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prov·o·ca·tion - something that provokes, arouses, or stimulates. pant - to long eagerly; yearn. a collection of thoughts intended to provoke and inspire. these posts are hoping to encourage people to think, especially Christians, and pant even harder for the waterbrooks of the Lord. If you are not a believer in Christ Jesus, I welcome your perspective and encourage your investigation on these matters.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

The Seventh Witness

Many of us are aware of the seven “I AM’s” in the gospel of John, and some of us may be aware of the seven signs (semeion) as well. Others may have listed the seven symbols of Jesus. But have you ever considered the seven witnesses in the gospel of John?

Actually, witnessing is a big deal for John as he used the word 14 times as a noun and 33 times as a verb in his gospel account. To put this in perspective, the other Gospel combined only used it 4 times as a noun and 2 times as a verb. As a matter of fact, the whole gospel is written as a sort of gospel tract to unbelievers as the Evangelist states:

“Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name” (John 20:30-31).

To bear witness or testify is something we cannot gloss over. The Scriptures show us that we are not only to have a first-hand account of the gospel of Jesus Christ, but we are to “go on record” by committing ourselves to the truth in the midst of the jury of our world who wants to know if there is enough evidence to believe in Jesus. We testify as those who seek to provide reliable and trustworthy accounts of the living reality of Christ in us. Can we be charged as guilty for confessing Christ? Have we remained neutral or silent in our commitment to the glories and beauty of our Savior?

Consider the first six witness to Jesus Christ as laid out in John’s gospel:

  1. The Father (5:31-32, 34, 37; 8:18)

“And the Father who sent me has himself borne witne ss about me.”John 5:37

“I am the one who bears witness about myself, and the Father who sent me bears witness about me.” John 8:18

  1. Jesus Christ (himself) (8:14,18; 3:11,32; 8:37)

Jesus answered, “Even if I do bear witness about myself, my testimony is true, for I know where I came from and where I am going, but you do not know where I come from or where I am going.” John 8:14

  1. The Holy Spirit (15:26; 16:14)

“But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me.” John 15:26

  1. The works of Jesus (5:36; 10:25; 14:11)

“But the testimony that I have is greater than that of John. For the works the Father has given me to accomplish, the very works that I am doing, bear witness about me that the Father has sent me.” John 5:36

Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name bear witness about me.” John 10:25

“Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves.” John 14:11

  1. The sacred Scripture (5:39, 45-46)

“You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me.” John 5:39

  1. John the Baptist

“There came a man sent from God whose name was John. He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.” John 1:6-8

John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’” John 1:15

And John bore witness: “I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him.” John 1:32

“And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.” John 1:34

And they came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, he who was with you across the Jordan, to whom you bore witness—look, he is baptizing, and all are going to him.” John 3:26

“You sent John, and he has borne witness to the truth.” John 5:33

Now, who is the seventh witness you might ask? It is ordinary people like you and me. Consider the Samaritan woman at the well as she ran back to testify about the Messiah. The commentary states thus:

Many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman's testimony, “He told me all that I ever did.” So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them, and he stayed there two days. And many more believed because of his word. They said to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world” (John 4:39-42).

The woman’s testimony was the bridge of belief for those in that town. But what about the man born blind? See him testifying before the Pharisees again and again of Him who alone can open the eyes of the man born blind (John 9:1-41). Finally, the Evangelist himself goes on record by concluding his gospel account by saying:

This is the disciple who is bearing witness about these things, and who has written these things, and we know that his testimony is true.” John 21:24
The early church of course knew of the call to witness as early as Peter and John was before the Jerusalem Council in Acts 4. The pathos in the profession is compelling:

So they called them and charged them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:18-20).

Christianity has for 2000 years been filled with the faithful and reliable of witnesses who, out of absolute necessity, could not stop speaking of what they have seen and heard—many of whom sang their songs of worship while the flames devoured their flesh. I take great comfort and encouragement from the words of Jesus when he told us, “And you will also bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning” (John 15:27). We will also bear witness because the Spirit of Christ will not allow us to remain silent. The question for me, and I hope for all of us, is what have we seen and heard of Christ lately? What have we to tell?

Tom Wells, in his book A Vision for Missions, stated that “those who know the most about God are the most responsible and best equipped to tell of Him.” This reality is glorious and terrifying because what we know we should share with others, and when we don’t the more knowledge we attain and do nothing with, the more we will be held accountable for. When we drink deeply from the Fountain of Delights, the effulgent joy should bring an exuberant witness that can’t help but speak sweetly of Him who has satisfied us with none other than Himself.

I just wanted to encourage you today to think about these seven witnesses. We are that seventh witness. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit in a Triune testimony bear witness to Jesus Christ. The Scripture and the works of Jesus both testify to Jesus. John the Baptist Witness testified some 19 different occasions alone in this gospel account. Ordinary folks like an adulterous and a blind man have shown us the impact of a witness when someone commits to the truth with a public and unapologetic testimony. So when the record books are unfolded in eternity, I pray that we will have such a constraining that we too “cannot help but speak of what we have seen and heard.”

