We Are His Witnesses
you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth NKJV
When Jesus left this world the job of telling the gospel fell to His disciples. They actually had a better story than did Jesus/ Jesus could not relate all the wonders of His death and resurrection. But the disciples hd lived it.
They had seen the one they loved and had dedicated their lives to put to death. They considered Him the Messiah, the Anointed One spoken of in the sacred writings of the Old Testament. But they had seen Him arrested and lead away as a common criminal. They had witnessed His death. This brought them to despair for they had invested their lives in a man who was now dead.
But then Jesus was raised from the dead. They all had seen Him. They had once again listened to Him teach and give them the commission we have read today. Now He was ascending to heaven and leaving the world in their hands. The next generation of Christians was now their responsibility.
They were faithful to their calling. They proclaimed boldly that Jesus was raised from the dead and was now in heaven. They were persecuted for their faith. Most of them would die for their witness. But they succeeded. Covering the then known world with the message of the gospel. They changed their world and over threw the most powerful empire the world has ever known. How did they do that? Can we do it too?
I. They were witnesses of what they had seen and experienced.
A. You can’t be a witness of what you have only heard of second hand.
1. Years ago there was a Christian song making the rounds that went something like this.
2. If I were to tell you what someone told me, then I might miss a detail or two. For when you describe something you didn’t see then your never quite sure that its true. But what we have seen with the eyes of our soul and with fingers of faith we can feel, we can feel. Makes me sure that He loves me. . . . (I don’t remember)
B. In order to be a witness you must have first hand knowledge.
1. When they had the big trial here across the street they didn’t call me to be a witness.
2. They were not interested in what I had heard around town or up at the coffee shop.
3. The only ones who could testify were those who had first hand knowledge in the case.
4. If you have been trying to tell others about the Jesus you hear about at church then it will never work.
5. You can’t witness for Jesus on second hand knowledge.
C. Let me witness to you for a minute.
1. My witness is not based on what I learned in seminary.
2. My witness is not based on what some preacher told me years ago.
3. My witness is not based on what I read in some one of the books of my library.
4. I read the Bible for years before I became a witness, because I wasn’t yet qualified to be a witness.
5. I went to church for years before I had anything to be a witness of.
6. But when Jesus came into my heart, when God made me a new creature in Christ Jesus, I had a story to tell.
7. I told my younger brother and saw the same thing happen to him.
8. I saw my youngest sister come to church as a young girl one Easter Sunday and giver here heart to Jesus.
9. I have got to talk to people who all their lives they have not lived for God and when I told them how God changed me and explained how God wanted to change them. I saw God change that person before my eyes and give them a hope they never before had known.
10. And like the song I mentioned earlier, I know God is real for, “his Holy Spirit speaks to us deep in our hearts and tells us that we are God's children. Rom 8:16 NLT
11. I have seen God change lives in ways for which there is not a human explanation.
II. They were passionately involved in their witness.
A. They had been overtaken by it, possessed by it.
B. There was an inner compulsion to plead the merits of Jesus to others.
C. “For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard." Acts 4:20 NKJV
III. Their lives were consistent with their witness.
A. They could not preach the transforming power of God and not live a changed life.
1. There are no instances of those first witnesses not being able to consistently live the life they proclaimed.
2. The transformation was complete.
IV. They were willing to die rather than renege on their story.
A. The English word witness is used to translate the Greek word MARTUS
1. NT:3144 martus (mar'-toos); of uncertain affinity; a witness (literally [judicially] or figuratively [genitive case]); by analogy, a "martyr": Strong's Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary.
2. In the KJV it is even translated once Martyr in Rev 2:13, “And you hold fast to My name, and did not deny My faith even in the days in which Antipas was My faithful martyr, who was killed among you” NKJV
3. In the books of the Maccabees the idea of witnesses being willing to die for their testimony is seen.
4. But it come into full view in the first years of the new dispensation.
B. I was reading a account the other day of a pastor from China, who had suffered much for his testimony for Jesus. He was speaking to an American businessman. He asked the American how he witnessed for Jesus at work. The American informed the pastor that he could not do that or else he would be sued. To which the pastor from China responded, “So?”
1. People all over the world are being persecuted for their faith yet in America where we only have to worry about verbal abuse we often remain silent.
