Tuesday, June 4, 2013

The Two Witnesses of the Church Age

"And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him."
Acts 5:32

When it comes to the work of evangelism, we have the responsibility to be the Lord's witnesses.  God has commissioned us to go out and "teach all nations", "preach the gospel to every creature", and proclaim "repentance and remission of sins."  In Acts 1:8, Jesus said, "Ye shall be My witnesses."

But isn't it interesting that in Acts 5:32, God teaches us that being a witness is not only something WE do...it's something that HE does, too!  The Holy Ghost is also a witness.

Often, we have a tendency to do one of two things:

1) We don't witness.  The reasons for such disobedience can be exhaustive, and to enumerate them all is not the purpose of this article.  The fact of the matter is that many Christians don't witness.  I wonder if sometimes the failure to "let your light so shine before men" has to do with a erroneous belief that human instrumentality is unnecessary.  "For," we might think, "God will draw men to Christ whether we share our faith or not."  And perhaps it's this deterministic view of evangelism and of the sovereignty of God--this tendency to think that the Holy Ghost alone bears the responsibility of drawing men to Christ--that salves our conscience and justifies our passivity.

2) We witness by ourselves.  That is, we view the whole process of evangelization as a work that is initiated, kindled, and pursued unto completion by we ourselves and we alone.  Soulwinners often, in their zeal to save the souls of men, forget that the Holy Spirit must convict the lost of sin, righteousness, and judgment.  The Holy Spirit must open their understanding and their hearts.  The Holy Spirit must prick their hearts.  The Holy Spirit must teach and testify in their hearts that Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior.  And without these divine works of the Spirit operating in the background of a man's heart, there will be no saving faith nor "repentance unto life".

So what is the point?

1) Remember that "we are His witnesses." The Holy Spirit does His work as we do ours.  If we don't share the plan of salvation with the lost, neither will the Holy Ghost.  If we don't testify to men, He will not testify to the hearts of men.  For you see, He speaks silently as we speak audibly; He speaks to the heart as we speak to the ears.  Be faithful to preach the Word everywhere (Mark 16:20) and be "ready always to give an answer" (I Peter 3:15).  We are His witnesses!

2) Don't try to do the work of the Holy Ghost.  For one thing, you don't have the ability to bring conviction and repentance to another man's heart.  And secondly, in your zeal to convict and persuade, you might cause someone to obey YOU rather than GOD.

This can be very dangerous, especially if the "new convert" is given assurance of a salvation that he doesn't possess.  I'd hate to assure someone that he is a child of God, leaving him alone to believe he is "all set", when he is actually no less a "child of hell" (Matthew 23:15) and is in no less "danger of eternal damnation" than he ever was (Mark 3:29).

Note: It's interesting to see the contrast between those who "obey Him" (Acts 5:32) and those who "obey" men (Acts 5:36-37).  Those who obey God, thus receiving Christ through the inner-working of the Holy Spirit, are born again.  But those who obey men, after a while, scatter and disperse.  I wonder if the reason why so many professed converts fall by the wayside is that they were merely led to follow a man rather than God.

3) Remember that you're not alone when you witness.  Success in evangelism is not dependent on your abilities, experience, knowledge, or persuasiveness.  You are responsible to share the Truth--to share the gospel.  In your own words, in your own way, based upon your own experience, and with heartfelt passion, share with the lost what God has said in His Word.  Tell them that Jesus died on the cross.  Tell them that He did it to pay for our sins.  Tell them that He rose from the grave and that He's the only Lord and Savior.  And then exhort them to turn to Him, believe on Him, and call upon Him to be their personal Savior.

The rest is up to your Partner.

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