“…when the Holy Spirit has come upon you…” (Ac.1:8)

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“But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you (literally: ye shall receive the power of the Holy Ghost coming upon you); and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Ac.1:8)

 

A promise, an encouragement and a marching order

The verse we are going to examine constitutes a promise, an encouragement and a marching order to all those who belong to the Lord’s spiritual army. A promise because they will receive power when the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Holy Trinity, the promised Guide and Comforter has come upon those who belong to Him. An encouragement, because they will not be sent to the battle alone and in their own strength and weapons and a marching order by which they are given instructions where to go, when to go and what to do. That was the first fundamental statement of the Lord Jesus concerning the beginning of the New Testament evangelistic era in which the Holy Spirit would take the lead.

Every true believer has the Holy Spirit (Eph.1:3) because without the Holy Spirit it is impossible to belong to Christ. It is impossible to have God’s testimony in ourselves without belonging to God (Ro.8:9; 1Co.3:16; 1Jo.2:27; Ro.8:14, 16 and Gal.4:6). The Bible teaches that the initial visitation of the Holy Spirit is not enough for the true believer. He must keep being filled with the Holy Spirit. For such a continuous infilling, the believer’s active obedience and cooperation are required. The commandment “… do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit” (Eph.5:18) is addressed to true believers. Be filled with the Holy Spirit is absolutely necessary for the believer’s service and fruitfulness. It constitutes at the same time the result of repentance and faith… This is but the “filling” of the believer’s heart from the one Who is already there: What is going to happen when you release the sponge that you keep in the water squeezed in your hand? It will be filled with water! This commandment is expressed in the imperative and in the passive voice. That means: it is a commandment, just like the commandment, for example, not to commit adultery. As regards the filling with the Spirit, we see that we ourselves cannot fill our heart with the Holy Spirit Someone else, that is God, can and wants to fill it… provided we offer it “empty” The filling of the believer’s heart is not only for the super-saints but also for every sinner that has learned to tell the truth in his heart, to repent and believe.

The best way for the believer to be filled with the Holy Spirit and His power is not by trying to become better but by confessing that he has failed, that he has no love in his heart, that he has been disobedient etc. and that he needs the Holy Spirit. God cleanses by the blood of Jesus whatever we humbly and sincerely confess and the Holy Spirit fills the gap or the room left by the sin which was cleansed by Jesus Christ’s blood. However, if the believer has a certain known sin in the believer’s life, there will be no further progress unless he repents, confesses and rejects it. There will be ‘stagnation’ and sooner or later it will be transformed into backsliding. We must not, therefore, grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by Whom we were ‘sealed’ for the day of redemption with an attitude, which is not worthy of the Gospel: “Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you (Eph.4:31-32). We must not quench the Spirit (1Th.5:19-20) but, on the contrary, seek the presence and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit (Eph.4:30-31; Ac.7:51; Pr.29:1; 1Thes.5:19-20). We must ‘sow in the Spirit’ (Pr.1:23 and Ac.2:38; 1Joh.1:7-9; Ac.5:32).

The opposite of “doing bad” is not “doing good” but “obeying the truth”. We can do nothing without Christ. We can do nothing without the Holy Spirit. The only thing we can do is to admit honestly the truth, it is to tell humbly the truth in our heart, it is to confess our need, our inability, our failures and our sin and seek God’s mercy and grace. God will forgive us and cleanse us.

The Word of God describes in a wonderful and extremely comprehensive way all the above-mentioned points, that is, God’s requirements: “He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Mic.6:8). The “good” is to live in the fear of God (De.10:12-13); to “do justly” is to judge in truth, which means that we live honestly towards ourselves and before God, that is, in repentance and truth; to “love mercy” means that our heart has made the choice to love in deed and in truth as well as to forgive others as God has forgiven us; and finally “to walk humbly with your God” means not to think of ourselves more highly than we ought to think, always remembering that we all deserved a cross and that on that cross Jesus was nailed in order that we be spared from the penalty of eternal damnation.

