Witnesses; April 7, 2018

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.”

This verse is one of the most quoted and least followed in the whole Bible. It is quoted in every Pentecostal/Charismatic congregation, at least, in the whole world, yet few believers are consciously witnesses for Christ. People are very interested in receiving power, but then they want to use it for their own ends, rather than to accomplish that for which God provides it. I have heard many messages on this verse, some of them very good, talking about Jerusalem being our immediate surroundings, Judea and Samaria being the more familiar and less familiar areas of our own nation, and the ends of the earth being exactly that. However, the people in the pews remain largely that: people in the pews, rather than witnesses to the world at large. This of course ties in directly to what Matthew records, famously called “The Great Commission.” “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20) We overlook the fact that this doesn’t say, “make converts,” much less “make members,” but rather, “make disciples.” A disciple is one who seeks to do what they see their Master doing, not one who is simply dependent on the Master. We aren’t to seek to make disciples for ourselves, but rather for Jesus, and that of course includes being a true disciple ourselves. If we are indeed disciples, witnesses of Christ, then we can say with Paul, “I urge you to imitate me.” (1 Corinthians 4:16) That’s not conceit, that’s being an honest disciple.

I have had my own struggles with follow-through on this issue. I’ve had some excellent role models, starting with my parents, but I haven’t always followed through as a disciple myself. I have honestly sought to be a witness, but I haven’t been so effective in raising up disciples for Christ. Some would certainly qualify, including but not limited to some who are in full-time ministry, but in general, those in my care haven’t been any more likely to share the Gospel with someone else than members of any other church. This is where coaching comes in. I’ve been exposed to the concept of coaching over the past year, and I hope it’s sinking in. I am very prone, by temperament and gifting, to dump truth on people and expect them to change. That very seldom works! Not many people see me for more that a few minutes at a time, so “leading by example” has its limits. I need to be more intentional about provoking people to think about their lives, and whether they are effective disciples/witnesses. I need to come alongside them so that we can grow together, since my own effectiveness is obviously limited. We have a marvelous opportunity to make some urgently needed changes, and I am to follow through in all humility and obedience.

Father, thank You for this Word. Thank You for Your patience and Your plan. Help me recognize Your plan and follow through fully, not holding back for any reason, so that we may be Your witnesses, Your disciples indeed, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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