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Believers' Response: Proclaimed Among the Nations
"but you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you;
and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria,
and even to the remotest part of the earth."
Most of us have a favorite subject: ourselves. When we hear of someone
being sick, we immediately think of an illness we once fought. If someone
has a new grandchild, it is hard to resist the temptation to pull out the
8 X 10's you've got in your purse to show them your grandchildren, isn't
it? Have you ever noticed how easy it is to have a "what's in it for me"
Jesus' prophecy in Acts 1:8 flies in the face of that natural attitude.
Notice that I called His statements a prophecy. This passage is not a command,
telling Christians what they should do it is a prophecy telling us what
we will do when empowered by the Spirit. This text says, that when the
Spirit's power falls upon the disciples they will be witnesses both here
and there. Amazing! Those of you with a strong Biblical background know
that the prophecy was fulfilled. God's people stopped talking about themselves
and started talking about Him and they did it throughout the world. It
is part of the "mystery of godliness" that people will be so consumed with
the gospel that they spread the news everywhere.
This morning I want us to consider the witnessing patterns of the First
Century Church, first notice:
The Completed Work of Jesus.
The great High Priest never sat down on the Day of Atonement until his
work was finished. Using the imagery of the Old Testament Priest, Hebrews
1:3 depicts the completed work of Christ "When He had made purification
of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high;" (NASB)
Jesus' work is not in process, it is finished!
His completed work made Salvation Possible
Acts 4:12 makes it crystal clear. "And there is salvation in no one
else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among
men, by which we must be saved."
His completed work also made evangelism a priority.
Let's look at the context for Acts 1:8: And so when they had come together,
they were asking Him, saying, "Lord, is it at this time You are restoring
the kingdom to Israel?" 7 He said to them, "It is not for you to know times
or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority; 8 but you shall
receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be
My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even
to the remotest part of the earth." (Acts 1:6-8 NASB)
The disciples asked a question about the end times and Jesus redirected
their attention to a task at hand. It is easy to become fascinated with
a future that no one can control and miss today's opportunity.
Please also notice:
The Controlling Work of the Spirit
The Holy Spirit Precedes the Witness. If you are going where He directs,
you will never go there alone, nor will you get there first He will be
If you showed up for visitation night, and I gave you an assignment
to witness to a Christian killer, how thrilled would you be? That's what
happened to Ananias. Listen to his response in Acts 9:13-16 But Ananias
answered, "Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much harm he
did to Thy saints at Jerusalem; 14 and here he has authority from the chief
priests to bind all who call upon Thy name." 15 But the Lord said to him,
"Go, for he is a chosen instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the
Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel; 16 for I will show him how much
he must suffer for My name's sake."
Ananias went and Saul of Tarsus became the Apostle Paul.
The Holy Spirit also Convicts of Sin
John 16:8 says: "And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning
sin, and righteousness, and judgment;" It is not our job to convict the
sinner, God can do that Himself. But it is our job to proclaim the good
The Holy Spirit also changes the Sinner. We cannot change anyone, but
the redemptive power of Christ can. In John 3:5-6, the evangelist quotes
Jesus as he witnesses to Nicodemus, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless
one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of
God. 6 "That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born
of the Spirit is spirit.
So far, we've seen the Completed work of Christ and the Controlling
work of the Spirit, now its time to focus on our duty:
The Continuing Work of the Witness
After Saul's conversion, he was Filled with the Spirit a direct fulfillment
of the prophecy in Acts 1:8. "And Ananias departed and entered the house,
and after laying his hands on him said, "Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus,
who appeared to you on the road by which you were coming, has sent me so
that you may regain your sight, and be filled with the Holy Spirit." (Acts
After the filling, Saul received personal training
Look at Acts 9:18-19 "And immediately there fell from his eyes something
like scales, and he regained his sight, and he arose and was baptized;
19 and he took food and was strengthened. Now for several days he was with
the disciples who were at Damascus," Saul stayed with the disciples. What
do you think happened while they were together? A daily lifestyle of evangelism
is more often "caught" than "taught."
Lastly, notice that Saul proclaimed the Gospel
"and immediately he began to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues, saying,"
He is the Son of God." (Acts 9:20) Saul didn't wait until he was an expert,
nor did he rely upon others to do the evangelizing, he jumped right in
Tom Stringfellow tells a wonderful story about watching one of his friends,
Gary develop as a witness. They were visitation partners for several months
and Gary watched several people come to Christ.
Gary and his wife were cultivating some friends, hoping to see them
come to Christ. He invited them over to his home for lunch one Saturday
afternoon with the intention of directing the conversation toward spiritual
matters. He told Tom that he should casually "drop by" about 2:00 because
he would have them ready for him to present the plan of Salvation and pray
the sinner's prayer with them.
"Gary," Tom said, "that sounds like a fine plan. I'm so glad you've
worked with this family and are concerned about their souls, but there's
a problem." "What's the problem?" Gary asked. "Well, there's a football
game Saturday afternoon and I'll not be coming by your house." "You mean
you'd miss an opportunity to lead someone to Christ over a football game?"
"You've watched me lead numerous people to Christ over the past few
months, haven't you?" "Well . . . yes." "You know the plan of Salvation
as well as I do, don't you?" "Well . . . yes." "Then you share the gospel
and you pray the sinner's prayer with them. I'll be by the phone if you
Tom did get a call that afternoon, but not at 2:00. At 4:00, Gary called
him to report that not only did the husband and wife accept Christ that
day, but the two teenage children did too. The entire family of four was
reborn in Gary's living room. (Parakaleo:
The Heart of Deacon Ministry, p. 46-48)
As a Spirit filled man, Gary received the training he needed, then became
a himself, and Tom tells me, he continues to witness to this day.
This sermon was heavily influenced by the Lay Evangelism Schools
and lectures by Boyd Hunt at Southwestern Seminary.