Many in my world, from friends to audience members, have shared a struggle with what…
It is common for the human mind to reach conclusions that sound logical even though they aren’t true. For instance:
- I need to look out for myself because no one else will.
- Living together before marriage is like test-driving a car before you buy it.
- We should be tolerant of everyone and their views.
- The hope of our country is in our next President.
- You can reason with two-year olds.
- God’s goal for our lives is to make us happy.
In Acts 1, we encounter the disciples trying to grasp what it means that Jesus rose from the dead. It was an awesome experience for them as “He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God.” (v. 3) He performed miracles, shared meals with them and taught them about God’s plans for the future. On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” (v. 4-5) We realize this is a reference to that great day when the church was born and the Holy Spirit began indwelling believers. Prior to Pentecost, the Holy Spirit would come upon people to perform supernatural deeds but He would then leave once again. The resurrection now made it possible for God’s Spirit to live in our lives continuously so that His power and guidance would be perpetually available.
It was harder for the disciples to figure this out, however. Their response was, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” (v. 6) They were still stuck on the thought that the goal of Jesus’ ministry was to take back control of the nation of Israel and restore its political, military and financial standing. On their own, they could not imagine the supernatural partnership they were about to enter into. It wasn’t that they lacked the intellectual ability, they just didn’t have the spiritual horsepower to discern what God was doing. Paul reminded Titus that in the case of those who do not know Jesus “both their minds and consciences are corrupted.” It is a good reminder that there is an internal battle in our minds. “Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.” As a result, reaching the right conclusions in life is as much a spiritual activity as it is a rational exercise.
In Acts 1, Jesus’ followers had plenty of enthusiasm, sincerity, and devotion. It just wasn’t enough. The real goal was to transform the disciple into witnesses for Christ who would turn the world upside down. People’s personal salvation was going to be the focus of the church age rather than national prominence and it would take supernatural strength to keep it straight. That is why Jesus said to them, “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (v. 7-8)
We will all be faced with decisions today. For my part, I am asking for the power of the Holy Spirit who dwells in me to help me reach the right conclusions.