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Christian Witnessing Part- I

INTRODUCTION

      Where does one begin in witnessing about God’s work? How do we define that work?  There are two ways of answering these questions.  One, we tell people about God’s work of salvation brought out in Jesus His Son. This is the traditional way.  Two, we talk about God’s message to humanity from the time of its fall in sin running through the human history and through the work of God’s Son Jesus.  We shall review these two options. The first one is the principal method in today’s evangelism and is of common knowledge. The second one, very, very rarely used, - in a way, almost never. 

      Before we see the issue, we must understand this: Jesus is human manifestation of God’s work that began with the creation of man taking calculated divine path through the life of Jesus Christ, God’s Son and later, his church.  This dynamic work of God did not end with human salvation in Christ’s death, rather it sought continuity into the Kingdom of God with the followers of Christ working for it till the closure of the Age at the appearance of the Lord Jesus Christ.

     Therefore, Christian message should be such that implies this grand divine scheme of God and Christ, and to be worked through their redeemed followers – the church.  Does the message of mere salvation cover all this? Does a redeemed person automatically understand all this implied continuity of work of God that he is responsible for, anyway?  Keeping this in mind, let us consider the two points we raised above.

     The first one is a simple formula with very little to take from the Old Testament (Scriptures).  It says, “We are sinners; God sent His Son; he died for our sins paying our price that we may be redeemed unto eternity with God.” In this message, the word (message) of God running through the entire Scripture has very limited use.  It is no more than to trace the foretelling of Christ, and to show God’s mighty works in the past as incidental references. Question: How much of this OT lessons do we use in evangelism?  In fact, the rest of the OT is for ‘our’ references on various themes in ‘our’ studies and preachings. If this is all what we use of the whole Bible, giving the complete Bible to the people of other faiths makes little sense.  If Christians themselves use the Bible only for this limited purpose, what can we expect of the other people - the first time readers of the Bible - grasping the message from the entirety of the Bible? Except an occasional one, many put the Bible aside that doesn’t make sense to them.  They don’t tell us that out of politeness.

     The second one is comprehensive.  It is about God’s message in the Scripture that covers the entire human history. It is suspect that even good church-going Christians could concisely say what it is.  It is about who God is as the Person of the Divine Virtue, - the God of Truth, Justice, Righteousness and Love. These Virtues (attributes) God has revealed adequately as His word, through the pages of the Bible.  God’s every thought, word and deed, even his work through His prophets, and finally through His Son have been governed by this - His Divine Virtue.  Man’s failure due to violation of these divine virtues, his call to account, God’s covenant to redeem man by paying the price,  forgiveness, redemption, the kingdom of heaven, the work of the followers of Christ, the final Judgment, and ultimate restoration of the Kingdom – all these are governed by the Divine Virtue of God’s very Being. The glorious end of history of the heavenly kingdom on earth means restoration of the Divine Order by the Divine Virtue to its original form in God, where the redeemed humanity in Christ abides forever.     

     This ‘message of God’ in His word pervades through the pages of the Bible.  Picking ‘salvation’ alone does not satisfy the other obligations meant in the ‘word’ to make man perfect to stand before the throne of Judgment.  There is the demand on man to continue the path of the divine virtue given to man even after the person is redeemed.  Jesus gave the commission to all his followers for this very reason (“teaching them (the nations) to obey everything I have commanded you” Matt. 28:20). This means, guiding humanity on to the Path of Righteousness. Returning to God through forgiveness in Jesus is to return to this Path.  There is no exemption from it; hence the accountability, and the Final Judgment. 

      Yet, the Christian witnesses need not unload all this on the “first-time hearer of the gospel.”  Thorough understanding of what is involved in this is critical yet very helpful “to shape the message of God of the Bible” leading through His Son the Christ, and on to the shoulders of the redeemed believers. In this comes the question, What is it that God has been requiring of mankind from the beginning of time? (“I will demand an accounting for the life of his fellow man” Gen 9:5,6; “to keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just” Gen. 18:19). Did God abandon that requirement in the forgiveness of our sins? What about Christ’s teaching on this kind of message (Matt. Chs 5 through 7) and the message of the kingdom of God with its foundational principles of truth, justice, righteousness and love? What about our accountability to God before the Throne of Judgment (Mt 7:21)? When we consider these aspects of God’s message and work through the ages and now through Christ, how should our message be to “the first time hearers of the word of God?”

     The precise meaning of this can be found in Christ’s talk with Nicodemus. Being ‘born again’ is to change journey from the ‘dark path’ to the ‘path of light,’ doing works of light (means those that God approves of) – the works by the ‘divine virtues’ – truth, justice, righteousness and love

(John 3:19-21).

     Moreover, there is another frustrating and worrisome issue that confronts the Christian witnesses (evangelists).  That is the issue of endless pain and suffering that every human being experiences in life on earth.  This issue demands satisfaction. The success of the message of the gospel depends on it.  The witnesses need to convince ‘the hearers of the gospel’ about the usefulness of faith in God of the Bible and in Jesus Christ we preach.  If so, how do we form the message of the gospel to the suffering man who is seeking a “helping God?”

    The question of ‘suffering’ that ‘hearers of the gospel’ raise is legitimate. Because God respected this he addressed this with Satan Job and his friends.  Because of this, too, that He sent His Son to the suffering humanity in the suffering state.  Jesus demanded his followers to take up the cross, follow him suffering for others. As such, this issue needs addressing in witnessing.

 

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Last modified on Sunday, 09 September 2012 04:11
Dr. John Reynolds

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About Path of the Divine Virtue

Some understanding of the term *The Divine Virtue is necessary. The series of articles on Biblical themes, study of the biblical topics (Bible Study), topics on Christian witnessing, theology, understanding the Bible Read More..

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