One of the most important commandments that Jesus left us with before he was taken up to heaven is contained in the first chapter of the book of acts. The book of Acts tells us that, after his resurrection, Jesus spent forty days teaching them about the Kingdom of God, and just before He left them, He gave them a last, important commandment. In Acts 1:8, Jesus tells his apostles:
“But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
There are two things that we can easily see in this last commandment that Jesus left his apostles, and by extension, one that He commands all of us.
First, that we are to become witnesses for Jesus, and next, that our ability to witness shall be powered by the gift of the Holy Spirit.
What Does It Really Mean To Be A Witness For Jesus Christ?
Given the importance of His last commandment, this is an important question to answer for any Christian.
Let’s start with the dictionary meaning of what a witness is.
A witness is one who sees or observes an event. Typically, this refers to a crime or accident, but really this can be any event. This implies two things. First that a witness has personal experience of the event, and next, because of this personal experience, this witness has knowledge of the truth.
By applying these two elements to what it means to be a witness for Christ, we can understand that a Christian must first have a personal experience of Jesus Christ. In so doing, that Christian has access to the truth, and can thus be a credible witness for Him.
Just How Important Is This Personal Experience In Order To Be A Witness?
Let’s say for example that you watched a movie, or television show, and you wanted to share the experience of watching it with your friend.
Having watched it yourself, you are able to tell your friend all about the show and what it means to watch it. Now, your friend, having not watched it, could now tell another person about the show, but because of a lack of personal experience, he probably wouldn’t be able to do as good a job of it as you could.
Now let’s apply this to your Christian witness.
If you’ve never experienced Christ yourself, the best you could share with another person is the story of how someone else experienced Christ.
If you’ve never experienced His power, His love, His mercy, then you would be unable to fully be able to share about these truths as part of your witness.
So, a powerful Christian witness must first come from a personal experience with Jesus Christ.
The Next Element Of A Powerful Witness Is The Presence Of The Holy Spirit
As detailed in the second chapter of Acts, Jesus’ followers obeyed Him and waited for the Holy Spirit to come to them and fill them.
At this time, this enabled them to go and witness to multitudes in Jerusalem, each of them miraculously being heard in the language of the listeners.
This in itself is truly miraculous, but another miraculous change happened that day as well.
Peter, the one who had denied Jesus out of fear, who was a fisherman who was not used to speaking in public, raised his voice and witnessed to all of Jerusalem that was present.
Through the power of the Holy Spirit, Peter was able to give voice to his faith, and share his personal experience of Jesus Christ to those he would otherwise have been too fearful to speak to.
Being a witness for Jesus may well be one of the most challenging parts of being a Christian.
Like Peter, we are sometimes afraid, we sometimes do not know what to say.
But through the power of the Holy Spirit, we can become witnesses that bring Glory to God, and are able to share Jesus’ message of salvation to those who need it.
It may not be as dramatic as being able to speak in a foreign language, or being able to stand up before a crowd to preach. It may be as simple as knowing the kind word to say, the right time to speak, with the simple message of Jesus’ love.