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Sunday, May 2, 2021

The Resurrection Not Only Changes Our Eternal Destiny It Changes Our Daily Lives




This is the manuscript of the sermon delivered at Christ Church on May 2, 2021.

Hebrews 13:8 NIV Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

Because of Jesus' resurrection our eternal destiny is to be with the Lord forever. Until we go to be with the Lord in death or he returns to earth for His church we have to live each day.  The resurrection changes our eternal destiny, in that we will spend eternity with Jesus but it also changes our daily lives. 
 
To hear an audio recording of the sermon click the YouTube image at the end of the manuscript.

To see a video of the entire service click this link https://youtu.be/tTqasAAJWL4


Scripture

1 Corinthians 15:10‭-‬20 NIV But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me. Whether, then, it is I or they, this is what we preach, and this is what you believed.  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. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. 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.  But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.


Text

Hebrews 13:8 NIV Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.


On Easter Sunday we discussed the most horrible hypothesis  that hell could ever manufacture, and that was that Jesus did not rise from the grave three days after His crucifixion.  The hypothesis from hell was that there was no resurrection.   However, we know that the resurrection did in fact take place.  It is a fact of history.   The grave could not contain Christ. The enemies of Christ could not prevent God’s acting in power by raising Jesus from the dead.

We said that the resurrection of Jesus was the death of death. The resurrection of Jesus shows that we too can live beyond the grave.  Our eternal destiny is to be with the Lord forever.

1 Corinthians 15:20 NIV But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep.

Now this is not an Easter or Resurrection Day message, we had that on Easter.  This is a message about the fact that the resurrection of Jesus impacts us every day.  

Until we go to be with the Lord in death or he returns to earth for His church we have to live each day.  The resurrection changes our eternal destiny, in that we will spend eternity with Jesus but it also changes our daily lives.  

What difference does it make that Jesus was raised from the dead? 

Some people might say, “I don’t care that Jesus was raised from the dead. What interests me is real life today, not whether some man came back to life over 2,000 years ago. After all, all kinds of strange things have happened in history, but they don’t really matter if they don’t affect my everyday life. 

For instance, it is interesting that a man landed on the moon in 1969, but it really isn’t a big deal. My life would be pretty much the same whether man walked on the moon or not. And I think the same is true of the resurrection.” 

What can we say in response to this? 

The first thing is to agree that if the resurrection of Jesus doesn’t affect our everyday life, then it doesn’t matter. If the resurrection of Jesus is just a historical fact that makes no difference in real life, we shouldn’t celebrate it. 


However the resurrection, and believing it is crucial and essential for salvation.


Romans 10:9 NIV If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.


Rising from the grave after taking our sins upon Himself proves that Jesus could not be destroyed by those sins. He paid the debt in full, and returned alive. If He were still in the grave, under the weight of our sin, how could He be our Savior? 


We believe the resurrection because the Word of God teaches it, because God reveals the truth to us, and because we can sense Christ living within our hearts.  We have personal knowledge of His resurrection. And as I said before it changes not only our eternal destiny, but our daily lives. 


Exactly what does that mean?


The Resurrection is the ground of our assurance, it is the basis for all our future hopes, and it is the source of power in our daily lives It gives us courage in the midst of persecution, comfort in the midst of trials, and hope in the midst of this world’s darkness.


Because Christ lives, we are never alone. Jesus told His disciples He would not leave them as orphans but would send the Holy Spirit to live within them forever.


John 14:16‭-‬18 NIV And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever—  the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be  in you.  I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.


It was only because of his resurrection and ascension that he was able to send the Holy Spirit into the world to carry out his special work in Christians.

Acts 2:33 NIV Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear.


That was Peter’s announcement on the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit was made manifest in the believers.  


Acts 2:1‭-‬4 NIV When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.


What the Spirit does for believers today is only possible as a result of the resurrection. 

