My Musings – God has commissioned us to share the Gospel, so that others may know the way they can inherit eternal life. We should view this as a privilege, for that is what it really is. Not so much a command as it is an opportunity to share the best news anyone could ever hear.
People usually cannot wait to share a piece of good news with others or to introduce new friends to old friends. In the same way, we should be very eager to share the Gospel and to introduce others to the Savior. To play whatever part we can in rescuing them from eternal separation from God. Yet all too often we are hesitant to do so. Perhaps this is because we fear rejection and ridicule. Whatever the reason, we sometimes let our burden over these fears overcome our burden for the lost.
But it is not just failing to speak out when we should that prevents us from being the witnesses that we should be. It is also the way that we live our lives. Our external behavior is not always as consistent as it should be with the internal change that has taken place in us. So, if we dared to speak up to share our faith, would our testimony be credible based upon the evidence of how we live our lives day-to-day? The sad reality is that when we fail to speak out when we should, or when our conduct is inconsistent with our professed faith in Christ, we are actually being a witness – a poor one. This is certainly not the legacy we want to leave with our friends and family.
Apart from the rule of law itself, attorneys have two primary tools at their disposal when presenting their case before a judge or jury. The first tool is the personal testimony of a witness that is offered in support of the case being presented. The second tool is physical evidence that corroborates the case that has been presented. In a court proceeding there is also an adversary, an opposing attorney who will attempt to impugn the integrity and veracity of the witnesses and contradict or call into question the credibility of the evidence.
When it comes to faith in Christ, the Gospel is the case that is being presented. The Holy Spirit is the “attorney” that is presenting (convicting) the case. He uses believers as witnesses to testify about their own personal knowledge and beliefs (this is what I believe and this is why I believe it). He uses the Scriptures as the evidence to support His case (fulfilled prophecy, empty tombs, historical record of contemporaneous eyewitness accounts, etc.). The adversary, of course, is Satan. The individual lost soul is their own judge and jury, and this “courtroom” drama plays out in the conscience of every individual.
As it relates to our roles as personal witnesses, we must be prepared to testify when called to the “stand.” In the meantime, we need to make sure that the lives we are living will be consistent with the truth that we proclaim.
We must not only “talk the talk,” we must “walk the walk.”
The adversary the devil will take every opportunity to show that what we do does not support what we say. At stake is a life sentence – heaven or hell. So, it is very important that we speak up about what we believe and give it added credibility by showing how it has changed our lives. It is not our responsibility to convict or convince. But it is our responsibility to do whatever we can to make sure that our testimony (what we say) and the evidence in our lives (what we do) are working together and are both convincing and convicting
God has many witnesses that he can call to the “stand.” While it is our duty to answer the summons, it is also a privilege. It is a privilege because there are others He could call, but He called us. It is a privilege to be a play part in rescuing the lost from eternal punishment. It is a privilege to show our love for Him by showing love for His lost sheep. It is a privilege to demonstrate our thankfulness for saving us by answering the call to the Great Commission.
The case has already been made. It is recorded in the Bible for all to read and respond to the call. But “how, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the One of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching? And how can they preach unless they are sent?” (Romans 10:14, 15, NIV 1978) God is sending us.
We may be sent across the ocean or merely across the street. But wherever He sends us, we are sent to be a light to the world and as salt to the earth.
These are two images used by Jesus to illustrate our task (commission) that He has called us to. Jesus did not waste words when He was here on earth. He chose them carefully because He understood how important it was for people to grasp the truth. In this case, his chose salt and light. “You are the salt of the earth. You are the light of the world.” (Matthew 5:13-14, NIV 1978)
SALT OF THE EARTH
“Pray…that God may open a door for [your] message, so that [you] may proclaim the mystery of Christ. Be wise in the way you act towards outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” (Colossians 4:3, 5-6, NIV 1978).
A Preservative – Salt is a preservative that prevents or retards decay. So it is with believers. We act as spiritual preservatives in a world that is decaying. While it is not in our power to save others, the positive influence that we have on non-believers should never be underestimated. Our behavior should positively impact the non-believer’s behavior, perhaps slowing the decay and preserving what righteousness remains. Who knows, whether or when the influence may eventually lead someone to the Lord.
Adds Flavor – Salt enhances or adds flavor where there is little or no taste. Christians should add spiritual flavor in a world that is tasteless. We cannot achieve this if we are overbearing in our witness. This only leads to bitterness, much like too much salt can ruin the taste of food it was meant to add flavor to.
