One of my dear friends, who is a great Christian scholar, confessed to a group of fellow believers in one of our Lay Institutes for Evangelism that he was not a happy, joyful Christian and he seldom witnessed for Christ. Later I shared with him some of the truths about how to witness in the power of the Spirit. God touched his life. He came back that evening from an afternoon of sharing Christ bubbling over with joy. He could hardly wait to tell us what God had done in his life. He shared how he had talked to two young college students about Christ, and in the process Christ had become more real to him than he had ever experienced.
Perhaps you spend hours in prayer and studying the Bible every day, but you are not joyful. You are not living that abundant life which Jesus promised.
In order to be fruitful in your witness for Christ, you must appropriate by faith the fullness of God's Spirit. Jesus promised, "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."
What it Means to be Filled with the Spirit
Being filled with the Spirit involves inviting the Holy Spirit to control and empower you - to enable you to live a holy, godly life and to make you a fruitful witness for Him by faith. Two words and two verses are vital here:
First, remember the word command. Ephesians 5:18 says:
Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.
This means you are to be controlled and empowered by the Holy Spirit as a way of life. It is a command for every believer - not for the evangelist or pastor only, not just for the Sunday school teacher and other Christian leaders, but for everybody who believes in Christ.
Now relate God's command to His promise, found in 1 John 5:14, 15:
We are sure of this, that he will listen to us whenever we ask him for anything in line with his will.
And if we really know he is listening when we talk to him and make our requests, then we can be sure that he will answer us.
On the basis of God's command and His promises, if you are willing to surrender the direction and control of your life to our Lord Jesus Christ, you can know that He will fill you when you by faith, as an act of your will, appropriate the fullness of His Holy Spirit.
Requires Faith, Not Emotional Experience
Don't make the mistake of thinking that you must experience some great emotion. In fact, emotions can be very dangerous. Pour a gallon of gasoline on the ground, strike a match, and it goes up in flame and smoke -- then it's all gone. Dramatic, but wasted.
Many people are so involved in emotions and in seeking experiences that they actually insult God. The Bible says, "The righteous will live by faith," and "Everything that does not come from faith is sin." The very act of seeking an emotional experience repudiates the concept of faith.
Many times when I stand in the pulpit or talk to individuals personally, I do not feel any great surge of spiritual power or emotion. Sometimes, because of much travel, speaking and inadequate rest, my body is weary and my mind is dulled by fatigue; yet (if there is no unconfessed sin in my life, and by faith I claim God's fullness) I know that I'm filled with the Spirit even if I do not feel like it. I don't depend upon feelings. I depend upon God's Word - His command and His promise.
By faith you can know that you are filled with the Spirit constantly and continually the rest of your life as you continue to "breathe spiritually" - exhaling as you confess your sins, and inhaling as you appropriate God's power by faith.
Service Done in Power of Holy Spirit Pleases God
Being filled with the Holy Spirit equips you for services as a witness for Christ. We say to our staff who are now serving Christ in 133 major countries of the world, representing 97 percent of the world's population, "Don't go to your assignments unless you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you are filled with the Holy Spirit." Only service performed for Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit is pleasing to God. Service performed for Him in the energy of the flesh is time wasted and dishonors His name, producing spiritual wood, hay and stubble which, on Christ's judgment day, will be burned up.
If at this moment you know that you are not filled with the Holy Spirit and you truly desire to be a man or woman of God, you can pray this prayer right now:
Lord Jesus, I truly desire to be a godly person. I turn from my sinful ways. I surrender the control of my life to You. I hold nothing back. I want You to be my Master and my Lord.
Now, on the authority of Your command to be filled and Your promise that if we ask anything according to your will You will hear and answer us, by faith I receive the fullness of the Holy Spirit.
If you prayed this prayer in faith, you can know on the basis of His command and on the authority of His promise that you are filled with the Holy Spirit right now! You can know this by faith - with or without emotions - simple trusting God and His Word.
However, according to the promise of Jesus, "The one who obeys me is the one who loves me; and because he loves me, my Father will love him; and I will too, and I will reveal myself to him." Since Jesus promised to manifest Himself to all who obey, valid emotions result when you live by faith and when you share your faith in Christ with others in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Keeping Christ on the throne of your life as the Lord of your heart is the best preparation for communicating your faith. 1 Peter 3:15, 16 says:
In your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.
Like any other skill, the ability to give the reason for the hope you have in Christ - or "witnessing" - can be done better after instruction and practice.
Simple Tools Can Aid Preparation
Let me illustrate. A pastor told me he had been in Christian work for more than 25 years, but had never introduced anyone to Christ until after he had participated in one of our training conferences. He said, "Your message on how to witness in the Spirit and understanding of how to present the gospel through the use of the Four Spiritual Laws changed my life. Never have I been so happy. Now, I know something of the abundant life which Jesus promised."
This Christian leader was beaming with new-found joy as he shared how he had, for the first time in his life, introduced not one person, but two people to our Savior.
During that same week of training, hundreds of students and the few lay people in attendance had been used of God to pray personally with more than nine hundred people who received Christ through their witness. Training made the difference.
I thank God for the way He is using theological seminaries, Bible schools and similar instructional Christian institutions, but you don't need to take long years of training before God can use you. Not everyone has the gift of evangelism, but every believer is called to "do the work of an evangelist." You have the privilege and responsibility of being witnesses for your wonderful Lord Jesus. Christ's Great Commission recorded in Matthew 28:18-20 is for you.
By learning how to use a simple tool like the Four Spiritual Laws in the power of the Holy Spirit, you too can experience effectiveness in your witness.
Some Christians will be more fruitful than others. Don't be distressed if you find that some of your friends are introducing more people to Christ than you are. Just rest in the knowledge that those who come to Christ through the witness of a Christian are coming as a result of the ministry of the Spirit of God who alone enables you to bear fruit. Remember, success in witnessing is simply taking the initiative to share Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit and leaving the results to God.
I am personally convinced that if you give ten Four Spiritual Laws to non-Christians each day, at least one to five will receive Christ, depending on the country or culture.
Adapted from the Transferable Concept: How You Can Be A Fruitful Witness, by Dr. Bill Bright, co-founder of Campus Crusade for Christ. © Cru. All rights reserved.
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