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Text: Romans 10:5-17, Luke 12:1-4, Matthew 28:16-20

Subject: Witnessing

Introduction

Maybe you can guess what I am going to talk about based on the passages I just read. My talk today is on witnessing. I picked this subject mainly for myself. I need to hear this message more than anyone here. I am not just saying this, I really mean it! I have been a poor example of witnessing. I guess you can say I am preaching this to myself.

A few weeks ago I was at a conference on faith and science and one of the speakers, John Lennox, said that the majority of Christians today have relegated Christianity to their private lives. The culture says it is ok if we pray, read the Bible and go to church as long as we don't bring this into the workplace or public life, and many Christians have conceded. They go to church and read the Bible privately but never bring Jesus Christ up around their non-Christian friends. Oh, maybe they did when they first believed, but they have long since stopped.

There are many reasons for this but I will not talk about the reasons today, you probably know many of the reasons yourself. Instead I will discuss what witnessing is, why we ought to witness, what we can expect from witnessing and how we can witness.

What is witnessing?

Before I go much further I must first ask, ' what is witnessing?' It is important to make sure we have a correct understanding of what witnessing is.

Noah Webster's 1828 dictionary defines witnessing as, "Seeing a person; bearing testimony; giving evidence."

Witnessing has sometimes been called evangelizing. The Webster's dictionary defines evangelizing as, "Instructing in the doctrines and precepts of the gospel; converting to Christianity." Also preaching is sometimes used synonymously with witnessing or evangelizing. Preaching is defined as, "Proclaiming; publishing in discourse; the act of preaching; a public religious discourse."

Personally I like the term witnessing best because that is what we are doing. Witnessing, simply put, is telling others what we have seen and heard in Christ Jesus. We may not be able to answer every question people ask us, such as 'why is there evil in the world?' or 'how can Jesus be both man and God?' But we can say with the blind man 'one thing I know, I was blind but now I see', or with the woman at the well, "Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?"

Romans 10:10 says, 'For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.' When we witness we confess what we believe and what Christ has done in our lives. Jesus said in Matthew 10:32 and 33, "Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven."

There are many different forms of witnessing, but witnessing must include using our mouth. Our actions alone cannot offer a complete testimony. We must use words as well.

I like the definition the Webster's dictionary gives. It says "bearing testimony". Have you ever witnessed an accident or a crime and was called into court to give a testimony of what happened? I have never had opportunity to be in court to give a testimony, but I have seen it done on TV. The witness will stand up, give the oath and then proceed to tell the court what he saw and heard. In the same way we give testimony of what Christ has done in the world and what he has done in our lives. When we witness on Earth, the whole court of heaven hears us.

Remember Stephen, the first Christian martyr? After he finished his speech the Jews stoned him to death. Acts 7:55-56 records the account, "But he, being full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God, and said, 'Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!'"

Why should we witness?

But we may be thinking, "God will save whoever he has elected whether we witness or not." After all Exodus 33:19 says "I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion." And again Ephesians 1:4-6 says, "just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world . having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, ."

So if God predestinated us to himself before ever the world was, then his elect are sure to be saved. So why then do we need to witness?

He commanded us.

The first reason, and maybe the most obvious, is because God commands us to witness. In Mark 16:15 it is recorded, "And He said to them, 'Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.'"

I Peter 3:15 "But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear."

Acts 1:8 states "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."

Matthew 10:7-8 "And as you go, preach, saying, 'The kingdom of heaven is at hand.' Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give."

We ought to tell others about Christ because he has commanded us to preach to the lost.

Witnessing is how God has chosen to save his people.

Secondly we bear witness because that is how God has chosen to save his people. "How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?" Romans 10:8-14

I Corinthians chapter 1 verse 21 says "For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe." And verse 27 "But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty."

We may not think our witness is very good but this is the way God has chosen to save his elect.

God has put us in the places we are.

Next, we should witness because God is sovereign and has put us in the places we are to do his work. I think the book of Esther has a good example of this.

