Abiding and Evangelism
“Wind is power. Since early recorded history, people have harnessed the energy of the wind. In my youth, I experienced this powerful influence sailing with my father. In the ancient world, wind energy propelled boats along the Nile River as early as 5000 B.C. By 200 B.C., simple windmills in China were pumping water, while vertical-axis windmills with woven reed sails were grinding grain in Persia and the Middle East.
New ways of using the energy of the wind eventually spread around the world. By the eleventh century, people in the Middle East used windmills extensively for food production. Returning merchants carried this idea back to Europe. The Dutch refined the windmill and adapted it for draining lakes and marshes in the Rhine River Delta. When settlers took this technology to the New World in the late nineteenth century, they began using windmills to pump water for farms and ranches and later to generate electricity for homes and industry.” [Wind Energy Foundation Online]
“The first electricity-generating wind turbine was a battery charging machine installed in July 1887.” [Source]
“Later, the twentieth century electricity-generating wind turbines developed and were utilized around the world. The force of the wind makes the wind turbine blades spin, and the energy of this motion is converted into electricity by a generator.” [Wind Energy Foundation Online]
Obviously, without wind those turbines would be useless. But in utilizing the wind, these turbines are quite useful. Interestingly, these turbines work just fine in high winds—even gale force winds.
In the spiritual realm, just as turbines harvest the winds of nature, we as believers are called to access the wind of the Spirit, the Holy Spirit, in our walk with the Lord.
Jesus made comparisons between the wind and the Holy Spirit. He said, “The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit” (John 3:8).
And when the Holy Spirit fell upon and filled the disciples at Pentecost in Acts 2, He was described this way: “And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting” (Acts 2:2). This was a supernatural event. In Hebrew and Greek, the words for wind and spirit are synonymous. Wind is frequently used as a picture of the Spirit (Ezekiel 37:9).
Just as the building of the turbine is man’s initiative to harness the power of the wind to create electricity, so you and I must be intentional in accessing the power of God, namely the Holy Spirit, in becoming powerful and effective witnesses for Him.
And how do we access this power? Faith.
Interestingly, wind energy is a free, renewable resource. Its use does not affect its future supply.
In the spiritual world, our access to the Holy Spirit is unlimited. He is always in us and ready to empower us. We are called to “walk in the Spirit” (Galatians 5:16) and “be filled by the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18). This means we surrender to the Lord in faith, being obedient to His Word and following where He leads.
The Holy Spirit powers our walk and witness. Without His power, we will be spiritually unplugged. Apart from the Holy Spirit guiding, leading, and empowering us, our ability to witness is incapacitated. No power. No effectiveness. No fruit. And although we may be able to perform the mechanics of the Christian life, including the work of evangelism, in our natural strength, without God’s power its end is fruitless.
In John 15:1-11, Jesus exhorted the disciples to abide in Him. In this section of Scripture alone, the word ‘abide’ is used no less than ten times! Abiding would be essential for the disciples to carry out the Great Commission. The Greek word for abide in this passage is meno, meaning to stay (in a given place, state, relation or expectancy). The disciples were to stay connected by faith to the Lord, because without Him, their efforts would be fruitless:
“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing” (John 15:4-5).
The Psalmist added, “Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it” (Psalm 127:1).
Additionally, Jesus said to His disciples just before He ascended into heaven: “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” (Acts 1:8).
Ten days after Jesus gave that directive, the Spirit did fall on the disciples at Pentecost (the Jewish feast of Shavuot), and the disciples were off and running. Three thousand people were saved that day and the movement expanded just as the Lord had promised. Just as His promises and His power were critical to the effort of His people in the first century, so they are for us today.
Not only was He the wind that powered the turbines of the early church, He is also the engine that powers our witness today as we press into our respective mission fields. To paraphrase Paul: “For we can do all things” [including the work of evangelism] through Christ, who strengthens us” (Philippians 4:13). Therefore, stay connected to the source. Abide in Christ!
Power translates from the Greek word dunamis, from which we get the word “dynamite.” It refers to strength or power, and in the gospels sometimes refers to miraculous power. Every believer contains the power he or she needs for the Christian life, including an empowered witness. In short, the Holy Spirit is to our witness what physical wind is to wind turbines—it’s the source—the essential source of energy.
Jesus taught the apostles by the Holy Spirit, who was both the source and power of His ministry (Matt. 4:1, 12:18, 28; Mark 1:12, Luke 3:22, 4:1, 14, 18). And upon tasking them with the Great Commission, the Lord promised the Holy Spirit would be their ministry power.
Yes, abiding and evangelism are connected. For Spirit-led and Spirit-empowered evangelistic efforts require that we abide in Christ, for without Him we can do nothing.
So seek the Lord, follow the Lord, and witness the mighty working of our great God as we abide in Christ and witness to others! Amen.