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Nothing but the truth! What is the most crucial testimony in a court of law? Actually there are three: One is a picture or video taken of a person committing a crime. But, depending on the quality of the picture, that can be ruled inadmissible. Another is an eyewitness that testifies they saw a person doing something. Again, depending on how reliable that one person is, his or her testimony can also be thrown out. But the most powerful testimony of all is having two or more eyewitnesses, giving the same condemning testimony. Almost nothing can defeat those testimonies.

The first Christians all witnessed Faith Service Worship Vision There may be times when you find it difficult to reconcile God’s truth to your own opinion or worldview, God’s truth is eternal, it does not change, our understanding of the truth does change as we allow God to work in our hearts and minds. These sessions are not about opinion, they are about learning truth, the truth contained in the Bible, together we are going to focus on how we apply God’s truth, black & white in a grey world. To set godly priorities, grow in Christian character and live according to God’s standards so that we are a living witness to others.

Words of Truth & Life:

Session 2 Bible Study 7 September 2010

That was their main focus; building the kingdom of Jesus. But today’s Christians have pretty much ignored the calling to give their testimony. We are no longer fishers of men, but keepers of an empty fish tank. We want to take care of those fish already in the tank, but we don’t feel the need to go out so we can catch more fish. There is a big difference in doing what we are called to do, and doing what we choose to do; between what the early Christians lived to do, and what we try our best not to do.

What are some of your greatest fears about witnessing to others? “I might offend someone.” “My own life is not what it should be.” “I might lose people’s respect.” “I’m afraid I won’t be able to answer all the questions I’ll be asked.” ‘I don’t know how to begin a conversation about spiritual things.”

Think about a time when you had an opportunity to witness to someone - and didn’t. How did you feel afterwards? What did you say to yourself?

BIBLE STUDY 2 Corinthians 5:11-21 (New International Version) The Ministry of Reconciliation Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade men. What we are is plain to God, and I hope it is also plain to your conscience. 12 We are not trying to commend ourselves to you again, but are giving you an opportunity to take pride in us, so that you can answer those who take pride in what is seen rather than in what is in the heart. 13If we are out of our mind, it is for the sake of God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. 14For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. 15And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. 11

So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. 17Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 16

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What does 2 Corinthians 5:11-21 urge people to do and become?

Many Christians do not witness because they are afraid they might be criticised by friends for doing so.

The Apostle Paul explained the motivating force behind his ministry of preaching the gospel. What was it? (v11, 14-15)

The job description of every Christian includes personal witness to others about what Christ has done in their own lives. 2 Timothy 1:8 is clear when it says; “So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord.”

What do you think it means to stop regarding people from a worldly point of view? (v16)

As Christians, we need to rediscover the need and desire for telling others about Jesus.

What evidence could you give that you are a “new creation” in Jesus Christ (v17)

Are we so worried about witnessing that we live in fear and end up doing nothing?

What work begun by Jesus are we privileged to carry on (v18-91)

A Confused World

Consider the title “Christ’s ambassadors” (v20). What light does that phrase shed on how we should live among non-Christians?

Some people have have no real idea of Christianity, think they know what Christianity is all about.

In what sense does the ruler (God) make His appeal through His ambassadors (v20)?

What are some of the misconceptions you had about Christianity? (Going to church makes you a Christian.

Perhaps you don’t feel worthy of being Christ’s ambassador. What do you find in this passage to reassure you that God has qualified you for this position?

Personal Testimonies

You are born a Christian. Following rituals. Following the teaching of Christ. Not having fun. Believing facts. etc.)

Have you ever noticed how important personal testimonies are to our daily lives?

Consider Isaiah 43:10 (NIV), “You are my witnesses,” declares the LORD, “and my servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor will there be one after me.

Many TV commercials are made to look like a personal testimony. We listen to a total stranger tell us how great the product was for them, and we go out and buy it. Talk about personal influence over us by somebody who doesn’t even know us! Every Christian has a personal testimony about how they came to know Jesus, or what Jesus has done for them since saving them.

DISCUSSION

What personal testimony can you share?

We are called to be witnesses as to what the Lord has done for us. Even Jesus gave us that command as his very last command on this earth. Matthew 28:19-20 says,

Any time we see the Lord actively working in our lives, for His glory and our benefits, it becomes a very strong testimony that needs to be shared with those around us.

