The life of a witness is an open book for all to read and find Christ.
HYMN: MUST I GO, AND EMPTY HANDED?
TESXT: 2 Pet. 1:1-21
Down through the ages many people have claimed to be a witness for Christ. There are some whose claim is based on a true experience of the Lord in our fired by the love of God to live for him. Some others only use religion as a guise to advance their personal causes. If being identified as a Christian proves popular for the moment or serves the purpose, they do not hesitate to ride on this bandwagon. Even though their hearts fail to bear them witness in the claim, they do not hesitate to present themselves as witnesses. These are the sought that use Christ as a front to achieve their ulterior motives.
Some others like the apostles, have a genuine claim. They were with Christ all through his earthly ministry. They were with him when he preached to the multitudes, healed the sick, fed the Thousands showed compassion on the helpless and above all brought the light of God to men’s souls. His prayer life and public ministry was such as they have not seen before. Christ made an indelible impact upon their lives. Writing about their walk with the Lord and His later years, apostle John wrote “that which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon and our hand have handled,.. . Declare we onto you” 1 Jn. 1:1-3. Peter writing in the same vein declared, “for we have not followed cunningly devised fables when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitness of his Majesty” (2 Pet. 1:16).
A witness for Christ today is the man who has experienced his transforming power in the new birth, obeys the great commission and goes to share the wonderful message of the gospel with others. We become living epistles, which men read and testify to the reality of the redeeming power of Christ.
The objectives of this study are:
- To understand who a witness is.
- To identify false witnesses.
- To you know how to remain a faithful witness to the end.
Q1. WHO IS A TRUE WITNESS FOR CHRIST?
By dictionary definition, a witness is a person who had the privilege of being present at the scene of an event, or one who has had a personal experience to which he or she unequivocally can testify. Unlike the apostles, none of us was around to witness the earthly ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ. However, when we were presented with the message of the gospel, God wrought through it the miracle of the new birth in our spirits and we were born again. Like the man born blind in John chapter 9, our eyes were suddenly opened to spiritual realities to which our hearts were hitherto blinded by Sin. Most often, we are unable to contain our joy and excitement. We Feel we must tell somebody about our newfound life. We are filled with zeal that knows no bound and no obstacles or circumstance seems great enough to discourage us. This actually is the beginning of the life of a witness, our message is simple, “once I was a sinner but now I am saved. I am a new man transformed by the power of God”. Our witness however does not end there. We must daily endeavor to share the gospel with those around us and back it up with a life and conduct which confirms our testimony. This is our witness to the watching world.
Q2. WHO IS A FALSE WITNESS?
In the context of our lesson, a false witness is that person who does not know and recognize Jesus Christ as Lord and personal savior and yet wants to be his witness or ambassador. It is only when a man has surrendered himself to the Lordship of Christ that he is commissioned to represent the Lord. This question brings to mind the case of the seven son of Sceva. According to scriptural account (Acts 19:13-17), These men were Vagabond, Jews and exorcist. This description hardly qualified them to be witnesses for Christ. Nevertheless, one day, they confronted a demon possessed man and addressed him thus: “we adjure you by Jesus whom. Paul preacheth”. Their speech betrayed them, they never knew Christ as Paul knew him. They were simply imposters! The evil spirit therefore replied them saying, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but Who are you?” Every Child of God is known and recognized by the kingdom of darkness. These men however lacked authority in the sight of the evil spirits Because they were not of Christ. Hence they could not represent him or issue any command in his name. The result of the encounter was that the possessed man pounced on these men, stripped them naked and drove them onto the street and disgrace. The name of the Lord Jesus was greatly magnified. Any person who seeks to impersonate as a witness, is a false witness and will have the fate of the sons of Sceva, if not worse.
Q3. WHO IS AN INEFFECTIVE WITNESS?
And ineffective witness is one who negates his testimony by a lifestyle that runs contrary to his or her claims. For our Christian witness to be effective, God expects us to make a clean break with our past and live a life that matches our testimony. This was the problem that John the Baptist had with those Pharisees and the Sadducees who came to his baptism. Their life did not add up to their testimony and claim of being new creation. So, he challenged them and said, “Bring forth therefore, fruits meet for repentance” Matt. 3:8. Apostle Paul writing to the Corinthian Christians also challenged their compromising lifestyle. He wrote “unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness and what community hath light with darkness? And what Concord hath Christ with Belial or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?… (2 COR. 6:14-18.). Many in the church today profess their faith in Christ. Their lifestyle however shows that they are still deeply conformed to the world and its practices and their tastes, conversation and general orientation. Although these shortcomings are obvious to these individuals, they often dismiss them with the wave of the hand as not being important. Let us however bear in mind that, nothing harms the Christian cause more than hypocritical living. Those neighbors, colleagues, and acquaintances who are watching us may not be Christians, but they certainly know what to expect from us. If our lives fall below genuine expectations, we can hardly hope to win them to the Lord; no matter how hard we try.
Q4. WHAT IS THE REMEDY FOR INEFFECTIVENESS?
The remedy for ineffectiveness lies in the recognition that we no longer belong to ourselves, rather, we are bondmen and bondwomen to the Lord Jesus Christ. As such we are no longer free to live our lives the way we choose. It is in this light that the word of God admonishes us in 2 Cor. 5:15 thus; “And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which die for them and rose again”. Our utmost desire as Christians should be to please him.
As witnesses for Christ, we are like cities set on a hill. We are no longer free to indulge in the hidden works of darkness. The world is watching us. For this reason, we must watch our conduct that it does not conflict with our testimony. We must allow the life of Christ in us to find expression in our daily lives, so that those watching us would see him in us. There are many folks who may never read the Bible, but God expect them to see Christ in us.
