In John 19:30 we see that Jesus Christ, at the moment of His physical death, uttered the words “It is finished.” Although it is phrased as a rhetorical expression, Matthew 22:44 indicates that “The Lord (God the Father) said unto my Lord (Jesus Christ), sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies Thy footstool.” The implication is that Christ’s work is finished for the time being. Yet Jesus explained to His disciples that there was much more to be accomplished as quoted in Mark 16:15, “And he said unto them, go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.”
But even though the disciples had been with Him during His three-year ministry and witnessed the miracles He performed, they were not ready to go about doing the Lord’s work. Knowing that they were concerned with His departure, He explained to them, as stated in John 14:15-16, “If ye love me, keep my commandments. And I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that may abide with you forever.” Furthermore, He told them to stay there and wait for that Comforter before they ventured out into the world.
Acts 1:5 is even more specific about the Comforter and His role. “For John truly baptized with water: but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.” A description of the results of that baptism are conveyed in Acts 1:8 “But ye Shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and you shall be Witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto The uttermost part of the earth.” Kenneth Wuest’s expanded translation of verse eight says “you shall have the kind of power that God has and exerts.” No small thing here friends, and it is an absolute necessity for us to have that power to fulfill the great commission that we are all charged with.
The actual fulfillment of that promise of power occurred in Acts 2:1-4. “And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all in one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.”
There are differences of opinion as to whether the baptism with the Holy Spirit occurs during the salvation experience or as a separate process in conjunction of laying on of hands. It doesn’t matter who is right. Evangelical Christians all believe in the baptism of the Holy Spirit and the power that it provides. The disciples had been hanging around for a long time waiting for the Holy Spirit. During that time there were most likely a number of people who heard them preach the gospel message and responded favorably. But immediately after the baptism of the Holy Spirit, about three-thousand people were saved. Do you see the difference?
Before Jesus ascended into heaven, He started His Church, empowered it and gave it clear instructions on the job it was to fulfill. Even though we are now living somewhere close to forty generations later, we too have been given our marching orders. The “Great commission” is your responsibility as much as it was Peter’s and Paul’s but what are you doing with it? Some Christians are acting as though they have never been told what to do. Some are still in the closet. Others are strictly in the “witnessing” business while others are “full service Christians,” praying for salvation and laying on hands healing and deliverance.
Here’s how I believe the great commission is supposed to be carried out. We are supposed to be listening to the Lords small, still voice tell us what to do and where to go. Remember back to Jonah, all the prophets, Ananias who restored Paul’s sight and on and on and on. They too were told where to go and what to do. The Lord gives you instruction by identifying a person or an issue that needs YOUR attention. Then, once you have received your instructions from your boss, you obediently go and do the work. But something is wrong! I constantly see Christians seeking out their own burdens that they can bear. They go looking, on their own, for those that may be hurting emotionally, lost or in need of physical healing. Once they find that someone and think they have identified their need, they delegate the work up and ask the Lord to do it.
Have you ever heard the business expression “Don’t delegate up?” In the world, doing it usually gets you in trouble so why are you doing it to your boss in heaven? That boss is Jesus Christ and He has tasked YOU with the responsibility of doing the work. Remember Mark 16:15?
In Acts 6:3 we read “Then Peter said, silver and gold have I none; but such as I have I give thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk. And he took him by the right hand, and lifted him up: and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. And leaping up stood, and walked, and entered with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God.” Where, in Peter’s words, do you see “Jesus, heal him” or “Father heal him?” Notice these very important and key words from this scripture “But such as I HAVE I GIVE THEE: In the NAME OF Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk.” Do you see the difference? Peter used the authority and power of the Holy Spirit that was given to him to complete the work that the Lord had identified. He did not ask Jesus or the Father to do the work. He did it himself in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth.
In Saul’s (Paul’s) case, Jesus could have easily healed Paul Himself but, instead, He chose to send a terrified but obedient Ananias to lay hands on him so he would receive his sight. There’s an extremely important message here, friends. Don’t delegate up! If you consider yourself to be a Christian, it is time to accept the responsibilities that go along with your job. Stop delegating those responsibilities upward to your boss because just like your real-life job, more often than not, they will not be done. The Lord has given you all of the authority and the tools necessary to do the job but it is YOUR responsibility, not His, and not someone else’s. Peter understood. Don’t be deceived! It is time to start giving and using what you already have.