Summary: verse 1:8 is the key verse in the book of Acts. It’s what Acts is all about. It’s the story of the early church. Notice that it tells us that we are going to have power, and that the power will be from the Holy Spirit, and that we are to be witnesses.
Witnessing by the Holy Spirit
Acts 1:6-8 (KJV)
6 When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?
7 And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.
8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
I believe that verse 8 is the key verse in the book of Acts. It’s what Acts is all about. It’s the story of the early church. Notice that it tells us that we are going to have power, and that the power will be from the Holy Spirit, and that we are to be witnesses.
Let me remind you of the setting for these verses. It is just prior to His ascension. And the last words He spoke to His disciples are what we call the Great Commission. It is found at the end of each of the four Gospels. And here it is again in verse 8, “….and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” You are probably most familiar with how it is given in Matthew 28:19, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” Jesus had taught His disciples; they were trained, but they were still lacking. They were still timid and gathered in the upper room in Jerusalem; waiting for the coming of the Holy Spirit, waiting for the power that Christ had promised them. It says in verse 6, that they asked Him a question, “Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?” But He told them that they are not to be concerned about the time (when it will happen). That is information that only God has, and He is not going to share it with anyone. We are to be busy witnessing for Christ, and the Holy Spirit is going to give us the power to be witnesses. Someone has said, “Evangelism is the whole work of the whole church for the whole age.” The power for us to be witnesses comes from the Holy Spirit. And the power to live the Christian life comes from the Holy Spirit. Only one person ever lived it perfectly, and that was Jesus.
I want to give you three things which the Holy Spirit will provide so that you can be a witness.
1. First, the Holy Spirit changes lives. Look at what He did for the disciples. They were common men; most of them were fisherman. They were uneducated and didn’t appear to be outstanding, by any means. Peter was perhaps the most prominent among them, and when Jesus told him that he would deny him, Peter said, “Not me Lord.” But he denied that he knew Jesus three times that same night. This man didn’t have any power in his life at that time. The power came on the day of the feast of Pentecost. Then there were James and John, who when the Samaritans refused to listen to Jesus, they said to Him, “…..wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did?” (Luke 9:54 (KJV) Jesus didn’t do what they suggested, but the Holy Spirit did change the lives of these men. They became witnesses for Christ and preached the Gospel to many who received it with joy. The Holy Spirit is still changing lives today. It says in I Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” There will be a change in the life of any man or woman who is saved. If you don’t see any change in their life, I would question if they were really saved. Have you been changed?
2. Second, the Holy Spirit produces courage. The disciples were meek and unsure of themselves until Pentecost, and then they were bold in preaching the Gospel. They placed themselves in danger and they had faith to stand for Christ when it meant persecution and death. Some of us fail to witness because of fear, even though the worst thing that could happen to us is that we may be made fun of. On the Day of Pentecost the disciples were afraid. There were 120 of them gathered there in the Upper Room, and they were frightened and didn’t know what to do next. We read in Acts that the Holy Spirit came into their presence and appeared like tongues of fire. It touched every one of them and it changed them. They went out and began witnessing with boldness. It says that those who heard them speak, heard the words in their own language. The Holy Spirit changed the Hebrew words into Greek, Latin, Spanish and Aramaic. It was a miracle. Peter gave the first great sermon of the New Testament and 3000 were saved at one time. We need this type of boldness to tell others about Jesus. Do you remember the blind man that Jesus gave sight to; He told him to tell nobody, and he told everybody. In the Great Commission, He tells us to tell everybody; but we tell nobody. Who do you think is being the most disobedient?