Early in the book of Acts, Jesus identified two currents that were to propel the gospel forward into the unreached world. Acts 1:8 records Jesus telling his disciples, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” The first current we see here is the power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus indicates that the advance of his kingdom throughout all the earth would only happen through the leading of his Spirit. The second current we see is the verbal proclamation of the gospel. Jesus says that his disciples would be his witnesses—people who verbally testify to the truth. By connecting the Holy Spirit and gospel proclamation to the geographic advance of the gospel, Jesus highlights their importance to the missionary task.
These two currents, in turn, dominate the mission of the early disciples throughout the book of Acts. In Acts 2 we see that the disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking about the mighty works of God in many different languages. In Acts 4:31 the author writes, “And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.” Here we see these two currents at work together; the disciples were being led by the Spirit and were faithfully bearing witness to the gospel—just as Jesus had previously said they would in Acts 1:8. Furthermore, Acts records numerous examples of the power of the Holy Spirit at work (Acts 2:4-11; 3:7-8; 5:12-16; 5:19-21; 9:1-19; 9:32-35; 9:36-42; 10:44-47; 12:6-11; etc.) and the consistent verbal proclamation of the gospel by the disciples (Acts 2:11; 2:14-40; 3:12-26; 4:18-20; 5:21; 7:1-53; 8:4; 9:20; 10:34-43; etc). These two currents thus play a dominant role in the advance of God’s Kingdom in the book of Acts.
If both gospel proclamation and the power of the Holy Spirit framed the missionary task for the early disciples, they should likewise frame the way we pursue the task today. That is not to say that various social programs, construction projects, etc., have no place in our work; those endeavors can certainly be good, fruitful, and God honoring. However such endeavors should not define our work. Rather as Acts 1:8 outlines, our central mission should revolve around the power of the Spirit and the bold proclamation of the gospel.
There are two benefits to framing our missionary work according to these two currents. First, in doing so we bring our endeavors more in line with Scripture—the standard by which we should always evaluate our work. Second, embracing these two currents will better position us to be used by God as we carry out his mission. Thus for the sake of faithfulness to Scripture and God’s harvest among the nations, let us—like those in the book of Acts—embrace these two currents as we carry out his mission.