The book of Acts powerfully chronicles the establishment of the early Christian church. The Holy Spirit takes center stage throughout Acts beginning with the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit falling on the apostles. Peter is used mightily to proclaim Jesus as savior and the Bible says in Acts 2:17, “And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.” It is obvious the apostles took the great commission seriously they traveled throughout the land making disciples of Jews and Gentiles alike. Churches were established, ministries were strengthened and encouraged by these apostles but they were not met without opposition. Not everyone was interested in receiving Jesus as their savior. Many were content serving their traditions or their pagan gods but the apostles continued their journeys, wiping the dust from their feet of cities who did not receive them. The apostle Paul, who once persecuted Christians, now stood alongside these disciples as a fellow witness of the saving power of Jesus Christ. From his conversion on the road to Damascus, Paul knew he was chosen and would suffer much for the cause of Christ. We are told in Acts 9:15-16, “But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man (Paul) is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel. I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.”
As Paul traveled from city to city he met with many types of persecution; from floggings to beatings to times in prison but these ordeals never hindered his preaching of the Gospel. Paul states in Acts 20:22-23, “And now, behold, I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there: Save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me.” In other words Paul is obligated by the Holy Spirit to go to Jerusalem even though he doesn’t know what will happen to him there. He does know that in every city the Holy Spirit confirms he will be met with imprisonment and suffering. So what does Paul do…he goes to Jerusalem. Knowing he will suffer at the hands of those who oppose the Gospel. Paul goes at the command of the Holy Spirit willing to suffer and if necessary die for the name of the Lord Jesus.
I Peter 4:1 states, “Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin.” Jesus’ mind was focused on obeying the Father, speaking only what His Father wanted Him to speak. Nothing stopped Jesus from fulfilling His purpose in God, not even the pain of the cross. We too must have that same mind to speak what the Father has given us to speak to allow the Holy Spirit given to us by Jesus to speak through us and led us as we build God’s kingdom (“…the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works. But that the world may know that I love the Father; and as the Father gave me commandment, even so I do.” ~John 14:10,31). Choosing Christ means we will suffer in our flesh because Satan so greatly opposes Christ and all of us who follow after Him. (Yea and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution ~2 Timothy 3:12)
As we draw closer to the second coming of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ we are challenged by God’s word to be alert, sober minded, loving each other, using our gifts to serve others and continuing the great commission Jesus gave to the disciples. Our faith must reach past “God, please pay the mortgage and the car note” and reach to “God, save my family and help me witness to the lady I see at the bus stop every day”. The Bible says God will take care of all of our needs. We must focus on His kingdom (Matthew 6:33). I am challenged to pray for boldness in the Holy Spirit and the opportunity to share Christ with someone who doesn’t know Him yet. I am challenged that even in opposition and in the face of persecution I will boldly proclaim Jesus as Lord and yield to the work of the Holy Spirit. I challenge you to arm yourselves likewise.