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The relation between Jesus’ witness and the power of the Spirit
 

John F. Walvoord insists that the power to witness did not connect with the baptism of the Spirit.

The prophecy of Acts 1:4-5 was fulfilled on the day of Pentecost. The power to witness, while not connected with the baptism of the Spirit, was present on the day of Pentecost, and the disciples immediately began the work Christ specified as their program in Acts 1:8. (John F. Walvoord, The Holy Spirit, p.144.)

     The note, “The power to witness, while not connected with the baptism of the Spirit, was present on the day of Pentecost,” is thoroughly incorrect. It is based upon the misunderstanding of the relation between the baptism of the Spirit in Acts 1:4-5 and the power of the Spirit to witness in Acts 1:8. The prophecy, “You will be baptized with the Holy Spirit” in Acts 1:4-5, was fulfilled on the day of Pentecost, just as John F. Walvoord claims. And the prophecy, “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” in Acts 1:8, also was fulfilled on the day of Pentecost.
     The Bible confirms that the 120 disciples received the baptism of the Spirit on the day of Pentecost, and the disciples received the power to witness on the day of Pentecost. In conclusion, the Bible indicates that the power to witness is connected with the baptism of the Spirit. Here, it is affirmed that the note, “the power to witness, while not connected with the baptism of the Spirit,” is quite unscriptural. Acts 1:4-5,8 and  2:4 confirm that the meaning/purpose of the baptism of the Spirit is to receive the power to be witness.

Ajith Fernando insists that the spiritual power will enable them to be witness.

It should be the spiritual power that will come through the baptism with the Holy Spirit, which will enable them to be witness “to the ends of the earth.” This verse (Acts 1:8) presents an outline and summary of Acts. The Holy Spirit’s power and wit- ness is the theme of the book. In a sense the disciples were already witnesses for they had seen the risen Lord that was the key to their witness (1:22). But they also needed “power” to be effective witness, power that would come from the Holy Spirit. The way the Holy Spirit makes witnesses and empowers witness must cover the entire witnessing process, and this is illustrated in Acts. As already noted, the references to the baptism with the Holy Spirit suggest an experience of fullness with the Spirit. The baptism with the Holy Spirit implies a full experience of the Spirit, which among other things empowers us for witness. (Ajith Fernando, The NIV Application Commentary: Acts, p.52,54,55.)

     “It should be the spiritual power that will come through the baptism with the Holy Spirit, which will enable them to be witness to the ends of the earth,” is right. But because of Acts 1:5,8, it should read that the baptism of the Holy Spirit is to impart the power of the Holy Spirit to be witnesses, or the baptism of the Holy Spirit will enable them to be witnesses. Therefore, if a present Christian does not receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit after regeneration, he is not yet a witness of Jesus. There is no scriptural reference that indicates the baptism of the Spirit takes place at the moment of regeneration. The note, “The Holy Spirit’s power and witness is the theme of the book,” is right. And the note, “In a sense the disciples were already witnesses for they had seen the risen Lord that was the key to their witness, and they also needed power to be effective witnesses,” is right.

Today’s believers have never seen Jesus just as the disciples did. How is it possible to be the witnesses of Jesus today?

     To see is to experience. One who sees and experiences an event is a witness. Jesus Christ died on a cross, rose again, and ascended into heaven 2,000 years ago. Today’s believers have never seen Jesus just as the disciples did. How is it possible to be witnesses of Jesus today? The NT was written by those who were witnesses. They fellowshipped with Jesus and saw the risen Lord, so it can be said the Bible was written by witnesses. Can we say that we are the witnesses of Jesus because we proclaim the Bible, the testimony of many eyewitnesses? No. We are not the witnesses of the Lord even though we have become Christians through accepting Jesus as Savior and agree with the testimonies of the witnesses. We are only the deliverymen or messengers of the stories of their experiences. We are by no means the witnesses of Jesus who die on a cross and rose again 2,000 years ago because we were not there to see or experience Jesus Christ.
     Fernando’s note, “The way the Holy Spirit makes witnesses and empowers witness must cover the entire witnessing process,” is right. But it should be said that the Holy Spirit, who is in every Christian at the moment of regeneration, does not makes witnesses at that point. The Holy Spirit makes believers witnesses through the baptism of the Spirit as He comes upon believers after regeneration.
     The note, “the Holy Spirit makes witnesses and empowers witness,” should be said “the Holy Spirit who comes upon believers makes witnesses and empowers witnesses.” Ajith Fernando’s comment, “the references to the baptism with the Holy Spirit suggest an experience of fullness with the Spirit,” is quite erroneous because the Holy Spirit is not treated as God the Holy Spirit and a divine Person. It should be inferred that the baptism of the Holy Spirit is synonymous with the fullness of the power of the Holy Spirit. To receive the baptism of the Spirit, that is, the fullness of the power of the Spirit is to experience the Holy Spirit who comes upon believers to impart the power to witness and to preach the gospel.

If we experience the baptism of the Spirit just as the disciples did, we can become the witnesses of Jesus.

