We begin with Luke’s words in Acts 1:1-9 (NLT)
“In my first book I told you, Theophilus ,about everything Jesus began to do and teach until the day He was taken up to heaven after giving His chosen apostles further instructions through the Holy Spirit. During the forty days after His crucifixion , He appeared to the apostles from time to time and He proved to them in many ways that He was actually alive and He talked to them about the Kingdom of God. Once when He was eating with them , He commanded them, “Do not leave Jerusalem until the Father sends you the Gift He promised you before. John baptized with water, but in just a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” So when the apostles were with Jesus , they kept asking Him, “Lord , has the time come for You to free Israel and restore our Kingdom?” Jesus replied, “The Father alone has the authority to set those dates and times, and they are not for you to know. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be witnesses, telling people about Me everywhere, in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria and to the ends of the earth.” After saying this, He was taken up into a cloud while they were watching and they could no longer see Him.”
In this portion of scripture Luke reveals the final words Jesus said on earth before ascending to His position in Heaven at the right hand of His Father. Jesus knew it would be quite a long time before He would return to earth , so we can safely say these last instructions are vital words to those that were standing before Him. During His forty days on earth after His resurrection and before His ascension He taught, explained and revealed a solid foundation for the birth of the New Testament, post-resurrection church. Jesus covered many important principles and truths during that time, but of all those things He shared, Luke saw fit to be sure everyone knew that Jesus spoke of the promised Holy Spirit just before He left the earth. (Acts 1:9)
John had written in His gospel the words of Christ concerning the coming Holy Spirit and how important He would be to the believer. (John 14:15-18 , 26 ; 15:26,27 ; 16:7-14 ) All of these are red letter words in the Bible indicating that Jesus was speaking them to those around Him at that time. But those words recorded in John were also details to the church today of the necessity of Holy Spirit in the life of every believer. He would be the Comforter, Strengthener, Counselor, Helper, Intercessor. He would remind believers of spiritual truths and reveal new wisdom we should know. Holy Spirit would convince the world of sin and convict the believer to remain righteous. He would glorify Christ and testify of His goodness and grace. The Holy Spirit would be the endued power to every believer to be a witness of Christ. That word “witness” means “to bear record of and testify of Him.”
There is obviously no one living on earth today that actually saw Christ in the flesh. Those that saw Him, heard Him teach and touched Him have long ago passed away from earth. They were literal witnesses of Christ’ life , death and resurrection, but they are gone. They are now a part of the great cloud of witnesses in Heaven. The promised power was given to them while they still lived on earth to be witnesses and they are still witnesses in Heaven today. Why would Jesus promise them the Holy Spirit to assist them in being witnesses? It could be that Jesus knew once He was gone they would be tempted to question whether He was even there. It could be called the “out of sight, out of mind ” syndrome. John the Baptist even experienced that when in prison. (Matthew 11:2,3) Thomas had an issue with that after Christ died and was resurrected. ( John 20:24-29). He proclaimed if he didn’t see Christ Himself , he wouldn’t believe He was alive. Of course Jesus stood before him proving He was alive and then spoke these words directly to him,” Thomas, because you have seen Me , you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen Me and yet believe.” Jesus was not just speaking those words to Thomas or just to those who heard him in that room, but those words apply to every believer who has ever lived. We are blessed because we believe He is alive even though we have not seen Him.
It is the same principle in Acts 1:8. The Holy Spirit was promised to all those under the sound of the voice of Jesus and present with Him at that time, but the Holy Spirit is also promised to me , to you and to all who would receive Him. Jesus was promising the Power to be witnesses to all who would receive Holy Spirit from the day of Pentecost until now. So allow me to ask you this question, if those who saw Jesus needed Holy Spirit Power to be witnesses and testify of Christ, should not those of us who are living today need the same Power ?
