- BFF Home
- About us
- Life Truths
Acts 1:6-8, The Lord's Great Plan, the second of four sections, shows how the disciples again focused on their comforts rather than God's plan. God's plan expands His kingdom through three developmental stages from Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria right to the very ends of the world.
This is an important question that many of us are asking. What is God going to do? How is it going to work out? If we remember the disciples before the cross, we will remember that their disillusionment arose because they had their own ideas of what would happen. They had such a hard time grasping the Lord's plans because they were so incompatible with theirs. Even after the resurrection, they are still preoccupied with their own hopes of what would happen.
"And so when they had come together, they were asking Him, saying, "Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?" He said to them, "It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority" (Acts 1:6-7).
They did not care about what God wanted to do but to see happen what they dreamed of. ￼They were looking for a restored Israel after their own conceptions. This is the reason they were so dismayed after the cross. Things did not turn out as they hoped. God was differently working things out. There will be a time for these hopes, but there was so much first to do. We often want the reward without the work.
Does this not sound like a big problem among us? We are not really seeking God's will but success. We are only concerned with God when it might influence our own welfare. Who among us are honest to see through our own motivations? The Lord said to Joshua that He will only be successful only if he carefully stays on the Lord's pathway.
"Only be strong and very courageous; be careful to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, so that you may have success wherever you go" (Joshua 1:7).
Jesus answers His disciples in Acts 1:7 that these things, as interesting that they might be, are not for them (or us) to know. God knows them. That is sufficient. If we need to know, then He will convey that information to us. He does go on, though and in verse 8 clearly tells them His plan for them as far it relates to them. This is what they are to focus on for the in between time.
"But you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth" (Acts 1:8).
Some might think that these verses only had to do with the apostles. If they can excuse themselves from the presence of the Holy Spirit in their lives, then they can excuse themselves of responsibility to carry out God's mission. "That is for them." Here are several points that it refers to more than just the 12 apostles.
1) Not only apostles but later 120 Christians gathered in the upper room to pray (1:15).
2) Those present spoke in foreign languages and thus had the Spirit of God (2:4).
3) Many figures in Acts were later found to be witnessing. They were not even in this original scene. Those like Paul the Apostle only later believed.
4) The Book of Acts reveals the expanding kingdom of God. Acts 1:8 is not only an outline of the Book of Acts, but of the future growth of Christendom and marked off by the special sign of the power of God, the giving of the Holy Spirit.
Here is a map of the three stages of God's expanding kingdom.
￼Stage #1: Jerusalem (Acts 1-7)
Jerusalem was reached for Christ largely through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the church starting on the 50th day after Christ's resurrection (i.e. Pentecost). Many thousands of people came to know the Lord. (Many, however, did not believe). We see some persecution, but we also see how the Lord used it to advance the Gospel. According to God's plan as seen in the outline here, it would not be long before the Gospel would reach Judaea and Samaria.
Stage #2: Judea and Samaria (Acts 8-10)
Judea and Samaria was reached through a great number of individuals and significant events. One of the most important, though, was when new believers appeared in Samaria. The Holy Spirit showed up.
"And Philip went down to the city of Samaria and began proclaiming Christ to them." (Acts 8:5). "And there was much rejoicing in that city." (Acts 8:8). Now when the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent them Peter and John, who came down and prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Spirit. For He had not yet fallen upon any of them; they had simply been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they began laying their hands on them, and they were receiving the Holy Spirit." (Acts 8:14-17).
Notice the way Luke summarized the events in 9:31.
"So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria enjoyed peace, being built up; and, going on in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it continued to increase" (Acts 9:31).
The Holy Spirit was first prayed for by the apostles Peter and John, and then God affirmed that this work here in Samaria and Judaea was connected to what went on in Pentecost. This interconnection became very important to those who questioned God's working with those who were not fully Jews. Jesus' words from John 4:23 to the Samaritan woman are significant.
"An hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers" (John 4:23)
Samaritans were half Jews. They were despised but not like the pagans, those with no Jewish blood in them. The expansion of God's kingdom into this arena would bring great change over the whole earth.
Stage #3: Remotest part of the earth (Acts 11-28)
The world would be reached by another breakthrough. This brings us to the familiar and strategic event with Cornelius. Notice God's part in this through the dream. In the end many came to know the Lord when Peter preached. They then started speaking in tongues! Wow. What was he to do? Gentiles now had the Holy Spirit. So Peter had them baptized.
"While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who were listening to the message. And all the circumcised believers who had come with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out upon the Gentiles also. For they were hearing them speaking with tongues and exalting God. Then Peter answered, "Surely no one can refuse the water for these to be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we did, can he?" And he ordered them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to stay on for a few days" (Acts 10:44-48).
This takes us right to the end of the Book of Acts and into our era. God was at work. He is at work. God had a plan. God initiated His plan not only by sending the preacher but preparing hearts in the new places to receive Christ and receiving the Holy Spirit, evidenced by speaking in foreign languages. God wanted us to see this design because it is the design that is to shape our lives.
Without this plan, we can rest and seek comfortable lives. We are part of this plan, however. We are somehow to take our part in it, somewhere and some way. We must labor while it is still light even if we lose our security, promised job offers or wealth.
How much do you pray for God's kingdom to grow in quantity and quality? How much effort do you give to witnessing about Christ among those about you or those far away? How much do you participate in sharing your resources, skills, money and time so that the expansion of God's kingdom is not hampered. God is doing new works in new places. Take a class. Personally get involved by supporting missionaries. God is completing His plan with or without us.
BFF -> Moving our generation's heart and mind closer to the Lord through the powerful truth of God!