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Testimonies Or Witnessing

I once had a discussion with a leader in another church organization regarding the proper manner of witnessing. Their position was that witnessing included the writing of short stories which were characterized by an aura of expressions of gratitude, and justification of the author's personal concepts and actions by what was presumed to be that of God the Father and Christ. My understanding was that witnessing was being a good example to others. That, as I recall, was also the WCG position. Which was right? Well, as we shall see, to some degree both were. Witnessing in their vein means giving a testimonial. What is a testimonial? A testimonial is a writing which certifies character. Let me give you an example of a testimonial which was written by Paul in Philippians 3.

(Phil 3:7-14 NKJV) But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. {8} Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ {9} and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; {10} that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, {11} if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. {12} Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. [Paul did not consider himself "saved" yet.] {13} Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, {14} I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

So, today we are going to study about thirty commonly accepted Biblical examples of testimonials, or witnessing Christ, as many call it. I've arranged them by category so we can better address each type. I want to go through each of them and stress those words which express how they qualify for testimonials. I encourage you to consider each one, then ask yourself, "Is that my concept of giving testimonials or 'Witnessing for Christ'?"

Category 1 – Tell people about the great deeds God has done.

(1 Chr 16:8-9 NKJV) Oh, give thanks to the LORD! Call upon His name; Make known His deeds among the peoples! {9} Sing to Him, sing psalms to Him; Talk of all His wondrous works!
(Psa 9:11 NKJV) Sing praises to the LORD, who dwells in Zion! Declare His deeds among the people.
(Psa 26:6-7 NKJV) I will wash my hands in innocence; So I will go about Your altar, O LORD, {7} That I may proclaim with the voice of thanksgiving, And tell of all Your wondrous works.
(Psa 119:27 NKJV) Make me understand the way of Your precepts; So shall I meditate on Your wondrous works. [The word "meditate" is translated from the Hebrew "siyach" Strong's number H7878, which means to muse or reflect in silence.]
(Jeremiah 51:10 NKJV) The LORD has revealed our righteousness. Come and let us declare in Zion the work of the LORD our God.

The emphasis in these scriptures is on telling others about God's deeds; what He has done. It is not about what we have done.

Category 2 – Give thanks to God.

(Psa 18:49 NKJV) Therefore I will give thanks to You, O LORD, among the Gentiles, And sing praises to Your name.

The emphasis here is to thank God publicly, even among those who do not worship God as you do. To praise God's Holy Name.

Category 3 – Tell people how great God's commandments are.

(Psa 119:172 NKJV) My tongue shall speak of Your word, For all Your commandments are righteousness.

We should tell others of the advantage of keeping all of God's laws (i.e. His instructions), not just the commandments. We should not tell others how well we keep them (or how we don't keep them).

Category 4 – Discuss God's Power with brethren.

(Psa 145:11-12 NKJV) They shall speak of the glory of Your kingdom, And talk of Your power, {12} To make known to the sons of men His mighty acts, And the glorious majesty of His kingdom.
(Isa 45:24 NKJV) He shall say, 'Surely in the LORD I have righteousness and strength. To Him men shall come, And all shall be ashamed Who are incensed against Him.

We should talk of the power God will exhibit at Christ's return and the wonderful effects of His Kingdom on earth.

Category 5 – Exalt the Name of God

(Isa 12:4-6 NKJV) And in that day you will say: "Praise the LORD, call upon His name; Declare His deeds among the peoples, Make mention that His name is exalted. {5} Sing to the LORD, For He has done excellent things; This is known in all the earth. {6} Cry out and shout, O inhabitant of Zion, For great is the Holy One of Israel in your midst!"

We should openly declare the blessings and deeds of our Father. We should openly state that it is God who has given us the blessings we enjoy, not our own talents and abilities. We need to exalt God by name, not beat around the bush when describing His deeds.

Category 6 – There is only one God.

(Isa 43:10 NKJV) "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.
(Isa 44:8 NKJV) Do not fear, nor be afraid; Have I not told you from that time, and declared it? You are My witnesses. Is there a God besides Me? Indeed there is no other Rock; I know not one.'"

A witness is someone who confirms or attests or testifies to others that something is true because they have seen or experienced the event themselves. In the case of these two scriptures God is saying to Israel that they have seen the mighty works of God. No one could have seen his mighty works and truly deny that He is God, the only God. We should not be shy about standing up for God or His Christ, our Messiah.

Category 7 – Our example, the way we live our lives, is our testimony.

(Mat 5:13-16 NKJV) "You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. {14} "You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. {15} "Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lamp-stand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. {16} "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.

No one lights a lamp only to cover it up so no one can see it or benefit from its light. Yes, I said see it , not hear it. Christians are to hold their light, the example of their righteous living, their good works, for everyone in their proximity, everyone they encounter, to see, not hear about. Their lives are to be a shining example to others. Any self-aggrandizement would be totally self-defeating in one's desire to be a good example. This can be described as silent witnessing, a silent testimonial. At the same time, we must not use silence to avoid telling others of the wonderful works of God. As we are about to see, good works can certainly include what religious people call witnessing.