Now let me backtrack for one moment and point out that it is Holy Spirit Who gives us the inward witness that we are children of God.”The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are the children of God.” (Romans 8:16) It is not just biblical, but logical that we cannot testify of Christ unless we first have deep within us an assured witness that we know Him and He is Lord of our life. We can be given a certificate on paper that we gave our lives to Christ on a certain date, but unless we have that inward witness within us , it is just ink on paper. “In Christ we have trusted , after we heard the Word of Truth, the gospel of salvation, In Whom also after we have believed , we were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise.” (Ephesians 1:13) Holy Spirit has sealed in our spirit that we are heirs of God, joint heirs with Christ, and we have inherited eternal life. It is after we receive the inward witness that we become the outward witness and the Holy Spirit is the power for both.
Here are some thoughts to ponder: Some at the point of salvation tell everyone immediately about their new walk with Christ. Some are a bit more reserved and just tell a selected few. Others do not tell anyone. (Is it possible to receive Him and not tell anyone?) It is possible to know someone and pretend that you don’t , but that is not really a relationship. Peter did just that in denying Christ. It is possible to pretend to know someone and you really don’t. Jesus said that was not a relationship either. (Matthew 7:21-23)
So for the purpose of this devotional and to those who know Christ and Holy Spirit is within you giving you that assurance, let us examine ourselves deep within the following thoughts. Most all of us have unbelievers around us, maybe family members , co-workers, acquaintances, etc. Probably most of them have heard the gospel message in some way. When they watch us, when they look at our life, when they hear what we say, do they see or hear anything at all that would create a desire to become a follower of Christ? Do they see or hear anything different from us then they do those of the world? Are we separate from those things that are worldly or do we join right in? Do they see or hear the hope of Christ in us or do they hear complaining and doubt ? Many more questions could be asked , but the train of thoughts are now rolling down the tracks of your mind , so I will give you the throttle to pull back, stop and think, or full speed ahead and go without stopping at this station of examination. Undoubtedly all of us have room for improvement when it comes to witnessing. If you have not struck a match and set fire to this devotional by now, then you are sincerely striving to live a life as a genuine witness of the goodness and grace of God. Whatever the examination has revealed I have good news for you. The promised Saviour has already came to earth and became the sacrifice for sin and His resurrection symbolizes that we have been set free from the law of sin and death and that there is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:1,2 ) His saving grace is continual from the point of salvation throughout our Christian walk. And if that is not enough good news, the promised Holy Spirit has come to seal that inward witness within us that we are children of God. The Holy Spirit has also come to empower us to live as witnesses of Christ and testify of Who He is and what He has done for us. Think for a moment what He has done for you and give Him thanks. If we are not thankful, we will not be a witness for Christ. Thankfulness is the fuel to be a powerful witness.
The Holy Spirit that Jesus spoke of in Acts Chapter One is the same Holy Spirit in us today. The same Holy Spirit in Acts Chapter 2 , Chapter 3 …… Chapter 27, Chapter 28, is the same Holy Spirit with us in the year of our Lord 2014. The Holy Spirit that empowered Peter and Stephen to be witnesses of Christ is the same Holy Spirit in us today.
Jesus touched on the subject of witnessing in the sermon on the mount in Matthew 5:13-16. He said believers should be salt to unbelievers causing a spiritual thirst within them to have a relationship with Him. Believers must also be a shining light in a dark world that would draw everyone to the Light. Are we spiritually salty ? Are we emitting light? Are we losing our saltiness? Is our light dimming? In verse 16 Jesus states that if we are salt and light, others will see our good works. Some may argue that we are saved by grace and not by works. Jesus is not speaking of being saved by works, but of our works being a result of our salvation. The Amplified translation says this,” Let your light so shine before men that they may see your moral excellence and your praiseworthy, noble, good deeds and recognize and honor and praise and glorify your Father Who is in Heaven.” That, my friend, is witnessing and it is a natural act when we are thankful and allow Holy Spirit to empower us to shine the grace of God through us.
Once again, give God thanks for His goodness and grace upon you, around you and in you. Give Holy Spirit room to witness to others through you the goodness and grace of God. Let us be salt to a thirsty world that they would receive the living water. Let us be lights in darkness that those around us would see Jesus is the Light of the world. Look for opportunities to be salt and light while simply living your life dedicated to Christ and empowered by the Holy Spirit to be a witness for Him.
Desiring to be salt and light, Pastor Wes