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Empowered by the Holy Spirit

Witnessing for God # 2  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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We must rely upon the Holy Spirit to lead, guide, and direct us.

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Witnessing for God # 2

We are continuing our series on witnessing for God. We will begin this week by looking at our focus verse.
Acts 1:8 NKJV
But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
We began our series last week by looking at what it means to be an eyewitness for Jesus. This week we will discuss the power that we need to do what God has created to do and called us to do. Just as a wood burning stove does not function without wood, Christians need the power of the Holy Spirit to fulfill God’s will.
As we explore what it means to be empowered by the Holy Spirit, we will discuss the two different ways to live our lives. We can either live in the power of man/self, or we can live in the power of God. The choice is ours. And of course, each path will produce different results. If we desire to honor God and receive His blessings, we should always choose to live in the power of God.
We will observe Saul in the NT. We know him as Paul, so we will refer to him as Paul in this sermon for clarity. Paul began seeking to serve God in the flesh as we all do, but God changed His life. After God changed his life, he lived in the power of the Holy Spirit. Let us discuss this power today that we all need to have in our lives.
Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (Dunamis) power
the potentiality to exert force in performing some function—‘power.’
Acts 22:1-16.
Acts 13:1-12.
God does a work in us. Through God’s guidance, God’s strength, and God’s wisdom we will witness to a world about Him. We do not seek to witness to the world without knowing God or without God’s power.

1. Paul at Gamaliel’s feet.

Paul was a Jew.

As we begin discussing Paul, it is important to understand that many Jews just like Paul sought to serve God. However, they went about it the wrong way. They knew the scriptures, but they did not honor the One who spoke to them in the scriptures. They often ignored God. Before meeting with Jesus on the road to Damascus, Paul is a great example of life without God’s help. We may seek to know God or even proclaim that we know Him. However, Paul and many other Jews were not working in God’s power or ability.
So, what did they lean on besides God? They often relied on self or others. Paul had a great Jewish heritage. Jews, much like many other cultures, are very proud of their heritage. They are God’s chosen people. Jews who were pure Jews were especially proud of their heritage. And Paul was from a Roman city named Tarsus.
Easton’s Bible Dictionary (Tarsus)
TARSUS—the chief city of Cilicia. It was distinguished for its wealth and for its schools of learning, in which it rivaled, nay, excelled even Athens and Alexandria, and hence was spoken of as “no mean city.” It stood on the banks of the river Cydnus, about 12 miles north of the Mediterranean Sea.

Paul was trained to be a rabbi.

Paul was trained by the prestigious Gamaliel.
Easton’s Bible Dictionary (Paul)
His preliminary education having been completed, Saul was sent, when about thirteen years of age probably, to the great Jewish school of sacred learning at Jerusalem as a student of the law. Here he became a pupil of the celebrated rabbi Gamaliel, and here he spent many years in an elaborate study of the Scriptures and of the many questions concerning them with which the rabbis exercised themselves. During these years of diligent study he lived “in all good conscience,” unstained by the vices of that great city.
Easton’s Bible Dictionary (Gamaliel)
The son of rabbi Simeon, and grandson of the famous rabbi Hillel. He was a Pharisee, and therefore the opponent of the party of the Sadducees. He was noted for his learning, and was president of the Sanhedrin during the reigns of Tiberius, Caligula, and Claudius, and died, it is said, about eighteen years before the destruction of Jerusalem.
Paul’s training was something to take note of. His training was nothing to be ashamed of.

Paul was zealous toward God and God’s law.

Paul had sought to know what God desired in the law and in the teachings of the fathers. Paul sought to live it daily. Paul was not haphazard in his life.
Paul also showed zeal for the law through persecuting Christians. Paul assented to the death of Stephen the first Christian martyr. Paul sought to root out Christians wherever he could find them. Paul sought to destroy the Christian faith. Paul did this out of his zeal for God and for God’s law. Paul saw Christians as a false teachers just as the Jews had viewed Jesus as a blasphemer.

Paul had a remarkable start to his life.

