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We Are Better Off

I was troubled when in junior high I read Jesus’ words, “But I tell you the truth: it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you” (John 16:7, NIV 1984). Would it not have been much better if Jesus had remained on earth? Consider how a retreat led by Christ would impact your spiritual life. Was Jesus saying that the Holy Spirit is more important to the believer than He is?

I found an answer in a most unlikely place, the first verse of the book of Acts. Luke writes to Theophilus, telling him that in his Gospel he recorded what Christ did while living in the flesh here on earth. Now what he is doing in his second book—Acts—is telling him (and us) what Christ did on earth after He ascended into heaven.

You will often find “The Acts of the Apostles” as the title for Luke’s second book. I prefer a title which is a bit long, but I believe better describes what Luke is detailing: “The Acts of Christ through His Church by the Power of the Holy Spirit.” When Christ said that His disciples would be better off when He left (John 14:12), He was saying, “I plan to carry out my earthly ministry worldwide through my Church.”

There is a tendency to regard the period between the ascension and the second coming as a pause in Christ’s ministry. Nothing could be further from the truth. Christ has not shut down His work, He has revved it up. Now, rather than preaching in a village here and there, He is preaching in millions of places through us, His servants, by the power of the Holy Spirit. This is why He commands His disciples not to leave Jerusalem until His Father sends the Holy Spirit to them (Acts 1:4). By themselves their work would be hopeless, but by filling them with the Spirit He will be working through them.

The entire book of Acts is outlined in 1:8. Christ is telling the Church that we will take His gospel to every part of the world, but not until we are empowered by the Holy Spirit. If a dictator were going to capture the world, he would create an enormous military machine. Christ has done it through the Church, an army of love, which is continuing to spread all over the world.

Dr. Paul Kooistra, Reflection Jun 1, 2013
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