It is definitely a privilege to be given an opportunity to share God’s word to all of you today. I must admit this fact that when I chose this topic I did not realize that God would reveal so much to me and bring to memory things which I ought to remember every day. So, as I stand here before you, I stand here as one who needed to hear this message. A couple of Fridays ago, we had the opportunity of going over Christian witnessing. We talked about the “what” of Christian witnessing, in the sense of – “what is it that we witness about”. We established that we witness about the person, who is Our Lord Jesus Christ. We witness about the events surrounding him or accomplished by him. We also witness about the implications that these events have. We mainly focus around the cross- His death, his burial and his resurrection and the salvation that it brings to a dying world. Let me make this clear- What is the Gospel?
The Bible declares that, all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. It further states that though the wages of sin is death, the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus. It also tells us that “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. Rom 10:9 -If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
Now that we understand what the gospel is, I want to talk about the “why”. Knowing this truth, why does a Christian have to witness? Why do we witness to the World? I believe we all ought to have this defined to ourselves. We all ought to be convicted by this why? There has to be something that hits me dead center into my very being to be a witness for Christ and to have a testimony for Christ. There has to be this reasoning. I have been able to break this down in to 3 different points.
- Christ asks us to -The Command
- Christ’s love compels us to – The Compassion
- Christ receives Glory – The Credit
Before, I go into those 3 points I need to establish something to all of us here. We are all witnesses whether you like or not. If you say you follow Christ, You are a witness and the world is looking at us and listening to what we have to say.
There are two points in being a witness – Your witnessing and your testimony. Witnessing is an active role. What I mean to say is that, witnessing is where you share the gospel and what Jesus Christ has done in your life. Whereas your testimony is basically what the world testifies about you. In the sense that, they say – There is something different about him/her. He doesn’t swear, she doesn’t lie, and He doesn’t steal etc. And I want to know more about this God that they keep talking about! Your testimony gives your witness the creditability; otherwise, your witnessing has no value. They go hand in hand.
So, Now that we have established that, I want to go in to the 3 reasons I mentioned in the beginning, behind why we should witness
So, why do I have to witness? It is because Jesus asks us to, The Command.
When Jesus walked this earth, there was a time where he shared to his disciples a truth – An important fact. Turn with me to John 14:15. And as you turn to it, I am going to give you a context for this passage. Jesus was sharing with his disciples that he would be betrayed and that Peter would deny him. He then goes on to comfort his disciples telling him that he was going away to prepare a place for them and he would send the holy spirit. And this is what he shared.
John 14:15 –”If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”
Jesus clearly tells his disciples that “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”
Christ brings the spot light to us in this situation as well, for those of us who claim to follow him and love him. He clearly states that if you obey my commands, this shows me if you love me. It is as simple as that. You know what some of us might do, and I fall into this category. We know the Command, but we don’t keep it. I will draw an example for you. My father comes to me and asks me to clean my room. I say ok. He comes to me 30 minutes later. Nishanth, Clean your room. And he goes away. He comes back 5 hrs later and he asks me, Nishanth, you didn’t clean your room- I asked you to. I say, I didn’t clean my room, but I memorized what you told me.
We do that, don’t we? We know Scripture, we memorize scripture but we don’t keep it. Jesus looks at us and says- it’s great you know what I commanded you to do, but I am asking you to do it. Not, come back to me and recite the commands that I told you.
I would like you all to turn to Jesus’ last words before he ascended into heaven.
Luke 24: 45-48 – Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.
Luke accounts what happens before Jesus Christ ascended to Heaven. He pens down the last words of Jesus to his apostles. Here we can understand that this is the last Command that Jesus gives his disciples – That repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations.
I John 2:1-6 – My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.
I am going to take out a few points from this verse.
- Anyone who says he knows Jesus and does not keep his commandments is a liar.
- Whoever abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which Jesus Christ walked.
The spot light is put on us again. I think we ought to take these verses very seriously. I think it is also very important to remember that this verse states that “He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.” Jesus Christ has paid for our sins. He has satisfied God’s wrath against us. This is not something we keep to ourselves and not share to the world! It states but for the sins of the whole world. We ought to share this truth that we have come to experience. The gospel of salvation!
We have to understand a couple of things when it comes to our salvation. This is a reminder for us here.
- Understanding the wickedness of your sins and how filthy and nasty these sins are in front of a “very very Holy God”. You have to understand that
- Understanding that these sins have given you a death Sentence.
- God loved the whole world that he gave up his only son. His Son paid the price for us. He died for us.
- Repenting of these sins which is taking a 180 degree turn away from your past life and understanding the price that was paid on the Cross by Jesus.
