It is believed that in the average New Testament church in America, 20% of the people do a hundred percent of the work. Have you heard that before? That 20% of the people do a hundred percent of the work. People always say, ‘Why is that lady always doing something?’ Because you won’t do nothing. The question isn’t why is that lady always doing something; the question is why aren’t you ever doing anything?
20% of the people do 100% of the work. If this is true, that would mean that 80% of all Christians are spectators. It means that when we do come to church, we come to church to watch. Don’t let your mind sink but most Christians like to watch.
On any given Sunday, we come to watch the praise team sing; we watch a deacon pray; we watch praise dancers dance; we watch ushers usher; we watch greeters greet; we watch Sunday school teachers teach; we watch preachers preach. And then after we finish our watching—after we watch everybody do what they do—then we go home.
We can become—if we are not careful—spiritual gapers. The crowd, in most churches, under this scenario is really a gaper’s block.
Well, Pastor—how do you know that this in not the way that it is supposed to be? The reason I know that it is not the way that it is supposed to be, is because according to Galatians chapter 6, every man is supposed to prove his own work.
Ask your neighbor: Do you have any work?
According to 1st Corinithians 3:13, it says every individual’s work—one of these days is going to be tried.
In these verses that I just read, I am convinced that just by looking at John we can miss our own assignments. Just by spectating and looking at the life of John, we will miss participating and being a part of the life of us. But since we’re comfortable spectating, let’s spectate first. The Bible says that there was a man sent from God who’s name was John. The writer of this particular gospel, through penmanship and authorship—is a person who’s name is also John. He is John, the brother of James—the son of Zebedee. That is who the author of this text is—John the brother of James and the son of Zebedee. During the writing of this gospel, John is a disciple of Jesus. As a matter of fact, he is a part of the inner circle. If you remember, when the Master would hang out and sometimes, who would he take? Peter, James and John.
John, the author of this gospel, is not the John that is mentioned in verse 6. The John that is mentioned in verse 6 is John the Baptizer. John, the gospel writer, is the only gospel writer that never refers to John the Baptizer as John the Baptist. He only calls him John. Also in this gospel, John never refers to himself by name in the whole book. As far as he is concerned, John the Baptist is the only John. John the writer of this book, he refers to himself as the disciple who Jesus loved. Bible Trivia for 250—John, the writer of this book is the only writer who referred to himself as the disciples who Jesus loved—no other disciple referred to him as the disciple who Jesus loved. He’s the only one who called himself that disciple who Jesus loved. Well listen—you better know that Jesus loves you, if nobody else knows—you better know that Jesus loves you.
This man sent from God who’s name was John has a very special and significant place in history. He is the only person in the long list of the prophets (and you know them all—Ezekiel, Daniel…..)—is the only prophet who is given the privilege of announcing and introducing the world to Jesus. John was known essentially as the one who would herald the Master. Herald, karotzos in the Greek translation, denotes to announce or foretell with unction. And the picture is found in the latter part of the 4th Chapter of Matthew where John is engaged in baptism and while he was baptizing he is the only one who is given the assignment—the only one who was able—he is the only one who looked down, as my father used to say the dusty road (and I don’t know how he knew it was dusty but I guess since they didn’t have no sidewalk it was dusty)—he looked down the dusty road and what did he say? “Behold…the lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world”. He is the only one who is given the privilege of pointing out Jesus.
Now usually when we preachers narrate this passage, we stop right here and we tell John’s story. We tell the story of John the baptizer.
But I want to contend that John was not the only person sent by God. (I’ll make it there if you help me)
I am convinced that John was not the last person sent from God. If we review chapter 1:6…’There was a man sent from God who’s name was John’ who introduced Jesus to the world—we become spectators.
I’ve come to suggest to this great group of believers today that we need to broaden this text. We need to make this text bigger. We need to make this text more inclusive. So that we can say that there was a man sent from God who’s name was …………. There was a man sent from God who’s name was Kraig Pullam. There was a praise team sent from God who’s name was whatever your name is. There was a member sent from God who’s name was your name. There is a church sent from God who’s name is Cornerstone Family of Faith….St. Agnes…New Light…Silverlake or whatever the name of your church is.
