Witnessing Part 2 - Sacrifice for Christ
Updated: May 9
For we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard. Acts 4:20
What is the definition of a witness? It is a person communicating testimony about something he or she has experienced firsthand. In court, no one prefers a secondhand witness. Who do lawyers, judges, and the jury prefer to have on the stand? They all prefer an eyewitness. The court wants somebody who was actually there at the scene when the event took place. Information that has been passed down through several sources is never as rock-solid or as credible as an eyewitness is.
Excerpt From John MacArthur on Witnessing
The world is like the jury. Christ is on trial before the world. The world is trying to decide about Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit is the lawyer for the defense. The Holy Spirit has taken up Christ’s case in the world, and His task is to convince the world that Christ is who He says He is, and the Holy Spirit calls into the courtroom witnesses – that’s us, Christians. So, we become witnesses for the defense of Jesus Christ before the watching world, and we are called into the courtroom, and as we live in the world, we exist in the courtroom, and Jesus Christ is on trial. Now that’s the seriousness of our witnessing role. I mean this is a serious thing.
If you were called into the Supreme Court of the United States of America, and somebody said “Would you defend Jesus Christ?” Would you? Of course you would if He were actually on trial there.
The world is making a judgment, and the whole environment that we exist in is the courtroom, and the Spirit of God, the lawyer for defense calls us to give our witness. And there are some people who are going to make their conclusion about Jesus Christ based upon our testimony.
So, as we begin to understand witnessing more, we have to begin to understand that the Holy Spirit is calling us to be a witness for Christ.
What is Needed for Effective Witnessing?
One of the main elements of being an effective witness for Christ is sacrifice. There is always a risk and often a price to pay when we name the name of Jesus Christ. When we share the gospel, expect it to not always go smoothly. We're going to catch some heat, especially the more we witness. As Christians, we can’t shine a bright light into a dark world, confronting a christless people, and not expect to receive some sort of hostile reaction. But let’s remember what Peter said about suffering for the sake of Christ, which we are all called to do as Christians.
"Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you" (1 Peter 4:12-14). You are protected and blessed because the grace of God is with you when you are witnessing, and always.
Be Ready to Take Some Heat, Christian :)
When we own our responsibility of standing before the world to testify for Christ, we first must have the full armor of God on. (Ephesians 6:10-20). Next, we have to be prepared for a hostile world to come back at us. When the full gospel is truly preached, the world is going to react, and it’s usually not going to be very pretty. Let’s not forget that we are physical beings living in a spiritual world. Satan, also known as The Father of Lies, along with his fallen angels, despise zealous Christians and bold gospel proclaimers. The kingdom of darkness is hostile against the Truth because the darkness hates the light. We're going to catch some flack when sharing the gospel, and don't be surprised by it, dear ones. Rather, expect it. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places (Ephesians 6:12).
Know When to Shake The Dust Off Your Feet, Christian
The Bible certainly embraces the immense value of seeking to share the Truth of Jesus with unbelievers. However, there is a big difference between sharing the gospel with willing, sincere people, and wasting your efforts on proud, hard-hearted people. These types of people will only come back at you with insincere questions to try to trip you up or corner you, and they will try to debate you with no end in sight. It’s not only wise to be quickly discerning of that, but it's merciful to depart from people like that. From there, all you can do is pray for God to soften and change their hearts. As His witnesses, Jesus also commands us that we shake the dust off our feet and leave those kind of people alone when that happens. “And if the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it, but if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. And if anyone will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet when you leave that house or town. Truly, I say to you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town” (Matthew 10:13-15).
See, if you continue to share the gospel with someone who continues to reject it, Scripture says it only escalates God’s judgment on that person in the end. That’s why Christians are called to stop sharing biblical truth with people who dismiss or reject the message of salvation through the gospel and trample underfoot the Son of God. “Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you" (Matthew 7:6). Christians are not to get into any theological debates with other religions, respond to empty questions, or get into arguments with anyone, let alone someone who tramples on that which is holy. We are not to waste things of such supreme value on those who do not appreciate them, let alone on those who become angry and hostile by the loving offer.
See, if we as Christians continue to share the glorious gift of salvation with someone who continues to trample all over it, we must be quickly discerning of that. We are to stop forcing the miraculous gift of eternal life on the unwilling, stubborn, and spiteful. If we were to continue sharing the Truth to people like that, unfortunately, they would only be storing up more and more wrath for themselves on the Day of Judgment. Continuing to hear the good news of the gospel and yet still choosing to reject it, is simply someone suppressing the knowledge of the Truth. Romans 2:5 says, "But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed."
