Who Are the Witnesses of Christ Jesus?
What is the gospel? The gospel is purely the good news concerning Jesus the Christ the Son of God; His righteous life, His sacrificial death for the sins of men, His burial, His bodily resurrection from the dead, His ascension into Heaven, and His promise of eternal life to everyone who believes. So when the Lord said to His disciples; “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” (Mark 16:15) He was telling them, “Go tell the world about Me, go tell them what I have done and said.” Why is this important to understand, because we can easily get caught up in so many different things, but the gospel alone is the power of God for salvation (Romans 1:16).
I have three questions for you while keeping in mind that the gospel is good news:
1) Were you a witness of these things?
2) Who did witness these things?
3) Who then are the witnesses of Christ Jesus?
I'm going to teach you about something you may not have heard before, at least in this way, but it's not new, the reformers referred to it as “Sola Scriptura”. Now while “Sola Scriptura” referrers to all of scripture, both the New and Old Testaments; what I would like to talk about today is with regards to the gospel. We who believe are the redeemed in Christ; what that means is we have been saved from the wrath of God for our sins; by the grace of God alone, through faith alone, in the Jesus Christ alone. We are the redeemed in Christ, but make no mistake, brethren; you and I are not His witnesses. Yes, you heard me correctly, we are not His witnesses. The apostles chosen by Jesus Himself are His witnesses: both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth. They are the ones who witnessed His righteous life, His sacrificial death for the sins of men, His burial, His bodily resurrection from the dead, His ascension into Heaven, and heard Him promise eternal life to all the believing in Him.
When you and I preach the gospel in this world, we are not giving witness of the things we have seen and heard; we are simply reporting the news given to us by those who did. When you come to understand this, it will revolutionize the way you preach the gospel, and talk to people about Jesus. You will also have understanding with regards to what really should be said, and the reason why. What I have to say today is in no way exhaustive on the subject; it is just a beginning, scratching the surface on a subject that covers the entirety of the gospel accounts and Epistles. Pay close attention to the personal pronouns when you are reading both the gospel accounts and Acts; this will really bring this subject to light. I’ve included in this post four short passages of scripture as examples of this.
“Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.” (1 Corinthians 15:1-5 NASB)
I used this passage because it is a good quick synopsis of the gospel. As you can see from the passage, Christ appeared to the apostles after His resurrection, they were witnesses of His resurrection. Paul received the news of Christ death for the sins of believers and Christ subsequent resurrection from the dead the third day, the same way all of us have; by the testimony of those who witnessed the events. Paul then passed this news along to others so that they may also believe and be saved. Paul did see the risen Savior and was sent by Him, making Him an apostle, so therefore he himself could give witness to the resurrection.
He said to them, "It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority; 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." (Acts 1:7-8)
As you can see from this passage, all the personal pronouns in reference to being a witness are of those who He was speaking directly to at the time, His apostles, His chosen witnesses, and in the greater passage of Acts 1:1-11 the Lord’s dialog is with the apostles, His chosen witnesses. The very ones He had chosen early on during His earthly ministry to be His witnesses.
"I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me.” (John 17: 20,21 NASB)
In this, the High Priestly Prayer Jesus is praying on behalf of the church, all those who will come to faith in Him. Take note as to how they come to faith in Him, through the word given by His chosen witnesses, His apostles.
"Therefore many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name." (John 20:30, 31 NASB)
In this passage the apostle John states the purpose for his writing this account. In this passage the signs Jesus performed where done in the presence of His disciples and they were not all written down. What has been written; has been written so that you, I, and a multitude of others would believe and be saved, to fulfill the commission that the Lord gave them, to be His “witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth."
“So many things have to be done to attract a crowd and to keep that crowd they have attracted why is that? Is it because the Gospel no longer has power? Or is it because we deceive ourselves into thinking that we are preachers of the Gospel? Paul said the Gospel is the power of God to salvation for everyone, and that is true because power is demanded.” ~Paul Washer
So then what are we, the redeemed in Christ to do if we are not His witnesses? The commission that Jesus gave in Matthew 28:18-20 to His chosen witnesses, His apostles, applies even now; “And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." We still have His chosen method of making disciples. The preaching of the gospel (Mark 16:15, Luke 24:46, 47); but we are not the witnesses of these things, it is His apostles alone who are the witnesses of the good news concerning Jesus the Christ the Son of God; His righteous life, His sacrificial death for the sins of men, His burial, His bodily resurrection from the dead, His ascension into Heaven, and the promises they heard Him make. So, therefore, when we proclaim the gospel, we must take out everything that is not their witness. We must first proclaim the scripture as it is written, and then secondly explain the scripture exegetically, which is a critical interpretation of the text. We are not to take individual scripture out of its context, and then apply them to fit our ideas. We are to take what has been written within the context of what proceeds and follows it.
So what am I saying? Stop preaching extemporaneously or using some credo form designed by men! First open the Bible and proclaim what has been written, which is the first hand account, and then secondly explain what has been written by critical interpretation of the text (exegesis).
Preaching is not a game, it is serious stuff, and needs not be taken lightly, but taken with much care and respect for the word of God, and the authority with which God has given men to proclaim His word. Open up the scripture, read the scripture, study what has been written with much care and diligence; then and only then go preach. When you go preach; firstly open up the scripture, don’t just hold the bible in your hand as a symbol, but actually proclaim what is written on the pages, then secondly explain what has been written, within the context of the authors intent. I recently heard a brother in Christ and fellow open-air preacher whom I respect say; “Preaching is teaching with authority” (Tony Miano). Do not take this authority lightly.
This is not to say that you can never spontaneously preach the gospel, of course you can and should; but only after you have previously put in the necessary time, of opening up the scripture, studying the scripture. Then and only then will you be prepared to firstly proclaim, and then secondly explain what has been written by those who are the witnesses of Jesus the Christ the Son of God; His righteous life, His sacrificial death for the sins of men, His burial, His bodily resurrection from the dead, His ascension into Heaven, His promise of eternal life to all the believing in Him.
Mike Peek a slave of Jesus Christ