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 Witnessing:  What You Can Expect

Acts 4:1-12

 

 

[Illustration of witnessing to Penn Jillette of Penn and Teller]  See video, above.

 

I believe that all true Christians have a desire to share their faith w/ others.  And that is only natural.

        If you were to cure cancer, you’d want to share the cure w/ the world.  Now, if you’re born again, say amen…you have something far greater than a cure for cancer.  And I know you want others to have it too.

 

But something keeps us from really witnessing…and the #1 cause is fear.  We hear a message like this on witnessing and w/out exception, each one of us will hear our faith say “go” and then our fear say “no”!

        We get intimidated, afraid, or we rationalize why not, or why not now, and despite our good intentions, we don’t ever seem to get around to it.

 

Ill.—years ago, before TV, the radio program “The Low Pressure Salesman” was on the air/a comedy show about a shy, timid, backward, door to door salesman/would knock on a door and say immediately, nobody’s home [I hope I hope I hope!]

        Unfortunately this describes many of our witnessing endeavors!

 

Jesus challenges us to be fishers of men [you catch, Jesus will clean!], but we seem content to be keepers of the aquarium…we’re bold to talk about Him in here, but not out there!

       

Ill--A survey was given to those attending training sessions for a Billy Graham crusade in Detroit. One question asked, "What is your greatest hindrance to witnessing?" Nine percent said they were too busy to remember to do it. Twenty-eight percent felt the lack of real information to share. None said they didn't really care.  Twelve percent said their own lives were not speaking as they should.  But by far the largest group were the 51 percent whose biggest problem was the fear of how the other person would react! 

 

You aren’t the first to be afraid, you’re not a spiritual sissy, it’s common to man since the 1st c. in our text!

 

Don’t be afraid! 

2Ti 1:7 -

For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

A bold witness is no braver than any other Christian…just brave about ten seconds longer!  Just say one sentence to get on the subject, and God will say the rest!

        [take that first step into the aisle…]

 

Pray!

Psalm 34:4

    I sought the Lord, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.

 

Jesus gave the Great Commission, His last command, and in it He said, “lo, I am with you alway

        Claim that promise!  I’m not alone, He’s never more w/ me than when I make His last command my first concern!

 

Part of fear is us not knowing what is going to happen next…not knowing what to expect.  So, here’s what to expect if you decide to be a bold witness for Christ:

 

  1. Expect Persecution

v. 3          There’s many things we can do for the Lord and suffer no persecution:  give/sing/go to s.s./come back at night…people will pat you on the back.

        But the minute that you open your mouth and begin to speak, you risk being attacked/retaliation/rejection/being judged/criticized/ostracized/be called a fanatic or “holier than thou”.  And though it only rarely happens this way, it is a risk to be aware of…but:  is Jesus worthy of us taking that risk?  Is hell real or not?  Do we really believe the lost go there?

 

Expect to be persecuted!  And remember the good news:

1Jo 4:4 -

Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.

Jesus promised persecution [jn. 15/lk. 6]

        And He told us to rejoice in it as a privilege

[don’t cry or gripe…do the Baptist boogie!]

The apostles did:

Acts 5:40-42 [turn]

 

Sometimes the gospel is offensive…just make sure that if you offend it’s w/ your position, and not your disposition.

[be kind/genuine…avoid seeming condescending/holier than thou]

Eph 4:15 -

But speaking the truth in love…

Be sincere, have the right motive, show genuine concern, no hidden agenda.

Ill.—Bro. Steve at his public college, campus crusade…decided to use reverse psychology, tell them not to come!/put on devil suit/mask, and ran the campus as the devil grabbing people saying in an evil voice, “don’t come to the campus crusade”…and guess what…they didn’t come!

 

Jesus said to be persecuted for righteousness’ sake…not for stupidity’s sake!

 

Expect persecution…but it’ll be worth it!

v. 4          it was worth it!

 

  1. Expect Proclamation [opportunity/God to open doors]

v. 1          look who they’re preaching to!  The upper crust/leaders!

v. 6          the “who’s who” of the Jewish faith in those days!