Truth Told in Love
We must sacrifice our own comfort and unity for the sake of the Truth; for the love of others to hear about Jesus. For Truth told in love is the most loving thing we could ever do for someone; warning someone of the dangers of hell and pointing them to the Truth that is in Christ alone. It's a sacrificial love, Agape, which is the most powerful type of love there is. It's the type of love that God has for us. Agape says, "I love you even when you're not very lovable." The person who tells you the most truth (gently and kindly) loves you the most. Truth and biblical doctrine without love is cold and harsh. Love without the Truth of Scripture is hypocritical. But when we tell the Truth interwoven with love, that's when others are more likely to see the Truth, submit to it, and come to love the Truth themselves. So, above all else, we must tell the Truth in love.
The Modern-Day Gospel
We're less likely to see hostile reactions when we only tell part of the gospel, but see, part of the gospel is not sharing the real gospel. Unfortunately, many people only want to hear about God’s love; only based off their own personal definition of love and not the biblical definition of love. (The true meaning of love as defined by Scripture is a whole different topic that I'll write about at another time). So, most people we will come across will only want to hear about all the sweet and gentle things about God; the things that don’t offend them or hurt their pride. No one really gets mad when we just talk about God being loving.
When we listen to the run-of-the-mill gospel presentation these days, we will often hear worldly preachers say things like, "Accept Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior." "Ask Jesus into your heart." "Invite Jesus into your life." "Make a decision for Christ!" "Make Jesus Lord of your life!" (I want to pause on this last one one real quick. First off, we don't make Jesus Lord of our life. He is Lord of our life, whether we choose to believe in Jesus Christ or not. He is Lord, regardless of what our own personal preferences are on His existence). Many of us are so used to hearing those one-liner gospel presentations, that it may come as a surprise that absolutely none of those phrases are found anywhere in Scripture. None of those phrases are based on anything biblical. They are only products of a diluted gospel designed not to offend anyone and further delude people into self-deception and false hope. "Don't ever water down the gospel. If the truth offends, then let it offend. People have been living their whole lives in offense to God; let them be offended for awhile." John MacArthur
Dustin Benge on Modern Jesus
• Avoids negativity
• Gives positive reinforcement and false sense of hope
• Encourages you to love yourself
• Preaches only love
Dustin Benge on Biblical Jesus
• Warns of judgment and hell
• Gives salvation, joy, and real hope
• Demands you to deny yourself
• Preaches the holiness and righteousness of God
The Modern-day gospel in the United States has morphed into a gospel of following your dreams, health and wellness, wealth and prosperity, and "being a good person" so that God will bless you financially and make all your carnal dreams come true. But this gospel has nothing to do with the God of Scripture, the Lordship of Jesus Christ, or what it means to truly follow Christ and find eternal life in Him.
The Truth, the Whole Truth, & Nothing But the Truth
See, if we want to share the full gospel for it to truly take root in someone’s heart, we’re going to have to address sin. There's no way around it folks. It's uncomfortable, it's no fun, but it is what it is, and we have to fully rely on the grace of God and the work of the Spirit to speak through us. I am also preaching to myself with all of this too. It can be very challenging, you guys! I think that's why I'm writing this 7 part blog - so I can also learn how to witness more effectively, always relying on the Spirit and the grace of God, not myself. Ok, anyways.. When sharing the whole gospel, we’re going to have to gently confront unbelievers with the fact that they are living in offense and open rebellion to God. And this is where we need to rely on the grace of God working through us, giving us the spirit of humility, gentleness, patience, and love, simply allowing God to use us as His vessel and speak through us.
If we don’t tell people the bad news about their sin and shed light on how they’re currently living, the good news about the gospel won't carry much weight for them. See, it’s the good news of the gospel that people need to hear in order to be saved. Without first understanding the severity of the judgment of God and their own sin, people could never understand the joy or the fullness of the gospel and why it's such tremendously good news. The good news is that Jesus saves us from what we all deserve - God's wrath and judgment to come for all those who don't repent. And if we're going to talk about Scripture's definition of mercy, again we have to point to the wrath and judgment of God. Why are we receiving mercy and from what? Without the backdrop of sin, righteousness, and judgment, how are we to understand our need for His mercy and grace?
