Last week we summarized a church like this:
A church is a body of people, called by God and empowered by the Holy Spirit to build each other up and testify about Jesus in the world.
Today we are going to take a deeper look at that last phrase – testify about Jesus in the world.
I want to talk to you about the necessity and the joy of testifying about Jesus in the world.
Like last week we will be covering a variety of passages in the Scriptures. Grab your Bibles and lets get started in John chapter 20.
21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” 22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.”
John 20:21-23 (ESV)
This passage in John is one of 5 instances of what we call the Great Commission. All 5 occur after the Resurrection of Jesus in his final conversations with the disciples. Let’s look at the other 4.
18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and earth has been handed over to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.
Matthew 28:18-20 (ESV)
15 And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. 16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. 17 And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18 they will pick up serpents with their hands; and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.
Mark 16:15-18 (ESV)
45 Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, 46 and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, 47 and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”
Luke 24:45-49 (ESV)
8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.
Acts 1:8 (ESV)
The details vary, but the general theme is the same – soon you will receive the Holy Spirit in power and you will begin the greatest adventure in the world. You will go and tell the world about me and make disciples of every nation.
1. Let’s talk about the necessity of testifying about Jesus in the world.
1. It’s a necessity because Jesus is our Lord.
12 When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? 13 You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. 14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. 16 Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant[a] is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.
John 12:13-17 (ESV)
“Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?
Luke 6:46 (ESV)
2. It’s a necessity because this is what the church is made for.
13 “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. 14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
Matthew 5:13-16 (ESV)
3. It’s a necessity because it’s all real.
In the gospel we don’t proclaim ideas that are helpful for psychological well being. We proclaim historical realities and statements of truth. If it isn’t real, it has no significance. If it is real, it changes everything.
8 He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might
2 Thessalonians 1:8-9 (NIV)
“All your life an unattainable ecstasy has hovered just beyond the grasp of your consciousness. The day is coming when you will wake to find, beyond all hope, that you have attained it, or else, that it was within your reach and you have lost it forever.”
– C.S. Lewis
4. It’s a necessity because God is love.
12 What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? 13 And if he finds it, truly, I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. 14 So it is not the will of my Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.
Matthew 18:12-14 (ESV)
2. Let’s talk about the joy of testifying about Jesus in the world.
We are all beneficiaries of the Great Commission. We are here because someone testified in our world about Jesus.
We thank God for that.
But we don’t always thank God for the call to take up the baton and do our part. Some of us have had bad experiences in evangelism, some of us are introverts and terrified at the thought of talking to others about our faith.
If you rightly understand the Great Commission, you will see that it is not a burden, but a joy.
The key to that joy is in John 20:21 – “receive the Holy Spirit.” It’s there in Matthew 28:20 – “I am with you always.”
The joy of the Great Commission is the presence of Holy Spirit. It’s partnering with the Holy Spirit who provides all the power, all the love, all the wisdom necessary for the task.
1. In testifying about Jesus in the world we enter into the joy of purpose.
“The mystery of human existence lies not in just staying alive, but in finding something to live for.”
– Fyodor Dostoevsky
“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson
2. In testifying about Jesus in the world we enter into the joy of teamwork.
There’s something thrilling about being part of a team. Having a role and a purpose alongside others in a common purpose is a joy. Testifying about Jesus in the world is a team effort.
3. In testifying about Jesus in the world we enter into the joy of knowing God.
Do you ever feel that God is distant? That you don’t experience his presence or his power? Are you involved in the Great Commission?
God’s people who step out in faith in the great work of testifying about Jesus in the world experience the promises of God coming alive in real life.
What you find when you step out into the great adventure to share Jesus is that he has been there before you. You find that he has been preparing lives and planning chance encounters and paving the way for the gospel.
Years ago a friend of mine gave his life to Jesus. We went out to the local college campus to talk to people about Jesus. We prayed together that God would lead us to someone who was reaching out for Him. That morning we approached a young man who was sitting on a bench. We asked him if he would like talk about God. His eyes grew wide and he told us an incredible story. The night before he was with a friend who recounted a story about a spiritual conversation. Afterwards, this young man thought, “I’ve never had a conversation like that. God, please send someone to talk to me about you.” There we were the next day, two strangers walking up to talk about God.
It’s a joyous adventure to be caught up in the Spirit’s great work of testifying about Jesus in the world.
Are you ready to enter into the adventure?
Tom Brown is the planting pastor of Vintage Faith Church in Wichita. Tom and his wife, Mandy, have worked together in ministry for 18 years and have four children. More about Pastor Tom Brown