But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear" I Peter 3:15.
Although we treated this passage briefly in our last article, we ought to have the question before us once again: "How much do you believe we as God's people need to take the initiative in witnessing considering that men are dead in sins (in my experience very few actually do what I Peter 3:15 says)?"
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Christian witnessing is crucially important. It is our calling before God. Scripture everywhere impresses its importance on us.
But it must be understood that our whole life must be one of witnessing. So often witnessing is defined in terms of speaking only. That is a mistake. Witnessing can and must be a characteristic of our lives.
If our lives are contrary to Scripture, not one word of witnessing which we speak will have any effect. Especially in the life of a Christian, "Actions speak louder than words."
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At the same time, we must also speak readily of our hope. This is Peter's point. And again this is emphasized in Scripture. Jesus speaks of confessing him before men (Mt. 10:32), and Paul speaks of believing with our hearts and confessing with our mouths (Rom. 10:9, 10), and, in fact, with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
Our words must always reflect the grace of God in our hearts; but we must also take the initiative in witnessing whenever we have the opportunity.
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And this brings up another point.
It is not our calling to walk down the street button-holing everyone we meet to witness to our faith. We must not, in our places of employment, be forever speaking to everyone about his (and our) salvation. There is such a thing as casting our pearls before swine (Mt. 7:6).
But we must make confession of our faith whenever we have the opportunity -- our whole life being, in the meantime, a living confession.
The importance of witnessing only when we have opportunity is to leave the matter of our specific witness with the Lord.
Our neighbor is, after all, the man whom the Lord places upon our pathway.
The one to whom we must witness is the one whose pathway crosses ours by the Lord's direction. Then we will know to whom to witness, and we will know too what must be the specific content of our witness.
That witness will be used by God to accomplish His purpose.
Even if the one to whom we witness mocks, our witness will be used for his judgment and God's glory.
But God may also use our witness to bring sinners to repentance and to the church. The Heidelberg Catechism speaks of the necessity of doing good works because "by our godly conversation, others may be gained to Christ" (Q & A 86). And this is in keeping with what Scripture says in such passages as Mt. 5:16, Prov. 11:30, etc.
So important is this matter of witnessing that a church which is engaged in the calling to go into all the world and preach the gospel can fulfill this missionary mandate only when it is a witnessing church. I mean, not only must the missionaries go forth to preach the gospel, but the church which sends them must be, in her own place and location, a witnessing church composed of witnessing members. Then there will be blessing.
- Volume: 5
- Issue: 25
Prof. Herman Hanko (Wife: Wilma)
Ordained: October 1955
Pastorates: Hope, Walker, MI - 1955; Doon, IA - 1963; Professor to the Protestant Reformed Seminary - 1965
Emeritus: 2001Website: www.sermonaudio.com/search.asp?speakeronly=true&currsection=sermonsspeaker&keyword=Prof._Herman_Hanko
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