BY L&T Columnist Gary Damron
Luke the physician wrote two books included in the New Testament, the gospel which bears his name, and also the Book of Acts. Many speculate that he intended to write a third, but was martyred before it could be completed.
In his gospel, Luke gives a faithful account of the Baby’s birth and first night. In Acts, he begins by recounting his Lord’s final day on earth. Jesus “commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father” (Luke 1:4).
The accounts in Luke and Acts both contain willing listeners – the shepherds who obeyed the angel’s command to go to Bethlehem, and the disciples who stayed in Jerusalem and tarried in the Upper Room. The promise to the shepherds was direct, and their response was simple: go, see, rejoice and tell.
Those who’d spent time with Jesus as an adult during his years of ministry were promised even more than those who first encountered Him as the Baby. “‘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.’” (Acts 1:8).
Being born again is not just for the benefit of the new Christian. Living a life of faith is made possible through the Spirit who brings resources to bless and save others. Though power can denote many things, three words come to mind when I think of the power that came at Pentecost: conviction, discernment and authority.
When a person receives the Holy Spirit, he’s no longer blown by the winds of indecision or compromise. Paul wrote to the Christians at Philippi, “Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6). We’ll have the strength to stand with conviction because of the power instilled by His Spirit.
A Spirit-filled person’s message may have strength and intensity, but it’s kept in check by understanding how and when to use it. Discernment is a gift which makes one effective at sharing God’s love. Several people had visited with my mother about belief. However, in God’s timing and in God’s way, on December 25th she accepted Christ as I read the Christmas story to her.
Finally, in order to be a vessel of the Spirit’s power we must realize that all authority comes from God. There’s no power inherent in us. In looking up authority, I realized that the root “author” brought up many references to God being the Author.
Francesca Battistelli has a song, “Write Your Story.”
Author of my hope
Maker of the stars
Let me be Your work of art
Won’t You write Your story on my heart
When we accept the Spirit of Christ, God has authority to write the story of our life. His theology is experiential and personal. We will receive power – conviction, discernment, authority – and then we’re able to share what we’ve seen and heard.