The Power to Share

By Pastor Doug Batchelor

An Amazing Fact: History records that the ancient Greek inventor Archimedes turned an entire army away without firing a single arrow. He composed a large array of shields, polished as mirrors and held by soldiers, to burn a fleet of Roman ships during an attack on Syracuse. They never had to fire a shot that day, saved alone by reflecting the light of the sun.

Psalm 61 says that God is our "power tower." And our job as Christians is to reflect as mirrors the light of the Son to others. By His grace, the Lord has already promised to give us the power to do His witnessing work. Matthew 10:1 records such a moment: "When He had called His twelve disciples to Him, He gave them power over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease" (NKJV, emphasis added). It should be particularly noted that the casting out of devils and the healing was only to supplement the power of the Spirit for preaching. They were primarily given power to share in preaching.

Power Failure
But sadly, many Christians aren't using this power that God has provided. And generally speaking, the church as a whole experiences a lot of power failures. And I don't mean just "rolling blackouts" like we get in California sometimes, but major power shortages that leave us in total darkness with all of our electric appliances dead.

I go to a lot of places in the world where they don't have electric power. Naturally they don't worry about blackouts because they are used to living without electricity. I think it's been such a long time since the church in America has experienced the power of the Holy Spirit that we don't even know we don't have it.

It is possible to go through the motions of church, with even an element of success, and not be aware that we're doing everything solely on human power and not the power of His Spirit. And if we are using His power, it is mostly only a fraction of what He has made available to us.

What is the result of this lack of power? First, it produces mediocre Christian lives and an ineffective, embarrassing testimony, which in turn cripples our ability to evangelize the lost effectively. The lack of power means the work of our ministries goes undermanned, under funded, and becomes overtaxed. Even worse, it makes the world question the validity of our faith.

We're trying to use human power to compensate for the lack of power the Holy Spirit will give us to do the same work. Are we just an inept organization? There are very powerful organizations in the world that are using human power much better than the church. They're structured much more effectively. But even that wouldn't matter if we had the power of the Holy Spirit.

Getting Power
In Luke 24:49, Jesus says, "Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high" (NKJV). The Greek word translated as power is dunamus, from which we get the word dynamite. It is talking about an explosive power that God is offering us: The power of the Holy Spirit is as dynamite.

Further, Luke 10:19 promises, "Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you." Not only are we given power for sharing to proclaim, but it also protects us from temptations and other evil.

Acts 1:8 is one of the most important passages we'll ever read. Jesus, after giving His people the great commission, adds, "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" (NKJV). The Lord promised them that they, and we, would receive power. For what purpose? To be His witnesses.

Call to Witness
What is a witness? Here's a simple, working definition: "One who can give a firsthand account of something seen, heard, or experienced." This is what Christ has called us to be. We need to be able and willing to give a firsthand account of something seen, heard, or experienced.

No marketing expert has been able to improve on the influencing power of the personal testimony. It's the most effective sales technique, because people want to know if something really works. That's one reason some of us struggle in witnessing for the Lord: We don't have a firsthand account. We can talk about Jesus, who died for the sins of the world, but we still don't know how to talk about our Lord. It's as if it is about someone who's way up there that we don't even really know.

Now you don't have to have an experience like Paul on the road to Damascus, where you are struck down by a heavenly light and have a dramatic conversion. You don't have to be Lazarus and say, "I was dead for four days, and I was raised. Let me tell you my story." Sometimes your experience could be dramatic, but then again, you might not be able to put your finger on the day it happened. But you do have direct knowledge about Jesus and a personal relationship with Him.

Have you forgotten what He's done for you and in you? What have you seen Him do lately? If you're feeling lethargic, and your experience is stale, remember when the Lord has answered your prayers and ask Him for that dynamite, personal experience again. He wants to give it to you, because He wants you to go reach others for Him. Open His Word and let it come alive again in your life - get a fresh revelation from the Bible. You'll find that those who are out sharing have a vital, daily experience with the Lord. They've seen something, they've heard something, and they've experienced something. Witnessing is not something you do; it's something you are.

How Do We Witness?
There are powerfully effective ways to witness to somebody. Whoever you want to reach - your neighbors, your children, your loved ones, your friends, your co-workers - there are three fundamental ways to witness that I'd like to share with you.

