“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8).
Everyone called by Christ receives a commission to be a witness to him everywhere and every time. He, Jesus Christ the Lord had been crucified at Golgotha publicly in the eyes of all. Like he said; three days he will be in the grave and rise again, Christ indeed rose from the dead and “After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God” (Acts 1:3).
Indeed, without controversy, Christ is risen, he didn’t just rise and kept himself in secret, but in prove of his resurrection, he showed himself to many before he ascended into heaven.
Like he commanded his disciples in Matthew 28:18-20 saying:
All Authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the earth.
Luke, in his second volume in the book of the Acts of the Apostles records this same commission also called the Great Commission pointing out that all disciples of Christ are called to be
Witnesses of Christ and of his gospel
Yes, to follow Christ is to be his witness. A witness is not just a person who sees something happen but one who can testify exactly what he has seen happen. The disciples were first hand witnesses and through their faithful witness, we witness what they did witnessed. To witness means to testify, to give a testimony of or an account of something. It is the attestation of a fact or event as put by the Merriam Webster dictionary.
To witness for Christ is to attest to his wholeness. That he came to save sinners, that he gave himself as a ransom and died on the cross of Calvary for the salvation of mankind. That he rose from the dead and he is ascended into heaven. That he will come again in glory, this time never and never to offer a sacrifice for sins, he already did that. But to be judge over the living and the dead.
To be a witness of Christ is to declare his good news, that “whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
But that isn’t all about witnessing, there is yet an important aspect of witnessing without which one may not so be a witness for Christ. To be a witness is to have a personal knowledge of something. A Christian witness is one who has a personal knowledge of Christ, one who doesn’t just have a head knowledge of Christ but one who has had and continues to have encounter with Christ.
Like evangelist Billy Graham said; “many of us know about God, but that is different from knowing God,” many people know about Christ but haven’t known Christ. To be a witness of Christ begins by knowing Christ and not just knowing about Christ.
You must know Christ in order to be his witness. You must believe in Christ, that he is the Son of God, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, that he is the way, the truth and the life. Knowing Christ, having a personal relationship with him to be his witness is very important because to witness for him is not by human knowledge or power. Our
Witnessing is by the Power of the Holy Spirit
I had read about Christ, knew a lot about him, how he was born, how he ministered, how he suffered, died and rose again but this did not make me a witness until I received the dynamite which propelled me to witness. I remember that night when I spoke boldly to my mother of this Jesus who saves. I still recall the tears that rolled from my mother’s eyes after I witnessed to her.
It wasn’t my words that brought the tears in my mother’s eyes, it wasn’t my ability to present Christ to her differently from what she had known. It was the Holy Spirit in me who enabled me to speak, it was the Spirit of God that did not only convince her but convicted her of sin.
What is man without the Holy Spirit that he can witness for Christ? Jesus knew that though he was with the disciples for three years, that though he had sent them out to preach, cast demons and heal the sick, they needed the Holy Spirit to continue being faithful witnesses for him. So, before he ascended to heaven, he left this instruction;
“I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high” (Luke 24:49).
What is it that the father has promised? It is nothing other than the Holy Spirit. Peter knew it, on the day the Holy Spirit descended on them, he alluded to the promise of the Father through prophet Joel. God promised;
And after word, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days (Joel 2:28-29).
A promise that Jesus instructed the disciples to wait for. Ten days after his ascension, the promise was fulfilled, the Spirit was outpoured on the disciples as they were in the upper room praying.
It was on this fateful day that they started to witness. It was on this day that one of the greatest conversions ever happened after a powerful Spirit led sermon. At the sermon of Peter, three thousand people responded to his call. Since then, Peter who followed Jesus from a distance after Jesus was arrested, Peter who three times denied that he did know Jesus witnessed for the same man he denied.
The scattered disciples now begun to say “Jesus is Lord,” calling men to repent. The Holy Spirit empowers feeble men to bold men, he strengthens the tongue of the stammer to proclaim his good news. You don’t have to worry of what you will say or how you will witness, only avail yourself to be a witness and the Holy Spirit will empower you to witness in ways known to him. And you will be a
Witness for Christ everywhere and every time
There is no particular place and time to witness, witnessing for Christ should be everywhere and every time. Witnessing for Christ is by both word and deed. We must not reduce witnessing for Christ to either of the two, they are sides of the same coin. We must live like Christ, in this way, the world will know that we are his disciples and we shall make him known to the world.
We must always remember that we are the fifth gospel, many don’t have the time to read the first four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, but they have the time to read the fifth, you and me.
Richard T. Bewes rightly wrote in his hymn, “They are watching you, marking all you do, hearing all the things you say.” Let your life without words witness for Christ, and live your words for Christ.
Listen to what John Piper says about witnessing,
Witnessing about light is a strange task if your aim is for people to see the light and believe in the light. Light illumines by itself. When you want someone to see a light, you don’t witness about the light, but you hold up the light. If you have a torch in your hand, and you want someone to see the torch, you don’t say, “This is a torch.” You hold up the torch.
In as much as social gospel is a means of witness and is witness, we shouldn’t as a church only stop at it. We must make deliberate efforts to point men and women to Christ, to say Christ is Lord, to say Christ died for the sin of the world, to say in Christ is life. Yes, that is the primary commission by Christ when he told his disciples they will be his witnesses and they did it well. We ought to follow their example. We should invest our time, resources and all to witness as the disciples did.
Christ calls us to be with him so that he can send us out to the world, not only to feed the hungry, not only to say all men are equal, not only to say all gender is equal, not only to promote rights of mankind, and not only to be seekers of worldly peace but to tell the world;
“Repent and be baptized every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins” (Acts 2:38).
We must keep live the voice of John the Baptist, “repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near,” we like Christ must proclaim, “repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near,” and as the disciples, “repent and be baptized all of you.”
As a church and individual members of the body of Christ, we are called to be his witnesses everywhere and every time.
Father, we can easily become discouraged when we witness to others and see no immediate results of their coming to faith. Help us to remember that we are commissioned to plant the seeds of faith and trust You for the germination and growth that comes from our sowing. There are many on our hearts today in which we have planted seeds of faith. We commit them to You and trust that You will bring other believers into their lives whereby the combination of our methods of sowing will take root and bring them to repentance and salvation in Christ. It is in the name of Jesus that we pray. Amen.
Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture quotations are taken from the New International Version (NIV).
Rev. Julius Izza Tabi is a pastor in the Anglican Church of Uganda, Ma’di & West Nile Diocese. Julius served as an assistant Chaplain and lecturer at the Arua Campus of the Uganda Christin University. He is currently a candidate of Master of Philosophy in Religion, Society and Global Issues at Det Teologiske Menighetsfakultet alias the Norwegian School of Theology, in Oslo, Norway. For pastoral assistance you can email him or check how you can reach him here