"You are witnesses." Luke 24:48
The Savior had accomplished great works on earth. His chosen disciples were actual witnesses of these works. They had seen his miracles and his mercies--his death and his resurrection. They were sent forth to tell of them--to make known in all lands and in all tongues the wonderful works of God. But their living testimony soon passed by. Yet the Savior's witnesses remained. Other generations came forward to repeat and to perpetuate the testimony. His church were to be always his witnesses among men, testifying to his authority, and power, and grace, and atonement, and perfect righteousness for men. As his witnesses they remain, testifying unceasingly the greatness of his love. Multitudes believe their testimony, experience the power of the truth, and become in their turn the Savior's witnesses among men. It is a most important influence. Witnesses of WHAT? The power, and love, and preciousness of Christ. To WHOM? To all to whom the Lord shall send us, at home and abroad; everywhere testifying for him. Am I one of his witnesses?
1. Then much depends upon my KNOWLEDGE. I cannot testify that which I do not know. I must know the power of Christ as a Savior. How else can I testify? Has he forgiven me? Have I embraced his promises in faith? Have I truly come into his family to be one of his little flock? Have I a real knowledge of his grace, and of his renewing power? Ah, how important becomes such knowledge, if I would testify for him! I must seek a deeper experience in my own heart of his reconciling love--of his all-sufficiency to save. Thus shall I speak with confidence, and my tongue will be loosed. I must live in his constant light and favor, that he may accompany my testimony.
There is great ignorance of Jesus in the world, and great indifference to him. Multitudes blindly reject him, and ignorantly refuse the Prince of glory. How shall I benefit them, but with a clear knowledge of the gospel, understanding well its scheme of truth, and really feeling its sanctifying and enlightening power? For this I must ever seek. Oh how blessed is a settled, clear, informed, and undoubting mind in the things of God! This makes a useful and valued witness.
2. Then much also depends upon my FAITHFULNESS. I must not withhold the Savior's testimony. He has enlarged my heart, and opened my mouth, that I might be a useful witness in his cause. I must not conceal the truth. I hear much that is called Christianity, which is not his gospel. The gospel is not a mere scheme of sacraments and forms. It is not a mere improvement of man's own powers, that he may save himself. It is the publication of a complete salvation in Christ. He has finished the salvation of man, and he applies it to man by his Holy Spirit, through faith in the heart. So he has saved me. So he will save others. So must I testify. My trumpet must not give an uncertain sound. I must tell his truth. He saves man by converting him. The sinner must be born again, by the Holy Spirit, before he can see the kingdom of God. Ah, what fidelity this requires; and what experience of the truth such fidelity demands! If a witness is not faithful, he is worthless. No dependence can be placed upon him. It is often difficult and painful to be a faithful witness for Christ. Much opposition may be raised up against it. I need, therefore, constant help from him; but I will not deny him, or betray him.
3. But much also depends upon my BOLDNESS. I may meet with great hostility. The world has no love for Christ. If I am faithful I may suffer sometimes. I may suffer much. I must therefore be strong in the Lord, for the testimony which he has given me. I must speak of him before kings, and not be ashamed. He will stand by me. He will give me a mouth and wisdom. He will defend me from evil; or he will make my sufferings turn to me for a testimony. At any rate, nothing must forbid my open and faithful witness. And why should I fear? There is no power in man to really injure me. He who is on my side is above all. He can maintain my cause. I am to go forward. I may be alone, alone in my house, alone among my earthly friends. They may be all out of the way of truth. How much may depend upon my bearing a faithful testimony for Christ! Oh let not their blood lie at my door. My duty will always look more formidable in anticipation, than it is in fact. I will cast myself upon Jesus, and try to fulfill it.
4. But then none of the RESULTS depend upon me. I am not the judge nor the ruler. The government is upon his shoulder. He can bear it with success. He will accomplish his own plans in his own way. Present aspects may often be very discouraging. My heart may tremble much for the ark of God. The Lord will bring to pass his own counsel. He will lose none of his elect. My responsibility is for a faithful testimony for him. He will make it accomplish whatever seems best to him.
He often accomplishes very important results by very inferior and unlikely instruments. This is a blessed thought to me. It encourages, animates, and supports me. The Lord God Omnipotent reigns. I may be without anxiety or stress--without fear or alarm. No enemy can finally prevail. No weapon formed against Christ can prosper in the end. Let me then fulfill my apportionment without doubt, or fear, or hesitation. Let me finish my testimony. Always stand faithfully by my Savior's cause, whether it seem prosperous or failing. Duty is to be performed. Events are all his. Well is it they are so. Well for me. Well for all.
5. How valuable is such a witness for Christ in this sinful world! Clear and intelligent, faithful and open, bold and unflinching, calm and confident in him. Oh that he would make me such a witness for his cause, and give me liberty and power always to speak and to act for him. Thus shall I be useful to men. Thus may I be an honor to him.
Shall I my blessed Lord deny?
Or leave the fold of Christ to fly?
Forbid it, Lord! the heathen's rage
Shall never spoil your heritage.
Boldly, my soul, no dangers fear,
Your Savior's arm is ever near;
Rather than his dear name deny,
Oh seek his strength, for him to die.