They were the Sanhedrin, and they were corrupt!  They passed their religious offices down thru the family regardless of spirituality or qualifications…which is why v. 6 uses the word “kindred”…they had turned the Jewish faith into a corrupt family business [godfather]…they were powerful and wealthy/the same crowd that Jesus stood before at His trial.

 

Here’s these poor, unlearned apostles in the company of the upper crust of the land.  Most would have said, “What a court!”  but the apostles said, “What a congregation!”  Let’s preach!  Years ago in IL I got to pray to open a session of the House of Representatives!

        This was an opportunity, an open door for proclamation!

It happened that way for Paul, too, who said, a great door is opened unto me…when he was imprisoned…he spoke to the Praetorian guard [secret service].

Phil 1: 12 But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel; 13 So that my bonds in Christ are manifest in all the palace, and in all other places…

Got to preach in Caesar’s palace [not Vegas!]  Did it work?  Any get saved?

Phil. 4:22          All the saints salute you, chiefly they that are of Caesar's household.

Why is he there?  As a dignitary/after-dinner speaker/in tux w/ tails?  No!  He’s been arrested/persecuted!

 

But God takes bad situations and works great good out of them!

Ill.—you’re in hospital, but guy in the next bed is a captive audience for you!

You’re in a job w/ a boss you just hate [don’t say amen!]…but God has planted you there w/ a purpose!

You may have broken down, but how else can you witness to that particular tow-truck driver?

 

You see, fear sees the obstacles, but faith sees the opportunities!

 

One other lesson, don’t be afraid to witness to someone you feel is superior to you…look what happened in v. 13:

“Boldness”…and they marveled at them!  This same Peter was afraid a few weeks before at Jesus’ trial…he cowered before a teenaged girl.  What’s different now?  He’s been filled with the Spirit!

        You can talk to anyone, even if you feel inferior to them.  Your lost teacher w/ a phd goes to the same hell every other lost person goes to/your doctor/that politician.

 

What can you expect if you decide to be a bold witness?

Some persecution…

Some opportunities for proclamation…[open doors]

 

  1. Expect Protection [God’s]

4:21         Could they have had them killed?  Sure!  But God wouldn’t let them, because He wasn’t finished w/ them…and the child of God is indestructible until God is finished w/ him!

[Mk. 16—go preach gospel/[in that context:]…if you drink poison or are bit by poisonous snake you won’t die!/…a promise to soulwinners of protection…snakehandlers are common in the south and in Arkansas!  It’s not a demonstration of faith, but of stupidity!  Gotta admire their sincerity and boldness…but, “While they may be bold, they don’t grow old!”]

 

joke—singer Wendy Bagwell tells of being in a service where they brought out rattlesnakes for handling/turned to his fellows and said, let’s get out of here/we’re right behind ya!/let’s go out the back door!/they don’t have one/wonder where they’d want one?!

 

Expect persecution/opportunities for proclamation/God’s protection…

 

  1. Expect Power [God’s]

4:8           God’s Word doesn’t return void, it’s filled w/ power, you’ll be filled w/ the Spirit, and it will be an out of body experience as you practically hover over the conversation watching your powerful God take over!

 

Ill.—young man struggling w/ lack of power/not really living like he should/riding the fence/needed to get on fire for God/went to pastor for help/…pastor sent him to an art gallery and find the picture of the Cross at the end of the long hallway, told him to make sure and look at it from just the right angle/he didn’t understand, but he went/found it/didn’t look right…seemed top-heavy/took a few steps closer/improved, but still not right/still closer, and closer, ‘til right up to it/moved left and right/never looked right/became so dejected he fell to his knees and cried out to God/then, looking at it from there, it made sense, this is the position the artist painted from, now it looked just right!

        He realized that to have the power and boldness he needed, he had to stay on his knees at the foot of the cross!!

 

God, make us bold witnesses/empower us/protect us/open doors of opportunity/…and even in negative circumstances help us to see Your hand at work.

 

If you need to be saved, your need is today, and the cure is here today, come find it at the foot of the cross!

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