Witnesses of the Lord

Witnesses of the Lord

Our culture is in a desperate need of a witness to the truth about God. This week’s Time magazine illustrates this need with marked clarity, at least clarity to the Christian, anyway. The cover story reads, “The God Gene: Does Our DNA Compel Us to Seek a Higher Power?” The cover article inside begins this way: “It is not hard to see the Divinity behind the water temples that dot the right terraces and valleys. It is there in the white-clad, high priests presiding in the temple. It, divinity, is there in the twenty-three priests serving along with him, selected for their job when they were still children by a bevy of virgin priestesses. It, divinity, is there in the rituals the priests performed to protect the island’s water.”

Now, the American writer, Jeffrey Kluger, clearly sees God in all of this that is happening in Bali. America is in desperate need for a clear witness of the truth about God; the truth about Jesus Christ. Christian, please understand that people all around you, day-in and day-out, need your witness for the truth about God. The article went on to invite the reader to take a twenty question test to determine how spiritual one is. It simply asked the question, “How spiritual are you?” in the list of twenty questions. Let me just read a couple of them. You are supposed to answer “True” or “False.”

“I sometimes feel so connected to nature that everything seems to be part of one living organism.”

Another one: “I seem to have a sixth sense that sometimes allows me to know what is going to happen.”

Another one: “I feel a strong sense of unity with all things around me.”

“True” or “False?”

“Even after thinking about something for a long time I have learned to trust my feelings more than my logical reasoning.”  On the basis of this survey, at the end, it gives you a score. If you have fourteen or above “True”, you are highly spiritual; a real mystic. I found myself being a “practical empiricist lacking self-transcendency.” Amen!

If the world around us needs a witness to the Truth about God, it is because they don’t have “truth.” That much is absolutely evident. If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, you are that witness. You are the witness that God intends to bring to this world. You are the witness that God has left to the shine light of truth in the spiritual darkness that consumes the world around you. The burden is upon us.

The entire Book of Acts describes the witness of Jesus’ church in this world. There is a book of history that tells the story how a small sect of Jews turned the world upside-down simply through their witness, and this great story begins with the resurrected Jesus Christ giving His last words before He ascends into Heaven. Jesus said,

           “You shall be my witnesses…”

He is talking directly, of course, to the 1st Century Apostles in Acts 1. But, He is also talking to every person who decides to follow Him in faith. You are Jesus’ witnesses.

Someone might immediately say, “But I don’t know how. I don’t think I can be an effective witness for Jesus Christ,” and the answer to that protest is, “Yes, you can!” God gives you everything you need to be absolutely effective in your witness in this world. We may not use those resources but God gives us everything that we need to be effective.

In Acts 1, God describes for us at least four specific provisions, I believe there are more than four in this text, but we are going to look at four provisions, given by God for us to be effective in our witness for Him. You don’t need to be an outgoing personality to be an effective witness. You don’t need to have the gift of gab. You don’t have to have the brilliant mind of a scholar to answer and refute all the philosophies of the day. You don’t even need to be able to speak before large groups in order to be a witness. You do need to make use of provisions that God has given you.

What are these provisions? Provision Number One, you see right away, is that God gives us an objective message about Jesus. This message is history. It is factual history.

Let’s look at how Acts opens up. Luke is writing and he says,

          “In my former book, Theophilus…”

Now, of course he is writing and referring to The Gospel of Luke that is written for us in the New Testament, and he says,

          “…I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach…”

The idea here is that this book that he is writing is the continuation of what Jesus is doing and teaching, and, it is what Jesus is doing and teaching thought the Apostles. He goes on to say…

          “…until the day that He was taken up into Heaven…”

Luke is physician but he is also an historian and he is very interested in being careful with the facts, and, so that he is able to present the facts of history, the history of Jesus, the history of His words, the history of His works, and the history of the church, Jesus’ church. Those who are witnesses of Jesus Christ must have the facts about Jesus, and Luke provides them. Not only does he provide them, but we also have Matthew, Mark, and John providing these specific objective facts regarding Jesus’ life and also regarding the specific words that Jesus taught.