Jesus also said, just before He ascended into heaven, “I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:20)


As the Good Shepherd, Jesus never abandons His sheep.


John 10:11‭-‬15 NIV  “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.  The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it.  The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.   “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me—  just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep.


Who else can make this promise to you?   Nobody!


Even if people's intentions are sincere, things happen that are outside their control. People move away, loved ones die, and friends can become indifferent or even hostile, but your resurrected Lord will always be with you.


Because Jesus is alive, we don’t have to worry about whether God will provide for us. Jesus told His followers that the Father, who takes care of birds and flowers, would also provide for them 


Matthew 6:25‭-‬31 NIV “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?  Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?  Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life ?   “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin.  Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.  If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?  So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’


This promise would have meant nothing if Jesus had been just a man who died and remained in the grave. But He overcame death because He’s the Son of God. This means He has the power to keep every promise He makes.


How often do you fret about your needs not being met? 


Are you quick to talk to others about them instead of immediately turning to the resurrected Christ for help? 


He will never fail to keep this promise, to meet your needs, even though it may not be in the way or at the time you’re expecting. But know this: Nothing is too big for His sovereign hands to handle.


Since Jesus was resurrected, we can have peace in the most difficult times. Before His crucifixion, Christ told His disciples, 


John 14:25‭-‬27 NIV “All this I have spoken while still with you.  But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.  Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.


The world’s peace depends on good circumstances, but His peace sustains us as we go through life’s difficult times.


Peace is defined as freedom from disturbance; quiet and tranquility.


As Prince of Peace Jesus will gives what shālôm, which is the Hebrew word translated "peace," implies in its fullest meaning: which is health to the sin-sick soul; a sound and healthy relation between sinners and God, as well a sound condition of universal righteousness and prosperity prevailing over the earth. 


This shalom is not just a psychological state of mind; this peace is spiritual peace…the peace of the God of all Creation, the peace that passes all understanding.   This  peace guards you from anxiety, fear, and worry, it's the peace Paul talks about in;


Philippians 4:6‭-‬7 NIV Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.


This peace is the opposite of anxiety.   It is the tranquillity that comes when you commit all your cares to God in prayer and don’t worry about them anymore.  You are confident that God can and will do what is best for you.  


This is the peace of people whose sins are forgiven


This is the kind of peace that was prophesied as being brought to mankind through a man.  


Isaiah 9:6 NIV For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.


When troubles overwhelm you, remember that you have a risen Savior who sits at the Father’s right hand interceding for you.


Hebrews 7:25 NIV Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.


He invites you to confidently draw near in prayer to receive mercy and grace to help in your time of need.


Hebrews 4:14‭-‬16 NIV Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.


He understands your weaknesses, and will lovingly use your hardships to strengthen and mature you.


Jesus Himself is the only One who can give us new life. No one else holds, or has ever held, that power. He redeems our past and restores our brokenness. He gives us great strength and peace, He gives us hope and a future. 


Though we will still face battles and struggles in this life; and many days we will find ourselves under attack or up against spiritual forces that try to defeat us, we know where our true power is found. Jesus provides all that we need to live free in this life. He is our rescuer, He is our savior, He is the Word, He is the way-maker. He is the chain-breaker, He is the truth, He is the bread of life. He offers us living water, He is the resurrection and the life.


Because His power over the grave is living hope, the hope that Christ offers us it’s constant, active, and it lasts forever. It’s never dependent on us and our own abilities; it’s only found in Him. In a world of darkness, we often feel that we’re up against hard struggles, or we’re constantly battling fears and worries that seek to overwhelm us. It’s easy sometimes to lose our hope.



The hope you have because of Christ’s resurrection can be summed up in the words of an old hymn that says, “Because He lives, I can face tomorrow. Because He lives, all fear is gone.” 


