Saturday, January 29, 2011

Being a Witness for Christ

Often times you hear people use the term "soul winner." First, I don't use that term, since Jesus never used it. The term implies that one person can actually convert another into a Christian.

I think (as Paul said) we can plant and water, but God gives the increase (1 Cor 3:6). We can share the gospel, but we need to leave the results to God. It's the work of the Holy Spirit to convict sinners and bring them to a place of repentance, and we cannot do that. We should never think it is our responsibility whether the person gives their life to Jesus or not. If we have shared the gospel with the person, then we have been obedient, even if they reject Christ!

Being a witness for Jesus
Now that I have clarified that, let me use another expression that is more compatible with Scripture than soul winner. Every disciple of Christ is supposed to be a witness who is making disciples. That includes sharing Jesus with people. Every disciple should do this and can do this with the Lord's help. Even if the disciple does not own a Bible or know how to read, he or she can testify to the glory of God with his words and actions about how Jesus has changed his life. And if he or she gives a witness for Christ under the power of the Holy Spirit, this can have a powerful impact on those who hear it.

Right before Jesus ascended into heaven, He told the disciples that they would receive power from the Holy Spirit to be His witnesses. He said, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth." (Act 1:8). This is still His plan today that his disciples be empowered by the Holy Spirit to be His witnesses both where they live and even to the remotest parts of the earth.

The Greek word in Scripture that we translate as “witness” is martus. The same word can also be translated martyr or record. So when we are a witness for Christ, we are also martyrs, because we must die to ourselves -- our own desires, preferences and plans -- so that we can do the Master’s bidding. We testify of what the Lord has done in our lives and what we say goes on record for others to hear and understand.

On the other hand, when the Lord ascended on high, he gave gifts to men. He gave five gifts to the church, which are apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers and evangelists (Eph 4:11-13). These gifts are given to equip the Body of Christ and prepare God's people for works of service. God has works for every disciple to do, and these gifts will prepare the people to do those works for the Lord. So God specifically calls certain people to be these gifts -- this is who he has made them to be.

Some are evangelists. That word "evangelist" comes from the Greek "euaggelistes". It comes from the word for the “gospel,” which in Greek is "euaggelion" -- "eu" meaning good and "angelion" meaning news or message. An evangelist is one who proclaims the good news to others, a preacher of the gospel. Not everyone is called to be a preacher of the gospel. An evangelist also equips people for works of service, usually equipping them to share Jesus with others. An example of an evangelist is Philip of Caesarea (Acts 21:8).

Here are some biblical examples of people sharing Jesus with others and being a witness, even though they were not necessarily evangelists:

The man delivered from a legion of demons
Jesus cast out many demons out of one man who lived near the lake in the region of the Gersasenes. Afterward, the man was clothed and in his right mind once again. Then the time came for Jesus to leave that area. “As He was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed was imploring Him that he might accompany Him. And He did not let him, but He said to him, ‘Go home to your people and report to them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He had mercy on you.’ And he went away and began to proclaim in Decapolis what great things Jesus had done for him; and everyone was amazed.” (Mar 5:18-20)

You see how that man shared Jesus with the people he knew? This is what God wants each of us to do.

The woman at the well
Jesus met a woman at a well one time. In their discussion, he asked her to go call her husband. She said she had no husband, and Jesus told her that was correct, because she previously had five husbands, and the man she was currently with was not her husband. “So the woman left her waterpot, and went into the city and said to the men, ‘Come, see a man who told me all the things that I have done; this is not the Christ, is it?’” (Joh 4:28-29)

“From that city many of the Samaritans believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, ‘He told me all the things that I have done.’ So when the Samaritans came to Jesus, they were asking Him to stay with them; and He stayed there two days. Many more believed because of His word; and they were saying to the woman, ‘It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves and know that this One is indeed the Savior of the world.’” (Joh 4:39-42)

Again, this woman shared Jesus with the people in her life and it impacted them in a great way. They later came to know Jesus personally as a result of her bearing witness.

Man healed of leprosy
During Jesus earthly ministry, he always ordered people not to tell others that He was the Christ, because the time had not yet come for that. But when He healed people, He would often tell them to go show themselves to the priest and make an offering to the Lord. He explained that this would be a testimony to the priest. “And He stretched out His hand and touched him, saying, ‘I am willing; be cleansed.’ And immediately the leprosy left him. And He ordered him to tell no one, ‘But go and show yourself to the priest and make an offering for your cleansing, just as Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.’ But the news about Him was spreading even farther, and large crowds were gathering to hear Him and to be healed of their sicknesses.” (Luk 5:13-15).

So even when people were told not to tell anyone but the priest, the news about Jesus spread. This shows the power of your testimony. When you share with one person, it spreads.

Now that Jesus has given Himself as a sacrifice on the cross and ascended into heaven, He wants those who know Him to tell others about Him without reservation. In other words, we are not under any orders to keep silent about the gospel. Can you see how effective your testimony can be at spreading the good news about Jesus, when you share Him with others? News about Him will keep spreading even farther!!

Commanded to Make Disciples
Every disciple is commanded to make disciples.  The Lord Jesus Christ, the one with all authority in heaven and on earth has commanded us to do so.

And Jesus came up and spoke to them [the Eleven apostles], saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." (Mat 28:18-20)

This was not the "great suggestion" but the Great Commission given by the holy Son of God.  First He commanded His eleven apostles to make disciples of all nations.  Secondly, He commanded them to teach their disciples to observe all that He commanded them -- the apostles -- to do. Therefore, one of the things their disciples were taught was that, just as the eleven apostles were commanded to make disciples, every disciple must also observe that command.  And as those disciples of the apostles made disciples, they taught their disciples likewise.  This has continued right on down to the present day, and as Jesus said, it will continue even to the end of the age.

That requires preaching the gospel, as Mark recorded that "He said to them, 'Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.'" (Mar 16:15). You don't need to be a pastor to preach.  The Greek word for "preach" is kērusso, meaning "to herald (as a public crier), especially divine truth (the gospel): - preach, proclaim, publish."  You don't even need a building or a pulpit to preach.  You can herald the good news in buses, trains, planes, shopping malls and streets.  You can proclaim the good news to your neighbor, and tell the sinner he needs to repent.  The gospel can be published on tracts and blogs that you can give to people to read.  The main point is that we are all commanded to make disciples, therefore it is a sin to disobey the Lord's command to do so.

Putting it All Together
So we know that God calls some people to be evangelists and they go about preaching the gospel. This is one of the gifts Jesus has given, and not everyone is called to be an evangelist.

But every disciple should be sharing Jesus with the people in their lives. Do not fail to evangelize! Just like the woman at the well, the Gerasene man delivered from demons, and the leper that was cleansed, we must testify to people about the good things the Lord has done for us, how He has healed us and set us free from sin, as well as anything else He does for us as we go through life. When we do, it will touch the lives of the people with whom we share. The good news of Jesus Christ will spread even further, and many will come to know Jesus personally.

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.

Author's note: If you enjoyed this post, you may also like the other posts in this blog available through the links in the side bar.  I recommend Give Me Children or I'll Die!, Confrontational Evangelism, Rescue Souls!, and Compassion for the Lost (poem). You are invited to visit the Home page of this blog, and also access my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master." 

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission.

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