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PART 1 ASPIRING TO BE A WITNESS FOR CHRIST
For most of us, isn’t this what we aspire, i.e., to become a witness for Christ? But what does it mean to be a witness for Christ? I’m sure it means different things to different Christians.
Some would say, look at Christ’s life when he lived on this earth and try to emulate Him. Others might say, simply put into practice what those in leadership would ask of you to do. And this would constitute being a witness for Christ. Doing things for others, which some would describe as performing good works, would be evidence of being a witness for Christ.
Where could we find some direction or guidance as to how can we can become a witness for Christ?
I think you know the answer by taking a look at what the Word of God has to say. I would recommend taking a look at the Christian way of life as evidenced in the book of Acts, the Epistles, and the book of Revelation. This doesn’t mean that the Old Testament has nothing to offer in this regard; it’s just that the protocol way of Godly living for New Testament saints is found in the New Testament Scriptures.
So, where should we begin? Let’s start by taking a look at what the early church Christians participated in.
A WITNESS FOR CHRIST PARTICIPATED IN THESE INVOLVEMENTS
The involvements that we will present will provide a question that is attached to them. In other words, if we do this or are involved in that, we will become a witness of something. So, let’s take a look at what these involvements were about so that we can become a witness for Christ.
How Do We Become a Witness for Christ, Who Can Obtain Favor with Those Who Are in Our Community?
Suggested Reading: Acts chapter 2
Acts 2: 42, 46 And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart,
As Scripture clearly indicates, the early Christians became a witness for Christ by:
Attending regularly to the teachings of the church.
Attending the meetings of the believers for Christian fellowship, which was centered on intimate worship, sharing, and learning the Scriptures.
The sharing of fellowship meals together that was followed by the celebration of the Lord’s supper.
Prayer (in supplications to God for an increase of grace and life in their own souls).
For establishment in the truth which they had received; and for the extension of the kingdom of Christ in the salvation of men1).
The early Christians were quite active in the Christian faith. It began with attending continually to the teachings of those in leadership and followed by subsequent meetings with fellow believers where they learned more about their faith, at times shared food not only with one another but also with unbelievers, partook of communion; engaged in group prayer, and shared the gospel.
Acts 2: 47 Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.
Their humble, serious, and devoted lives won the favor of those who were in their town, village, community, city, etc.
After reading what was just presented, you might respond by saying, I am engaged in just about everything that was mentioned. Therefore, I am a witness for Christ. Right? Well, being engaged or involved in church activities is important. This could be a step in the right direction.
However, other things need to be in the right order. One of them is the names and functions of those who are appointed to be in the leadership positions of the church you are attending. The Word of God tells us what their leadership office gifts names and functions are. Let’s take a look at these in the next chapter.
BEING A WITNESS OF THE NAMES AND FUNCTIONS OF THOSE IN LEADERSHIP
Scripture is pretty clear as to the names and functions of those in leadership. Why is this important?
Because the name of a leadership office should be representative of its function. In other words, if those in leadership have a name or title other than those enunciated in Scripture, then it is probably safe to assume that their functions will be different from those mentioned.
What are the names and functions of the leadership positions in the New Testament church?
Ephesians 4: 11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
They can be privy to the motives of one’s heart by means of the ministry of the Holy Spirit in regard to the selling of one’s property and the making of a declaration (a commitment) to give all of the proceeds of selling a piece of land to help fellow believers who needed financial assistance because of persecution. The givers of such Ananias and Sapphira his wife who afterward changed their mind and decided to keep back part of the proceeds of the sale for themselves. Suggested Reading: Acts 5:1-11
1-3 But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession, And kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles' feet. But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land?
They were commissioned by Christ to go into all of the world and preach the gospel (the good news) to every creature and to place or appoint others when they left a particular town or city as their representatives in order to complete the work that had begun. Mark 16: 15
And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.
They were to go into all the world and teach (make disciples) of Christ who will then be baptized (brought into union or communion) in water in identification with Christ in the names of God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
Matthew 28: 19-20 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
They are to be witnesses of Christ even in the midst of persecution and death throughout the world.
Acts 1:8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
They would appoint (by the laying of hands on each person’s forehead) in accompaniment with prayer, signifying the giving of responsibility or the granting of authority upon a believer to the calling and ordination to a particular leadership office, in this case, the office of apostle.
The method in regard to how someone was selected varied. Some believe that the apostles chose out from the assembly those who exhibited the spiritual qualities of the Spirit, the functions of the office, the qualifications of the office, and its divine skill. Others believe that the assembly would choose and vote by the showing of hands those who exhibited the spiritual qualities of the Spirit, the functions of the office, the qualifications of the office, and its divine skill. Acts 1: 12-26; Acts 6:1-6
Acts 1: 15, 23, 25 And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples, and said, (the number of names together were about an hundred and twenty,) And they appointed two, Joseph called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias. That he may take part of this ministry and apostleship, from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place.
Acts 6:3, 5-6 Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business. And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch: Whom they set before the apostles: and when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them.
They would receive, during times of intense persecution, the financial proceeds from Christians who had chosen to sell their land or houses and distribute such to help their fellow brethren who had lost their jobs and businesses. Acts 3:1-4: 31
34 Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold,
They would convey the new truths about the new kingdom to the newly converted under the leading of the Holy Spirit. These revelations would eventually be written down and compiled to form the New Testament canon. Acts 2: 42-47
42 And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.
They had seen the risen Christ either by means of a vision (experiences similar to dreams through which supernatural insight or awareness is given by revelation. The difference between a dream and a vision is that dreams occur only during sleep, while visions can happen while a person is awake (Daniel 10:7)2 or a theophany (any direct, visual manifestation of the presence of God3) the confirmation of such would be by another believer. Additional evidence to their calling is illustrated in patience (remaining loyal to the faith in trials and sufferings), in signs (miracles with emphasis on their ability to increase spiritual understanding by pointing to a spiritual reality), in wonders (in the sense of awe, which the miracle creates), and mighty deeds (miracles resulting from divine power). Acts 9:8-19; 2 Corinthians 12: 12; 10:2, 10
Acts 9:3-4 And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?