Never think that the resurrected Christ is idly seated in heaven, unconcerned about your life. No, Jesus is actively interceding for you and fulfilling all the promises He made to you, sometimes in completely unexpected ways. Look to Him. Rejoice in Him. And let Him surprise you with His glory, power, and faithful love.


Prayer 


Dear God, Thank you that you make all things new. Thank you for the victory and power in your Name. Thank you that you hold the keys over death, that by your might, Jesus was raised from the grave, paving the way for us to have a new life with you. Thank you that you had a plan, and you made a way.


We praise you for your great strength, your power, your lavish love. We praise you that you are Conqueror, Victor, Redeemer, and Friend. We praise you that you are Deliverer, Worthy One, Everlasting Father, Great and Awesome God.


Shine your light in us, through us, over us. May we make a difference in this world, for your glory and purposes. May we reflect your peace and hope to a world that so desperately needs your presence and healing.


Thanks be to you God, for your indescribable gift!


To you be glory and honor, this day and forever. In Jesus’ name, Amen.


Invitation 


The only true promise of lasting hope in this life can be found in Christ. He is stronger than all the things that we can lose here in this world. He defeated the powers that seek to pull us from Him. He’s the author of hope and the giver of peace in times when we experience troubles or struggles. If you’ve found your hope has run dry through the difficult seasons you’re facing, ask Him for His help and refreshment in your life. His hope never runs in short supply, and He promises to provide all that we need to live strong and free.


A Prayer for Healing 


Lord Jesus, thank you that you love all of us. I know that you hate what sickness and illness is doing to us. I ask that you would heal back pain, leg pain, hip pain, diabetes, hypertension, cancer and that you would have compassion and bring healing from all other sickness, and health challenges, physical, emotional, and spiritual. 


Your word says in Psalm 107:19-20; Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress.  He sent out his word and healed them; he rescued them from the grave.

Psalms 107:19‭-‬20 NIV


Your Word gives us many examples miraculous healing and I believe that you still heal the same way today. I believe that there is no illness you cannot heal after all the bible tells of you raising people from the dead so today we ask for your healing. 


Father take away all forms of sickness and disease.

Restore strength to our bodies and joy to our spirit,

so that in our renewed health,

we may bless and serve you,

now and forevermore.


You gave us life, and you also give us the gift of infinite joy.

Give us the strength to move forward on the path you've laid out for us. Help us also to understand your plan and your will for each one of us.


Father, we thank you that all of us who need healing of any type and from anything belong to you and that you are in control of everything that happens from our first breath to our last. 


In Jesus name amen.


Benediction


For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.


The Lord  bless you and keep you; The Lord  make His face shine upon you, And be gracious to you; The Lord lift up His countenance upon you, And give you peace.” ’



Sermon Audio



Sunday, April 25, 2021

Living with Diversity




This is the manuscript of the sermon delivered at Christ Church on April 25 2021.

This was the first joint service of Christ Church and Iglesia Evangelica Dios de Justicia in both English and Spanish. We know that the body of Christ is made up of all people, white, black, red, yellow, and brown.

Whether or not we are big fans of diversity, the fact is we are experiencing more and more of it. Some people are enthusiastic about this increase in diversity. They see the richness of the difference as something that benefits us all. But not everyone is that enthusiastic. Instead of finding reason for joy, some find reason for fear and insecurity and even hostility. Diversity has led to political, racial, gender, cultural and economic division. There has always been some of this, but now it seems to be more prevalent.

But God has something to say about all of this. The Church is called to be a Christ-centered community of diversity. It's very existence  proclaims the power of God to overcome the divisions that set people against each other. 

To hear an audio recording of the sermon click the YouTube image at the end of the manuscript


Scripture

Romans 14:1‭-‬9 NIV Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters. One person’s faith allows them to eat anything, but another, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. The one who eats everything must not treat with contempt the one who does not, and the one who does not eat everything must not judge the one who does, for God has accepted them. Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand.  One person considers one day more sacred than another; another considers every day alike. Each of them should be fully convinced in their own mind. Whoever regards one day as special does so to the Lord. Whoever eats meat does so to the Lord, for they give thanks to God; and whoever abstains does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God. For none of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for ourselves alone. If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living.



Text 


Romans 14:4 NIV Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand.


Whether or not we are big fans of diversity, the fact is we are experiencing more and more of it. And it comes in all forms: a greater range of entertainment options, a wider selection of foods at the supermarket, more car companies and models than ever before, more ethnic restaurants and the list goes on. During a routine trip to the mall, when we can go again, it’s not that unusual to overhear two or three foreign languages. If you go to the hospital some of the doctors treating you are likely to be from India,China, Egypt, South Africa or any number of other places.

Some people are enthusiastic about this increase in diversity. They see the richness of the difference as something that benefits us all. The mix of cultures and races and opinions provide opportunities to learn from others and grow in understanding. 


But not everyone is that enthusiastic.  Instead of finding reason for joy, some find reason for fear and insecurity and even hostility. The old rules we used to take for granted have been shaken. Cherished convictions are challenged. 


Diversity has led to political, racial, gender, cultural and economic division. There has always been some of this, but now it seems to be more prevalent.


But God has something to say about all of this. The Church is called to be a Christ-centered community of diversity. It's very existence  proclaims the power of God to overcome the divisions that set people against each other. 




In his letter to the Galatians, the apostle Paul announced, 


Galatians 3:26‭-‬29 NIV So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.


The church is to live as a people touched by God's grace and no longer defined by the divisions that plague the world.


However too often the divisions of the world are brought right into the church. Instead of reflecting the light of Christ, we mirror the broken world. 


No matter how much we claim that we value diversity, living with it is tough work but it’s always been that way, all the way back to the first century. Differences between church members have strained the fabric of fellowship. In the scripture passage we read earlier,  Romans 14:1‭-‬9 we find an ancient church that is not dealing with its diversity very well.


In the Roman church, the threat of division was over whether or not it was more spiritual to be vegetarian. You had the salad group and the steak group. And some argued over whether or not to celebrate special holy days. They took these issues very seriously. 


At work, in society, in church, why does diversity so often bring hurtful divisions?


First of all, we tend to be wary of those who are different from us. When people look, or act, or even think unlike the way we do, we’re not sure what to expect of them. They make us uncomfortable, even fearful. And in our fear we may even be tempted to strike out.


There is a second closely related reason why differences can bring division. We attribute bad motives to the actions of others. If our viewpoint or values are challenged by someone, it may hurt our feelings. We may get angry. If someone hurts or angers us, most of us have a hard time believing that that other person’s heart is pure. The religious leaders in Jesus’ time certainly weren’t happy that He challenged them. They questioned His motives. They even claimed that the healings He performed were done by demonic power. 


Luke 11:14‭-‬15 NIV Jesus was driving out a demon that was mute. When the demon left, the man who had been mute spoke, and the crowd was amazed. But some of them said, “By Beelzebul, the prince of demons, he is driving out demons.”


Of course it was His accusers who had the real problem.


Luke 11:19‭-‬20 NIV Now if I drive out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your followers drive them out? So then, they will be your judges.  But if I drive out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.



It can be that way in the church, too. People can become so intent on defending their turf or promoting the interests of the few that they forget the mission of all. Jesus prayed;


John 17:20‭-‬21 NIV “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message,  that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.


We can all contribute to the mission of the church. 


Well, differences are not going to just fade away in society or in church. So what can we do? What can we do to live with our differences in a way that honors Christ and is good for the church?


First, open your own life to change. In 1 Corinthians 13 the scripture tells us, “Love does not demand its own way.”


Second, recognize that you don’t have the right to judge the motives of others. As the apostle Paul wrote to the Romans, “Who are you to pass judgment on the servants of another? It is before their own Lord that they stand or fall” (Romans 14:4).