“Therefore, go and make disciples in all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son, and the Holy Spirit – and teach them to obey everything I have commanded you to obey. And I will be with you always, to the very end of the age.”

If someone shares with you a personal testimony, you listen intently. Why? Because they are telling you the truth, they are telling you exactly what had happened to them. Perhaps if they were telling you what happened to somebody else, you would not be as interested, or if they tried to impress you with how good a Christian they were, you would not have listened. But if they tell you a personal story from the heart, you listen carefully.

Are we different from the early Christians? Many of today’s churches have watered God’s Word down to a point where it is comfortable to hear and not cause Christians to worry about serving God.

A Love For All People

For many today, the idea of being actively involved in serving God and others is second place to their own interests, or desires.

Humanly speaking, you may have an irritating neighbour or gossipy colleague, from God’s point of view, they are people of great worth because Christ died for all who will trust Him as Lord. Do you need to change the way you think about who you should witness to?

The early Christians were not like this! They followed the Word of God with passion. While they always tried to walk the walk, we sometimes are more comfortable with just talking the talk.

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Change Your Mind

Three days later, Paul was able to see again, and he spent three years being taught about Jesus and learning all he could. After that, he began to venture out and get involved in the brotherhood of Christ, helping to build the kingdom of Jesus.

If you tell a small child something, often that child will automatically believe it with all their hearts. They don’t avoid things like adults do; they embrace all they are told with open minds and total belief.

And as Paul began giving his testimony, he would tell of his past, but he would not glorify it. He would contrast that with the joy of the present – and in knowing Jesus on a personal level.

Jesus reminds us that we must ‘change’ to be like children to inherit heaven. But what do we do? We ignore the truth because we might not fully understand it.

He presented his testimony as a fact, not a feeling, for facts can be verified, and feelings can fluctuate wildly from high to low without warning.

Comfort Zone Christians We tend to pick and choose which of Jesus’ commands we decide to follow. The ones we generally pick are those that don’t cause us to get out of our comfort zones.

After we tell someone how we met Christ, or how we were finally converted to Christianity, we should then tell them about:

There is a minister in a very large US church who has said he will not talk about sin or the consequences of sin because he wants his Christians to be happy Christians.

3. THE DIFFERENCE CHRIST HAS MADE IN OUR LIVES

It isn’t about being comfortable; it is all about coming to know Jesus and knowing what will happen if we reject the fullness of Christ.

When Jesus healed the mad man at the cemetery, what did he tell him to do? He said to go home and tell what the Lord had done for Him. Jesus wanted him to go back and give his personal testimony.

Make it easier

And that is what Jesus wants you to do. He wants you to tell them that you were a sinner who finally came to Jesus. That way, if they know you used to be like them, you will understand where they are now. He wants you to tell the facts of how Jesus got your attention, so they know how it is done. Then Jesus wants you to tell them about how He changed your life so they will know their lives can be changed, too.

Start by making it a personal conversation between you and the person you want to share it with; a conversation that lets them know you are going to share something very personal with them. You might want to start by quickly telling them how you were:

1. BEFORE YOU MET CHRIST Paul tells us that we have “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.’ He also tells us ’the wages of our sin is spiritual death.”

Faithful To Opportunity In Matthew 7:21-23, Jesus tells us “Not everyone who says to me, ’Lord, Lord’, will enter the kingdom of Heaven; but only he who does the will of my Father who is in Heaven.”

When we give our testimony, we need to start with how we were, the Apostle Paul talked of his sinful past, but he never glorified it. We should not glorify our past instead of glorifying Jesus.

We have been told to do God’s will. Many Christians do not give any testimony because they are afraid of what others will say about them. As Christians, we need to rise above that if we are to be faithful. God wants us to give our testimonies at every available opportunity.

Then, tell them the circumstances of how you came to:

2. MEET CHRIST In Acts 9:1-19, we find out Paul came to know Christ. He was still trying to search for Christians to persecute when he was on the road walking near Damascus. All of a sudden, a great light shined down on him that was so bright he fell face down on the ground to escape it. He heard a great voice ask him why he was persecuting Jesus. Then, Jesus told him to get up and go into the city where he would receive further instructions.

