Randall Caselman

Bella Vista Church of Christ

04/02/2017 A.M.

 

“You Will Be My Witness”

Matthew 5.13-16 Matthew 28.18-20 John 20.21

Acts 1.8 & 8.1-4 2 Corinthians 5.18-19

 

Today... We end our series of lessons on Seven Functions of Godly People.

Seven functions that...

• Set us apart...

• Make us peculiar...

• Seven attributes... Declaring to others that we belong to God...

 

Worship... Holiness... Community... SPIRITUAL maturing... servanthood.... Witnessing... Influence.

 

This morning... We’ll examine this idea of witnessing...

 

There is no doubt that we are called to be witnesses...

The word in the Greek is Martus...

• Our word speaks of one who gives testimony on behalf of another...

• One who brings facts to light... Even at the expense of his or her own life.

The word appears 34 times in the Greek New Testament.

Our King James translates it Witness 29 times... Martyr three times... and record twice.

 

When we speak of Witnessing...

• We’re not talking about telling our story... But His story...

• Telling what we know about Jesus...

• Bringing the facts of Jesus’coming to light...

• Sharing Jesus with another.

• We’re speaking of being evangelistic...

 

Literally...The Greek speaks of one who remembers.

So...We are to be witnesses... We are to tell what we remember about Jesus...What know about Jesus.

 

Our second point is that Witnessing is a direct command from God.

 

Last week we heard Jesus say... You are the salt of the earth... You’re the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.

 

This morning we hear Him say... All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of... All nations... Every creature... Baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit... Teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.

 

In John 20.21... He said... Just as the Father has sent Me... I am sending you.

 

Acts1.8 has Jesus’ final words... You will be My witnesses... In Jerusalem...In Judea and Samaria... And to the ends of the earth.

 

Now...I know in each of these cases... Jesus was speaking to His Apostles...

• But the first church...

• The primitive Christians...

• The early believers...

Understood that this Witnessing Principle was not just for the Apostles only... But for each of them... For all of us!

 

We know this because Acts 8.1-4 tells us that... After Stephen’s death... There arose a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem... And... All... ALL... Except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria. Godly men buried Stephen and mourned deeply for him... And those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went.

 

These early disciples did just what Jesus ask of them... To witness... To tell His story... Share the Good News... To preach the Word.

 

The reason for this witnessing was that they understood Acts 4.12... That Salvation is found in no-one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.

 

I gotta ask this morning... Do we believe Peter’s statement in 4.12 of Acts?...Do we?... Really?  I submit to you... That if we did... If we did... We would become more evangelistic... Amen?

 

Then...We have Paul’s statement in Second Corinthians 5.18 & 19... All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.


In chapter six... Paul says... We are... Co-workers... Co-laborers... Workers together with God... In this matter of sharing… His grace... His favor... His day of salvation.

 

You see... In our witnessing... In this ministry of reconciliation... We become God’s instrument of righteousness... His living sacrifice.

 

WOW...What a concept!!... What a privilege!!..Catch a glimpse of it church!!!.. What an adventure life can be... Should be... when we get up each morning saying...

God use me...

• Place me before those You want me to influence for you today...

• Open my eyes... My heart... My lips...

• Help me... fulfill my mission... My purpose... Make Me Your Witness.

 

The Bible term for this mission is... EVANGELISM... EVANGELISM!

When we hear this term... What do you see?

• Packed suitcases...?

• Airline tickets to faraway lands...?

• We may visualize… Gospel Meetings... Revivals... and door-knocking campaigns.

 

Really...Evangelism doesn’t mean this at all. In the Bible... Evangelism simply meant...

Remembering Jesus...

Sharing the GOOD NEWS...

• TELLING His STORY...

• Demonstrating Jesus by the way we live each day.

 

I think this church just witnessed how NewTestament Evangelism was meant to work in the conversion of McKensie Collins.

Gary Syverson verbally witnessed... Pointing her to Jesus...

He lived Christ before her...

Encouraged her…

He brought her into contact with God’s family...

 

Like Jesus... Gary said...

• Come see how this thing called Christianity works...

• Come see our love...

• Our hospitality...

• Our benevolence...

• Our generosity.

