Terry R. Baughman
“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).
The mission of the early followers was quite simple: Be empowered by the Spirit. Be witnesses everywhere you go. We tend to complicate the simplicity of the commission. Jesus did not leave a 12 step plan for world evangelism or a massive manifesto for an operations manual. Even His teaching for discipleship was simplified. When the young lawyer came up asking for clarification of the Commandments Jesus gave the essence of the Law in two commandments: Love God. Love your neighbor. It is not Christ’s intention to make it difficult to follow Him or impossible to navigate the technical application of the Gospel. Receive and share!
Theology sometimes gets messy and complicated. Scholars of all ages have wrestled with understanding the incarnation, trying to explain the distinctions between the Deity and humanity of Jesus. Complicated terms were adopted to explain the relationship of God and flesh in the person of Jesus Christ. God never intended the Gospel message to become that complicated. Love is something anyone can understand, “God so loved the world … ,” and the cross was a visible demonstration of His love and sacrifice. Death is common and the pain of loss will be felt by every person who lives. When we share these realities everyone can understand.
The only part of the Gospel that stands apart from the human experience is the resurrection of Jesus to everlasting life! This is the part of the story where one might become analytical, skeptical, or unbelieving. Jesus understood that, so He instructed His followers to simply tell their story, be a witness of His resurrection. He said, “You shall be witnesses to Me … to the end of the earth.” Others may argue with theology and debate philosophy, but the earnest report of the eyewitness is not easily contested. The witnesses know what they saw. They share their personal experience.
The personal narrative remains the most effective method of spreading the Gospel. Though some may choose not to believe it, the power of that personal experience is persuasive. Luke said, “With great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 4:33). These early adopters could have drawn from the teaching of Jesus and their personal study of the Law of Moses. They could have preached long sermons (they would do that also) or taught deep studies of Jewish thought, but Jesus simply said, “Be witnesses.”
Mark records the words of Jesus, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved” (Mark 16:15-16). The message of the Good News is still powerful to save. The same power resident in the early followers of Jesus lives in those who have received Him. We can be effective witnesses of Jesus Christ in this generation. What we have received and experienced is a viable witness of the living message of hope for everyone who believes today!
Be a witness. You have the Same Power!
“You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you” (Acts 1:8).