Today Pastor Choi talks about the importance of evangelism. He challenges the congregation to hear Jesus’ call: Testify for Me. Testify to what I have done for you to all the world. Tell the truth and nothing but the truth about Me.
He points out three characteristics of Jesus’ witnesses: they know who Jesus is, they know who they are, and they know what to tell. The sermon concludes with the need of Holy Spirit’s power in evangelism.
Following is a summary of the sermon:
Witnesses for Jesus: Be Christ’s Disciple (6)
- Acts 1:8
- New American Standard Bible (NASB)
- 8 but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”
- Matthew 28:18-20
- New American Standard Bible (NASB)
- 18 And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
- The sermon title “Witness for Jesus” has nothing to do with Jehovah’s Witnesses. I was compelled to choose that title after studying of today’s texts.
- Testify for Me (Acts 23:11). Testify to what I have done for you: That’s what Jesus calls us to do. Testify for Me.
- We the believers are called to testify to Jesus: His life, death, resurrection, and His teachings. We are called to testify to the Word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all the things that we have seen in Jesus. We are called to testify to the things in which Jesus appeared to us. We are to bear witness to Him, because we have been with Him for some time. As much as we are called to keep the commandments of God, we are also called to hold the testimony of Jesus. We are called not to shrink from declaring to the world the whole purpose of God in Jesus. That’s our call.
- This morning, I invite you to explore with me the meaning of being a witness for Jesus and what we need for dynamic evangelism.
- Three Characteristics of Jesus’ Witnesses:
- A. They know who Jesus is: Many people in the world don’t know Jesus; some know Him as a good moral teacher. Others understand Him as a miracle maker; even more others perceive Him as someone totally different from what the Scriptures say about Him. E.g. a missionary in India at one village once talked to a man asking if he knew Jesus. The man said, “No, there’s no one in my village with that name.” Many don’t know who Jesus is.
- We, Jesus’ witnesses, however, know who Jesus is. We know Jesus is the Son of God the Messiah as God has testified in the Bible. We don’t just know about Him but know Him personally: we have experienced Him (1 John 1:2, 4:14). We have walked with Him. We have seen and heard Him. We have the testimony in our hearts (1 John 5:10). E.g. Samaritan woman: Come and see the Messiah who told me everything I have ever done (John 4:39). She discovered who Jesus was and told everybody her story.
- B. They know who they are: We not only know who Jesus is, but we also know who we are and what we are called for. We are Christ’s followers. We clearly understand whose witnesses we are. We are Christ’s witnesses. In Acts 1:8, Jesus says to His disciples, “You shall be My witnesses.”
- Think of the image of witnesses and their oaths in court: tell the truth nothing but the truth to the world. Jesus solemnly charges us the witnesses: You as My witness shall bear witness to Me and tell the truth and nothing but the truth about Me to all the world. That is our call. That is our charge. We know who we are. We are Christ’s witnesses.
- C. They know what to tell: We also know what to tell: the truth. To testify to the truth is the bottom-line for any witness. Truth determines the validity of the testimony. There’s always a danger of perjury. A true witness must tell the truth.
We have a cloud of witnesses who make the claims on Jesus valid. All of them testified to the truth and their testimonies point to one person: Jesus.
Who are these witnesses to Jesus? They are God, Jesus, Holy Spirit, the works of Jesus, and the prophets. They all testified to the coming of the Messiah, the suffering and death, resurrection, the Second coming of the Messiah, and the Lordship of Jesus over all creation.
- What’s our testimony? John the Apostle sums up quite nicely the truth about Jesus this way: God gave us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life (1 John 5:11-12). That’s the testimony. That’s our story to tell to the world.
- Go into the World: With this testimony, we are called to go to the world. It is God’s plan to send us out with the Good News of the kingdom. The Gospel will be proclaimed throughout the world, as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come (Matthew 24:14). God never wants us to keep the Good News to ourselves. He doesn’t want us to stay within the church walls, either. He sends us out to all the nations. We are being sent out as witnesses for Jesus to proclaim the message of repentance and forgiveness. We bring the message of reconciliation and peace with God. We tell the truth that everyone who believes in the name of Jesus will receive the forgiveness of sins.
- We go out there to make Jesus’ disciples. Making disciples is the call. Going, baptizing, and teaching are our missions. E.g. Methodist Slogan is “making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.” Don’t get confused here. Transformation of the world itself is not the purpose. Transformation of the people in the world is. Change the world is not. Reconciliation of people in the world with God is. E.g. pig in a clean room vs. clean person in a pig-sty.
- Power that we need: Reality check. We do very poorly in witnessing to Jesus, don’t we? The grade on our report card is an F. Evangelism nowadays is a taboo word. The United Methodist Church in America is declining. It seems we are desperately doing everything else but witnessing nowadays. The numbers don’t lie: we don’t have many genuine converts (or profession of faith/baptism). We may bring some people to church, but how many of them are serious about following Jesus to death? E.g. Willow Creek’s own study “Reveal.” Let’s face it: our witness stinks. Our evangelism efforts are ineffective and even secular (e.g. marketing strategy). So, what’s the fix?
- Power from the Holy Spirit: We must begin with the Holy Spirit. We need the Holy Spirit’s power and initiative in our evangelism. We shouldn’t even think of going out to the world without the Holy Spirit’s power and guidance.
- Now, this is what happens when we have power from the Holy Spirit: witnessing becomes dynamic and evangelism explodes. Historically, whenever there was an anointing of the Holy Spirit, and wherever the outpouring of the Holy Spirit was, there was always an explosion of evangelism. E.g. Methodism exploded in the 19th century in America. I have seen and experienced it once in my life. E.g. in the 1970s, in my home church in Korea, it all began with fervent prayers and fasting of a few young adults in the prayer room at the basement of the church. Then, for the next 5 years, there was an explosion of witnessing: outdoor evangelism, street evangelism, and even workplace evangelism took place. The results? Hundreds of young souls came to the Lord (300 young people in a 1000-member church!).
- We need power here!: So, folks, if you agree with me that the Church needs new converts and that we need to do a better job in our witnessing, then we must begin with prayers. That’s what the disciples did in the Early Church. Before you are amazed with 3000 conversions with Peter’s sermon, you have to think what had preceded first: after Jesus commanded them to wait in Jerusalem for the Holy Spirit, for the next ten days, they stayed at one place. With their hearts and minds united, they devoted themselves to prayer. On the tenth day, the Holy Spirit came down upon them and the rest was history.
- I really want to see the same thing happen in our church. I pray that our 40-40-40 challenge would grant us a break-through in our church prayers. I pray that it would ignite our hearts in enthusiasm and passion for God. I pray that the Holy Spirit would come down upon us and grant us the power that would turn us into a dynamic witness for Jesus.
- We need the power of the Holy Spirit; the power from above that brings people to the Lord. E.g. my mom, Jehovah’s Witness, refused to come back to the Church. She came back to the Lord only after she saw the demonstration of the Holy Spirit through prayers (that is, my brother came out of comatose after fervent prayers).
- People need the Lord. The Church needs the Holy Spirit. We need the demonstration of the Holy Spirit in evangelism.
- Lord, grant us the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen.