How often have you heard – or said – any of the following?
“I don’t have the gift of evangelism.”
“Isn’t that the officer’s job?”
“I wouldn’t know what to say.”
“Someone might ask a question I can’t answer.”
“I can’t handle rejection.”
“I don’t want to offend anyone.”
“Isn’t it wrong to judge others?”
“Evangelism doesn’t work in a post-Christian world.”
“I’m not good enough to tell others about Jesus.”
If we look for reasons NOT to evangelize, we will certainly find them!
It can be easy to forget that it is not WE who save others. Salvation is the work of the Holy Spirit. It is, however, done in partnership with His obedient followers, who are inspired by His purpose and ignited by His power.
Our role in this partnership is clear, according to our marching orders in 2 Timothy 2:3-4: “Overcome every form of evil as a victorious soldier of Jesus the Anointed One. For every soldier called to active duty must divorce himself from the distractions of this world so that he may fully satisfy the One who chose him.”
But, what are we chosen to do? “Proclaim the Word of God and stand upon it no matter what! Rise to the occasion and preach when it is convenient and when it is not. Preach in the full expression of the Holy Spirit —with wisdom and patience as you instruct and teach the people.” (2 Timothy 4:2 TPT)
One of the primary reasons God gives His Holy Spirit was to equip the Church with a powerful witness for Christ. The Spirit’s power and drive to fulfill the Great Commission is played out in Acts 1:8: “But I promise you this—the Holy Spirit will come upon you and you will be filled with power. And you will be my messengers to Jerusalem, throughout Judea, the distant provinces—even to the remotest places on earth!”
When we understand how God’s Holy Spirit empowers our witness, we’ll begin to see Him work through us to engage others with a message of truth, hope and grace. Then, as we ask and receive, He will give us everything we need to be faithful and obedient in everyday settings and circumstances of His choosing. Among these gifts are –
1) Power to boldly proclaim the gospel: “Each one of them was filled with the Holy Spirit, and they proclaimed the word of God with unrestrained boldness” (Acts 4:31b); “We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God freely gives to all who believe in Him” (Acts 5:32).
2) Power for a demonstration of God’s work: “They were all filled and equipped with the Holy Spirit and were … empowered by the Spirit to speak in languages they had never learned!” (Acts 2:4); “Then God added his witness to theirs. He validated their ministry with signs, astonishing wonders, all kinds of powerful miracles, and by the gifts of the Holy Spirit, which He distributed as He desired (Hebrews 2:4); “And I will not be presumptuous to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me. For many non-Jewish people are coming into faith’s obedience by the power of the Spirit of God, which is displayed through mighty signs and amazing wonders, both in word and deed…” (Romans 15:18-19).
3) Power for courage to stand against rejection or persecution: “’Stretch out your hand of power through us to heal, and to move in signs and wonders by the name of your holy Son, Jesus!’ At that moment the earth shook beneath them, causing the building they were in to tremble.” (Acts 4:30-31a).
4) Power for the Church to expand in growth and impact: “After this, the church all over Judea, Galilee, and Samaria experienced a season of peace. The congregations grew larger and larger, with the believers being empowered and encouraged by the Holy Spirit. They worshiped God in wonder and awe, and walked in the fear of the Lord” (Acts 9:31).
5) Power and wisdom to organize His Church with godly leadership: “So guard your hearts. Be true shepherds over all the flock and feed them well. Remember, it was the Holy Spirit who appointed you to guard and oversee the churches that belong to Jesus, the Anointed One, which He purchased and established by His own blood” (Acts 20:28).
6) Power for wisdom in presenting the Gospel truths to unbelievers: “This upset some men belonging to a sect who called themselves the Men Set Free…They all confronted Stephen to argue with him. But the Holy Spirit gave Stephen remarkable wisdom to answer them. His words were prompted by the Holy Spirit, and they could not refute what he said” (Acts 6:9-10).
7) Power to guide our mission strategy and direction: “The Holy Spirit said to Philip, ‘Go and walk alongside the chariot’” (Acts 8:29); “While they were worshiping as priests before the Lord in prayer and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, ‘I have called Barnabas and Saul to do an important work for me. Now, release them to go and fulfill it’” (Acts 13:2 ); “The Holy Spirit had forbidden Paul and his partners to preach the word in the southwestern provinces of Turkey, so they ministered throughout the region of central and west-central Turkey. When they got as far west as the borders of Mysia, they repeatedly attempted to go north into the province of Bithynia, but again the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to enter” (Acts 16:6-7).
8) Power for taking new steps in mission frontiers: “As Peter was in deep thought, trying to interpret the vision, the Spirit said to him, ‘Go downstairs now, for three men are looking for you. Don’t hesitate to go with them, because I have sent them’” (Acts 10:19-20).
9) Power for encouragement (and even joy) during difficult trials: “They left the new converts in Antioch overflowing with the joy of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 13:52).
10) Power to persevere in days of uncertainty: “And now I am being compelled by the Holy Spirit to go to Jerusalem, without really knowing what will happen to me there. Yet I know that the Holy Spirit warns me in town after town, saying, ‘Chains and afflictions are prepared for you’” (Acts 20:22-23).
The Holy Spirit did miraculous work on individual believers and within the Church to get it to move out powerfully in evangelism. Before the Spirit came, the disciples were hiding in an obscure room, “…and because they were afraid of reprisals from the Jewish leaders, they had locked the doors to the place where they met” (John 20:19). Paralyzed with fear, they couldn’t move out. But the day of Pentecost changed everything when the Holy Spirit was poured out on the disciples. They moved out in power, and went into the streets to share a message that would change the world, without fear of the consequences!
As we reach out to a culture that rejects a solitary truth and expects us to tolerate every difference in perspectives or actions, we must rely on the Holy Spirit for every element of evangelism. We can do nothing apart from Christ, and He enables us to be fruitful witnesses through His Holy Spirit: “And I will send you the Divine Encourager from the very presence of my Father. He will come to you, the Spirit of Truth, emanating from the Father, and He will speak to you about Me. And you will tell everyone the truth about Me, for you have walked with Me from the start” (John 15:26-27).
If you feel overwhelmed by the opportunity of evangelism, or ignorance, fear or intimidation – or your own sinfulness has conspired to eliminate you as an effective witness, the Holy Spirit’s power is available, given in abundance to anyone who asks. The Spirit has come to give you the power to evangelize today!
(All Scripture from The Passion Translation)