He was dead. They knew He was dead. Yet, now He was standing right in front of them, giving a command. “Go therefore and make disciples…” (Matthew 28:19) Jesus’ followers must have been overcome at this experience. In fact, Matthew writes that as they were worshipping the risen Christ some still doubted, even as He stood before them. After 3 years of training, and now experiencing the resurrection of Christ, still some had a hard time believing. Why? We don’t exactly know, but I think it has to do with fallen human nature. We are prone to disbelieve, wandering from the truth of God. However, we must listen to what Jesus says and how He says it in order to be who we are called to be: disciple makers.
All followers of Christ must heed and act upon the command Christ gives in Matthew 28. The task of evangelism is not solely the job of the pastor or overseas missionary, but for all who know the gift of saving faith in Christ. We are to be so overwhelmed by what God has done for us that we must tell others. As it has often been said, we are merely beggars showing other beggars where to find bread. To do this effectively, we must be authentic, vocal witnesses in our everyday lives.
Being “authentic” means we have been truly born-again by the Spirit of God. You cannot share what you do not have. Testing our own hearts to see whether or not we are in the faith (2 Corinthians 13:5) is vital for anyone as they begin the pursuit of evangelism. It is only from this place of assurance in Christ that we can effectively and passionately “proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” (1 Peter 2:9)
Being an “authentic” witness also means we sincerely care about those to whom we are witnessing. The gospel is not a hammer we use to crush others who have different beliefs. Rather, we speak the gospel boldly because we have a sincere desire to see them come to a saving faith in Christ. The Apostle Paul cries out, “We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” (2 Corinthians 5:20) as he thinks about the many people in Corinth living their lives apart from God. Likewise, believers today must be intentional vocal witness because we desperately wish to see as many people as possible come to understand the depths of their sin and the riches of grace that God mercifully bestows upon those who come to Christ in repentance and faith.
We cannot think we are actually being witnesses if we are not opening our mouths. Yes, we can be good examples by our daily attitudes and actions. And yes, this is a way to glorify God. (1 Peter 2:12) However, in order for people to truly know why we are changed by Christ, we must speak. In fact, the Apostle Paul makes this very clear. “And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?” (Romans 10:14) The gospel is the good news of what Christ accomplished for His people upon the cross of Calvary and like every message it must be spoken. Therefore, to be an effective witness of Christ we must vocally speak the gospel to those who need salvation.
Thirdly, our witness needs to come in our everyday lives. For some reason, we’ve decided in the modern church that we must go to other countries on missions trips in order to be vocal witnesses. The reality is that God calls each of us to be witnesses wherever He has placed us. When Jesus calls Peter and Andrew, He says, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” (Matthew 4:20) Professor Ren Broekhuizen points out that before Jesus calls them, Matthew states that Peter and Andrew are fishermen. Why is this important? Because Jesus is calling them to serve Him right where they are. He is not saying they must be something they are not, but to be vocal witnesses as fisherman. Similarly, when Jesus calls us, He calls us right where we are. If you are a teacher, business owner, or police officer, you are called to be a witness in your sphere of influence.
Finally, as we boldly proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ, we must remember Jesus’ promises. As Jesus gives the Great Commission, He assures us, “Behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20) Jesus does not leave us alone as we try to witness. He comforts us and empowers us to be effective and fruitful in our endeavors. God speaking through the prophet Isaiah says, “My word that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:11) Our job is only to be faithful and obedient witnesses. God is the One who saves, not us. Therefore, when God’s gospel goes forth, we can rest in His sovereign hand to save.
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” (Matthew 28:18) Jesus is the King of kings and Lord of lords. When He speaks we must listen. When Jesus commands us to “go”, we must “go”. “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) He has called us, empowers us, and remains with us. The question is, “will we obey?” Will you be His witness?
By Pastor Nick Jones
Maranatha Baptist Church
1320 E. Saguaro Dr. Globe, AZ