McKensie came... She heard... She expressed her need... The church ran to help... With open arms, you accepted her right where she was... Demanding no explanation.

 

The Bowman family took her aside and... Taught her about Jesus... God’s Grace... Forgiveness... Family... Community... And Heaven.

And she experienced the New Birth in Genuine New Testament Baptism.

It’s called EVANGELISM… witnessing!!

 

Now... What we want to do with the rest of the lesson is

to examine one born to be a witness of Jesus...

John was a strange man...With some unique habits...

But He was created and called to be a witness for Jesus

 

Access a Worship Bulletin... And let’s read John’s story... There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light... And so John came, baptizing in the desert region and preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River. John wore clothing made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt round his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. And this was his message: “After me will come one more powerful than I, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” Then John gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. I would not have known him, except that the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is he who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ I have seen and I testify that this is the Son of God.” The next day John was there again with two of his disciples.When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, “Look, the Lamb of God!”

 

John was awitness...

Let’s see if we can determine why his witnessing was so special...

And perhaps learn how we can improve on our witnessing ministry... Ready?

 

First... We must be Christ-Centered...

John says... He came for a witness... That he might bear witness of the Light...That all might believe through Him. He was not the Light... But came that he might bear witness of the Light.

 

John never once said he was the Light.

You see... John was not concerned with John.

John knew he had to decrease and Jesus increase in popularity… Give me a church filled with people not concerned with self... And we’ll turn eyes of this community... Even the world… Upon Jesus.

 

The early church did just this... Turned the world upside down for Christ.

 

Remember what Jesus said about those who were concerned with self? Those who served God out of a selfish motive... That they received their reward in that moment.

• You see... Being spiritually clever...

• Preaching...

• Teaching...

• Praying...

• Fasting...

• Sacrificing...

• Serving...

• Visiting the sick... Helping the poor...

• Visiting newcomers...

• Rescuing the backslidden and the perishing...

• Encouraging the fallen...

• Witnessing...

To be seen of others... To bring attention to self... Automatically finds the reward within the act...And in the act alone... That’s the only reward!!

 

God does not bless self-centeredness...

But... But... He does bless Christ-centeredness.

 

John the Baptist is our example...

• Seeking no preeminence...

• No prominence...

• No self-glory...

He just spent his life pointing to Jesus... Spent His life saying... Behold the Lamb of God... Come to take away the sins of the world.

 

This was John’s witness; and church... It should be ours... AMEN!!

 

Go with me to Flossenburg, Germany. World War II was about over... It was this time of year... Sunday... April 8, 1945. A small group was huddled in a cell worshipping God together.

• With every song sung...

• With every prayer uttered...

• And every verse quoted... They knew the guards might come take them away... But each of them was willing to take the chance. Finally... The inevitable happened... Two men entered the cell and said... “Prisoner Bonhoeffer come with us.” Dr.Dietrich Bonhoeffer... An influential... Preacher... Writer... And theologian... Was removed from this worship service. He paused at the cell door... Looked at each worshipper in the eye... Saying... “This is the end... But for me it is the beginning of life.” The next morning... April 9, Dietrich Bonhoeffer was hanged in Flossenburg. Eight years later... A plaque was placed in a church building in that same city which read... Dietrich Bonhoeffer... A witness of Jesus Christ among his brethren.

 

What a great way to be remembered by the church… I would like to be like John and Dietrich… To be remembered as an effective witness for Jesus Christ.

 

Secondly...Our witness must be wrapped in truth...

Note with me three things that had little or no effect on John’s convictions…

 

• John was not moved by his own personal preference.

What John wanted did not regulate TRUTH for him… And it should not for us. John didn’t rewrite God’s word… Didn’t interpret it to suit himself… His personal religious preference.

 

• Secondly... John was not guided or strongly influenced by tradition.

John’s Jewish contemporaries... His brethren in the Synagogue... Mainstream Judaism... The Priesthood... Had absolutely no effect on his witness. John was regulated by revealed truth... Not tradition.

 

• Thirdly... Political power... Political clout… Political correctness… Didn’t sway John.

What courage it took to stand before King Herod saying... I must be faithful to God’s Word... You are living in adultery... You have no right to your brother’s wife.

