12.06.2011

.more than a missionary

When you hear the word "missionary", what comes to mind?  Someone who spends a prolonged amount of time immersed in another culture with the purpose of spreading the gospel, right?  Google the word and you'll get plenty of results.  Look it up in your concordance, not so much.  The word "missionary" never appears in the Bible...not even once.  The word "witness", however, appears 175 times in the New King James Version of the Bible.

The word "missionary" implies that it's the job of certain people to spread the gospel.  The word "witness" implies that it's the job of EVERY believer to spread the gospel.  Hear just one of the 175 accounts: Acts 1:8 "But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you; and you will be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth."

Matthew Henry’s Commentary on Acts 1:8 identifies two characteristics of the word witness and what Jesus meant by the concept. (1) They shall proclaim him king, and publish those truths to the world by which his kingdom should be set up, and he would rule. They must openly and solemnly preach his gospel to the world. (2) They shall prove this, shall confirm their testimony, not as witnesses do, with an oath, but with the divine seal of miracles and supernatural gifts.

The whole idea here is that the responsibility of sharing the gospel does not merely apply to a select few, but that it is the job of every believer to proclaim Jesus Christ and expect God to confirm this proclamation with the divine seal of miracles, signs and wonders.

The premise behind being a witness is not merely to tell, but to SHOW AND TELL.  I loved Show and Tell when I was a kid.  It was a time where if you had stuff, you got to show it off and if you didn’t have stuff, you got to see if the people who said they had stuff were really telling the truth.  Like that kid who always talked about his dog Spike and how it was the best watch-dog ever…but then when he brought him to Show and Tell, Spike wasn’t a Doberman, he was a dachshund.

Show and Tell is about furnishing proof.  You not only tell about something, but you back it up with a demonstration.  The door to door salesman has perfected this art.  "Let me tell you about my vacuum.  Now, let me pour this dirt on your carpet and show you how this vacuum sucks."

Here’s the bottom line:  Miracles confirm the truth of the gospel.  If Jesus was merely a good teacher, a Prophet, a good man, people would have dismissed him as the Messiah.  But He proved He was the Son of God and a sinner’s Savior through the works that He did (the deaf hear, the blind see, the lame walk and the dead are raised).  He gave us authority to do the same works that He did and commissioned us to do likewise.

Paul understood this commission, but not before having a reality check.  In Acts 17, he had the opportunity to preach to a packed house of intellectual leaders in the great amphitheater on Mars Hill in Athens.  His sermon was flawless, filled with quotes from their own poets and philosophers, and he even used an idol from their city to show them honor and grab their attention.  But after all was said and done, the results were minimal.  The Bible says, “"And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked: and others said, ‘We will hear you again on this matter’” (Acts 17:32).

After the meeting, a group of people stayed with Paul, but the Scriptures do not specify how many of them became believers.  When he left Athens, surely he thought about the results.  What happened?  Why weren’t more saved?  How could they reject such a well-crafted message?  (I’ve had these thoughts myself at different times!)  As he thought about these things, he came to a conclusion.  It’s found in 1 Corinthians 2:1-2.

1 Cor 2:1-2 NIV 1When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. 2For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.

After the Athens experience, Paul resolved to never again lean entirely on the extent of his brain power to preach the gospel.  He continues his resolve in verse 4.

1 Cor 2:4-5 NIV 4My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit's power, 5so that your faith might not rest on men's wisdom, but on God's power.

He resolved to not merely tell of God’s goodness and mercy, but to demonstrate His power. The word "demonstration" refers to something that is outwardly seen or something visible that authenticates, proves, and guarantees the message to be true. It means to display or even to show off.  Paul learned that Show and Tell was a much more effective method than simply Tell.

So, how about you bring a little Show and Tell to your world?  Be more than a missionary.  Be a witness.



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