- Making Jesus Christ the lord and master of your live! Do you know what it means to be bought out of the slave market of Sin? We are not slaves to Sin anymore but are purchased by God! There was a price to be paid. We are slaves to God! And as God as our master we ought to obey his commands.
It states that – Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him. That is quite the statement.
This is what scripture states. If you claim to love Christ and Claim to follow him, you will keep his commandments. Being his witness is one of the commandments he has given us. If we claim to know him and claim to love him, and claim to abide in him – Christ says we will keep his commands. We are witnesses of Christ because we obey his commands by being a witness through our words and our lifestyle.
Now that we have gone over the command, I want to move on to the compassion.
I am going to ask you all to visualize a scene that I am going to describe.
“It is late in December. A large family gathered in Hamilton for the joyous occasion of wrapping Christmas presents. There were so many gathered that night, the children slept in the garage. It was a converted garage, kept warm during the cold night by an electric heater which sat by the door.
During the early hours of the morning, the heater suddenly burst into flames, blocking the doorway. In seconds the room became a blazing inferno. The frantic 911 call revealed the unspeakable terror of the moment. One of the children could be heard screaming, “I’m on fire!” The upset father unsuccessfully rushed into the flames to try and save his beloved children. He received burns to 50% of his body. Tragically, all five of the children burned to death. They died because steel bars on the windows of the garage blocked their escape. There was only one door, and that was stopped by the flames.
You are back in time. Its minutes before the heater burst into flames. You peer through the darkness at the peaceful sight of sleeping youngsters. You know that at any moment the room is going to explode into flames, and burn the flesh of horrified children. Can you in good conscience walk away? No! You must awaken them, and warn them to run from that death trap!”
The world sleeps peacefully in the darkness of their ignorance. There is only one Door by which they may escape death. The steel bars of sin prevent their salvation, and at the same time call for the flames of Eternal Justice. What a fearful thing Judgment Day will be! The fires of the wrath of Almighty God will burn for eternity. The Church, The church has been entrusted (You and me) with the task of awakening them before it’s too late. We cannot turn our back and walk away in complacency. We are called to show compassion to a world that is in danger and does not know it.
There are few who bring the precious Gospel to a world covered in darkness. Some of you might think that this illustration is too gory or harsh. I can’t picture children getting burned…But in fact, this is nothing compared to what the Bible describes of the impending doom for those who have not accepted God’s gift in their lives! How can we be quiet when we come and worship every Sunday of God’s saving grace … and not show compassion to our families? How can we be quiet and not share the gospel to our friends, our co-workers? The people we encounter every day?
We show Compassion to the world by witnessing to them Christ and living a lifestyle that upholds our witness. Take the example of Paul; He lived a life that would not hinder the Gospel.
Do you know Christ commands his disciples to abide in him? But in doing so, he brings out the fact that the world will probably hate them. The reason being – they would not be of the world. This applies to us as we are followers of Christ. We are not of the world. We have been called out by Christ. He states that just as he was hated, we would be too. I know at times we tell ourselves, why do I have to show compassion to people who hate me and mistreat me or scorn me? Why do I need to share the gospel to them?
We know Christ commands us to love our enemies. He doesn’t just ask us to love one another as brothers and sisters in Christ, but he goes well and beyond that to say – Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. John 3:16, states “For God so loved the world”, not just a set group of people. There was no distinguishing between those who are worthy or not worthy through human eyes. So are we called to love the world around us!
We are called to show compassion to the world around us. We were no different than them at one time. We stood against God. We were enemies to God. We are not here to pick and choose who we share the gospel to. It is not about who we think deserves to hear the gospel. Through our lifestyle and our witness, we will tell them about this free gift of God. Whether they choose it or not, is not up to us.
What does Romans 5: 8 say – “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
Do you see how it ties together? How the command and the compassion go hand in hand? We display our love for Christ by obeying his command which asks us to love one another. Not just our brothers and sisters in Christ but the world that hates us. We are called to have the heart that Jesus Christ displayed on the cross – Where he gave up his life for us, who at one point were enemies of God. Do not forget that once we were enemies of God.
We have to understand that we were once shown compassion. Someone’s path crossed ours. Someone stepped out and gave a helping hand by sharing the gospel to us. Who showed us the error of our ways and where we were heading.
The Apostle Paul said, “Woe unto me, if I preach not the Gospel”. Do you know what that means? It means, let me go through intense suffering, misery, grief and sorrow if I do not share the gospel! He had a heart for people who had not heard the Gospel. This is what Christ expects from us – That we show love to the whole world just as I did on the cross. His love should compel us.
Romans 9:1-3 – “I tell the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit, that I have great sorrow and continual grief in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh.”