The Gospel message, this objective message, is subjective and that is rooted in history that is indeed history, must be clearly understood if we are to be effective witnesses for Jesus. Any lack of understanding in these objective truths regarding Jesus’ work and His word will absolutely devastate the witness of the church; it will devastate the witness that you have in your personal life, for if a person is not presented with the clear facts about Jesus, then they cannot trust in those facts, can they? And, if a person does not trust in these truths, these objective truths of the Gospel, then that person cannot be saved for there is not salvation outside of the objective truths of the Gospel.

In this regard, the Christian’s witness does not depend upon some ideology; the Christian’s witness does not depend upon some system of morality, but the Christian’s witness is, first of all, rooted in history. Becoming a Christian requires that one know the history of Jesus’ life; know the history of His death; knows the history of His resurrection and that they believe in it.

Luke is going to go on and write, in regards to this history in Verses 2 and 3,

          “…until the day He was taken up into Heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the Apostles
           he had chosen.”

That is history – history after His life, history about what happened after the resurrection, and then in Verse 3,

          “…after His suffering…”

That’s history,

          “…he showed himself to these men…”

That’s history.

          “…and He gave many convincing proofs…”

What are these proofs? They are historical proofs.

…He gave many convincing proofs that He was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke…about the Kingdom of God.

Keep your fingers in Acts 1, and look back on how Luke closes his Gospel. He closes it with the same emphasis upon this provision that God gives us an objective, factual message about Jesus Christ, that that is essential to our witness.

And, in Luke 24:46 and following, He tells these Disciples,

          “This is what is written: (That) The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and
          repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at  Jerusalem.
          You are witnesses of these things.”

When we emphasize the historical nature of the Christian faith, it is not just the facts we are emphasizing, it is also the significant sign of the facts.

And the Gospel facts are in indeed these:

  • that Jesus Christ came into this world; God became a man, took on human flesh; and He lived an absolutely, perfectly righteous life. He lived without sin and He fulfilled all the requirements of the Law so that those requirements might be met for us by another;
  • that Jesus, then, would suffer and that He would die upon a cross and His death would be the only sacrifice that was accepted by the Father for the sins of mankind;
  • that this same Jesus would be buried and that He would rise from the dead on the third day, bodily, literally, and that His resurrection would validate His teaching and His sacrifice;
  • then this Jesus would appear before many and present Himself many times to His followers. God, being gracious to give us many convincing proofs; and the final fact, with regard to the Christian faith is
  • that everyone must believe in this Jesus, this historical Jesus, in order to be saved.

This is true, authentic Christianity. If one fails to embrace these Truths, then that one is not a Christian by Biblical definition.

One of the reasons that the church whose witness is powerless today is that, either we do not know the Truth of the message of the Gospel, or we have timidly shrunk away form communicating it; either we don’t know it well enough in order to clearly communicate it to others, or we timidly shrink away from that knowing that those objective facts are rather difficult for most people in our post-modern world. We must return to this objective Gospel message if we are to be effective in our witness. We must return to these Truths faithfully, fully, and fervently.

Today, post-modern man and post-modern woman revolt against the idea that objective facts have any importance in religion what-so-ever. What really matters is one’ personal ethics. What really matters is one’s objective experience that religion might offer you; everyone’s religion is equally the same because none of them are tied to any real truth. Again, I quote from the Time article. The writer writes: “Ask true believers of any faith to describe the mot important thing that drives their devotion, and they will tell you it is not a “thing” at all, but a sense, a feeling, of a higher power far beyond us.”

Now that author may accurately describe every other religion in the world, but that author does not describe at all the Christian faith, because the Christian faith does not say it is first and foremost a “sense” or a “feeling,” but rather it is a real person – the person of Jesus Christ.

