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.”
When you hear a promise of power here, don’t think just “miracles.” Certainly the Holy Spirit enabled the disciples to do miracles when he came to them at Pentecost. They could speak in foreign languages they never studied. How I have wished for that ability in my ministry! Many times my work as a pastor has led to conversations (or attempts to converse) with Spanish-speaking people. For almost a decade I worked with congregations in Scandinavia. I know just enough Spanish and Swedish to give people the impression I can speak the language, and then say something that makes me look foolish.
Sometimes the Spirit gave healing abilities. Even so, Paul couldn’t get rid of his thorn in the flesh, and Timothy was supposed to drink wine for his stomach problems, not ask the elders to come and lay hands on him for miraculous healing.
When you hear “You will receive power,” also think “abilities.” Think “can-do.” Why would the disciples receive power from the Holy Spirit? Because “you will be my witnesses.” So are we. Though not eyewitnesses, we are still witnesses of the forgiveness Jesus purchased for us on the cross and the never ending life he guaranteed by his resurrection from the dead. The flame in our heart can’t keep these things to itself. The gospel light shines from that heart to bring light to everyone around us. “You are the light of the world,” Jesus says. “…people (do not) light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead, they put it on a stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.” God’s Spirit lights that lamp and makes us shine for the people around us to see.
Sometimes that light comes in the form of words. Paul once said, “This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom, but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words.” Talking about faith is one part of the new life many Christians find most intimidating. It still gives me butterflies. But even if you haven’t been gifted with a silver tongue, you can look to the Holy Spirit to help with the words you need.
Sometimes our light shines by the simple power of living a life of love. That, too, is the Spirit’s work in us. As he grows the new life in us, our love and kindnesses make it easier for people to see the change the gospel makes. It helps them become more interested in finding out about the gospel for themselves. The growth in faith and love empowering our witness may be subtle, but don’t underestimate what it can do.
A man named Hector Avalos has published a book entitled The End of Biblical Studies. He doesn’t think God’s word has any relevance to our world today. It is just a remnant of the way people thought thousands of years ago. That doesn’t change the value of the gifts Jesus gives through his Spirit. It just means that the gospel is a gem this man doesn’t own for himself. Thank God for giving us his Spirit and the gifts that empower a new life each day.