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Chapter 2: The Apostolic Canopy – An Acts 1:8 Strategy
An Eight Point Strategy
He 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.” (Acts 1:7-8)
This statement was Jesus’ response to the disciple’s initial question, “Are you at this time going to restore Israel?” Although Jesus gave previous hints in Luke 24:49, the disciples had one thing in mind; the restoration of Israel to the glory of its zenith epoch. However, this is not what Jesus had in mind, He wanted more than the restoration of Israel; He desired the restoration of all mankind. His plan would include not only the restoration of the Jewish people but also the restoration of all the Gentile nations.
The details of this new strategy are revealed during this forty-day, post-resurrection period. The Great Commission is mentioned in all four of the gospels, and for the fifth time we find it in Acts 1:8 formatted in a different way. This Scripture reveals a more specific strategy than the other four versions reveal. In essence this strategy revealed a progressive geographical movement from a local epicenter that would extend to global proportions. The further they removed themselves from Jerusalem the more challenges they would encounter with language, cultural beliefs and varied pagan philosophies. If we dissect and study this passage carefully and breakdown each section we can discover God’s intent and strategy to save a misplaced humanity.
Ironically, Jesus established one purpose in the minds of His disciples, that of continuing the ministry expansion of the kingdom of God on earth after His departure. He associated this purpose with eight points that he alluded to in Acts 1:8. The first one starts with people, which include you and I. (Please take note of the italic words in the Scripture passages that follow after each headline.)
Point #1: People – “But you…”
God’s initial intent was to bring the good news of salvation through His Son, Jesus. First, Jesus in His earthly ministry demonstrated the kingdom and then taught His disciples (Acts 1:1). He then turned this responsibility over to the most unusual people. No one would have considered and chosen these twelve men to be on their team. Jesus did. The team consisted of a few fishermen, a tax collector, a zealot and others. All of which were Galileans with the exception of Judas Iscariot who came from the southern part of Israel. Many of these Galileans were unschooled (illiterate) and ordinary (idiots) men (Acts 4:13), while others were from the marketplace arena. This was not a dream team by any standards. The apostle Paul in his letter to the Corinthians noted:
Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things and the things that are not to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before Him. (1 Corinthians 1:26-29)
God was going to use the most unusual people to spread His gospel to a lost world. His purpose for choosing these men was so they would understand that salvation and the miracles would be wrought by divine intervention, not by man’s ability or ingenuity. God would receive the credit for the blind receiving their sight, the lame walking, the dead rising to life, and countless of people coming to Christ.
Point #2: Promise – “But you will receive…”
Jesus spoke about this promise during his public ministry:
I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city [Jerusalem] until you have been clothed with power from on high. (Luke 24:49)
But it was a particular itinerant preacher, by the name of John the Baptist, who initially pointed to the Messiah as the One who could baptize them with the promised Holy Spirit:
I baptize you with water, but He [Jesus] will baptize you with the Holy Spirit. (Mark 1:8)
Jesus not only promised them the Holy Spirit but He would be the one who would fulfill His own promise. This promise, found in Joel 2:28, was fulfilled by the ascended Christ in the second chapter of Acts. Jesus had spent forty of His post resurrection days with His apostles reminding and revealing to them His kingdom strategy. Among the many strategies He shared with them was the promise of the Holy Spirit. This promise would be fulfilled fifty days out from His resurrection. The disciples did not know exactly when this promise would be fulfilled but only that it would happen soon. They simply believed and acted upon His words.
It was to all flesh, from the least to the greatest, that God promised to pour out His Spirit; to His sons and daughters, maiden and handmaiden, young and old alike. This Old Testament promise came to fruition on the day of Pentecost following Jesus’ death and resurrection. It was, indeed, a wonderful gift from heaven. When God promises you and me something it will come to pass in the timing that He decrees. However, what did this promise produce in his people? It provided them with a divine ability to produce tangible results in a world consumed by pain, infirmity and death. This power would now be available and operable in God’s people.
Point #3: Power – “But you will receive power…”
What was the by-product of this promise? The product was the supernatural power required to proclaim the good news of the kingdom with authority. This power brings forth powerful results. God foreknew that this new message was not going to be received very well by His own people, the Jews, much less the pagan world. This unpopular message was going to be opposed, ridiculed and rejected by men. Those who spoke its message were going to be threatened, persecuted and even martyred for their faith. So the Father knew that we needed to demonstrate His power so that His love would be made known to humanity. When we are perfected in His love it casts all fear away, and threats of death have no impact upon our lives.
