I’m in Dallas this week for the Preacher Initiative and ElderLink, both being held at the great Highland Oaks Church of Christ. And what a great week it’s already been. I’ve been blessed to spend a couple of days and nights with my great friend Jason Reeves and his family, I had dinner last night at the home of OLD friends Glen and Becky Burroughs, I’ve reconnected with and been inspired by some of the best preachers and teachers in our church fellowship, and I spent a couple of hours this afternoon with Sally Gary, one of the Church’s most important leaders today. Tonight, it’s dinner with the Four Horsemen and all the wives (except Carrie-Anne who’s in Amarillo) at Kevin and Anita’s new house in Sunnyvale. And then ElderLink begins tomorrow.
Now, the only pressure of the trip besides writing a sermon in the middle of this busy week on the road, comes Saturday when I begin my journey back to Amarillo. There is an empty ice chest in the back seat of my truck. My daughters have told me I cannot come home without a half gallon of Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla ice cream and a half gallon of Blue Bell Cookies and Cream. I’m not completely convinced I can make this happen. Can ice cream in those paper cartons last for six-and-a-half hours in an ice chest in the back seat? I’m going to be severely distracted over the next 48 hours with engineering in my mind a way to make this happen. I’d welcome your input and suggestions.
“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched — this we proclaim concerning the Word of Life. The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.” ~1 John 1:1-3
What God has done and what’s doing is real. “We’ve seen it!” the apostle writes. “We heard it, we touched it! It’s real! This is what we proclaim. This is about eternal life. We testify to it and we proclaim it!” As Paul would say, “I am compelled to proclaim the Good News! Woe to me if I do not proclaim the Good News!” Those who experience the salvation of God in Christ, those live in the lordship of Jesus, can’t help but proclaim it.
You’re the same way about a lot of things.
You probably tell your friends when you discover a new soap: “It makes my skin so soft! You’ve got to try it!” You see a good movie and you tell everybody: “Wow! It blew me away! You’ve got to go see it!” You experience a new restaurant and you won’t shut up about it: “Man, we love that place!”
That’s how disciples of Christ are about the Good News of the lordship of Jesus.
Yeah, but I don’t have that kind of personality. I don’t have much Bible knowledge. I don’t have a complete grasp of theology. I don’t have all the answers to all the questions. I don’t have any influence. I don’t have a Christian college education. I don’t have the confidence.
OK. I’ll give that to you. All of that may be true.
But let me tell you what you do have: If you are a Christian, you do have the power of God’s Holy Spirit. You, Christian, have Holy Spirit power. And the reason you have Holy Spirit power is so you can proclaim and so your proclamation will be effective.
“You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” ~Acts 1:8
The part we play in Act Five of the Story of God — Proclamation — can only be fulfilled by the power of the Holy Spirit. This is so important. The mission of Jesus is urgent, the Good News must be told. But Jesus wouldn’t let them start until they had received the Spirit. They were prepared, they had been taught, they were witnesses, they were ready. But not without the Spirit. They had to wait for the Holy Spirit. It won’t work without the Spirit. And when the followers of Jesus did receive the Spirit on the Day of Pentecost, they could not be stopped.
The Holy Spirit’s main purpose is to speak to people about Jesus. Throughout the New Testament, the Holy Spirit fills the disciples with strength to meet special witnessing challenges. He gives boldness and courage. He provides the right words to say and he provides the power to say them.
The disciples had no academic advantages. They had no political connections or financial strength. They had no upper hand in any way. What they had was Holy Spirit power. By that power they proclaimed the lordship of Jesus. And by that power the proclamation could not be stopped.