The most basic way to witness is to share information with a person who will listen. That's simple conversational sharing of the gospel - you're communicating eternal truth. It does not always have to be preaching. It might well be through a tape, a DVD, or a book. Sharing information is vital.

Second, you can witness in prayer. Some people treat prayer like a fire extinguisher in a glass case that says "break in the event of emergency." They think of it as a last resort, saying, "All I've got left is prayer." But the reality is that prayer is one of the most powerful and accessible things that you can do for somebody who is lost. The reverse should be obvious: If you do everything else, yet you don't pray, you won't be nearly as effective.

They Will Know We Are Christians ...
The third way is something I'd like to discuss a little more in-depth. One of my favorite bumper stickers reads, "Go and preach the gospel. Use words if necessary." First and foremost, we witness by our behavior. "Wives, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives, when they observe your chaste conduct accompanied by fear" (1 Peter 3:1, 2 NKJV). The writer is telling us that even if a person refuses to hear the Word, they could be transformed by the example of a faithful Christian.

Oswald Chambers said, "Beware of worshiping Jesus as the Son of God and professing your faith in Him as the Savior of the world while you blaspheme Him by the complete evidence in your daily life that He is powerless to do anything in and through you." Sometimes our demonstration of Christianity is a contradiction to our profession of faith. That's called blasphemy - or at the least, hypocrisy. That's what it means when the commandment says, "Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord in vain."

Remember that most people are won to the Lord by observing our conduct. "Be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity" (1 Timothy 4:12 NKJV). It's a lot nicer if you're going to buy a product to have a firsthand demonstration. And people, before they embrace Christianity, love to see it working out of the box.

Where Do You Start?
How do you get underway in the business of witnessing? Well, what did Jesus say? After He healed the demoniac, He told the recently saved soul, "Go home." The man said he'd rather follow Jesus around. But Jesus answered, "No. Go home. Go to your friends, tell them what great things the Lord has done for you."

As hard as it might be to hear, witnessing starts at home. That's how the disciples started being a witness and why Jesus said "beginning in Jerusalem." After that, they began to branch out into Judea, Samaria, and finally unto the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8). It was an ever-widening circle.

The Holy Spirit was first poured out in Jerusalem; the witnessing in your life always starts at home. And home, strangely enough, can be the hardest. It's a little easier for us to feign Christianity in public and especially in church. And even when you first form your family, you put your best foot forward. But eventually, you start to slip until finally you get to the place where you just give up. Then your cantankerous self, or whatever your personality flaw might be, explodes.

Yet if you can be a consistent Christian at home, you can do it anywhere. Being a Christian at home means 24 hours a day - when you're tired, when you're hungry, when you're crabby - whatever your circumstances. Your spouse and your children get to see you at your best, and your worst, so the home is the best training ground to be a consistent witness. You've got to start at home. That's your first mission field.

Witness by Fire
One of the hardest yet most effective times to witness is when you are going through trials. At those times, you're often wondering, "Lord, what did I do to deserve this?" But remember that God is faithful in our trials. He has a reason for what He is doing.

You might be going through some sickness or other trial in your family; it could be your finances. You might ask, "Lord, why is this happening?" The answer might be that people you may not be aware of are watching and listening to see how you will respond. God has called us to be witnesses even through our trials. "Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter" (1 Peter 4:16 NKJV).

Job could have chosen to strike out at God. He lost everything, and yet he said, "The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; Blessed be the name of the Lord" (Job 1:21 NKJV). He still praised God, even though he lost his children. When I got word in the Philippines that our son died, the words of Job popped into my mind. Job's witness in his trial was witnessing to me.

When you go through trials, think of Paul and Silas. While imprisoned for their faith, they were whipped, mistreated, and falsely accused. They were shackled in a miserable, stinking prison crawling with vermin. But even in their darkest hour, the Bible says they were singing and praising God - "and the prisoners were listening to them" (Acts 16:25 NKJV). People are watching you to see what you'll do in a crisis. Will you behave like a Christian under trial? Will it make a difference? You can be sure.

An angel opened the prison for Paul and Silas, causing the whole foundation to shake. In turn, the jailer feared for his life such that he was going to kill himself. But Paul and Silas pleaded, "Don't hurt yourself. We're still here. We didn't escape." The jailer thinks, "What kind of men are these?" He even remembered hearing them singing after he beat them. The end result of their witness? The jailer inquired, "What must I do to be saved?" Paul and Silas preached to their jailer and baptized him and his entire family. By loving their enemy, by praising God in their trials, souls were converted..

