Summary: Despite spiritual trouble and physical difficulty in life; we can be witnesses as compelled by the Spirit of God.
Compelled to Witness
Scripture Text: Acts 8:1-5
ILLUSTRATION: T.H. Huxley, a well-known agnostic, was with a group of men at a weekend house party. On Sunday morning, while most of them were preparing to go to church, he approached a man known for his Christian character and said, "Suppose you stay at home and tell my why you are a Christian." The man, knowing he couldn’t match wits with Huxley, hesitated. But the agnostic said gently, "I don’t want to argue with you. I just want you to tell me simply what this Christ means to you." The man did, and when he finished, there were tears in Huxley’s eyes as he said, "I would give my right hand if only I could believe that! (Our Daily Bread, January 24, 1993)”
Introduction: What is it in life that prevents your witness? Is it some spiritual weakness? Is it the kind of people that you would have to talk to? Is it the idea that you would have to associate with or spend time with people that you just do not like? Maybe you are just afraid? What would the person think of me if I bring up the name of Jesus? Will I look ignorant, un-schooled, un-intelligent? Is it some physical weakness that prevents your witness? Maybe you just do not get around like you used to anymore?
Propositional Statement: Just because we have difficulty in life does not mean that we cannot be witnesses to the message of Jesus. “D.L. Moody and once spoke with a woman who didn’t like his method of evangelism. "I don’t really like mine all that much either. What’s yours?" She replied that she didn’t have one. Moody said, "Then I like mine better than yours." (Timothy K. Jones.)
1. SCATTERED, BUT NOT LOST (v.4)
A. Scattered by the persecution that followed the stoning of Stephen.
One of their own had just been run out of the city and stoned. As much as Stephen had identified with his countrymen; they still hated him for the message that he was proclaiming. In fact in Acts 7:2; he addresses them as “brethren and fathers.” But when he finished talking about the history of how the Messiah was to come, they responded terribly. In Acts 7:54, it says when they heard this; “they were cut to the quick, and they began gnashing their teeth at him.”
Stephen knew something that Jesus had said, “If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you (Jn. 15:18). In John 16:2, it is affirmed that some would even kill in the name of God. “They will make you outcasts from the synagogue, but an hour is coming for everyone who kills you to think that he is offering service to God.” You see, Jesus was speaking of His death! When his disciples had seen the horror of their loving friend crucified….what would they do….?? Jesus said, “These things I have spoken to you so that you may be kept from stumbling.”
ILLUSTRATION: A young man enlisted, and was sent to his regiment. The first night he was in the barracks with about fifteen other young men, who passed the time playing cards and gambling. Before retiring, he fell on his knees and prayed, and they began to curse him and jeer at him and throw boots at him. So it went on the next night and the next, and finally the young man went and told the chaplain what had taken place, and asked what he should do.
"Well," said the chaplain, "you are not at home now, and the other men have just as much right to the barracks as you have. It makes them mad to hear you pray, and the Lord will hear you just as well if you say your prayers in bed and don’t provoke them."
For weeks after the chaplain did not see the young man again, but one day he met him, and asked -- "By the way, did you take my advice?"
"I did, for two or three nights."
"How did it work?"
"Well," said the young man, "I felt like a whipped hound and the third night I got out of bed, knelt down and prayed."
"Well," asked the chaplain, "How did that work?"
The young soldier answered: "We have a prayer meeting there now every night, and three have been converted, and we are praying for the rest."
Oh, friends, I am so tired of weak Christianity. Let us be out and out for Christ; let us give no uncertain sound. If the world wants to call us fools, let them to it. It is only a little while; the crowning day is coming. Thank God for the privilege we have of confessing Christ. (Moody’s Anecdotes, Page 73-74.)