5 Comments:

Blogger Gavin Brown said...

Good post. Very insightful.

6/27/2006 11:53:00 AM

 
Blogger Broadstone said...

Timmy,

I'm feeling this one. Be praying over at the Hub, God has opened several conversations which are definitely Godward and there is some very apparent resistance as well.

Here is a closing of a conversation with one fellow, "Even if you dont' believe in Jesus, you are still left with the Problem." He said, "What problem? I don't have a problem!" I replied, "Sure you do. You exist. So you have to make sense of that. There is good and evil in life and you have to figure that out. You want to have meaning in life. And you've got guilt. So, you have a problem."

6/28/2006 07:27:00 AM

 
Blogger Timmy said...

Isn't UPS a great place to build relationships with unbelievers and share the gospel?

I am going to post more on this in the days ahead, so I don't want to get ahead of myself. The past two weeks have been really good, and I am excited about the prospect of several coworkers coming to faith in Jesus.

One thing I have noticed and tell me what if you have found this in your conversations:

1. Many unbelievers are emphasizing spirituality without theology today. It is mystical and anti-rational.

2. Many professing Christians today are attempting to have Christianity without ecclesiology. That is to say, they want to profess Christ but not commit to His Church.

These seem to be some front-burner issues in my conversations of late. Have any thoughts on this?

6/28/2006 03:56:00 PM

 
Blogger Broadstone said...

You nailed it. In the conversation I quoted this young man, age 19, said, "I used to be catholic but, I got my own thing now and do my own thing. I don't want anyone pushing themselves on me...I mean don't get me wrong, I think there is "something" out there, but..."

So even in that quote those two things are evident. I would pull out of your 1st&2nd observation and make a 3rd, which related to both is a VERY intentional rejection of previously experienced and current organized religious life. What he said clearly in between this statement was, "I reject all other forms of religion and experience. I can manage and explain "god" to my own satisfaction." Your points speak to this but it is definitely an underlying assumption.

This is rooted in a disbelief and disregard for authority in a revelational sense, i.e. objective propisitional truth, and a keen distrust of people who assume to be ambassadors of the Truth. We just don't trust people. Of course, this makes a great platform for discussing depravity not only in others (I don't trust the preacher) but themselves as well(why should anyone trust me?). The point is to get them feeling this utter lostness.

He said, "Well you can argue for something but someone is right there arguing against it. So, what can you know?"

I think "therapeutic deism" certainly in effect among theologically illiterate Christians teens. But, what I sense among the younger pagans is a skeptical/mystical sometimes hard agnosticism. It is very "cool" to be unsure.

I posted to this in a reply to a recent blog, "You and I live in a world that hates to hate evil and loves loving ourselves. We tend toward entertaining ourselves to death. Our general expression is one of boredom and angst. We ride the pendulum between extreme hopelessness and extreme frivolity. We are lost and think our lostness is a cool ride. We are fashionable but not beautiful because we no longer know what Beauty is. We like friends but don't know what a Good friendship is. We have longings we cannot define. We have guilt we need rid of. We have injustices that we long and demand to have righted. We are in need of a Savior."

I am going to begin posting quotes of these ongoing conversations as prayer requests. Hopefully, if God brings readers, He'll also be sending readers who pray.

Keep calling out to the elect, man!
I will be praying for those guys you are talking to.

Grace and Peace,

kelly

6/28/2006 04:56:00 PM

 
Blogger Timmy said...

Kelly,

I appreciate you sharing your experiences. I agree that our generation has basically given up on institutional or organized religion. I guess that means what they want is disorganized and self-defining religion that is palatable to their tastes. There is a young lady that I have shared the gospel with at least eight times who has yet to believe in Christ. The first time I talked with her she told me that she was developing her own religion and that she was going to explain the main tenets of her religion. Since then, she has changed quite a bit. As a matter of fact, she comes to church with her mother almost every Sunday night with me and my wife. God is working.

Speaking of church, I have noticed that when our coworkers come to faith in Jesus, it is difficult to get them integrated into the local church. I also don't see churches taking up the incredible opportunity to see the thousands of 3rd shifters (including Ford plants and others) in Louisville which is in the tens of thousands. For the past two months, I have been working on a stragegy of incorporating Christians and even non-Christians into coming to church. I would like to talk to you about it sometime.

We must not only seek to win our coworkers to Christ, but we must also diligently work to integrate them into a healthy and vibrant Christian fellowship and community where they will be nurtured and cared for as they grow in their relationship with Christ. Unfortunatley, a six week class or program simply won't work. We need to be relational and sacrificial, which I hope to be in my labors.

Before this comment gets too long, I better go. Like I said, I will post something about this soon. Another night at UPS awaits us which means more opportunities to speak of our wonderful Savior. May God give us the courage to embrace our lost friends, humility in our presentation of the gospel, and perseverance in praying for their souls.

6/28/2006 09:57:00 PM

 

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