Tuesday, April 24, 2012

"Evangelism and Witnessing as a Lifestyle"

Sabbath School Today
With the 1888 Message Dynamic

Evangelism and Witnessing
Lesson 4: "Evangelism and Witnessing as a Lifestyle"

A true witness is one who testifies to the power of God to recreate man into His own image and is the very evidence of which he speaks. So, to represent Christ means to re-present Christ--to present Him again--in your life, as your life.
You can only be taught to witness by the Holy Spirit. No man and no religious-like programs are qualified or capable of teaching this.
Then "some rose up and bore false witness against Him" (Mark 14:57). Many in the church of Laodicea are doing the same thing. Their false witness, that Jesus did not come in our flesh, is but the spirit of Antichrist. They rise up, filled with their own wisdom, and question the Holy Spirit's recounting of the Creation. False witnesses are born of the old covenant, deny they are legalists, and refuse the good news of the New Covenant. Their Antichrist mindset prevents them from believing that God can and does keep His people fromsin.
Before we can talk about witnessing as a lifestyle, we must first determine which style of life. Galatians 2:20 teaches that "I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me." 2 Corinthians 5:14, 15 is clear that all men died in Him, "For the love of Christ constrains [compels] us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again." Our old lifestyle of egocentric concerns is replaced with Christ living in us.
As true witnesses we will be crucified daily--emptied of self, and it will be Christ living out His life within us. It is the Holy Spirit that makes us true witnesses for God, and also the One who teaches us how to tell it. For this purpose Christ came to earth, suffered and died that by His life we may be as He is, a "faithful and true witness."
The Apostle Paul describes Christ's lifestyle when he wrote: "Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a servant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross" (Phil. 2:5-8). By our own consent we let the mind of Christ do exactly for us just what it did for Jesus. This mind will remove self from us and humble us before God and man.
"The 1888 message is especially 'precious' because it joins together the true biblical idea of justification by faith with the unique idea of the cleansing of the heavenly sanctuary. This is a Bible truth that the world is waiting to discover. It forms the essential element of truth that will yet lighten the earth with the glory of a final, fully developed presentation of 'the everlasting gospel' of Revelation 14 and 18" (Robert J. Wieland, Ten Great Gospel Truths that Make the 1888 Message Unique, p. 34).
The one yielded to Christ is a witness to the power of His death and resurrection. He is the witness, because he experiences in himself the working of the mystery of the gospel "which is Christ in you, the hope of glory" (Col.1:26, 27). By this power one is justified and cleansed--a new life and a new lifestyle.
When Stephen was on trial for his life before the Jewish council, he said, "Our fathers had the tabernacle of witness in the wilderness, as He appointed, instructing Moses to make it according to the pattern that he had seen" (Acts 7:44).
It was the Tabernacle of Witness because it contained the testimony of witness, for the law is called the testimony. It is a witness of God's presence. We know that "Love is the fulfilling of the law," and "God is love," therefore the law is God's life.
It was above the ark of the testimony, between the cherubim that the glory of God was specially manifested. And In Psalm 80:1, we read: "Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, You who lead Joseph like a flock; You who dwell between the cherubim, shine forth!"
The reason for the tabernacle was: "Let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them" (Ex. 25:8). In one sense this was a great honor; yet when we consider the matter further, it is one of the most sorrowful things to be found in the Scriptures. God's people, whom He had delivered from bondage for the express purpose of dwelling in them, had to have a house made with hands because the people refused to have Him live in them. Thus the tabernacle was at once a witness of God's presence and of the unfaithfulness of His people.
"The Most High does not dwell in temples made with hands" (Acts 7:48; see also Acts 17:24). He Himself asked, "Where is the house that you will build Me? And where is the place of My rest? ... But on this one will I look: on him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, and who trembles at My word" (Isa. 66:1, 2). Earlier He said, "I dwell in the high and holy place, with him who has a contrite and humble spirit" (Isa. 57:15). "Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are" (1 Cor. 3:16, 17). "Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's" (1 Cor. 6:19, 20). This is His true dwelling place.
Paul is here speaking of the Good News of the Gospel, which he calls a mystery. It is a mystery because our little minds cannot explain it or truly grasp how this could be, but nonetheless, it is true. Now, this mystery is: "Christ in you, the hope of glory" (Col. 1:27).
Ellet J. Waggoner makes this observation about "witnessing as a lifestyle": "We are fully assured that the Gospel is the making known of Christ in men. Or rather, the Gospel is Christ in men, and the preaching of it [witnessing] is the making known to men of the possibility of Christ's dwelling in them. … the mystery of God is God manifest in the flesh. ... the mystery of God dwelling in human flesh was to be declared to all men, and repeated in all who should believe Him" (The Everlasting Covenant, p. 19; Glad Tidings ed.).
God dwells with "him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, and who trembles at" His word (Isa. 66:2), and He dwells "with him who has a contrite and humble spirit" (57:15). Paul is direct when he teaches that "you are the temple of God" (1 Cor. 3:16), then later asks if they really know this: "do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you?" (1 Cor. 6:19). The Jews ought to have understood Jesus when He said, "'Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up' ... He was speaking of the temple of his body" (John 2:19, 21). He was the temple indeed, because the law of God was within his heart (Psalm 40:8). He is "the faithful and true witness," and says of us, "You are My witnesses, ... and My servant whom I have chosen" (Isa. 43:10).
When the Lord is given full possession of his temple--his people--then we like Christ, are His witnesses to the world. Christ has purchased us with His blood and we belong to Him, however many refuse to let Him have what He bought.
At the dedication of the tabernacle "... the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. And Moses was not able to enter the tabernacle of meeting, because the cloud rested above it, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle" (Ex. 40:34, 35). Then again at the dedication of Solomon's temple: "... the glory of the Lord filled the temple. And the priests could not enter the house of the Lord, because the glory of the Lord had filled the Lord's house" (2 Chron. 7:1, 2). These are representations of how it should be with God's people, His real temple. So it was with Christ, for "the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth" (John 1:14). So will it be with His true temple, His people, when they are dedicated to Him.
It is the Spirit that bears witness, because the Spirit is truth. When the Spirit fills men they have power to be tabernacles of witness. Just as no man was able to enter the tabernacle when the glory of God filled it; even so when Christ, the quickening Spirit, dwells in the heart by faith (Col. 1:26, 27), and we are filled with His glory; we will have been crucified with Christ and self will have disappeared (Gal. 2:20) and no man will be in this temple.
Now He that abides between the cherubim will shine forth, and we will have been made ready to witness before the world.
--Daniel Peters
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