We can see that Paul has this immense burden for those who have not heard the gospel. Does not the love of Christ Compel us to share the gospel to our family, friends, co-workers and people we encounter every day? The love that we have for one another is what we can call a litmus test for us to see the work of Christ in our lives. The compassion for the world around us is part and parcel of being a follower of Christ.
Now that we have gone over the two reason as to why we out to witness, I am going to cover the last but most important reason. The last reason is the credit. When I say credit, what I mean is glory. The reason we are witnesses through our lifestyles and our words is because at the end, God will be glorified. I want you all to turn to.
Matthew 5: 13 – 15 “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”
The context of this passage is where Christ is speaking to his disciples and he has just shared with them the beatitudes. He then proceeds to tell his disciples that they are the salt and light of the world. He tells them that they are the light that shines in this world. This passage applies to those who follow Christ. We are the salt and light of the world. That is what our purpose is! Not to be hidden. Our lives ought to shine bright outside of our homes and our churches! The reason is so that the world will see our good works and give our Father in heaven Glory!
Ephesians 2: 9-10 – “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
What does this verse tell us? We have been saved by grace through faith, it is not by ourselves. It is the gift of God… We are saved first and we are saved to be God’s handiwork… created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do! This is something we ought to understand! We are God’s workmen. He has called us out for good works. He has prepared this in advance for us to do! This brings him and him alone glory!
You see God has picked us out and has given us an occupation if you would say so. In fact, if you can turn with me to –
2 Corinthians 5:17-20 – Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
So, what does this mean? What does this verse tell us? If you claim to be in Christ, you are a new creation, you are God’s ambassadors for Christ! God appeals to the world through us! An ambassador represents the King and the Kingdom. An ambassador will be faithful to the king and country that sent him. Every time you do something good and any time you do something bad, it goes towards the King and the Kingdom. God has given us the ministry of reconciliation. This is his desire that he has placed before us and when you share the gospel and people are saved, the credit and the glory go to the king.
If you claim to follow Christ, you are called to be an ambassador – who is a witness and has a great testimony before a world that is watching.
I hope that by going over these 3 points we can establish the reasons behind why we witness and what it means to be a follower of Christ. We obey Christ’s command, we love one another and in everything we do, we do to bring Glory to God. That is our sole purpose if I may say so.
- The Command we ought to follow
- The Compassion we ought to show
- The Credit or Glory we ought to bring
Has Jesus Christ had such an impact in our lives? Do we not have our Lord’s voice commanding us to share his word? Do we not have the heart to reach out and show compassion to the world? Do we have no desire to bring glory to OUR FATHER in heaven?
How many of you have heard of the story of Charles Peace?
Charles Peace was a career criminal in England in the 1800s. He committed numerous burglaries and was ultimately convicted and hanged for murdering a man. Charles made this statement to a reverend that visited him prior to his execution. It was the reverend’s job to give Peace the opportunity to confess his crimes and save his soul prior to his execution. This is what he said.
“Sir, I do not share your faith. But if I did – if I believed what you say you believed – then although England were covered with broken glass from coast to coast, I would crawl the length and breadth of it on hand and knee and think the pain worthwhile, just to save a single soul from this eternal hell of which you speak.” ~Charles Peace
Apparently, the reverend provided this type of service for the prison regularly. It might have become, somewhat, routine to him. Apparently, this was obvious to Charles Peace. The reverend’s passion and commitment to his faith obviously did not shine through to Charles. He was not convincing.
Would you crawl over broken glass?
Do you know that during the first century church, Followers of Christ would constantly talk about Jesus? The impact that Jesus had in their lives was so huge that all they could talk about is Jesus. Jesus, Jesus, Jesus. The people around would ask them. Who is this Jesus? He is the Christ, Christ, Christ, Christ. Followers of Jesus were always talking about the Christ, the messiah, the Son of God –This was their witnessing and their lifestyle was a great testimony to uphold their witness. That is how they got the name Christ – ians. How about us? I think we fall short in comparison to our brothers and sisters who lived during the times of the apostles.
I am going to end this with one last statement that Charles Spurgeon once said.
He said, “Have you no wish for others to be saved? Then you are not saved yourself. Be sure of that.” He continues saying, “The saving of souls, if a man has once gained love to perishing sinners and his blessed Master, will be an all-absorbing passion to him. It will so carry him away, that he will almost forget himself in the saving of others. He will be like the brave fireman, who cares not for the scorch or the heat, so that he may rescue the poor creature on whom true humanity has set its heart. If sinners will be damned, at least let them leap to hell over our bodies. And if they will perish, let them perish with our arms about their knees, imploring them to stay. If hell must be filled, at least let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let not one go there unwarned and unprayed for.”