Many evangelists, especially young ones, seem to believe that given the proper methods, reinforced with zealous and attractive personnel, just about any city or province may be taken for the Lord.
Such determination and zeal are commendable so long as it is remembered that, in the last analysis, each community, and every person, has the final word on whether or not it or he will serve the Lord.
He must remember that no method, personality, system, or anything else can win the whole world for Jesus Christ, bind it in golden chains, and lay it at the Redeemer’s feet, the insurmountable obstacle being what it has ever been, the stubborn will of sinful and unregenerated people.
Take the case of Capernaum: It must be admitted that Jesus was an effective and powerful evangelist, being himself none other than the glorious Head of our holy religion.
Moreover, his helpers had the rank of apostles, being capable, industrious, diligent, and intelligent persons; and they knew the territory, five of them having been brought up in the suburbs of Capernaum.
Yes, and Jesus got the community’s attention.
He raised Jarius’ daughter from the dead, and Jairus was the ruler of the synagogue (Mark 5:22).
He healed the centurion’s servant, and the centurion commanded the Roman military presence in the city and was doubtless the richest man in the whole area, having built the Jews a synagogue (Matthew 8:5-13; Luke 7:1-5).
Also, the Lord cured the son of the king’s personal representative in that town, called “a certain nobleman” (John 4:46ff).
If such deeds did not get the total attention of Capernaum, nothing could have done it.
Add to all this the impassioned preaching of the Son of God, and one is forced to the conclusion that there is no way that Capernaum could have been won for the Lord.
Who can doubt this?
The intangible factor in evangelism is the people themselves, every individual one of them, each having the power to oppose the heavenly will if he so decides.
Are there such places as Capernaum today?
You’d better believe it.
Illustration: A large dog food company had a convention in a great city for hundreds of their salesmen; and, with the great auditorium overflowing with salesmen, the president of the company made his presentation.
“Look at this,” he said. “This beautiful golden can with the red label holds thirteen ounces of pure protein; it will make your dog’s coat silky, his teeth white, and his disposition adorable. It has all the vitamins and minerals added and costs only 39 cents a can; why can’t you go out and sell a billion cans of it?”
Pausing dramatically to let the import of his tremendous message sink in, he was dumbfounded and the convention propelled into a near riot, when, from away up in the balcony, somebody shouted, “The dogs don’t like it!”
That is the way it is, alas, with the gospel of Christ.
As long as people prefer to commit fornication and drink liquor rather than serve the Lord, many a loving message of faith and salvation shall fail of its intended fruit.
This brief verse has the effect of identifying the apostles as the ones addressed with regard to opening their minds to understand the Scriptures. The apostles were “witnesses” in the unique sense of having associated with Jesus from the baptism of John until he was taken up into heaven, a point to which Luke would return in the book of Acts (Acts 1:22).
This verse also, as indicated by Luke 24:48, was addressed to the apostles. They were here instructed not to begin the task of worldwide evangelism until they had been clothed with power from on high.
Jesus also told them that “Ye shall receive power, when the Holy Spirit is come upon you” (Acts 1:8).
The power was to come after the Holy Spirit came upon them; and, since this event occurred upon the first Pentecost after the resurrection, it is quite correct to identify that Pentecost as the beginning of the gospel age, the birthday of the church, the beginning of Christ’s reign upon the throne of David, etc.
All of this is clearly evident in Acts 2.