Are You a WITNESS?

“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.” (Acts 1:8)

As we come to Acts 1, Jesus’ earthly ministry was now complete. He was born of a virgin, lived a blameless life, died a vicarious death, and arose from the grave with a glorified body. He had been on earth for 40 days since His resurrection and was now ready to return to Heaven.

The disciples were curious about the future (aren’t we all?). They asked Jesus about the coming kingdom and Jesus basically says, “You are asking the wrong question. Let me lay out your job description.” Acts 1:8 says that every day, believers are to major on telling the world about Jesus. Just think about it. Who told YOU about Jesus? Was it your mother or father? A pastor or Sunday School teacher? Somebody cared enough about you to tell you about Jesus. Now…who have YOU told about Jesus?

We can talk for hours about our favorite sports teams or politics and we are not shy to share our opinions on a host of subjects. But…as a believer…are you doing the job you were given by Jesus? Are you telling others about Him?

Jesus used the word WITNESS to describe our job. Our word witness comes from another noun that means “martyr.” In the days of Jesus, and those that followed soon after, to be a Christian witness could and often did mean death.

In many parts of the world today (2016), it is still very dangerous to be a WITNESS for Jesus Christ. For example, Pastor Han Chung-Ryeol, 49, was brutally murdered on Saturday, April 30, in Changbai, China. Born in China, he pastored a Three-Self Church near the North Korean border and helped countless North Koreans come to know Christ. MURDERED for sharing the message of the Gospel.

When Jesus told us that we would be WITNESSES, He knew the trouble we would endure and yet, spreading the Gospel message to all nations is our job and our task.

Let me quickly share with you three requirements necessary to be a WITNESS.

A witness must KNOW something. Go to any courtroom and look at a witness on the stand. What is the first requirement? A witness must be certain of the facts. If you don’t know anything about the matter before the court…you are not called on to be a witness. The judge is not interested in your opinion about a case…he/she is only interested in what you KNOW about the facts of the case.

The first qualification for a witness of Jesus Christ is the same…he/she must KNOW something. More importantly…he/she must KNOW SOMEONE. In II Timothy 1:12, Paul said, “For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day.”

What is your knowledge of Jesus Christ? Do you have a personal relationship with Him? Before you can ever be a witness of the power of the Gospel, you must first have a relationship with the Savior. Until you have been born again, you have no first-hand knowledge of this power of salvation.

A witness must SAY something. I like to watch true crime dramas on TV. Sometimes you will hear about a witness who comes forward many years after a crime was committed. This person often has a testimony that frees a prisoner from jail. If this person had been a witness at the trial, the prisoner never would have been convicted. This person KNEW the facts but never SAID anything.

To know Jesus Christ and fail to tell others is criminal. What if I knew the cure for cancer but I kept quiet about it? No logical argument nor eloquent persuasive oratory can turn the world upside down; only the simple testimony that Jesus is Savior and Lord can do that. One of the greatest tragedies today is the number of people who MIGHT have been saved if some “Christian” had simply SAID SOMETHING.

Would the people you work with be surprised to know that you are a Christian? Have they ever heard you talk about your relationship with Christ? I’m not talking about inviting them to church…I’m talking about telling them how Christ saved you from your sin and transformed your life. The Bible says, “Let the redeemed of the Lord say so!” (Psalm 107:2)

Finally…A witness must BE something. The story is told of how Gandhi attended a Christian school and was disillusioned. He is believed to have said, “I would have been a Christian if it had not been for Christians.” That certainly is not the ONLY reason Gandhi didn’t accept Christ, but there is certainly enough truth in such a statement to make us examine our way of life.

Back to our courtroom…

If a witness KNOWS something and SAYS something but the opposing attorney has evidence that the witness is not a person of integrity, many times the testimony is not believed. In the same way, you can go to church dressed in your Sunday finest. You can sing and shout the loudest. But if your life doesn’t match your verbose vocalizings…nobody will believe you. Paul says in I Corinthians 13 we are like “sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal.”

So…let us seek to be wise as we witness. Don’t fail to let others know about your relationship with Jesus both through lip and life. And most of all, make sure your WALK matches your TALK.

What kind of witness are you?

Whose Image?

“So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” (Genesis 1:27)

“However every nation continued to make gods of its own, and put them in the shrines on the high places which the Samaritans had made, every nation in the cities where they dwelt.” (II Kings 17:29)

You are probably very familiar with the first verse (Genesis 1:27)…maybe not so much with the second (II Kings 17:29). These two Bible verses present a contrast and a choice: God created people in His image, and people created gods in their image.