When a man asks for the forgiveness of his sins humbly and sincerely, then God will cleanse his soul and will fill him with His Holy Spirit. But attention: when we confess our sins we must not use the expression “If I have done wrong, if, if, if”, if we know that we have done wrong… To walk in the light means that I admit humbly the spiritual stains that I see in me. The Holy Spirit does not convict in order to condemn us but to console and discipline us.

I would like, at this point, to open a parenthesis: When the Holy Spirit is given to us, He seeks to help us obey and do God’s will. He enlightens our spirit so that our heart (our will), obeys or surrenders to God’s will. The fact that our spirit is enlightened and agrees with God’s will does not mean that our heart has said YES to the light, which our mind has received: The knowledge that we have acquired does not mean obedience! When man’s mind is in error and the Spirit of God reveals that error and man admits his error, this does not mean that the error has left! Man’s will must cooperate, must make the right wilful choice and must decide to comply with God’s will … God’s Word says: “casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled.” (2Co.10:5-6). This does not mean that when “the thought is surrendered” but when “the heart is surrendered”, then and only then it is possible to see the error and the fortresses of resistance cast down. Only when man is surrendered (Ro.12:1-2), only when he gives his heart (Prov.23:26), then, and only then, can his character be changed. When the heart believes and obeys the truth, then, and only then, the truth sets him free (Joh.8:32). It does not suffice to understand or to admit intellectually… One of my collaborators that I esteemed highly for his love for the truth and his objectivity told me one day: “What you preach, John, is absolutely correct and I admit that it is so, but I don’t want the life you preach. I want to do my own thing, whatever I like…”

As soon as one dies to sin and to self, then there is no obstacle for the Holy Spirit to fill immediately the believer’s heart! And as every believer is called to surrender to God … just in the same way he is called to be filled with the Holy Spirit. True sanctification is inseparably bound to the work of the Spirit in the believer’s heart. Sanctification means cleansing. Cleansing results in being filled with the presence and manifestation of the Holy Spirit. If we give humbly and sincerely ourselves to God, God takes us, purifies us by the blood of Jesus and then fills us with the Holy Spirit without any delay.

The accomplishment of the promise turns everything upside down

Let us examine carefully this verse, which I repeat: “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Ac.1:8)

We see that this is the key verse of the book of Acts of the Apostles because whatever the apostles and the first Christians said and did was due to the power of the Holy Spirit. Thousands of people were converted to Christ immediately after the day of Pentecost, miracles were done by the hands of the apostles and finally a fantastic influence was exerted by Christianity all over the whole Roman Empire and later all over the world. The water (Spirit) that God gives the believer becomes in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life (Joh.4:14).

Rome conquered Athens militarily but Athens conquered Rome through its culture and language. In a similar but more wonderful and miraculous way, a handful of Christians, in spite of the persecutions they suffered at the hands of the Jews and the Romans, subdued” the Roman Empire and turned the world upside down by the power of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit’s weapons were faith, love and purity. Wonders and miracles accompanied the first Christians’ testimonies. For example, “…Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and signs among the people.” (Ac.6:8). The miracles operated by the first Christians were such that Simon who previously practiced sorcery envied that power and asked the apostle Peter, saying, “Give me this power also, that anyone on whom I lay hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” (Ac.8:19), which was unthinkable…

What is the Holy Spirit? A divisible power or an indivisible Person?

That promise about the Holy Spirit was fulfilled not long after that day: “When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” (Ac.2:1-4). Was the power that the apostles received an invisible spiritual liquid that when it was poured on them resulted in additional spiritual power? No! Absolutely not! The Holy Spirit comes to inhabit in them! Unbelievable, incomprehensible but true! Let us remind ourselves what Isaiah says: “For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.” (Isa.57:15) That “power” was the manifestation of the presence of the Holy Spirit IN them. The Holy Spirit was not and is not something that can be divided and be given in portions as if it were a thing or a matter. The Holy Spirit is an indivisible person. A Person that can speak, intercede, give power, give guidance and distribute gifts according to His sovereign will. We read, “But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.” (1Co.12:11). We have become partakers of the Holy Spirit (Heb.6:4). The measure of the fruit of the Holy Spirit’s manifestation in our life depends on our cooperation with God!

