"My message and my preaching were . . . with a demonstration of the Spirit's power." What is a demonstration of the Spirit's power?
What if I invited you to go to a Bible study with me and you asked me to show you a demonstration of the Spirit's power, what would you expect to see? What about during a worship service? If you saw the Spirit's power demonstrated in a church service, what did you see?
Eliot Wigginton was involved in a survey of religious services all over the South. He reports about one service with the following personal comment. "Each of us who participated in the worship service found this a church of incredible strengths, tremendous energy and honesty and of total commitment to God and to the congregation. It is not a church of talk, but of action so dynamic that beside it, more conventional forms of worship seem stale and lifeless." (Foxfire #7)
I hope those adjectives truly do describe your worship and your life, but I hope that you don't do what this church did to get that dynamic energy! This report was given about a snake handling service! You can bet there would be tremendous energy in and service I attended that handled snakes! 'Where would you like a door? I'm going through the closest wall!"
When we think of a demonstration of the Spirit's power, we are inclined to think of the dramatic and the spectacular. Like some preachers who weep and wail and shout and pound and jump around, wiping sweat from their brow with grand demonstration. Being Spirit filled does not necessarily mean being spirited.
Whatever a demonstration of the Spirit's power was, it was not eloquence or wise persuasive words.
So what then does a demonstration of the Spirit's power consist of? It is none other than a Spirit filled life! A sinners changed life is the greatest demonstration of the Spirit's power! The changed life of Paul was a greater testimony than anything else. The man who had once persecuted Christ was now filled with Christ! He was filled with the Spirit and was himself a demonstration of the Spirits power. He manifest this power by bearing fruits of the Spirit that are produced in a person's life and as he witnesses to others.
Let's take a look at Galatians 5:22. "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy , peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control." This is what Paul wrote about being filled with the Spirit.
If Paul's witnessing was filled with a demonstration of the Spirit's power, then it must have consisted of the fruits of the Spirit.
LOVE----Spirit filled witnessing is full of love.
There is a witnessing that seeks to change the mind of the person with no love. It can even be a well intentioned attempt to manipulate for Jesus. Too often we seek to mold people's opinions without melting them first.
Some respond to this tactic, but this does not make it right. I don't deny that there are times to point out the sins of another, but it had better be spoken from a broken heart with tears, without judgement. That is a witness of the Spirit's power of love.
JOY----Spirit filled witnessing is also full of joy.
When the Gospel has been experienced, there is joy in the life and joy in telling others! We Share Good News!
If the children do not see joy in you and the church, they may seek joy elsewhere!
PEACE----Spirit filled witnessing is full of peace.
Peace is more than the absence of war. We can have an inner peace that will be a great witness to others during times of turmoil, whether it be personal tragedy or a world crises. That is why it is called a peace that passes understanding. It is confidence that God is in control and is leading you in the best paths that you can take even though you do not understand why.
I was in the city of Munich, Germany. With me were a couple of acquaintances with whom I did not have a close relationship. We figured out that we were lost. That can be a high stress situation in a foreign city when you have a train to catch. One of my defense mechanisms is to appear very calm even though I am extremely nervous. My acquaintances were drawn to me for guidance because I appeared to be at peace about the whole situation. They decided that I was worth having a deeper friendship with. If they had only know how unpeaceful I really was!
True peace of mind draws others to you and to Jesus.
PATIENCE----Spirit filled witnessing is full of patience.
Maybe things don't happen as quickly as you would like around your church. Be patient. My greatest disappointment is not in how little others have changed, but in how little I have grown. I like the saying that I have seen on T-shirts and bumper stickers: "Be patient. God isn't finished with me yet." If God has not finished with you, maybe He hasn't finished with the person next to you either.
KINDNESS----Spirit filled witnessing is kind.
Kindness can mean so much. Receiving a card or encouraging word can change a person's whole attitude.
I had two friends in 7th grade over at Spaulding. One had turned against me and was trying to turn the other against me as well. In fact, he arranged a fight between us in the church parking lot after school. I didn't want to fight but I also didn't want to appear afraid. Well, the rains of Collegedale kept postponing the big event, much to my relief. But finally the day of reckoning had come. I had a plan. I invited the person who was going to knock my teeth out to go on a camping trip with my family. That took the fight right out of him! After school, in the church parking lot, we circled each other with the third guy egging us on. Then we pounced on him! It didn't matter much. He was bigger than both of us put together. A kind word turneth away wrath.
Kindness can be as simple as saying the right thing at the right time. Just because something is true does not mean that now is the best time to say it. Even Jesus knew better than to tell His disciples everything. He knew that they would not be able to bear such knowledge at that time.
GOODNESS----Spirit filled witnessing manifests goodness.
There is a false goodness that we all fall for. Goodness developed to meet other s expectations. Doing things to keep up appearances. Putting a burden on your children that they need to keep up the appearance of goodness.
True goodness is a natural kind that grows from the genuine heart and is not worn like a costume. The goodness of the Spirit is not a goodness of avoidance, or artificial separation from the world. The world we live in basically sees religious piety as just avoiding evil, and some of us see it the same way.
That is hardly a testimony that appeals to the world! Broadcasting such external goodness is like the hypocrites standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. Don't get me wrong! I don't believe in doing any of these things. But let's be careful lest we avoid evil, thinking therefore that we are good. Goodness is more than avoiding evil! Spirit filled goodness goes beyond a defensive fight against evil. I have always heard the expression, "the best defense is a good offense."
Let goodness take center stage. Let our eyes be focused on the Gospel. Not on what the ultra liberals are doing or on what the ultra conservatives are into. If we are always fearful of the radical right or left minority, we doom the church to searching for liberals or conservatives instead of searching for sinners. Spirit filled witnessing manifests true goodness.
FAITHFULNESS----Spirit filled witnessing is also faithful.
When we think of faithfulness, we think of being faithful to the truth. Spirit filled witnessing is faithful to the truth. However, before you say, "Yes, I speak the truth so I am Spirit filled." let me warn you that for Spirit filled witnessing you need more that truth.
Just because the man in the insane asylum states truth, "The Earth is round." does not mean he is ready for the world. Truth is not enough. There is something nonsensical about the truth in the mouth of one whose life has no evidence a participation in that truth.
To preach and prove that the 7th day is the Sabbath is not enough. Spirit filled witnessing is more than a delivery of the truth. It is faithful participation in the truth.
GENTLENESS & SELF CONTROL----Spirit filled witnessing is gentle and controlled.
Have you ever used a chain saw? Have you noticed that the duller the blade, the harder you push? I remember using a chain saw that was so dull I had to use all my strength and use a sawing motion to cut a small tree. But if the blade is sharp, all you need is a gentle push. The same is true with witnessing. When less time is spent on sharpening the thoughts, more energy is spent bearing down on the point. People who get agitated and pushy if you don't see things the way they do resort to crying heresy to make you take notice. If more time were spent in prayer and Bible study, the thoughts would be sharper and less pushing would be needed. Thus, our witnessing would be gentle and controlled.
Spirit filled witnessing is nothing more or less than Spirit filled people. Not eloquence, not superior wisdom, no wise persuasive words. But a people who manifest the fruits of the Spirit: Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self-control.
May our lives be truly filled with the Spirit!
Opening Song: #229 - "All Hail the Power of Jesus' Name" Scripture: Galatians 5:22-25 Closing Song: #258 - "Baptize Us Anew"
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last updated 6/23/98 by Bob Beckett.