Courage to Witness: James the Just

Witness to the Religious Establishment

When he was not encouraging and instructing believers, he was witnessing to the unbelieving Religious Establishment. But the Religious Establishment wanted James to shut up! They could not stand the power and truth of his preaching! The chief priest, scribes and Pharisees demanded that he shut up and renounce the truth that Jesus is the Son of God. He dared to tell the truth and was thus charged with breaking their law (blasphemy!). They then gave James one more chance to deny Jesus before throwing him off the temple to be stoned and killed below. Enraged were the enemies of Christ when, filled with the power of the Holy Spirit, James declared to them with boldness that Jesus is the promised Messiah, the Son of God, the Saviour, that he is sitting at the right hand of God, and shall come again in the clouds of heaven, to judge the living and the dead!

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. James 1:12


Courage to Witness: Paul

Witness to the Religious Establishment and the kings of the earth.

Paul must witness at Jerusalem (to the Religious Establishment) and to the Roman Government (the kings of the earth). The Jews (Synagogue of Satan) conspire under solemn oath to kill Paul (a plot!). Tertullus, hired by and representing the Religious Establishment, acknowledges to the governor the many benefits provided to them by the Roman government which they have enjoyed! Tertullus then falsely accuses Paul of working to help foment a political revolution or insurrection against the government. We note the bond and agreement of cooperation between the Religious Establishment and the world government system. (Does any of this look familiar in our current time?)

Paul speaks to the Roman governor about sin, righteousness, the judgment to come, and faith in Christ Jesus. Felix becomes frightened as he is convicted of his sin. To Agrippa the Jewish king, he boldly and humbly declares what Jesus said, what God has commanded men to do and how prophecy was fulfilled in Jesus.

“Take courage;

for as you have solemnly witnessed to My cause at Jerusalem, so you must witness at Rome also.” Acts23:11

Courage to Witness: Those Scattered

The witness of The Persecuted

And on that day a great persecution arose against the church in Jerusalem; and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. Acts8:1

Therefore those who had been scattered went about preaching the word. Acts8:4

And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a large number who believed turned to the Lord. Acts11:21

Courage to Witness: Stephen

Witness to the Religious Establishment

The Religious Establishment wanted Stephen to shut up! They did not want to hear God’s Word or Truth. They could not stand the wisdom and Spirit with which he was speaking. They stirred up the people, elders and scribes against him; they came and seized him and brought him before the council. Stephen was required to give an account to them. They saw that he was full of the Holy Spirit as he preached God’s Word! He declared what God has said, and what He did. Remember, he was preaching to the religious establishment: to professed believers in God- not professed atheists. These professed God, yet they were not born from above. They were not at all regenerate nor in the Kingdom; they were not circumcised in heart. He told them the truth regarding their unbelief, sin and disobedience! He accused them of resisting the Holy Spirit and persecuting and killing God’s people whom they had betrayed and murdered. The religious leaders were enraged! Stephen continued to honor and glorify Christ! The only way they could shut him up was to kill him, but Stephen was faithful to Jesus until the end.

“You men who are stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears are always resisting the Holy Spirit; you are doing just as your fathers did. Which one of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who had previously announced the Righteous One, whose betrayers and murderers you have now become…”Acts7:51-52

Courage to Witness: Peter and John

The Religious Establishment wanted the apostles to shut up! But having beheld the resurrected Christ and also receiving the power of the Holy Spirit, they could not do anything other than proclaim Christ with confidence and courage!

Witness to the Religious Establishment and Rulers

And when they had summoned them, they commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered and said to them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge; for we cannot stop speaking what we have seen and heard.” Acts4:18-20

And when they had brought them, they stood them before the Council. and the high priest questioned them, saying, “We gave you strict orders not to continue teaching in this name, and behold, you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.” But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom you had put to death by hanging Him on a cross. He is the one whom God exalted to His right hand as a Prince and a Savior, to grant repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. And we are witnesses of these things; and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey Him.” Acts5:27-32


Courage to Witness: Jesus

Jesus, our King, Lord, Master, Savior, brother and friend. He IS The Faithful Witness. His very presence is with us and His courage, strength and power He gives to us. As Jesus bravely bore witness to the truth before the earthly ‘powers that be’, He lovingly demonstrated to us the exact way many of us must also be His witnesses, down through the centuries, and to the very end.