The Greek word for power is dunamis meaning to “possess a supernatural ability, a power or force needed to authenticate ones dominion and accomplish the mission.” From this word, we derive the English word for dynamite. God provided the formula where a supernatural explosion would bring a demise to the works of the enemy.
Also with this power He would send out His people to preach to the lost, those with hearts of stone. As explosives penetrate the hard surface of the ground to loosen it, the Word of God would be a powerful force to soften the heart of man and remove any hindrances or excuses. Man’s hearts would be opened to receive this free gift of salvation. This power to affect change in a person’s life is the product of this promise.
This power gives us the ability beyond any human prowess imaginable. It is a divine power to destroy the works of darkness and bring it under God’s dominion. This power removes and overcomes any fear of persecution, ridicule and death. In the book of Acts “unschooled and ordinary men” stood in times of persecution and spoke the message of the Savior with boldness. Boldness to proclaim an unpopular message is a sign of the Holy Spirit’s presence operating in one’s life. Through this power He gives us the courage to stand in the midst of opposition and persecution to speak His message with authority. This scenario happened in the first few chapters of the book of Acts.
Point #4: Pentecost – “But you will receive power when…”
The word when denotes a specific time. When would this promise take place? It would happen during the Jewish feast of Pentecost. Pentecost is a word signifying fifty; a feast that occurred fifty days after the Passover festivities for the Jewish people. It was significant because they celebrated the ingathering of the wheat harvest for the season. On that day they would present to God the finished product of the wheat harvest in a first fruits offering. After the fifty-day harvest, two bread loaves were presented to represent the completion of this season. It was a celebrative time of thankfulness and rejoicing. How does this parallel with Christian Pentecost? It signifies the completion or the fulfillment of a promise; a new breed of Christians would arise and become like Jesus. They would represent the finished product of Christ work. Jesus would now be multiplied in and through His chosen ones.
The wheat and barley sheaves were reaped and waved in the air on the first day of this harvest. This action of waving the sheaf represented Jesus’ resurrection. He was the first-fruits of many more that would soon follow. After the initial fifty days the apostles would gather 3,000 new believers in a spiritual harvest. It was on this day that God would send the promised gift of the Holy Spirit to 120 people praying and seeking His face in the upper room. As they received the Holy Spirit in a dramatic way, they began to speak in “other tongues” which was heard by the masses of people crowding the streets of Jerusalem. The heavenly language spoke to a multilingual and multigenerational crowd. Many of the Jews visiting Jerusalem for the annual festivities heard the wonders of God in their own language. This phenomenon is referred to as the miracle of languages.
This strange new phenomenon drew an audience to the speaker who happened to be Peter. He would explain this “new thing” occurring in their midst. Peter preached a sermon that convicted and convinced 3,000 Jews to believe upon the message of salvation. This reaping of souls was analogous to the natural reaping of the wheat harvest. This mass conversion was the first harvest of souls through a believer after the death and resurrection of Jesus. An “uneducated” man, by the name of the apostle Peter, who was anointed and empowered by the Holy Spirit to deliver the first message. This day would be known as the birth of the Christian church.
Point #5: Person – “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit…”
What they received was not anything magical or mystical, an electrical current or impersonal object as some cults today would have you believe. On that day they received the third person of the trinity, the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is a person of the godhead. If the Holy Spirit is made to be anything less it would diminish the nature of the triune God. There is one God in three persons; the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit has all the attributes of a person; intelligence, knowledge, feelings, etc. The person of the Holy Spirit is the one whom they received that day and He would continue the ministry of Jesus through his disciples (Acts 2:39). Jesus said that without Him we would be ineffective in the ministry (John 15:5). The same holds true with the Holy Spirit, without Him we cannot do much of anything of eternal value.
An Acts 1:8 strategy is a strategy of penetration. We cannot be effective in the supernatural realm by any human ingenuity of our own but only with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power.
The Holy Spirit would be the one to orchestrate the affairs of the church and direct its evangelism throughout the world from that point on. The Holy Spirit would be known as the parakletos; one who would stand by our side as our advocate, comforter and intercessor just as Jesus did when he was with them. Any believer in the church has a counterpart in the ministry today, the Holy Spirit. Under His supervision and influence, the church can penetrate the hard places and become effective to overcome any spiritual opposition.
