Sermon Outline (Youth)
United in peace, for the world, we are called to serve globally
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8).
Intro—To the Ends of the Earth
What a time we live in! We can be tuned in to events happening on the other side of the globe instantly. I can open Snapchat and immediately see stories from people all over the world. Through the internet, planes, and Amazon.com we can get our stories displayed through pictures, physical presence, and products around the world faster than ever before.
Luke, the astute gospel writer of the Book of Acts, begins to tell the story of how the good news of Jesus Christ fixing the world’s brokenness is being taken to “the ends of the earth.” The Holy Spirit is empowering the efforts of Christ’s followers to get out of their comfort zones and become missional. We hear stories of evangelists and apostles whose lives are radically changed while being on mission, taking the gospel to different places in different situations.
The stories of the disciples being witnesses in Jerusalem and to the ends of the earth challenges every Christ follower to grow deeper. They invite us to think about how even today we can advance the good news in different social contexts. The good news of Jesus’s resurrection is for every single person—we should feel the urgency to get out of our normative social experiences, in whatever way possible, to be on a mission for God!
Where Is the “Ends of the Earth”?
We see this phrase in other passages of Scripture.
- “I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth” (Isaiah 49:6, NIV).
- “Ask me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession” (Psalm 2:8, a messianic psalm, NIV).
In Isaiah’s day, Judah has been taken captive by the Babylonians, and Isaiah announces that God is going to set them free. Not only that, God is going to deliver and save the nations.
So when Jesus tells the apostles, “You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth,” he is telling them that they will start in the capital city of David, then proclaim the gospel in all of the land of Israel (“all Judea and Samaria”), and finally to all the world.
In Acts 13, Paul reiterates this command and promise because it means the good news of the Jewish messiah is good news not only for the Jews but also for the nations, including the Gentiles.
The end of Acts 8 accounts for one of the most magnificent displays of the gospel being advanced. Phillip moves from preaching the gospel in Samaria to an encounter with a powerful Ethiopian official on a roadside. He is led by the Spirit to witness to this man, who believes in Jesus on the spot. What a powerful illustration of the power of God’s gospel message.
So what does this mean for us today?
One day, “at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:10-11, ESV). Our mission is to spread the good news to all the earth that a new King has taken the throne.
More than two years after Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, Robert E. Lee surrendered to the Union Army on April 9, 1865. That news traveled slowly, and in Texas the announcement that the slaves were free was not made until June 19. Today we celebrate the ending of institutionalized slavery on June 19, or Juneteenth.
Perhaps we could add that just as 153 years later we are still appealing to people to transform their thinking in light of the Emancipation Proclamation for social justice so 2,000 years after Jesus’s defeat of sin and death we are still appealing to people to transform their thinking in light of their emancipation from the powers of death for spiritual salvation.
Just as that proclamation had to go to the ends of the United States, so the gospel proclamation has to go to the ends of the earth.