Witness to the Religious Establishment

And the high priest stood up and came forward and questioned Jesus, saying, “Do You make no answer? What is it that these men are testifying against You?” But He kept silent, and made no answer. Again that high priest was questioning Him, and saying to Him, “Are You the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?” And Jesus said, “I am; and you shall see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.” Mark14:60-62

Witness to Kings and Rulers

Pilate therefore said to Him, “So You are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” John18:37-38

Martyr

Webster:
MARTYR, Greek, martus, martur, martyr, lit., witness.
1. a person who dies rather than renounce a religion. (In our case
it would be a believer who gladly dies rather than renounce
our Lord Jesus Christ.)

Bible Dictionary:
MARTYR, Greek, martus, martur, lit., witness.
Because of its use in connection with Stephen (Acts 22:20) and others
who died for Christ, the word came to mean one who paid the extreme price for
fidelity to Christ. Antipas was a faithful witness(Rev.2:13). The harlot, Babylon,
was drunk with the blood of martyrs (Rev.17:6).

Voice of the Martyrs:
MARTYR, n. from the Greek word for witness.
1. One who chooses to suffer death rather than to deny Jesus Christ or His work.
2. One who bears testimony to the truth of what he has seen or heard or knows,
as in a witness in a court of justice.
3. One who sacrifices something very important to further the Kingdom of God.
4. One who endures severe or constant suffering for their Christian witness.
5. A Jesus Freak

Risk-Taking Adventure!

Reading God's Word out loud in public in San Francisco amidst listeners and hecklers

Reading God's Word out loud in public in San Francisco amidst listeners and hecklers

(Desiring that )…” your life and ministry would have a radical flavor, a risktaking flavor, a gutsy, countercultural wartime flavor that makes average American people in your church uncomfortable! …A strange mixture of tenderness and toughness that keeps people a little bit off balance… a pervasive summons to something… hazardous, a saltiness, a brightness… like Jesus. Salt and light…a joyful embrace of suffering…”

~John Piper

Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people through His own blood, suffered outside the gate. Hence, let us go out to Him outside the camp, bearing His reproach. Hebrews 13:12-13.

Audio: How the Supremacy of Christ Creates Radical Christian Sacrifice, from the T4G conference.

Willing to be Weird

Are you willing to be labeled “weird” for speaking the gospel truth? Are you willing to be hated for it? Today I discovered Randy Alcorn’s blog through this post, Are You Willing to be Hated for Speaking the Gospel Truth? This article is full of truth and wonderful encouragement for any ambassador of Christ who has been hated or maligned for the sake of the gospel. I appreciate his also reminding us that there are people out there who do want to hear you share the gospel with them. Here are a few snips from Alcorn’s article:

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“But at some point the greatest kindness we can offer them, coming out of a life of humility and faithfulness to Christ, is the good news about Jesus. (That good news actually involves some very bad news about human sinfulness, which is what makes the cross an offense, meaning that it ticks people off)…

Some modern concepts of evangelism are little more than being nice to your neighbor and loaning him your hedge clipper and hoping that somehow he will come to Christ without you actually having to say the WORDS of the gospel which would run the risk of him thinking you’re weird. Our good example is important, but it’s not sufficient. There are actual truths that must be grappled with in surrendering to Jesus (1 Cor 15:1-6). And these truths are expressed in words…

Sometimes we assume the moral high ground by rolling our eyes at those street preachers, congratulating ourselves that we aren’t like that. Street preaching’s not my thing, but I can give you names of people who have come to Christ through street preaching. It’s more of a stretch to name those who’ve come to Christ through Christians who think it’s not cool to tell people the biblical truth that they need to repent of their sins…

There is nothing new or postmodern about the gospel turning some people off. That’s always been true, just as it’s always been true that some people are longing to hear it and will deeply appreciate it that you had enough courage to tell them about Jesus.”

These Last Days: Faithful to Christ

The antichrist Beast government system is global and the unified religious system is in the works. One will have to worship the Beast and it’s image to participate in the world and live (Rev.13:15). In Daniel 3, God’s people would not bow down to Nebuchadnezzar’s image. They would not worship the State. They would not worship the “gold”or any idol. They would not worship men. They would not participate in false worship. Their refusal to bow and their faithful stand for God enraged the king of Babylon. In Psalm 2, the kings of the earth take their stand against the LORD and against His anointed. Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego stayed faithful when the “kings of the earth” stood against them. They used their opportunity before the king to declare their devotion to the one true God. They trusted in the LORD no matter what the king did to them. Christ Himself went with them into the fiery furnace. He is with us, too.

Nebuchadnezzar responded and said, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego, who has sent His angel and delivered His servants who put their trust in Him, violating the king’s command, and yielded up their bodies so as not to serve or worship any god except their own God.” Dan.3:28.

Listen: The Fourth Man in the Fire