Acts 1.4-5,8 – Relying upon God’s Holy Spirit.
Posted: 2 October 2014 in Acts

And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence….. But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

Instead of immediately going out to preach the Gospel, the disciples are here told to sit on their backsides, and wait until they have received the Spirit. The reason for that, of course, is to be found in John 13.5, where the disciples are told explicitly that they can do nothing without Christ. But then we might think, “Well, wait a minute, why is that? Conversion is primarily the work of the Spirit, and our vocal chords are in working order, so surely we are physically able to preach, and, when all is said and done, when it is the Lord’s will that somebody undergoes conversion, the Spirit will open their ears to hear.”

The reason that logic doesn’t quite work is that it is not only our listeners who need ears to hear, but it is also us who need to be the Spirit’s mouthpiece. There is no point in preaching as if we have a purely worldly message to deliver, because, after all, in this worldly terms that message might not make a great deal of sense. For preaching to be effective, it needs, as Paul puts it, to be “with power”. Even so, that phrase “with power” could sorely tempt us to rely upon our own resources. It is not through some special method of delivery on our own part that the living word of God will have an effect. The power must come from the Spirit acting through us, and almost in spite of us. The very same Paul who said that his preaching was “with power” seemed to be well aware that he personally wasn’t particularly impressive as a speaker (2 Cor 10.10). His success came through relying upon Christ.

Humility is the quality needed; not the over sized ego of a televangelist. We really must believe that, of our own selves, we can do nothing, and that we are entirely reliant upon the Spirit of Christ. All glory belongs to God, in preaching as in all else.

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