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The Secret to Strength

  • January 2021 Issue
Practical Theology

After His resurrection, Jesus gave His disciples the secret to spiritual strength. He had spent forty days speaking to them about the kingdom of God. He instructed them not to leave Jerusalem until they had received the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:3–5). Hearing this, the disciples asked, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” They hoped Jesus was about to establish a political kingdom, one in which they would become powerful (Luke 22:24–30).

Jesus told them to expect a different kind of power (Acts 1:5). The Holy Spirit would come upon them, and they would be His “witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). While they had hoped for political authority, they received the power to act on Christ’s behalf. The Greek word for power in verse 8 also means strength or might. Jesus told His disciples to focus on God’s dominion over their lives. Controlled by God’s empowering Spirit, they would be strengthened to bear testimony to the truth about Christ.

We usually think of witnessing as telling others the gospel. It does include this, but being a witness involves more. Instead of merely being salespeople for Jesus, we validate the gospel’s promise of new life through the Holy Spirit’s transformation of our lives. In other words, the power Jesus promised was not just the opportunity to share Christ, but the ability to live the Christian life. The rest of the New Testament reveals what it means to live under the dominion of the Holy Spirit, which enables us to say no to sin and yes to God.

If you engage in strength training, you might lift weights or use resistance bands. Hard work and discipline are required to grow strong. While there is a place for discipline in the Christian life, discipline alone is not the secret to spiritual strength. As Christians, our power comes from the Holy Spirit. Do you want to be a witness for Christ? Expect the Holy Spirit not only to help you to know what to say but also to grant you the strength to live the Christian life.

For further study: To learn more, read Transforming Presence: How the Holy Spirit Changes Everything–From the Inside Out by Daniel Henderson (Moody Publishers).

BY Dr. John Koessler

Dr. John Koessler, who retired as professor emeritus from Moody Bible Institute, formerly served in the division of applied theology and church ministry. John and his wife Jane enjoy living in a lakeside town in Michigan. A prolific writer, John’s books include Dangerous Virtues: How to Follow Jesus When Evil Masquerades as Good (Moody Publishers), The Radical Pursuit of Rest (InterVarsity), The Surprising Grace of Disappointment (Moody), and True Discipleship (Moody). John is a contributing editor and columnist for Today in the Word.

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