To Know the Truth
We were talking in our homegroup about Pentecost and what that might mean for us and the church. It was interesting to see the varying experiences and opinions of our engagement with the Holy Spirit during that discussion.
One of the verses we were looking at was Acts 1:8 (NKJV):
“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.”
This verse has always been a special verse for me because it was spoken over me at my water baptism, and I was told it would become important to me. I have always focussed on the concept of power from the Holy Spirit because I came back to the Lord at the beginning of the Toronto Blessing of the early to mid-1990’s. Then I took it that we would travel and witness about Jesus.
I have been reading a book that is called How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth by Gordon D. Fee and Douglas Stuart. Part of what I have gathered is that we tend to do just what I have done, take a verse and pluck it out of a book of the Bible and apply it to the 21st Century, which completely distorts what the author may have intended in the first place.
So, lets back up a little here and look at the context that this verse occurs in. Jesus is giving His last instructions to a group of men who have walked daily with Him for three years. They know Him and He knows them. There is an intimacy in this farewell but also a call to action. The concept of a witness is stating what you have observed, know to be true, and are willing to testify that to somebody else, whether that is in a court or in general life.
In the context of this setting, this is a reasonable instruction because these men knew Jesus and had observed Him closely. The question then arises, can this be true about me? Do I know enough about Jesus at an intimate level to be a witness for Him? Has Jesus through the Holy Spirit brought that deep relationship to my life? Have I been open enough to receive this relationship? I am not talking about knowing about Jesus, I am talking about knowing the personhood of the Trinity.
The thing that really rattled me, was that the Greek word for “witness” is martus (martoos). While it means witness, by implication it also means martyr. Do I have enough relationship to Jesus, via the Holy Spirit, to die for Him? All the original hearers of this word did just that, apart from John. For me I find that so challenging, being a martyr is a very deliberate act, probably not a heat of the moment heroic act.
The thing that encouraged me most in this process was that Peter and Paul, in relationship with the Holy Spirit, knew Jesus in a way in the end, that they were able to truly lay down their lives for Jesus. That power, that I originally talked about, is available to me to arrive at that place if necessary.
For me this brings a new perspective to John 8:31-32:
To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
I want to know Jesus so I can testify to the Truth. What about you?