“But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
We saw last week that the primary function of the Holy Spirit is to testify of and to glorify Christ. (Jn 15:26, 16:14) If that is His role, then it should be no surprise that those in whom the Spirit dwells will perform the same function. As Jesus spoke to His disciples in our text above, He reminded them that the power of the Holy Ghost would soon enter them, and the result would be that “you shall be witnesses to Me…to the end of the earth.” This witness, our spiritual fruit, is the evidence that we do indeed possess the Spirit of God.
The word “witnesses” in our text is an interesting one in the original Greek–not because it means something other than we might think, but because of the English word that comes from it. In the Greek, the transliterated word is “martures”. Look familiar? It’s where we get our English word “martyr’! This associated word really drives home the extent of this witness that the churh is called to be in the earth. Whether in life or death, the true church faithfully testifies of her Lord and Savior.
It would be worth examining our own hearts when it comes to this point. What defines you? When people hear you talk and see you live your life, what stands out? Is it the car you drive, the neighborhood in which you live, or your place of employment? Perhaps the one thing clear about you is who your favorite sport’s team is. Or, is there something far more important that’s evidenced in your life? My personal prayer is that everyone who spends time with me knows one thing about me–that I love and am forever indebted to my Lord Jesus! I pray that the song of the redeemed rings clearly from my life: “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain”! (Rev 5:12)
To be a witness of Jesus Christ is indeed to be a martyr. In Lk 9:23-24, the Lord is very clear about our responsibility day in and day out: “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it.” The picture of daily carrying a cross isn’t a symbol of spiritual exercise; it’s a symbol of dying daily to the world and to ourselves! Paul says plainly in 1 Cor 15:31, “I die daily!” To be Christ’s witness means to live my life in such a way that it’s very obvious that this life is not about me but about Him.
The reality is that this martyrdom is not only internally inflicted through self-denial, but it will also originate from outside of us. If following Christ doesn’t cost you, you’re not really following Him! Following Christ has cost me friends, fellowship with family, and advancement in this world. God’s children are rejected, despised, overlooked, taken advantage of, ignored, slandered, and hated of men because they are witnesses of Christ! If “the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one” (1 Jn 5:19), how can the world possibly love those who are of God? Darkness hates the light, and the church is the light of the world! “If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” (Jn 15:19)
It’s very clear that we live in an ungodly age. Things that were once shameful are not only accepted, but they are applauded! Do you desire that someone would stand up and be a witness among this wicked generation? Quit looking around for someone else to do it. “…you shall be witnesses to Me…” Are you willing to be Christ’s martyr? Are you willing to offer yourself for His glory no matter the cost? “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.” (Rom 12:1) Those that are witnesses of Christ will find that He is also a witness for them! “Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven.” (Mt 10:32)