By: Kenneth D. Martin, MPP, JD
Lay Supply Pastor, Forest Hill UMC // Everman UMC
New Church Start District
“…I am sending the promise of My Father upon you; but you are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”
“…you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and Samaria, and as far as the remotest part of the earth.”
How well do we perform as witnesses when we are put on the world’s witness stand? Do we care about our witness, or is it an afterthought?
The lack of effective, credible witnesses can really sink a case in the courtroom. So, lawyers spend time and resources to prepare witnesses so they provide testimony that is truthful, accurate, concise and admissible at trial. Otherwise, the witness’ testimony could be ruled inadmissible, ruining the case.
While it is widely accepted that we are to “go and make disciples,” many Believers are under the mistaken impression that even if we go differently than Jesus instructed us to go, it will be alright…that He will nonetheless accept our efforts and give us His seal of approval even though we are out of compliance.
At the risk of oversimplification, if (1) Jesus provided us the original instructions, (2) Jesus provided the original standard by which we may measure success, and if (3) His disciples were to wait until they were “clothed with power from on high,” then we CANNOT truly be His witnesses if we fail to follow His instructions and we go without being “clothed with power from on high.” Sure, we can call ourselves “witnesses,” but if our testimony does not stand up by His guidelines for witness testimony, then we are like “spiritual groupies” who hang around the courtroom and talk, but nothing that we say finds its way into the court’s record. It is testimony that is ineffective, inadmissible and rejected.
Further guidance from the Lord (His words, not mine):
17 These signs will accompany those who have believed: in My Name they will cast out demons, the will speak with new tongues;
18 they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not harm them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”
By Jesus’ standard, have very many of us believed? How can we claim to be witnesses if we did not follow instructions to wait for power AND we are not counted with those who have believed? How is it possible for us to have believed without a personal testimony that matches at least part of Jesus’ standard for believing? No casting out of demons, speaking with new tongues or laying hands on the sick, at all? So, is Jesus wrong or are we mistaken?
Testimony is thrown out of court if the witness only has hearsay knowledge. So, reciting the scriptures is beneficial, but it does NOT equate with firsthand knowledge or proof that we have believed, and it does not equip us to be witnesses of Him.
The kingdom of heaven has solutions to the world’s problems, but it is no small wonder that the world is not pressing its way into it. (See Luke 16:16) If the best we can do is provide hearsay evidence as our witness, we remain unqualified and ill-equipped to accomplish the works that He accomplished let alone even greater works. (John 14:12) We are left skipping over scriptures and teaching around scriptures so we will not have to perform theological gymnastics or make excuses for the Lord.
His instructions to us are clear. So, we must set His standards as our standards and we must purpose to go in His Power. If we aspire to obey Him in our going, He Who did not spare His Own Son but delivered Him over for us all will freely give us everything we need. (See Romans 8:32)
The responsibility of making disciples of nations is ours. Despite our track record, if we go boldly to the Throne of Grace we will receive mercy and find grace to help us in this our time of need. (Hebrews 4:16) We must receive His Power, then we must go.
Prayer: Father, we acknowledge that we cannot be effective witnesses in our own power. Please forgive us; we repent.
We need Your mercy, Your Grace and we need Your Power so we may be effective witnesses of Jesus. Help us to believe in Jesus so there is evidence. Clothe us in Your Power.
As we go and boldy speak Your Word, may it be that You extend Your Hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders through the Name of Your Holy Servant Jesus. (Acts 4:29-30)
February 19th, 2021 – Waco, TX – 9:00-3:30
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