Third, we need to recognize that there is sometimes more than one right way to think and to behave. Many decisions are based on taste, preference or tradition. God is equally honored by vegetarians as by those who eat meat. God can equally be honored by an organ, a piano, a guitar, a drum or even a kazoo. Decisions in these matters are not about right and wrong. So the apostle Paul writes in our Scripture text, 


Romans 14:1 NIV Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters.


In other words, don’t make a big deal over differences. Don’t allow controversy over opinions to be the center of your conversation. Welcome one another.


Fourth, we need to recognize that no one of us, and no single group of people like us, can stand alone. We need each other to do what God calls us to do in the world. Only as we live with each other, differences and all, are we whole, healthy and prepared to serve God. All of us are flawed. All of us need to be forgiven; so, too, we need to forgive. When we come together with our brokenness, together we can serve God. 


As Paul wrote,


Romans 14:7 NIV For none of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for ourselves alone.


Some years ago in the Durham, North Carolina Morning Herald there was a story about two female musicians who performed together. One was black and the other, white. They called their duo Ebony and Ivory. Both of the women were handicapped. One had lost her left hand in an accident. The other had lost her right hand. Neither knew of the other, but both were brokenhearted after the tragedy they had individually faced. Each of them believed she would never again experience the joy of her life, the joy of creating the sound of music.


But a third woman heard of the plight of the injured musicians and put them in contact with each other. When the two one-handed pianists came together, they found that each could supplement the loss of the other. Together they could again play their beloved piano. When the black hand and the white hand were skillfully coordinated with each other, the maimed musicians could coax beautiful sounds from the instrument.


God calls us together in our brokenness and with our differences. God has given us to each other. Each supplements what is missing in the other. Together and only together with our differences are we whole and ready to serve. So in the words of scripture,


Romans 15:7 NIV Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.


Let's pray;


Almighty God, through your Holy Spirit you created unity in the midst of diversity;

We acknowledge that human diversity is an expression of your manifold love for your creation;

We confess that in our brokenness as human beings we turn diversity into a source of alienation, injustice, oppression, and wounding. Empower us to recognize and celebrate differences as your great gift to the human family. Enable us to be the architects of understanding, of respect and love; Through the Lord Jesus who unifies, we pray. Amen


Sermon Audio








Sunday, April 18, 2021

Until Jesus Comes, Be Witnesses




This is the manuscript of the sermon delivered at Christ Church on April 18, 2021.

Acts 1:8 NIV 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.”

In the days of Jesus, and those that followed soon after, to be a Christian witness could mean death. In certain parts of the world, it is still dangerous to proclaim the message of Christ. In fact, to be a genuine witness is not easy anywhere.   
There are certain requirements are necessary in order for a person to be an effective witness for Jesus. Let’s talk about three of those requirements today.
1. An effective witness must know something
2. An effective witness must say something
3. An effective witness must be something

Click this LINK for the YouTube video of today's service is at the end of this manuscript https://youtu.be/kpwysMBkG5g





Introduction


Matthew 16:26 NIV (says) What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?

Last week we read in 

1 Corinthians 15:19 NIV If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.


Why did Paul say this? For one thing, it isn’t easy to live for Christ in a world that doesn’t like Christ. 

So here’s one of the most important questions you can ever answer: Is Christianity worth it? 

Everything in life has a price tag. Anytime you say yes to something, you’re saying no to something else. Is the prize worth the price of following Christ?

Some people trade their souls for worldly things—like money, fame, and materialism. Your soul is worth so much more. 

Here’s something else that Paul said;

Philippians 3:7‭-‬8 NIV But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ

Paul realized that nothing—no status, no amount of money, no pleasure—is worth more than Jesus. 

Now let’s consider our text for today which comes from the scripture that Jean read earlier.

Text: 

Acts 1:8 NIV 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.”

