Acts 1:8 “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
What does it mean to be a witness? Merriam Webster defines “witness” as someone who gives evidence of a fact or event or someone who has personal knowledge of something. In Christ’s day, the disciples were personal witnesses to Jesus’s ministry willing to speak out on what they’d seen and experienced even if it cost them. So how do we learn to become Christ’s witnesses today?
Let’s first look at Christ’s commission to the disciples in Acts 1:8 on being a Christian witness. This beautiful verse sums up the overarching theme of the entire book of Acts and marks the last recorded words of our Savior Jesus. This dialogue is set after Christ’s death and resurrection, just moments before the ascension in Acts 1:9, “And when he [Jesus] had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight.” We can safely assume that Christ’s last words are extremely important and hold massive implications for our lives today.
Similar to the charge the disciples received, modern day Christians can learn so much about what Jesus has asked us to do as we study Acts 1:8 and think deeply on what it means to be Christ’s “witnesses” today.
We must be filled before we can pour out…
In terms of our relationship with the Lord, it is imperative that we are filled through personal time with God studying his word so that we recognize and live out the power of the Holy Spirit. Like any good friendship or close relationship, we must nurture and build intimacy with the Lord through devoted time and concentration in order to be faithful witnesses to the truths of the gospel by word and deed. Since the word is inspired by God (2 Tim. 3:16), it is a key source for believers to be Spirit-filled, effective witnesses for Christ.
We must seek out opportunities to be a witness…
The book of Acts shows us we must be ready to share the news of the gospel with the audience before us, as Peter did at Pentecost (Acts 2) and Paul in Athens (Acts 17). This readiness can feel like a challenge in our supercharged ‘cancel-culture’ where tolerance seems to be the only acceptable ideology. However, the beauty of the gospel is powerful and can cut to the heart of those who hear the truth. We must be alert and tuned into the Lord to seize opportunities to be a witness to Christ and not let the fear of man prevent us from boldly speaking the truth in love (Eph. 4:15).
We must consider what the “ends of the earth” look like…
To the disciples, the ends of the earth were the distant reaches of the Roman Empire, marked by paganism and disdain for the truths of God. As we think of our network and daily interactions, we should challenge ourselves to share Christ even with those who seem far from being aligned with the gospel. If the disciples had not been faithful witnesses to Christ, willing to put themselves into uncomfortable and unsafe situations, we wouldn’t know the truths of Christ today.
I am so thankful for the disciples’ obedience and reliance on the power of the Holy Spirit to spread the hope of the gospel. As I enter the final weeks of pregnancy this spring, being a witness to Christ has never felt weightier: I prayerfully long for my baby girl to someday come to know and love Jesus through my personal witness. Will you join me in seeking out opportunities to be a witness and share the good news of Jesus Christ to those around you?