Today we conclude our sermon series titled, “Living into Our Baptismal Covenant.” We have learned about living into our baptismal covenant through supporting the church with our Prayers, our Presence, our Service, and our Gifts. This week we learn about living into our Baptismal Covenant through our Witness.
Webster defines witness as: Attestation of a fact or event; One who has personal knowledge of something; Something serving as evidence or proof. Public affirmation by word or example of usually religious faith or conviction. The church is to be a witness, and as disciples and followers of Jesus who are living into their Baptismal Covenant, as the church, Christ’s bride and body, we exist for nothing else but to draw men into Christ, to make them little Christs. If they are not doing that, all the cathedrals, clergy, missions, sermons, even the Bible itself, are simply a waste of time. God became Man for no other purpose. –C. S. Lewis
As Christians we have the greatest message and hope, and that hope is salvation and eternal through Jesus Christ alone. We are told in scripture, specifically in 1 Peter 3:15 we are told “but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being ready to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” Following Christ and modeling your life as a response to the love that God has shown you does not mean that you will not have trials, temptations, setbacks, and moments of doubt. What it does mean is that you know who your source of strength is and who to focus upon when the storms of life are raging.
Sometimes the greatest witness we can be is to simply keep our mouth shut and live true authentic lives. That means we are the same at work as we are t home and as we are at church or any other function. It is when we worry less about our talking and more about our doing and being that those who don’t know Christ will ask us how we stand firm in the fiercest storm. Brothers and Sisters, we do not stand on our own strength, it is the power of the Holy Spirit that is dwelling in us, that enables us to stand.
Do you realize that without witnessing the church would’ve have NEVER been established! The early days and weeks and years following Christ’s death and resurrection were scary times; and saying you were a Follower of Christ could quite literally cost you your life. Those closest to Jesus were scared, they were weak, and they were powerless! But they had a promise from Jesus!
Acts 1:8 says, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Notice that Jesus didn’t say you might be or could be or should be my witnesses. Jesus said you will be my witnesses! God has commissioned every one of us to be a witness. To often when we think of witness we fear that means standing on a street corner or going door to door handing out tracks, and if God calls you to that then do it! However, far too often we are afraid to simply and plainly tell someone what God has done in their life. How God stood by them in their darkest hour. How God made the 23rd Psalm a reality and more than pretty poetry or scripture. Or, How the Holy Spirit moved in their soul in mighty and powerful way. Too often we let the culture around us determine our behavior and attitude.
Do you know why most people are uninterested in attending and being part of a church? Because the people they see gather there act no differently outside of the Sunday morning worship hour than those who do not attend or claim to be persons of faith. It’s a great travesty that the people who claim to be Christians have traded the glory of God and the power of the Holy Spirit for the complete garbage and trinkets that this world offers; and do know who loves every minute of it? Satan! Satan loves to fill our days with lots of tasks and things, nearly all of which are not bad in and of themselves, they simply keep us focused on things other than Christ; and witnessing to the life changing work of God through the work of Jesus Christ, and the power of the Holy Spirit. Witness is simply telling others about it. Sometimes through words, sometimes through deeds, but ALWAYS through how we live our lives daily. Your life and my life are the old Bible some will ever read!
I’m sorry if you do not believe that Satan or the devil is real. Read Luke Chapter 4:1-13. The devil or Satan was a real person, who tempted Jesus. Jesus Christ DID NOT suffer temptation and the agony, and the anguish, and the hell that he suffered so that he could simply make us better and nicer people, he did it to make us saved people! He came to bring heaven to earth so that we may have eternal life and never be separated from God again! The crazy ridiculousness of the Christmas miracle that we are preparing for during Advent, is that God loved(s) you and I and people that do not know of the salvation he offers so much that he refused to let us be distracted by the things of earth, so he stepped down into humanity in the form of a tiny baby as a living witness to the glory and splendor of heaven that you and I were created for. Jesus came so that God’s kingdom would be established on earth; and to ensure that kingdom continued to be brought into reality on earth God gave every person that professes faith in Christ the gift of the Holy Spirit.
God has called and commissioned and equipped us to be witnesses, if we have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. The Power of the Holy Spirit is a gift for EVERY believer, not some, not a few, not the most eloquent, but EVERYONE!
Theologian J.I. Packer says it this way, “The purpose of the church is to make the invisible kingdom visible through faithful Christian living and witness-bearing.” And “God’s way of saving men is to send out His servants/disciples to tell them the gospel, and the Church has been charged to go into all the world for that very purpose.”
We give witness to our faith when we support and its ministries with our Prayers, actively, intentionally, and boldly storming the throne of God on behalf of the church, its ministries, and its people, and the people we hope to reach. We support the church and witness to our faith when we are present and actively participate in the ministries of the church. We support the church and witness to our faith when we participate in acts of service, especially in those ways that put skin and flesh on the gospel message, and particularly to those outside the church. We support the church and witness to our faith when we give of our gifts, including money, time, talents, and spiritual gifts that God has equipped us with. And, we support the church and give witness to what God has done and is doing in our lives. Living into our Baptismal Covenant is not a series of boxes we check once and then forget, Living Into our Baptismal Covenant is a DAILY endeavor and part of our faith journey.
God empowers us to be living witnesses, that point other to Christ. We have been given a spirit of boldness, not a spirit of timidity. We serve and follow the God whom the gates of hell shall not prevail against, NOT Yesterday, NOT Today, NEVER!! We serve a God of love, mercy, grace, and forgiveness. A God who created us and equips us through the power of the Holy Spirit to continually live into the Covenant we were called to at our Baptism. Let us pray!
To reach Pastor Gene Turner, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.