Word Magazine June 1978 Page 12/43
EVANGELISM AND THE HOLY SPIRIT
By Bryan Beal
The Orthodox Church today is beginning to concern itself once again, with evangelism. There are, I believe, many ingredients to evangelism.
The first ingredient for evangelism (sharing Jesus on a one-to-one basis) is growth in spiritual life. In Acts, Luke quotes John and Peter when they say that we cannot stop talking about the things which we have seen and heard. When the Apostles were ordered to stop speaking and teaching in the name of Jesus, (Acts 4:19) Peter and John replied, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge”; – how can you give heed to God and go speaking about Him if you do not have a personal relationship with Him? Peter spoke later on when taken before the council in Jerusalem where he was told again not to speak or teach in the name of Jesus, that we must obey God rather than men. How can you obey God if you do not know what He has to say or who He is? The first thing you must know to witness, and to be a missionary to your neighbors is, who Jesus is. When you find that your experience and relationship to Jesus means something to you and has changed your life then you will find that you cannot stop talking and teaching in His Name.
THE HOLY SPIRIT
The second ingredient you must have is the Holy Spirit. At the beginning of the book of Acts, Jesus Christ said, “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you and you shall be my witnesses both in Jerusalem and in all Judea and even to the remotest part of the earth.” He commanded them to go to Jerusalem and wait until they had received what the Father had promised. He said that the promise would be baptism in the Holy Spirit. Two things in this passage are evident: 1. That if you are to be a witness, you have to receive the Holy Spirit just as you received Jesus. 2. When you received at baptism the Holy Spirit, you received power. This word, power, in the Greek is often quoted by the Church. The word is “dynamis” and is the same word from which we get our word dynamite. We shall receive power and we shall be witnesses. They go hand in hand. You cannot separate a genuine witness for God from the power of the Holy Spirit. Why do we need power? We need power to overcome our fears, to be courageous, so we can speak about Jesus. We need power so we will know when to speak and when to remain quiet. We need power so we can have wisdom, supernatural wisdom, so that we can have a spiritual knowledge about Jesus Christ, so we can answer the questions of the curious and unbelieving. We need power to endure and be diligent in our personal lives so that we can display our faith in Jesus Christ to those around us by the quality of our everyday actions. We need power so that like in the Second Epistle of Peter, we can become partakers of the divine nature of Jesus Christ, that we can walk in a manner worthy of Him. We need the Holy Spirit to show others by our lives that corruption and lust can be overcome and that we do not have to submit to the overwhelming flood of filth that is poured upon us everyday.
WE WILL KNOW WHAT TO SAY
These two items, in my opinion, are all you need to enable you to witness. Knowing Jesus we have through development of spiritual life, someone to witness about, and having the Holy Spirit, we have the power to share it. Jesus said that for His Name’s sake we would be brought before the kings and princes of this world to witness about Him. He said not to worry or contemplate about what we would say. Jesus said that in that hour, in which you are witnessing, it (what to say) will be given to you. For the Holy Spirit will bring to our remembrance all things which Jesus has taught us. There is a catch to this type of witnessing: that your relationship to Jesus must be such that He can teach you so that there will be something for the Holy Spirit to bring to remembrance.
If you want your witness to be one that abounds, then you must be a person who abounds in the knowledge of Jesus Christ. If you want your witness to have an effect upon other people’s minds, then you must be a person who allows the Holy Spirit to endow you with power from on high to make your words have meaning to the hearer. When Jesus taught, He did not teach as a scribe or Pharisee, but rather He taught as “one having authority.” That is, as one having absolute knowledge of the truth. You must not stand in your own strength when you share Jesus Christ but rather, you must stand on the authority of Jesus’ word. The Bible says that when God sends forth His word that it will go forth and water those upon whom it falls, like they were plants. The Bible says God’s word will not return to Him void but rather, that every time His word is spoken, and taught, it will have dramatic effect upon those who hear it. You must not trust in your emotions and feelings or the reactions and rejections of others, but rather you must witness in faith that One whom you are witnessing about is able to transform and alter the people to whom you are giving God’s message of life.
With these two principles in mind, knowing Jesus, and having the power of the Holy Spirit, we will be able to answer the high calling concerning the Biblical imperatives about witnessing. One thing I would like to mention is in 2 Timothy 4:2 where Paul is exhorting his son in the faith, Timothy. He tells him the following things: preach the word, be ready in season and out of season, reprove, rebuke, exhort with great patience and instruction. In verse 5, he says, “Be sober in all things, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” Evangelism and witnessing as you can see, are not just teaching that Jesus Christ is God and the Saviour of mankind, but it is the whole emphasis of a Christian’s life. It is sharing the word in all manner and ways with those who need to hear it. It is as Paul says in verse 6, the pouring out of your life as a drink-offering for the service of Jesus Christ. Jesus spoke (Matthew 28) what has come to be known as the “great commission.” He said first of all, all authority has been given to you on heaven and earth. As a result of that authority we are to go therefore and make disciples of all the nations baptizing them in the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. He then says, to teach them to observe all He commanded us. We are to teach to those who would follow Jesus all the things which He has commanded us and taught us. How are you going to witness and evangelize until you are willing to read and study the things in the Bible which he taught? Jesus ended that passage of Scripture by saying, “I am with you always even to the end of the age.”
TO BE WILLING!
Jesus is here, right this very moment. He is speaking to you, the reader. He is in our very lives. He is reaching out to a spiritually dead world with His life. And who will take that life to them? Paul, in Romans 10:8, says, “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart”- that is, the word of faith which we are preaching, that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved; for with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed.” For there is no distinction between a Jew and a Greek: for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call upon Him; for “Whoever will call upon the name of the Lord will be saved.”
Paul here begins to ask some very logical questions which I believe we must answer.
1. How then shall they call upon Him – these who have not believed?
2. How shall they believe in whom they have not heard?
3. How shall they hear without a preacher?
4. How shall they preach unless they are sent?
There is a logical order for going out and sharing Jesus Christ. But, it has to begin with you being willing to be sent out to share the gospel. This is the message of Pentecost.
Bryan Beat is a member of the Orthodox Church of the Redeemer in Los Altos Hills, California.