Christian, aren’t you glad that God gave us something more than a “sense,” something more than a “feeling,” to base the eternal existence of our life upon; that God had given us truth that is rooted in these many convincing proofs that Luke tells us about? Sadly, it has grown common for even Christians to reduce the Christian faith to some optimistic, possibility-thinking, philosophy of life, or to reduce and to dilute these Truths to some ethical formula for healthy living in your families and with your finances. This is such a great temptation that even evangelical truths view a careful study of the Truth written in God’s Word as secondary. Now often evangelical churches will not say this, but by their practice this is what they believe so that sound Biblical teaching, sound Biblical theology rooted in the facts and in these truths are largely ignored or replaced with personal testimony, with interesting dramas, with energetic singing, and with practical life applications.

There is nothing wrong with any of those things, except when they begin to become the substitute, or the replacement, for solid, historical truths recorded for us in God’s Word. We must return to the Bible if revival is to happen within the church of Jesus Christ. If revival is to break out in God’s church, it will begin with the renewal of emphasis upon knowing and embracing these Truths found in the Bible.

Someone might say, “Okay, Pastor, I can see that there is a problem here. I noticed it among many Bible studies that I attend. I noticed it in churches that I may go to. But what really can I do about it? This problem is huge! What can I, as a single Christian, do about it?”

There are a couple of applications. First, I would urge you to get into the Scripture for your personal life. If you do not do that, there is no other application that you can be made. To devote yourself to the study of God’s Word and to know, that as you do so, you will have an effect upon believers outside of even your own family.

Paul exhorts Timothy (2 Timothy 2:15),

          “Timothy be diligent to study, to show yourself approved unto God a workman that need not be ashamed.”

The second application step that I would urge you towards is to demand sound Bible teaching from your church leaders and your pastors and your elders. Too many Christians demand the helpful hints; demand the possibility-thinking philosophy, demand subjective experiences from their church, and churches are willing to supply it if that is what is required to build a congregation, and yet, absolutely, Bible teaching should have application, but application that is connected to the Truth. Applications apart of the knowledge of the person of Jesus Christ are lifeless. It has no practical effect, no life-changing effect upon us. The effectiveness of every believer’s ministry depends, in a large measure, upon the clear and firm grasp of the Scriptures, and it is tragic to see believers and churches seek to win the lost or disciple the saved with their Bibles closed. Such evangelism, such discipleship, simply cannot be done.

The first gift that God gives us in order to be an effective witness is: He gives us the fats rooted in history.

The second thing that God provides for us so we can be an effective witness is that God gives us a subjective experience with Jesus. Again, objective facts don’t eliminate the subjective experience and it doesn’t make the subjective experience unimportant. No, it is deeply important for us to have a subjective experience with the living, almighty God through the person of Jesus Christ.

That is what we read in Verse 4 and 5,

          “On one occasions, while he was eating with them (His Disciples), he gave them this command: Do not leave
          Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised (you), which you  have  heard  me speak about.
         For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”

So, they first had a subjective experience of eating with the Lord Jesus Christ. They knew Him personally. But then Jesus is going to describe for them the subjective experience they are going to have with the third person of the Trinity – the Holy Spirit; that he is going to baptize them, Jesus is going to baptize them, with this Holy Spirit.

If we are to be witnesses to Jesus, we must have the life of Jesus in our soul. We must be born again. We must be baptized with the Holy Spirit. Now this baptism with the Holy Spirit was future for the Apostles; it was about to come, as we will read about in Acts 2, but, for us today, this experience with the Holy Spirit occurs at the moment of our salvation, at the moment of our conversion. I Corinthians 12:13, you may remember, tells us that,

          “We were all baptized in one Spirit…”

so every believer has this experience with the Holy Spirit. It is not for a special, select group of people; it is not a special privilege for a few; but it is, this experience is, to be for everyone. Along with this experience, this experience of having the regenerate life of God, there is a daily experience that God calls us to that is also related to the Holy Spirit’s work, and that is that God commands that each one of us be filled with the Holy Spirit in Ephesians 5. This is to say that we are to yield control of our lives over to God in such a way that it is the Holy Spirit working in our lives and through our lives each and every moment of each and every day. This is to be our experience if we are to be witnesses.