After the fall of the northern kingdom of Israel, the king of Assyria made a new policy. He decided that the people had transplanted to the captive province of Samaria ought to embrace the religion of the land. Accordingly, he arranged to send one of the captured priests to the ancient shrine of Bethel to teach these people “how they should fear the Lord” (II Kings 17:28).

It didn’t work! When the government tries to dictate what religion people should have, it seldom works. We end up with what verse 29 says, “every nation continued to make gods of its own.” That’s interesting to me…especially in light of what I observe on the political scene in the United States today.

I think America is at a crossroad. We have a decision to make. Which will it be for us. Will we live as those made in the image of God or will we make gods in our own image? This is our problem. We are struggling to decide who is created in whose image. Is the god we worship merely a projection of ourselves, or is He, as the Psalmist says, “my light and my salvation”?

Let’s think about this for a minute.

Throughout history, men have created gods in their own image. In their mythologies, the Greeks and Romans created gods in their own image. Their gods were not contrasted as being totally different from other people. They conceived of their gods as being like themselves, with the only difference being not in kind but in power.

Listen…that is not REVELATION. That is PROJECTION. I think that’s exactly what is happening in our nation today. People still make gods of their own. Consider the kinds of gods that are created today.

The god of mankind is merely “Superman.” The god we create is merely “the man upstairs” or “the big guy in the sky” or “somebody up there who likes me.” I am convinced there is only one step from this kind of familiarity to idolatry. Too many people in our world only think of God as an easygoing, good-natured, grandfatherly being.

The god of mankind grows and changes. This really bothers me. In simplest of terms, this god created by man hasn’t grown up yet. He is still growing and maturing. Folks who believe this are not suggesting that our ideas of God are developing — that is…or should be true. No…they believe that god, himself is growing and changing and maturing as he learns more about this world and culture. This is demonstrated in the idea that “times change and people change and the Bible is outdated and irrelevant to today’s world.” God just needs to grow up and change with the times.

The god of mankind is subject to manipulation by man. This is the “positive thinking” crowd. They believe religion is nothing more than a sure-fire means of getting whatever you want. God becomes nothing more than a vast reservoir of obedient power that we manipulate for our own purposes.

Perhaps the most popular god of mankind is science. There are many who believe that the answer to all our questions is simply found in science. But I wonder…can somebody who is sick or troubled obtain a sufficient answer from science? Has science taken over a social function that was originally satisfied by faith? Has belief in science replaced belief in God? For some people the answer is yes.

Thankfully, the god of mankind is not the God of the Bible. Genesis 1:27 reminds us that He created us in HIS image. What does that mean? It means many things, but let me highlight just two.

God is a person. Human beings are the only creatures formed after the pattern of the Creator. That is one of the first great truths we learn from the bible. God is a person and all our relationships with Him are personal. He has created every human as a person.

As a person, God has intellectual, moral and spiritual qualities. When He created us (mankind), He gave those same qualities to us. Human beings have a uniqueness that gives us a subtle superiority over the rest of the creation.

Since you and I are created in the image of God, we are rational beings. We have a mind. We have the ability to think. We are created to live by plan and purpose. But “in His image” also means that we are moral beings, free to make moral choices. I often am questioned by people who say, “How could God allow that to happen?” The answer is quite simple. God gave us the right to be wrong. Like it or not, human beings were created by God with the right of self-determination and God continues to respect that gift. We are not puppets who simply do what God demands. We are given the choice of following Him or rejecting Him. But when we reject Him, God also has set in place the law of consequences. There are consequences for the choices we make.

Being created in the image of God means that we are spiritual beings. The Bible is the story of how God has reached out to us through His Son even when we chose disobedience. From Genesis 3:15 forward, the Bible is the story of how God has done for us what we are incapable of doing for ourselves. He has reconciled us to Himself. No amount of work or effort on my part will ever make me righteous in God’s sight. The only righteousness I possess is given to me by God through my relationship with Jesus Christ. I will live in heaven one day with God not because I am a good person, but because Jesus Christ died for me. The God of the Bible is a God of GRACE and MERCY!

This idea of being created in the image of God used to be the prevailing teaching in America. It seems that is not the case today. As believers, we have stepped back and allowed the world to substitute their man-made gods for the one true God. We have a great responsibility today to tell the world that God created us in HIS image and that when you respond to Him in faith and repentance, you are able to walk and talk with God. You can actually have fellowship with your Creator.

That’s Good News and it is desperately needed in our nation and world today.