Every Believer A Witness
By A. E. Reinschmidt
The Lord rests the success or failure of His church on the testimony of His friends. Where there is a testimony being given, His work prospers. Where there is no testimony, His work comes to a standstill. This seems like a very precarious arrangement; but no one can deny that this is Christ’s plan for the extension of His church. This is plainly indicated in His High Priestly Prayer.
Every person needs to hear "the testimony of the Lord" from some other person. It is not enough to pray for your neighbor who knows not the Lord. It is not enough to live a good life before him. He cannot read your mind toward him. He must hear some word of testimony from you.
Even after Saul was visited by the Lord, on the Damascus road, it was necessary that a humble man, Ananias, be sent to him with a testimony. And Cornelius, whose prayers and good life merited an angel visit to himself, had to wait for the testimony of Peter, to tell him how he and his house might be saved (Acts, chapter ten).
The Ethiopian eunuch and Lydia and the Philippian jailor – all had to wait for a testimony from some man before they could be saved. Take these things to heart, you that excuse yourselves from speaking for Christ, by pointing to your "good life" in lieu of testimony. Your word is your testimony, and a good life is a confirmation of that testimony.
Your neighbor cannot see your inner life, nor whence it comes. You may show good will to him in many ways, but still he cannot know whether you are a Christian or a humanist. You may help him in time of need, but unless you bear the word of testimony about the Lord, he cannot know whether you are a believer in Christ or a communist.
Your neighbor may be dying for the want of something he sees in you, but may think that what you have is the result of "the way you are fixed" – your circumstances. How is he to know that the peace and rest you have are from Christ, under circumstances even harder than his, if you don’t testify? How shall he know how to believe, and receive those things which mean everything to you unless you tell him how?
Faith, prayer, experience, a good life and good works are the roots of the tree of testimony. Roots without a tree cannot bear fruit. Neither can a tree bear fruit except it have roots. Some good people have faith, prayer, spiritual experience, a good life and good works – but no testimony. Therefore they have no fruit.
Others are free in giving testimony but have not the roots of faith, prayer, experience, good conduct or good works to confirm and support their testimony. These do not bear fruit because they have no root. In this connection Jesus said: "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven" (Matt. 5:16).
We have seen very likable people, living in a likely community, bearing at times a loud testimony in words, but because of inconsistencies in their lives they have no "fruit unto holiness." On the other hand, we know many who excel in faith and prayer and spiritual experience and generosity and kindness; but because they do not bear witness by word of mouth, they have no fruit.
It is your testimony that produces the fruit because it moves men and tells them how to find Christ. Perhaps you have heard it said: "It wasn’t anybody’s preaching that made a Christian of me. It was Aunt Mary’s life, etc." "Aunt Mary’s life" might make someone want to be a Christian, but it will take someone’s words to tell him how to become a Christian.
Somebody’s life and testimony both are needed to show the way of salvation. "It pleased God by the foolishness of preaching (testimony) to save them that believe" (1 Cor. 1:21). "How then shall they call on Him whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?...How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the Gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things" (Rom. 10:14-15).
Every believer, according to his or her ability, is ordained by Christ to be a "minister and a witness." The power to bear witness was poured out on one hundred and eight of Christ’s ordinary disciples (if we may so speak) and to only twelve apostles. Every believer is intended to be a Spirit-anointed witness, to bear a testimony to the Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.
The value of a man to the Lord is not the amount of good things which he has stored up in himself, but in the testimony that comes out of him. And the worth of a church to the Lord is in its prayer life and the testimony that goes out to lost men. Measured by such a yardstick, some so-called "big" churches are small indeed.
"Ye Shall Receive Power"
Upon the ascent of Jesus to the right hand of God (Acts 2:33), the Holy Spirit was sent to preside over the church on earth, giving power to its members to extend the church by their testimony. The Holy Spirit is given to them that obey the Lord (Acts 5:32). That is, to them that obey His Word, "Ye shall be witnesses unto Me." Let no one who refuses to bear testimony think that he can receive the power of God. The Spirit is given only to them that will let Him use them in His work of adding men and women to the church, by means of their prayer and testimony. The Lord is as eager to give His power to them that are yielded and obedient, as He is to have His church to grow. But that power is not for self pleasers.
The chief mission of the Holy Spirit is to revive the Lord’s people, and to be the great Evangelist to the lost, to draw them to Christ (John 6:44). The first thing a sinner needs is to be made aware of his lost condition. This is called "conviction" (John 16:8).
The next thing the sinner needs after he has been convinced or convicted of sin, is to be shown the way of salvation through believing on Christ. Here is where the Christian’s testimony comes in. A sinner under conviction, with no man to guide him (Acts 8:30-37) is in a very confused state of mind.
The Spirit needs some to pray so that He may prick the hearts of sinners (Acts 2:37), and some to tell them what to do next (Acts 2:38; 16:29-31). Christians "praying in the Holy Ghost" can bring conviction on souls, but before such souls can find rest and peace in Christ, someone must give them the Gospel – bear witness to them of the Saviour, in the power of the Spirit.
No one who disobeys the call of Christ to witness unto Him, can have a healthy spiritual experience in this life, nor receive much of a reward in the next. But "they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever" (Dan. 12:3).
Let us pray for men until they cry, "What shall we do?" and be ready to answer their question by telling them of Christ.