Sermon No: 149523-Witnesses



SERMON TOPIC: Witnesses

Speaker: Ken Paynter

Language: ENGLISH

Date: 17 April 2022

Topic Groups: WITNESSES, RESURRECTION, EASTER

Sermon synopsis: In the Bible, a witness is someone who sees something amazing or important.
If this person begins to share what they've seen, we call this “bearing witness.”
It's a simple word, but being a witness carries a lot of responsibility!

The purpose of the Church.

People have all kinds of ideas about churches and why they should exist. If we were to survey people in churches and ask them, "What is the main purpose of the church, or why does the church exist?" we will get a number of answers. People start churches for all kinds of reasons that miss the biblical point.

Many would suggest, for example, that the purpose of the church is fellowship. It's a place to make friends, to provide activity for the family, to enjoy friendships, to enjoy spiritual activities together, recreation, cultivate relationships, to work together in families, and raising children, etc. And sort of hang out together until death or the rapture.

Witnesses.

The Basic Meaning of Witness.

In the Bible, a witness is someone who sees something amazing or important.

If this person begins to share what they've seen, we call this “bearing witness.”

It's a simple word, but being a witness carries a lot of responsibility!

Evangelism “Bearing Witness” is the Purpose of the Church.

We, as The Body of Christ need to know what our purpose is, so that we can prioritize those things that will accomplish God’s will and so that we don’t merely mark time until the Rapture.

The purpose of the Church.

People have all kinds of ideas about churches and why they should exist. If we were to survey people in churches and ask them, "What is the main purpose of the church, or why does the church exist?" we would get a number of answers. People start churches for all kinds of reasons that miss the biblical point.

Many would suggest, for example, that the purpose of the church is fellowship. It's a place to make friends, to provide activity for the family, to enjoy friendship, to enjoy spiritual activities together, recreation, cultivate relationships, to work together in families, and raising children, etc. And sort of hang out together until death or the rapture.

The purpose of the Church.

One step higher than those who think the mission of the church is to collect around some common fellowship would be those who think that the church’s purpose is teaching and that the main reason that the church exists is to teach theology or practical Christian living, or some model of spiritual life and spiritual building, some particular doctrinal emphasis, to train people for certain responsibilities, to teach them how to instruct children, or build their family or develop young people into godly young people or the objective of making people mature in the Lord. And that's a nobler definition of the church than just a place to hang out until we die.

The purpose of the Church.

A step higher than seeing the church as a sort of school, or a place of training, would be those who see the church's mission as praise and worship. The priority of worship and praise dominates their thinking.

Obviously this is a central activity in heaven, and so they conclude it must then be the central activity of the church.

The purpose of the Church.

When you get a glimpse of heaven, as we do in Revelation 4 and 5, praise is going on. Now those things are essential in the life of the church, in Scripture we see the importance of fellowship, the centrality of teaching and preaching, because we know the church must have a doctrinal foundation.

Praise and worship are central to the church's life, All of these are elements of the church, but none of them is the mission of the church. None of them defines why we're on earth.

It ought to be rather simple to understand that everyone of those things is perfectly accomplished in heaven.

The purpose of the Church.

If the single purpose of the church was fellowship then it would be better for us to go to heaven and enjoy perfect fellowship.

Why would the Lord leave us here to have to deal with all the difficulties, if fellowship was the goal?

The purpose of the Church.

Secondly, if the matter was learning truth and being given theology and understanding of the word of God it would also be better to go to heaven because we will know as we are known. Knowledge will be perfect, there won't be any classes or seminars or instruction because everyone will know everything that God intends for us to know.

And on the other hand if the church's purpose is worship we ought to go to heaven as well because that's where worship and praise goes on incessantly and perfectly.

But, there's one thing, that cannot be accomplished in heaven and that is the ministry of evangelism.

That is the one great mission of the church on earth and that is why we are here.

Priorities.

"The least pain in our little finger gives us more concern than the destruction of millions of our fellow men." -- William Wesley N Hazlitt

God uses witnesses.

Romans 10:14-15.

Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard?

And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!

The Apostles were God’s witnesses.

Acts 4:18-20.

Then they called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. 

But Peter and John replied, Which is right in God’s eyes: to listen to you, or to him? You be the judges! As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.

The Apostles were God’s witnesses.

Acts 5:27-32.

The apostles were brought in and made to appear before the Sanhedrin to be questioned by the high priest. We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name, he said. Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and are determined to make us guilty of this man’s blood. 

