high school I enjoyed running on the track team. As the official gave us directions
at the starting line, I vividly recall the adrenaline pumping through my veins
at the beginning of each race. He would slowly call out three phrases in an
elongated, deliberate tone: “Ready . . . on your mark . . . set!”
Then BOOM! He would fire the starter pistol.
the book of Acts we have a record of the “starting line” of the Christian
church. Beginning at Pentecost, believers reached out to the lost in dozens
of languages and cultures throughout the Roman Empire and beyond. Although they
encountered many obstacles and disappointments, the early Christians penetrated
their world with breathtaking speed. So where does effective ministry begin?
ministry begins . . .
I understand that all of my resources combined will never be enough to do the
job. (v. 1)
the day of Pentecost we find the disciples gathered together in one place. With
all they had experienced with Jesus and armed with the Great Commission, we
would expect them to be out in the streets, preaching the good news.
in Acts 1:4 and 1:8, Jesus made it clear that the disciples needed something
more in order to fulfill their mission of local and global evangelization.
Years of intensive training and sitting at the feet of Jesus were not sufficient.
By telling them to wait for the promised Holy Spirit, Jesus was underscoring
a basic truth: in my own strength and abilities I will always be inadequate
to do what God has called me to do (Zechariah 4:6).
for the task is a gift, not an achievement.
I am filled with and fully dependent upon the Holy Spirit. (v. 2-4)
by the sound of wind and the appearance of fire, the Holy Spirit came to rest
visually on each disciple as a fiery flame. Through this imagery, He makes it
clear that each individual disciple needs His guidance and enablement in ministry.
It is not enough to have a Spirit-filled pastor and staff in my church. I need
to cultivate a personal relationship of love and obedience with the Lord Jesus
Christ through His Spirit.
was common when I ran track in high school for some runners to start too soon:
this was called “jumping the gun.” They were forced to go back to
the starting line and begin again. Have you “jumped the gun” by attempting
to do ministry apart from the Holy Spirit?
I am willing to do whatever it takes to share the gospel with my world. (v.
by the Holy Spirit, the disciples immediately began to speak in the languages
of at least 15 different nationalities gathered in Jerusalem to observe the
Jewish feast. Now the Spirit did not have to do this. Using the language of
business and trade, the disciples could have simply spoken Greek or Aramaic.
They would have been clearly understood by most of the crowd.
Holy Spirit wants to help us overcome every obstacle posed by language and culture.
Unlike Islam, which requires seekers of truth to study the Koran in Arabic,
the good news of Christ is to be shared in the idiom and within the cultural
norms of peoples around the world.
it comfortable for the disciples to speak a language they had never learned?
I doubt it, but the greater purpose of proclaiming the “wonderful works
of God” (v. 11) overwhelmed all personal preferences and tastes. Are we
willing to do whatever it takes to communicate the gospel in terms others can
I accept that some people will reject me and my message. (v. 12-13)
verse 12, some people are asking “what does this mean?” In verse 13,
others are mocking the disciples, accusing them of being drunk.
Some people will reject and ridicule you and your message. Paul taught we should
expect persecution whenever we begin to live our lives with reference to Him
in all we do and say. (2 Timothy 3:12)
there will also be those who want to know more. Endure those who reject you
so that you can impact those who respond positively to you.
I embrace a deep sense of evangelistic urgency. (v. 14-21)
from Joel 2, Peter announces to the crowds that the arrival of the Holy Spirit
is the fulfillment of prophecy. Everyone willing to call on the name of the
Lord (v. 21) could be saved and subsequently filled with the Spirit (v. 18).
He also explains that these are the last days, describing signs and wonders
which will immediately precede the “day of the Lord.” (v. 20).
is short and time is short. Anyone and everyone can now call on the name of
the Lord. Armed with the leading and power of the Holy Spirit, God’s people
ought to be deeply motivated to broadcast the good news.
go to the starting line for effective ministry and allow Him to launch us into
His work – just like He did for the church at Pentecost.
brief provided by: Don Pucik, Associate Executive Director of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention,
Little Rock, AR