Please understand that even the Apostles, who have been with Jesus for three years did not have an effective witness until after they had this subjective experience with the Holy Spirit, and neither will we if we are not genuinely born again. If we have not been transformed by the life of God, and if we are not walking by God’s Spirit day-by-day, we will not be able to have an effective witness.

There is a danger for a few churches, and I underline that it is a few churches, of emphasizing objective truth so much that there is no focus what-so-ever on the subjective experience of God’s Grace transforming a life, and this is equally wrong and equally dangerous to the church. The witness is not solely about repeating a few facts that we know about Jesus because we learned these verses in Sunday school, but the witness is about a personal relationship, a personal experience, a personal friendship that we have with God through Jesus Christ.

The necessity of having a subjective experience in order to be an effective witness is true of every kind of witness that might be made. For instance, if your friend’s car breaks down, he might ask, “Do you have a mechanic that you could recommend?” It is one thing to say, “Well, I learned that there is a guy that is pretty good over here on this street.” It is another thing to say, “Well, I’ve taken my car to this guy for the last ten years and every time I have taken my car to him, he has worked out beautifully. He’s fixed the problem. He’s reasonable in his prices. This is the guy I would tell you to go see.” Now, which witness would be effective for you when considering where to take your car: the one that has no subjective experience or the one that has ten year’s worth of subjective experience? Of course, you are going to be more convinced by the one who has had some personal interaction.

Another illustration – in our family, we love Culver’s Frozen Custard, and it is a joy to be able to say, “Hey, have you tried Culver’s? That’s great frozen custard! We just love it,” as opposed to being able to say, “You know, I’ve heard this place over here has good ice cream, frozen custard, whatever they call it. You might want to try it out sometime.” I’m not able to be passionate if it doesn’t come from a first-hand experience. I’m not able to become convincing. I’m not able to have the same kind of enthusiasm I might have. My motives for witnessing to that particular product are going to be different. The motives of first-hand experience are motives of joy, motives of love, right, and these are to be our motives for the witness of our Lord Jesus Christ. We should not be witnesses merely because we are told this is what we are supposed to be.

But we have this personal experience in such a way that it is a joy to say, “Hey, I found the secret, the answer behind life itself. It is Jesus and here is wheat He has done for me. Let me tell you about that.” What an amazing impact such passion from first-hand knowledge can have – first-hand knowledge of the risen Christ. This is a part of the Apostles witness in Acts 4:20.

The Apostle says,

          “For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.”

Isn’t that great! And, that is true first-hand knowledge. We can’t help but speaking about what we have seen and heard in regard to the Lord Jesus Christ. There is a vast difference between the witness that comes from first-hand knowledge, first-hand testimony, and that which is more distant.

Again, some of you may grow concerned and say, “I don’t know if I’ve had this subjective experience you are talking about.” I want to be very careful not to describe this experience too specifically because there are vast differences between these experiences, between these subjective experiences that believers have when they come to faith in Jesus Christ. In the Bible, for instance, the Apostle Paul was on a crusade of animosity and antagonism against Jesus Christ, and Jesus Christ met him on a road in a bright light that blinded him, and with a specific, audible word that told him to change the direction of his life. And Paul did that.