How the Holy Spirit manifests Himself

The Holy Spirit manifests Himself in the believer through different ways but mainly through power”: first and above all against known sin and attacking temptations. The Advocate sets man free from the bondage of sin. He also manifests Himself through the gifts of the Spirit, such as wisdom, faith, healings, prophecy, miracles, discerning of spirits, speaking in tongues, interpreting of tongues. Second, He is the Helper of the believer in whatever the believer does according to the will of God, whether it has to do with the everyday life or the power of preaching the gospel with great effect AND with enduring great trials (Isa.57:15). The presence and testimony of the Holy Ghost is bound with the mission He gives to the children of the Heavenly Father. The manifestations of the Holy Spirit in the believer’s life depend on two factors: First, on the sovereignty of the Holy Spirit who distributes spiritual gifts and gives spiritual power according to His will and second, the responsive cooperation of the believer to the prompting of the Holy Spirit.

In addition, the Holy Spirit is mightier than physical forces (Zec.4:6): the Holy Spirit gives believers courage to denounce sin (Mic.3:8); He enables believers to speak with authority (Ac.4:33, 6:8); fills life with healing influences (Ac.19:11-12); controls their movements and chooses the fields of operation / mission (Ac.10:19-20; 16:6); directs in the selection of Christian leaders (Ac.13:2); brings to remembrance Christ’s words (Joh.14:26); convicts man of sin (Joh.16:7-8) and guides man into all truth (Joh.16:13). In other words, the Holy Spirit:

1. Convicts men about their sin (Joh.16:8);

2. Makes them sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit (2Co.3:6);

3. Causes them to walk in His statutes and keep them (Eze.36:27);

4. Gives His anointing and the man of God does not need that anyone teaches him (1Jo.2:27);

5. Puts in the believer’s mouth His words (Isa.59:21) and the man of God does not speak in words of man’s wisdom but in words that the Holy Spirit teaches him (1Co.2:13).

Personally, I have some serious problems with the modern notion of the Biblical term “POWER” we are speaking about. Nowadays, there are certain people who confuse the true spiritual power with (a) manifestations of doubtful origin and (b) with the gifts of the Spirit and/or talents! I do believe that:

Ø Our God is a God of miracles but there are certain things, which make me suspicious about some “gifts” and certain “miracles” because there are people who advertise themselves about gifts of the Spirit that they do not really have: “Whoever falsely boasts of giving is like clouds and wind without rain.” (Pr.25:14). There are people who even pretend to make miracles: “And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light.” (2Co.11:14). Let me stop here and not refer to concrete cases… In addition, some of them have no true spiritual word, no true spiritual arguments, but try to convince their hearers that they are full of God’s Spirit by screaming and by gesticulating on the platform. The Bible, however, says that the “Words of the wise, spoken quietly, should be heard rather than the shout of a ruler of fools” (Ec.9:17) and that “The words of the wise are like goads, and the words of scholars are like well–driven nails, given by one Shepherd.” (Ec.12:11). Paul admonished Timothy saying: “… shun profane and idle babblings, for they will increase to more ungodliness.” (2Ti.2:16), and

Ø The Holy Spirit bestows spiritual gifts, distributing to each one individually as He wills. 1Corinthians ch.12 and Ephesians ch.4 give us a lot of information about them. All the gifts mentioned in the Bible are, in reality, manifestations of the Holy Spirit. They are not due to man’s merit. Certain believers think that because of their gift they are “complete” in their salvation!!! Otherwise, their salvation would not be secure! As if the grace of God was not enough for their salvation… What a fatal crutch! Have they never read that all true believers are “complete in Him”? (Col.2:10).

