A reading of the book of Acts thrills the heart with the power of the Spirit in the gospel! The success of the gospel advance in Acts is directly linked to the Holy Spirit in at least three ways. We may and must trust in the same Holy Spirit as the believers did in the early church.
First, the Holy Spirit empowers believers to witness (Acts 1:8). Again and again, believers prayed, received the power of the Spirit and witnessed boldly of Christ (e.g. Acts 1:8,14 cf. 2:4,11; 4:31). We too can ask for the provision of the Spirit to free us to speak unashamedly of Jesus. The indwelling Holy Spirit imparts to us the life of Jesus, and it is this quality of the Spirit of Jesus that the Savior Himself said we could repeatedly ask for and expect to receive (Luke 11:13).
On many occasions during Netcasters Evangelizing Training, I have watched trainees cry out for the empowering of the Spirit, take by faith the Spirit’s provision and go out net casting. In going, they experienced the Spirit enabling them to witness with divine power, and faith was built. The Spirit is faithful to empower those who ask for His enabling, take by faith His provision and witness by His carrying power.
Second, the Holy Spirit convinces unbelievers to believe in Christ. As Jesus promised, it is the Spirit who convinces the world of sin, righteousness and judgment (John 16:8)—and for us, this is a great relief. It is not our responsibility to do the convincing. Our job is declaring, and we can depend on the Spirit to convince of sin as the problem, judgment as the consequence and the righteousness of Christ as the solution.
A young man once brought me to visit an older couple to whom I was able to witness. The young man had prayed much for them, but when I began, the older gentleman pushed back claiming the Bible was written by men. I told him I knew I could not convince him otherwise but knew the One who could. I asked him, “May I tell you what the Bible says and all of us depend on the Holy Spirit to convince you?” He agreed and the rest was textbook soulwinning. The Holy Spirit did His convincing work, and both the man and his wife prayed to receive Christ that day.
Third, the Holy Spirit leads believers to unbelievers whose hearts have been prepared. Jesus urges us to ask the Holy Spirit, the Lord of the harvest, to lead us into His harvest. The idea is not merely working in the fields out of duty, but reaping in the harvest (Matt. 9:37-38). The Spirit knows who is responding to His drawing, and we can ask Him to guide us to these prepared hearts. These truly are divine appointments.
Walter Wilson, a medical doctor and preacher, prayed often for the Lord to lead him to someone whose heart had been prepared to receive the gospel. God answered those prayers to such an extent that Dr. Wilson would ultimately write a book to capture the details of many divine appointments. Just What the Doctor Ordered: Soulwinning Stories by Walter Wilson testifies many times over to the Spirit’s enabling, convincing and leading in the matter of reaching the lost with the gospel of Christ.
May we look to Spirit to enable us to witness, to convince the hearers, and to lead us regularly into divine appointments.
John Van Gelderen