That was not the case, for instance, with the Philippian jailer. He was at a point of despair in his life. He was about ready to commit suicide when he heard that there was someone who could offer him a hope though living. The Ethiopian eunuch was sort of “very interested” in the Scriptures, so much so that he had gone to Jerusalem to worship and on his way back he was reading the Old Testament. It seemed like it to be a very gradual process with his interest growing; of his understanding of the Scriptures. He came to Isaiah and he didn’t understand it. God sent him Philip and Philip opened his eyes, “This is talking about Jesus,” and the Ethiopian eunuch said, “Well, what is there to keep me from being baptized then?” It doesn’t seem to be emotional at all; it is simply, “Well, this is the course that God has been leading me all along. It is time for me to believe and trust in Jesus and be baptized in His name.” I want to be careful that you don’t misunderstand when we talk about a subjective experience that you have to have to some event like one of your friends, or like a testimony you heard in church. You must be able to say, “I know on a personal basis the living Lord Jesus Christ. I know the power of having my sins forgiven. I know the joy of having life in God and with God and I am very thankful for that.”

The question is: “Do you? Do you know the Lord Jesus Christ? Do you know Him by your personal experience,” not, “Have you heard about Him in church all of your life,” but, “Do you know God through Jesus Christ? Have you trusted in Him and found life in Him?” That is most important for you to ask, and if you search your soul and say, “I am not sure,” I would urge you to search and search and call out to God until you are certain of that very relational experience with God.

I have a couple of applications for you: Don’t let your faith in the living Lord Jesus Christ become coldly objective and impersonal.

It is possible, for some of you are remembering back to a day when you remember that experience and remember how your heart burned within you and something has been lost here over the years. Return to your joy; remember the things of the past and repent of some things in the present and ask God to further return joy to your salvation, but remember, don’t let your faith grow coldly objective.

The second application is: testify to what God has done for you. Tell others personally, “This is what Jesus Christ has done for me…”

The third provision that God makes for us: God has given us a command from Jesus; so God commissions us. What a great provision that is; that we have authority now to enter into the world with this gospel message. God told us we have to have it.

Acts 1:6,

          So when they met together, they asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”

Now these are some things we really, really curious about, but God never intends for us to know. And, the Disciples, early on, became very, very curious about the timing of the establishment of the Kingdom that God, through Christ, is going to set up here on the Earth.

Again, the Disciples were partly right in their question. They did understand correctly from the Old Testament, and Jesus’ words, that there would be a literal Earthly Kingdom. And, it is natural for them, in some way, after the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and having seen the Lord for the last forty days to say, “Okay, you know, we kind of stood with you through the crucifixion part and things got really dark and we thought there maybe was no Kingdom at all. And now we see you have a plan to bring the Kingdom. Is it now? Is now the time for that?”

It is kind of like your kids when you are going on a long trip and what is the question they ask from the back seat, “Are we there yet?” “Are we there yet?” “Are we there yet?” and you know it is not an inappropriate question. You are glad that they are excited about getting to the destination that you have chosen for a family vacation. Wouldn’t it be terrible for them to say, “Boy, we don’t want to be there yet because it is going to be a real crumby vacation?” It is kind of pleasing to a parent to know the kids are excited about the destination you have chosen to go together as a family. But, it is also a bit irritating to hear the question over and over again, and you really want them to enjoy the journey. You want them to say, “Okay, it’s going to be a little while yet. When we get there we will really have fun but we can also make this time productive right now in between.”

That seems to be what Jesus is explaining to these Disciples, “Listen, okay!”

He says in Verse 7,

          “…It is not for you to know…”

“There are some things that God does not intend for you to know, and the timing of my second coming and the timing and the dates for this establishment of this millennial Kingdom is one of those things. The Father has set these times and these dates by His own authority,” He goes on to say. Again, Jesus, I believe, is affirming that there is going to be a literal Kingdom, but that literal Kingdom, the timing of its coming, is not for them to know.

Bible prophesy is not at all unclear as to what God is going to do. He is going to send His Son back to establish the Kingdom, but as to when these events will occur we have no information – we have no data what-so-ever. It is intriguing because just as the Disciples were curious, and they were told so clearly by the Lord, “This is not for you to know.”

Over the centuries of the Christian church, there have always been people who thought that it was for them to know, and that they were to communicate to other people what those times and what those dates exactly were. I would just encourage you as Christ’s church, look at the Scriptures and then do not be fooled by anyone who claims to know when the Lord will return to rapture His church. They do not know “the timing or the dates” anymore than the wee toddlers down in the nursery room would know. You might as well go ask one of them when the Lord would come than some of those other self-proclaimed Bible scholars who give out dates. So be very careful with what we believe.

