People of Promise 98 Witnesses
In Acts, Jesus is talking to the Twelve and He tells them that He is going to baptize them with the Holy Spirit. They ask Him when the Kingdom is coming, and He tells them that the decision of the date is up to our Father. Then, He goes on to say that you shall receive power (ability, efficiency, and might) when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you shall be My witnesses in Jerusalem and all Judea and Samaria and to the ends (the very bounds) of the earth (Acts 1:8). Notice He says “My witnesses,” not witnesses of me, but witnesses for me. The Greek word for “witness,” used here is “martus,”from which we get the word martyr. Hmm, this is a bit deeper than it seems at first blush because nearly all the Twelve did, indeed, become martyrs.
But, remember, there were not just the 11 remaining of the Twelve in the Upper Room. There were about 120 up there (Acts 1:15), including Jesus’ mother (Acts 1:14)! And every one of them was baptized in the Holy Spirit and became “My witnesses.” And yet we hear nothing about the other 109 and their lives as witnesses for Christ. I can guess that Mary was a rather powerful witness. “That was my son, you know!” And the others? They experienced the risen Lord and were empowered by the Spirit to go forth and be “My witnesses.” And yet, History does not record even one person “saved” by their testimonies. And yet, there were thousands.
In a court of Law, a witness is one who can testify about the facts in the case being considered. Their account is first hand. They saw, they heard, they experienced. And that is what Jesus wants from ever one of us. Not that we are to run out on the street corner and, using our “fully leather-bound, fully zippered, guilded-edge pages, Jesus’ words in red-letters, and all the maps of Jesus’ travels, Paul’s travels, a full concordance, index, and names of Biblical characters” Bible to beat people “up side the head,” and get them into the Kingdom. No, that’s the job for the scripturally ignorant braggarts.
Our job is to live a life which reflects Jesus to the world around us. Barnabas was hunting for Paul, and went down to Tarsus, there he found Him, And when he had found him, he brought him back to Antioch. For a whole year they assembled together with and were guests of the church and instructed a large number of people; and in Antioch the disciples were first called Christians (Acts. 11:26).
They were not called “Christians” as the result of a “Name these believer in the Messiah” contest, with the first prize a trip to Rome with Paul on a storm-tossed ship. Nope. They were called Christians because they were “like Christ”—the Christ they not only preached but demonstrated by the way they lived—the way they spoke, the way they treated each other, their integrity, their demonstrations of the Spirit’s power. This newly formed group of people who believed in the King of Glory and operated in His power and authority were turning the world upside down (Acts 17:6). To those in Antioch these “People of the Way” acted so differently than the others in the community that they could be immediately recognized as distinctly different in thought, word, and deed. They acted like the Christ they preached; thus, they were “Christians,” or “those from Christ.” Americans are from America, Europeans are from Europe, Christians are from Christ.
The question now becomes: “What has happened to “Christians?” such that many of them act no differently than the people of the world. Part of the problem stems from the fact that, as a nation we champion the good, give magnanimously to the poor, send our troops overseas to defend the weak, most people champion the best for others, and so on. Thus, we tend to feel that because we are “good” people, we are doing God’s will, which of course means that we must be Christians.
Sorry, the single “specification” of a Christian is one who has given his/her life to Christ and wants to live according to His dictates. Everything else in that person’s life springs from that single criteria. No longer is that person “first” in their life. Christ is first. And out of that springs their concern or others, their care for the less fortunate, their desire that His Word be told to all, their acts of power in the authority of Name of Jesus. He very clearly and succinctly told us: What I am telling you I do not say on My own authority and of My own accord; but the Father Who lives continually in Me does the (His) works (His own miracles, deeds of power). Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me; or else believe Me for the sake of the [very] works themselves. [If you cannot trust Me, at least let these works that I do in My Father’s name convince you.] I assure you, most solemnly I tell you, if anyone steadfastly believes in Me, he will himself be able to do the things that I do; and he will do even greater things than these, because I go to the Father. And I will do [I Myself will grant] whatever you ask in My Name [as presenting all that I AM], so that the Father may be glorified and extolled in (through) the Son. [Yes] I will grant [I Myself will do for you] whatever you shall ask in My Name [as presenting all that I AM] (John 14:
Remember the old saw, “Actions speak louder than words”? Well, it’s just as true today as it ever was. The way we live truly does speak about who we are. So when we, as professing Christians, don’t do things any differently than the people of the world, don’t talk differently, don’t love the way God loves, don’t reach out but rather stay tightly ensconced in our little “church” clubs, why would anyone want to become a Christian? Only the demonstration of the Truth in our lives will ever speak louder than the siren call of the world.
Jesus came to bear witness of the Father. When Philip asked Him to show them the Father, Jesus replied,Have I been with all of you for so long a time, and do you not recognize and know Me yet, Philip? Anyone who has seen Me has seen the Father. How can you say then, Show us the Father? (John 14:9). Jesus is our role model, our Paradigm, our guide to the way we think, speak, and act. That’s why He told us that we would be able to do what He did. In fact, it is essential that we do what He did—give evidence of the reality of the Living God and His power, and the saving grace we have received through the Messiah. We are to be ever ready, and in your hearts set Christ apart as holy [and acknowledge Him] as Lord. Always be ready to give a logical defense to anyone who asks you to account for the hope that is in you, but do it courteously and respectfully (1Peter 3:15).