The Man Who Met Me at the Door With the Shotgun Didn't Accept Christ

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” –Acts 1:8, NIV.

Have you ever counted the number of times you’ve heard, or read, a message on this verse? We know it by heart, along with its interpretation. We’ve even tried doing it, each of us in our own little spheres of influence.

They tell me I used to be quite the little evangelist in the neighbourhood where I grew up. Frankly, I don’t remember preaching to my chums on the street, or playing “preacher” to my doll pack.

I remember taking courses on personal evangelism. Methods, programs, plans popped off the printing presses with frightening regularity even in my early maturity. Every one was better than the other, guaranteed to bring in the lost by the boatload–or so it was claimed.

I did door-to-door visitation over the summer of my first student ministry assignment. That was another one of the great “must-do’s” of that day. We were required to report weekly on any opportunities to witness we took advantage of during my years in seminary–a sort-of “counting coup” as it were. It all had to be “appropriate” to be sure. I got into a bit of trouble with a professor for witnessing to a man in the laundromat one night when I was doing my wash. I was told to confine my activities to women and children after that. Some instructions I can ignore without the least tinge of conscience bothering me.

Since those early years, I witnessed in all kinds of places, diligently doing my Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the rest of the world as per the instructions.

We have put a great deal of emphasis on order, process and progression because of this verse.

But not so much on what fuels the ability to actually carry out the instructions.

Do we speak about the power of the Holy Spirit? Well, some. Whatever the theological stripe when it comes to the doctrine of the Holy Spirit, we can all agree that evangelism won’t happen unless the Holy Spirit empowers us. Sometimes that “inspiration” consists of a good swift kick since most of us don’t like to witness and need a little encouragement to untangle our tongues.

Of course we know that only the Spirit of God can change lives. Knowing that causes us to freely admit that even when we speak, it is really the urging of the Holy Spirit that “seals the deal,” spiritually speaking.

But we still don’t get it. We have the formula, the pattern, and the source of power. But what else?

We have to go back, and then we have to go forward a few verses. Before Jesus made this statement in Acts 1:8 and before He went back to heaven, He told His disciples to “...not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised” (Acts 1:4). That’s a reference to the coming of the Holy Spirit to empower Christ’s disciples to complete the mission as the Lord had laid it out.

Now we go forward. What precisely were the followers of Jesus doing when they received the power of the Holy Spirit to carry out the commission to evangelize that the Lord had left them?

Acts 2:42 tells us: “When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place.” Right place. Right time. Right preparation.

They were waiting together as Jesus had told them, likely doing exactly what is described later on in the chapter: “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer" (2:42). They were learning the story, building the team, remembering the reason for it all, and asking God to send what He had promised.

Then when the moment was perfect and all the nations where gathered in Jerusalem for Passover and the impact of the movement of the Spirit would be its greatest–BOOM–He came.

Evangelism is not a “stand alone.” It comes with parts, just like a vacuum cleaner. All the parts are necessary. It needs the right place, the right time, the right preparation, and for sure it isn’t going to happen without the right POWER.

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