Not Obscured – Salt is most noticeable if it is not obscured by other spices. We cannot control whatever distractions come into the lives of those within our sphere of influence, but we should be careful of whatever distractions come into our lives that might obscure our witness. We may be the only contact some non-believers have with the Gospel. If our witness is obscured by our worldliness, we are not helping their chances of entering the Kingdom of God.
Must Be Applied – Salt must leave the saltshaker in order to do its work. As witnesses to the Gospel, we must go out into the world. We cannot spend all of our time within the closed circles of church, small groups and Christian schools. If we are to have an impact on the world, we must go out into it.
No Substitute – While many so-called substitutes line store shelves, there really is no satisfactory substitute for salt. The taste may not be quite right, it may leave an after-taste or it might not work as a preservative. In a similar fashion, there is no satisfactory substitute for witnessing. While many things may point to God (nature, word, conscience, etc…), there is nothing like a life that has been changed to bear-witness. There is nothing like someone who has been there to show the way.
LIGHT OF THE WORLD
“A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16, NIV 1978).
Gives Light – Sometimes you have to state the obvious. The purpose of light is to give light. It is meant to be seen. It is meant to attract attention in dark places. Christians should be a source of light to a world that otherwise walks in darkness. But the purpose is not just for our light to be seen and to call attention to ourselves, but for the light to allow others to see the redeeming work of Christ in our lives.
Dispels Darkness – When light is introduced where there is darkness, darkness is chased away. Interestingly enough, it does not work the other way around. You cannot introduce darkness where there is light and have the light chased away. Light can be extinguished, but not by darkness. This is the way we should live our lives, as witnesses for the true light. We should be dispelling darkness, not extinguishing our lights.
Contrasts With Darkness – Light is most noticeable the darker it is. In pitch-black darkness, even the faintest light is obvious. So we should not be too quick to dismiss the effectiveness of our witness or the impact that it has on those groping around in the darkness of sin and separation from God.
Do Not Hide – Darkness may not be able to overcome light, but light can be hidden. If hidden it cannot dispel the darkness or serve as a beacon to those lost in the darkness. We must not hide our witness, whether from fear or shame. We have nothing to fear and nothing to be ashamed of. We may be the only light that some ever see.
Noiseless – Light is quiet. It does its work without distracting noise. This does not mean that our witness should be nothing more than something to observe. We can verbally communicate the Gospel and our testimony. But it should be done with gentleness and respect. Not flashy or overbearing. The Gospel needs no added flash and our testimony need not be offensive.
My Advice – No one who is conscientious wants to be known as someone that shirks their responsibility. No caring person wants to withhold what they have to share from those who are in need. Christians who have not merely tasted salvation, who are no longer infants but have allowed the Holy Spirit to begin the process of transforming their lives are to some degree both conscientious and caring. So why is it that some shirk their responsibility to witness and in so doing withhold the good news from those who need it? There may be many reasons – fear of rejection, fear of ridicule, fears of inadequacy, fear of messing it up, fear of failure, fear of physical harm, etc. Unfortunately, not of these fears absolve us of our responsibility of failing to warn. And none of them an valid excuse that our warnings might fail. So we must confront our fears.
We had a lot more fears when we are younger. We also had a lot less ability to cope with our fears when we were younger. But healthy adults, as they grow, as they gain more knowledge and experience, overcome some of their fears and become better able to cope with their other fears. As Christians, it should be the same as it relates to our fears about witnessing. A healthy Christian is a growing Christian. As we grow, our old fears about sharing the Gospel will increasingly give way to a “burning fire, shut up in my bones, I am weary of holding it in; indeed I cannot.” When we are “full grown” and “fully mature” perhaps we will get to the point where “we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.” We may not be there yet, but in the meantime there are a lot of things we can try to be (available, willing, clear, natural, believable, consistent, prepared, sensitive, respectful, patient, truthful, faithful, encouraged, seasoned, shining, responsible, eager, humble, precise, uncompromising, loving, gentle). The good thing is that we are not alone. God wants us to be all of these things as well. Through the ministry of the Holy Spirit in our lives He is working to make them be.
Be Available, Be Willing, Be Clear, Be Natural, Be Believable, Be Consistent,
Be Prepared, Be Sensitive, Be Respectful, Be Patient, Be Truthful, Be Faithful,
Be Encouraged, Be Seasoned, Be Shining, Be Responsible, Be Eager, Be Humble,
Be Precise, Be Uncompromising, Be Loving, Be Gentle.
Be a witness.