(Mark 4:21 NKJV) Also He said to them, "Is a lamp brought to be put under a basket or under a bed? Is it not to be set on a lamp-stand?
(Luke 8:16-17 NKJV) "No one, when he has lit a lamp, covers it with a vessel or puts it under a bed, but sets it on a lamp-stand, that those who enter may see the light. {17} "For nothing is secret that will not be revealed, nor anything hidden that will not be known and come to light.

Don't hide your good works. Don't talk about them. But don't hide them. If you do, God will not give you any credit for having done them. I think that leads us into a parable:

(Mat 25:14-30 NKJV) "For the kingdom of heaven is like a man traveling to a far country, who called his own servants and delivered his goods to them. {15} "And to one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one, to each according to his own ability; and immediately he went on a journey. {16} "Then he who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and made another five talents. {17} "And likewise he who had received two gained two more also. {18} "But he who had received one went and dug in the ground, and hid his lord's money. {19} "After a long time the lord of those servants came and settled accounts with them. {20} "So he who had received five talents came and brought five other talents, saying, 'Lord, you delivered to me five talents; look, I have gained five more talents besides them.' {21} "His lord said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.' {22} "He also who had received two talents came and said, 'Lord, you delivered to me two talents; look, I have gained two more talents besides them.' {23} "His lord said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.' {24} "Then he who had received the one talent came and said, 'Lord, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you have not sown, and gathering where you have not scattered seed. {25} 'And I was afraid, and went and hid your talent in the ground. Look, there you have what is yours.' {26} "But his lord answered and said to him, 'You wicked and lazy servant, you knew that I reap where I have not sown, and gather where I have not scattered seed. {27} 'So you ought to have deposited my money with the bankers, and at my coming I would have received back my own with interest. {28} 'Therefore take the talent from him, and give it to him who has ten talents. {29} 'For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away. {30} 'And cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.'

We must not find ourselves as the man with only one talent and hide our opportunity to use, to demonstrate, the good character God has given us. Whether we have one talent or ten, we must use our talents of being an example of good works to grow the blessings God has given to us. Let's take God's blessing to us and make it grow by inspiring others to follow God's way of life. We can not do that by burying our good works and our values so no one can see them.

Category 8 – We must confess our belief in Christ.

(Mat 10:32 NKJV) "Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven.
(Luke 12:8-9 NKJV) "Also I say to you, whoever confesses Me before men, him the Son of Man also will confess before the angels of God. {9} "But he who denies Me before men will be denied before the angels of God.
(John 4:28-30 NKJV) The woman then left her water-pot, went her way into the city, and said to the men, {29} "Come, see a Man who told me all things that I ever did. Could this be the Christ?" {30} Then they went out of the city and came to Him.
(Verse 39 NKJV) And many of the Samaritans of that city believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, "He told me all that I ever did."
(Verses 41-42 NKJV) And many more believed because of His own word. {42} Then they said to the woman, "Now we believe, not because of what you said, for we ourselves have heard Him and we know that this is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world."
(Acts 1:8 NKJV) "But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth."
(Rom 10:9-10 NKJV) that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. {10} For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
(1 Cor 12:3 NKJV) Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God calls Jesus accursed, and no one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit.
(Heb 2:12 NKJV) saying: "I will declare Your name to My brethren; In the midst of the assembly I will sing praise to You."
(2 Tim 1:8 NKJV) Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God,
(Rev 12:11 NKJV) "And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.

There is little one can add to these scriptures. We must be willing to admit our belief in the saving blood of Jesus Christ, Yeshua haMeshiach, even if it results in our physical death.

Category 9 – We should confess what miracles we have seen Christ bring and do in our lives and others's lives.

(Mark 5:16 NKJV) And those who saw it told them how it happened to him who had been demon-possessed, and about the swine.
(Verses 19-20 NKJV) However, Jesus did not permit him, but said to him, "Go home to your friends, and tell them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He has had compassion on you." {20} And he departed and began to proclaim in Decapolis [meaning Ten Towns] all that Jesus had done for him; and all marveled.
(Luke 8:38-39 NKJV) Now the man from whom the demons had departed begged Him that he might be with Him. But Jesus sent him away, saying, {39} "Return to your own house, and tell what great things God has done for you." And he went his way and proclaimed throughout the whole city what great things Jesus had done for him.
(John 15:27 NKJV) "And you also will bear witness, because you have been with Me from the beginning.

When we see miraculous healings, miraculous changes in life-style and conduct, or any other miracle, we need to tell people about it. We must not worry about the potential of being called a religious fool, as many have been labeled.

Category 10 – Be ready to answer questions from everyone who asks why you have this hope.

(1 Pet 3:15 NKJV) But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense [to give a reasoned answer - G627] to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear;

Let's review these categories of witnessing or testimonies again to see how they were used.

Category 1 – To tell people about the great deeds God has done.

