Witnesses

Written by Drew on July 6th, 2006

Today the idea of “witnessing” bears the connotation of relating miraculous experiences and so-called mystical revelations from God. It is unfortunate that we have allowed this usage to affect our language in the churches of Christ. We don’t use the word “witness.” If we did, the results would be similar to what happens when the name “Bear Bryant” is uttered in an Auburn football stadium.

“Witness” is a good word, and we ought to be using it. Jesus and His apostles used it 90 times in the New Testament, and it appears in several key passages in the book of Acts. Before His ascension, Jesus told the apostles, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8). Peter was said to have “borne witness” in his famous discourse on Pentecost (Acts 2:40). Often the apostles told their audience they were “witnesses” of the death, burial and resurrection of Christ (Acts 1:22; 3:15; 5:32; 10:39, 41). When the risen Lord appeared to Saul on the road to Damascus, He told him that He had appeared “to appoint you as a servant and witness to the things in which you have seen me and to those in which I will appear to you” (Acts 22:16).

The Greek word translated “witness” is martys, the word responsible for our English term “martyr.” This is due to the fact that, following biblical times, those who witnessed for Christ had to pay for it with their lives. But originally martys referred to one who bears testimony to what he knows—what he has seen or heard or otherwise experienced (Ralph Earle, Word Meanings in the New Testament, p. 133).

Christians, having heard the Word of God, need to be witnesses to gospel’s power to save. The world has enough false witnesses. The devil’s hucksters make empty promises that happiness can be found in riches, leisure, pleasure and sin. Let God’s witnesses step forward and share true testimony.

Coming to church once a week will not do it. Witnessing for Christ is a lifestyle, not a weekly appointment. William Barclay writes, “There is no such thing as a Christian witness which is over in a minute. Christian witness is a whole-time job.” The proof of your testimony is not at church. It is where you work, where you rest, where you live. If I wanted to know if you were a real witness for Christ, I wouldn’t ask the person who sits next to you in church. I would ask your co-workers, your dry cleaner, or the principal of your kids’ school. I would talk to your friends, to the folks who know you at the little league ballpark. I would ask your wife or your husband and your kids.

Jesus did not die so that His disciples would keep it a secret. He died to save lost souls. And we are His only witnesses.

 

3 Comments so far ↓

  1. The Berean Examiner says:

    “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 5:16).

    A cute VBS song that we all need to sing:

    “This little light of mine,
    I’m gonna let it shine
    This little light of mine,
    I’m gonna let it shine
    This little light of mine,
    I’m gonna let it shine
    Let it shine,
    Let it shine,
    Let it shine.

    Hide it under a bushel? No!
    I’m gonna let it shine
    Hide it under a bushel? No!
    I’m gonna let it shine
    Hide it under a bushel? No!
    I’m gonna let it shine
    Let it shine,
    Let it shine,
    Let it shine.

    This little light of mine,
    I’m gonna let it shine
    This little light of mine,
    I’m gonna let it shine
    This little light of mine,
    I’m gonna let it shine
    Let it shine,
    Let it shine,
    Let it shine.

    Don’t let Satan blow it out,
    I’m gonna let it shine
    Don’t let Satan blow it out,
    I’m gonna let it shine
    Don’t let Satan blow it out,
    I’m gonna let it shine
    Let it shine,
    Let it shine,
    Let it shine.

    This little light of mine,
    I’m gonna let it shine
    This little light of mine,
    I’m gonna let it shine
    This little light of mine,
    I’m gonna let it shine
    Let it shine,
    Let it shine,
    Let it shine.

    Shine all over my coworkers,
    I’m gonna let it shine
    Shine all over my dry cleaner
    I’m gonna let it shine
    Shine all over my kids school principal
    I’m gonna let it shine
    Shine all over my friends.
    I’m gonna let it shine
    Shine all over the folks who know me at the little league ballpark.
    I’m gonna let it shine.
    Shine all over my wife.
    I’m gonna let it shine.
    Shine all over my husband.
    I’m gonna let it shine.
    Shine all over my kids.
    I’m gonna let it shine.

    Let it shine,
    Let it shine,
    Let it shine.

    This little light of mine,
    I’m gonna let it shine
    This little light of mine,
    I’m gonna let it shine
    This little light of mine,
    I’m gonna let it shine
    Let it shine,
    Let it shine,
    Let it shine.

    Let it shine til Jesus comes,
    I’m gonna let it shine
    Let it shine til Jesus comes,
    I’m gonna let it shine
    Let it shine til Jesus comes,
    I’m gonna let it shine
    Let it shine,
    Let it shine,
    Let it shine.

    This little light of mine,
    I’m gonna let it shine
    This little light of mine,
    I’m gonna let it shine
    This little light of mine,
    I’m gonna let it shine
    Let it shine,
    Let it shine,
    Let it shine.”

    VBS songs . . . Don’t you just love them?

    Let us all take this cute VBS song and modify it to fit our lives and then let’s sing it and live it so we can glorify our father who is in Heaven.

    Okay, next cute VBS song.

    “Hi, my name is Noah . . .

  2. Paul says:

    Great blog, Drew. I’m going to add it to my blog roll.

    Paul Kelsey
    (from Sylvan Springs Church of Christ, David Courington’s son-in-law).

  3. Brad says:

    Drew,

    Mystical experiences don’t even enter into it for me. I avoid the term “witness” because it refers, in all of the passages you cited, to the witnesses of Jesus–specifically, it seems, to witnesses of his resurrection. I’ve always gotten the impression that “witnessing,” in denominational speak, was simply sharing the gospel. Well, that’s not witnessing! It is relating the testimony of the witnesses, but not witnessing in the strict sense.

    Point taken, however, about being witnesses to the gospel’s power to save. I’ll probably still refrain from using the term. The Bible gives it enough special significance that I hesitate to muddle the terminology. Instead of witnesses then, perhaps we should be proofs–proofs of the will of God: “good and acceptable and perfect,” according to Rom 12:2 [NKJV].

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