A little over 2,000 years ago, Jesus’ small group of disciples and believers sat huddled in the Upper Room on the Day of Pentecost. They had recently seen their Lord and King leaving them and ascending to Heaven. They were a bit disillusioned, confused, perplexed and uncertain of the future.
The Bible does not record what prayer they prayed that morning, but I am sure it must have been for God to fulfill what Jesus promised when He said: “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” (Acts 1:8).
On this Day of Pentecost, the heavens were opened: “And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:4). This day marked a new chapter in the life of the church and of the world, for on this day “the Holy Spirit has come among us.”
“Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, ‘Rulers of the people and elders of Israel …'” His sermon resulted in 3,000 souls accepting Jesus as their Savior (Acts 4:8). The same Holy Spirit who empowered the Apostle Peter to preach a message with such results is available to us as we reach out to people who don’t know Christ. When we witness, we have to rely completely on the Holy Spirit. Jesus said, “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him” (John 6:44).
God the Holy Spirit can take the feeblest words of our witness to Christ and transform them by His power into a convicting word in the lives of others. That is the mystery to the working of the Holy Spirit.
I was once flying from Delhi to London to speak at a Festival. I boarded the flight at 2 a.m. and put on my eyeshades because I wanted to sleep. But sitting next to me were three large gentlemen who immediately began to drink and carouse. They even used my table for their empty alcohol bottles. Finally, before we landed, breakfast was announced. Taking off my eyeshades, I asked the flight attendant to clear my table.
Then, taking my Bible, I began to read. The man next to me asked what I was reading. “The Bible,” I replied. “I am reading about the blood of Jesus that was shed on the cross for our sins.”
He grabbed my arm and began to cry. “I have sinned against God and my wife,” he confessed. I asked him if he would like to invite Jesus into his life, and to my surprise, he said yes. I led him in a prayer to invite Jesus into his heart. It was the Holy Spirit who used my simple witness of the Gospel to draw him to God.
Like this man, people around us may appear to be happy and content. But deep down, every person who does not have a personal relationship with Christ feels the pain of separation from God. The greatest tragedy that has ever happened to the human race is when Satan convinced Adam and Eve to delete God from their lives. It was then that Adam and Eve sinned against God, and that sin has infected every person since then.
In order to restore our relationship with God, a change is needed in the inner being of every man and woman. This is a change we cannot earn—something we cannot do for ourselves, something science cannot do for us. It’s something that only God can do. Jesus told Nicodemus, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God” (John 3:5).
Likewise, we cannot hope to win anyone to Christ by our own words or actions. But the Holy Spirit can choose to work throught us if we are yielded to Him.
The filling of the Holy Spirit was a prerequisite for power in the lives of the first Christians as well. “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” (Acts 1:8).
Throughout the New Testament we read story after story of how the Holy Spirit directed and empowered God’s servants to witness.
It was the Holy Spirit who instructed Phillip and transported him to meet with the eunuch: “Then the Spirit said to Philip, ‘Go near and overtake this chariot'” (Acts 8:29). The eunuch accepted Christ.
The Apostle Paul testified that the power of the Gospel he and others proclaimed was the result of the Holy Spirit’s work: “For our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit and in much assurance” (1 Thessalonians 1:5).
The boldness with which the early disciples proclaimed the Gospel came through the Holy Spirit: “They were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness” (Acts 4:31).
Billy Graham has said, “As we commit our lives to the Lordship of Jesus Christ each day, the Spirit of God fills us and empowers us for the work God has for us.”The Holy Spirit continues to empower men and women to win souls for Jesus Christ. On March 1, 1986, the Reverend Sukrit Roy, a Bengali Christian, and his wife founded the Christ Mission Ashram (CMA) in Kolkata (formerly Calcutta), West Bengal, India. With just a handful of believers, and empowered by the Holy Spirit, they began their ministry.
“Every step of the way we sought the leading of the Holy Spirit,” Sukrit says. “When we saw the people of the Sundarbans, on the mouth of the River Ganges, with 54 islands inhabited by folks who have yet to learn of God’s love, we built our own boat and began to proclaim in these islands the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Today CMA has 90 congregations all over West Bengal and other neighboring Indian States. This is just one example of the thousands of men and women in India alone who are witnessing for Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit. “This was the Lord’s doing; It is marvelous in our eyes” (Psalm 118:23).
Robert Cunville is an associate evangelist with BGEA and is based in Shillong, Meghalaya, India. Each year he conducts evangelistic Festivals throughout India, in Asia and in other parts of the world.