by Jim | August 5th, 2009
Acts 1:8 serves not only as the outline for the book of Acts but also as a benchmark by which all believers must live. We have somewhat softened the rhetoric of Acts 1:8. The word “witness” in the Greek is martures from which comes the idea of martyr. Jesus was not simply encouraging the disciples that at the Holy Spirit’s coming they would be able to share the gospel, but that they would be empowered to share the gospel even in the face of death as a martyr.
In Matthew 22:34-40, Jesus gives a summary of the Old Testament stating that all of the Law and Prophets hinge on the commandments to love God and to love your neighbor. Loving God is the sum total of all we are, offered to Him as a daily, living sacrifice for His pleasure. Loving our neighbor is the continual living in such a way that represents Christ to the fullest of our limits to all with whom we come in contact.
It seems the parameters of Scripture do not call us to worship God primarily in a gathered assembly or closed room in isolation. Although there are times for such worship, the text seems to point to a love for God continually expressed by Spirit-empowered believers demonstrating Christ to the world, even at the risk of death. Right theology does not draw us into study cloisters, but rather thrusts us into the dark, dirty corners of our city and world so that our love for God is made evident by our love for neighbors. Deep devotion to God is not best expressed in the private corners of our homes or offices, but in the streets, restaurants and any place neighbors can be found.
There is an enemy that assaults many who acquire a passion for the rich teachings of theology. The enemy seeks to get these believers to seclude into tight groups, boast about the greatness of God, ruminate over the wonder of His workings, testify to the new insights from another sermon or book, swell up with a fresh look at God that most have not seen and leave the world untouched by it all. A lust for accurate theology without an increasing passion for the unredeemed is nothing more than humanism with a Christian bent. To increase in praise over a sunset that reveals the glory of God yet remain untouched by a sinner who repents is antithetical to heaven’s response.
At the moment of salvation the Holy Spirit takes up residence in our hearts, empowering us to love God and neighbor in the one act of proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ. According to Jesus, the priority of the Spirit of God in the heart of man is so that man is enabled to do what the sin nature prevents, namely worship God by proclaiming death and life to man. There is no greater expression of loving God and neighbor than proclaiming the gospel to a neighbor. The Holy Spirit’s mission in our hearts is to empower us to witness even in the face of death. Why would we try to fulfill the two greatest commandments in any other way than continuously engaging in the work to which Jesus called us and for which the Holy Spirit indwelled us?