The great Commission had been given, and the plan of Ages was being revealed… the Apostles waited in Jerusalem until they received “power from on high”. God wanted it to be clear that the Apostles had the authority to speak for Christ.
I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified. My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you.
The Apostles understood that they had the authority to speak for Christ, that to lie to them was to lie to the Spirit, that to disobey them was to disobey the Spirit, and that to listen to them was to hear what the Spirit was saying.
Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied to men but to God.”
…but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit.
The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man’s spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us. This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words.
And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is at work in you who believe.
Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.
You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood.
Therefore, he who rejects this instruction does not reject man but God, who gives you his Holy Spirit.
So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter.
He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.
My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.
Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does.
There are two basic assumptions at work here: First that the Apostles spoke with authority. Second, the Apostles were not only men who understood what Jesus wanted, but that they were faithful in doing what Jesus wanted. If we accept these assumptions, we can then also understand their message: the church and the Great Commission. In addition, we can look at the activities of the Apostles, and see what Jesus wanted. The Apostles established local churches and nurtured their growth: Therefore that is what Jesus wanted.
Acts and the New Covenant People
When Jesus returned to Heaven, the “last age” began. (Acts 2:17) By the Spirit, the sad events of the Tower of Babel were reversed, and all men heard the same message; the Gospel of Christ. They declared Him to be risen: Messiah…Christ.
When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”
Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus had given to the Apostles the authority to set the terms of entry:
I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.
The new church was organized by the Apostles into local assemblies that were devoted to “the Apostles’ teaching, to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer” (Acts 2:42) and the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. (Acts 2:47)
Two Philosophies of Mission
In the book of Acts, we see two methods of mission. They were not necessarily in conflict, both were successful, and they both fulfilled prophecy relating to the period. Both of them have huge theological implications…
1. The centripetal theology of mission was practiced first. This is an inward theology. In the early days, the Apostles, except for Paul, remained in Jerusalem, and seldom left the city. Even when Peter eventually did so, at the express instruction of the Spirit, he was called to account by the Jerusalem church for having done so. (Acts 11:1-4) Later, of course, Paul would begin the process of openly taking the good news to the Gentiles. The Apostles would go daily to the Temple to instruct the people concerning the Lord, and such prophetic passages as Isaiah 2:2, Micah 4:1 ff., and Isaiah 66:18-19 demonstrate this era. Luke, in Acts, took pains to show parallels between passages describing the glorious reign of Messiah and what was happening at the time:
|Isa. 65:25||The wolf and the lamb will feed together||Acts 6:1-7|
|Isa. 66:12||I will extend peace to her…||Acts 9:31|
|Isa, 66:12||And the wealth of nations like a flowing stream||1Cor. 16:1-4|
|Jer. 31:19||And I will add to her numbers||Acts 2:47|
|Jer. 33:17||David will never fail to have…||Acts 7:56|
|Isa. 49:6b||I will make you a light to the Gentiles||Acts 10-11|
|Isa. 42:7||Free captives from prison…to release from the dungeon… darkness||Acts 5:19Acts 16:26|
|Isa. 42:6||To be a covenant to the people||Acts 3:25|
|Isa. 42:1||I will put my Spirit on him…||Acts 7:55|
|Isa. 42:7||To open the eyes of the blind…||Acts 9:18|
|Isa. 44:18||Forget the former things, do not dwell on the past…||Acts 17:34|
|Isa. 44:25||And remember your sin no more||Acts 3:19-21|
|Isa. 56:4||To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths…||Acts 8:38|
|Amos 9:11-12||And Gentiles that bear my name||Acts 11:26|
|Amos 9:11-12||I will rebuild the fallen house of David||Acts 15:14-16|
|Isa. 2:4||And settle disputes for many peoples||Acts 15:1-8|
|Isa. 2:17||Ananias heard this he fell down and dies||Acts 5:5|
While there are many more examples, this should suffice to see the Apostles’ thinking. The Gentiles flowed into Jerusalem and brought their wealth with them which they laid at the Apostles’ feet, and the Word flowed out to the entire world when they returned home: Isaiah’s prophecies came true.
2. The other philosophy of mission is called centrifugal, meaning that it flowed out from the center. When Paul, on his journeys went out to the ends of the known world took the Gospel to the nations, this is what he was doing. After the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD, this has become the mainstay of Christian Missions.