How does the Holy Spirit help us share our faith?
As believers in Jesus Christ who understand that this world needs to know about Him in order to trust Him and receive new life in His name, we feel an obligation to make the message of His gospel known. We share about Jesus with our family and friends. We look for opportunities to have conversations about Him when interacting with others. We joyfully express our hope in Jesus to anyone who will listen.
But if you’ve taken the time to share Jesus with others, I’m sure you can testify to the fact that you’ve received a mixed response. Some people are responsive, others are curious, some are dismissive, and others are hostile. We can joyfully share the hope of the gospel with anyone we come in contact with, but we have no control over what they do with it. We present and represent, but we don’t have the ability to convince someone to believe or receive something they would much rather reject.
Thankfully, we haven’t been asked to share the hope of the gospel without help. God’s Word teaches us that the Holy Spirit empowers us to be witnesses for Jesus in our generation. He creates opportunities for us to speak with others. He prepares the hearts of those who will listen. He even gives us the right words to say when we need them.
The apostle Paul was a man who actively shared his faith, even in hostile contexts. As he did so, he was able to testify that the Holy Spirit empowered him for his task and prepared the hearts of those who would believe.
I. The wisdom of sticking to the main thing
“And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. 2 For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.” (1 Corinthians 2:1-5)
Each week, as pastors throughout the world begin preparing their messages for Sunday, they are presented with a dilemma. You have a few options when you're preparing a sermon. One is to make yourself look good. The other is to make Jesus look good. You can make yourself sound smart by using lofty language and the kinds of words that people only become acquainted with when they read theological dictionaries, or you can give people a glimpse of Jesus and the glory of His gospel. Each week I pray that the Lord will help me do the latter.
When the Apostle Paul was preparing to preach to the Corinthians, he knew enough about their culture to know what they probably would have preferred. Their culture was influenced by Greek thought and would have loved to have been impressed by a powerful speaker who had mastered the art of persuasive speech. That's likely what they would have preferred from Paul and I'm sure he had the capacity to go in that direction, but he chose not to.
It appears Paul wrestled with this a little. As a missionary, he wondered what the best way to communicate the gospel to this group of people would be. He wanted them to experience the blessing of redemption. He wanted them to receive the gift of salvation, and he wanted to be able to communicate in a way they would understand. So Paul made a decision. He wasn't going to come to them with lofty words and a haughty attitude. He would come to them in weakness, fear, and trembling, and he would stick to what matters most - Jesus Christ and Him crucified. Paul chose to stick to the main thing - the central truth of the gospel. There is wisdom there for us as well.
As he did so, he was willing to admit his weakness. He knew the limitations of what he was humanly capable of doing, but He also had confidence in the Holy Spirit. The power of the Spirit is greater than our human weaknesses. He helps us and covers us when we step forward in obedience to His leading.
I think at times, we feel some sort of pressure to present ourselves as above struggle. Maybe we're convinced that if we admit weakness, experience fear, or display trembling, we will somehow be letting Jesus down or representing Him poorly. But the main thing isn't that we present ourselves as perfect. The main thing is that we present Jesus who lovingly and sacrificially endured crucifixion for weak people like us.
II. The Holy Spirit gives us the power to witness
“But 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.” (Acts 1:8)
Before He ascended back to Heaven, Jesus assured His followers that they would have the help they needed to accomplish the work He was leaving them in the world to accomplish. Jesus told His disciples that they would receive power from the Holy Spirit who would enable them to testify about Him locally, regionally, and throughout the entire world.
That’s a helpful reminder to me, and I hope you find that helpful as well. In recent years, I have started to become more comfortable initiating spiritual conversations with others, but that hasn’t always been the case. I still remember how fearful I would get as a young Christian when I was attempting to share the gospel with friends or those who were older than me.
The major difference between then and now is my understanding of how the Lord is at work. I’m starting to understand my role and His role with more clarity. My role is to be intentional in building genuine relationships with others and joyfully share what Jesus has done for me. His role is to open eyes and change hearts in order to foster belief. I am responsible for sharing the gospel and He is responsible for saving those who hear and believe.
I have come to believe that my nervousness about sharing the gospel during earlier seasons of life was directly related to my assumption that I needed to do it under my own power. I think I was counting on myself more than I was counting on the Holy Spirit. Now I’m content to be an ambassador for Christ in word and deed while leaving the outcome of that up to Him.
III. The Holy Spirit pours the love of God into our hearts
“and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” (Romans 5:5)
Are you convinced God loves you? Why do you believe that? According to Romans 5:5, you believe that because the Holy Spirit lives within you and God’s love was poured into your heart through Him.
Years ago, my wife and I were together with our young children at a park near where her parents live and she grew up. While we were there, we interacted with a young woman who had been engaging in a lot of self-harm. The evidence of that could be seen particularly on her arms. It was very hard to see, not just because it looked painful, but because of what those wounds and scars represented. She struggled to see herself as loved. She was living with essentially no understanding of the nature of God’s love or His desire to pour that love into the lives of others through His Spirit.
We can demonstrate the love of God, but only the Holy Spirit can change a heart. Only the Spirit can help us truly understand and embrace the care and compassion of our Creator. Only the Spirit can transform us from people who felt anchored to our shame, to people who live with genuine hope.
IV. What does this mean for those you’re praying for?
"And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” (2 Corinthians 4:3-6)
When I was growing up, I moved to a new town that was much different from our previous community. We went from an area that was rather nice and pleasant to a community that had a very different mindset. That was made clear to me by just how much fighting I had to do in my new elementary school just to get through the school year.
I still remember one particular day when I got off the school bus only to be blind-sighted. Another kid saved ketchup packets from lunch so he could smear the ketchup in my eyes and blind me with the vinegar, then beat me while I couldn’t see. It was unexpected and somewhat traumatic, but it taught me that I didn’t want to be caught off guard like that again.
The devil likes to play a similar trick on the people of this world. He actively blinds their minds and eyes to keep them from understanding the gospel or seeing the light of Christ. He does everything he can to keep the unbelieving world living in ignorance, fighting against themselves, and rejecting God by denying His existence.
We need someone to rescue us from this spiritual blindness, otherwise, we’re going to be completely pummeled. When I was a kid being pummeled by one of my classmates, my mother saw what was going on and ran to my bus stop, then chased the kid up the hill so he would leave me alone. (I know that doesn’t sound like a very masculine story to tell, but it’s honestly what happened). In a very real sense, we need the intervention of the Holy Spirit to end our spiritual blindness. He’s the one who ends that spiritual beating. He’s the one who removes the blinders from our eyes.
So what should you do if there are people in your life that you’d love to see come to faith in Jesus, but at present, they’re resistant to that idea? I think the principles we need to keep in mind are all outlined in what Scripture reveals to us about the Holy Spirit’s role in evangelism.
1. Stick to the main thing (Jesus).
2. Demonstrate and rely on the Spirit’s power (not your own).
3. Realize that it is the Holy Spirit who pours the love of God into a heart.
4. Pray that the Holy Spirit will open the eyes and soften the hearts of those you love.
If you live long enough, you will see the Lord answering your prayers for the salvation of those you love. In the past few decades, I have seen family members on my side and my wife’s side of the family come to faith in Jesus. I have seen friends from high school and friends from this season of my life come to faith. I even heard just the other day of the faith of someone I have been praying for years to experience salvation. He passed away last week, but according to another friend who officiated the funeral, he came to faith about four years ago and has been an active part of a local church ever since, right up to his death.
When you share your faith, joyfully do your part, but trust the Holy Spirit to do what only He can do. He will amaze you as He demonstrates His infinite power to save.
© John Stange, 2023