Jesus’ earthly ministry was now complete! He was born of a virgin, lived a blameless life, died a vicarious death, and arose from the grave with a glorified body. He had been on earth for forty days since his resurrection, and as it said in 

Acts 1:3 NIVAfter his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God.


He was now ready to return to heaven. The Mount of Olives, just outside the eastern wall of Jerusalem, served as an ideal location from which to view the city. Jesus chose it as the place from which to give his final promise to come again and for his ascension into heaven.

Understandably, the disciples were curious about the future. 

Acts 1:6 NIV Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”

Jesus didn’t give a direct answer to the question instead He told them as he tells us today to go out and witness to the world.


Acts 1:7‭-‬8 NIV He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority.  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.”

The Greek word used here that is translated witness comes from another noun that means martyr.  

In the days of Jesus, and those that followed soon after, to be a Christian witness could mean death. In certain parts of the world, it is still dangerous to proclaim the message of Christ. In fact, to be a genuine witness is not easy anywhere.   

Now certain requirements are necessary in order for a person to be an effective witness. Let’s talk about three of those requirements today.  

  1. An effective witness must know something

  2. An effective witness must say something

  3. An effective witness must be something 

 

I. An effective witness must know something.


Go to a courtroom and look at a witness on the stand. What is the first requirement? A witness must be certain of the facts, or there is no need for him or her to appear in court. If the witness says, when asked a question, “I think—” the opposing attorney will immediately say, “I object, Your Honor! We are not interested in what this witness thinks. We’re only interested in what he or she knows.” The judge will then sustain the objection, because the witness must give facts,

So, what is the first qualification for an effective witness of Jesus Christ? He or she must know something! To qualify as an effective witness for Christ we must know who we believe in, 

Paul said;

2 Timothy 1:12 NIV That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet this is no cause for shame, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day.

As we get older we know more and more people who have died.  Some have gone to be with the Lord others have not.  as we grow older, the details of heaven—that is, what type of place it will be—are not nearly as important as the certainty we have that it does exist and that a place has been prepared for us there. 

John 14:2‭-‬3 NIV My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.

We can have a steadfast hope, which is an eager expectation, and we have extreme confidence in a home in heaven because we know Jesus Christ as our personal Savior.

A good witness must know something, and we do.  We know in whom we have believed and we know that we have a place with our Savior for eternity.

  

Image credit:  Christ's Commission Fellowship

II. Then a witness must say something.


Every once in a while we read of a witness coming along years after a crime who has a testimony that frees a prisoner from jail. If this person had come forth and been a witness at the trial, the prisoner may never have been convicted. This person knew facts but didn’t tell them! As a result, the prisoner was convicted unjustly.

To know about Jesus and fail to tell others is criminal! What if somebody knew the cure for cancer and kept quiet?  The simple testimony that Jesus is Savior and Lord can do something that no logical argument or eloquent persuasive speech can do and that is to turn the world upside down.  Our testimony as a witness to what Jesus has done in our lives can do just that. 

We’ve all heard stories of tragedy in someone’s life because a message was delayed or not delivered at all.  However the greatest tragedy, of all, is that many people have never been saved simply because a Christian failed to speak.  

Our failure to speak up may be the only reason that person does not become saved.  I wouldn’t want that on my conscience.  

There’s a story about John D. Rockefeller Sr. who played golf with a close friend of his who was in the insurance business. One day the friend heard that Rockefeller had taken out a life insurance policy for one million dollars. When he saw his friend, he asked, “Why didn’t you let me write the insurance policy for you?” Rockefeller answered, “Why didn’t you ask me to let you write the policy?” I believe that a lot of people never become Christians simply because good people who know Jesus as Savior and could testify concerning him simply fail to tell a lost friend about Jesus.


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Psalms 39:2‭-‬4 NIV So I remained utterly silent, not even saying anything good. But my anguish increased;  my heart grew hot within me. While I meditated, the fire burned; then I spoke with my tongue:  “Show me, Lord , my life’s end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting my life is.