Paul had something to boast about if you looked with the eyes of flesh and this world. He was not from some bad place. He was taught to be a rabbi by a well-known rabbi. He also evidenced His zeal toward God’s law through his persecution of Christians.
Paul shows us the power people can have and that people can give from within themselves. However, it can only lead us to walking in the power of self.

2. Walking in the power of self.

Proverbs 14:12 (NKJV)
There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.

We cannot be good on our own.

No amount of learning or work can make us good. With all that Paul knew, he was still working against God. You would think with his great understanding and knowledge of the scriptures that he would have recognized Jesus as God. But he did not.
A person can learn a lot. A person can earn a lot. People can get great jobs and earn big money. But that does not mean we are living in God’s grace or being pleasing to god. This is not to say a good education or a good job is wrong. But those things cannot save us or others.

We can not save the world.

The Jewish people had failed many times to save themselves. They could not even liberate themselves from the Romans. They were powerless. They proclaimed to be God’s people. They proclaimed a deep understanding and a deep relationship with God. However, they were not saving themselves either, physically or spiritually.

We need something better.

We are seeking to clarify the power that Acts 1:8 tells us about. What is this power? In Paul’s life, we can clearly see when that power came to Him. It began when Jesus saved Paul. We can see the power that we all need and desire.

3. Paul at Jesus’ feet.

Jesus met with Paul.

We see this in Acts 22:7. Jesus saved Paul. Paul thought he was going in the right direction. But he was not. Paul thought he was honoring God by persecuting Christians. Paul was actually hurting the family of God. Acts 22:14 says that Paul saw Jesus. By faith in Jesus as Lord, Paul was saved.

God gave Paul power, salvation, strength, and understanding.

The power that we need comes from Jesus. Jesus died on the cross for our sins. He paid the debt for our sins. Jesus arose from the grave to show us that we too shall arise. Jesus lives in us. This is the power that is so needed to witness for Jesus. Why would we want a powerless faith? What would be the use.
Would you try a medication that did not help those who were trying to sell it? Why would you? What if it only made them worse? That is what happens when we seek to help others in our strength or our ability. If the blind lead the blind, both will wind up in the ditch.

Paul went in a new direction.

Paul walked in the power of God. Paul’s life change on the road to Damascus reveals to us that God’s power makes a difference. Listen to what Paul says about his life before he was saved.
Philippians 3:7–9 NKJV
But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith;
We must daily choose to walk in the power of God.

4. Walking in the power of God.

We see Paul having great boldness to preach.

Acts 9:20–22 NKJV
Immediately he preached the Christ in the synagogues, that He is the Son of God. Then all who heard were amazed, and said, “Is this not he who destroyed those who called on this name in Jerusalem, and has come here for that purpose, so that he might bring them bound to the chief priests?” But Saul increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who dwelt in Damascus, proving that this Jesus is the Christ.

We see amazing miracles performed by Paul.

Acts 14:8-10. A lame man from birth is healed.
Acts 16:16-18. Paul casts out an evil spirit.
Acts 19:11-12. Extraordinary miracles are performed through Paul.
Acts 20:9-10. Paul raises a dead man to life.
These things would not have happened without the power of God.

We see many churches planted.

Acts 14:23 NKJV
So when they had appointed elders in every church, and prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord in whom they had believed.

We see Paul preaching about Jesus to world powers.

Acts 25:1–2 NKJV
Now when Festus had come to the province, after three days he went up from Caesarea to Jerusalem. Then the high priest and the chief men of the Jews informed him against Paul; and they petitioned him,
Paul gave testimony before Roman Proconsuls.
Philippians 1:13 NKJV
so that it has become evident to the whole palace guard, and to all the rest, that my chains are in Christ;
Paul here gives testimony before the Roman guards over him in Rome.
Paul had been sent to Rome as he had appealed to Caesar. Therefore Paul gave testimony before the Roman emperor. This would have been the wicked Roman emperor Nero.
Then Paul has this to say at the end of his life.
2 Timothy 4:7 NKJV
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
By God’s power, Paul finished his race, and he finished it well.
A. Do you live in God’s power?
B. Let God empower us.
C. We are effective only while living in God’s power.
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