     How can anyone who has never seen Jesus become a witness of his death and resurrection? If the Bible answers this question, we can become His witnesses today. If we experience the baptism of the Holy Spirit just as the disciples did, we can become the witnesses of Jesus. The words of Jesus in Acts 1:5,8 must be applied to every Christian until Jesus comes again. Through Acts 1:5,8 and 2:1-4 a doctrine of the Holy Spirit can be established: “The baptism of the Holy Spirit is to impart the power of the Holy Spirit to witness of Jesus and to preach the gospel to the ends of the earth.”
     Acts 2:1-4 confirms that the 120 disciples saw the Holy Spirit who came upon them in the form of tongues of fire on the day of Pentecost. They experienced the baptism of the Holy Spirit, that is, the filling of the power of the Holy Spirit, and they spoke in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. So it can be established that to experience the baptism of the Holy Spirit is to experience the invisible Holy Spirit who comes upon the believers of Jesus, and those who have never seen or never experienced Jesus then become witnesses of the resurrected Jesus through the baptism of the Holy Spirit. The baptism of the Holy Spirit is the experience of the Holy Spirit, and to experience the Holy Spirit also is to experience Jesus according to the doctrine of the Trinity.
     “They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them” (Acts 2:3-4, NIV), should be understood to speak of the experience of the Holy Spirit. The phrase, “All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit,” is from the mistranslation of the Greek text, as noted already. Acts 2:3-4 can be summarized, ‘All of them were filled with the power of the Holy Spirit when the Holy Spirit came upon them in the form of tongues of fire and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.”  
     Through Acts 1:5,8 and 2:3-4 it can be asserted that to receive the power of the Holy Spirit (to be filled with the power of the Holy Spirit/to be baptized with/in the Holy Spirit) is to receive the nine gifts of the Holy Spirit. Some Christian could receive the nine gifts of the Holy Spirit just as the apostle Paul did. Some could receive one or two gifts of the Holy Spirit.
     The 120 disciples received the gift of tongues of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. Here, it can be said that they experienced the invisible Holy Spirit who came upon them through the gift of tongues from the Holy Spirit. It is confirmed that they experienced Jesus Christ through the gift of tongues given by the Holy Spirit. Likewise, even today we can experience Jesus through the nine gifts given by the Holy Spirit. It should be concluded that if any Christian was baptized with/in the Holy Spirit/filled with the power of the Holy Spirit after regeneration, he experienced the resurrected Jesus Christ through the gifts of the Holy Spirit. If any Christian is not baptized with/in the Holy Spirit, he is not yet a witness of Jesus.

The Bible confirms that to experience the Holy Spirit is to experience Jesus.

John 4:18-20  I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. (NIV)

     The promise of Jesus, “Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me,” was fulfilled on the day of Pentecost. If it is literally inferred, it is impossible to understand since Jesus died on the cross, rose again, and ascended into heaven. That which seemed impossible for those early disciples to see Jesus again, is made possible by accepting the doctrine of the Trinity. By the phrase “you will see me” Jesus meant that the disciples would see him through the Holy Spirit who came upon them on the day of Pentecost. It should be inferred that the 120 disciples actually saw or recognized Jesus through the Holy Spirit who came upon them on that day. This fact is paradoxical outside the Bible but it is thoroughly biblical truth verified by the Bible.
     Even today we can see and experience Jesus through the baptism of the Spirit. We can be the witnesses of Jesus through the Holy Spirit who comes upon us, that is, through the baptism of the Holy Spirit just as the 120 disciples were on the day of Pentecost. By the phrase of John 14:20, “On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you,” we understand that Jesus Christ said that He indwells believers through the Holy Spirit. “The Holy Spirit is in believers” is quite distinct from “The Holy Spirit is (comes) on believers,” as noted already. In the case of “The Holy Spirit is in believers,” believers can by no means experience the Holy Spirit. But in the case of “The Holy Spirit is (comes) on believers,” believers can surely experience the Holy Spirit.

Heb. 2:3-4   This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him. God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will. (NIV)

     In the text, “signs, wonders and various miracles” take place by the gifts of the Holy Spirit. The phrase, “God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will,” confirms that the experience of “signs, wonders and various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit” testifies that the believers experience God the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. The 120 disciples experienced God and Jesus, and the Holy Spirit through the baptism of the Holy Spirit/the power of the Holy Spirit/the gift of tongues of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. Likewise, even today Christians can experience God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit through the baptism of the Holy Spirit/the nine gifts of the Spirit, signs, wonders and various miracles. That is, we are made witnesses through the baptism of the Spirit. Heb. 2:3-4 says that God also testified to it by signs, wonders, various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will. Mark 16:20 says that the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it. This phrase can be inferred to mean that when the disciples preached, everywhere Jesus confirmed and testified to his word by signs, wonders, various miracles, and the gifts of the Holy Spirit sent by Him. This means that from the day of Pentecost the disciples experienced the Lord Jesus who worked with them through the Holy Spirit. Likewise, present-day disciples can experience the Lord Jesus who works with them through the Holy Spirit. Heb. 2:3-4 and Mark 16:15-20 confirm that even today we can experience Jesus Christ by signs, wonders, various miracles and the nine gifts of the Spirit.

