Summary: When a witness has no bias or ulterior motive and is truthful, then he can be considered a 'credible witness'.

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Sermon Preached at Grace Community Church (EPC)

Sun City Grand, Surprise, AZ

Sunday, October 13, 2013

by the Reverend Cooper McWhirter

IN CHRIST ALONE: “A Credible Witness” [Part Two]

John 1:19-28

Last August, I received a jury summons and was selected as a potential juror in a first-degree murder case. But for a variety of reasons, I was summarily excused. However, I did sit in on two initial screenings; during which time the accused was present in the courtroom when the judge, and both the defense and the prosecution teams, spoke about the responsibilities of being a competent juror.

The potential jurors were previously asked if they had any foreknowledge about the case, or if they knew any of the witnesses, or members of the court. A rather lengthy questionnaire had been submitted by each prospective juror, which asked a whole range of questions; but in particular with respect to their views on capital punishment and the death penalty.

The presiding judge told us we would be required to take a solemn oath to be fair and impartial. Each juror would then be asked to give thoughtful consideration as to the credibility of the witnesses and the empirical evidence presented.

At one point during these initial proceedings, the defense team argued that witnesses, even eyewitness, are inherently unreliable in giving their testimony. However, Lee Strobel, the former award-winning legal editor for The Chicago Tribune, would likely have taken issue with that comment.

This former atheist-turned-Christian, in his much heralded book, The Case for Christ, writes: “Eyewitness testimony can be compelling and convincing. When a witness has an ample opportunity to observe and when there is no bias or ulterior motives; and when the witness is truthful and fair, that person’s account becomes ‘credible evidence’.”

In these opening verses to the gospel of John, the apostle previously had introduced us to John the Baptist (vss. 6-8, 15). His primary role was that of a witness (testimony) as to the “Light of Christ”. From today’s passage, we discover just how credible a witness he truly was; so that others might also see the “Light of Life”.

From the example of John the Baptist, we come to better understand what constitutes being a credible witness. And, in order to become a credible witness for Christ…WE MUST FIRST ACKNOWLEDGE WHO WE ARE NOT (repeat).

Initially, this may seem a bit odd to you; to acknowledge who we are not! In a sermon entitled, “Examining the First Witness”, by Devin Hudson, pastor of Calvary Baptist Church, Madison, IN, he articulates why this is important; just as it was for John the Baptist.

We read that John the Baptist came preaching a message of repentance, where he said: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” [Matthew 3:2]. And for those who did repent, he baptized them with water; and this took place on the other side of the Jordan River in Bethany. He drew such a large following that it came to the attention of the religious leaders in Jerusalem; and so they sent a delegation of priests and Levites to inquire about this man.

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