But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses… (Acts 1:8)
During my junior year of high school, I went through evangelism training at my church. I think they called it, “How to Convince Someone They’re Wrong About Everything in 2 Minutes or Less”. That’s not what they called it. But that’s essentially what it was.
Equipped with the tools to argue and annoy, we jumped in a bus, headed to a crowded area, spread ourselves out so as to cover the most ground, and started asking people where they would go if they happened to die that night. Here’s how you can know you’ll be in heaven: repeat after me…
I want to be careful not to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Bathwater is gross, but babies are pretty awesome. Jesus has called us to go out, and He has called us to take his message (the most beautiful message the world has encountered, or ever will), but notice in Acts 1:8 Jesus doesn’t call us lawyers. He calls us witnesses.
Lawyers argue. Witnesses testify. They testify to what they have seen, what they have experienced. Certainly good arguments have their place (see 1 Peter 3:15); we need to be ready to defend what we believe. But the job title Jesus gives us before he ascends to Heaven is that of Witness.
Three things about being a Witness for Jesus:
1. Witnesses POINT TO...
We point to Jesus, not to ourselves. The Christian faith is not good advice on how to be a good person. It’s good news about how a good God comes to save us from ourselves. This means your life can be a wreck and you can still bear witness. In fact, you’ll probably be more effective for it.
Whatever you’ve got going on in your junk drawer, Peter and Paul were bigger messes, I assure you. But they knew their own brokenness, and they knew that Jesus’ death and resurrection was holding them together. That’s what they talked about. They pointed to Him.
2. Witnesses RELY ON…
Jesus is clear about whose power is behind our witnessing: the power of the Holy Spirit of God. Without that, we’re toast.
Think about it: The disciples, as a start-up team, were embarrassing—poor, uneducated, and cowardly. These powerless anti-heroes were sent as witnesses into a world governed by an empire that was diametrically opposed to their mission. The only way this start-up was ever going to get off the ground was by God’s power. And it did. Because the same power that raised Jesus from the dead was at work within the disciples.
If you’re a follower of Jesus, you have that same power of the Spirit of God within you. Let that sink in for a moment. If death was no match for God’s power, then we know God can use even our feeblest attempts at faith-conversations to plant the seeds of life in someone’s heart. God can bring awesome out of your awkward.
3. Witnesses WELCOME IN…
We must not overlook the fact that the words in Acts 1:8 were addressed to a group. The early church was a communal witness. The way in which they did life together pointed to the one who had given His Life for them.
Acts 2:42-43 says, “And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul…” Pastor and theologian Sinclair Ferguson says it was really in response to the dynamic way this new community lived in Jerusalem that great awe came upon the people.
Bearing witness is not just about you going out. It’s about creating a culture of the gospel so people are invited in. Hospitality is evangelism spelled backwards. (Not really, but you get the point.) Most people aren’t argued or even preached into the kingdom of God; most people are welcomed into the kingdom of God.
Point to, Rely on, Welcome in. Be a witness today.
How to pray...
- Pray for courage among our community to take the risk and live as witnesses for Jesus in our homes, workplaces, neighborhoods, etc.
- Pray for 3 people by name in your life who do not yet know the love of Christ.
- Thank God for the gospel going to the ends of the earth to reach your heart.
- Pray for the witnesses all over the globe who, relying on the power of the Spirit are pointing to and welcoming in. Pray specifically for gospel-centered churches in Europe, that they would be radiating centers of light on a dark continent.
- Pray for the pastors of international churches in Europe affiliated with International Christian Community (ICC). Pray for the annual Pastors and Families retreat in Nice, France in late October. Several from LBC will be serving at this retreat.
For the Family
Have you ever seen a movie or TV show where someone is on trial in a courtroom? The “witness” is a person who comes to the trial to tell the judge what they saw or experienced.
For example, if someone is on trial for robbing a bank, maybe the witness saw the robber run out of a bank and drive away in a car. The witness might tell the judge and jury what time of day it was, what color the car was, and which direction he went. The judge might ask the witness if the person on trial for the crime is the same person he saw run out of the bank, to make sure they have the right guy.
At a trial, witnesses help the judge and jury understand what really happened and who is telling the truth.
In the Bible, Jesus tells his disciples to be “witnesses” for Him. He challenged them to go all over the world and tell people what they had seen and experienced while Jesus was with them.
Just like the disciples, God wants us to tell people about Jesus and share what God has done for us. Just like a witness at a trial, our job is to tell the truth and help people understand what really happened when Jesus died for our sins and rose from the dead. We want them to believe the truth that God loves them!
Talk as a family:
- What are some good things God has done in your life that you could tell your friends about to point them to Jesus?
- Name a few friends who you could talk to about Jesus, and pray for them.
"Witnesses" - Joe White
Joe White serves as Assistant Pastor and part of the Sunday teaching team at Lake Baldwin Church. Joe and Tiffany (along with their children, Taylor, Lydia, and Jeremiah) recently moved back to Orlando after 6 years in Los Angeles, where Joe served as the Reformed University Fellowship pastor at UCLA. From 2005-2009, Joe did his graduate work at Reformed Theological Seminary, where he completed a Master of Divinity and a Master of Arts in Counseling.
"For the Family" - Katie Pollard
Katie is the administrator and communications director for LBC. Katie and her husband, Joel, moved to Orlando from Nashville, TN in 2014, when Joel became the Director of Worship at LBC. They both grew up in Carrollton, GA and have been leading worship together since their youth group days. They were married in 2011 and have two children, Sam and Evie.