Why did Jesus command those who have already been witnesses to stay in the city?

     In his previously cited statement Ajith Fernando insisted “in a sense the disciples were already witnesses for they had seen the risen Lord. That was the key.” It is right according to Luke 24:46-49. Then, in Luke 24:46-49, why did Jesus command the disciples who were already witnesses to be clothed with power? In the text, the phrase “what my Father has promised” means that the disciples were to be clothed with power from on high, that is, they were to receive the power of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. Luke 24:46-49 has to be consistent with Acts 1:4-5,8.
     The disciples already were witnesses but they had not yet received the power of the Holy Spirit. The disciples needed the power of the Holy Spirit to be witnesses even though they had witnessed His crucifixion and resurrection. The term “power” in Luke 24:49 and Acts 1:8 has the meaning of “authority,” as noted already. It should be inferred that the disciples were the witnesses of Jesus but they had not yet received the authority to witness. This authority was imparted on the day of Pentecost. Present-day Christians who have not seen Jesus must receive this same authority of the Holy Spirit, that is, the baptism of the Holy Spirit to be witnesses of Jesus. If any Christian today has not yet received the baptism of the Holy Spirit after believing in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, he cannot be a witness of Jesus even though he received Jesus as Savior and Lord and preached the word of Jesus written in the Bible.

Can Christians be Jesus’ witnesses without the receiving of the power of Holy Spirit?

     Jesus’ disciples wrote the NT. Since they experienced all that had been done by the Lord Jesus Christ, Jesus said to them, “You are witnesses of these things.” Can we become Jesus’ witnesses just as the disciples did? Can we say that we are Jesus’ witnesses because we preach the gospel of the NT written by Jesus’ disciples who had experienced all things done by the Lord? What does the term “witness” mean? How can we become Jesus’ witnesses? Can Christians be Jesus’ witnesses without the receiving of the power and authority of the Spirit/without the receiving of the Spirit’s baptism? The NT has a clear answer. If we do not understand it, it is impossible to have a successful Christian life and to be witnesses of Jesus.

The relation between Jesus’ witness and the power of the Holy Spirit

     In Luke 24:46-49 Jesus said, “You are witnesses of these things,” so the disciples were already His witnesses before He ascended. But in Acts 1:8 Jesus said to His witnesses, “You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem…” According to this message, the disciples had not yet become His witnesses before His ascension. Here, the words of Jesus in Luke 24:46-49 and Acts 1:8 seem to be flawed, but Proverbs  30:5 says, “Every word of God is flawless.” Then, why do the words of Jesus seem to be inconsistent and flawed? The disciples already were Jesus’ witnesses before Pentecost. After becoming His witnesses they received the baptism of the Holy Spirit, the power of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. Here, the word “power” must be interpreted as not only mighty power but also authority. For instance, it might be said: someone has graduated from a teacher’s college. He received a certificate of graduation and may be called a teacher. Though a person has already become a teacher he or she must receive a certificate of qualification given by the proper governing authorities. Similarly, it could be said that the 120 disciples had graduated from a teacher’s college or a theological seminary. Figuratively, it could be said that they received a certificate of graduation through Jesus before His crucifixion and resurrection, but they have not yet received a certificate of quailfication given by the Holy Spirit appointed by the government of the kingdom of heaven. They received this authority, that is, certificate of qualification given by the Holy Spirit sent by Jesus at Pentecost. So Peter began to teach and preach the gospel as a teacher and a preacher qualified by Jesus on that day in Jerusalem. It could be said that if Peter had not received the authority/certificate of qualification at Pentecost, he was not yet actually either a teacher or a preacher.

What does the term “witness” mean?

     The term “witness” refers to a person who has directly seen or heard something, or a person who gives evidence in a court of law. Legally, a person who has not personally seen or heard something (event) cannot give testimony in a court of law. That person is not called a witness. A person who has seen or heard something can write a letter or a book on his experience. Others can repeat the tales written in a letter or a book, but those who have not seen or heard something (event) cannot be called witnesses. They are only delivery persons or messengers. This teller and messenger of the story cannot be called a witness. The 120 disciples of Jesus were witnesses of Jesus because they had seen all things including the crucifixion and the resurrection of Jesus. 2,000 years have already passed. Can we say that we are Jesus’ witnesses because we preach the NT gospel written by Jesus’ disciples who actually experienced all things done by Jesus? If Acts 1:4-2:4 is not thoroughly understood, it is absolutely impossible to answer this question or to be Jesus’
witnesses. The witness of the Bible is quite distinct from the witness of non-Christian society. According to the viewpoint of non-Christians, we who live today cannot be called Jesus’ witnesses because we have not seen Jesus and His crucifixion, resurrection or ascension. We have not met Jesus or experienced all things done by Him. Non-Christians say that believers only know Jesus Christ through the Bible written by the disciples who had seen and met Jesus. But according to the Bible we surely can become His witnesses through the baptism of the Holy Spirit/the power and authority of the Spirit/the nine gifts of the Spirit because Jesus manifests Himself through these things.