HIS POWER, HIS WITNESSES
Around us, there exist not a single or just a few, but actually many cathedrals that attract many people. These range from sports, entertainment theaters, to overnight clubs. It is however, a painful thing that most of these people are a generation living in darkness; in dire need of the savior, thus necessitating our role as Christians in witnessing of the good news that we have received to those around us.
The resurrection of Christ, as we have often said, is the best attested of all historical facts. There is not half as much reason to be sure that other events like the world wars ever happened, as to believe that Jesus Christ was raised up from the dead to the glory of the Father. If the resurrection of Christ is not credible, there remains nothing credible in history. Even the news which we read in the papers, we have no right to believe if we do not believe in Christ’s resurrection. The evidence in favor of the former is not half as strong as the evidence concerning the resurrection of Christ from the dead.
Remember that this feat was attested by men who could not be deceived concerning it, as John the Apostle explains in 1 John 1:1 that, “We proclaim to you the one who existed from the beginning, whom we have heard and seen. We saw him with our own eyes and touched him with our own hands. He is the Word of life.”
Therefore, the recordings of the acts of the apostles by Dr. Luke, besides being a historical record, also prove the reliability of the Word of God, and the message that was preached by Christ, being that it was attested by those that witnessed it even after his death, resurrection, and ascension. It is a message that is not only valid, but also authentic. All through the record, it can be inferred of how the message, under the power of the Holy Spirit was able to transcend the cultural boundaries that existed then, and spread even to the Gentiles. It is a perfect representation of how the church that was birthed at Pentecost continued to spread the message of the Good News and expanded. However, the book ends with the vision of Acts 1:8 and Matthew 28:18-20 still not accomplished, but most importantly, unhindered. Acts 28: 30-31 states, “For two whole years Paul stayed there in his own rented house and welcomed all who came to see him. He proclaimed the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ—with all boldness and without hindrance!” Hence, it rests squarely on us that we should continue the work of the Great Commission until it is fully achieved.
The death and resurrection of Christ was a perfect manifestation of the power of God and its working amongst the people. It is not that God had become weak as to die. Speaking of this, Bill Graham stated that, “God proved His love on the Cross. When Christ hung, and bled, and died, it was God saying to the world, ‘I love you.” Timothy Keller once asserted that, “If Jesus rose from the dead, then you have to accept all that he said; if he didn’t rise from the dead, then why worry about any of what he said? The issue on which everything hangs is not whether or not you like his teaching but whether or not he rose from the dead.” The fact that, by the power of God, Christ died and resurrected to act as a ransom for our sins is the cornerstone of the Christian faith as is exactly what we preach even today in Missions under the enablement of the same power. It is by His power that we can become his witnesses.
By the same power, Christ was able to teach a message that was accompanied by signs and wonders. John 3:1-2 says, “Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.” So, Jesus himself was the foundation of the theology of missions as Hebrews 2:3 confirms. “So, what makes us think we can escape if we ignore this great salvation that was first announced by the Lord Jesus himself and then delivered to us by those who heard him speak?”
After his resurrection he ascended to heaven, leaving behind both commandments and promises. Of His ascension, Mark affirms that, “Therefore indeed the Lord Jesus, after speaking to them, was taken up into the heaven and sat at the right hand of God.” (Mark 16:19), and Luke 24:51, “And it came about that while He was blessing them, He parted from them.” It is important to note that preceding this ascension was the Great Commission. Matthew 28:17-19 states that “When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some were doubtful. And Jesus came up 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 the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
The accomplishment of this would never be possible without a power greater than their human strength. Throughout the 40-day period that Jesus spent with the disciples, he was telling them that the assignment ahead was too heavy to be accomplished merely by their strength, but needed a heavenly empowerment. And so, Jesus promised in Acts 1:8 that “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.”
The fulfilment of the promise on the day of Pentecost was marked with the disciples being filled with unexplainable power and tongues as of fire. Acts 2: 1-4 says “When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.” It, thus, must be noted that the climax of the day of Pentecost was not the tongues, but was rather the fact that “When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken (v. 7).” This clearly points to the truth that the Holy Spirit was granted to the believers as a power that was to aid in their service towards the attainment of the Great Commission.
It is, thus, of essence that our ability to witness is based on the Power that God gives to us through the Holy Spirit, and not anyone’s might or experience. The calling for us to be witnesses is fully founded upon God’s instruction to us through the Holy Spirit as Acts 1:1-2 states, “The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen….” Moreover, the calling is informed by the Holy Scriptures.
Also, worth notice is the fact that Gods mission belongs to Him. It is a mission of God that all men should come to repentance through Christ Jesus. We, therefore, are just partakers of what the Lord is already doing. 2 Peter 3:9 affirms this, that, “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” He intends that all be brought to the fold under one shepherd who is Jesus Christ – all this being accomplished by His Power. John 6:44 says, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day.” On the same, also, John 10:16 says, “I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.” Thus, this implies that even when we go to people that have never heard of this message, the Lord of the Harvest has already sent forth His Power.
We have constant access to the Holy scriptures and the message of Christ so that we may hear it and declare it among the people as Psalms 96:3 says, “Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples.”
However, the call to witness is a call to propel forward the Kingdom of God by through evangelism and witnessing. The power given is not for us to boast around with, or to use for other reasons. It is, rather, a power to be used solely for the Kingdom. We aren’t called to build our own ministries.
Mission is a call to tell the world about Jesus, starting from our immediate environments and moving outwards to the uttermost parts of the earth. There is a reason why Jesus uses the order of Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and finally the ends of the earth; and not the reverse.
Mission is fully empowered by the Holy Spirit who is the power of God given to be our helper and teacher. Our role, thus, is to witness as we leave the role of convicting to the Holy spirit. We should not give ourselves pressure when we do not see massive numbers come to Christ. That is not our duty.
We should desire the in-filling of the Holy spirit again and again. Ephesians 5:18 says, “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit.” And how are we to be filed by the Spirit? It is by (1) presenting ourselves to god as holy and acceptable sacrifices (Romans 12:1-2), (2) asking God to fill us (Luke 11:9-11), (3) Obedience to God (Acts 5:32), and Faith.
No one, totally no one can accept the message of salvation without the work of the Holy Spirit who is the power of God. It is the Holy Spirit that works in us to convict us about sin and lead us to salvation.