Acts 1:8, “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.”
Some misinformed Christians have said that though all believers are to preach the “message” of Jesus, not everyone is commanded to follow Jesus’ “method” of public witness. In other words, they believe that even though Jesus preached outdoors in public more than any one place- more than the temple, in homes or at local synagogues; they’re free to neglect preaching in public places because not everyone is called to do exactly what Jesus did.
The streets and outdoor countryside was Jesus’ pulpit and the public was His congregation. Now is the time for Jesus’ disciples to do what He did, so that we can see what He saw; the lost saved, demons cast out, the sick healed and cities changed!
No one would disagree that disciples are to witness and have freedom to choose whatever methods work best for them; whether it’s at lunch with coworkers, family functions or at church events. However, the overwhelming example of Jesus’ method of public evangelism must be followed and obeyed as the first priority. The very reason Jesus gave the disciples spiritual power was to be a public witness for His gospel.
Some might argue that Jesus didn’t add the word “public” into Acts 1:8, so wherever disciples go and witness is fulfilling Jesus’ command. Though it may be true we are to witness everywhere we go, how did the disciples first and foremost interpret being a witness? Luke records that within moments of the Holy Spirit being poured out in the upper room, they began to street preach among the crowds of people and three thousand were saved (Acts 2:14,40-41)! Not only did the disciples publicly preach on the first day the New Testament church was officially started, but also many of them preached their last sermons on the streets before being murdered by the crowds. Timothy, the beloved disciple of Paul, whom two books of the Bible are named after, was beaten to death while preaching at a pagan festival in Ephesus.
Often times, for the early disciples it was either revival or riot when they preached in public. Just like in the times of Jesus the people either loved Him or hated Him. One of the revivals in Acts is from the preaching of Philip in the city of Samaria. Luke records in Acts 8:4-8, “4 Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went. 5 Philip went down to a city in Samaria and proclaimed the Messiah there. 6 When the crowds heard Philip and saw the signs he performed, they all paid close attention to what he said. 7 For with shrieks, impure spirits came out of many, and many who were paralyzed or lame were healed. 8 So there was great joy in that city.”
When Jesus promised to give power to be His witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and to the ends of the earth, He expected His disciples to get out of the four walls of the church, leave their home bible studies and take the message of the gospel to the public just like He did! C.T. Studd, the great missionary to China said, “Some want to live within the sound of church or a chapel bell; I want to run a rescue shop, within a yard of hell.”
I challenge you to be a public witness for Jesus a minimum of once a month. Stand on the street in front of your church, go door-to-door in your neighborhood, meet people at the park, go downtown, witness at the mall- whatever you do, “Go and preach in public!”
- Repent if you have not followed Jesus’ command to be a public witness.
- Set a day and time to go witnessing.
- Find others in your church to go with you; don’t let the Mormons and Jehovah Witnesses out witness your church!