Tuesday, April 20, 2010

“Evangelist” vs. “Witness” - 2of2

~ All Christians Are Witnesses ~

Last week we looked at the three New Testament references related to “evangelism.” This time we summarize the numerous New Testament references regarding “witnessing.”

First, consider a clear statement: “You [all Christians] will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you [all Christians]; and you [all Christians] will be My witnesses” (Acts 1:8). All Christians are His witnesses whether they intend to be or not! In other words, you cannot change God’s character—but you can sure damage His reputation!

Throughout the Bible all saints are repeatedly exhorted to be witnesses, and by implication all are exhorted to speak forth. But as we have seen, there is a difference between witnessing and evangelizing. There are many places in Scripture where witnessing is a clear command to all Christians.

In the Old Testament we find that “witness” is always a singular term because it referred to a single entity, the nation of Israel. Just as CHRISTians bear CHRIST's name today, in the Old Testament Israel carried God's name. For example, we listen to Solomon's great prayer of dedication, “... so that all the peoples of the earth may know Your name and fear You, as do Your own people Israel, and may know that this house I have built bears Your Name” (1 Kings 8:43b). In those days the unbelievers sought out the Israelites, who were God's witnesses.

In the New Testament we find that the Church is to go to the unbelievers, such as in the passage previously quoted (Acts 1:8). We cannot expect the unbeliever to come to us today, any more than a business with a better mousetrap can expect customers to beat down their doors. In the New Testament we find that “witnesses” are often plural. This is because individual Christians are all to be witnesses.

What is a witness? A witness tells about something which they have personally experienced! To witness about Christ one does not have to be a theologian. “One thing I know, once I was blind but now I can see” (John 9:25). You can do that! You already have everything you need to witness. Monday coffee breaks often find people witnessing about what they did over the weekend, whether attending a sports event, a concert, a party, or an outdoor activity. It is natural to witness about that which one is excited about. The key question then becomes: “Are you excited about Christ and what He has done for you?” If not, the problem is an issue of the heart rather than the intellect!

When your faith has vitality, witnessing becomes as natural as breathing. What the Church needs is Christians who are growing and maturing in such a way that their lives are marked by “life abundant” and true joy.

The disciples never claimed to be evangelists for Christ; however, we frequently read that they considered themselves to be God's witnesses on earth. For example, Peter says “we are witnesses” in Acts 10:39. God has always had His representatives on earth.

The great paradox is that the excitement of the early Christians for witnessing resulted in their communities being evangelized! Evangelism and witnessing go hand-in-hand but they are distinguished from each other. Be bold in your witness about Christ and what He has done for you, and God will bless you.

CONTEMPLATE: All Christians are witnesses, and sometimes they use words! You cannot change God’s character—but you can damage His reputation.

1 comment:

  1. I love the quote 'All Christians are His witnesses whether they intend to be or not! In other words, you cannot change God’s character—but you can sure damage His reputation!

    I think this should be a food for thought for all christians'. Thanks for sharing this. God bless