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Witnesses of Christ

Rick Nevala | The Voice of Zion December 2021 --

Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves. But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues; And ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles. But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak. For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you. And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child: and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death. And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved. – Matt. 10:16–22

God’s children are called to faith by the grace of God. We are the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus (Gal. 3:26; Rom. 1:7). It’s a wonderful feeling to know grace and peace. It is offered in the gospel of the forgiveness of sins. When by faith we believe that sweet message, we are most fortunate of all people.

As we have been called into faith, so also have we been called to witness, to “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” (1 Pet. 3:15). Jesus’ disciples were eyewitnesses to His public ministry and His death and resurrection. They spoke openly and poignantly about the things they saw and heard (Acts 10:39–41).

Nevertheless, to have simply known things outwardly and temporally is not sufficient to witness for Christ. A true witness of Christ is a bearer of the Holy Spirit; the Holy Spirit reveals all things and guides us to truth. God’s grace order is to use those that have the Holy Spirit to witness – to preach His Word (Luke 24:46–49).

Strength to Endure Suffering

In our text, Jesus reveals what we should expect when we witness for Him. We will be hated, for His name’s sake. He was hated without a cause (1 John 2:11). If we endure through the hatred until the end, we will be saved! Moses chose to suffer affliction with the people of God rather than to enjoy pleasures of sin for a season, “For he had respect unto the recompence of the reward” (Heb. 11:25,26). When we lift our gaze to the reward awaiting us in heaven, we receive strength to endure whatever befalls us.

We should also expect to be brought before governors and kings. Jesus tells us to “beware of men.” He states that brother shall deliver up brother to death, the father the child, and children even shall rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death. As a parent, it is unthinkable to deliver up a child to death, or to have our own children deliver us unto death. The battle between light and darkness is difficult; it knows no boundaries.

Faith, in the end, is personal. We cannot believe for one another, not even for our own family members. When we are witnesses of Christ, the enemy may be so close as our own family – these strongest bonds of love can be broken by others. Even so, Jesus prompts us to fear not! When rejected by family for the furtherance of the gospel, we have the comfort of Christ and His Word.

He Will Be with Us

Jesus has promised to be with us. He will speak through us: “For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you.” Jesus will give words. We don’t need to worry or fear, but we can trust in Him. “Take no thought how or what you shall speak, for it will be given you in that same hour what you will speak.”

Jesus also affirms that we will be called names when we defend the gospel and witness of it. The strongest name is perhaps Beelzebub, the name of the devil. We may be called servants of Beelzebub for Christ’s name’s sake. There is nothing new under the sun: humans resort to labeling when there is no way forward, to bullying and denigrating others. Jesus reminds us that one day everything will be revealed and not hidden. His will may appear to be hidden by the craftiness of humans and their words, but in time God will reveal to them their error. Again Jesus says, do not fear!

An End to Our Trials

Our text concludes by reassuring us that he or she who endures to the end shall be saved. Jesus doesn’t leave us to endure alone. He provides instruction and counsel. In our text He says to be wise as serpents, harmless as doves, to beware of men and have no care what you shall speak.

We should not, however, needlessly expose ourselves to the dangers around us. Let us be wise as serpents, who defend themselves and position themselves for their own safety. They take shelter in rocks and grasses. Jesus Himself was an example of this: He avoided places and events where the enemy was until the hour came when He was to be captured and put to death.

Jesus also reminds us to be harmless as doves. It is not a coincidence that the Holy Spirit has been pictured as a dove. Its fruits are enumerated in the letter to the Galatians: “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance” (5:22,23).

There will be an end to our trials. We will be gathered into the bosom of Abraham. Our defense and witness of the gospel will be left behind. We will not be asked to return. Our salvation shall be before us as a golden city with golden streets. We will be with our brothers and sisters, God’s children. We who were afflicted for a moment on earth will be in the much greater eternal glory (2 Cor. 4:17).

Dear sisters and brothers, let us say as Apostle Paul did in the letter to the Romans: “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth” (1:16).

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