2. I was reading this past week of several people in just such cases.
3. On June 10, 2004, the family of Sung A. Trang became Christians. The other families living in Ho Su Pan hamlet awakened one morning to watch Sung, with his wife Ma Thi Sao and their two daughters, dragging the altars they had used to pray to their ancestors outside. They also quit their animal sacrifices and heavy drinking. Twenty days later the Su Pan village police of Sa Pa district interrogated Trang. They demanded that he place his fingerprint on a sheet of accusations, but he refused. The chairman of the village (a communist) asked him, "Why do you refuse to worship your ancestors and now follow the Protestant church?" He boldly replied, "I refuse to be dominated by the ghosts of my ancestors. It is better to follow the Lord." The authorities asked him, "Do you listen to the radio?" Trang said, "I don't have a radio, but I listen to one in another house." (VOM buys radios for Hmong Christians and others to listen to Far East Broadcasting–FEBC–gospel broadcasts in their own language.)
Trang was then taken to a school that was temporarily empty and being used as a prison where he was held with 16 other Christians. After a week he escaped one night from the prison and hid in the mountains for three days. Then he went back to his home but would not hide. He began to pray. He was concerned about his other relatives who were also arrested and in the prison. The government does not feed most prisoners.
The night of July 12th, he courageously crept up to the hack area of the prison-school carrying some cooked rice. His wife's brother, another new Christian, had also been captured. Four guards grabbed Trang as he walked across the yard. They screamed and cursed at him, pushing him into a room alone.
The afternoon of July 14th, they interrogated him again. Sung A. Phu asked him to give the location of other Christians in North Vietnam. "Do you know where Phong is in Hanoi?" Brother Trang replied, "I haven't seen him." The chairman beat Trang in the face until blood flowed from his nose and mouth onto his shirt and the ground. Then the vice-chief of the village police slapped Trang. Grabbing his shirt, the policeman picked him up off the ground, screaming that he must give up information or be beaten again. Trang's face was swollen. The men cursed and abused him until 8:00 that night. After they released him. he could not eat for two days.
4. Four-Year-Old Prisoner for the Lord
Luk Say Si is a Christian boy in Laos. When he was 4 years old, government officials came to the village where he lived with his parents and three sisters. The officials tried to force the villagers to deny Christ. They came to Luk's house and took away his family's Bibles. But the family continued to worship God secretly in their home. Luk's father, Poh, would also visit nearby villages to encourage the Christians there.
One day the officials came to Luk's home while his mother and sisters were gone.
They arrested Poh because of his Christian activities. Since no one was at home to care for Luk, they put him in jail with his father!
The owner of their rented home threw all the family's belongings out of the house. After three days, Luk's mother was allowed to come to the jail and get him, but his father, Poh, had to stay. Luk went with his mother and sisters to his grandparents' village. When his grandparents would not help them because Luk and his family were Christians, the village leader sent them into the rice fields to live.
Luk's mother had no work to do, and his sisters could not go to school. So every day for five months, they read the Bible, prayed, and sang. They reminded each other that God was taking care of Poh.
Finally, Poh was released from jail. The family returned to the village where Luk and Poh had been arrested. They continue to share the Good News with others around them.
"Whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven." —Matthew 10:32
“ Finally, something must be said about the importance of the witness motif for contemporary preachers and communicators of the Christian message. In this connection three features may be mentioned.
“ First, witnesses are passionately involved in the case they seek to present. They have been apprehended by it, and so they have an inner compulsion to plead its merits with others. Like their first-century predecessors, they cannot but speak of what they have seen and heard.
“ Secondly, witnesses are held accountable for the truthfulness of their testimony. Perjury was, and still is, a serious offence punishable by heavy penalties. This solemn sense of being responsible under God for speaking truthfully appears in Paul, who four times declares, "God is my witness". Applied to preachers, this means that they are driven back to the Scriptures as the standard whereby their witness is to be judged.
“ Thirdly, witnesses must be faithful not only to the bare facts of the Christ-event, but also to their meaning. This entails presenting Christ and his message in the significance which genuinely belongs to them. "What that character is lies to our hand in the NT Scriptures. . . . To be faithful witnesses we must ever keep before us and (in the course of our regular congregational preaching) before our hearers, the fully rounded, finely balanced, many-sided yet unitary, significance of Christ" (N. Alexander, "The United Character of the New Testament Witness of the Christ-Event", in H. Anderson and W. Barclay, eds., The New Testament in Historical and Contemporary Perspective, 1965, 32 f.; cf. A. M. Hunter, The Unity of the New Testament, 1943). A. A. Trites NIDNTT