Thursday, December 21, 2006

Where's the Power?

You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you (Acts 1:8)

In chapter 1 of Acts, Jesus Christ promised His disciples that they would receive power when they were filled with the Holy Spirit. In chapter 2, the promise was fulfilled. The Spirit of God descended upon the disciples in a show of fiery tongues accompanied by the sound of rushing wind. Not one disciple was excluded.

A little more investigation will reveal why it is that Christ gave the disciples this power. This is probably the most important thing to find out in the context of the power of the Holy Spirit. If not, we get side-tracked with the manifestation of tongue speaking and other miraculous gifts. I believe every gift given to the disciples of Jesus Christ, from Pentecost until now, has the same foundational goal: You shall be my witnesses.

This is the power that I long for. This is the power that I crave. I want to be a faithful witness to the glory of Jesus Christ. By that, I do not simply mean that I want the courage to be fearless, door to door witness. A Jehovah's Witness can work up the courage to peddle a false gospel at a stranger's door; that's not Holy Spirit power. That's fleshly willpower, and I believe that the Christian witness can operate in the same power that they do. I have, and I often do.

I am also not interested in the power to heal the sick or raise the dead or to speak in unknown tongues. I simply want the power of the Spirit to be in my life and in my words when I speak the gospel; to the end that people will be gripped by the beauty and glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

And I want my motivation to be pure. I want all the selfish reasons that may motivate one to witness to be forever purged from my heart. I don't want to be a witness to stroke my ego, my self-importance, or to be "a good pastor." The subtle nature of selfish pride in witness is awful. I see it lurking in my heart. It is an eagerness to see myself as a superior Christian to those who don't witness like I do, or they don't have the perceived boldness and confidence that I have. Such carnality is not worthy of the humble messenger of Christ, and I want it gone by God's grace. Does it live in your heart as well?

I do not want guilt to be my motivation either. Too often, I am propelled by a sense of evangelical guilt that I'm not "doing enough." It is another trick of pride to think that I could do more. The type of guilt I'm talking about points me only back to me. It comes from an errant view that "I" could do more if only I spoke more. It propels me forward in the flesh and not in the Spirit. God purge me from selfish guilt and the pride that causes it.

I want to be motivated by love for God and man. I want the power of God's love to fill my heart and life. If I am guilty of witnessing, it is perhaps that I do not love the glory of God enough, or that I do not believe that His gospel can truly save "the least of these." Perhaps I have forgotten where I was when God gripped me by the power of His love and terrified me by the truth of His justice. He killed the old man by the iron hands of justice and love, and I could not turn away from the glory of it all.

My love for God includes a love of His justice. Without His justice, there is no gospel. So, my witness includes the warning of hell, and my heart must come to grip with the fact that man is so sinful that he deserves an eternity there. Can you believe that if no one had been saved that it would have been good for all of mankind to burn in hell? It is true, and only a heart that has seen the ugliness of sin can begin to comprehend this. So the power of God necessitates a clear call to repentance. Isn't it a marvelous truth that if the most wretched of us repent and believe, we will be spared from this wrath?

The power I long for is a love from God that overcomes my pride and selfishness so that I may more clearly behold the wonder of the gospel. I want to feel its power in my sinful heart keenly, and know that if it works in that cesspool, it can work in others as well. I want to feel the truth of Paul's eloquent confession, "This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief" (1 Tim. 1:15). I want others to be gripped by this truth as well, and I believe that this is the beginning of being a powerful witness for Jesus Christ.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Merry Christmas!