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Paul -- Faithful Witness

(Acts 26:12-23,27-29)

Lesson 11 -- first quarter 2003
February 9, 2003

by Mark Roth
© Copyright 2002, Christian Light Publications

What have you seen?

If he didn't know it before, Saul learned that God has purposes in what He chooses to do. When the Lord Jesus appeared to Saul on his way to Damascus, He didn't do so merely wishing to give Saul some sort of memorable mystic experience. (God doesn't waste His time with experiences for the sake of experience, feeling, or emotion.) No, one of God's purposes in that supernatural encounter was to turn Saul around and get him going in the right Way. God also had another purpose which He reveals in Acts 26:16 -- "I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee."

That statement of purpose on God's part reminds me of something the Apostle John wrote: "That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled...That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you" (1 John 1:1,3).

These verses strike me with the realization that God wishes to use the experiences of my life as part of His witness through me about Himself. This reality requires that I learn to experience my own life as one medium by which He wishes to communicate His message to others. What that means to me is really quite simple -- God intends my life experiences as illustrations of His message. Do you get that?!

I must discipline myself to filter what I see, hear, and otherwise experience with this question: What does God want me to take from this in order to share it with someone else? My friend, God gives us a life to give us a personalized message of His grace. What we experience in life is not designed only to give us an experience but also to illuminate His message.

Thus, my approach to life and its experiences should be one of exploration and inquisitiveness. I must look back at yesterday's events to find God's message of grace, peace, comfort, encouragement, exhortation, correction, truth, and light. Then, having experienced that in my own life, I must pass along that message to those around me, be they saved or lost. Furthermore, I must look to today's events yet to come with an alertness for God's message in progress, so that this time I get the message in the midst of the experience instead of in hindsight.

What, my friend, have you experienced (seen, heard, witnessed)? Pass it along! That is an essential part of being a faithful Christian witness as were Paul and John.

The mission of the witness

So we have a life and its accompanying experiences which we have witnessed and continue to witness. And as we rehearsed in the above section, we faithfully become witnesses of that which we have seen and heard. But what should be our purpose in passing along God's message? Sure, our purpose should be to obey God's command to be witnesses. But beyond that, what should be our purpose and mission in witnessing?

Acts 26:18 gives us a good answer to the question: "To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me."

God wants to use our witness to enable people to see Him and His truth and grace in our lives. He wants to open their eyes so they can behold the salvation of the Lord. Having opened their eyes and given them sight, He wants to use our witness to guide people in acting upon His truth. He wants to use us to lead them to new life and then lead them in that life. He wants to use the witness coming from us to move people from darkness and Satan to light and God . . . so that they might be forgiven and made heirs!

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