Church on Purpose: Witness

Church on Purpose: Witness

Today we are wrapping up our series called “Church on Purpose” where we’ve been exploring what it means to be the Church and on a more personal level, what it means to be an intentional member of it.

Church membership according to the New Testament is metaphorically like being a member of a physical body. You are one part of a greater whole, and your part is extremely vital for the overall health of the body. 1 Corinthians 12:27, “Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.”

So church membership is a declaration that you are a part of something greater than you alone. It’s self-sacrificing and not preference-seeking. It is showing up, building relationships, giving, serving, engaging, doing life together to fulfill a greater purpose, to build the Kingdom of God.

Christians are not consumers. We are contributors. We don’t watch. We engage. We give. We sacrifice. We encourage. We pray by laying hands on the hurting. We do life together. We move. We are the Church, a Church on purpose.

The expectations that God designed for His Church members that’s we’ve been exploring are being a Unifying Church Member, an Attending Church Member, a Serving Church Member, a Praying Church Member, a Giving Church Member, and today a Witnessing Church Member.

If you’ve missed any of these weeks, I highly encourage you to watch or listen at YorkSpringsGMC.org.

Have you ever watched a movie or TV show where an attorney reads a last will and testament to the family? It’s a pretty dramatic scene. Some are nervous or anxious. Will they get what they want? Will they get the high valued property? After the attorney reads the final sentence of the will, there may be a few people in the room whose names were never mentioned and then the tension really gets thick!

Chewy commercial: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JntlSuUf0bQ

If done well and with forethought, the will and testament represent the heart and desires of the deceased. In many ways, they tell the story of what was important in the person’s life and what was on their heart while he or she was still alive.

Jesus left us a last will and testament. He had already died on the cross, been resurrected from the dead, was back on earth for 40 days, and just before He ascended to Heaven, He left His followers with a few instructions. They were His last words on earth. They were therefore very important words, and we should heed them carefully.

We call them The Great Commission. Great because of the importance of the message and commission because it represents marching orders for Christians down through all the ages. Matthew’s account is the most cited.

Matthew 28:18-20
18 Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. 19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. 20 Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

We are commissioned to go and to share the gospel. We will then see the work of the Holy Spirit as people become disciples. We are to baptize and teach these disciples. We are called to be Jesus witnesses. Acts 1:8 is a powerful reminder of how important it is for us to be witnesses for Christ.

Acts 1:8
You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

There is no hesitancy in Jesus’ words. They do not lack clarity. We WILL be His witnesses. As Christians, we are not given the option. These words of Jesus recorded are His last words before He ascended into heaven. They are His last will and testament, meaning what He said is so important!

POINT #1 – We are called to be Jesus witnesses, and He has made it very clear why.

Almost every child goes through the phases where they like to ask “why?”
“Why do I have to brush my teeth?” “Why do I have to go to bed?” “Why do I have to stop hitting my brother?” And my favorite is the continuing why: “Why do I have to go to bed? – because you need your sleep. Why? So you can go to school tomorrow. Why? So you can learn something. Why? So you are smart and can get a good job one day. Why? And my favorite ending, “BECAUSE I SAID SO, THAT’S WHY!” Or blame it on God, “Because God made you to need sleep. Why? You’ll have to ask Him.”

Children always want to know why, because they are curious and just learning. But Jesus left no doubt about why we should be His witnesses. And His reason is so powerful that it should go unquestioned.
At the Last Supper, Jesus had gathered His disciples one last time before He went to the cross. He wanted to make sure they understood what was about to happen. He told them He was leaving soon, but they obviously did not understand that He was going to heaven. He not only wanted them to know where He was going, but He also wanted them to understand how they and others could join Him there.

He began by telling them not to worry about their eternal home:

John 14:1-6
“Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. 2 There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you?”

Jesus was referring to heaven, where He would be waiting for them. He added that He would be preparing heaven for them and would return for them.

3 When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am. 4 And you know the way to where I am going.”

This was a lot to take in. So at least one disciple honestly pleaded for clarity.

5 “No, we don’t know, Lord,” Thomas said. “We have no idea where you are going, so how can we know the way?”

Thomas often gets a bad rap for doubting, but was Thomas speaking for himself or had he heard similar questions from the other disciples and he just happened to be the guy with enough guts to ask the question? Either way, Jesus responds with powerful clarity.

6 Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.

Though you may be familiar with that verse, let those words sink. There is no confusion, no reservation. Jesus speaks very clearly and decisively. He is the ONLY way to salvation. He is the ONLY way to heaven. No one goes to heaven except through faith in Jesus. The way to heaven is narrow and absolute. It is only through Jesus.

