Jesus Calls Us to "BE Witnesses"
Not Just "TO Witness"
by Pastor Jim Feeney, Ph.D.
- Summary: Christians often talk about “witnessing” for Christ. But Jesus’ command to the believers is to “BE witnesses”. Our failure to “be witnesses” may help explain the lack of success of many of our soulwinning efforts.
Some Christians will approach a total stranger and open the conversation with something like: “Hello, I’d like to ask you if you know Jesus as your personal Savior.”
- •• Now this is certainly commendable, but it rarely works. Why?
- • You have no credibility with that stranger.
• You haven’t yet earned a hearing with him or her. There is no established trust factor that would give you an open door to share your faith.
- •• But in Acts 1:8 Jesus gave us a key to reaching others for Him.
Acts 1:8 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.
- •• Various forms of the word “witness” occur 42 times in the NIV New Testament. But not one of those 42 occurrences is the expression “to witness”. We are not called “to” witness, but to “be” a witness.
•• And being a Christian witness involves your whole life, not just your words. This is the essence of what many call lifestyle evangelism.
- • Jesus deliberately used the phrase “BE witnesses”. Now how can we obey His command to be Christian witnesses?
Matthew 5:13 You ARE the SALT of the earth.
- •• Be salt — that is, flavor and a preservative to all around you.
- • Live for God before people, and you will impart a positive flavor to any gathering of people.
• Live for God before people, and you will be a preserving force against corruption.
- •• As you determine to be salt and light before others, you exert a positive influence upon them.
Matthew 5:14-16 You are the light of the world....  it gives light to everyone in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your GOOD DEEDS and praise your Father in heaven.
- •• Be light, and the darkness is pushed back.
•• Be light before men, so they see your good deeds.
- • Your good works point others to God. Your good deeds can cause others to “praise your Father in heaven”. You are witnessing for Christ by your actions, not just by your words.
• I saw goodness in my wife-to-be Mickey, and I was spiritually influenced by who she was and how she lived it out.
• That opened my heart, then, to hear her words as she graciously shared the Gospel, which led to my being born again in 1969.
• Her evident goodness opened my heart to listen to her testimony. I saw who she was before I listened to what she said about Jesus.
Matthew 13:24-36-38a Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field”.... [36b] ...“Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field.”  He answered, “The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man. [38a] The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the sons of the kingdom.”
verse 38, KJV The good seed ARE the children of the kingdom.
- •• Be “good seed” and you will reproduce according to your kind, with hardly any conscious effort.
- • “Plant” yourself and your godly life in the midst of others.
• Planted seed tends to sprout and grow a crop, even though the farmer “knoweth not how” (Mark 4:27).
• Be a child of the kingdom — that is, good seed — and watch the crops spring up without stress and strain.
1 Corinthians 11:1 Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.
1 Peter 5:3 ...[elders] being examples to the flock.
- •• Be a good example, a role model, and others will follow you as you follow Christ.
- • A Jewish Christian friend of mine told me of the godly lifestyle that he had observed in his Gentile Christian roommate in college. After months of watching the other man’s life, my friend said, “That’s what I need”, and he turned to the Lord as Savior.
• A famous athlete once said “I’m not a role model.” But we need to be role models! We need to live as examples of godly lives that others can follow.
2 Corinthians 6:17-18  I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.
1 John 3:2 Dear friends, now we ARE children of God.
- •• Be God’s “sons and daughters”. The world is awaiting the manifestation of the sons of God.
- • Living out what we are in God!
• “As my Father sent Me, even so send I YOU,” said Jesus.
• People need to see what it means to be a child of God.
2 Corinthians 5:18-20 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation:  that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.  We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.
- •• Be His ambassadors, walking in His full authority.
- • Empowered for the ministry of reconciliation
• And speaking the message of reconciliation
• It is what we ARE (all the above) that prepares hearts to HEAR our speaking.
• It comes to this: people need to hear the Gospel.
• They hear it best from those who have won a hearing.
- •• [Jesus to the demoniac, Mark 5:19] “Go home to your family [NIV; friends in the KJV] and tell them how much the Lord has done for you...”
- • In essence, go to those with whom you already have a hearing, and tell them...
- •• BE Christian witnesses for Jesus ... BE salt and light to the world ... BE good seed, planted among men ... BE good examples ... BE sons and daughters of God ... BE Christ’s ambassadors, having earned a hearing for the “message of reconciliation”.
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©2004, James H. Feeney. Copyright statement.