Phil Cox

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Being Witnesses

26th May 2012

last week, we thought about the time Jesus said:

Matthew 5v14-16
"You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.

We saw that the disciples of Jesus - and, if you're a Christian, that includes you - are called to be like Him, and to carry on His ministry, being the light of the world now that He has returned to the Father. God wants us to let [our] light shine before men, that they may see [our] good deeds and praise [our] Father in heaven.

I find this an awesome responsibility, but I know that it is indeed what we're called to. I feel so inadequate for such a role, and I think all good Christians do. It would be arrogant not to. How on Earth can you and I function as the light of the world?

The disciples must have wondered the same thing but Jesus answered their concerns by saying:

Acts 1:8
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."

To be Jesus's witnesses is another way of saying let [our] light shine before men, that they may see [our] good deeds and praise [our] Father in heaven. And the only way we can do that is to receive power from God. And we receive power from God when the Holy Spirit comes upon us.

From the Ascension until the day of Pentecost, the church prayed (Acts 1v14) and they met together (Acts2v1) but then:

Acts 2v2-4
Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.

I know there are still some Christian people who wish that God didn't give us spiritual gifts like speaking in tongues. Some of us are confused or embarrassed about it. We might not understand why we need to speak in tongues, we might feel awkward when others do it, we may not feel comfortable about our non-Christian friends knowing that we do it. But any gift from God is a good gift. And those of us who have this gift have come to value it enormously as an aid to our prayer life. As Paul teaches us:

1 Corinthians 14v4a
He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself

Of course, Paul also makes it clear that not all Spirit-filled Christians speak in tongues (1 Corinthians 12v29-30) but God wants to give some spiritual gifts to every individual Christian when the Holy Spirit comes upon [them]. And He knows which gifts would be best for each us.

And - here's the point - just a few minutes after the Holy Spirit came upon the early church (Acts 2v2-4) they began to function as witnesses:

Acts 2:14a
Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd

Peter preached an open-air, impromptu sermon, and the rest of the church supported Him, and:

Acts 2:41
Those who accepted his message were baptised, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.

The baptism in the Holy Spirit is great for those in the church, but it's given so that we can witness to those who need to hear the Good News.