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FOR WHOM DO WE WITNESS?

A SERMON ORIGINALLY DELIVERED AT

THE FEDERATED CHURCH OF ATHENS

2 MARCH 1997

BY FRANK L. HOFFMAN, PASTOR

SCRIPTURAL REFERENCES:

John 2:23-25
        3:22-36
1 Corinthians 2:16

What kind of a witness are we?

And, for whom do we witness?

In John 2:23-25, John makes a very interesting set of observations that might help us answer these questions.

23. Now when He [Jesus] was in Jerusalem at the Passover, during the feast, many believed in His name, beholding His signs which He was doing.

Jesus was witnessing of the power of God.

And even though we are trying to answer our own question, we find ourselves faced with another: Did the people who believed in His name believe because of what Jesus said? Or, did they believe because of what he did?

If they believed in Him because of what He said, then their faith is real and lasting.

But if their belief was based only upon what they saw, then as soon as the miracles ceased, their belief would change into doubt.

Listen to what John records next, for it bears upon our answer.

24. But Jesus, on His part, was not entrusting Himself to them, for He knew all men,

25. and because He did not need anyone to bear witness concerning man for He Himself knew what was in man.

Is he talking about the goodness in man, or the evil in man?

Unfortunately, the evil.

There wasn't even one person in whom Jesus would entrust Himself completely.

That's quite a sorry state of affairs, isn't it?

But it certainly tells us a lot about ourselves.

We make very bad witnesses for the Lord.

So, if we just stop here, how would we answer the question, "For whom do we witness?"

It obviously isn't Jesus.

And if it isn't Jesus, then we must be witnessing for Satan.

And that's something very few people are willing to acknowledge, even though most people realize it's true.

As we skip forward to John 3:22-36, listen to what a proper witness should be like:

22. After these things Jesus and His disciples came into the land of Judea, and there He was spending time with them and baptizing.

23. And John [the Baptist] also was baptizing in Aenon near Salim, because there was much water there; and they were coming and were being baptized.

24. For John had not yet been thrown into prison.

25. There arose therefore a discussion on the part of John's disciples with a Jew about purification.

26. And they came to John and said to him, "Rabbi, He who was with you beyond the Jordan, to whom you have borne witness, behold, He is baptizing, and all are coming to Him."

They recognized the fact that John bore witness of Jesus, but do you think they are saying these things in order to praise and glorify God, or to cause some strife or jealousy between John and Jesus?

Most likely to cause some sort of strife.

But notice how John responds.

27. John answered and said, "A man can receive nothing, unless it has been given him from heaven.

John immediately gives the glory to God, and diminishes his own position, and even that of the Man Jesus, in favor of God the Father.

He is being a good witness.

And he goes on further.

28. "You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, 'I am not the Christ,' but, 'I have been sent before Him.'

He reminds them of what he previously told them, that they were witnesses of what he said, and that his job was simply to be a witness for the Lord.

He wasn't calling people to himself, he was calling people to repent because the kingdom of God was being revealed to them through Jesus Christ.

And John the Baptist compares his job to being a friend of a bridegroom, and even rejoicing over the glory given to the Bridegroom, Jesus Christ.

29. "He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom's voice. And so this joy of mine has been made full.

Then John states plainly the key aspect of a true witness of the Lord.

30. "He must increase, but I must decrease.

There are far too many people in the leadership of the Church who are more interested in receiving notoriety for themselves, than they are in lifting up the Lord.

True Christian leaders diminish their own importance while lifting up the Lord.

31. "He who comes from above is above all, he who is of the earth is from the earth and speaks of the earth. He who comes from heaven is above all.

Do you remember how we have talked about the way we are to view the things of this earth?

We are to lift our eyes to heaven, and look back upon the earth.

And only a true born again Christian can do this, for we must be in the Spirit to have this heavenly vision.

32. "What He [Jesus] has seen and heard, of that He bears witness; and no man receives His witness.

33. "He who has received His witness has set his seal to this, that God is true.

34. "For He whom God has sent speaks the words of God; for He gives the Spirit without measure.

God the Father gave His Spirit to Jesus, so that the Man could live as God.

And we can and should be like Jesus, for we have been given His mind (1 Corinthians 2:16).

35. "The Father loves the Son, and has given all things into His hand.

36. "He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him."

So, we must ask ourselves again, who are we?

And, for whom do we witness?

I hope and pray each one of us is a good witness for the Lord Jesus Christ.

But if we're not completely there, then I pray that each of us would receive the Holy Spirit, even to overflowing.

And in this overflowing, we would lead others to Christ, and not just to His name, but also to His peace, and His love, and His compassion.

Amen.

Your Comments are welcome

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