Summary: Encouragement from the first witnesses to the risen Christ to witness together to those around us.
Preached: Sunday 12th April 2015
Sermon: 'Witnesses Together'
Acts 4:32 "Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common."
Some people, theologians, philosophers and thinkers of various persuasions, have taken great encouragement from this passage. They think it indicates a perfect society, a utopia, which they can belong to. Indeed, they think it’s the way the world should be.
But this is not any kind of communism or even a type of socialism they dream of.
What we can do is concern ourselves with the central message of the passage and indeed the message of the whole Book of Acts.
So, what was the central message of the church after the resurrection of Jesus the Christ?
The whole community, ‘the multitude’ it says in v. 32, who believed in the Person and work of Jesus as God’s Messiah, were His witnesses.
They were united in this witness because the Holy Spirit had brought them together and had come upon them in power in the Upper Room in Jerusalem. (Ch. 1:12-14; 2:1-4)
33 “And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus.”
Now we are onto solid ground. The whole book of Acts is written to tell us what the believers in Christ DID after His resurrection.
They were witnesses to Jesus Christ.
Here it is summarised in a few words: “And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus.”
I say again, this is the central teaching of Acts.
The result is: “And great grace was upon them all.” (33c)
If you are a witness, with others, to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, then great grace will be upon you.
Do you want that? Do you want great grace to be upon you? I am sure you do...
The Lord wants witnesses. The Lord needs witnesses. In the courtroom of world opinion the Lord wants you as His witnesses.
Enough of negative talk!
Enough of self-accusation that we do not do witnessing as we should.
Let’s take the advice of Nike! What advice is that?
Yes, as Nike says: “Just Do It!”
Enough of the negative talk that is thrown at the church, probably to put her off her message: “Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners.” (1 Tim 1:15)
It is time for us to witness to the Jesus we know.
We can tell people that without having a theology degree, we can tell people without an extensive knowledge of the Bible or even without the help of any other teaching.
Why? Because it’s our own story. It’s your own story!
We can all tell people what we do know.
We can all tell people what Jesus means to us.
We can tell them what He has done for us.
Witnessing is simply one person telling another one what Jesus means to them.
Of course as many churches in the Middle East are discovering, witnessing can be very costly. It can mean martyrdom.
It did for the 1st Century Christians. Eleven out of the 12 Apostles died for claiming Jesus is Lord.
Many other ordinary believers have died down through the ages.
In Roman times their bodies were burnt alive and used for street lighting.
Foxes Book of Martyrs cites many weird and wonderful ways evil rulers thought up to destroy the witnesses to Jesus Christ.
Now we see that in Kenya a week ago; “gunmen from the al Qaeda-aligned group stormed Garissa University College, some 200 km (120 miles) from the Somali border.” (http://www.odt.co.nz/news/world/338465/kenyan-university-students-march-demand-security) and that some 148 Christians were killed because they witnessed that they were Christians and, not being Muslims, could not recite the Islamic prayer they were asked to say.
Archbishop Dr. Justin Welby in his Easter message to the Anglican Church and to the world said: “‘To witness is to be a martyr. I am told by the Coptic Bishop in England that the Coptic Christians murdered in Libya last month died proclaiming that Jesus Christ is Lord. They are martyrs, a word that means both one that dies for their faith and one that witnesses to faith. There have been so many martyrs in the last year. On Maundy Thursday, three days ago around 150 Kenyans were killed because of being Christian. They are witnesses, unwilling, unjustly, wickedly, and they are martyrs in both senses of the word.”
Notice also, that they did not witness alone. They gave witness together.
In verse 32 of today’s passage in Acts 4 we read:
“Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul...”
The Apostles needed each other. Yes, even the Apostles, blessed as they were, needed each other to be faithful witnesses to Jesus Christ.