No Christian, no matter how strong-willed, can hope to be an effective ambassador of Christ without the power of the Holy Spirit. When we are filled with the Holy Spirit and our yielded to his leading, He gives us the required enablement to project Christ and our lives; He also empowers us to demonstrate the supernatural power of God in healings, miracles and deliverance. He gives us clear utterance, so that those who hear the word of God are convicted and turn unto God in repentance. Before the day of Pentecost, Peter and the other apostles were fearful secret disciples. They hate themselves for the fear of the Jews. Peter denied knowing the Lord before a mere housemaid. On the day of Pentecost, empowered by the Holy Spirit, this same Peter boldly declare the gospel before an international audience of over 3000 people. He was evidently a new man. The power of the Holy Spirit made all the difference!
The role of prayer in being an effective witness cannot be over emphasized. Prayer is the powerhouse of every believer and hence the axiom “a prayerful Christian is a powerful Christian”. To be effective as witnesses, we must daily seek the Lord in prayer, for fresh anointing and new direction.
Q5. WHAT IS THE MOTIVATING FORCE BEHIND THE LIFE OF A WITNESS?
Different people have their motivation for the things they do. The politician who goes on a campaign trail and spends days and weeks selling promises he is unlikely to fulfill. His fired by the desire to win and occupy and exalted office. The athlete who daily trains and subjects his body to strict diet and rigid training schedules is motivated by the Crown or medal that awaits him at the finishing line, not to mention the handsome financial purses that forms part of the bargain. The businessman who puts in all his capital to finance a venture is encouraged to take a risk by virtue of the huge profits he foresees. The world and its endeavors is driven by the lust for power, positioning gain.
A true witness is first of all motivated by his love for the Lord Jesus Christ. The love of God demonstrated at Calvary is simply beyond human comprehension. Romans 5:8 tells us “but God commanded his love towards us, and that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us”. The preceding verse points out that Karma scarcely would anyone consider dying for even a righteous man. Nevertheless, God sent Jesus to the cross to bear the penalty of our sins that we might receive His pardon. Isaiah. 53-5a, states “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities”. This is the love that constrains us, (2 Cor. 5: 14). As witnesses to give him our best. It constrains us to risk our all, even in our lives to please him.
This same love constrains us also to obey him. And Matt. 28:19-20, the Lord Jesus commanded us to go out and declare the message of the gospel to all mankind. As witnesses we take this command not only seriously but joyously, declaring to all who would listen the proclamation of pardon and liberty purchased for all with the blood of Jesus. The Lord does not expect us to carry out this task about our strength. By the power of the Holy Spirit, we are giving the necessary enablement to be successful witnesses. Speaking with the disciples before he ascended into heaven the Lord Jesus said “but he shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and you shall be witnesses on to me both in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and unto the uttermost part of the (Acts. 1:8)”. It must be mentioned that love for the sinner also motivates us. For we knowing the terror of God, persuade men to Escape hell (2 Cor. 5:11).
Q6. HOW DO WE REMAIN FAITHFUL WITNESSES TO THE END?
Our mission on earth as witnesses is a lifelong assignment. Unless we realize, this, it is very easy for Satan to distract us from our goal. To enable us to remain faithful to our calling, we must learn to maintain a focus. The secret of successful in continuing witness is learning to forget our past accomplishments and pressing on to higher ground (Phil. 3:14-14). In this assignment, a close walk with the Lord is not optional, it is a must. We must seek him daily in prayer and in his word to receive fresh direction. The anointing for yesterday is inadequate for the challenges of today. For each day, if not every moment, the Lord expects us to seek his direction and clearance before making our moves. This way we can “launch into the deep” and make big catches.
As we daily follow his word and counsel, the Lord will show us how to live worthy of our calling (Eph. 4:1). In Matt.4:14-16. The Bible tells us that we are the light of the world. The Lord expects us to keep the light brightly burning and when men see this light, they glorify God. We keep our testimony alive by examining our lives in the light of the Scriptures. This mirror shows us our fallings and as we seek God’s forgiveness and cleansing, our lives remain fresh with the fragrance of Christ that draws man to him. In conclusion, we must remember that there is a crowd to be Won. This is not a crown of mere olive branches that soon dries up and fades away. It is the crown of life which the Lord has promised to all who love him and look forward to his soon appearing.
Daily Living Application:
In these end times, the cause to be witnesses for Christ is as urgent as when the Lord issued the command two thousand years ago. The Lord would want every believer to commit himself/herself to his goal and heed the call since there are immense prospects. When we witness effectively for the Lord, souls are won, the church grows in numerical strength, shrinking the territory of the kingdom of darkness. The positive effect of these changed lives in society cannot be fully estimated. It is however sufficient to mention that our obedience to this call produces regenerated souls that are heaven- bound, Man and woman that exert godly influence on our homes, churches, government in public institution. The very thought that our effort is really making such impact, further drives us on to be witnesses for the Lord. For this labor, there are eternal rewards. Apart from the crown of life that awaits us in heaven, the righteousness shall shine as the stars for ever and ever in God’s kingdom (Dan. 12:3b).
“for we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard”.
Daily Devotional Guide:
Monday: Be in ambassador of Christ.
2 Cor. 5:20, Matt. 28:18-20
Tuesday: Danger of being a false witness.
Matt. 20: 7-15; Acts. 19: 13-70
Wednesday: Danger of being any in in effective witness.
Num. 23 and 24
Thursday: Benefit of an effective witness.
1 Tim. 4:6- 8; Rev. 2:1-7
Friday: You need the Holy Ghost for witnessing.
Acts. 1:6-8; Joel 2:28-32
Saturday: You too can be a witness of Christ’s glory.
Acts 9:1-6; 10:1-48