Recap of Unit(3), on introducing the Holy Spirit.


What is a witness?

Someone who gives evidence based on personal knowledge. To attest to, to testify, to give reliable evidence, to give an account of something which is true.

Who was a key witness for you in your journey to faith?

Why we give witness to Jesus

After Jesus ascended to be with His father, God provided and continues to provide evidence about His son - through the lives of those who know him. Their task is to convey the good news of salvation in Christ to a lost and perishing world. This personal message, from one to another is sufficient to get the job done. In the right spirit, it is more important than miracles or signs, in reaching people with God's message (Luke_16:19-31).

Everyone is a witness whether they like it or not. The only question is - what kind of witness, and to what!

    "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).

    "Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience..." (1_Peter_3:15).

To know Jesus is to have something beyond comparison to give testimony to...

On the lonely isle of St. Helena, the exiled emperor, Napoleon, was once discussing Christ with General Bertrand, a faithful officer who had followed him into banishment and did not believe in the deity of Jesus. Napoleon said:

"I know men, and I tell you that Jesus Christ is not a man. Superficial minds see a resemblance between the founders of empires and the gods of other religions. That resemblance does not exist. There is between Christianity and whatever other religions, the distance of infinity... Everything in Christ astonishes me. His spirit overawes me, and his will confounds me. Between him and whoever else in the world, there is no possible term of comparison. He is truly a being by himself. His ideas and sentiments, the truth which he announces, his manner of conviction are not explained either by human organisation or by the nature of things... The nearer I approach, the more carefully I examine, everything is above me - everything remains grand, of a grandeur which over-powers. His religion is a revelation from an intelligence which certainly is not that of man... One can absolutely find nowhere, but in him alone, the imitation or example of his life... I search in history to find the similar to Jesus Christ or anything which can approach the gospel. Neither history, nor humanity, nor the ages, nor nature offer me anything with which I am able to compare it or to explain it. Here everything is extraordinary."

What a saviour! What a privilege to be drawn into such a faith!

Kenneth Scott Latourette, director of the Department of religion in Yale's graduate school, historian and author, commented about Jesus:

"Measured by its fruits in the human race, that short life has been the most influential ever lived on this planet. As we have been at pains to point out, the impress of that life, far from fading with the passing centuries, has deepened. Through him millions of individuals have been transformed and have begun to live the kind of life which he exemplified. Gauged by the consequences which have followed, the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus have been the most important events in the history of man. Measured by his influence, Jesus is central in the human story."
Being a sign post:
  • Are our lives transmitting the light of Christ, illuminating the paths of others near us?
  • How would you succinctly explain the gospel?

How to be a witness

How does the good news spread? The British scholar W.H. Griffith Thomas said:

"The testimony to the present work of Jesus Christ is no less real than it has been in the past. In the case of all other great names of the world's history, the inevitable and invariable experience has been that the particular man is first a power, then only a name, and last of all a mere memory. Of Jesus Christ the exact opposite is true. He died on a cross of shame, his name gradually became more and more powerful, and he is the greatest influence in the world today. There is, as has been well said, a fifth Gospel being written - the work of Jesus Christ in the hearts and lives of men and nations."

(The above quotes are reproduced from the Teacher's Manual of the 'Ten Basic Steps Toward Christian Maturity' (pp 20, 33), Campus Crusade for Christ, used with permission ).

Returning again to the words of Jesus from Acts_1:7 (see above), let us draw attention to the fact that Jesus said "You will be my witnesses", not "Be witnesses". This might seem like a fine distinction, but the point is to do with our motivation.

We are NOT witnesses by compulsion or by expectation!
We will be witnesses as we are inwardly motivated
by our love of Christ.
'The expulsive power of a new affection' -

As our love of Him grows, so our witness can't help but happen. The more our affection for Him grows, the more the darkness and reserve and embarrassment is expelled from our thoughts and emotions - and the more our lives reflect a deepening maturity in Christ. In this way a consistency between our lives and our words provides credibility to our witness of Jesus (2_Corinthians_5:11-15).

The potential for this kind of witness can be indicated by the following diagram:


Some practical thoughts about sharing our faith

  • Living a life of love where it counts.

    It's first showing Christ's love in the home and in the Body of Christ. If we don't love here, what do we have to share?

      "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." (John_13:34-35)

  • Being faithful to Jesus.

    We need to be faithful to Him in all of our life, so that our lives reflect His truth. As we honour Him in our lives - we become a living expression of His word, as a result of His Spirit indwelling us, eg: being honest and truthful in all our dealings.

    Don't be so distracted by the "world" that we forget our calling to a life of love and service. We need to allow God to refine and change us - so that we can shine in such a way that others will see God reflected in us.

  • Being A Servant To Others.

    The stereotype of an overbearing Christian 'stuffing the Bible down someone's throat' is the exact opposite of the example of Christ. The Christian should be a caring person looking out for the highest good of someone they care about and listening to others. (Matthew_20:26).

  • Being sensitive and tactful with others.

    Have we earned the right to witness? Have we given time, caring and friendship to establish the basis of respect and credibility for the words we wish to share? Are our words compatible with our unspoken communication?

