The book of Acts begins with Jesus’ charge to the disciples: “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 (1:8).”
The root word translated “witness” in Acts 1:8 is the Greek word “martyr.” We reserve the title martyr for those who die for preaching the gospel of Jesus. Martyr, in common usage, speaks of the person who refuses to recant faith in the face of death. The church has a vast collection of such stories. I’ve spent the last few weeks reading through stories of great persecution and even greater faith. I’m inspired by these testimonies. Yet, I see the New Testament’s call for every follower of Jesus to be a martyr. Jesus, in Acts 1:8, calls the church to be his martyrs, his witnesses.
Through the power of the Holy Spirit, disciples are to give testimony of the life, death, resurrection of Jesus. Like a witness called before a jury, we are to stand and boldly proclaim: This is what I know. This is what I’ve seen. I love Acts 4:20, “As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.”
We live in a culture in which Christianity trends toward shallow. We are in desperate need of witnesses. We need local churches filled with people gripped by the power of the gospel and propelled by the Spirit to preach the gospel.
Aren’t we all called to such a life?
Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” – Luke 9:23.