ACTS 2:32 ~ WITNESSES OF THE RESURRECTION
Amidst all of the thundering revelation and day-to-day information that the Lord releases to those who listen, there comes, at times, the voice of a gentle Shepherd. The sound of this voice carries authority, tenderness, and love that quiets all other voices and silences all other thoughts. Perhaps you know this Voice.
God is in the storm, but He is also close to the brokenhearted. As believers, we have the distinct privilege of knowing a God who chooses - despite all our challenges to the contrary - to reveal His manifold nature to us. He is truly good!
As I’ve journeyed with Him through several weeks of prayer, one of the verses He’s given me repeatedly is Acts 2:32: “God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of it.”
This statement is part of the Apostles’ doctrine; it comes from the very first speech that Peter gave when he stood up on Pentecost, preaching to those on whom the fire of God fell.
Believers sometimes assume that this verse speaks only of those who were alive to see Jesus' resurrection historically. These same people say that the power of the early church died with the martyred apostles. I believe, as I know many of my readers do, that this verse is more than just a historical statement.
THE RESURRECTION: OUR FOUNDATION
A witness is a martyr; someone who is willing to die for a truth they believe. The ninth of the ten commandments in Exodus prohibits bearing false witness, and Jesus later affirms that truthful witness is a condition for our entrance into eternity. (Deut 5:20; Matt 19:16-18.)
Ironically, Jesus died on the testimony of false witnesses, yet His resurrection makes us witnesses of what is actually true!
The Apostle Paul writes:
“...if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that He raised Christ from the dead. But He did not raise Him if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.” (1 Corinthians 15:12-18)
When we encounter Christ for the first time, confessing our faith in Him, we become “witnesses” to the truth of His life in us now and our hope of eternity later. When the Spirit is poured out on believers, it is to empower us to be witnesses of the hope of glory through Jesus Christ.
These times of trial reveal who the true and false witnesses really are. Those who hold onto their testimony of God’s love and faithfulness in the darkest seasons are those who are true witnesses - or martyrs - for Christ. They die daily to their own misconceptions of who God really is, and reconcile others to Christ in the process. They will be rewarded for their faithfulness.
THE RESURRECTION: OUR RESTORATION
Resurrection power is unlimited, as the book of Acts shows. Jesus didn’t die just to save our spirits! He came for the whole man; for all that concerns us.
This is one of the reasons why I love the Lord. I have been delivered from captivity in many areas of my life, and am still being delivered today. The power of Christ touches spirit, soul, and body to restore what is broken or lost. Our salvation is an ongoing process. (Philippians 2:12.) The best thing we can do in trials is to become prophets and restorers of our own lives.
Salvation is, in part, an emotional process. We are called to die to what is old so that the new creation can rise up. We cast down false imaginations and lying thoughts and renew our minds with what is biblical and true. As this transformation of our minds and souls occurs, we become witnesses to His power working in us, but we also become restorers of life to others.
For healing to occur in the Body of Christ right now, we need witnesses. We need people around us who really “get” what it means to feel pain; to be betrayed; to feel abandoned, alone, or rejected. The restoration process is ignited through testimonies of witnesses. Christ is the Healer, but He calls His Body to be the voices and hands that help us when we need “Jesus with skin on.”
It is because those who love God invested time and energy to bring me to the Throne, enjoying God together, that I discovered the power of prayer.
It is because I was able to rest my tear-streaked face on a spiritual father’s heart that I encountered the heart of a loving heavenly Father for the first time.
It is because dear friends took my hands and sat quietly with me in moments of deep personal pain that I found hope in valleys of trouble.
The journey is not easy, but it becomes easier when we walk together in unity, in the presence of those who are “witnesses” to our lives. Their stories of healing and restoration inspire us to believe for our own.
THE RESURRECTION: OUR POWER FOR LIFE
I know that many of you are facing great pain and uncertainty right now. Not all of it is pandemic-related.
Some of you are long-term caretakers of those who can no longer care for themselves. You wonder how long your own body will hold out because of the weariness.
Some of you are in covenant with someone you love deeply, but who has changed drastically and is no longer the person you first met. You feel stuck and betrayed.
Some of you have children or grandchildren whose hearts are far from the Lord and who no longer connect with you. They feel, perhaps, that you are an anachronism, or that your faith is irrelevant.
The beautiful joy Christians have - which compels me to write - is that God is not outdated! The resurrection is still relevant and receivable today!
We need only one thing to navigate these times. It’s the same thing Paul spoke of in Philippians 3:10:
“I want to KNOW CHRIST and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death.”
Proverbs 9:10 tells us that “knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” When we come to KNOW GOD as He is, we gain understanding of how to navigate all the other things happening around us. Everything becomes clearer in His Presence!
When life doesn’t make sense; when the marriage seems irreparable or the children incorrigible, what we need most is to KNOW HIM and His ways. When we, like doubting Thomas, ask Jesus, “How can we possibly know the way? Where are You going?” Jesus replies: “I AM the way.”
When we “ac-KNOW-ledge” God in all our ways, He directs our paths.
I believe that one of the most powerful “moves” of God we should be praying for right now is the move of God on the hearts of men for healing and unity to be restored. Resurrection power in Acts flows most freely when believers come together as witnesses and warriors. The early Christians witnessed not just the one-time event of Christ’s resurrection, but also the miracles God did in and through them afterwards as He released ongoing resurrection power.
Believers are in divine “boot camp,” being trained together for God’s army. God will bring people alongside us at crucial moments to help us through painful places, to provide support, and to encourage so that we all graduate into serviceable soldiers and warriors for His Kingdom. We are not meant do life alone!
YOU ARE NOT ALONE
As I’ve pondered my own mission and prayed about what God is doing right now, I have discovered that the deepest cry of my heart is identical to the cry of so many other leaders and warriors who have gone before me. At its simplest, the cry is this:
“God, if you don’t go with us, we’re not going. We MUST have Your Presence!”
Moses, Hannah, Gideon, Jeremiah, and Jesus all echoed this cry. Many leaders and prayer warriors are echoing it now.
The funny part is that God happens to agree!
Jesus says: “Apart from Me you can do nothing.” Why, then, do we think that God would leave us stranded, or “forget” that we need His assistance? He answers that prayer, saying: “I will never - no, NEVER - leave you without support” (Hebrews 13:5).
As I stood on the shore of a Cape Cod beach last week, sharing communion with the Lord by the sea, this same cry welled up in my heart again. It has been a difficult year in so many respects for all of us. Who can even begin to process what is happening on the earth today? How can we be effective witnesses for Christ, especially as persecution increases? Lord, please show us the way!
Christ is the way. There seems to be no better solution than this. Amidst all of the “swirling” of the enemy and the amplified “noise” that screams from every mountain of society, my only job is to fix my gaze squarely on HIM. To look into His beautiful eyes and to hear Him say to me over and over until I truly believe: “I will never leave you. I have never forsaken you. You are Mine.”
Praying for each of you,
PROPHESY RESURRECTION AND RESTORATION OVER YOUR LIFE AS YOU WORSHIP:
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A severe hearing loss from childhood caused Deborah Perkins to develop what she now calls her secret weapon: tuning in to God's voice. A Wellesley College graduate and an award-winning writer, Deborah is now a wife and mother of 3 boys. Deborah has devoted over 25 years to professional and lay Christian ministry in New England and beyond. Her passion is inspiring people to cultivate greater intimacy with God.