• John is not the only person that God sent here to do something. (Help me out for a few minutes)
I said that John is not the only person that God sent here to do something. If so, lets pack our bags and go home. If God has already picked His team; if God has already got his players—why are we on the field? Why are we out here with notebooks, and paper, and pencils and programs and taking notes and setting up and breaking down, and rocking the block if God has already got His team.
I came by to tell you today that John of John chapter 1 verse 6 is not the only person sent from God. You are sitting next to someone who has been sent by God.
And if you want to sell yourself short, go right ahead—but right in Pearland there is a church sent from God who’s name is Cornerstone; there is a Pastor sent from God who’s name is Kraig Pullam.
People sent from God have a purpose. People sent from God have a mission. People sent from God has a duty and a job description. Look back at the text in verses 6 & 7. Here is the job description in verse 7 >>>> verse 7.
People sent from God, our purpose is/our job description says/our mission is that we are sent for a witness and to bear witness. We were sent FOR a witness and to BEAR witness. God has no other plan for us; God has no other purpose for us; and God has no other need for us. Other than for a witness and to bear witness.
How many of your have your Bibles? Hold them up and lets look at verse 7 one more time; let us travel there one more time. The same came FOR a witness to BEAR witness.
I believe that we have missed the purpose and the process of effective evangelism right here. And now I know why the average church of Jesus Christ has limited power in our outreach. (I said average—I don’t want to be average) We miss a step and the step that we miss is a fundamental step in our witnessing attempt.
Yes…we are to bear witness of the light. We are to tell everybody about Jesus. We are to tell everybody what Jesus can do.
But here is the caveat. Before we BEAR witness…we are supposed to BE a witness. (You haven’t caught it yet—don’t worry; that’s okay—the train is not going to pull out the station without you) Before we bear witness. That text says that he was to BEAR witness (first), comma, and THEN to BE a witness (second.).
• That is, before we can BE a witness, God expect us to bear witness.
In other words, before we can tell somebody what Jesus can do—our lives are supposed to show them what Jesus has already done. That’s BEING a witness.
Those of us who aren’t participating—those of us who aren’t a part of Christian involvement—we want to bear witness without being a witness. It is easier for me to tell you to follow Jesus; it is easier for me to tell you to love Jesus; it is easier for me to tell you to deny yourself—that’s bearing witness. It is easier for me to do that than it is for me to follow Jesus, love Jesus, and than it is for me to deny my own self first. That’s being a witness.
Here’s a word, since everybody wants a word—I’ve got a word for you. Those of us who will BEAR witness effectively must BE a witness first. You can go to every class on Sunday morning. You can read the Bible from cover to cover. You can go to every conference in town. You can go to Manpower and Woman thou art Loosed. In order to have an effective ministry and in order to bear witness effectively, you’ve got to BE a witness first.
Let me reduce it to a sound bite: You really cannot be what you cannot bear. And you can’t bear what you can’t be. The reason we have a lack of power in the church today—is because we want to bear and not be. We want to BEAR witness; but we don’t want to BE witnesses. We’ve got many choirs singing—that’s bearing witness. But you’ve got a lot of choir members that are not living—living is BEING a witness. We’ve got a lot of Sunday School teachers teaching—that’s bearing witness. But you’ve got a lot of Sunday school teachers that are not living the life—that’s BEING a witness. We’ve got a lot of Pastors preaching—that’s bearing witness. But we’ve got a lot of preachers that ain’t living—that’s BEING a witness. Some of the meanest, hellish people I’ve met have been in the church. Some of the meanest, lowest, downright dirty immoral folk I’ve met have been people in the church.
• Now I am not saying that people in the church don’t have problems/issues.
• We are in the right place to get help (ill-fat people in the gym…shoot back: I’m in the right spot)
I am not saying that people in the church are scot free, squeaky clean—but your being and your bearing ought to be in sync. There should be a striving to walk the walk that you talk.
-- One poet calls them ‘words that are full of sound and fury signifying nothing’.
