You Shall Be My Witnesses


Series: The First Church (Acts 1-10)

Title: 1. You Shall Be My Witnesses Acts 1:1-11: Concentric Circles of Concern #mission


  • 2017-01-07: White Rock Lake

  1. Introduction
    1. What does it take for us to be an effective church?
    2. How did the first church grow so explosively?
    3. Sabbath School class at Birmingham First SDA
      1. Many members of the class were skeptical about the church; they saw a number of flaws, and wondered how such a church could be the “remnant church.”
      2. I explained to them the concept of the visible church and the invisible church.
      3. After some further suggestions, they decided to brainstorm ways to be witnesses as a group and support the mission of the invisible church.
    4. For the next several months, we will study the first 10 chapters of Acts and learn the secrets of the first church’s success.
    5. Today, we’re going to study the key verse of Acts, and discover a powerful key to sharing our faith.
  2. But first, an introduction to Acts:
    1. Background
      1. The second book written by Luke. Taken together, Luke’s writings are longer than the writings of any other NT author.
      2. Luke uses a larger vocabulary and more literary style than the other NT authors, reflecting the author’s high level of education in the Greek and Aramaic languages.
      3. Addressed to Theophilus, as is Luke’s Gospel.
        1. Theophilus: Lover of God. Whether this is a real name or a title given by Luke is debated. No person by that name is known.
      4. Chronicles the history of the early church, primarily by focusing on the ministries of Peter and Paul.
      5. Written prior to Paul’s death, and prior to the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70.
    2. Major themes
      1. The Holy Spirit
      2. Evangelism
  3. Luke’s introduction to Acts
    1. Acts begins where Luke ends
    2. Acts 1:1-3: Brief summary of the 40-day period between Jesus’ resurrection and ascension
    3. Jesus instructs them to begin a period of waiting in Jerusalem for the Holy Spirit. Then, he ascends into heaven.
      1. Vv. 4-11
      2. The disciples didn’t yet fully understand God’s plan; they seem to still have been expecting Jesus to establish a literal kingdom.
    4. Now, let’s examine the key verse.
  4. V. 8: The Keys to Acts
    1. Power comes from the Holy Spirit
      1. Prior to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, the apostles were unable to understand the will and plans of God.
        1. They didn’t even realize yet that Jesus wouldn’t establish a literal kingdom.
        2. Luke 24:27: Jesus had explained His mission a few days prior on the road to Emmaus, and yet they were still unclear.
        3. During Jesus’ ministry, His close followers were few. By this time, they presumably numbered no more than 120. (See Acts 1:15.)
        4. After Jesus’ ascension, but before the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, the believers at Peter’s instigation selected Matthias as the replacement for Judas. (See Acts 1:15-26.)
          1. This decision doesn’t appear to have been directed by God for at least two reasons:
            1. Matthias played no known role in the development of the early church.
            2. Paul, though not one of those present in the Upper Room at the time, was clearly called to be an apostle, suggesting that Peter’s move to replace Judas was premature.
      2. Once the Holy Spirit was poured out, the church took off like wildfire.
      3. Similarly for us, any attempt we make to be witnesses which is not directed by the Holy Spirit will be devoid of power.
        1. “The Saviour knew that no argument, however logical, would melt hard hearts or break through the crust of worldliness and selfishness. He knew that His disciples must receive the heavenly endowment; that the gospel would be effective only as it was proclaimed by hearts made warm and lips made eloquent by a living knowledge of Him who is the way, the truth, and the life. The work committed to the disciples would require great efficiency; for the tide of evil ran deep and strong against them. A vigilant, determined leader was in command of the forces of darkness, and the followers of Christ could battle for the right only through the help that God, by His Spirit, would give them.” (Ellen G. White, Acts of the Apostles, p. 31.1)
    2. The progression of witnessing: Moving from those closest to those farthest (Ideas from Concentric Circles of Concern)
      1. Definition of evangelism: Moving with someone one step closer to Jesus
      2. Progression
        1. Jerusalem
          1. Acts–and the early church–begins here.
          2. This was the apostles’ home base.
          3. Witnessing starts with those closest to us: Our families and close friends
        2. Judea and Samaria
          1. The territory around Jerusalem
          2. Acts next moves to these two territories
          3. Judea was friendly territory; Samaria not so much
          4. We next move to those who aren’t so close to us:
            1. Acquaintances
            2. Coworkers
            3. Neighbors
            4. Including those who we aren’t on the best of terms with
        3. The ends of the earth
          1. Finally, Acts records the spread of the church throughout the Roman Empire.
          2. After we’ve reached out to those closest to us, we’ll be ready to reach out to those with whom we have no prior relationship.
          3. Sometimes, we make the mistake of trying to go to the ends of the earth before Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria, but this isn’t the pattern of Acts.
            1. Remember, though, that success isn’t measured in the number of baptisms. It’s measured by how closely we follow the Holy Spirit’s leading. After all, He’s the Source of power.
      3. EGW
        1. “Every follower of Jesus has a work to do as a missionary for Christ in the family, in the neighborhood, in the town or city where he lives.
        2. “The humblest and poorest of the disciples of Jesus can be a blessing to others. They may not realize that they are doing any special good, but…they may start waves of blessing that will widen and deepen, and the blessed results they may never know until the day of final reward.” SC 83
  5. Conclusion/Appeal
    1. Invite the Holy Spirit to guide your life, confessing and forsaking anything that comes between you and Him.
    2. Think of who fits into your progression of witnessing, and ask the Holy Spirit to guide you in reaching out to them.