“And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” (Acts 1:7–8, AV)
When I was in the United States Army, I served in a combat branch. The entire Army is designed for mobility. Even the command posts are designed to be moved as the Army rolls along in a war. The reason for this is that the overall operation covers hundreds of miles. Smaller units take objectives and then move on to other objectives until combat operations cease. On the soldier’s mind is a question. “When will my part of the battle cease?” The answer for the soldier is, “When the commander says so.”
Here the disciples asked Jesus if he was going to establish His Messianic reign. Over a month after Jesus’ resurrection, they must have come to a point of realizing that something of great proportion was soon to happen. He tells them that the Heavenly Father determined the appointed time and they were not to know this. In fact, they were to focus on the immediate objective, the mission of building the kingdom. Their objective at that time was to build the kingdom through their witness of Jesus.
It was natural for the disciples to consider the eschatological program of God regarding the Messianic kingdom. However, their mission was not to be concerned so much with the end-result, for God had that under control. They were to focus on the mission in the present age, introducing people to this kingdom.
Regarding this mission, Jesus tells them they cannot accomplish this mission on their own. They will need to be equipped with power by the Holy Spirit. They may not have fully understood this at the moment, but without this supernatural power they would never be able to accomplish the mission. He further tells them that this mission involves their being witnesses and it will be worldwide in scope.
This picture brings us to a very important point. Sometimes we get concerned over the wrong things. We think we are in charge of the things that only God can do. Clearly, only God can bring about the future return of Christ and the establishment of His Messianic kingdom. However, this principle is also evident in the salvation of the people to whom we witness. For it is God’s salvation by grace, He brings the increase. Often our feeble predetermination of the receptivity of a person to the gospel positively or negatively influences our effort to witness. We must remember that we are to do the work of witnessing and trust God for the results. Some will accept our message and some will not, but their acceptance or rejection is not our responsibility. Ours is to be witnesses.
This principle also must control every aspect of our ministries, individually and as a church. We need to remember that we are to work faithfully in our calling and trust God with the results. This does not mean that we should be slothful. It means that we must endeavor to serve to the best of our ability, using the gifts that God has granted to us. Yet, we can only do this by the power He has given us by His Spirit and depending upon Him for the results.
When we can digest the fundamental principle that we serve by God’s grace and trust Him for the results, our work will become much more enjoyable, less frustrating, and more productive. With this attitude, we will fulfill the primary goal of our lives in giving the glory and honor to God.