Do you understand why it is so important to be a witness for Jesus, to share the good news of Jesus? Others need to know!

And we believers have been chosen and mandated to tell others. We are to be His witnesses. And look, there is no time to waste! We need to get on this now! Do you understand the urgency of the command? We should be responding to every opportunity that comes our way to share the gospel with someone.

And please don’t say you can’t. “I can’t” implies that you have neither the opportunity nor the ability to be a witness. And that is just so far from the truth!

Because when Jesus gave the Great Commission, He said, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth” (Matthew 28:18). So when we witness, we’re not depending on our own knowledge or authority. We have been given the authority of the King of kings!

Jesus also said, “Be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). When we witness on His behalf, we’re not alone. Jesus is right there with us as both our authority and our power. So “can’t” is simply not part of the question. Won’t – maybe. Can’t – never!

God gives you everything you need to be a witness for Christ. You don’t need human power or all the fancy words. You just need to be obedient. As you share the gospel, continually rely on Jesus to be with you and to empower you. Ask Him in that very moment to give you the words and you can bet He will answer that prayer every time!

POINT #2 – Three Major Steps To Becoming A Witness: Build Relationships, Share Your Story and Invite

Here are some practical steps we can follow to get people to listen.

First, we must develop relationships. Those relationships might be very brief, such as during an airplane ride or while getting a haircut, or they may be long standing such as with a friend or coworker. But we must begin by connecting with various people we encounter in our daily lives.

Even with brief encounters, there is often the potential for a new and longer relationship. Choose to have the same stylist cut your hair every time. Find a service person you call on regularly.

Second, your relationship with an unbeliever must at some point, evolve into a gospel conversation. You might have the opportunity to share how you became a Christian.

I believe if we pray and ask for those opportunities, God will surely provide them along with every word we are to say. We then have to be sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit and His timing for us to speak, and be obedient. We must believe courageously that the Spirit will give us the right words at the right time. My prayer for all of us is that we will be unable to stop speaking about Jesus to others.
Another thing we can do is the simple act of inviting. Church Answers conducted a research project about people who were not active in church. Most were not Christians. They found that nearly three out of four unchurched people said they would attend a worship service if they were invited. Let that number sink in. Three out of four unchurched people said they would go to church if they were simply invited.

That means that a simple act of inviting will make an eternal difference. The person you ask could be just waiting for someone to take the initiative, so be that individual who doesn’t hesitate to invite someone else to church. (Back to Church Sunday – Nov. 12th)

POINT #3 – Witnessing Is Empowered By Prayer

You know why evangelism seems so hard to do? Number one, we rely on our own ability and power. Number two, we don’t invite Jesus in. We cannot separate evangelism and prayer.

In Acts 3-4, Peter and John were arrested by the leading priests and Sadducees for teaching people in the Temple that Jesus was resurrected from the dead. After discussion of not knowing what to do with them, Peter and John were released and immediately they returned to the other believers in Jerusalem and told them that the Sadducees told them that they were to not speak of Jesus. Immediately, they all went to prayer.

The early followers of Jesus knew they must share the gospel. They knew that Jesus’ last words on earth were a command to be a witness. But they also knew the only way they could have power was to depend on the Holy Spirit through prayer.

So they prayed for courage to be witnesses in a hostile culture. They prayed for boldness in preaching the gospel. And as they prayed for power, Luke the author of Acts, recounts what happened at the conclusion of this prayer.

Acts 4:31
31 After this prayer, the meeting place shook, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit. Then they preached the word of God with boldness.

They were witnesses to the life changing power of God. And because God answered their prayers, they went forth with great confidence. Look, we must not attempt to witness in our own wisdom and power. We need to go to God in prayer and ask for the same thing the early believers did…boldness and power. When we do, we’ll see an abundance of fruit.

This is our command. This is our calling. We musts be Jesus’ witnesses! Meaning, we must work hard to tell others about the good news of Jesus. He is the only way of salvation. There are no escape clauses. No back doors. And we who are believers have been chosen and mandated to tell others about Him. And the urgency of this command is so strong.
The evil living in this world, growing by the day, is outrageous. The world is so desperate for the truth, so hungry that they are believing in anything they can. We have the truth! And if you want to start seeing a difference in our world, then you need to follow Jesus’ command and witness the Truth to the world around you.

Every person we lead to Jesus will spend eternity with Him. Therefore, there is really no better use of our time and our lives than to help others get to know Jesus.