    However we must also be careful that wariness of inappropriate witness is not used as an excuse to stifle any expression of the gospel at all. Past abuses are not an excuse to 'opt out' because of fear of non-acceptance by peers or rejection by the hearer!

  • Being aware we are dealing with life and death issues.

    We need to sense God's heart crying out to the world to come to him, to weep with Him and share His suffering about those cut off from him. Are we really concerned for this person's salvation?

    Do we care whether this person's destiny is in heaven, or to be condemned to eternal death and separation from God? (John_3:18, 5:25-30, Luke_16:19-31). For example, consider the last time you bought a train pass (or whatever) - were you motivated to pray a silent prayer for the person selling the ticket?

  • Being led to the right place at the right time.

    Those who are available to God to be led by the Spirit (i.e. an openness in our relationship with God), will find themselves being guided to many divine appointments. Here the right contact occurs in the right place at the right time! When we operate with God in this way and allow Him to speak and work through us, miracles happen!

  • Being bold for the King

    Boldness under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit brings a positive result beyond anything we expect. Often apprehensions about stepping out in faith are found to be groundless fears which hinder the work of God. Think over the example of the first disciples to see the effectiveness of a divine boldness.

    As we step out with him, we will find that His power within us is more than sufficient for all our needs. He has promised to be with us and empower us. We can put off fear in the knowledge that nothing is too hard for our God!

    As we stand in Christ's victory and claim His victory in the world around us, we will find that God's Spirit is released to move and hasten His purposes around us. His kingdom will surely come!

  • Being free in your faith

    Being free in your faith comes from inner conviction of who Christ is and who we are as His servants. Not being 'tied in knots', but being relaxed and enthusiastic in our faith. With our witness, are we sharing concepts... or faith? Do we risk our faith - for example to pray for the need of another. Putting our faith on the line - rather than making demands of others? Are we prepared to take a step of faith on behalf of others?

  • Equipping ourselves by studying and knowing God's word.

  • Being relaxed in knowing it's His work.

    We never lead anyone to Christ of ourselves; rather it is the Holy Spirit who convinces peoples hearts of the reality of God.

    Jesus just wants us to be a channel He can use to bless others. Are we a free 'pipeline' from God to this other person, or are there blockages or restrictions? He is the vine and we are the branches, apart from Him we can do nothing (John_15:5).

    We need to trust Him to teach us, lead us and guide us into what we need to know for the particular situation. As we obey His word, we will be fruitful for him, because the Spirit can operate through us.

  • Being prayerful

    Usually someone's journey to Christ has been associated with one or more Christians having a real burden for this person. Typically a person who comes to Christ has been prayed for over many years in a caring, faithful and costly way. The one who has sowed the seeds of God in a persons life may not be the reaper. Whether we sow or whether we reap, prayer is central to our Christian witness (John_4:36-38).


Check out the scriptures in the following table and summarise the key points about being a witness to Jesus:

1 Isaiah_58:3-4
2 Matthew_28:18-20
3 Mark_5:1-20
4 John_20:21-22
5 Acts_16:22-34
6 1_Corinthians_12:4-11
7 2_Corinthians_5:14-20

Discuss: In the light of 2_Corinthians_5:14-21 - what is on God's agenda? What is God's provision for people? What is the ministry God has given to us?

Priorities of wisdom and love

We have a wonderful saviour and a wonderful message. The Church is His witness to the unbelieving world - to bring others to reconciliation with God. To be witnesses, the gospel must first be true in our own lives, demonstrated by a consistent life style. The Christian message is so profound, only a passion for its liberation is a worthy response!

We can do nothing of ourselves to witness. We must be empowered by the Holy Spirit, allowing Him to vitalise our motivation of love and our obedience. Our presentation of the gospel must have love and wisdom as priorities.


Sharing the gospel - a practice run

Let's imagine a scenario where God places you in a situation where someone enquires of you - "How do I become a Christian?" This is an opportunity to put the following scripture into practice:

"Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience..." (1_Peter_3:15)

You may like to use 2_Corinthians_5:14-21 to prepare an outline of the kind of answer you would like to give. This should take into account the following points, in the order and way you would like this to occur:

  • Our condition without God;
  • Why God cares - the consequences of life apart from God;
  • How God cares - His only provision for our salvation;
  • What it means to you to be a Christian (something of your personal story);
  • How to appropriate God's provision, i.e. how to pray to God; and
  • Where to go from here.

In a Bible Class a young student questioned: "I can't understand what the death of a man (Jesus) has to do with the forgiveness of sin?" How would you answer this?

    Your answer should include the idea of substitution: Our sin has breached God's perfect law. God cannot and will not change His law - and the judgment for our being guilty of breaking His law is death. This would result in our eternal separation from God. Yet in God's mercy He provides a way to overcome this absolute outcome. His son, Jesus, 'steps into the dock' on our behalf and accepts the death sentence as payment for our sin. This is Jesus' substitution for us - while He is without sin. He pays the ransom to set us free. As we accept this transaction we are honouring God's provision. This step of faith is what God requires for us to obtain complete and eternal forgiveness, thus opening up the way of restoration of relationship with Himself.
Unit 4: Learning About The Bible [Next Section]

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Created on: 28 August 1997 Last updated: 28 August 1997