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The Power of The Holy Spirit by Maxie Dunnam

This is the fourth article in a series of articles Maxie is writing about the beliefs behind our views of evangelism. Click here for the first article, here for the second, and here for the third.

In my reflection on evangelism I have made three bold claims.

  1. What you think about Christ determines what you do about evangelism. If we don’t have confidence in the gospel, and if we are not solidly convicted about the uniqueness of Christ, it is not likely that evangelism will have much priority in our personal ministry and/or in our church.
  2. What we do about evangelism is shaped by what we think about grace. If we think that grace is limited, or that all people are automatically saved, we will not be likely to proclaim the message of grace with any urgency to all people. If, on the other hand, we realize that grace is unlimited, and that salvation can be rejected, we will share urgently and with all.
  3. What you think Jesus can do for a person will determine what you do about evangelism. This is one of the greatest motivations possible to share the good news with others. Do we really care not only about our own family and circle of friends, but our neighbors we don’t even yet know even though they have been “neighbors” for two or three years? The question has a more expansive focus. Jesus talked about “the uttermost parts of the world.”

So I move my reflection beyond “What we think about Jesus” determining our expression of evangelism. I move beyond the level of evangelistic content with this bold assertion: What you think about evangelism won’t matter much unless the Holy Spirit empowers you.

At the beginning of his ministry, Jesus gave us the charter of the kingdom when he announced his mission:

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor (Luke 4:18-19). 

At the close of his ministry, he commissioned us for kingdom work:

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of age” (Matthew 28:19-20)

At the center of his charter and his commission for the kingdom is the Holy Spirit: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me … Go … make disciples … baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”

Not only are the charter and the commission of the kingdom centered in the Spirit, his commitment to provide us power is Spirit-centered.

Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” 

He said to them:  “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority.

But 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.” (Acts l:608 NIV)

It’s too clear for us to miss. According to Jesus, at the heart of kingdom business is evangelism, and the power source of evangelism is the Holy Spirit. What you think about evangelism won’t matter much unless the Holy Spirit empowers your effort.


Pictured: Painting by Kerry Dunnam Peeples