“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. (Acts 1:8-9)
The resurrected Jesus’ last words before His ascension indicated two things that will happen to those who are His disciples once He is gone. He said, “you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you” and “you will be my witnesses.” All Jesus’ disciples will truly receive the Holy Spirit and they will truly be witnesses to Jesus. These are not imperatives – “you shall,” but rather are indicatives – “you will.” In other words, He is not commanding us to be witnesses to Jesus but is saying that we, in fact, will actually be witnesses to Jesus if we are really His disciples.
Every one of Jesus’ disciples, those trusting by faith in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ for their eternal salvation, will be indwelt by the Holy Spirit. And it is the life changing power of the Holy Spirit that will make us witnesses to the same life, death and resurrection of Jesus to others. What follows these two verses in the remaining chapters of the book of Acts is prescriptive for the term witness. It provides the scope and nature of what it means to witness. Witnessing is not a passive activity. A dictionary definition of the verb witness is, “to give a firsthand account of what one has seen, heard, or known by personal presence and perception.” No one will know about the life, death and resurrection of Jesus and what that means for eternal life by our actions. Our actions are the outworking of the good news of Jesus but they are not the good news of Jesus. We must actually tell people what we have seen, heard and know about the good news in order to be witnesses. And this is exactly what Jesus’ disciples did in the book of Acts, as they sought to share the good news of Christ “in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth.”
Jesus disciples today still will be (indicative) witnesses and that is at the heart of this church’s missions ministry. Everything our missions’ ministry is involved in is centered on witnessing the good news of Jesus. That witness is not in Judea or Samaria, but it is in Goffstown, Greater Manchester, New England and places all around the earth. Ten percent of our church budget goes to support ministries that witness Jesus. And many of you are not only direct witnesses where God has placed you, but also on behalf of our church, as we reach out with the Gospel in our own community. There are many opportunities for doing so as a church body, but in the near future we really need your help in two ways in particular. Will you consider helping our ministry to Goffstown during Old Home Days, on June 2nd and/or during our vacation Bible school, from July 30 – August 3? I think we will be amazed at what God does through us through these two ministries of our church to our community.
Being a witness to Jesus is something that can seem intimidating for some of us as we put undue pressure on ourselves to perform. But remember, although Jesus commanded us in the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20), He also tells us in that same commission (v. 18) that it is by His authority on heaven and on earth that we will be His witnesses. Our anxiety is removed when we realize that it is by the power of the Holy Spirit that God will in fact make us witnesses. God will open the doors of opportunity and provide us with the words that are needed in His perfect timing. It is all hinges on our faith – trusting in Jesus and stepping out where God has placed and called us, confidently knowing that we will be Jesus’ witnesses.