See, the grace of God cannot be truly understood, let alone cherished, until the Law is preached and man's sinful nature is exposed and admitted by the conscience. It's impossible for any of us to recognize our real need for God's grace until we first understand just how miserably short we've fallen from the Holy standards of God's Law. The Law is there to show us how much we need His grace. The Law was never meant to be trusted as the means to salvation. The purpose of the Law is only to reveal mankind's utter depravity, the inability to save ourselves, and the desperate need of a Savior. The Law was never given to save anybody, but to lead us to the One who could - Jesus.
Taken from John MacArthur Study Bible Footnotes:
The law, given by Moses, was not a display of God's grace but God's demand on holiness. God designed the law as a means to demonstrate the unrighteousness of humanity in order to show the need for a Savior, Jesus Christ. Furthermore, the law revealed only a part of the truth and was preparatory in nature. The reality or fullness of truth toward which the law pointed came through the person of Jesus Christ.
"For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ" (John 1:17).
"God Loves You" is Not the Gospel
Simply telling someone that “God loves you” is simply not the gospel, and it's actually quite dangerous. “To make men believe that God loves them, while they are under His wrath, is worse than a physician telling a diabetic subject that he may safely eat all he wishes” - AW Pink. Who would feel the need to repent and come to Christ if they are told that God loves them just the way they are? It's misleading to say that God accepts us just the way we are. No, He accepts us despite the way we are, and He saves us only in Christ and for the sake of Christ. He also doesn't intend to leave us the way He found us, but sanctifies us and transforms us into the likeness of His Son.
God doesn't need an invite from us or our permission either to regenerate our hearts. If the almighty sovereign God of the universe wants to come into anyone's heart, He is going to break down the doors, take up residence, and drastically transform that person in the process. God’s love is not unconditional. God's love is absolutely conditional, and that condition is that we must repent of our sins and believe on His Son Jesus Christ, as He commands. God certainly has a love of benevolence for all of mankind and a goodwill, charitable attitude towards the whole world. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust (Matthew 5:45). But God's complacent love (His pleasing love) is only with those who put their faith in Jesus, His children. (I will further clarify the three types of God's love as defined in Scripture in another blog)
"The biblical way to express God’s love to a sinner is to show him how great his sin is (using the Law – See Romans 7:13; Galatians 3:24), and then give him the incredible grace of God in Christ.” - Ray Comfort.
"Did that which is good, then, bring death to me? By no means! It was sin, producing death in me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the commandment might become sinful beyond measure" (Romans 7:13)
"So the law was our guardian until Christ came that we might be justified by faith." (Galatians 3:24)
In effective witnessing, it's foundational to confront the truth of sin, the truth about God’s judgment and righteousness, and the truth about the saving power of Jesus Christ. And when we fully do that, we’ve got to know that there’s a sacrifice to be made for the sake of the gospel. So, we must decide in this short life if we are to stay silent, clam up, and believe that our own self-preservation and reputation is more valuable than testifying about the truth of Christ to souls who desperately need it. We must make that choice to sacrifice ourselves for the sake of the gospel, expect to deal with hostility and persecution, and rely solely on the grace of God and the work of the Spirit. We must come to terms that we are expendable in this world. Paul said if he died getting the gospel to someone, then he’d be glad and rejoice. "Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all" (Philippians 2:17). The Greek word for “witness” means “one who dies for his faith” because that was usually the price of witnessing, and still is in many parts of the world. (Check out the 52 countries where the Bible is banned in "Scripture is Better than Gold" - See end of blog for list).
Every Christian can do what God calls us to do if we’re willing to sacrifice for Christ. So, if we’re ready to pay the price because we’re truly sold out to Christ and building and investing in His eternal kingdom, God will certainly equip us, and His Spirit of grace and glory will rest on us. His grace is sufficient. And let’s keep in mind that sharing the gospel is not supposed to be just a one-time thing. With every clear opportunity that arises along the way, we've got to be willing to sacrifice every time for the sake of Jesus. I'm singing in the choir with you guys with all of this, and I'm preaching all these things to myself too. My prayer is that we all have courage to speak up when that golden opportunity presents itself to us. May we never lose our zeal for God's Truth and our love and devotion to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. And may we always speak the Truth in love! Amen!
and pray also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak (Ephesians 6:19-20).
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. Romans 1:16
That you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, Philippians 2:15
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age." Matthew 28:18-20
You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, John 5:39
Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, 2 Timothy 1:8
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10