Our minds are to dwell upon Jesus Christ, upon the Cross, and upon His present glory, His future return, not on some specific dates. All of these things, Jesus says, are in the hands, the Sovereign hands of the Father’s power. These events will come in His timing, not earlier, not later. God is absolutely in sovereign control, and I think this is very important for us, particularly as Americans who have so much involvement and influence over even our own government, that we don’t ever begin to think that we, as men and women, are in control. It is God still sovereignly working out His plan. But that does not mean we have a lackadaisical, passive attitude to our work in this world towards a righteous end. But, it does mean we trust the Father always.

Verse 8,

          “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes (upon) you; and you will be my
           witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all of Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the Earth.”

It is not our job to know the dates and the times of the coming of the Lord and the establishment of His Kingdom, but it is our job, is what Jesus is saying, “This is your focus. This is what I want you to dwell upon – to be witnesses in this world while you are waiting for me and for the establishment of the Kingdom.” We are to focus on the work that Jesus Christ has given, “You shall be my witnesses,” and that word “witnesses” appears over twenty-nine times in The Book of Acts, indicating that this is what we are to do. This commandment is given in each of the four Gospels:

Matthew 28:18-20,

          “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations; baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son,
          and the Holy Spirit.”

Mark 16:15,

          “Go and preach the Gospel to all nations.”

Luke 24, Jesus is saying,

         “You (will be my) witnesses of these things.”

And then John 20:21, (KJV),

          “(Even) as the Father has sent me, so now send I you out into this world to be witnesses.”

Notice that there are five separate occasions in the span of forty days of time after the resurrection of Jesus Christ in which Jesus sets aside His Disciples and says, “Now you are going to be my witnesses.” Each of those is recorded. They give a different aspect of this witness so there is something new in each one; something that we should learn from each one, but on five separate occasions Jesus takes His Disciples and says, “You will be my witnesses.”

Do we see that this is a major focus of Jesus’ teaching and encouragement to His Disciples? Yes, and it is His encouragement and His focus for His church today. This is our mission. We must not loose sight of our vision to reach our local community with the Truth about Jesus. At the same time, we must not loose sight of God’s mission set for us to reach all the world with the Gospel. It must not be enough for us, as Christians, to simply have “church;” to come and sing some great songs of worship, to come and fellowship together, to come together and pool our money so we can give to the poor, so that we can care for one another. All of these things are vital elements in a healthy church, but we must not be satisfied with these things. We must be about the mission that God has given the church: to be witnesses. “The church that lives for itself will die by itself,” someone has once said.

Stay on task, church. You have a mission from Jesus, and that mission is mandated is to be global in our perspective and passion; not just to concern ourselves with those who are close at home, but to be concerned about those, whom we perhaps, and probably, will never meet, will never see.

Now this places a great inconvenience upon the church. No doubt it places an inconvenience upon us, for indeed, we do have enough need right here in this church and in the neighborhood just immediately surrounding the church, to keep us all busy for a whole lifetime, but Jesus doesn’t just stop with saying, “Be witnesses in Jerusalem.” It would make sense to my mind if He did. Everyone has a church in Jerusalem, right? Jesus says, “Well, no they don’t yet. That is why we need to go out into Judea and Samaria and into the uttermost parts of the world?”

This is to be our focus as well; to take the Gospel beyond those whom we can see and we can shake hands with, to those people whom we don’t naturally have an affinity for, who we might not naturally even love because we don’t know them. God says, “Take the Gospel of Jesus Christ to them. This is my mandate for my church.”

Pioneer missionary to India and Persia, Henry Martin said, “The spirit of Christ is the spirit of missions, and the nearer we get to Him, the more intensely missionary we will become.”

