Do you witness? Are you a witness? These are questions that are often asked in many churches in our day. Oftentimes these questions are asked from a wrong point of view. They are asked from the point of view that the decision to witness or not to witness depends on man. Whether or not a man witnesses is not the question. All men witness of the life that is in them. They are either witnesses of God or of the devil. All men have not the ability to witness of God because all have not the works of God’s grace wrought in their hearts. Only the elect are God’s witnesses. The Bible makes that truth very clear. The whole of Isaiah 43beautifully demonstrates this truth, but especially verses 7, 10 and 21: “Ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me that was no God formed, neither shall there be after me. This people have I formed for myself; they shall show forth my praise. Even every one that is called by my name: for I have created him for my glory, I have formed him; yea, I have made him.”
The people of God have been wonderfully and specially made. Every man is the creature of God’s hand, but the elect are precious in His sight. Them has God loved above all the people of the earth. The elect are created for God’s glory and formed to show forth His praise.
What a wonderful work has God performed in us. What a marvelous gift of grace is God’s salvation! What a privilege is now ours that we have the ability to serve the living God! But remember that we are not saved to ourselves nor for ourselves but unto God’s praise and glory.
Isaiah 43:10 teaches us that God’s witnesses are chosen so that they may know God. This is emphasized, in verse 11: “I, even I, am the Lord: and beside me there is no savior.” God wants living and thankful witnesses who know Him as God. Eternal life is exactly to know God as the only true God. God works His grace in us in such a way that we taste and see that the Lord is good. With that saving knowledge of God in our hearts we have the ability to show forth God’s praise. The sad fact is, however, that even though we have the ability to glorify God, oftentimes we do not. Many times, as God’s people, we are poor and unfaithful witnesses of God. When we walk, contrary to God’s perfect will we show ourselves as unfaithful witnesses.
To know about God is not all that is required to be a faithful witness. One may know the doctrines of the church taught in the catechism classes, one may know many passages from the Scriptures, one may know the orthodox confessions of the church, one may be able to talk about these truths rather capably, but if this knowledge and confession is not sealed with a life of obedience and sanctification then one is not a faithful witness. One who is orthodox in his confession but worldly in his walk is odious both to God and man. Such an one God spews out of His mouth, and man spurns as a hypocrite. James says that to him that knoweth to do good and doeth it not, to him it is sin.
We must not deceive ourselves into thinking that if we are able to say the right thing at the right time then we are faithful witnesses of God.
Now you understand, of course, that we do not minimize the necessity of the knowledge of God’s truth. God teaches in Isaiah 43:10 that we are His witnesses so that we may know Him. The root of the word “witness” in the Hebrew means to repeat or to say again and again. God has called us to know Him and to show forth His glory both in word and deed.
Not only must we know God but we must also believe Him. We are God’s witnesses chosen unto faith so that we can both know and believe that He is God, the only Savior. Believing, then, is the only possibility of being a faithful witness of God.
Believing is not a mere intellectual assent to the truth of God but it is a living bond whereby we live out of God and through God and unto God by His grace to us in His Son Jesus Christ. To be faithful witnesses we must manifest a living faith in all our life.
How do we manifest faith? Must we confess faith before men? Yes, we must confess faith but we must also seal that confession with, the works of faith. Faith without works is dead. “But,” one objects, “I believe that there is one God.” James answers, “thou doest well: the devils also believe and tremble.”
We manifest faith in its fruits—a life of love and obedience to God. Do you love the Lord thy God and thy neighbor as thyself? “If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar.” (I John 4:20) “But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? My little children, let us not, love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.” (I John 3:17, 18) A faithful witness must go beyond words.
What about you: can men see God’s work in you? This question is directed to all of us—young and old alike. “Even a child is known by his doings, whether his work be pure, and whether it be right.” (Proverbs 20:11) Children, “ye are my witnesses,” says God. You, are God’s witnesses at home, on the bus, on the playground, and in everything you do. Are you faithful witnesses?
Young people, God says to you, “Ye are my witnesses.” Do you walk in the way of the truth that you recite in catechism class? Are you faithful witnesses at the basketball game and when you go out for fun with other young people?
Parents, in a special way God says to you, “Ye are my witnesses.” You are witnesses first of all to your children. Parents, do you warn your children of worldliness in theater attendance? Are you faithful witnesses yourselves in your use of the television? Parents, do you warn your children about the sin of the misuse of drinking and drugs? Are you faithful witnesses of God in that you yourselves are not dependent on drink and drugs? Parents do you teach your children to be proper stewards of God’s money and time and abilities? Are you faithful witnesses in your use of God’s gifts? Parents, do you teach your children the proper attitude of respect to the God-ordained authorities in the home, school, church, and state? Are you faithful witnesses yourselves in being subject unto the higher powers ordained of God?
Oh, what an awesome responsibility is ours as God’s witnesses, and yet what a blessed calling. The glorious eternal God chose us, yea formed us to be vessels of His praise. He Who is light makes us to be reflectors of that glorious light. God has willed that we should dwell with Him in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. From the depths of sin and death hath God drawn us to the heights of heavenly glory.
God says, “Ye are my witnesses,” and our response can only be, “Lord, help us to be faithful witnesses.” We know that it is not easy. We are so weak that we cannot stand for one moment. By nature we are ashamed of God. Think of that! The creature ashamed of the Creator. Our natural inclination is always to deny God rather than to be faithful witnesses. Here is the battle of faith for God’s people. We have new hearts and the principle desire to serve God, and yet we are hindered by our three-fold enemy, the devil, the world, and our own sinful flesh. As we struggle to let our light shine as God’s witnesses, the world hates that light. because their deeds are evil and they seek to extinguish the light. Jesus tells us that we shall be hated of all men for His name’s sake. Jesus is the Faithful Witness, and the world killed Him.
All this may not make us fearful and. downcast but fill us with the confidence that we are walking in God’s way of grace. “For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake.” (Phil. 1:29) “Yea and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” (II Tim. 3:12) The apostles after they were beaten rejoiced that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for Christ’s sake, for they knew that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared to the glory which shall be revealed in us.
With war and persecution on every side the child of God walks in confidence and peace with God. That peace that God gives us as we walk as faithful witnesses is a rich gift. That peace far surpasses all understanding. The world cannot understand how the Christian stands so firm; and even the Christian himself cannot understand it.
Even though to be a faithful witness may also mean to be a martyr, yet the saint does not draw back because God Himself promises, “be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.”