Jesus has risen from the dead! Jesus had conquered death and sin and Satan. Jesus had provided a way for sinners to be reconciled with God Almighty. God’s promises to send the Messiah to redeem his people have been fulfilled. Surely, the whole world needs to hear the good news! And yet Jesus tells them to wait. Jesus ‘ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father. (Act 1:4)’ They couldn’t proclaim the Good News, they couldn’t evangelize, because they didn’t yet have the Holy Spirit.
Jesus tells his disciples, ‘you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth. (Act 1:8)’ To witness to Jesus without the Holy Spirit is to witness without power. We can tell people about Jesus until we are blue in the face, but without the Holy Spirit it will have no impact. The word power in Greek is dynamis, from where we get the word dynamite. When the Holy Spirit empowers the proclamation of the gospel it is dynamic.
The Holy Spirit is essential in evangelism.
Firstly, he changes us, the bearers of the message. The Holy Spirit makes us like Jesus. He produces fruit in our lives, and that fruit is the character of Jesus (Gal 5:22-23). Without the fruit of the Spirit our witness lacks integrity. The Spirit also gives us the words to speak. Jesus tells his disciples when they are dragged before people, ‘…what you are to say will be given to you… for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. (Mt 10:19-20)’ That doesn’t mean we don’t work at understanding the gospel, or practice sharing it, but ultimately what matters is what the Spirit speaks through us.
But the Spirit is also essential in changing the hearers of the gospel. Jesus tells Nicodemus that no one can enter the kingdom of heaven unless they are born again, unless they are born of the Spirit (Jn 3:5). Paul says, ‘God saved us… by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit. (Tit 3:5)’ The Spirit regenerates spiritually dead hearts. Jesus talks about how important the soil of people’s hearts is (Mt 13:18-23). If it’s hard, or stony, or choked with weeds the gospel will have no lasting impact, but if it’s good soil it will produce much fruit. But people don’t make the soil of their hearts ‘good,’ that’s the work of the Spirit. The Spirit enables people to not just hear and understand the gospel, but to produce the fruit of the gospel.
Our gospel witness will only have power when the Holy Spirit is present in our lives, in our words, and actively working in the lives of those who hear. Before you step out of your house, pray that the Holy Spirit would fill your heart. Before you speak, pray that the Holy Spirit would speak through you. And when you share the gospel with someone, pray that the Holy Spirit would work in their heart. Through the Holy Spirit may you have power to witness to Jesus.