Learn What it Means to be a Witness | 05
AUTHOR: Holy Scripture
As we continue to study the timeless words of the apostle Paul in Romans, the profound message of rescue, redemption, and restoration comes alive. Paul also embodied the last words of Jesus to the disciples “…and you will be my witnesses….”
Men and women of the Bible can serve as our mentors and guides as we learn to be effective witnesses.
Read or listen to 2 Corinthians 11:16-33; 12:1-10.
I repeat: Let no one consider me a fool. But if you do, at least accept me as a fool so that I can also boast a little. What I am saying in this matter of boasting, I don’t speak as the Lord would, but as it were, foolishly. Since many boast according to the flesh, I will also boast. For you, being so wise, gladly put up with fools! In fact, you put up with it if someone enslaves you, if someone exploits you, if someone takes advantage of you, if someone is arrogant toward you, if someone slaps you in the face. I say this to our shame: We have been too weak for that!
But in whatever anyone dares to boast—I am talking foolishly—I also dare: Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they the descendants of Abraham? So am I. Are they servants of Christ? I’m talking like a madman—I’m a better one: with far more labors, many more imprisonments, far worse beatings, many times near death.
Five times I received the forty lashes minus one from the Jews. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I received a stoning. Three times I was shipwrecked. I have spent a night and a day in the open sea. On frequent journeys, I faced dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my own people, dangers from Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers at sea, and dangers among false brothers; toil and hardship, many sleepless nights, hunger and thirst, often without food, cold, and without clothing. Not to mention other things, there is the daily pressure on me: my concern for all the churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to stumble, and I do not burn with indignation?
If boasting is necessary, I will boast about my weaknesses. The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, who is blessed forever, knows I am not lying. In Damascus, a ruler under King Aretas guarded the city of Damascus in order to arrest me. So I was let down in a basket through a window in the wall and escaped from his hands.
Boasting is necessary. It is not profitable, but I will move on to visions and revelations of the Lord. I know a man in Christ who was caught up to the third heaven fourteen years ago. Whether he was in the body or out of the body, I don’t know; God knows. I know that this man—whether in the body or out of the body I don’t know; God knows—was caught up into paradise and heard inexpressible words, which a human being is not allowed to speak. I will boast about this person, but not about myself, except of my weaknesses.
For if I want to boast, I wouldn’t be a fool, because I would be telling the truth. But I will spare you, so that no one can credit me with something beyond what he sees in me or hears from me, especially because of the extraordinary revelations. Therefore, so that I would not exalt myself, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to torment me so that I would not exalt myself. Concerning this, I pleaded with the Lord three times that it would leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is perfected in weakness.”
Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may reside in me. So I take pleasure in weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and in difficulties, for the sake of Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
What does Paul boast about?
The written Scripture is CSB, however, the audio Scripture is ESV.
Read the blog below. What does it teach about being a witness?
Witness and Sanctification
By Paul Brandes
Praise, Enjoyment, and … Witness?
In his book Reflections on the Psalms, C.S. Lewis writes this: “I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed consummation. It is not out of compliment that lovers keep on telling one another how beautiful they are; the delight is incomplete till it is expressed.”
But how does this quote connect with our discipline of witness?
The very nature of the word “witness” indicates that we’re talking about something that is seen. Something that is experienced firsthand. And more specifically, we’re talking about seeing/experiencing firsthand who God is and what he has done. In this same reflection, Lewis references the first question of the Westminster Catechism, that “mankind’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy him forever.” And that’s just it! To really see and experience God firsthand, is to enjoy him, to delight in him. Lewis’ point is that the “consummated end” of enjoyment/delight is glorification, making “a big deal about” him to someone else.
In other words, if you have truly seen/experienced God firsthand, you quite naturally ought to be enjoying God. And if you are truly enjoying God, then you quite naturally ought to be “making a big deal about” God to others. Meaning, you’re a witness, in every sense of the word.
Witness and… Sanctification?
But how does all this connect with sanctification?
Sanctification is the ongoing process in our post-justification salvation of becoming more like Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit and our grace-driven obedience.
If I am honest about the process of sanctification in my own life, it’s very messy! It’s very ugly. There are some stunning ways in which God has been patient and is being patient with me over the course of sanctifying me.
On the one hand, that reality makes me a bit embarrassed. I should be farther along in my growth in Christlikeness, right? But on the other hand, that reality makes me enjoy God all the more. Why? Because God’s extraordinary grace, mercy, and patience toward me were some of the first attributes and actions that drew me to him. And friends, as we have already covered, if I’m enjoying God in this specific way, then I quite naturally ought to be “making a big deal about” God to others in this specific way.
In other words, my very-much-still-active/ongoing process of sanctification is an opportunity to humbly witness to others about God’s grace, mercy, and patience toward me.
I’m not saying that it’s easy! It’s so far from easy. It takes swallowing a big “humility” pill. It takes asking God to kill any shred of pride within us. It takes tactful nuance to witness in this specific way so we don’t come off like “humblebragging” masochists.
But oh, it is also so sweet to witness in this way! Because what’s better than finally admitting that we don’t have it all together? What’s better than acknowledging our brokenness and frailty? And what’s better than being able to point to the One who is holding it all together? To point to the One who was broken on our behalf, so that we could be made whole again?
If we are enjoying God’s grace, mercy, and patience with us as he sanctifies us, how could we not “make a big deal about” that to others? How could we not witness to that reality? Testify to that reality? Let’s lay down our pride, clothe ourselves in humility, and take the step of witness.
Lord, enlighten my mind and open my heart to understand that it is in my weakness that your power is manifested.
Week 5 of 8 Witness
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