Be All of One Mind
The Acts of the Apostles is the witness of the work continued after the Lord's death and we read in the first chapter that he addresses one called `Theophilus': "The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began to do and teach" (Acts 1:1-3). Who Theophilus was we are not certain, but this name means "Friend or Lover of God" and indeed this could be a general title given to all those knowing God's truth and desiring to walk therein.
After the Lord's resurrection, he appeared to his disciples and charged them not to leave Jerusalem, but to: "Wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days hence" (Acts 1:4-5). As the disciples gathered together with the Lord after his resurrection, they naturally wondered if he was to then establish the Kingdom of God on earth as God's son, the Messiah. However, he replied: "... 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 the Holy Spirit is come upon you and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost parts of the earth" (Acts 1:7-8).
The Kingdom was not to be established then, but only in God's future appointed time. However, prior to this, they were to be given the great work of spreading the gospel message to all peoples throughout the world. We, as Gentiles, have learned of His name and what is required to walk in God's ways, because of the apostle's work of witnessing and the precious record they made. The Lord Jesus was with the disciples for forty days after his resurrection after which he was taken to heaven to reside at the right hand of the Father.
"And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, which also said, `Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven ? This same Jesus which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven" (Acts 1:7-11). Not knowing what exactly to expect, the disciples gathered together to strengthen themselves through prayer and through the bonds of unity and fellowship they shared until the promise of the Lord came upon them: "These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren" (Acts 1:14).
When the gift of the Spirit came upon the twelve it lighted upon them in the visible form of tongues of fire accompanied by the sound of a mighty, rushing wind. This portion of God's power invested them with the gift of healing, miracles and speaking in tongues, in order to spread the gospel of the Lord Jesus, to all peoples and nations. These apostles were for the most part, uneducated men, fishermen from Galilee, who could now speak in the languages of whom ever heard them: "And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance" (Acts 2:4). As those who heard and believed the word, were baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus Christ they joined the apostles as brethren in fellowship - part of God's household: "And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, praising God and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved" (Acts 2:46-47).
How the disciples must have been encouraged as they witnessed to so many with their newly found spiritual power, seeing great numbers joined daily to the body because of their work. Their lives were not easy, even with this addition of spiritual power. They were threatened, beaten and imprisoned by the council of elders who sought to halt the belief being spread of Jesus of Nazareth as the Son of God and Saviour. These men counselled together against the disciples, saying: "`... let us straitly threaten them, that they speak henceforth to no man in this name'. And they called them and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered and said unto them, `Whether it is right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.' So when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding nothing how they might punish them, because of the people; for all men glorified God for that which was done" (Acts 4:17- 21).
Strengthened by the hand of God, they rejoiced in the deliverance granted and in the unity they felt among their brethren who joined with them in fellowship. "And (Peter and John) being let go, they went to their own company and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said unto them. And when they heard that, they lifted their voices to God with one accord and said, Lord, thou art God, which hast made heaven and earth, and the sea and all that in them is; and when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and they spoke the word of God with boldness. The multitude that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own, but they had all things common. And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus and great grace was upon them all" (Acts 4:23-24,31- 33).
The unity they felt one with another helped to sustain and strengthen them in the work. The same knowledge and understanding we are privileged to know through their witness, is to help us persevere today although our work of witnessing is not with power to perform miracles, healing or the gift of tongues as was theirs.
In Paul's letter to the Ephesians, he exhorted: "... Walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love. ... There is one body, and one spirit even as ye are called in one hope of your calling ... One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all and in you all" (4:1-6). Joined in that same unity of Spirit and mind, we, too, can know His care and nearness which strengthens us from day to day.
Bro. Francis Kotei Odiko