Key Principles for the Church: # 2 - - WITNESS
Key Principle #2: WITNESS (part 1)
6 Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7 And He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. 8 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."
Lawyers and judges say that one of the most convincing (but sometimes least accurate) evidences you can bring to a trial is to have an eyewitness of an event, depending of course on the reliability and believability of the witness.
Luke researched the gospel and also the book of Acts by going to eyewitnesses of the events. I think it is extremely important that Luke says several times that Mary “pondered these things in her heart.” How would he know that unless he spoke directly to her?
The use of witnesses by Dr. Luke was very important to him and it is also important to God today. God gives us dunamis power (Principle #1) for many reasons, but the ultimate reason is so that we can be a witness both verbally and demonstratively in our lives. This leads us to see that giving a testimony about our faith is the second key principle found in the book of Acts. The Greek word for witness is martyr and the English word martyr signifies the most radical form of witnessing: to testify so strongly that you suffer and possibly even die for your faith.
If being a witness is so important and was so import to Luke and to Christ, who said, “You shall be my witnesses,” what, then, stops us from being a good witness for our faith? Another word for witness can be a testimony or a proof to the world, or in the case of Acts 1:6, in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the ends of the earth, that Jesus is who said he was. So there may be several reasons that stop us from being a witness or a proof for Christ, but none of reasons are good reasons. There are at least three reasons that come to mind why the early disciples could have used for failing to be a witness.
Today’s blog will look at the first reason some use: Excuses.
Don’t Let Excuses Stop You From Witnessing
Don’t let excuses keep you from witnessing. Someone has defined an excuse as "a skin of a reason stuffed with a lie." Some people erroneously think that only certain people are spiritually gifted to witness, and others are called for other things, such as service, mercy, teaching, giving, exhortation, pew-sitting. Yes, some people think that pew-sitting is their spiritual gift. A few of those people think that they are only called to sit on a certain pew and no one else better sit there, especially a visitor.
Someone said in a class the other day, "I can't get up and speak. I'm no Moses." I immediately said to him, "Moses wasn't a Moses either." He immediately knew what I was meaning. Heroes like Moses, or in today's reading, Peter, were not some supernatural saints. Peter was a fisherman. Moses was a shepherd. The only thing that can keep us from being a witness is an excuse.
The gift of an evangelist is a spiritual gift, but it’s not just the evangelists who are called to evangelize. The overwhelming preponderance of Scriptures shows that it is the entirety of the body of the church who is called to witness. In the last 20 or so years in which I have served in the full-time ministry, I’ve learned one thing (well, I hope I have learned more than one thing): I came across many more people in the ten years of secular work who were unsaved than in the years of full-time ministry work I’ve done. The reason being is that when you are in the full-time, vocational ministry, almost everyone you come across is already saved. The co-workers are saved (at least for the most part). The friends that you have in the ministry are mostly all saved.
Now it is true that when you are in the ministry you get some opportunities to see people in an unsaved environment but the situation is not as natural as it would be if you were not in the full-time ministry. Sooner or later in a social setting, and most of the time it is sooner, people will ask you, “So what do you do for a living?” and no matter how you phrase it, the people pretty soon pigeon hole you as being a minister. My great-grandfather, who was a preacher and county minister for Parker and Palo Pinto counties, would share, “Well, I sell fire escapes.” But even with that line, pretty soon people figure it out.
It’s like the phrase I once heard about being a Texan. You can always tell a Texan, but you can’t tell him much. Well it’s true of ministers too, you can always tell a minister, but you can’t tell him much.
People have an opinion of you that a minister is "paid to be good' and in many cases, the ministers are over paid for the little amount of good they do. You may laugh at that, but does that mean everyone else who is not a paid minister is "good for nothing"?
I hope you and I are both "good for nothing". I hope that your minister would be just as good if he wasn’t paid by a church as he would be if he was. But on behalf of all ministers everywhere, if you are a part of the budget and finance committee, don’t let your minister be "good for next to nothing". Pay your minister as an esteemed member of the body of Christ and pay him well because the Bible says that the laborer is worthy of his hire.
Even if it were true that ministers come across more opportunities to witness, to leave witnessing and evangelism only to the clergy would still be unscriptural and it still wouldn’t be right.
The people who say witnessing is not for everyone are people who generally don’t want to be obedient to the Scriptures and as a result as we saw this morning, they don’t experience the full power of God. Notice that Jesus says “you shall be witnesses to me.” He doesn’t say, “You can be witnesses to me” or “you may be witnesses to me;” He says you SHALL BE witnesses to Me. You’ll either be a good witness or a bad witness but you will be a witness.
There are those who want to be a witness in their Jerusalem, but they either don’t want to or cannot go to Judea, Samaria or to the end of the earth. You don’t necessarily have to be a goer, you can be a sender. That’s what the missionary offerings are for. In all of my missionary journeys, someone else has always helped send me in part or in whole, either financially, spiritually, prayerfully or emotionally through encouragement.
On the other hand, there are some people who will go across the globe to be a witness for Christ on a mission trip but they won’t go across the street. They will go around the world, but not around the corner. God has called each of us to be a witness for Christ.
Don't let a "skin of a reason stuffed with a lie" keep you from being a witness.