WITNESSING WITH HOPE By Prof I A Madu What does it mean to be a Christian witness? We hear the word "witness" or "witnessing" used often. What does it really mean to be Christian witnesses? In the secular world, we have witnesses in trials and in settlement of disagreements. One witnesses to, or gives testimony of, someone's good character. Generally speaking, a witness has some specific knowledge about the matter and gives evidence of it. Peter spoke to the crowd telling them that he and the disciples were witnesses to Jesus' resurrection and therefore, their witness testifies to the truth: "This Jesus, God raised up and of that all of us are witnesses" (Acts 2.32). Paul tells how from a persecutor he became a witness for Christ. The strength of his conviction drove him to work unceasingly for Christ. The truth of the disciples' witness became even more evident when they were being persecuted and condemned to death. The question here is how much do we know about Jesus, his life, his death and resurrection as revealed in the Bible? You cannot witness without knowledge. Do we take the time to read and reflect on Gods words? Can we explain what we believe to others? Do our words and actions, our lives, present the face of Christ to the world? Who should witness? Every Christian is a witness, but because we have different spiritual gifts, we might not all witness in just the same way. We are called ambassadors .An ambassador is one who is appointed to represent his country in a foreign land. Using your gift and capacity, you are called to be a good ambassador of Christ. Why witness? We witness for the following reasons: 1) It is a command to all Christians. And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation (Mark 16:15). But the Lord said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am only a youth’; for to all to whom I send you, you shall go, and whatever I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, declares the Lord (Jeremiah 1:7-8)” .In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven(Matthew 5:16). But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth. Acts 1:8.”Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age”( Matthew 28:19-20) Therefore, helping to fulfill the Great Commission is both a duty and a privilege. 2) You witness in order to bring people to God. Men and women are lost without Jesus Christ. Jesus said, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father, except through me" (John 14:6). God's Word also reminds us, "There is salvation in no one else! Under all heaven there is no other name for men to call upon to save them" (Acts 4:12,). An Igbo adage says that ‘Okenye adi ano nulo……’Men and women are truly lost without Jesus Christ. He is the only way to bridge the gap between man and God. Without Him, people cannot know God and have no hope of eternal life. 3) You witness because many people of the world are truly hungry for the gospel: Jesus said, "The fields are ripe unto harvest." Can we afford to be selfish with the gospel when such overwhelming evidence shows that so many people are hungry for God? By sharing our faith in Christ with others, we can help change our world for our Lord. 4) The love of Jesus Christ for us, and our love for Him should compels us to share Him with others. Jesus said, "The one who obeys me is the one who loves me..." (John 14:21, TLB). In other words, He measures our love for Him by the extent and genuineness of our obedience to Him. As we obey, He promises He will reveal Himself to us. Because he loves me, my Father will love him; and I will too, and I will reveal myself to him (John 14:21, TLB). What are we to obey? When it comes to witnessing, we have the specific commandment from Jesus Christ to go into all the world with the Good News. We witness because we love Christ. We witness because He loves us. We witness because we want to honor and obey Him. We witness because He gives us a special love for others. 5) We witness because of the hope have hope. In I Peter 3:15, we are told to always be ready to make a defense to everyone who asks us to give an account for the hope that is within us Hope is the desire for something good in the future. : For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope Jeremiah 29:11 . Isaiah 40:31: but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. 1 Corinthians 15:58: Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. 1 Peter 1:3-4: Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you. Romans 5:2-5: And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; character; and hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. Where and how do you witness? You should witness at home, church, school, work, in the community, while traveling, and everywhere you find yourself. Following Jesus example (Matthew 4:23) you may witness effectively in any environment. PREACHING METHOD By speaking and preaching to people. Doing this, you must learn how to present the distilled essence of the gospel so simply, clearly, and convincingly that the one with whom you are sharing will be able to make an intelligent decision for Christ as Savior and Lord. Read John 4:1-42. Samaritan Woman. Like Christ, use everyday experience as an opportunity for witness. Event Evangelism This is a popular method among churches and groups, the most famous of which are revivals, crusades, adoration. An event is held, the public is invited, and ideally the gospel is shared with those who attend. 3) Neighborhood Evangelism (aka Door-to-Door Evangelism) Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons —that’s what many think of when they hear about door-to-door evangelism. This method involves going to homes and sharing the gospel with those who answer. 4 Street Preaching Evangelism This is a method greatly used by John the Baptist and Ray Comfort to share the gospel with others. It involves someone standing at a location with pedestrian traffic and proclaiming the gospel to passersby. Tract B) BY NON-PREACHING METHOD Lifestyle :Lifestyle evangelism is often understood one of two ways: Live right and people will see the gospel in one’s life .Live right and people will ask about God Active involvement in church activities Service: this approach uses simple acts of kindness, or service, for evangelism. Wall Quotes and House Decorations Decorating your house with scriptures and other similar decorations is not only a great way to witness to all of your guests and neighbors, it’s also something God actually commanded the Israelites to do. Consider this passage in the Old Testament: Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates” (Deuteronomy 6:4-9). Bible and or crucifix in Your Office or Work Area. Another easy way for you to witness to others about Jesus is to show people how much you value the Word of God. Decorations for Your Car; Example hanging a cross from the mirror or as Dr M.C Obetta will write Mary brings joy on his car. Social Media/Online Clothing/ Apparel with Quotes: Another easy way to witness without speaking is to wear clothing with scripture, crosses, or NFCS etc. What do we benefit from witnessing? God also wants you to witness because of the benefits you will receive including: Witnessing will stimulate your spiritual growth, Lead you to pray and study God's Word, Encourage you to depend on Christ. You will experience the tremendous privilege and honor of representing Jesus to the world (2 Corinthians 5:20). We also witness because of the benefits God offers to those who receive Christ including ourselves: They become children of God. Their bodies become temples of God. All of their sins are forgiven. They begin to experience the peace and love of God. They receive God's direction and purpose for their lives. They experience the power of God to change their lives. They have assurance of eternal life.
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