Acts 5:30-32 “The God of our fathers raised Jesus from the dead—whom you had killed by hanging him on a tree. God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Savior that he might give repentance and forgiveness of sins to Israel. We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.”
A striking change had taken place in the men speaking these words since the first Easter morning. They were not afraid to preach the death of Jesus, nor to confront the powerful leaders responsible for it.
No less notable was the change in so many of the people to whom they preached. The apostles had seen Jesus after he rose. They had touched him and eaten with him. They themselves had received the miraculous outpouring of the Spirit on Pentecost Day. These were powerful forces that moved them to believe.
But what about those who had not seen Jesus alive again after his death, yet believed the apostles’ message? To be sure there were many who rejected it, by far the majority. But there were thousands who came to faith. What moved them? If I told you I had seen a dead man leave his grave after several days, would you believe me?
The difference was the other witness speaking whenever the apostles spoke. “We are witnesses of these things and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.” It may have been Peter, or John, or Thomas, or Bartholomew doing the talking. But even if they were all alone, the only human witness, there was always another more powerful witness present. The Holy Spirit was never separate from their words. He was always speaking to the hearts of those who heard, confirming what the apostles said about Jesus and his work. In the work of the Holy Spirit these witnesses of Jesus’ resurrection reaped yet another result: confirmation of the truth and power of the gospel.
God has not separated the Holy Spirit from his word since that time. I think that I can be persuasive. But if I thought the success of my ministry all depended on my powers of persuasion, I would have quit in frustration long ago. I am still amazed at how God’s word wins people I never expected to come around. We still see confirmation of the truth and power of the gospel in the Holy Spirit’s work.
Nor does the Spirit stop working when it’s not the clergy speaking. God’s word is God’s word whether it was in the apostle’s mouth or it’s in my mouth or your mouth. You are never alone when you tell others what you know about Jesus. The Holy Spirit’s witness is there, too, confirming what you have to say.
We were not eye-witnesses of Jesus’ resurrection. But we have witnessed it through the eyes of faith. We have seen it in the words of those who did see it with their own eyes. The testimony we give is still powerful stuff. The Holy Spirit will always make it so.