Thursday, April 30, 2015

God's greatness shown by the Holy Spirit empowers evangelism

Acts 1:8 "but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”

Yesterday we began considering how God's greatness is the drawing power of the great commission. In all reality, God's greatness is the mission of the church. We labored yesterday to understand how God's greatness is revealed in the Son, Jesus Christ, and how He stated repeatedly in John's Gospel that if He be lifted up, He will draw all men unto Himself. Matthew Henry in his great commentary explains the importance of Jesus' words - "The great design of our Lord Jesus, which was to draw all men to him, not the Jews only, who had been long in profession as people near to God, but the Gentiles also, who had been afar off. For He was to be the desire of all nations (Haggai 2:7), and to Him must the gathering of the people be.  Henry later adds - "Observe how Christ is all in all in the conversion of the soul. First, It is Christ that draws: 'I will draw'. It is sometimes ascribed to the Father (John 6:44), but here to the Son, who is the arm of the Lord. He does not drive by force, but draws with cords of a man (Hosea 11:4; Jeremiah 31:3), draws as the loadstone (a magnetic stone). The soul is made willing, but it is in a day of power. Secondly, it is to Christ that we are drawn." Then Henry finally adds - "Christ was now going to heaven, and he would draw men's hearts to him thither." Hence it is God's greatness in Jesus Christ that is the power of the Gospel. (Romans 1:16) Today we conclude this short series of posts by noting how this same power of Deity is expressed through the third Person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit.

The Greatness of God draws sinners to saving faith by the Holy Spirit
In the opening verse of today's post, it is made clear by Jesus that the church would not be able to achieve the great commission without the Person and work of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is equal in authority, glory and power to the Father and the Son. (John 14:23; Acts 5:4-5; 1 Corinthians 3:16) When we speak of the greatness of God, we speak equally of how the One Divine essence that defines the Oneness of God is expressed equally and totally by each Person of the Godhead, with our focus here on the Holy Spirit.

Scripture asserts that the Spirit works in evangelism to point the way to the Greatness of God, since He as the Third Person of the Trinity shares in that same, undivided Divine essence with the Father and the Son. Without a doubt, the greatness of God through the Person of the Holy Spirit is credited in the scriptures for the success of the early church's evangelistic efforts. Acts 2:4-6 states - "And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance. 5 Now there were Jews living in Jerusalem, devout men from every nation under heaven. 6 And when this sound occurred, the crowd came together, and were bewildered because each one of them was hearing them speak in his own language." It quickly must be noted that the "tongues" spoken on the day of Pentecost was not some type of escatic speech or prayer language as advocated by groups today, but rather literal languages previously unlearned by the speakers. The Spirit gave them the ability to preach the Gospel to over a dozen nationalities. What was the message and thrust? Acts 2:11b explains - "we hear them in our own tongues speaking of the mighty deeds of God.” The Holy Spirit is the Person in the Godhead who chooses to shine the spotlight on the other Two Persons - the Father and the Son. His role is to get the sinner to go from being manward and inward to being transformed into someone by faith who focuses outward and Godward. 

The greatness of God was the draw proclaimed by the early church, all thanks of course to the power and Person of the Holy Spirit. Acts 16:14 indicates that the Lord (in this instance, the Person of the Holy Spirit) had opened up the heart of a woman to receive the goodnews of Jesus Christ, believe and be saved. Paul prays in Ephesians 1:16-18 - "do not cease giving thanks for you, while making mention of you in my prayers; 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him. 18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints." The Holy Spirit's work of continuing to make known the greatness of God to believers enables them to be motivated to make such Greatness known to others. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 2:10-13 about the Spirit's work in the scriptures - "For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God.11 For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God.12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, 13 which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words."

Henceforth we cannot expect to proclaim the Gospel from the scriptures nor share how great God is in a convincing way apart from the work of the Holy Spirit. Since the Holy Spirit labors to make known the greatness of God revealed in Jesus Christ as His chief mission, we must therefore see it to be our chief aim. This is why God's greatness is the drawing power of the Great commission, because the Person of the Spirit labors through us and in the hearts of sinners to respond, believe and be saved.