Staggering statistics In their entire lifetime, the average church member will hear heard over 4,000 sermons, sing at least 20,000 songs, and bring less than 5 people to church. And the most staggering statistic of all; the average churchgoer will lead zero people to Jesus Christ!

The others with Paul were speechless. They had heard the sound but didn’t see who was making it. When Paul got up, he was blind, so they led him to Damascus. For three days he could not see and he didn’t eat or drink anything.

Sadly many Christian’s have a false sense of what Christianity really is. There are many people in this world that think if you believe in a god, you are a Christian. Many more believe that if you go to church and live a good life, you are a Christian. Still others don’t know exactly what to believe.

In that city, a Christian by the name of Ananias had a vision go and help Paul. Ananias knew of Paul’s persecution of Christians but still felt led to help him.

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There are even some who openly deny that Jesus even existed; yet they still call themselves Christians because they go to a church that tells them they are a Christian.

Let me give you a few more instances of what God expects from us as Christians. In Romans 13:11-12 – Paul says “The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer than ever before. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here.”

What does the word Christian mean? The word ’Christian’ means, ’like Christ.’ It doesn’t mean anything else. And the only people who are really Christians are those who really do try to live out the principles of what Jesus Christ taught.

Too many of today’s Christians believe it is okay to have one foot in the world while trying to keep the other foot in God’s kingdom.

Millions sit in churches today, numb to feeling the Holy Spirit. Many have rejected the Holy Spirit many times because they have never been taught about Him, and don’t feel the need to study the Bible for themselves to find out who He is. Little by little, hearts grow cold to the touch of the Lord, and many just go through the motions, thinking they are being good Christians but missing out on everything that Christ offers.

The reality is if they have one foot in the world, their other foot is in a spiritual grave. John 2:15 tells us; “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”

Has the church failed in teaching the Christian what God really expects from them, or are people ignoring what the Bible says we should do?

You can stand in a garage for a week and not be a car. Calling yourself a Christian while having no relationship with the Holy Spirit does as much for your salvation as going to work with absolutely no intention of working.

Have you really opened your heart to the calling of the Lord? Acknowledging Him is not the same as receiving

What is the number one reason the Holy Spirit has not touched more Christians?

Him. You must make a determined decision; a binding choice, to either focus on what God wants from you, or focus on what you want for you.

The number one reason the Holy Spirit hasn’t touched more Christians is that most Christians have chosen to ignore Him.

Joshua 24:15 says “As for me and my household, we shall serve the Lord.”

One Hour Of Missed Blessing....

Conversation Starters

I have seen people walk out of a church service after an hour and stand in the lobby of the church - not because they felt unwell or wanted to go home - they stood in the lobby until the minister finished the sermon, and then went back in to the church to chat to their friends.

“I’ve found that God gives me His strength when I need it” “I know God cares about you, that’s why Jesus came” “I believe in the power of prayer, can I pray for you?” “God’s love can help you cope with this situation”

They went out, because they “were used to the message finishing before 12pm and did not think they could focus on listening to the last point of the sermon.”

“I’ve faced similar pressures, here’s how God helped me” “Jesus has comforted me in hard times”

Many think it is okay to go to church for one hour a week, half listen to the preacher, and then go home thinking that is all they need.

For Personal Reflection

Skewed Perception

Over the past week, how have you been Christ’s ambassador?

Another problem we encounter today is our skewed perception of what the church is supposed to be. The early church numbered in the thousands. Their primary concern was to reach others for Jesus. Many people today people look for a church to enjoy going to. The focus has moved from Jesus to personal enjoyment.

How many of your family or friends have you shared your personal testimony with? Would you like to be able to testify like did the first century Christians? The only way you can do that is in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Get Serious

Plan some specific ways you can represent Christ to the world this week. Consider actions, words and attitudes.

One of today’s greatest needs is to have Christians get serious about their faith and to boldly take the miracle of Jesus to others they encounter. And that is what we are called to do. Do we take this seriously?

Thank God for the difference Jesus has made in your life. Thank Him for the awesome privilege of serving as His ambassador. 4


2010_Session 402_Nothing but the truth