Mike Durning reporting in from SGI.
The next Plenary Session began with worship and prayer. A new song, written by Chris Anderson with music by Greg Habegger, was introduced in honor of this 10th National Conference. “For the Sake of His Name” was beautiful.
J.D. Crowley was the speaker. He has been in Cambodia for 15 years doing church planting.
His text was Acts 1:8, but he introduced his topic by saying that Acts 1:8 is a hijacked verse in common use. The emphasis of many sermons on this verse is that we are called to identify our Jerusalem, our Samaria, and our uttermost parts for Evangelism.
Imagine, by comparison, if we read every verse on the cross and challenged people to ask themselves and say “What is the cross I must take up?” What if we asked people “What is your Golgotha?” What we would be missing would be the atonement!
Surely, identifying our Jerusalem is not the main point!
He said that his eyes have become opened that Acts 1:8 is actually recounting an unrepeatable event.
Note how Acts 1:1-11 is first, very Trinitarian, he observed.
He then read the text.
The challenge question that leads into verse 8 seems shallow. The Lord does not rebuke, but says “Those time-tables are up to the Lord”.
“I can’t give you those time-tables, but what I can give you is the Holy Spirit and the whole world!” See how big the gospel is going to get? It will extend to the whole world!
Prediction # 1: You will receive power from the Holy Spirit.
He connected this with a number of passages and observations.
The words that started the ministry of Jesus are repeated here in Acts 1.
In particular, he drew the audience back to John 4 and the story of the Women at the Well, noting that this discussion was about the Holy Spirit and His work.
He spent some time talking about the empowered ministry in Acts.
Prediction # 2: You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea.
We need to listen to this through the ears of the disciples. Think of what had happened in Jerusalem earlier. “This is not going to end with 11 more crosses.” You will go back to minister there. We are not going into hiding.
The power to do this could only come from the Holy Spirit. It is not “You’re going to reach down and find something deep within yourself that you didn’t know was there.” It’s not there! The Holy Spirit brings it!
Prediction # 3: You will be my witnesses in Samaria.
Samaria is on the list. The disciples, he suspects, were not thrilled with this one. They had asked about the kingdom and Israel. But this is a prediction that the gospel would bring down walls and become a sword that pierces racial and ethnic barriers.
This also fulfills Jesus’ prediction to the woman at the well—that the new worship would not center on Jerusalem.
Acts 8 is the final fulfillment of this, as the believers penetrated Samaria.
Prediction # 4—You will be my witnesses to the remotest parts of the earth.
How do we know that this is true? The audience sitting here today is proof of that. Students are preparing to go around the world.
He talked about the remote extremes that he has seen where the gospel has penetrated.
All of these predictions he gave have been or are being fulfilled!
We can trust the God who gives them.
Brother Crowley reported that he has seen video footage of a Cambodian man, who 15 years ago said he did not know who Jesus is. Today, he reported, this man is a pastor!
Isn’t it good to know that we are on the team that wins!