Power! In the mechanical realm, nothing works without it, One afternoon in mid-August 2003, the lights went out in New York City! In fact, there were 50 million people in the Northeast affected by the blackout. Our family was living in New York City at the time, as we were doing missions work with Jews for Jesus. Can you say interruption! It lasted about 24 hours and when the power went back on the city exhaled with a sigh of relief!
In the spiritual realm, we need power to effectively witness for Jesus.
We may be tempted to believe the power to witness comes from the ‘how to.’ And while the ‘how to’ is important, without the power source, we’ll be like a machine that happens to be unplugged! Certainly the machine called New York City is impotent when unplugged. But when plugged in, New York City is remarkable. In our witness, unless we’re plugged into the power source, we’ll be ineffective. But when plugged into to that power source, we can ‘do all things through Christ who strengthens us’ (Philippians 4:13), including the work of evangelism.
For the Christian, our power source is none other than the Holy Spirit. Jesus said to His disciples just before ascending 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)
Evangelism that is fruitful and glorifies God is done in and through the power of God. For Jesus says, “without Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). So our personal witness needs to be both Spirit-led and Spirit-empowered.
As believers, God the Holy Spirit, the second person of the trinity, indwells each of us. And it is He who empowers our witness.
The Holy Spirit helps us know what to say. In Luke 12:12 Jesus was teaching the disciples to not fret about what they might say when undergoing persecution, telling them “the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.” While in our witnessing efforts we do want to strive to ‘always be ready’ to share when God provides opportunities, we need to also trust in the power of the Spirit to know when and what to share.
The Holy Spirit gives us boldness. After Peter and John had healed a lame man in Acts 3, they were arrested by the Jewish religious leadership (the Sanhedrin) and asked by what power or name they had done it. Peter, ‘being filled with the Holy Spirit,’ then witnessed to them, saying in Acts 4:12, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”
Upon their release they went and prayed with other believers, asking God to give them boldness to speak His word. “And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness” (Acts 4:31).
The same fearful and cowardly Peter who denied the Lord three times on the night of Jesus’ arrest is now a powerful, bold witness for the Lord.
Remember the disciples were of no great pedigree. Jesus didn’t choose the best and brightest, those with the gift of evangelism, to be His witnesses. Rather their gifting was in the power and presence of God. In fact, when the Sanhedrin “perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13).
And therein lies the key for us as we strive to be powerful witnesses – Spend time with the Lord. Spend time in His Word, spend time in prayer. Remember, a powerful witness is a ‘plugged-in’ witness.
I can tell you that I desperately need the Holy Spirit in my personal witness to others. I need Him to fill me, to empower me, to help me know what to say, and to give me courage. How about you?
Ask Him move mightily in and through all you do in your witness. And ask the Lord to move mightily in the heart of the one to whom you’re witnessing. For it is the Lord who is your power to witness.