Chapters 1 through 6 of the book of Acts describe one of the most glorious works of God in history. It is an amazing sequence of action-filled events: powerful preaching, mass conversions, miraculous healings. All were the fulfillment of a divine promise foretold by Jesus.

Before His resurrection, Christ instructed the disciples to wait in Jerusalem to receive the “promise of the Father.” “I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high” (Luke 24:49, ESV).

That promise began its fulfillment on Pentecost, Israel’s feast of “firstfruits.” The world was about to see the firstfruits of Christ’s labor on the cross for us.

The disciples could not possibly have imagined what God had in mind for them. They probably thought, “Great! This promise means God is about to restore Israel. He’ll free us from the shackles of Roman bondage forever and we’ll be His people again.”

Today I think perhaps the Church would have a similar reaction if we heard the same promise from Jesus. We might think, “When God’s promise comes, our churches will be filled to bursting. The Holy Spirit will move in other cities and people will travel from all over just to get a taste. We’ll be blessed as never before!”

We should want the Holy Spirit to fill our sanctuaries, to bring joy and comfort to God’s people. But when God’s glory comes, it will not be for our benefit alone. Jesus did not say, “When you receive power from on high, you shall be My churchgoers, My Bible studiers, My prayer meeting attenders.” He said, “You will be My witnesses to the ends of the earth.”

God’s power is meant to go beyond the walls of the church to the very farthest reaches of the world. That is what we see unfolding in the book of Acts. When Peter got up to preach to the crowd that had gathered, three thousand were saved. Later, as Peter and John testified throughout Jerusalem, signs and wonders followed in miraculous healings and deliverances.

Yet that was only the beginning! If the work of the Spirit had stopped in Acts 6, all the power of God would have remained in the hands of twelve apostles. Instead, a tectonic shift took place. God said, “My Spirit will no longer move through just a select few. I am going to empower every man, woman and child who calls on My name.”