In addition, they do not respect and do not obey the instructions of the Bible in 1Corinthians ch.14. They put the emphasis not on the fruit of the Spirit but rather on His supernatural gifts… as if the genuineness and/or the completeness of the believer depended on their gifts; as if their gifts constitute a guarantee of the quality of the believer. They create, therefore, a hidden spiritual “apartheid”. What quality of Christians were the Corinthians who were supposed to have received the Baptism of the Holy Spirit? And of what quality are certain Christians of today that are supposed to have received the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, being consequently full of the Holy Spirit, when they behave in a manner worse than that of the politicians of the world, when they manipulate the congregations, when they are deprived of wisdom, when they create divisions in their Church, when they are obliged to resign on account of scandals of moral or financial order, when they constrain the liberty of the Spirit transforming churches into rooms of religious conferences or of monologues (one way streets), when they put the accent on the spiritual gifts and neglect the fruit of the Spirit? What counts is only a victorious, full of the fruit of the Spirit life according to God’s Word! When we will stand before the throne of God for judgment, we will not be asked whether, for example, we have spoken in tongues or done some healings but if we have obeyed His Word and led a holy life, full of the fruit of the Spirit, which is love, patience etc., and if Jesus’ character has been formed in us. “But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation. And as many as walk according to this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God.” (Ga.6:14-16)

What were the apostles going to be witnesses to?

A question: What were the apostles going to be witnesses to? They had seen the way Christ lived; His miracles; His meekness; His sufferings; they had listened to His teaching; they had conversed and eaten with Him; they had seen Him after he was raised from the dead and when He was ascending to heaven. They should, therefore, be witnesses of Jesus Christ’s suffering and death; of His resurrection and ascension to heaven; and of His deity and Lordship. They knew that He was to come again to judge the world and reign. Those who had seen Him raised from the dead were numerous and they could not be deceived. In the Acts of the Apostles we read:

1. “He was seen for many days by those who came up with Him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are His witnesses to the people.” (Ac.13:31);

2. “And we are witnesses of all things which He did both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem, whom they killed by hanging on a tree. Him God raised up on the third day, and showed Him openly not to all the people, but to witnesses chosen before by God, even to us who ate and drank with Him after He arose from the dead” (Ac.10:39-41; Ac.22:15);

3. “And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all.” (Ac.4:33).

They were called for this purpose. The Lord told the apostles one day: “And you also will bear witness, because you have been with Me from the beginning.” (Joh.15:27) And this is why John the apostle begins his first letter by saying, “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life—— the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us—— that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. And these things we write to you that your joy may be full.” (1Jo.1:1-4) The reason of their witnessing was to become witnesses of His resurrection (Ac.1:22; 2:32; 3;15). True Christians should simply follow their example…

What should their message be?

True servants of God should not preach their own words and reflections but Christ Who was crucified and was raised from the dead (Ac.8:5, 35; 1Co.2:2)! “…he whom God has sent speaks the words of God…” (Joh.3:34); “testifying repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ (Ac.20:21), always and everywhere (Mr.16:20; Ac.8:4), without reserve (Ac.5:20; 20:20,27; Ro.15:19), according to the oracles of God (1Pe.4:11) and not with enticing words of man’s wisdom (1Co.1:17 2:1,4), not setting forth themselves (2Co.4:5) or behaving with deceitfulness – fraud, flattery or slyness – (2Co.2:17; 4:2; 1Th.2:3,5). Their messages should be given with boldness (Isa.58:1; Eze.2:6; Mt.10:27,28); with plainness of speech (2Co.3:12); with zeal (1Th.2:8); with constancy (Ac.6:4; 2Ti.4:2); with consistency (2Co.1:18,19); with heedfulness (1Ti.4:16); with good will and love (Php.1:15-17); with faithfulness (Eze.3:17,18) and without charge, if possible (1Co.9:18; 1Th.2:9).

