Sunday, April 22, 2012

Witnessing To Others

An Exegesis of John Chapter 4

1 When therefore the Lord knew how the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John,
2 (Though Jesus himself baptized not, but his disciples,)
3 He left Judaea, and departed again into Galilee.

The work of God is not about popularity. Carnal men make a big ado about who did what; and how much money; and how many members. The work of God is not about counting members, but rather the salvation of souls.

4 And he must needs go through Samaria.

The Spirit led person has a specific journey along a certain way. His pathway is not accidental or by chance.
God has a plan for our lives if we will let Him lead us in the way He wants us to go.

5 Then cometh he to a city of Samaria, which is called Sychar, near to the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph.
6 Now Jacob's well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied with his journey, sat thus on the well: and it was about the sixth hour.
7 There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus saith unto her, Give me to drink.
8 (For his disciples were gone away unto the city to buy meat.)

Take advantage of the opportunity to witness. Don’t just stand still and let the world pass you by. There is nothing wrong with having a purpose and an agenda. Satan and his people have an agenda to destroy souls. We must have an agenda to share the good news of salvation with others.

Jesus could have been preoccupied with all the events and responsibilities pressing in on His daily life. But He was aware of what was immediately at hand. He was observant. He gave this person His undivided attention. A person with a true burden will always find an opportunity to work.

9 Then saith the woman of Samaria unto him, How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans.

You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan. Carnal men put people into categories/boxes. They put labels on them to identify them as being like themselves and acceptable or different and unacceptable. What group do you belong to and what do you believe about this doctrine and that doctrine? Yes, doctrine is very important; however, whether or not a person is living free from sin is the test of fellowship. Saints and sinners can not have fellowship with each other; but, they can be friendly. A saint should have a burden for the well being of the sinner. A saint does not require that everyone’s understanding be exactly the same as his own.

10 Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water.

Most of the time, sinners do not understand the value and the beauty of the gift of salvation. We must use wisdom and truth to stir up a desire for truth in their soul.

11 The woman saith unto him, Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from whence then hast thou that living water?
12 Art thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle?

Sinners are always thinking in the natural. They do not usually understand spiritual things. A Christian will be kind to them in their ignorance, helpful, not condescending.

13 Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again:
14 But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.

We must cause the sinner to have an interest in knowing the goodness of God and the way of salvation. We must awaken their understanding to their need for godliness.

15 The woman saith unto him, Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw.

Jesus was successful in causing her to desire what He offered. He did not offend her with spiritual arrogance or with “I am better than you!” statements.

16 Jesus saith unto her, Go, call thy husband, and come hither.

This step takes divine discernment. With the gift of discernment, the Holy Spirit can cause us to know certain facts about the person with whom we are witnessing.

17 The woman answered and said, I have no husband. Jesus said unto her, Thou hast well said, I have no husband:
18 For thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: in that saidst thou truly.

Jesus did not accuse or condemn the woman. He simply stated the facts about her life. When confronted with the recognition of sin, most people have enough moral sense to know that they are a sinner. They know that they have transgressed the law. We don’t have to beat them up with accusations and condemnation. We need to identify sin by lifting up the standard of holiness.

19 The woman saith unto him, Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet.
20 Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.

Again we see the woman thinking about the things that divide and separate. This is a common way of trying to escape the attention of personal sins. Sinners don’t want to talk about their disobedience to God. They want to talk about how they are different from you. Somehow Christianity and living holy is ok for you but it will not work for them. You must take them back to the reality of what the Word of God says.

21 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father.
22 Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews.
23 But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.
24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.

Worshipping God does not depend upon where you are at physically, but rather where you are at in your attitude. It is not a geographical question but rather a spiritual question. Most people want to identify where you go to church instead of how and why you go to church. You can attend the most Spirit filled holiness congregation in the world, but if your heart is not right you can not worship God. Jesus did not condemn her being a Samaritan. He exposed her unrighteous life style.

25 The woman saith unto him, I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things.

The woman was saying, “I don’t have to listen to you. Someday the Messiah will come and He will tell me what to do.” I don’t think she thought this disrespectfully but rather with that element of doubt which is so common with most people.

Jesus let the woman know that the Messiah was talking to her right now. When we share truth with someone, Jesus is talking to them right now.

26 Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am he.

The Holy Spirit is faithful to let people know that they have heard the truth. They can believe or refuse to believe; and then this window of opportunity for witnessing and believing will close and people will be left with their decision.

27 And upon this came his disciples, and marvelled that he talked with the woman: yet no man said, What seekest thou? or, Why talkest thou with her?
28 The woman then left her waterpot, and went her way into the city, and saith to the men,
29 Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ?
30 Then they went out of the city, and came unto him.

