WITNESSES TO JESUS
By Rodney W. Francis
New Testament Christianity is all about a personal relationship and experiences with Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus said: “But you shall receive power (Greek word is “dunamis” meaning “natural capability, inherent power; capability of anything, ability to perform anything; then, absolutely, not merely power capable of action, but power in action” – Bullinger’s)) 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 ).
Here Jesus is teaching His disciples of the importance of their being filled with the Holy Spirit, for the Holy Spirit brings a power into our lives that we can receive no other way.
Receiving and being filled with the Holy Spirit is God’s purpose for every true believer in Jesus Christ.
We are living in a generation that desperately needs to see the power of God in action.
We need that power to be true witnesses to Jesus.
The word “witnesses” is from the Greek word “martus” meaning “one who has information or knowledge of a thing, and can therefore give information concerning, bring to light or confirm anything” – Bullinger’s; “witness, martyr” – Young’s Concordance). A Christian witness is one who has first-hand information regarding Jesus Christ Who is alive from the dead and lives today to meet mankind’s needs. It is such a relationship that we are even prepared to die ~ become a martyr ~ for Jesus. This is confirmed in Revelation 12:11 ~ “And they overcame him (the devil) by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death”. When we take time to study the Scriptures we soon see that to be a true follower/disciple of Jesus Christ then it is a total commitment to Him, even if it costs us our lives! This is so much more than a religious belief system that so many are locked into today. Our relationship and walk with Jesus has to be a total commitment; otherwise we will not release that “dunamis” power to demonstrate to others that Jesus is alive today ~ right now!
THE APOSTLE PAUL’S TESTIMONY
Let us be reminded of the commitment that the Apostle Paul had. This is his testimony: “For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh, though I also might have confidence in the flesh. If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so: circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee; concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish (“dung” – KJV),that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power (“dunamis”) of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me” (Philippians 3:3-12 , NKJV – read whole Chapter).
Take some time to consider what Paul is saying here. He laid down all his background and religious roots in order that Jesus Christ might be Lord of all his life! He was an Acts 1:8 witness of Jesus Christ. His life and ministry demonstrated his commitment to Jesus was powerful and very effective.
He gave up everything in order to win Christ!
And so it should be with all those who claim Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour!
One reason why the Christian Church is so powerless in many areas today is because the commitment of Christians is not a total commitment to Jesus. It is easy to become more committed to the church we attend rather than to Jesus Christ Himself. That is a religious substitute. God did not call us to be “passive pew sitters”!
This generation desperately needs true witnesses of Jesus, whose transformed lives by the power of the Holy Spirit makes us so different to everyone else in the world. In Acts Chapter 4 the religious leaders tried to silence the disciples. Their reply was: “For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard” (v. 20). They had a real and living relationship with Jesus through the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit! Right now around the world there is a growing move by the anti-Christ spirit to stop Christians from witnessing of their faith in Jesus Christ. Sadly, the Christian voice has grown quite silent in many parts. That is not God’s will for us. We are called to be living witnesses of the resurrected Jesus Christ Who is alive in our hearts and goes with us everywhere we go. The Holy Spirit lives inside of us and His power is available for us to use whenever we are willing to release it. Being led by the Holy Spirit gives us the right person(s), place, etc. where to release the Holy Spirit to give the people witness of Jesus Christ. Hallelujah!
CHRISTIANITY IS ON GOD’S TERMS ~ NOT OURS
Consider these challenging verses: “I beseech (“urge”) you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:1-2 ). Again we see the requirements of a true Christian believer. It is a total giving of ourselves to the purposes of God; not allowing the world’s way to influence us; experiencing a transformation by the renewing of our minds, which is what is expected of us. The result of that is that we will not only know the will of God but prove it, so we can live without any doubts as to the purpose for which Jesus Christ has called us to walk with and be His living witnesses to the truth of the Gospel. Hallelujah!
A half-hearted commitment to Jesus and His purposes makes us powerless and we will accomplish very little in this life that will last throughout time and into all eternity. Jesus has to be our Lord and Master, and He has spoken clearly: “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it” (Matthew 10:37-39 ). The message of Jesus is clear. If we really do want to fulfil His purposes and will for our lives then we have to yield to Him on His terms. He has to be LORD OF ALL in our lives.
JESUS’ CHALLENGE TO PETER
In John 21:15-19 Jesus gave a challenge to Peter as to his commitment to Jesus. Three times He asked him, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?” Peter replied that he did. But as Jesus asked the second and third time, Peter re-acted as Jesus made it clear to him that when we love Jesus we feed others. We have something to give that is of eternal value. Peter had been serving the Lord on his own terms and it was not acceptable. The big change came in Peter’s life when he received the “dunamis” power of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4 ). He was transformed and became the great Apostle Peter who went out and made a positive impact wherever he went.
How about us? Are we like Peter before the Holy Spirit filled him? Or, are we Peter after the “dunamis” power of God filled him to overflowing and enabled him to go and be a true witness to Jesus in his generation? This is now our generation to be true and vital witnesses to Jesus. Go for it!
We have the only answer that this generation needs to be made whole in Jesus Christ!