A Voice in the
"You are My witnesses," says the LORD, "And My servant whom I have chosen, That you may know and believe Me, And understand that I am He. Before Me there was no God formed, Nor shall there be after Me. (Isa43:10)
And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures. Then He said to them, "Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And you are witnesses of these things." (Luke 24:45-48)
WHAT IS A WITNESS? First of all a witness is a person who can give a firsthand account of something seen, heard or experienced. He was there, and has personal knowledge of the matter. This same person is often called upon to testify before a court, and serves as "evidence" in the case.
If the witness experienced a change because of the incident, such as injury or illness, they are also "physical evidence" in the case. They are personally examined for characteristics as they fit the case.
A witness, also, can be a person specifically chosen to be present at a transaction in order to attest to what takes place. Such as a notary public attests to the signing of a document.
The official seal of the testimony is the witness' signature.
Initially God chose Abraham and his descendants, Israel, to be His witnesses. He showed His power and glory as He delivered them from Egyptian bondage, led them through the wilderness, gave them the Law, gave them miraculous victories over the nations, and ultimately entrusted to them the responsibility of providing the written Scriptures (Rom 3:2).
Then, God sent His Son, Jesus Christ. As Jesus said, "He who has seen Me has seen the Father." (Jn14:9) He performed signs... "The works that I do in My Father's name, they bear witness of Me." (Jn 10:25) And Jesus then attests before Pilate, "You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. (Jn 18:37)
After Jesus' resurrection He extends this responsibility of wit- ness to His believers. "Go therefore and make disciples of all the na- tions, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you" (Mat 28:19-20) This is the popular "Great Commission." However, in Lk 24:45-48 He specifically explains to them WHAT they are witnesses TO.
First of all, Jesus teaches His disciples from the Scriptures. "He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures." And He then says, "Thus it is written."
SCRIPTURES are FOUNDATIONAL to any consideration of doctrine and evangelism. Paul gave the stern warning, "But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. (Gal 1:8) Where does this Gospel come from? "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness" (2 Tim 3:16)
Next, Jesus goes on to explain that the witness is about Himself. "It was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day." (Lk 24:46)
WHAT WAS THE "NECESSITY?" "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." (Rom3:23) And, "the wages of sin is death." (Rom 6:23) The prophet Jonah, "according to the word of the Lord...cried out against it...yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!"(Jonah1:2,3:3-4) Jesus spoke of "Outer darkness" & "Weeping and gnashing of teeth."
Do we see here the gospel message dressed up with pleasant appetizers? Do we see efforts to "not offend" the hearer? (Gal 5:11) Do we hear how "God...has a wonderful plan for your life?" NO! NO! What we see is the need for a "rescue mission." "but others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh(Jude 23)
The only one who could do the "saving" was Jesus Christ. "For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so...by one Man's obedience many will be made righteous(Rom 5:19)
Let's not leave out the resurrection! Without which, there is no life. "Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep...in Christ all shall be made alive." (1Cor 15:20-22~)
THE MESSAGE to be PREACHED is " repentance and remission of sins." (Lk 24:47) Joel proclaims "Rend your heart, and not your garments."(2:13) After Peter's stirring message how the hearers were "guilty"...they were "cut to the heart," and were then directed to "Repent." (Acts2:37-38)
The promise is "remission of sins." (Acts 10:43, Heb10:22) The Ninevites sought God's "grace and mercy" as they humbled themselves. And were spared judgment. (Jonah 3)
THE CHANGED NATURE is a witness. "Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus. (Acts 4:13) As the world sees us they should see "CHRIST IN YOU.."(Col 1:27) A New Creation (2Cor 5:17) Our actions and attitudes will be new. (1Jn3:14, Jas 2:14-26)
DEATH, not HEALING. The sad error today that is gullibly accepted, is that when we "accept Christ" He "heals" us. "Sin does not really exist. We are worth so much to God, He accepts us JUST AS WE ARE; all we really need is to be healed of our dysfunction." The old song states, "heals the sin-sick soul." This is not found in Scripture!
The sinner CANNOT be healed. HE MUST DIE. "Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? (Rom 6:3) Col 3:3 states "for you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God." And goes on to indicate the differences between the old and new. "And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins." (Eph 2:1)
Witnesses to God and Jesus Christ attest to 1) God's existence, 2) Judgment because of sin, 3) Repentance & remission of sins, 4) New & Changed life, and 5) Baptism. While baptism isn't required for salvation, it was commanded by Christ. And, like the legal signature of a court witness, Baptism indicates to the world the Believer's resolve...and quite often was the trigger for martyrdom. (1Cor 15:29-30)
"For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes..I was appointed [a witness] For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day.(Rom1:16,2Tim1:12)
But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness & fear.(1Pet 3:15)