-- Solomon called them words of flattery without tangible expression
-- Paul likened words with no action to sounding brass and tinkling cymbal
• People sent from God are sent to Be first. And to BEAR second.
When you BEAR witness without BEING a witness, you can reach another person’s ears because you are talking with your mouth. When you are BEING a witness first and you BEAR a witness second, you can reach a person’s heart—because you are talking with your life.
Ill.—You’ve heard it before that the story is told of two men who went to recite the Lord’s prayer. The first man knew the Psalm; the next man knew the Shepherd.
People have got to see a sermon IN you before they can hear a sermon FROM you. And that is what the order is—John was sent to BE a witness—and then he BORE witness after BEING a witness.
Now I don’t mean to demean anyone—I know that this is a highly intelligent crowd—but I want to tell you that anybody can BEAR witness.
• The BEAR witness (airo in the Greek) is to point to Jesus as the light. But just bearing witness alone won’t make me a believer.
You don’t get it—let me explain:
• A man gets out of the car with a prostitute. He gets out of the car with a prostitute, she looks at him and says, ‘God Bless You—don’t forget that Jesus is the way!’ That’s bearing witness.
• A dope dealer with a cross around his neck says to the caller on the phone who wants to buy a kilo of cocaine, ‘If you’re not here by 6:30, you can’t catch me until after nine—because I’ve got to go to Bible Class. That’s bearing a witness.
• The man stealing the VCR or the DVD out of your house, saying to his two friends who are helping him carry the TV out, looks at one of the friends and says, ‘Oh…next time, are you going down to Mega Fest in Atlanta to the men’s conference?’ That bearing witness.
• The single man who says to his single girlfriend as their climbing out of the bed after just completing a 1 minute rendezvous, the single man looks at the single girlfriend and says, ‘Oh…don’t forget. Tomorrow is the national day of prayer….and the Pastor asked that all the people fast and pray.’ That’s bearing witness.
• The artist singing a song, calling women outside of their name—and then getting up to accept his award and says, ‘I first want to thank my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for giving me the talent.’ First of all, where was Jesus when you were writing the filth that you wrote? The person who gets up and thanks and gives and honor to God for giving him the talent—that’s bearing witness.
But what I am trying to tell somebody today is bearing witness without being a witness, you will discover that your not being will cancel your bearing. Bearing a witness without being a witness cancels bearing.
God will not let you bear in public what you refuse to be in private. And that’s a witness. God will not allow us and endow us with the power to do it in public if we won’t do it in private.
The Bible says that John came to be a witness and to bear witness of the light—that all men might believe—but he was not that light.
• People who are witnesses first and then bear witness second, also have a dilemma to overcome. What the dilemma? People who are living right; people who are loving God; people who are trying to give God their all—have a tendency to point to their light rather than THE light.
Because a true witness does have a light; and a true witness does have a glow. A true witness does have a power and a peace that surpasses all understanding. And the joy of having a light can cause you to want people to see your light. And that is why a lot of people with the light, eventually eclipse the light, because we stand in front of the light, trying to let somebody see our light—because we want to brag about all that we’ve done in the kingdom of God. “Child…I don’t know how things would go on if it weren’t for me. I don’t think this church is going to make it if I get mad and leave. I don’t know how the church would do this or do that….I don’t know how classes would go on or the doors would stay open’. I’ll tell you how: DIE. And I’ll tell you exactly how it would go: ON. It will go on…when you die.
Therefore John was clear when noting that John the Baptist was clear that: He was not that light.
Praise God for the gifts that He has given us; praise God that we’ve survived what we’ve survived and we still made it; praise God that we survived the rape and the divorce and the other things that normally would have taken others out; praise God that he would choose to use an insignificant wretch like me or an insignificant wretch like you—but shame on any of us if we think that we’re the light. Shame on any of us if we shine the light in our direction. Shame on us if we point people to us. We are saved and sent to be a witness and to bear witness. But I close by saying if we are not willing to be a witness first; we cannot bear a witness second. And now I know why there are more spectators than there are participators—because spectators want to bear without being and participators realize that you’ve got to be in order to bear. And my question is that as we leave this place today—are we going to leave as spectators or participants?