Saturday, November 03, 2007

The Faithful and True Witness

Evangelism programs abound! Training for being good witnesses is promulgated throughout the many that gather claiming to be of Christ. Many people exert great efforts to become good witnesses.

Yet the Scriptures direct us to a different understanding:

And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God. (Revelation 3:14)

The angel of the church of the Laodiceans is the pastor. To this pastor the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning of the creation of God, the one who was in the beginning and through whom all of creation came to be, declares that He alone is the faithful and true witness.

St. Paul writes to the churches in Galatia:

For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God. I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain. (Galatians 2:19-21)

What these Scriptures teach us is that going forth as witnesses unto the Lord and His grace is not so much a matter of a special activity of witnessing, but rather primarily a matter of vocation. Being good witnesses is not a specific activity, but an identity placed upon us by the faithful and true witness.

When parents bring their newborn children to be baptized, this is the life of witness to which they are called. When they furthermore make certain that the body and blood of the Lord is received by their entire family regularly in the one true body of Christ where they may eat and drink together truly as one, this is the life of witness to which they are called. In these ways, as St. Paul declares concerning the true gathering where the Sacrament of the Altar is administered and received rightly discerning the Lord’s body, we do proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes.

When people truly trust that Jesus comes to His Church with mercy and grace, pouring out forgiveness and life with which His little ones are nourished and preserved everlastingly, when this is their complete dependence, then they are changed people and this dependence shows in their lives. Truly is it no longer they that live but Christ living in them. When this is the life of the one professing to be a Christian, it shows.

This is the witness that the world cannot help but notice and stand in awe. This is what causes people to wonder what makes these people different. This is what moves outsiders to approach and ask for an answer to the hope that such Christians have. And when the Christian is living in true communion with and depending upon the means of grace for one’s life, that person is fully prepared to give answer for the reason of the hope that is counted as life itself. That person points to the preaching of Christ crucified and the gracious outpouring of everlasting blessings in the Sacrament.

Sadly this is not what is commonly taught in the churches of our day. Being a witness unto Christ is the easiest thing in the world, so easy in fact, that it really requires no effort at all. Being a witness unto the grace of God in Christ is as easy as hearing the words: “I baptize you into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” and responding by continuing in this pronouncement by evermore gathering to the Holy Communion of the Saints to receive the holy absolution and the body and blood of Jesus.

When this is the witness that Christians give, they truly are witnesses of the one who is the faithful and true witness, who declares, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6)

Do you want to be an effective and powerful witness unto the Lord Jesus and the salvation that He has won for us all? If so, then examine your life so that you hunger and thirst for the body and blood of your Savior. Examine yourself to be certain that you and your family are gathering in a congregation where there is no adulteration of the things of Christ. This is your life. This is your witness. Is it a true witness or is it in some way mingled with things other than what Christ has commanded for His Church? When the communion in the bread and the cup is your life, then your witness will be the one who is faithful and true, and everyone will know it. If when you open your mouth concerning Jesus, it is opened first to receive Him, then He is what will be proclaimed when you open it to speak to others, too.

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