The Lord Jesus commissioned His disciples with the seemingly impossible task of going into a hostile world (evidently unaccepting of Christ seeing that they crucified Him openly) to be His witnesses – of His person, resurrection and forgiveness and remission of sins in His name.
Cue Luke 24:46-49 and Acts 1:8
…and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
The Lord stated that they were not only eyewitnesses of His death and resurrection but recipients also, benefactors of the repentance and forgiveness of sins received and is now available to all in His name and needs to be proclaimed and made public to everyone. It is as if the Lord was saying, “It is now for you to pass it on, pass on what you have seen, experienced and received and for me to provide you with the power and means of achieving the all-important task of witnessing to all nations.”
The disciples’ response to the task which Jesus charged them with is recorded for us in Acts 1:14
All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.
The believers returned to Jerusalem and staying there as commanded by Christ, united in prayer as they awaited the arrival of the Holy Spirit promised by Him. They had no idea (nor were they given any) about the mode of His arrival. They just waited obediently in prayer without any preconceived ideas and presumptions on the way the promise would be delivered. Nobody could have guessed the mode of His arrival when the Holy Spirit did make His entrance on the day of Pentecost.
Three very important principles associated with the apostles’ response stand out as lessons for us today.
- An open mind
The disciples had and maintained an open mind throughout this waiting period because of the element of the unknown in how the Holy Spirit would arrive. It was an open invitation for God to send His Spirit however He wished to do so. They held open the door for the Spirit’s arrival in any form or shape. They did not limit Him to any previous experience they had or had heard about but were, quite simply, open and receptive. So should we as we seek and await the baptism in the Holy Spirit in acknowledgment of God’s greatness, unpredictability and unlimited resourcefulness. God cannot be bound by anything or anyone let alone experiences.There was an unknown element here but these disciples had enough to go by – the promise of Christ and the fact that He stressed that they were to wait for empowerment by the Holy Spirit for their mission. This was sufficient for them to wait for the Spirit to arrive even though they had no idea of exactly when or what form His arrival would take.There was a marked absence of any formula among the disciples as they waited upon the promise of God. There was no placing God in a box, no limitations, no restrictions, no presuming to know it all when it comes to God and His working. These are precisely the presumptions that we too should actively avoid, the feeling that God is limited to what we know from experience – be it ours or others’, contemporary or recorded in scripture.
- An expectant heart
It was obvious the apostles had an expectant heart and attitude of something imminent that was about to happen as they dug in prayer demonstrating active faith and trust in the promise of the Lord Jesus Christ. The unabated, continuous prayer they were all engaged in as one was evidence of an expectant heart reflective of an active faith in the promises of the almighty who is faithful to always and unfailingly deliver.Maintaining a hunger and desire through repeated and varied exposure to the word is vital to receiving the promise of God. Continually reminding ourselves, of the essentiality and benefits, the empowering baptism in the Spirit was designed to bring to our lives is key to continually seeking it with an expectant and believing heart.
- A waiting stance
A waiting was involved. They took the Lord for His word and dug in no matter how long it would take – they continued in prayer until it happened. These were people who were mindful that the promises of God always require the twin ingredients of faith and patience in order to be inherited – God’s promises never happen without the active presence of these two ingredients. The writer to the Hebrews affirms this in Hebrews 6:12 while at the same time sounding a cautionary note not to be lazy or sluggish when it comes to God’s promises but to be proactive in grabbing hold of them through these very ingredients that are necessary and vital for its attainment …so that you won’t become sluggish but will be imitators of those who inherit the promises through faith and
Like the disciples, we too need to engage in the proactive invoking of the promise of God in our lives through sustained prayer and not become sluggish eventually leading to indifference and failure to inherit the very promise God gave to each one of us.