David was silent when he should have spoken. It is uncertain exactly what, when, and to whom he should have spoken, but he clearly missed an opportunity to speak God’s truth.

Like David, we should realize that opportunities to speak truth are precious. 

 

III. An effective witness must know something, an effective witness must say something and an effective  witness must be something.


A famous skeptic was considering Christianity at one time and in order to help make his decision he decided to live around and interact with Christian people to see what Christians were like. He is reported to have said, “These Christians will have to look a lot more redeemed before I believe in it.” 

Then there is a story of Mahatma Gandhi who actually attended a Christian school and was disillusioned. He is believed to have said, “I would have been a Christian if it had not been for Christians.” 

Of course we cannot always accept these kinds of comments for rejecting Christ from non-Christians as the true reason for their failure to receive Christ. But there is enough truth in those statements for us to examine ourselves and our way of life.

In the courtroom a witness may know something and say something, but if the opposing attorney has evidence that the witness is not a person of integrity, the attorney can present the facts to the court and make a plea to throw out the testimony. Likewise, all of our scripture quoting,shouting, speaking in tongues, singing and dancing will be like “sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal” unless our lives are consistent with our testimony.

1 Corinthians 13:1‭-‬3 NIV If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.


Summary: 

When we were born again we automatically became witnesses for Christ.  One of the first signs that we have become a "Born Again Christian" will be the Holy Spirit in us prompting us to witness for him. We are witnesses by spiritual birth. Witnessing is who we are, more than what we do. We are not alone in witnessing for Christ.  We have the Holy Spirit.

John 15:26‭-‬27 NIV “When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father—the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father—he will testify about me.  And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning.

If people know you are a Christian, even if you don’t say anything, you are a witness whether you like it or not.

You may not think that you are a very good witness, but you are  one, because people are watching you. The moment they know you are Christian, they are reading the value of Christ in your life by your life.

Not only are you a witness you are an ambassador for the Kingdom of God.

2 Corinthians 5:16‭-‬20 NIV So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.

An ambassador is one who is sent to represent one country or government to another. While in the other country, the ambassador presents and demonstrates all the best that his or her home country or government has to offer.

When you give your life to God, you become a citizen of the Kingdom of Heaven. 

Philippians 3:20‭-‬21 NIV But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.

The Bible says that we are at that moment, the moment we are saved we are “translated into the Kingdom of God’s dear Son.”

Colossians 1:13‭-‬14 NIV For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.


So, the rest of your time here on earth, you’re not just here for your own plans or interests, but you’re representing Heaven to those around you. Matter of fact, you’re the only real sample of Heaven most people will ever see. What they’ll know about God’s working in peoples’ lives, they’ll get from watching YOUR life.

This means you’re not limited to YOURown resources, because you’re not out there representing yourself. Since you’re representing God’s government, and HIS abilities, you have access to all the best that He has to offer. Remember, your whole mission as a witness and ambassador is to give people a sample of what it is to have God at work in a person’s life.


Silence can be a virtue. But sometimes, God gives us opportunities to speak truth, and we must be careful not to neglect the opening to make a meaningful difference. 

An effective witness and ambassador is anyone who cooperates with the Holy Spirit in telling others about Jesus. All God needs is a little cooperation from his people. When he gets it, we can change the world. God invites us to cooperate with the Holy Spirit in telling others about Jesus. This is God’s job description for every Christian. If we will do our part, we can be sure that the Holy Spirit will do His.

Acts 1:8 NIV 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.”

Don't miss your opportunity. 

John 9:4 NLT We must quickly carry out the tasks assigned us by the one who sent us. The night is coming, and then no one can work.

  

Let's pray 

Lord, give us discernment and humility to determine when we should speak as your witness. Give us wisdom to know what to say, and courage to say it with grace and truth.

In  Jesus name

 Amen