Witnessing – Sermon 4
Prayer to start
O God, open your word to our hearts and our hearts to your word, give us grace to receive it, to understand it and to obey it, for the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.
" I promise to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth "
If this was a court of law that would be one of the first words you would here a witness say in the witness box – before giving evidence – promising to tell the truth as they understand it.
In our Christian disciple ship we are also called to be witnesses – to testify for the Lord – to pass on the Christian truths as we understand them and as they affect our lives.
In our sermon this evening we are going to look at witnessing – what is meant by witnessing, why and how we are to witness and where.
It’s a colossal responsibility – our words are being used by God to further His Kingdom in the world and for us in particular – here in Lymm .
Jesus wants us to tell and show others of the importance of having faith in Him, of living our lives as Jesus wants us to and on depending on Him for forgiveness and for eternal life
In Matthew 5 v 14 – 16
Jesus said, " You are the light of the world. When a lamp is lit, it gives light to everyone in the house
" Like the lamp you must shed light among your fellows so that when they see the good that you do, they may give praise to your Father in Heaven"
One image that most of us might use to understand this passage is that of a lighthouse – guiding ships at night away from dangerous rocks – If the light is not seen the lighthouse is nor fulfilling its purpose – if we are not seen we are equally useless to Jesus – we are not fulfilling the mission he has set for us
Jesus wants us to be visible – to shine for God
Jesus commands us to be what He himself claimed to be
Just as Jesus is the Light of the World – so He commands us to be like Him – It’s not about doing good deeds – or appearing to look good in front of others – we must not produce our own light – we have to shine with the reflection of His light – and for that to happen He has to be right there with us in the centre of our lives –
But why must we witness ?
Jesus loved us so much that He gave His life for our salvation – He paid the price for our sins – And in response to that love we freely give ourselves to fulfill the commission that he gave to us.?
We are His disciples, He has asked us to follow Him –
But as we heard last week being a Disciple is costly – many of Jesus’ original Disciples died for their obedience to Him. –
Just as in the court room the witness will be subjected to cross examination – to see if he or she is being truthful – or as a politician might say – " being economical with the truth ."
So for the Christian witness there will also be cross examination but of a different kind – argument – taunts and jibes – being laughed at – looked on in disbelief – all to test our sincerity and commitment –
Taking up the cross and witnessing for Jesus is not easy, there is no quick fix – you can’t suddenly start doing it – we have to be prepared to learn – from reading and understanding the Bible – from prayer – and from our own personal experience of the living Christ – We need lots of guidance to help us – and Jesus knows this – He has sent us a great comforter – and helper – the Holy Spirit – a power that unites us into one body – the body of the church – with Jesus at it’s head.
In Acts 1 v 8
Jesus Said :
" You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes to you: and you will bear witness for me in Jerusalem, and throughout Judea and Samaria, and even in the farthest corners of the earth. "
We are part of Jesus’ body – He directs us through the Spirit to fulfil whatever He has planned for us.
He sets the opportunities – we must be ready to respond – to pass on the truth – not our version of the truth – but God’s truth.
Just as Jesus prepared His disciples during the 40 days between the Resurrection and the Ascension by reassuring them – meeting with them – giving them commandments – re-affirming the fact of the Resurrection – so that they could go out and bear witness to what they had seen and heard Him say
So He must prepare us – Like these first disciples we must be in personal contact with Jesus – through prayer – we must be prepared to walk with Him – If we lose contact with Him we lose contact with the truth
In John 15 v 4
"Dwell in me, as I dwell in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself: apart from me you can do nothing"
Our witness is to be done through the body of the Church: – We must read and try to understand our Bibles – if we are to shine as Jesus Shined then we need to know how He lived – excuses or inaction are not acceptable – He has chosen us to spread His word to others – its not the job of a select few – but the responsibility of everyone in His Church
In Matthew 9 v 37
Jesus said " The crop is heavy but the labourer are few "
Everyone is needed – we all have a part to play – we might be top of the Premier ship – but there are too few players to have people sitting on the benches – without you or me the team is incomplete – He has no one else to call upon to do the work for Him.
The World desperately needs to understand the message of Jesus – but they will have no grounds to believe it unless they can see the character of Jesus in our lives – no matter what we might think of ourselves – Jesus has invited us into His body – we have to trust Him and allow Him to do His work through us.
We have looked at what, why and how – the next question is where.
If we look again at Acts 1 v 8 –
" You will bear witness for me in Jerusalem, throughout all Judea and Samaria and even the farthest corners of the earth "
Jesus’ advice to His disciples was to start in Jerusalem, in their home territory – for us that means our families and friends –
it can be the hardest place to start – We have to be patient, supportive, caring and loving – as Jesus would – so that those closest to us can have the opportunity of receiving the greatest gift that they could ever receive.
We also have to go beyond our families – to our work mates in the office or in the factory – our neighbours – the people we meet in the shops – or over a cup of coffee – wherever we find ourselves
God will give us the opportunities – He will put people in our path who are prepared to listen – we have to be ready to respond – and answer tem truthfully –
How we are and how we behave – is not just for our salvation – but it is also for the salvation of those who see Jesus in us.
So as a witness is prepared to stand up and tell the truth in the witness box – so we must be willing to speak out and tell God’s truths – to reflect Jesus’ light so others will see Him in our lives – to respond to His command to witness to all where ever we might come into contact with them –
Listen to the prayer from St Teresa of Avila :
Christ has no body now on earth but yours
no hands but yours
Yours are the eyes through which to look at Christ’s compassion in the world.
Yours are the feet with which he is to go about doing good.
In the name of the Father Son and Holy Spirit