by Wade E Taylor
A major transition in the Lord’s dealings with His people takes place in Acts 1:8.
“But you shall receive power, after that the Holy Spirit is come upon you: and you shall be witnesses to Me, both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and to the uttermost part of the earth.” Acts 1:8
The word “but” in this verse is a pivotal point in the program of God.
The disciples were concerned about Jesus setting up His Kingdom and what their place would be in it. They had only one thought in mind and asked, “When will this happen?”
Had Jesus said, “Two thousand years from now,” they would have lost heart. Rather, He gently said: “It is not for you to know the times or the seasons… but.” He then turned the focus of their attention away from what they would do, to that which they would become:
“You shall BE witnesses to Me.”
That is, “I will so work within you, that the manifestation of your life among men will become as mine was. You will be a witness – a sample of what I would be in the very situation in which you find yourselves. At this time, I am about to give you the power to make this possible. This is my present purpose for you.”
Jesus did not say that there would not be an external kingdom, but rather, “It is not given to you to know when this will happen.”
This is restated in Acts 15:14-17 where the “two steps” in this process are revealed.
“God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for His Name.”
“After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David… that the residue of men might seek after the Lord.”
Today, we are at the end of the first part – the taking out of a people for His Name in which we are to become a “witness to Him.” The second part is the “when” of the disciple’s question.
Jesus speaks to us in terms that we can understand. Thus, when He called Peter, who was a fisherman, He used words that were familiar to him.
“Come you after Me, and I will make you to become fishers of men.” Mark 1:17
Peter heard the word “fishing” rather than the process, “make you to become.” He was constantly concerned with the aspect of time (when), and was more interested in what would be his position in the kingdom than in his fellowship with the King.
Today is no exception. A message on “what” or “when” draws much attention. Therefore, the Divine Alternative, “But,” still rings clearly as being a present word.
There is yet to be a people so completely identified with Jesus that they will be able to say as Jesus said to Philip:
“…He that has seen Me has seen the Father….” John 14:9
That is, “I so perfectly reflect the life of my Father, that if you have seen Me, you have seen Him.
We should ask ourselves, “Does my life so completely reflect Jesus that His life can be recognized through my life?”
“You shall be witnesses to Me.” This witness “to me” means that our life is to mirror His life.
Jesus said concerning Himself:
“Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abides alone: but if it die, it brings forth much fruit.” John 12:24
The seed always brings forth “after its own kind.” This is a law of harvest – that the harvest will both look and be, exactly like the seed.
The Baptism in the Holy Spirit is far more than our being blessed, speaking in tongues, or our receiving power to better serve.
Rather, “you will receive power to become.”
Thus, the important thing is not what I am enabled to do, but rather, what I am to become – my being made conformable to His image and likeness.
This must be fulfilled. Our Lord will be joined to a body that is fully matured.
“Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” Ephesians 4:13
Jesus, as being the head, will be joined to His body, and manifested. The “measure of the stature” means that the body has become “proportionate” to the head. Thus, the body must have come to the level of the maturity of the Head – Jesus.
Only then can the question “when” be fully answered.