Point #6: Presence – “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you…”
Jesus said that we would be “endued with power from on high.” The word endued means “to be clothed” with a Divine presence. God’s plan was, and is today, to fully clothe His people with the Holy Spirit. This new clothing is the presence of God’s Spirit in our lives. This is God’s way of empowering us to share the good news of the kingdom. The disciples would now be emboldened with courage and authority as they faithfully shared the gospel. God foreknew that we would need His boldness to proclaim an unpopular message. Peter preached with boldness and was not ashamed of the name of Jesus. Even after being persecuted and flogged for sharing his faith, he went out again in the public square continuing to share his faith without fear.
The Holy Spirit brings a supernatural boldness that we cannot get any other way. This is the presence of God living within us. His presence empowers us with a passion for the lost. His presence also compels us to speak His truth even when we are opposed or outnumbered. It does not matter what happens to us, all that matters is that His love and truth is operating within us penetrating the world around us. Have you been clothed with the Holy Spirit? Are you shy and afraid to share the good news of salvation with others? If so, you need to be clothed with the Divine presence of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will empower and embolden you to preach the gospel with an authority and power that brings effective results.
Point #7: Preachers – “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses…”
God’s initial design was that we preach His message to a lost world. It is not a popular message:
For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. (1 Corinthians 1:21-24)
God does not make it hard for people to go to heaven because the gospel is really a simple message to understand. How can people hear this message? It is the responsibility of all Christians to testify or preach the good news to the lost. This does not mean that we are all called to be preachers, but we are certainly called to share His word with others. We are to proclaim (preach by any means) His message of salvation to a depraved and degenerated world. We do not have to worry about being persecuted because we have been clothed with the Holy Spirit. The apostle Paul was one of them:
Then some Jews came from Antioch and Iconium and won the crowd over. They stoned Paul and dragged him outside the city, thinking he was dead. But after the disciples had gathered around him, he got up and went back into the city. (Acts 14:19-20)
What kind of person re-enters a city after being stoned and left for dead outside the city gate? The answer is simple, it is a person who is in love with God and with the lost people around him. The apostle Paul understood the power inherent in the gospel to save others. He was so compelled to express God’s message of salvation for he says, “Woe is me if I do not preach the gospel” (1 Corinthians 9:16b).
The love that God put in us by His Spirit compels us to preach to the lost. Jesus is the hope of glory and we cannot keep Him a secret once we have tasted of this free gift of salvation ourselves. Paul proclaimed this message to his generation and he transformed it. Now it’s our turn to proclaim this gospel of salvation to all mankind. St. Francis of Assisi once said, “Preach the gospel. And if necessary, use words.” How well cultivated and established are you in God’s text? How effective are you at delivering the gospel message? Preaching (also witnessing) involves more than just words of wisdom, it requires a redeemed and sanctified life that brings conviction and draws the sinner to Him. Some people are simply convinced by words, while others need to see a demonstration of signs, miracles and wonders to believe.
Point #8: Places – “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
Since the whole world is populated with lost people, it made sense that God would not put restrictions or boundaries where the proclamation of the gospel was to take place. The good news is to spread globally, to all people in every island, continent, and to the distant and obscure regions of the world. The epicenter or the beginning of this proclamation was to start in Jerusalem, then spread to nearby regions and extend as far as people lived; to the ends of the earth. Paul dreamed of fulfilling Jesus’ command to go “to the ends of the earth.” After his initial campaigns his aim was to travel to Spain because at that time it was known as the uttermost part of the world.
God’s desire is that we take the good news of salvation to all places of the globe. In those days they traveled on foot, on boats or by cart and horse to distant lands. Today, we have no excuse to go into the entire world to preach the gospel. Modern travel, the media and the internet has made it easier to evangelize the lost in our world today. If Paul did it in his day with substantial results, then what hinders us from doing it in our day?
The Three Stages of Acts 1:8
Every church should have and implement an Acts 1:8 vision and strategy. This strategy is not an overwhelming one since it is progressive in nature. It starts small within your community then it’s enlarged and carried out further into broader regions.
Jesus waited until His post resurrection days to disclose His final strategy to his apostles. This strategy differed from the Great Commission. Jesus came to seek and save the lost so it was fitting that this strategy would have global implications since lost souls can be found everywhere in the entire world. An Acts 1:8 strategy focuses on three geographical locations:
1. A Local Strategy
A church’s strategy should start small but it should not stay small. A church that is just starting out should have its eyes set on winning and influencing their neighborhood and community for Christ. This is the first stage of church strategy. Jesus commanded His disciples to go into the entire world. It is obvious that this would include more than the geography of your neighborhood, it includes your city, your region and the entire world.