Beloved, is your heart intensely missionary? Do you have a desire to reach people around you here, but you also have a heart that is burning passionately to see that everyone in the whole world gets the Gospel and that somehow we have a part in that? It becomes obvious to us when we see the size of missions to know that we can never do this on our own. That is why God give us the church and makes the church one so that we may work together in this cause.

The fourth provision: God has given us power through His Holy Spirit; He has given us an objective message about Jesus; He has given us a subjective experience with Jesus; He has given us a mandate from Jesus; and now He has given us power through His Holy Spirit, and it is really through Jesus that Jesus provides the Holy Spirit, and He says in Verse 8,

          “…you (shall) receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you.”

All Christian ministry depends upon the Holy Spirit’s activity in our lives, in our witness, and in the lives of those we are witnessing to. Without the Holy Spirit we would not be able to speak boldly. We would be too timid. Without the Holy Spirit we would not be able to speak effectively. Without the Holy Spirit we would not be able to live out the Gospel so our lives would contradict the message of our lips. Without the Holy Spirit those whom we speak to would never be convicted of sin. Our words can’t convince them of that. The heart darkens. Without the Holy Spirit our words could never bring life or regeneration in the heart of another person. That is the Holy Spirit working. He must work if the word and the Truth of the Gospel are to have an affect, and so it is the Holy Spirit’s power that is absolutely necessary for us if we are to be effective in our witness. The Gospel cannot advance through human talent or human resources alone. We must have the Holy Spirit’s power working us.

For that reason I would give you a couple of applications.

First, beloved Christian, be filled with God Spirit everyday. You say, “Well, how am I filled with God’s Spirit?” It is just simply a matter of every day saying, “Lord, I’m yielding control over my life. My life is no my own anymore. It is yours and I want to do whatever you want me to do. I am asking for your Spirit to fill me so that I would be empowered to overcome the temptations that I face, and, I willingly yield control of my life over to His control; over to His guidance; to His control, and I embrace the Lordship of Jesus Christ is present in my life.”

Teaching well-prepared lessons in Sunday school class is not enough. We have to teach the Power of the Holy Spirit. Preaching eloquent sermons is not enough. A preacher has to depend upon God’s Holy Spirit for his power or else there will be no effect outside of the effect of, “Hey, that was a nice message, teacher,” “That was a nice sermon, pastor.” A Christian seeking to witness without the Holy Spirit is like a mechanic without his wrenches; like a carpenter without his saw. What can he do – nothing without the tools necessary?

The last application I would make: I would urge you to pray. Pray for others and their witness. Pray for the people to whom you are witnessing that God would be at work. Pray for me here, your Pastor at Bethany Baptist Church. I need God’s power and I need you to pray for God’s power. Pray for the Evangelism Explosion teams that go out on Sunday evenings. Come to “First Prayer” once a month on Wednesday night. Come and pray with the church, because apart from God’s power we will not be effective in our witness here in this community and beyond, and God’s power comes as we seek and ask for Him to empower us.

We are called to be eye-witnesses. Before we are eye-witnesses though, we have to have experienced the Lord Jesus Christ’s saving power. I would ask you: “Have you? Have you come to know that your sins are forgiven through the Lord Jesus Christ and His death and his resurrection; His sacrificial death on the Cross for you and His resurrection from the dead validating that He is who He is claiming to be – God becoming flesh; the Lord of Lords and King of Kings? Have you come to know Jesus Christ in this way?

My friend, Jesus Christ loves to be known. He doesn’t play a game of hide-and-seek – trying to hide from those who are seeking after Him. No, the moment you begin to seek Him, He opens Himself to you. He says, “Seek and you will find. Knock and the door will be opened. Ask and you will receive.” That is why I would urge you to simply call out and ask, “God, will you have mercy upon my soul? I need the life of Christ inside of me.” And, as you do so, know that God transforms your life by the power of the Spirit which Jesus came to give you. Let us be witnesses to the glory of God and the saving power of the Gospel message.