Esther is one of my favorite books in the Bible. Esther is an orphan Jew who is raised by her uncle Mordecai. She becomes queen of the Medes and the Persians after the previous queen, Vashti, refuses to obey Ahasuerus, the king. But Haman, a wicked ruler passed a law in the king's name "to destroy, to kill, and to annihilate all the Jews." Mordecai goes to Esther and requests for her to "go in to the king to make supplication to him and plead before him for her people." But Esther tells Mordecai that the king has a decree that "any man or woman who goes into the inner court to the king, who has not been called, he has but one law: put all to death, except the one to whom the king holds out the golden scepter, that he may live." But Esther has "not been called to go in to the king these thirty days."

Then Mordecai replies to Esther. "Do not think in your heart that you will escape in the king's palace any more than all the other Jews. For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father's house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?"

"Who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?" God has put us in places we are. He has planned for us to live where we live and to work where we work. We may be the only Christians God has placed in the lives of the people we meet at home and at work. If we do not witness to these people who will?

We are responsible for those we don't witness to.

Next, we are responsible for those around us.

The Bible talks about acts of commission, where we commit an act against God's law. For example stealing, killing or lying. And the Bible talks about acts of omission, where we omit (or fail to do) the good deeds God commands. For example, honoring our parents, praying and reading the scriptures.

God tells us that we are responsible for others. The husband is responsible for the wife. "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish." Ephesians 5:25-27

The Christian is responsible for his fellow Christian. Galatians 6:2 "Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ."

A man is responsible for his brother. In Genesis 4 after Cain kills Abel the scripture says, "Then the Lord said to Cain, 'Where is Abel your brother?' He said, 'I do not know. Am I my brother's keeper?' And He said, 'What have you done? The voice of your brother's blood cries out to Me from the ground.'"

"Am I my brother's keeper?" The inferred answer is "yes". We are our brother's keeper.

What would you think of the man who had a neighbor dying of a terrible disease, while he had the cure for this disease but never told his neighbor?

The Bible says that "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God".

Do you believe this?

Do you believe that a place awaits sinners that is more terrible than you or I can imagine?

If you really believe this then why don't you witness to your lost friends more often than you do?

Why don't you try to bring up Christ more often in your conversation?

The Bible says that Jesus wept over the city of Jerusalem. When was the last time you wept over your lost friends?

We will have to give an account for our neighbors and friends who never hear the word of God. We are responsible to witness to the lost around us. May God help us to do this!

It is a privilege for us.

Not only are we responsible to witness, but it is a privilege for us to witness. God does not need us. Job 40:6-9 "Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said: 'Now prepare yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer Me: Would you indeed annul My judgment? Would you condemn Me that you may be justified? Have you an arm like God? Or can you thunder with a voice like His?'"

The Shorter Catechism asks the question "Can God do all things?" It answers, "Yes; God can do all his holy will."

God does not need help from us to do anything. Yet God has given us the privilege to be part of his plan as we witness to the lost. We should rejoice at this high calling! "Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, for wisdom and might are His."

What should we expect?

Since we are commanded to witness, what should we expect from our witnessing? What is the outcome of our witnessing?

We should expect two things from our witness:

To be persecuted.

First of all we should we should expect to be persecuted. Romans 8:7 "Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be."

John 15:18-19 "If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you."

John 16:33b "In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world."

Matthew 23:34-35 "Therefore, indeed, I send you prophets, wise men, and scribes: some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute from city to city, that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar."

We can expect persecution from those who we witness to.

God has promised to save through his word.

The Second thing we can expect from witnessing is that men will be saved. "So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it." Isaiah 55:11

I Corinthians 1:18 "For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God." Verse 21 "For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe."

We have God's promise that his word will bear fruit. This should give us hope. Let us not be ashamed or afraid to preach his word.

How can we do this?

We know we ought to witness but how can we do this in light of knowing about the persecution we will gain?

Well there are many things we could say here but I will leave you with just one. We can do this since we are forgiven because of what Christ did on the cross. Christ was first persecuted for us.

Hebrews 12:3 "For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls."

1 Peter 4:12-14 "Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ's sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy. If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified."

We can do this because we know he was first persecuted for us.

Conclusion

1 John 4:2-3 says, "By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God."

This is true of the believer since by the spirit of God we act. If we have Christ's Spirit in us, not only will he witness to us, but we will witness to those who we meet.

Amen!

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