The Confident Witness (1)
For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day. 2 Timothy 1.12
A true Christian hero
Perhaps for many of us, the Apostle Paul stands out as one of the true heroes of the Christian movement.
Here is a man who, first of all, was not a likely candidate to become a Christian, so strong was his hatred of those who believed in Jesus. And then, after becoming a Christian, he was not likely to succeed as one. Almost no one trusted him; they all thought he was pulling some scam to get closer to the centers of Christian power, so he could ravage the Church at its heart.
Then, when he finally began his ministry, he was opposed by the enemies of the Gospel, and even some who claimed to be its friends. Everywhere Paul went he was harassed, beaten, imprisoned, denounced, and derided. Then, whenever he moved on in his mission, false apostles came into town after him and tried to pick off his converts for allegiance to a false gospel.
But in spite of all this, Paul could say that he had not labored in vain; he indeed bore much fruit for the Lord, and the many churches he founded were the result of his faithful, confident witness for Christ.
The need of the moment
Paul was able to accomplish great things against great odds because he had such great confidence in his message and his Lord.
In our day the work of evangelism has ground almost to a halt. Few and far between are the pastors and lay people who are actively involved in bringing the Good News to lost people wherever they can. Are we ashamed of the Gospel, or simply afraid to talk about the Lord in public? We’re content these days to let the lost find their way to us, if they’re so inclined. And in order to help them be so inclined, we’ve pretty much “re-culturized” our churches so that they are more a pale reflection of the pop and entertainment culture of the day than the temples and dwelling places of the Lord they’re supposed to be.
We seem to have lost sight of our calling as witnesses for Christ and of our mission to make disciples “as we are going” through the normal course of our everyday lives. Where are the confident and effective witnesses, like the Apostle Paul, among this generation of Christians?
In this series we’re going to take a look at Paul, to see what we can learn from him about recovering our proper callings and becoming confident witnesses for the Lord.
And it all begins with the nature of our relationship with the Lord. Toward the end of his life Paul could say, “I know whom I have believed.” Today most people who claim to be Christians will say “I believe” in Jesus for the forgiveness of sins. But can we say that we “know” Him in the way that, it is apparent, the Apostle Paul knew the Lord Jesus Christ?
Paul’s knowledge of Christ was no mere intellectual exercise. It took the form of fear, obedience, love, and trust, and it was so intimate and real that Paul could rejoice in, as he said, looking into the very face of our Lord Jesus Christ, there to discover the radiant glory of God (2 Cor. 4.6).
Paul feared Jesus. We see that from the beginning, as the Lord confronted him on that Damascus road. Struck blind and knocked to the ground, Paul could only ask, “Who are You, Lord?” The fear of the Lord drove Paul to work out his salvation with great trembling, seeking daily to bring holiness to completion (Phil. 2.12; 2 Cor. 7.1). Paul’s fear of Jesus led him to obeythe Lord in every detail, going where the Lord sent him and doing whatever was required of him, every day of his life. The privilege of being forgiven, saved, sustained, and sent by Jesus led Paul to loveJesus. He said the love he had for Jesus constrainedhim to obey the Lord and do the work of evangelizing the lost (2 Cor. 5.14-20). And Paul trusted the Lord to provide for his needs, guard his life, keep his commitment in tact, and hold on to him at the Day of Judgment.
Paul’s relationship with Jesus was real, constant, and vital. He prayed continuously, talked about Jesus incessantly, eagerly participated in Him in the Lord’s Supper, and even gave up his own freedom and life so that the name of Jesus might be honored and believed. KnowingJesus like this – deeply, really, and continuously – gave Paul the confidence he needed to proclaim Christ to every person.
Paul knew Jesus – he didn’t just believe in Him. He believed and his belief led him to seek deeper depths of communion with the Lord Jesus Christ, and to be transformed increasingly into His image by His Spirit at work within Him (2 Cor. 3.12-18).
Paul’s witness for Jesus grew out of His relationship with Him. When our relationship with Jesus is as personal, constant, and vital as Paul’s, then we too will be more confident in our witness for the Lord.
1. Jesus said that eternal life is to know God and Jesus Christ. How would you explain to an unsaved friend what it means to “know” God?
2. How does one come to “know” God? What is someone missing by not knowing the Lord?
3. Fear, obedience, love, trust: How do these factor into your own relationship with the Lord?
Next steps – Preparation: Can you say that you “know” Jesus? What does that mean? How do you experience your relationship with Jesus? Like Paul did, gazing into the glory of God in His face? Talk with a Christian friend about these questions.
T. M. Moore
“The Confident Witness” is one of six studies that make up the core of our online course, Mission Partners. Preview this course at The Ailbe Seminary by clicking here. Mission Partners is one of the courses in our Certificate for Kingdom Leadership curriculum, which will open for registration on January 1, 2019. For an introduction and overview of that curriculum, click here.
How confident are you in your ability to share the Good News of Christ and His Kingdom? Our book, The Gospel of the Kingdom, can help you get your witness and testimony in proper working order, so that you can be a confident witness in your own Personal Mission Field. Order your copy by clicking here.
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.