Go Fishing
Sometimes, the lost will seek you out. The Greeks came to Andrew and said, "We would see Jesus" (John 12:21). All men were seeking Him. And in Acts 13:7, a man called for Barnabus and Saul because he "sought to hear the word of God." There are those rare occasions when a flying fish will jump into the boat.

But the best way to reach the lost is to go seek the lost. Jesus says, "The Son of man has come to seek and to save that which was lost" (Luke 19:10). To catch fish, you need to go to where the fish are. You put your line or your net down to where the fish are. Then you pull the fish into the boat.

When you boldly step out in faith for Jesus, He'll empower you to do what He's asking you to do. Basil, who wrote Conquest of Fear, said, "Go at it boldly and you will find unexpected forces closing around you and coming to your aid." When we are willing to be bold for Christ and go fishing for men, women, and children, He will send aid.

Try this one thing; I've never known it to fail. In the morning, when you get on your knees, give your heart to God, and then say, "Lord, today give me the opportunity to recognize somebody to whom I can witness for you." That doesn't mean you grab everybody and shout, "Repent." That's being obnoxious. That's not witnessing. I'm talking about God giving you providential openings. He will create opportunities, then inspire you and prod you with His Spirit.

Don't Be Afraid

When you hear talk about being a witness, does it ever intimidate you? You think about knocking on doors and handing out literature, and your palms get sweaty. Well, it's not as hard as you think.

Thomas Edison said, "He that is afraid of failure is afraid to succeed." If you're going to be a good witness, you can't be afraid of failure. A good salesman realizes not every customer will buy. A good fisherman does not get discouraged if every fish does not bite. Keep at it and never underestimate what the Holy Spirit might do; you don't know what's happening in a person's life.

When insurance salesmen used to go door to door, they knew that for every 10 presentations, they'd get one person to sign a contract. For insurance, 10 percent is worth the effort. So what about eternal life insurance? Why can't Christians say, "All right, maybe I'll get 10 noes, maybe I'll get 20, but I'll eventually get a yes." I hear that lions engage in about 8 to 10 chases of prey for every catch. Do they give up? No, because they're hungry. We need to be hungry for souls.

Get Holy Boldness
Preacher Peter Marshall describes Christians as deep-sea divers encased in suits designed for many fathoms, and we're bravely marching forth to pull the plugs out of bathtubs. We've got this power to go deep, and we're wading in shallow tidal pools for fear of failure.

It's easier to talk about Jesus amongst friends, especially if you're bringing a seeker into your church. If there happens to be a non-Christian visitor, you think, "Well, we are in my territory now. I'm not going to be ashamed because they've got a problem." We need to take that knowledge and go a step further with it. God is with you, always - even in enemy territory. In fact, this world is God's territory. God is watching when we are confronting somebody or visiting with somebody who doesn't accept Jesus. Don't you see that with God you are always in your element? You don't always feel it, but you can know it. You are still surrounded by a majority, the angels of heaven, who are on your side. You and God are always a majority. So don't ever be ashamed of the gospel. "The wicked flee when no man pursues, But the righteous are bold as a lion" (Proverbs 28:1 NKJV).

It's About Jesus
Satellite communication technology is amazing. I find it intriguing that these electronic systems quietly circle the earth hundreds of miles up while beaming messages to virtually every corner of the globe within seconds. Of course, these satellites are powered by solar panels. As long as these panels are directed toward the sun, they can convert light into power to drive the communication equipment. This is how a Christian becomes a successful witness: We must keep our attention focused on Jesus the Son of Righteousness. (Read Malachi 4:2.)

In the end, don't forget that the power to share is not just information. The power to share is Jesus. He is asking us to share Him, and He promises to give us spiritual power and go with us wherever we go. He is the nucleus, the primary subject of what we are sharing, and He is the power of what we are sharing - Christ in you, the hope of glory.

He's our tower of power, and we are to reflect the light from the Son of Righteousness. That's what turns the dynamo in our churches. I want to be a witness, don't you? God wants to be real in your life, and when you have that experience you'll be a witness.

Let's get our priorities right. The last words of Jesus on this earth should be the first priority in our lives - to go and to tell all nations. The cross goes in two directions; first, you come to Christ. Next, you go for Christ. You come to Him in the great invitation; you go for Him in the great commission. That's what it's all about.

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