Peter and the other apostles replied: We must obey God rather than human beings! The God of our ancestors raised Jesus from the dead whom you killed by hanging him on a cross. God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Saviour that he might bring Israel to repentance and forgive their sins. We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.

The Apostles were witnesses to the resurrection.

1 Corinthians 15:3-9.

The first thing I did was place before you what was placed so emphatically before me:

That the Messiah died for our sins, exactly as Scripture tells it; that he was buried; that he was raised from death on the third day,

again exactly as Scripture says; that he presented himself alive to Peter, then to his closest followers, and later to more than five hundred of his followers all at the same time, most of them still around (although a few have since died)

1 Corinthians 15:3-9.

He then spent time with James and the rest of those he commissioned to represent him; and that he finally presented himself alive to me. It was fitting that I bring up the rear.

I don’t deserve to be included in that inner circle, as you well know, having spent all those early years trying my best to stamp God’s church right out of existence.

When the apostles replace Judas with another apostle the stated criteria was that they were eyewitnesses of Jesus resurrection. (Acts 1:21-22)

Therefore it is necessary to choose one of the men who have been with us the whole time… For one of these must become a witness with us of his resurrection.

The Resurrection of the Dead.

1 Corinthians 15:3-4

For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.

How important is this doctrine?

1 Corinthians 15:12-14

But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 

If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 

And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. 

1 Corinthians 15:17-19.

And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. 

Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. 

If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.

1 Corinthians 15:19-23.

But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the Firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man.  For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.  But each in turn: Christ, the Firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him

The doctrine of resurrection from the dead is vital.

Hebrews 6:1-3.

Therefore, let us move beyond the elementary teachings about Christ and be taken forward to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God,  instruction about cleansing rites, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment.  And God permitting, we will do so.

Colossians 2:11-12.

In him you were also circumcised with a circumcision not performed by human hands. Your whole self ruled by the flesh was put off when you were circumcised by Christ, having been buried with him in baptismin which you were also raised with him through your faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead.

Death; Burial and resurrection is symbolised in “Water Baptism”.

The resurrected life.

Jesus appointed men who were witnesses of His Resurrection to be the instruments that He would use to build His Church.

Christianity was birthed in Persecution.

The Greek word for witness is martur or martus, whence our English word martyr: meaning one who bears witness by his death.

Christianity was birthed in Persecution.

Matthias – Stoned to death.

Thomas – Speared to death.

Simon - Crucified.

Philip - Crucified.

Peter - Crucified upside down.

Mathew - Speared to death.

Andrew - Crucified.

Bartholomew - Beaten, then crucified.

James, son of Alphaeus -Stoned to death.

James, son of Zebedee - beheaded.

Judas (Not Iscariot) - Stoned to death.

John - exiled to Patmos mines.

Persecution of Christians.

Right from the outset of Christianity the “Body of Christ” has been persecuted.

Jesus warned His disciples of persecution.

When Christians in persecuted countries ask for prayer, they ask that the Lord would strengthen them and enable them to stand firm.

Christians in the West on the other hand want to pray persecution away. Nik Ripken in his book on the insanity of obedience says that Russian Christians he interviewed expect persecution just as they expect the sun to rise every day in the East.

The question is not why Christians in many nations are being persecuted, but why Christians in the West are not suffering in the same way.

Persecution of Christians

The persecution of Christians can be historically traced from the first century of the Christian era to the present day. 

The two witnesses & the 144 000.

Revelation 11:3-10.

And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy one thousand two hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth....  

And if anyone wants to harm them, fire proceeds from their mouth and devours their enemies. And if anyone wants to harm them, he must be killed in this manner. 

Christianity will close in Persecution.

Is our witness a threat to the Kingdom of Darkness?

Revelation 11:3-10.

These have power to shut heaven, so that no rain falls in the days their prophecy; and they have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to strike the earth with all plagues, as often as they desire. 

When they finish their testimony, the beast that ascends out of the bottomless pit will make war against them, overcome them, and kill them And their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city

Why does God need witnesses?

2 Peter 3:9 CJB

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some people think of slowness; on the contrary, he is patient with you; for it is not his purpose that anyone should be destroyed, but that everyone should turn from his sins.

2 Timothy 2:3-4 NIV

This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.

Why else does God need witnesses?

Every Judge needs witnesses.

Hebrews 10:28-31.

Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses.

How much more severely do you think someone deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? 