You see... Political correctness was an issue in the day of John the Baptist also. He lost more than his reputation... He lost his head... His life... Because he stood for truth.

 

Church...Are we willing to stand up… with truth?... For truth?

Are we willing to say...

• My witness is not about me and what I want...

• My witness is not about church of Christ tradition...

• It’s not political correctness...

But truth... And I am going to be faithful to it.

 

Are we willing to not be swayed by... Cheap politics... Brotherhood power... Our own personal preferences... But be faithful to the Word?

 

In the Greek... The word translated TRUTH literally means... To be transparent.

When people look at me... Do they see me?... Or do they see Jesus?

Paul said... It’s no longer me you see... But Jesus living in me.

Is my daily LIFEstyle a sermon based on TRUTH?... Or am I living A lie?

Church...The worst kind of witness is speaking truth... AND living a lie.

 

Ellen White said... The greatest need of the world is men who will not be bought and sold... Men who are ... In their innermost souls... True and honest.

• This is the kind of men our country needs...

• The kind of men and women needed in our churches... This church...

• And in our homes...

 

witnesSEs... who will not...

• Sell out to self...

• To religious traditions...

• Nor to political power.

 

God help us be a true witness... Faithful in teaching truth... Faithfully Walking in truth... Amen?

 

Thirdly.... We Must be a committed witness.

Seven times our King James states that John bore witness.

John was willing to point to Jesus... Effecting the demise of his own popularity...He was willing to point to Jesus... Bear witness of Jesus even if it cost him his life.

Our witness for Jesus must become the driving force in our life.

 

Hernando Cortez landed in Mexico with eleven ships in March of 1915. He unloaded over 600 men... Lined them up on the beach... And burned the ships as they watched. Now there was no way of escape... No means of going back. Now... They had no way of leaving… No way of giving up and going home… They were committed to the conquest.

 

You see... Cortez understood what John the Baptist understood... And what we must understand this morning... There is no conquest without commitment... There is no witnessing without our absolute commitment.

 

• Jesus was found saying twice in John chapter fourteen... If you love me... You will keep my commandments... If you love me...You will  obey Me...  You will be My witness.

 

• Paul said in Second Corinthians 5.14... For the love of Christ... Controls us... Compels us... Literally translated the Greek says... The love of God leaves us no choice.

 

• Jesus said... No man... After putting his hand to the plow... And looking back... Is fit for the Kingdom of God.

 

Church...When it comes to Jesus Christ... To our Christian life... We would be better to burn all bridges to this world... Both in front of us... And behind us.

God help us to be a committed witness.

 

Then finally... We must be a consumed with Jesus.

   • John 5.35 says... John was a burning light...  A Shining light.

   • John was… ignited… On fire… For the Messiah... For Jesus.

   • He was willing to be… Spent… Burned out for Christ... To be martyred for truth.

 

In 1956... Jim Elliot was one of four missionaries brutally murdered in SouthAmerica. An entry in his diary before he left for Ecuador says... He makes His minister a flame of fire. Am I ignitable? God deliver me from the dreaded asbestos of other things... Saturate me with oil of the Spirit... That I may be a flame. But flame is transient...Often short-lived… He continues... In me there dwells the spirit of the GREAT SHORT-LIVED... Whose zeal for God’s house consumed him. Lord... Make me Thy fuel... The flame of God.

 

Now church... I didn’t know Jim Elliot... Nor do I know what he believed or practiced doctrinally... But I know that he had the spirit of John the Baptist... A spirit that I pray... one day I will have... AMEN??

 

Christianity is not a spare-time religion... It is not a religion of convenience.

god wants our Christianity to consume us.

He desires that His son… Jesus Christ impact every facet... Every nuance... Every arena of my life. Every single thought and motive must be brought under His control.

 

Indeed... We must be a consumed witness.

 

Our invitation and challenge this morning is to become a John the Baptist Witness... Expressing our faith in Genuine Repentance... Confession of Jesus... And being Born Again in New Testament Baptism.

 

For children of God... May we accept the challenge to make our witness...

More Christ-Centered...

Wrapped in truth...

More committed

and consuming...

As we stand and sing together.