What’s implicit in Acts 1:1-8 is this: Being a disciple of Jesus means being Spirit-filled, and being Spirit-filled means that we’ll be on mission. Being a witness to Christ’s work isn’t something extra or novel. It’s central to our identity in Christ.

In fact, throughout the book of Acts, we see that the Spirit is involved in every aspect of being a witness.

The Spirit awakens hearts so that we can know Christ and be His witness. (Acts 1:4-8)

The Spirit gives spiritual gifts for the purpose of evangelism. (Acts 2:4)

The Spirit empowers us as face challenges in witness. (Acts 4:8, 31; 6:10; 7:55; 13:9)

The Spirit gives boldness in witness. (4:9-13, 31; 13:9-11)

The Spirit encouraged the church, so that it grows in number. (Acts 9:31)

The Spirit directs people into witnessing situations. (Acts 8:29; 10:19; 16:6-7)

The Spirit calls and sends people into missions. (Acts 13:2-4)

The Spirit shapes the doctrine of the church for the sake of mission. (Acts 15:28)

Dig into those references. As you do, I trust that you’ll see a clear theme: the Holy Spirit is central to our understanding (and operation) of mission… and mission is central to our understanding of the Holy Spirit. The two are inseparable.

I’m indebted to missiologist and Bible scholar Ajith Fernando. He makes the case for the Spirit’s centrality to missions in his commentary on Acts.

This passage [Acts 1:1-8] shows us how important the Holy Spirit is to our understanding of mission and how important mission is to our understanding of the Holy Spirit (vv. 2, 5, 8). The rest of the book of Acts expounds this theme. The Spirit is the one who regenerates and sanctifies us so that we experience the risen Christ to whom we witness (vv. 4–5; cf. John 3:5–8). He fills individuals with special anointings to face special challenges in witness (Acts 4:8, 31; 6:10; 7:55; 13:9). He gives boldness in witness (4:9–13, 31; 13:9–11) and encourages his people in a way that helps them to grow in numbers (9:31). Just as the Spirit enabled the first Christians to speak in other tongues (2:4), he is the one who gives the words to speak in witness, in keeping with the promise of Christ (Mark 13:11). He directs people to special witnessing situations (10:19) and forbids them to go to some places they want to go (16:6–7). He calls people to their special mission (13:2) and sends them on their way (13:4). Finally, he directs the church to important doctrines relating to the mission of the church (15:28). The Christian mission and ministry, then, can only be done in the power of the Spirit.

For more on the Spirit in missions, check out my message from Acts 1:1-8. You can listen below, or download the Mp3 here (right click – or control click – to save).

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