Answer Well, part 8: Don’t Go It Alone
Is there anything more that needs to be said?
Yes. God doesn’t expect us to witness for Him on our own. Not at all. He promised the Holy Spirit.
When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance. Now there were Jews living in Jerusalem, devout men from every nation under heaven. And when this sound occurred, the crowd came together, and were bewildered because each one of them was hearing them speak in his own language. They were amazed and astonished, saying, “Why, are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we each hear them in our own language to which we were born?…”
Plain and simple: the Gospel is a message that is spoken and God wants to be with our mouths.
The disciple Peter, who thought he was so tough only to find out he wasn’t, when filled with the Holy Spirit is emboldened and able to preach.
But Peter, taking his stand with the eleven, raised his voice and declared to them: “Men of Judea and all you who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you and give heed to my words. For these men are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only the third hour of the day; but this is what was spoken of through the prophet Joel:
‘And it shall be in the last days,’ God says,
‘That I will pour forth of My Spirit on all mankind;
And your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
And your young men shall see visions,
And your old men shall dream dreams;
Even on My bondslaves, both men and women,
I will in those days pour forth of My Spirit
And they shall prophesy.
‘And I will grant wonders in the sky above
And signs on the earth below,
Blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke.
‘The sun will be turned into darkness
And the moon into blood,
Before the great and glorious day of the Lord shall come.
‘And it shall be that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’
God says He will pour the Holy Spirit out on “all mankind,” no discrimination. Male and female. Old and young. The Holy Spirit is available for all.
After clarifying what the Holy Spirit is doing, Peter preaches to the crowds about Jesus.
What Shall We Do?
Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brethren, what shall we do?”
Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself.” And with many other words he solemnly testified and kept on exhorting them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation!”
So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls. They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.
Notice that when the people receive the message of Jesus’ death and resurrection they recognize that they need to respond. Hearing the message and accepting it as true is not enough. They have been pierced to the heart by the truth, and the truth is requiring action on their part.
Peter says they are to repent. Peter says they are to be baptized in the name of Jesus for the forgiveness of sins. Peter says they will receive the Holy Spirit, which implies that they will receive Him the same way that they see Him and the 120 disciples now: with speaking in tongues the praises and wonders of God.
And what do we see? Those who believe are baptized and devote themselves to learning, to being together, to celebrating communion and to prayer.
We Should Do the Same
We should do the same. All of it. Repent. Be baptized. Receive the Holy Spirit. Devote ourselves to learning, to fellowship, to the act of communion and prayer.
And we should recognize that Peter is anointed and filled with the Holy Spirit. People are pierced to the heart not because Peter is an eloquent speaker, but because the Holy Spirit is with him.
When we witness, we want the Holy Spirit to have anointed and filled us.
Still not sure?
Turn the Page
We turn the page in our Bibles and Peter and John heal a man, then preach:
But the things which God announced beforehand by the mouth of all the prophets, that His Christ would suffer, He has thus fulfilled. Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord; and that He may send Jesus, the Christ appointed for you, whom heaven must receive until the period of restoration of all things about which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from ancient time. Moses said, ‘The Lord God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brethren; to Him you shall give heed to everything He says to you. And it will be that every soul that does not heed that prophet shall be utterly destroyed from among the people.’
Whoa. The Good News still has this doom side to it. Souls that don’t heed Jesus… well, they’re doomed.
Amazingly, the religious leaders try to stop these guys. They are rejecting Jesus.
And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.”
Peter is making it clear: we cannot be saved apart from Jesus.
Still the religious leaders try to shut him up.
And when they had summoned them, they commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered and said to them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge; for we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.”
And so the disciples don’t stop talking about Jesus.
When they had brought them, they stood them before the Council. The high priest questioned them, saying, “We gave you strict orders not to continue teaching in this name, and yet, you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.”
But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom you had put to death by hanging Him on a cross. He is the one whom God exalted to His right hand as a Prince and a Savior, to grant repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. And we are witnesses of these things; and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey Him.”
God doesn’t want us witnessing by ourselves, so we shouldn’t. We need the Holy Spirit to empower and embolden us, yes, but we also need to keep the perspective that it’s not about us. We’re mouthpieces. It’s not our truth we’re speaking. It is God’s truth. And that truth hasn’t changed. There is still only one way to the Father, and that’s through the Son. Otherwise, doom awaits.
Our culture, even religious cultures, can try to shut down God’s message. But they will not succeed. It may become very difficult for those who allow God to speak through them, but God will be with them.
May He make all of us witnesses, and may we thank Him for accompanying us.