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Summary: The believer in the Risen Christ has a powerful testimony. We need to be encouraged to use what God has given each of us to the praise of His glory.

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“You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” [1]

The disciples were just like us—they wanted power, especially power over other disciples. They were convinced that if only they had position in the Kingdom, they could accomplish great things, at least for themselves. On one occasion, James and John pushed for position. This is the account found in the Word of God. “James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came up to [Jesus] and said to him, ‘Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.’ And he said to them, ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ And they said to him, ‘Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory’” [MARK 10:35-37].

The boys even got their mama to plead their case on one occasion. We read, “The mother of the sons of Zebedee came up to him with her sons, and kneeling before him she asked him for something. And he said to her, ‘What do you want?’ She said to him, ‘Say that these two sons of mine are to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom’” [MATTHEW 20:20-21]. She didn’t want much, just for her sons to be Number One and Number Two in the Kingdom of God! We do read, “When the ten heard it, they were indignant at the two brothers” [MATTHEW 20:24], but their indignation appears to have arisen primarily because they didn’t have the courage to make this same request.

Like contemporary church goers, the disciples jockeyed for position and for power in the Kingdom of God. It wasn’t only these two that were ambitious. On another occasion when Jesus had spoken of the inability of wealth to secure one’s position in Heaven, the disciples were astonished. The Word of God informs us, “When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished, saying, ‘Who then can be saved?’ But Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible’” [MATTHEW 19:25, 26].

The disciples were obviously surprised by what Jesus was teaching. Peter, speaking for all the disciples asked, “See, we have left everything and followed you. What then will we have” [MATTHEW 19:27]? His concern was whether they would be recognised!

Jesus recognised unholy ambition for power clinging to His disciples like the stench of death. Thus, as He was about to leave them, He informed them, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you” [ACTS 1:8]. This power will not be military or economic or political. You will not have titles of office. “You will be My witnesses.” You shall have a testimony. Testimonies are more important than titles. A title is a rank, office or an attainment bestowed by this world; and these titles and offices may be canceled by the world.

Testimonies are more important than titles. Pharaoh had a title; but Moses had a testimony. Jezebel had a title; but Elijah had a testimony. Nebuchadnezzar had a title; but Daniel had a testimony. Herod had a title; but John the Baptist had a testimony. Agrippa had a title; but Paul had a testimony. Pilate had a title; but Jesus had a testimony—and He had the title that He is the Son of the Living God. [2]

“Do you have a title or a testimony?” I heard a preacher ask this question during a message. The question caused me to pause so that I could reflect on what is esteemed in life. We Christians are too often caught up in the follies of this life, exchanging the eternal for the temporal. An old saint of bygone years warned against sacrificing the permanent on the altar of the immediate. [3] We make choices on the basis for what we imagine we want in the next twenty years, in the next ten years or even in the coming year. When we do this, we have lost sight of eternity. Consequently, we are often guilty of making a fool’s choice exchanging eternity for immediate pleasure. We forget that Moses “chose to suffer with the people of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasure of sin” [HEBREWS 11:25 CSB].

If all you have is a title, you will be grieved at your death because you will leave all behind. If you have a testimony, you will not fear death because at that moment of transition, real life will begin. At issue is where your life has been invested. If your investment is in temporal matters, all must be surrendered at death. If your investment is in eternal matters, you are assured of eternal rewards. This is what Jesus taught us when He said, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” [MATTHEW 6:19-21].

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