The key is to have a vision and a plan to reach your city for Christ. Pastor Paul Goulet of the International Church of Las Vegas (also knows as ICLV), and a recognized apostle, has a vision to win a city for Christ. They have a local vision to create extensions of the church within the city. These extensions will stay connected and accountable to the mother church. We call this local strategy the 5-5-1 Vision. Our goal is to have five church locations around the city within five years with one purpose-to win a city for Christ and leave a legacy. At the writing of this book, my team and I opened our third location on April 1, 2007 in the south area of Las Vegas.
Another factor in winning our city for Christ is our local 20/20 Vision television program, which is disseminated to viewers on three time slots. Many of those who attend on Sunday mornings for the first time say that they saw our senior pastor on our television program. ICLV’s influence is growing in the community and the city at large, even those who do not attend our church services either know of someone who does or at least knows of its existence. Where there is a true vision from God there will also be the provision to see it funded. God steps up and provides supernatural financing when His people take steps of faith in the community and city to reach people for Christ.
There are many indicators that measure our impact in the city; one of them is attracting the local governing officials to our church doorstep. The church should be drawing and influencing their local politicians and impacting them for the kingdom (Acts 13:7). Is your church turning the heads of your political leaders? If not, you may want to reevaluate your vision for your city. A radical vision should attract the politicians since they want to be aligned with the “good” works in the community.
2. A Regional Strategy
Your influence will grow regionally when you are faithful in the first phase of this strategy. When this happens the voice of the church should spread out into larger regions. A regional strategy takes place when others in your region hear about what God is doing in your church. For instance, my pastor has been invited to speak in other churches because they hear what God is doing in and through our church. Currently, my pastor conducts regional conferences and imparts the presence and power of the Holy Spirit to the leaders and those who attend services. Many of these churches have been impacted and have expanded in many ways because of the anointing that our pastor imparts into their lives.
Our church is now associated with many other apostolic networks of like-minded individuals. These associations are created in time and by cultivating relationships. Apostolic networks, instead of denominations, district offices or what is commonly known as “church bureaucracies,” are becoming the leadership models of today. Apostolic networks are the new wineskins that will govern the church in the future.
3. A Global Strategy
When you think and pray big you will eventually go down that path. The church should incorporate an aggressive mission’s program that reaches to some part of the world. Can a single church really make a difference in the world? I believe it can. The church I attend, the International Church of Las Vegas (ICLV) under the leadership of Paul Goulet is actually impacting many large areas around the world.
One of our church strategies is to plant, build or partner with existing Bible schools to raise up the indigenous people in those areas. Currently we have established a Bible school in India that has produced over one hundred church plants. Students attend a school for a period of time, but before they receive their certificate of graduation, they are required to prove that they can pioneer and sustain a viable church plant during their training. We have established or sponsor Schools of Ministry in Las Vegas, India, Mexico, Canada, and the Middle East.
We also send missionary teams into these regions biannually to organize conferences where the pastors and local church leaders attend. At these conferences they receive an impartation through teaching and the laying on of hands. This process produces like-minded pastors and leaders who operate with the same anointing and character as ours. When our team returns to these areas they notice a difference among the leader’s character, anointing, maturity and ministry expansion. The Holy Spirit has a way of maturing individuals who submit under His care and listen to His voice.
How do you know that a ministry is operating in this third phase of expansion? You can tell by reading their label or listening to their language and deeds. Usually ministries in this phase of expansion have words such as world, global or international in their ministry brand.
This trend is rapidly increasing with today’s generation as they are setting their sights on transforming the world. This new generation has been dubbed the Millennial Generation. For instance, my daughter who attends a Southern California Christian liberal arts college is a Millennial. She is majoring in Global Studies and plans to have a ministry that reaches and ministers to the poor and destitute far into the corners of the world. Optimism and the belief that they can change the world are two characteristics of this generation.
A church does not have to be large in size to make a great impact in the world. Our church consists of around five thousand worshipers. The contributing factor in our church is not in our size but it is the presence and power of God working in and through our people.
Latino Townhall’s blog: http://latinotownhall.wordpress.com/
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