Do you remember the last time you were challenged to do something? Growing up it was an everyday event for me, usually involving a challenge to do something ridiculous on the playground. Once that challenge came to me, I took it as a do or die moment. I had to at least attempt it, or I would lose my “man card” and forfeit my standing with my friends.
After Jesus rose from the grave and just before He ascended to Heaven, He gave His disciples an instruction that includes a great challenge: “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth” (Acts 1:8).
The disciples took this challenge to be witnesses seriously, and in a relatively-short time, their witness radically transformed the city of Jerusalem so that thousands of people received the gospel and were added to the church.
What is a witness? A witness is someone who provides facts and evidence of an event. It is someone who gives a testimony of what they saw. These followers of Jesus witnessed the resurrected Savior, and Jesus challenged them to proclaim what they saw to everyone!
This challenge to the disciples is ours as well. We are to be witnesses for Christ. Specifically, we are to share the gospel of Christ with the lost.
Here are a few directives that we should follow regarding this challenge that we have been given by Jesus.
1. Be Faithful
Anyone can be faithful. It boils down to a choice to consistently obey what God has commanded us to do. God’s Word instructs every Jesus follower to be His witnesses. “And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15). This is an absolute mandate for every child of God. Will you be faithful in living out this verse in your daily life?
2. Be Factual
In Acts 26, Paul shares before the ruler Festus his testimony of how he met the Savior on his way to persecute Christians in Damascus. After Paul spoke, Festus said to Paul, “much learning doth make thee mad.” But Paul responded, “I am not mad, most noble Festus; but speak forth the words of truth and soberness” (Acts 26:25). Paul knew how to directly speak the factual truths of the gospel.
Jesus, praying for His disciples, said, “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth” (John 17:17). The Word is truth! We must be focused on sharing the truth—both the written Word and the Living Word! Jesus is the only way to gain entrance into heaven: “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6).
God’s Word has the answers to life’s biggest question. We can’t shy away from the facts that are revealed in His Word. Man is a sinner, and there is sentence upon all men, for all have sinned. John 3:36 tells us, “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.” Because of this coming judgment, we should warn man of the pardon that only comes through Jesus.
3. Be Fearless
In the early church, the believers were passionate about being faithful witnesses of the resurrected Savior. Because of their obedience to the command to go and tell, they experienced persecution. But this heat did not stop them.
What was their secret in the midst of severe heat? Acts 4:31 gives us the answer to their courage: “And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness.” The early Christians were fearless because they prayed in the power of the Holy Spirit! God gave them courage during a time of intense pressure. This pressure didn’t silence them, but His presence empowered them to witness fearlessly.
Are you lacking courage to be the witness you should be? Spend time in prayer seeking God’s presence and power.
4. Be Filled
Fear overcomes us when we think we need to live the Christian life in our strength. The Bible is clear, however, that we are unable to live out the truth of His Word in our strength. This is why He has given us the Holy Spirit who indwells every believer. And, it is why we are commanded to yield our wills to God, to “be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18).
Being filled with the Holy Spirit does not mean we get more of Him; it means that He gets more of us. When He is thus controlling, or filling us, we experience His power. We need to simply rest in His power.
Are you familiar with the idea of “drafting” in NASCAR racing or cycling? The practice is impactful for the racer. The driver or cyclist will position himself very close to the car or bicycle in front of him. The displacement of the headwind by the lead vehicle creates a vacuum that actually pulls the drafter along. In bicycle racing, drafting allows the cyclist to save about 30 percent of his energy. This means the lead cyclist is giving 100 percent, and the drafter is only having to expend 70 percent to go the same speed. The drafter is depending on the vehicle in front to do all of the hard work while he benefits from it.
In the work of witnessing, we should all be “drafters” as we follow the Holy Spirit. It is His power that goes before us to prepare hearts, and it is His power that gives us courage and enables us to share the gospel. We need to go in His strength and not ours.
In John 15, Jesus reminds us that apart from Him, we can do nothing. In Acts 1, Jesus instructed His followers to wait for the promise of His Spirit to indwell them so they could be His witnesses. We need His power if we are to be effective witnesses.
To fulfill the Great Commission of Christ—preaching the gospel to every person—is a tremendous challenge. But it is a challenge that Jesus has not only commanded us to do, but has also enabled us to do in His power. Will you take up the challenge and be a gospel witness?