But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be My witnesses, telling people about Me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, In Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. Acts 1:8 NLT
Obeying Jesus isn’t optional. Had the early church not obeyed Jesus’ command to wait in Jerusalem for the Baptism with the Holy Spirit—or His command to go out and witness once empowered—the story of Salvation would have ended with their generation. But, THANK GOD, they obeyed…!
They obeyed with a clear understanding that the Holy Spirit and His gifts were given to empower them to become witnesses to the world, starting right there in the neighborhood, but going forth to the whole world.
The Holy Spirit is given to empower followers of Christ to go in His Power and Spirit—to offer others the very same life-changing, eternity-changing relationship they walk in! A Spirit-empowered Witness is on a never-ending mission to bring others to Jesus as they operate in their Spirit-gifting’s.
It also means enduring the suffering that comes from confronting fallen human nature with the witness of the Risen Savior shared through the empowerment of the Holy Spirit. When we witness to Jesus by the Spirit, it WILL tick off people living only or mainly by their flesh…!
Somehow, however, the Church has often turned this focus on outward-witness into a focus on inward-gratification. In many circles, it is taught that the Holy Spirit is given to make us happy, meet our needs, and scratch our itches. How very different this emphasis is from what Jesus and the early church taught!
AS JESUS MADE CLEAR, THE HOLY SPIRIT IS GIVEN TO US TO POUR OUT, NOT TO HORDE; TO WIN OTHERS TO THE FAITH, NOT TO PAMPER THE “FAITHFUL…!”
Nik Ripken, in The Insanity of Obedience, shares the story of a Chinese Church leader who corrected him about the number of true followers in China. The Leader stated, “Of the large number of believers that you described in your talk, two-thirds of those people are what we would call ‘members.’ Only one third of those people are who we would call ‘true followers of Jesus.’ …Probably two-thirds of the people you mentioned regularly attend a house church. Most of those people have been baptized. Most of those people contribute financially to the work of the House Church. But we do not consider church members to be true followers of Jesus until they have led other people to Christ and until they have helped plant more house churches.”
True Disciples must lead others to Jesus…? True followers of Jesus must help plant new congregations? Where does this Chinese leader get his thinking from? The Bible…!
Ripken asked himself the same question I hope you are asking yourself right now. Am I simply a member of the church or am I a true follower of Jesus Christ…?!
True followers of Jesus are obedient to witness—in fact, their lives help others Witness Obedience!
In Obedience to Jesus, we MUST receive the Baptism with the Holy Spirit, and we MUST go forth from that baptism to share Jesus with the world. As the Chinese Pastor understood:
Are you simply a church member or are you a true follower—obedient to witness and plant and harvest—and pay a steep price in the process?! May it be said of all of us, “they were true followers of Jesus…!”