and
finally to "the uttermost part of the earth." Unfortunately today, many
"missionary" churches have a weak evangelistic impact in their own
communities. Sadly also many "evangelistic" churches have very little to
do with missionary evangelism in far-off places. We have problems with
the word "both"! Clearly, the Lord does not present each church with an
"either-or" choice, but instead He calls for every Christian congregation
to minister the Gospel "both" locally and globally. There were only one
hundred twenty in the prayer meetings that led to the first revival at
the Jerusalem church, but Jesus told them that they would "be witnesses"
for Him "unto the uttermost part of the earth." So He says again to any
church that will seek the filling of His Spirit and submit to His command
In 1700, a man was born who was to play an important role in the history
of revival, evangelism, and missions. He was Nicholas von Zinzendorf, the
son of a wealthy nobleman who was brought up under the "Pietist" teaching
of the godly Francke. As a young man, Nicholas dedicated his life to the
service of Christ after viewing a powerful depiction of the crucifixion
in a great art gallery. When he assumed control of the family estate in
Moravia, Zinzendorf opened the property as a haven for Protestant
refugees from all over Europe. A community of Christians seeking asylum
from persecution grew up on the Zinzendorf property, and it was called
Herrnhutt. But all was not peaceful at Herrnhutt. The ethnic, language,
and doctrinal differences among those who settled there produced
conflicts that deeply disturbed both Count Zinzendorf and the Herrnhutt
pastor. In 1727, several efforts were made to establish unity among the
brethren. The earnest prayers and remarkable gatherings of the Moravian
church in those days led to one of the most amazing revivals in history.
A participant described it this way: "The Holy Ghost came upon us and in
those days, great signs and wonders took place in our midst." The people
put themselves at Gods disposal for the evangelization of the world! Up
until that time, the Protestants had made no effort to spread the gospel
to heathen lands, although the Reformation was already two centuries old!
An around-the-clock prayer vigil was organized at Herrnhutt, with
families agreeing to pray for the needs of the world at a certain hour
each day. This amazing vigil lasted one hundred years! Members of the
church volunteered to go as missionaries and evangelists to other
countries. Moravian missions to Jamaica, Surinam, England, the American
Indians, Labrador, and other lands and peoples began the Protestant
missionary movement, and provided inspiration for later missionary
efforts. One of the Moravian evangelists was Peter Bohler, who went to
England and was instrumental in the conversions of John and Charles
Wesley and in the igniting of spiritual fire in the heart of George
Whitefield. The ministries of these great men were very important to the
great eighteenth century revivals, both in England and America. Truly,
God gave the congregation at Herrnhutt a world-wide ministry, "both" at
home and "unto the uttermost part of the earth."
God wants to do these things at your place, too: (1) pour out His Spirit
upon His servants, (2) make all of His people into His witnesses, and (3)
give every local church a world-wide ministry. He did it in Jerusalem; He
did it in Antioch; He did it at Ephesis; He did it again in Thessalonica.
He will do it anywhere His people will believe and surrender for Him to
When the group gathered upon the Mount of Olives heard these words of
Jesus, what did they do about them? They gathered the little flock for a
ten-day prayer meeting that ended at Pentecost. Churches today should
also begin to pray together for God to fulfill Acts 1:8 where they live
and serve. Some will object and say that "our little church" certainly
cannot be expected to have a world-wide ministry. Surely, some will think
or say, Acts 1:8 cannot be about us! But this is the crucial point. These
amazing things are not about us, who we are or what we can do. They are
about God in us, what He can do and wants to do through us! Surely we
must let God have His way and glorify His name in our lives.
This Article Was Written By
Dr. Rick Flanders
Based Upon A Sermon He Has Preached
In Several Conferences on Revival
by Dr. Rick Flanders
currently Pastor of
Juniata Baptist Church
Juniata Baptist Church|
5656 Washburn Road
Vassar, MI 48768