It is written, “…Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” (Mt.4:19) and, “… be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” (2Ti.4:5). All true Christian workers must do evangelistic sermons. How sad it is to see workers of God, on Sunday morning, when the Church is usually full of believers and non-believers, not to spend even five minutes to explain how man is saved and from what is he saved and launch a call to repentance and faith in the Gospel of God’s grace (Mrk.1:15). Yes, and how sad it is not to warn the audience concerning the consequences of disobedience and of sin in general (Lu.13:3, 5). God means to make us soul-winners, whatever the gift we have received from God is! He who says that, “I am not a professional evangelist, therefore, I am going to limit myself to the teaching of the Bible in a University or a Theological Seminary”; he who says that, “I am a technician missionary, I am going to limit myself to my job”; or he who says that, “I am a businessman and it is not my job to try to reach out to souls”, they have lost their way… The man of God, whether missionary or not, must do both… If not, they disobey the Lord’s commandment, they have lost their zeal and sooner or later they are going to hear, “Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place—unless you repent.” (Re.2:5)

Preaching must boldly attack sin. It is written, “Cry aloud, spare not; lift up your voice like a trumpet; tell My people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins.” (Isa.58:1). Only the grace of God can save, but grace saves sinners who have admitted their guilt, confessed their sin in order to be changed. We are called to preach the full gospel: Not only God’s mercy and grace but also God’s justice and severity to unrepentant people. That is the kind of preaching Jesus did. There are churches in which the word “Hell”, “eternal damnation” etc. have not been heard for decades!

Somebody may say, “An evangelist can do that, but a pastor cannot, because certain people might get mad, quit giving money and leave the Church.” So what? Let God’s worker do his duty and God is responsible for the rest. This is, however, the only way to revive believers and bring to life dead souls. All those who want to live a pious life, who preach the Word of God and not their own reflections and who are instant in season and out of season (2Ti.4:2) will be persecuted. The Church of God does not need soft-speakers, who never hurt anybody’s feelings, never offend anybody, who never cross anybody but who rarely awaken a believer and rarely save an unbeliever! Pastors must not give those who hear them false hope, consolation and security. How useful would it be for those who preach to remind themselves the preaching and the life of God’s prophets!

In certain cases, the Christian ministry is done in the power of the flesh and not in the power of God, because, like Nadab and Abihu, certain people try to reach out to people with strange fire, that is, with common fire, not divinely kindled (Lev.10:1-2). Sociology, psychology, human reflections, soft-speaking, peace-at-any-price, modernized reach-out methods accompanied by … a lot of decibels… draw numerous people, but can they really save souls?

Why should Christians witness?

The ultimate reason for their witnessing would be to make people understand their guilt and to convince lost sinners to believe and obey Christ in order to be saved from eternal damnation. They should teach them according to the Great Commission, as expressed in Matthew 28:18-20: “And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. Amen.”

The Bible says, “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise” (Pr.11:30). All other labour is insignificant compared with the supreme labour of winning souls. The Saviour Himself indicated that one soul is worth more than the entire world when He said, “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Mark 8:36-37). Soul winning is the main business of a Christian. It is for that purpose that Christ came to earth and lived and died and rose again. There is more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance (Lu.15:7). “He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.” (Ps.126:6 AV).

Who are commissioned to be witnesses?

The commandment to evangelize lost sinners was not addressed to people pretending to be Christians or to Christians by name but to true believers who would be willing to give even their life in order to obey and please their Saviour and Master. Not to people who say to Him, “…Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name…” (Mt.7:22-23) but who are men practising lawlessness! Not to lukewarm people who would be spewed out of the Lord’s mouth. Of course, also not to people who are not called by the Lord to preach and teach but they go out to work on their own initiative. Such people will remain fruitless. We must not confound God’s tolerance with God’s will…

The verb “Go” of the Great Commission applies to all believers, not only to professional missionaries and pastors. The invitation to salvation is for all alike! We have the same rights, obligations, privileges and promises, so all should help in every possible way to evangelize the world according to our ability and direction from God. There is no excuse for millions of church members leaving this work to a few only who seek to obey the Great Commission. The responsibility for world evangelization rests on every individual Christian.