For we know him who said, It is mine to avenge; I will repay, and again, The Lord will judge his people. It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

How many witnesses do you need in the Bible?

2 Corinthians 13:1.

This will be my third visit to you. Every matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.

Deuteronomy 19:15.

One witness is not enough to convict anyone accused of any crime or offense they may have committed. A matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.

Witnesses.

The unbeliever who stands before God on Judgement day, will find out that God has witnesses to call on to testify against them.

Matthew 10:26. For there is nothing covered that shall not be revealed: and hid, that shall not be made known.

1. Creation is a witness.

Romans 1:18-22.

The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them.

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities his eternal power and divine nature have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. 

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities his eternal power and divine nature have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. 

For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools.

2. Our conscience is a witness.

Romans 2:12-16.

All who sin apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who sin under the law will be judged by the law.

For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous.

2. Our conscience is a witness.

(Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law.

They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts sometimes accusing them and at other times even defending them.)

This will take place on the day when God judges people’s secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares.

Conscience.

After God, let us have our conscience as our mentor and rule in all things, so that we may know which way the wind is blowing and set our sails accordingly. St. John of the Ladder

There is no witness so dreadful, no accuser so terrible as the conscience that dwells in the heart of every man. (Polybius, c. 208-126 BC, History, bk. XVIII, 43)

Adam and Eve and conscience.

Gen. 3:7-10.  

Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.

Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden.

But the Lord God called to the man, Where are you? He answered, I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.

Having tasted the forbidden fruit, felt ashamed and attempted to hide from God.

3. God’s Word is a witness.

John 12:46-48.

I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness. If anyone hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge that person. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world. 

There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; the very words I have spoken will condemn them at the last day.

3. God’s Word is a witness.

Hebrews 4:12-14.

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

3. God’s Word is a witness.

Luke 1;1-4. (MSG)

So many others have tried their hand at putting together a story of the wonderful harvest of Scripture and history that took place among us, using reports handed down by the original eyewitnesses who served this Word with their very lives.

Since I have investigated all the reports in close detail, starting from the story’s beginning, I decided to write it all out for you, most honourable Theophilus, so you can know beyond the shadow of a doubt the reliability of what you were taught.

4. Preachers of the Gospel are God’s witnesses.

Romans 10:16-21.

But not everyone who hears the Good News has welcomed it, for Isaiah the prophet said, Lord, who has believed me when I told them? Yet faith comes from listening to this Good News the Good News about Christ. 

But what about the Jews? Have they heard God’s Word? Yes, for it has gone wherever they are; the Good News has been told to the ends of the earth…

In the meantime, he keeps on reaching out his hands to the Jews, but they keep arguing, refusing to come.

5. Martyrs are God’s witnesses.

Hebrews 11:35-39.

There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. 

They were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground. These were all commended for their faith

God has given us witnesses as examples.

Hebrews 12:1-4.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 

God has given us witnesses as examples.

Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.

Not everyone is called to be a martyr, but we are all called to be witnesses!

Every Christian is required to be God’s witness.

1 Peter 3:1-2.

Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behaviour of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives.

1 Peter 3:15.

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.

Matthew 5:16

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.

Anyone can be God’s witness.

John 4:28-42.

Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah? 

Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, He told me everything I ever did. 

Anyone can be God’s witness.

So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. And because of his words many more became believers. 

They said to the woman, We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Saviour of the world.

Anyone can be God’s witness.

The response of the Samaritan woman at the well as she drank of the living water was to immediately get involved in Jesus' mission and she went back to the village and told them to come to Jesus.

She did not have to go to Bible college or University, she immediately got involved in reaching out to a lost and dying world. Not with some shallow message of health and wealth and no troubles but with the message of forgiveness from a Saviour who knows our sin and still reaches out to us to offer us that which will satisfy the thirsting of our souls.

Power to be a Witness.

Acts 1:4-8.

On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit…

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.

Witnessing tips.

Don’t pick green fruit or leave ripe fruit.

Don’t get conceited if God uses you. (1 Cor 3:3-9. One plants, another waters, but God gives the increase.) 

Don’t be number conscious, Jesus spent time with one Samaritan woman at the well.

Don’t argue (2 Tim 2:23-26) You can win an argument and lose a soul.

Share your testimony, no-one can dispute what God has done in your own life.

Your life must back up what you say, “Practice what you preach”

Jesus told us to make disciples, not converts. Beware of pressing people into saying a prayer that is recited after you instead of flowing from their own hearts.




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