This is the results and fruit of witnessing. Because the woman believed what she was told, she went and shared it with others and others believed. If she had chosen to not believe, her life would have continued on in the same sins as her past.

31 In the mean while his disciples prayed him, saying, Master, eat.
32 But he said unto them, I have meat to eat that ye know not of.
33 Therefore said the disciples one to another, Hath any man brought him ought to eat?
34 Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.

You will find that working for God will sometimes take away your appetite because of the burden you carry for souls. I would rather witness to someone than eat. Witnessing is more rewarding than eating.

35 Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest.
36 And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal: that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together.
37 And herein is that saying true, One soweth, and another reapeth.
38 I sent you to reap that whereon ye bestowed no labour: other men laboured, and ye are entered into their labours.

It is always the right time to witness. You must be led of the Holy Spirit to know how to witness in the particular situation you are in. Different occasions require different approaches.
Proverbs 11:30 says, “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise.”
Wisdom, understanding and discernment are absolutely necessary to take full advantage of the present circumstances. The right word spoken at the right time will always be effective.

39 And many of the Samaritans of that city believed on him for the saying of the woman, which testified, He told me all that ever I did.
40 So when the Samaritans were come unto him, they besought him that he would tarry with them: and he abode there two days.
41 And many more believed because of his own word;
42 And said unto the woman, Now we believe, not because of thy saying: for we have heard him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world.

When you speak to people, they will either receive your testimony or reject your testimony. It is not your duty to force but rather to educate and create a mental and spiritual cross-roads where people make a choice which way to turn.

Unless you have a divine revelation from God that the person to whom you are speaking is disobedient and willfully rebellious, you ought to refrain from condemning their soul and casting them out from your fellowship. Willful sin is the only thing that separates a person from God; and it should be the only thing which separates us from one onother.

43 Now after two days he departed thence, and went into Galilee.
44 For Jesus himself testified, that a prophet hath no honour in his own country.
45 Then when he was come into Galilee, the Galilaeans received him, having seen all the things that he did at Jerusalem at the feast: for they also went unto the feast.

The hardest place to witness is among those sinners who have known you since you were a child. They will have strong presumptive opinions about who you are and what you believe.

Your judgment of a person will affect how you witness to them. If you judge them to be a sinner, you will treat them like a sinner. If you approach people as one who wishes to share truth and knowledge; if you approach them as a friend; if you approach them like Jesus approached this woman at the well; then, you will be more successful as a Christian witness.

Examine your motive and objective for talking to people. Do you endeavor to classify a person as a saint or a sinner? Is your objective to lift up the standard of holiness and righteousness so that the Holy Spirit can use your words to speak to that person’s soul?

Are we teachers or judges?
Are we winning souls or wasting opportunities?
Are we bringing people to the marriage supper of the Lamb; or, are we bringing them to our religious party?

Sunday, April 8, 2012

The Power of God

What does the Bible teach us about the power of God?
Is the power of God being manifested in congregations today in such a manner as to exalt and glorify Jesus Christ and our Heavenly Father?

A study of the scriptures will show that God does not give every gift to every member of the body.

However, I do think that the scriptures teach that all the gifts of the Spirit should be working in the body for the edification of the body.

Not everyone is an apostle, but someone should be an apostle; someone should be a teacher; someone should have the gift of tongues. The church body needs all these gifts.

Not everyone is a worker of miracles, but someone should.
Not everyone has the gift of healing, but someone should.

Can you name someone in the universal body of the church today whom you are confident has the gift of healing?

Why don’t you know some number of people who are doing the work of an apostle or the work of a missionary?

When we get sick and go to the doctor instead of believing and trusting in the power of faith and prayer, do we deny God the opportunity to show Himself strong in behalf of his people?

We do not teach that it is a sin to go to the doctor, but do we teach that it is the will of God to heal the sick? Do we teach the doctrine of divine healing, or do we just give lip service to that doctrine?

1 Corinthians 12:7-11
7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.

Every child of God is given some ability or power to manifest the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit. How is the Holy Spirit manifested in your life? Some saints are given one or more of the following gifts.

8 For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit;
9 To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit;
10 To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues:
11 But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.

The word “severally” as it is used in this passage means, “pertaining to self, i.e. one's own; by implication, private or separate.” The word “dividing” as it is used in this verse means to “distribute.” Therefore, we are to understand that “the Holy Spirit distributes to every child of God a personal gift with which the child of God bears witness that he is empowered by the Holy Spirit to do the work of God which has been assigned to him.”

Which one of the gifts of the Spirit is evident in your life?

1 Corinthians 12:28-31
28 And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.
29 Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles?
30 Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret?
31 But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way.