Soul winning is not a matter of talent or of schools

Soul winning is not a matter of talent. It is not a matter of schools and literature to become true soul-winners! It is a matter of persistence and obedience to the Great Commission. It is a matter of obedience to the Lord’s commandment: “…As my Father has sent Me, I also send you” (Joh.20:21). It is a matter of broken heart over sinners like our Lord who came “to seek and save the lost.” (Lu.19:10). Soul-winners simply forget themselves and with the power of the Spirit go after sinners. They simply preach the Word and are ready to pass it on to others “…in season and out of season…” (2Ti.4:2). Christians know that they cannot save all the lost to Christ because “… wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it.” (Mt.7:13).

Where should we be witnesses?

Jerusalem would be the starting-point and first object of the apostles’ mission, which was “that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.” (Lu.24:47). Those who have received the Great Commission would be witnesses in their families, in their jobs, in their city, in their country and even to other neighbouring countries and finally all over the world. That would be the world conquest for Christ. Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria were places where the apostles’ testimony would be most opposed. Paul the apostle, by the power of the Spirit of God, preached the gospel of Christ from Jerusalem and round about to Illyricum (Ro.15:19). And as our Lord prophesied in Matthew 24:14, “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.” Then and only then will be the end! No sooner, no later! The entire world is included in Christ’s plan Who commanded His followers to go into all the world and to preach to everyone. Every person who accepts the lordship of Christ is a member of His true universal church. The Christian church, irrespective of local churches and numerous denominations, must reach out to the unconverted and win people to Christ. “…lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest!” (Joh.4:35) is the Master’s command! Judging by myself, unfortunately, how often we all miss the opportunity to evangelize our neighbours and our colleagues…

When should the witnessing for the Lord take place?

The Great Commission through the power of the Holy Spirit should be obeyed with the necessary wisdom and discernment and not only whenever it suits us. We should be ready to preach the Word of God in season and out of season, under favourable and unfavourable conditions but with the necessary discernment. We should preach the Word of God and witness not only when we are welcomed but also when we are fleeing from one place to another under severe persecutionIt is useful to remember what the Word of God says, And they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles, everywhere preaching the word (Ac. 8:1, 4).

How our witnessing should be done

Our preaching and teaching should be done with demonstration of God’s power. Not in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth. Only those who would be ready to do God’s will in their life and teach it, only such Christians would be genuine witnesses and shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven (Mt.5:19). In order to be able, WE MUST LIVE AND THEN TEACH the Word, with the presence and the power of the Holy Spirit. If so, they will be filled with knowledge and zeal, with strength and courage, and with all gifts and abilities necessary for the service that God has entrusted them. Then and only then it would be possible to see true conversions and the fruit of the Spirit in the new converts’ life. Andrew Murray wrote: “God is ready to assume full responsibility for the life wholly yielded to Him.” God has engaged to give believers strength equal to their trials and services.

Now, let us examine ourselves as regards the manifestation of the Holy Spirit’s power. How and when we go out to witness and preach the Word? Full of fear or full of assurance and boldness? I wish I myself and all God’s people were like the prophet Micah, who declared, “But truly I am full of power by the Spirit of the LORD, and of justice and might, to declare to Jacob his transgression and to Israel his sin.” (Mic.3:8). I wish myself and all God’s people understood that our life and our witnessing should be the product of the Word that the Lord addressed to Zerubbabel, “Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit” (Zec.4:6). My prayer is for you and for me to live not in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth. Yes, and to have always the victory against sin and “…the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt us.” (Lu.10:19). My prayer is that you and me may become like Stephen, who full of faith and power … and all those who were disputing with Stephen were not able to resist the wisdom and the Spirit by which he spoke (Ac.6:8-10). If we want to be good witnesses for the Lord Jesus Christ, we must be indwelled by the Holy Spirit whom God gives “to those who obey Him” (Ac.5:32). This is the reason why it is written: Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord” (Ac.3:19) … “…Repent, ……… and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Ac.2:38). Amen.

John BALTATZIS

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