Pentecost: Power to Witness

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Acts 1:8 (NRSV)
Jesus said, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

We are witnesses. Witnessing is not just something we do; it is something we are. We don’t go to witness, we witness as we go. With every breath we take, with every word we utter, with every action we make, we are witnessing. It’s been said that when Stanley discovered Livingstone in Central Africa and had spent some time with him, he said, “If I had been with him any longer I would have been compelled to be a Christian and he never spoke to me about it at all.” The witness of his life, his being, was irresistible. – William Richard Ezell, God’s Redemptive Plan

Acts 2:4 NRSV
[On the day of Pentecost] All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.

In the midst of a generation screaming for answers, Christians are stuttering.
– Howard Hendricks

The Christian’s life in all its aspects – intellectual and ethical, devotional and relational, up-surging in worship and outgoing in witness – is supernatural; only the Spirit can initiate and sustain it. So apart from him, not only will there be no lively believers and no lively congregations, there will be no believers and no congregations at all. – J. I. Packer

Acts 4:29-31 (NRSV)
“Lord, look at their threats, and grant to your servants to speak your word with all boldness, while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” When they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God with boldness.

When I live by my own power and strength, relying solely on my natural talents to see me through, then people naturally praise me for how I am living. But when I am living in a way that requires me to depend on the Holy Spirit, people respond by praising my Father in heaven.
– Francis Chan, Forgotten God: Reversing Our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit

This Spirit is not some magical, mysteriously supernatural aura of a dynamistic kind, not a magical being of an animistic kind, but God himself in his especially personal and self-giving aspect: as a power which creates life. The Spirit is God himself, a merciful power establishing his reign over man’s heart, over the whole of man, inwardly present to man and apparent in his workings to man’s human spirit. – Hans Kung, The Church

After the wait, with the power of the Father, the church is unleashed into the world with incredible energy and authority. It is unrestrained by the authorities it encounters; it is unimpeded even by imprisonment. Its impact is “to turn the world upside down” (Acts 17:6). I do not know about you; this prospect and possibility seem remote from the church as I know it . . . except, it is the work of the Spirit! When the church waits and receives, it is emboldened in way that transforms.
Walter Brueggemann, Blogging Toward Sunday

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Click here for the Rev. Dr. Steve Harper’s important insights on the meaning of “Jersusalem, Judea, Samaria and the ends of the Earth,” the locations of our witnessing.

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