What gift of the Spirit do you covet earnestly?
Which gift do you have a strong desire and zeal to possess?
How are you seeking after the gift of the Spirit? Are you fasting and praying for the gift?
Why do you want the gift? Will it glorify you or Jesus Christ?
Can God trust you to take His power and His gift and use it to glorify the Father and Son?
Have you received understanding from the Holy Spirit about how the gift is obtained and used?
Do you understand the purpose of the gift? Do you understand any restrictions on the exercise of the gift and when it should not be employed?

Do you have to be young to have the power of God to work miracles?
Do you have to be old to have the power of God to work miracles?
What does it take to have the power of God to work miracles?
What proof do we have that God will not bless His people with the gifts of the Spirit to work miracles in this day in which we live?

Acts 1:8
But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

Without the Holy Spirit there is no power. If a person does not possess the Holy Spirit, the power of God will not be properly manifested. A child of God receives power “after that the Holy Ghost is come.”

Jesus said “ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you.” Did Jesus intend to apply this statement to all of His ministers who follow Him after the Day of Pentecost? What do the Holy Scriptures teach us about the application of this scripture? Many people have taught that the day of miracles ended with the passing of the original 12 apostles.

1 Corinthians 12:31
But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way.

According to the Apostle Paul, not every one has all the gifts of the Spirit.
However, do not hide behind that and think that some have no gift at all.
Paul wrote that there is a more excellent way and continues in the next chapter to tell us about the power of LOVE. The power and grace to love others as Christ has loved us, is the greatest gift of all. However, do not hide behind that and think that just because you have the grace to love others is a justification for not having any of the gifts of the Spirit.

Acts 3:12
And when Peter saw it, he answered unto the people, Ye men of Israel, why marvel ye at this? or why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or holiness we had made this man to walk?

People will always try to exalt the person who is mightily used of God. Many ministers have fallen from grace under this temptation to think of themselves more highly than they ought to think. It is a very sad fact that God has chosen and anointed some men and women to do great things for the glory of God and then they have fallen into the temptations of the flesh and become proud. Without the Holy Spirit men will begin to substitute the doctrines of men for the doctrines of God. When men become proud, their power will be from Satan and for evil and not of God. Paul warned us of this when he wrote to the congregation at Thessalonica, saying: “whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.”

Let’s take a walk through the scriptures and see what the Word of the Lord teaches us:

Acts 4:7
And when they had set them in the midst, they asked, By what power, or by what name, have ye done this?

Acts 4:33
And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all.

Acts 6:8
And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people.

Acts 8:13
Then Simon himself believed also: and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done.

Acts 19:11-12
11 And God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul:
12 So that from his body were brought unto the sick handkerchiefs or aprons, and the diseases departed from them, and the evil spirits went out of them.

Romans 15:18-19
18 For I will not dare to speak of any of those things which Christ hath not wrought by me, to make the Gentiles obedient, by word and deed,
19 Through mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God; so that from Jerusalem, and round about unto Illyricum, I have fully preached the gospel of Christ.

1 Corinthians 2:2-5
2 For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.
3 And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling.
4 And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power:
5 That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.

1 Corinthians 4:19-20
19 But I will come to you shortly, if the Lord will, and will know, not the speech of them which are puffed up, but the power.
20 For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power.

2 Corinthians 6:4-10
4 But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses,
5 In stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labours, in watchings, in fastings;
6 By pureness, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned,
7 By the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left,
8 By honour and dishonour, by evil report and good report: as deceivers, and yet true;
9 As unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and, behold, we live; as chastened, and not killed;
10 As sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things.

2 Corinthians 8:1-4
8 Moreover, brethren, we do you to wit of the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia;
2 How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality.
3 For to their power, I bear record, yea, and beyond their power they were willing of themselves;
4 Praying us with much intreaty that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints.

2 Corinthians 12:9
And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

2 Corinthians 12:12
Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds.

Galatians 3:1-5
1 O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you?
2 This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?
3 Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?
4 Have ye suffered so many things in vain? if it be yet in vain.
5 He therefore that ministereth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you, doeth he it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?

Ephesians 1:19
And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to usward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power,

Ephesians 3:7
Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power.

Ephesians 3:16-21
16 That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man;
17 That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love,
18 May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height;
19 And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.
20 Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,
21 Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.

Colossians 1:29
Whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily.

1 Thessalonians 1:5
For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake.

2 Thessalonians 1:11-12
11 Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfil all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power:
12 That the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and ye in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.

2 Timothy 1:7-8
7 For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
8 Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God;

2 Timothy 3:5
Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.

Hebrews 2:3-4
3 How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him;
4 God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will?

What have we learned from these divinely inspired words?
Is it the will of God for the church to be weak and powerless?
Who will stand and be an example to others? Why not you? Why not me? Why not us?