29 Jan 2015 by Tony Dibble –
The words, ‘witness’ and ‘testify’, are both from the Greek word, ‘matur’. The word signifies a person who reports with conviction what he has seen, heard or knows. It also refers to a person who is prepared to die, maintaining that what he has encountered is true. Hence, the word ‘martyr’ in English.
The Christian is a witness for the gospel of Christ. He is a witness because he has seen Christ in his heart (Matt 5:8). Having heard the gospel and accepted it by faith (Rom 10:17), the Christian knows GOD in a relationship through prayer, His word and in the fellowship of the church, the body of Christ (1 Cor 12:27).
The gospel is the good news. This is about the death of Christ on the cross and His resurrection from the dead. This is victory over the power of death and sin, to save man (John 5:24; Acts 4:12; Rom 5:1 & 2; 1 Cor 15:3-7; 2 Cor 5:17-21). The starting point of the gospel is not what we think of GOD but what GOD thinks of us. It is the love of GOD that must be passed on in the gospel message (John 3:16-17).
The Christian and the church exist for one purpose: to be a witness so that many would be added to Christ’s Kingdom daily. This is the reason why it receives its power from on high (Acts 1:8; 2:47). It needs to be released to the world instead of having a ‘siege’ mindset that could hold it back.
- The Similitudes
Christ said that the Christian is the salt of the earth; the light of the world; and a city on a hill (Matt 5:13-16).
As the salt of the earth, the Christian has to pass on the true flavour of man’s existence to the unsaved. This is Christ (John 14:6).
Being the light of the world, the Christian must reveal that salvation is found in Christ alone (Acts 4:12).
The Christian, a city on a hill, is to be visible as a refuge, to the unsaved. A city on a hill can be seen far and wide by a distant traveller, in search of refreshment and rest from the scorching desert of the Mediterranean. It is in an elevated position, symbolising the stature for all to approach.
Man was to be fruitful from day one (Gen 1:22).He is still to be used by GOD to multiply the Kingdom. The great commission (Matt 28:18-20; Acts 1:8) is operative for nearly 2000 years. It is NOT the great option. It certainly is great however, as it is a commission from the LORD. We are commissioned into His army (2 Tim 2:4; Eph 6:11-18).
A Christian and the church are not expected to isolate themselves but instead, to go out (Matthew 16:18) and build the kingdom (Acts 1:8). A Christian does not stop at being saved, keeping to himself. A church is not an exclusive club. John Wesley (1703-91) wrote, “I look upon all the world as my parish….” Our parish starts in our own house and extends to the neighbourhood. It includes our places of work and anywhere that we gather with friends and associates. Train stops or airplane passenger seats are also places where we could advance the gospel when the occasion presents itself.
The Christian must not be ashamed of the gospel (Rom 1:16).He has the treasure which he should joyfully pass on (Matt 13:44; 2 Cor 4:5-7).
Christ made it clear that those of us who confess Him before men would be acknowledged before the Father by Him (Matt 10:32-33).
- Spiritual Diligence
The Christian must always be ready to give an account of the gospel (1 Pet 3:15). A Christian, if not fully committed to Christ, would not make an effective witness. It is not the level of knowledge, but the relationship with Christ that determines if a believer can be used by GOD as His witness.
St Peter reminds us to sanctify ourselves in the Lord for the unexpected occasion when sharing the gospel may be required. We therefore pray on this and for the person/s to whom the sharing is to be presented to.
- Work of the Holy Spirit
The Christian should not engage in a shouting match when sharing the gospel. It is the Holy Spirit who convicts the world of sin, righteousness and judgement (Jn 16:7-11; 13-15).
The Christian must prepare his work in the Holy Spirit before he shares the gospel. He should not plunge into it. Prayer is his critical resource. But he should be humble and know that if a soul is saved, it is GOD’s work.
By the same token, the Christian must not be cheated by the devil’s discouragement if the results of his witness are not immediately visible. George Muller (1805-98) prayed for over 50 years for the conversion of a particular person. Mueller believed that GOD would save that person even whilst on his (Muller’s) deathbed. A year after Muller’s death, this person was saved.
People are to be viewed as persons and not target numbers. King David got caught by a numbers game when he yielded to the temptation to count his army. This was to him evidence of what he considered to be his own strength (1 Ch 21:1, 7 & 8).
David Livingstone (1813-73), a missionary to Africa, and Adoniram Judson (1788-1850), a missionary to Myanmar, had only one convert each. What was important was that others were inspired by the Holy Spirit to follow on their trail. Do not underestimate the spiritual worth of one soul saved (Luke 15:10).
Sowing the gospel may be just as important as reaping the results of that sowing.
- The Example of Christ
Never condemn a person. Christ dealt with sinners. But He never condemned them (John 8:11). He highlighted their sin and told them to end it. In Christ’s plan, it is man who condemns himself (Matt 5:29-30, 7:19; Mark 9:43; John 3:17-18, 4:7-26, 15:6).
Judgement day is another time and place to come. But for now, the Christian’s role is to confess sin, repent, proceed to be sanctified and to witness. That is the current agenda.
Christ shows that conversation rather than confrontation was the approach to be used in passing on the gospel. People are to be cultivated with the gospel rather than condemned for their poor spiritual state. We are fishers of men (Matt 4:19); not harpooners of men. We focus on the love of Christ to be enjoyed.
- The Lessons from St Paul.
Never run down another religion, insulting anyone. Instead, use it as a starting point. In Acts 17:22-34, St Paul observed that the Greeks in Athens worshipped a nameless idol. He did not condemn them or their religion for this: he openly acknowledged their religious fervour. In verse 28, Paul spoke to them of the Providence of GOD and quoted a line from Greek literature in support of this.
Paul was not compromising the gospel. He was not trying to pass off the gospel as another faith. He was using their religious commitment and attachments as his launch pad. By the time he had completed his preaching, he was well-ahead of the starting point and into the full gospel. A simple understanding of the tenets of other faiths or the issues confronting the unsaved may assist us in this way.
When Paul went into a city it was his custom to go into the Jewish synagogue (prayer house) to explain the gospel from the Old Testament (Acts 17:2; 18:4).He used, as his launch pad, what they revered as sacred: their Old Testament. He did not have to invalidate the Old Testament but to use it as the foundation of the gospel.
Any effort or programme for the Kingdom of GOD needs what John Wesley terms ‘fervent prayer’. Prayer is not a mechanical procedure from a distance but a relationship in unison with Christ. This is absolutely critical.
Conviction is the LORD’s work, not ours. Hence, we consecrate our submissions to the LORD in prayer. Ours is to pass on the treasure. If the prospect has doubts, we ask him/her to pray, preferably with us taking the lead. Tell the person that GOD responds to sincere hearts (Jer 29:12-13).
We are never without Christ and the Holy Spirit in our sharing of the gospel (Jer 20:11; Matt 28:20; Luke 12:11-12; John 14:26; 1 John 2:27).GOD does HIS work through us as HIS vessels. That is His assurance to us.
Note: Tony Dibble worships at Endeavour Christian Gathering, in Perth, Western Australia. Prior to this, he was attending the Church of Our Holy Saviour, Labuan, East Malaysia. When in Kuala Lumpur, he worships at Faith Oasis Fellowship (FOF) Subang Jaya, Selangor.
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