3-2 Witnessing For Christ
Secondly, there is the matter of preaching. The Lord Jesus calls both
Himself and us "the light of the world". The Lord's difficult
comment that "When I am in the world, I am the light of the
world" (Jn. 9:5 RV) now falls into place. He is "the light
of the world" whenever we, who are in the world, are His light
to people. This would also explain why the Lord appears to mix His pronouns in Jn. 3:11,12: "Verily verily I say unto you, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness. If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not...". The Lord's speaking, witnessing, telling and testifying is our witness, because all who are in Him are witnessing for and in Him.
We are baptized into the Name of Jesus, and bear that Name in the
eyes of men. The Hebrew concept of a name meant really a renown,
an understanding of the person. The Bride comments that “thy name
is as ointment poured forth” (Song 1:3), likening the name to the
smell of perfume. The “scent” of a nation is likewise their reputation,
the message they give out (Jer. 48:11; Hos. 14:7). We are the savour
of Christ (2 Cor. 2:16), we bear His Name, and therefore anyone
carrying the Name is thereby a witness to Him. “If ye be reproached
for the name of Christ, happy are ye” (1 Pet. 4:14) uses ‘the name
of Christ’ as meaning ‘preaching the name of Christ’. The two ideas
are so closely related. In the course of this witness, men will
‘speak evil’ of us, and yet in doing so they are speaking evil of
the Christ we are so identified with (1 Pet. 4:4,14). “For his name’s
sake they went forth” in obedience to the preaching commission (3
Jn. 7). Because we bear the Lord’s Name by baptism into it, we are
Christ to this world. Likewise, those in covenant relationship in
the Old Testament bore Yahweh’s Name, and were therefore in all
ways to act appropriately lest their behaviour “profane my holy
name” (Lev. 22:32).
More than this, our faith will be strengthened by knowing that because
we bear the Name, all that happens to us happens to our Lord and His Father.
Thus Asa prayed: “Help us…in thy name we go against this multitude…let
not man prevail against thee” (2 Chron. 14:11). It is absurd
that man should prevail against God; and yet Asa believed that because
His people carried His Name, therefore it was just as impossible that
man should prevail against them. In the work of witness, OT prophecies
about the Lord Jesus are applied to individual believers- Stephen is an
early example (Zech. 12:7 LXX = Acts 8:1). The Lord’s death was to result
in a unity between us that would lead the world to understand Him and
the love the Father has for Him (Jn. 17:21,23); and yet through the loving
unity of believers, the world knows them, that they are His disciples
(Jn. 13:35). We are an exhibition to this world of the relationship between
the Father and Son. Hence our behaviour is so crucial. For if we are divided
and unloving, this is the image of the Father and Son which we are presenting.
1 Jn. 5:6 says that Jesus came" [past tense] in water and
blood [His baptism and crucifixion?], but He still testifies by three
things-His Spirit [making alive the believer], the water [baptism cleansing
us] and the blood [atoning for our sins]. The choice of 'three' things
doesn't refer to a trinity- rather is it the principle of Dt. 19:15, requiring
two or three witnesses. And note how inanimate things are spoken of as
giving witness (Gen. 31:45-48; Dt. 31:28)- the three that bear witness
don’t refer necessarily to three persons, as the trinity wrongly states.
Those things which He enabled, witnessed through us today, provide the
witness to the fact that He 'came' in the past.
The fact we are really and truly witnessing for Jesus, in His Name, doing
His work, ought to endlessly inspire us to unflagging labour in this enterprise.
We are to be “always abounding in the work of the Lord” Jesus, knowing
it is never in vain (1 Cor. 15:58). And yet it is the work of preaching
which has just been defined as not being in vain (:14); the more abounding
labour is in the work of preaching (:10). Preaching is the work
of the Lord Jesus in that He is working through us to do His saving work,
and therefore we ought to be constantly active in His cause.
A related chain of thought arises from considering how the Lord Jesus
is described as “finding” His people- the lost sheep, lost son, the idle
workers in the marketplace (Mt. 20:6; Lk. 15:5,6,8,9); and yet He sends
us out to “find” [s.w.] those who are to be invited into His Kingdom (Mt.
22:9), just as the disciples ‘found’ fish when they obeyed the Lord’s
commission to fish (Jn. 21:6). We do the Lord’s work for Him in this sense.
And yet of course people “find” the narrow way themselves, they
“find” the treasure and pearl of the Gospel (Mt. 7:14; 13:44,46); but
only because we have gone out and ‘found’ them. The Lord’s finding of
us leads to us doing His work in finding others for Him and on His behalf.
This Jesus “finds” Philip, and Philip’s response is to go and ‘find’ Nathanael
(Jn. 1:43,45). And so it must be ours too.
Not only is His face
our face, His hands our hands. His voice is our voice. Reflecting
on how future generations of His people would preach Him, the Lord
commented: “If they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also”
(Jn. 15:20). The command to all in Christ to go forth and preach-and-baptize
(the command is all one) would have been shocking to a first century
Jewish audience, who believed that only Messiah Himself or “the
prophet” could baptize (Jn. 1:25). The implication of the Lord’s
command was that all in Him are in fact Him, in their preaching
of Him. In Old Testament
times, God described His whole people as His anointed one, His Christ:
“The Lord is a strength unto his people, and he is the saving strength
of his anointed” (Ps. 28:8 RVmg.). The whole people were His anointed
King, His Messiah, the anointed one. And so it is for all those
today who are “in Christ”. Thus the prophecy about Christ personally
that He would tread upon snakes and wild animals (Ps. 91:13) is
quoted as being fulfilled in the disciples, who ‘were’ Christ on
their preaching mission (Lk. 10:19; Mk. 16:18). Just as the preaching of the Gospel was to make straight paths for the Messiah to come (Lk. 3:4), so we are to make our paths straight (Heb. 12:13)- as if somehow we are the Lord Jesus; His revelation to this world at the second coming will in a sense be our revelation. Hence the final visions of Revelation speak of the Lord's second coming in terms which are applicable to the community of those in Him [e.g. a city of people coming down from Heaven to earth].