Category 2 – To give thanks to God.

Category 3 – To tell people how great God's commandments are.

Category 4 – To discuss God's Power with believers.

Category 5 – To exalt the Name of God.

Category 6 – To indicate there is only one God.

Category 7 – To indicate that our example, the way we live our lives, is our testimony.

Category 8 – To confess our belief in Christ.

Category 9 – To proclaim what miracles we have seen Christ do in our and other's lives.

Category 10 – To be ready to answer questions from everyone who asks why you have this hope.

Is there a category we have left out? What about preaching? Certainly a preacher can include witnessing or testimonials in his sermon but is preaching witnessing or testifying? Most would agree that it is not. Preaching is normally considered a form of teaching, exhorting or reproving. But what of the instructions Paul left for us in 1 Tim 2:11-12 and 1 Cor 14:34-35 concerning women?

(1 Tim 2:11-12 NKJV) Let a woman learn in silence with all submission. {12} And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence.
(1 Cor 14:34-35 NKJV) Let your women keep silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak; but they are to be submissive, as the law also says. {35} And if they want to learn something, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is shameful for women to speak in church.

Can a woman publically witness in a preaching or teaching manner? From these scriptures, it would seem as though she could not if her intended audience included men. There are other scriptures which would seem to apply to the one we just read.

(Acts 18:24-26 NKJV) Now a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man and mighty in the Scriptures, came to Ephesus. {25} This man had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things of the Lord, though he knew only the baptism of John. {26} So he began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Aquila and Priscilla heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately.

So here we have Aquila and Priscilla explaining to Apollos the truth about Christ. But notice they did not preach to him publically. They quietly explained it privately outside the synagogue.

But Titus 2 shows how older women can teach young women about wifely duties.

(Titus 2:4-5 NKJV) that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, {5} to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed.

2 Tim 3:15 shows us that children should be taught scripture. We would have to assume that they are taught by both parents. But again, this is private teaching.

(2 Tim 3:14-15 NKJV) But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, {15} and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.

I think these scriptures tell us that women must be very careful not to preach, even if what they intend to teach is sound. A woman's teaching (not explaining) seems to be limited to teaching other women how to be good homemakers and loving wives and mothers, and of course teaching children. Is this compatible with today's Western life style? Probably not. But one need only read Isa 3:12 and 2 Tim 3:1-7 to see how far our society has wandered off the correct path.

(Isa 3:12 NKJV) As for My people, children are their oppressors, And women rule over them. O My people! Those who lead you cause you to err, And destroy the way of your paths."
(2 Tim 3:1-7 NKJV) But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: {2} For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, {3} unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, {4} traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, {5} having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! {6} For of this sort are those who creep into households and make captives of gullible women loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts, {7} always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.

While this scripture from 2 Timothy does not address the role of women in preaching or teaching others, it does describe the degenerate and rather hopeless condition of our society today.

My visits to brethren in Ghana have given me the opportunity to see these biblical instructions put into action. Our Ghana brethren are not as influenced by the social pressures of modern western society so the conduct of our Ghanaian church sisters more accurately reflect these biblical instructions, as did our own women prior to the 1920s.

Today's society is not a measure of how we should conduct our lives. In order to reorient our thinking away from today's society, perhaps we should look back to the earlier years of this country when women were precluded from all public offices. In those days women could not be judges, nor execute the function of magistrates. They could not sue, plead, nor act as proxies. In that environment it was obviously easier for a woman to follow Biblical principles of support for their husbands. They had few other avenues of motivational expression, though some did use the press and of course other women to express their opinions. But in today's environment, the prudent woman must be very careful that her witnessing or testimony not encroach into the area of teaching or preaching. This may seem like a waste of a woman's talents, but her talents can certainly be used to motivate and inspire her husband's preaching and/or assisting other women.

We began this sermon by mentioning religious stories which are intended to be a testimonial to God and His Son. When writing such stories, one must be careful not to use wistful or nebulous examples. Such examples will only turn away the story's intended readers. Stories must use solid, factual statements, not fanciful assumptions. The message must not state that just because the writer had some experience, that they can construe a parallel concept or perception by God. That practice portrays a holier-than-thou or sanctimonious preachiness. Nor should the writer assume that just because they feel close to God, that God will automatically champion the cause promoted by their story.

Let me conclude by reading again a scripture which teaches us another very important lesson. We read this before, but in a little different vein. There's a very important lesson here:

(Mat 10:32-33 KJV) Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. {33} But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.

Think about it.

There are times when it is more convenient, more diplomatic to avoid confessing our belief in Christ, perhaps fearing being called a hypocrite by those who can see that we are not perfect; perhaps due to fear of being labeled as another religious kook; perhaps out of fear of potential future martyrdom. But, let none of us be guilty of the very grave offense of denial. We must learn to practice the ten categories of witnessing or testifying we have covered today.

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Sermon by Wayne Bedwell
August 12, 2006
Copyright 2006, Wayne Bedwell

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