10, 17 And there was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias; and to him said the Lord in a vision, Ananias. And he said, Behold, I am here, Lord. And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost.
2 Corinthians 12: 12 Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds.
They would establish churches and at various times return to visit them to see whether the saints were continuing on in their faith.
Acts 15: 36 And some days after Paul said unto Barnabas, Let us go again and visit our brethren in every city where we have preached the word of the Lord, and see how they do.
They could delegate authority to a fellow worker (representative; delegate; an apostolic agent) to go to various churches and teach the assembly sound doctrine, making sure that they themselves are an example of such. Those sent could also ordain (appoint) elders. Titus 1:4-9
4-5 To Titus, mine own son after the common faith: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ our Saviour. For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee:
They would predict future events, such as an upcoming famine. Acts 11: 27-30
27-28 And in these days came prophets from Jerusalem unto Antioch. And there stood up one of them named Agabus, and signified by the spirit that there should be great dearth throughout all the world: which came to pass in the days of Claudius Caesar.
They could predict in the form of a warning for a fellow believer that they should not continue on in their journey toward a particular geographical location because dire consequences would befall them. Acts 20: 17; 21:8-15
Acts 21: 10-11 And as we tarried there many days, there came down from Judaea a certain prophet, named Agabus. And when he was come unto us, he took Paul's girdle, and bound his own hands and feet, and said, Thus saith the Holy Ghost, So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man that owneth this girdle, and shall deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.
They could, when gathered together with the other prophets who were available, proclaim a prophetic Word to the assembly. They might also allow someone else to speak ahead of them if they themselves hadn’t received something from the Spirit. Along with this, those who were not conveying the prophetic Word would judge as to whether what was said by a fellow prophet who was speaking whether it was from the Holy Spirit. Some commentators stated that the testing of the prophetic Word involved discussion and comparison with known Scripture. If something was said which appeared contrary to known truth, then the one speaking would be interrupted and not be allowed to continue speaking. 1 Corinthians 14:1-40
29 – 32 Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge. If any thing be revealed to another that sitteth by, let the first hold his peace. For ye may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted. And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets.
Is someone whose calling was to proclaim the good news, the gospel of Christ to unbelievers.
Acts 8:5 Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them.
4. PASTOR (ELDER, TEACHER, BISHOP)
Utilizes the gift of teaching, with assistance by the Holy Spirit, in conveying to the Christian converts the beliefs and duties of the faith.
Acts 13:1 Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.
Inspects not only their own spiritual state but also the spiritual condition of each member of the assembly. Suggested Reading: Acts 20:3-21:4
1 Corinthians 15: 31 I protest by your rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily.
Acts 20: 31 Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.
Is aware (observant) of anyone that might come in from the outside and try to indoctrinate the assembly with false teaching along with being attentive (be on guard) in detecting anyone from within the church who might be distorting the truth by speaking crooked, perverted, and distracting doctrines. Suggested Reading: Acts 20:3-21:4
28-30 Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.
Preaches the gospel to unbelievers. Suggested Reading: Romans10: 13-15
15 And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!
Loves to study; thoroughly researches a biblical topic. Suggested Reading: 1 Corinthians 12:1-13:1
28 And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.
Exhorts the believers to exercise their gifts and provide councel for those who have gone astray. Suggested Reading: 1 Thessalonians 5: 12-13
12 And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you;
Gives attention to reading (the public reading of Scripture), exhortation (making the meaning and relevance of the Scriptures clear to the assembly), and doctrine (the act of teaching a systematized body of teaching). Suggested Reading: 1 Timothy 4: 12-13; 2 Timothy 1:6
4: 13 Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine.
Labors with wearisome effort whether in relation to the preaching of the Word, instructing by categories (topics), or explanatory teaching (verse by verse).
1 Timothy 5: 17 Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine.
Presents teachings to the assembly that should not agree with their carnal desires nor conceals the gravity of their evil propensities and that deals appropriately with their vices (immoral practices such as adultery, fornication, incest, rape, homosexuality, lesbianism, pedophilia; etc.). Suggested Reading: 2 Timothy 4:3-4
3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;
Prays with hands extended over a believer who is sick anointing him/her with virgin oil on their forehead in the sign of the Cross, so that they might be restored physically and spiritually. It is inferred that before hands are laid on this person, they would be asked if they were aware of any known sin in their life. If they were to say yes, then they would be asked to confess it silently in their mind to God the Father. Suggested Reading: James 5: 14-20
14 Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord:
This is one of the first things we should consider as to whether we are witnesses for Christ? If the leadership names and functions are contrary to Scripture, it’s probable that the teachings from such are not aligned with Scripture as well.
The next thing we will consider in the next chapter is what is being taught from the pulpit. I know that this can involve many biblical topics. It would take a book in and of itself to go through each and every one of these. I will try to simplify this so that you can at least know some of the teachings to look out for.
1Adam Clarke’s Commentary Pc Study Bible version 5, 2004, 1 Nov 2017 ˂http://www.biblesoft.com>.
2Nelson’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary Pc Study Bible version 5, 1986, 3 Nov 2017 ˂http://www.biblesoft.com>.
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