Winsome Witnesses: The Power of Personal Testimony

Scripture: Acts 4:20
Date: 07/11/2020 
Lesson: 2
'Why is knowing Christ personally so essential to our being able to witness about Him?'

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Carlos Munoz: Maranatha, my loved ones, and welcome to another Sabbath School Study Hour. Today we're going to study lesson number two on our quarterly, "Making Friends For God." But before we get into our study, I want to tell you about this new Amazing Facts tracts we have, an Amazing Facts that are 11 tracts that we just created and this we are going to give to you as a free gift. If you want a printed copy, you can call 1-866-Study-More, or 1-866-788-3966, and we will send you a printed copy of these new Amazing Facts tracts, 11 in total. But sadly, it's only to be mailed in the United States or in US territories. And so, knowing that now, let's get into our study, and let's have a word of prayer before we begin.

Heavenly Father, we thank you again, for another beautiful day of life. We thank you for the privilege and the honor that you give us to worship you, to give you praise and glory on your holy day. And we just ask, Father, now as we come to review the lesson, that Your Spirit can guide us, strengthen us, and put and seal Your truth in our hearts, Father, Your love, Your grace, Your mercy. Thank You again for this privilege and this honor, Father. We ask this in Jesus' name, amen.

And so, for those that don't know me, I'm Pastor Carlos Munoz. I am the AFCOE director here at Amazing Facts, Amazing Facts Center of Evangelism, and I am also an associate speaker, bilingual speaker. And so, I'm going to share with you today lesson number two which is called "Winsome Witnesses: The Power of Personal Testimony."

Now, the memory text for this week, if you want to read it with me, it's in Acts chapter 4, verse 20 and it says, "For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard," right? When I do the Sabbath lesson, I always like to pay attention to the title. The title is going to give us a background into what we're going to study. And so, the title is "Winsome Witnessing."

Now, I don't know about you, but the first time I saw that word "winsome," I had no idea what it meant, so I went and looked for a dictionary to find out what does that word "winsome witnesses" mean, right? Not this time, but we have Amazing Facts. We have a resource called "Winsome Witnessing" also. And winsome means attractive or appealing in appearance or character. That's what the word "winsome" means. And if you notice, that's where the word "handsome" actually comes from that, right? It's attractive or appealing in visualness. It's handsome person, right? And so, that's what winsome means. It means to be attractive or appealing.

Now, the word "witness" right, winsome witnesses. The word "witness" is defined as someone who has knowledge or evidence about a matter. In law, a witness is someone who either voluntary or under compulsion provides testimonial evidence, either oral or written, of what he or she knows or claims to do, to know. So, what it's talking about then there is an attractive witness, right? There is an appealingness to somebody that has evidence, right? It is--it draws people in, in the context of something that we know or something that we claim to know.

So, when you're looking for a witness, you want to make sure that the witness has the credentials, has the credibility, has the character, has the evidence necessary. Of course, we're just talking generally in this context. We're putting--now we're going to put this on a religious context. It's winsome witnessing. That means that there is an attractiveness, right, to a testimony. There is an attractiveness to the appealing of what or how God has worked in my life and what God is doing and so, I am showing the credentials, the credibility, right, the evidence of that beautiful claim that I am giving forth.

Now, the same thing with the word "testimony" because it says, "The power of personal testimony." A testimony is, again, a formal written or spoken statement, especially one given in a court of law. It's evidence or proof provided by the existence or appearance of something. So, when we put this all together, what it's saying is that our testimony is an attractive evidence, right? Our testimony, our personal testimony, is a draw into claims about who God is and what God has done, what God can do, and what he is doing in our lives. And so, I think that's fascinating because when you put this together, the concept of witness, and testimony, and evidence, this all has to do with terminally--terminal--legal terminology, right? Sometimes in civil, administrative, or in criminal trials, and it's associated with a trial.

So, when we ask ourselves, what is the purpose of a trial? Well, the purpose of a trial is to find truth, right? There is either an accusation. There is evidence presented in favor or against something or someone. And so, what we do is on a trial is to determine whether that accusation or that, what that was presented was accurate was real, was true, right? So, this terminology being used in the legal settings, that tells us then that the Bible is also giving us some legal foundation or some legal terminology so the things that are happening in Scripture, right?

So, if this is mostly applied in trials, then the question that we should ask is, is there a trial in Scripture, my loved ones? Is someone on trial in Scripture? Well, we know that in this great controversy, this great cosmic conflict, God's character has been on trial, right? Remember from the beginning, it tells us that the enemy, Lucifer, Satan, he was accusing God, he was presenting that God was not worthy to be ruler. He was attacking God's character. He was saying that God was a--was arbitrary, right? He was, he was dictator. He was imposing these laws and these--and His will on other people. And so, that was the accusation that the devil did.

And so, what does God do? He doesn't destroy him because we know that would not have resolved anything, but what does God do? Says, "Okay, let's let this play out in the type of trial, right? Let's--you've presented your evidence, now I'm going to present and show My evidence in regards to this character." And so, what is it saying about us? It's saying that we are witnesses, or we are evidence to what? We are here to advocate, to defend, to sow the truth in regards to God's character, in regards to who God is.

And I just think it's fascinating, the whole concept of trial. I studied, I studied pre-law and criminology in my bachelor's degree, and so this concept is, is so familiar in the sense of the presentation, the evidence of, is God worthy? Does God deserve to be the ruler of the earth? Is God worthy to reign over the earth, over the universe, and is He worthy to receive our worship, to receive our surrender, to receive our lives? And, my loved ones, this is where the stuff the concept of personal testimony comes in, right? Why do I say this? Because it says it in the lesson that people, you know, you can get into a debate with somebody in regards to some type of theological foundation, right? I don't advocate that you get into a debate. We were not called to win debates, we are called to win souls, right? But sometimes, you know, when you're talking with something, you're presenting the evidence to a belief system that you have to one of our doctrines or anything, and people can refute it, right? Some people, they can use their own text, takes things out of context and try to debate and try to contrast what you're trying to say, what you're trying to present. But it's very difficult to debate a testimony. It's very difficult to refute somebody's personal testimony.

I'll give you an example. There was this story about this church that opened up in this very, this city, right? It is a very cosmopolitan city, very advanced, high, known as high society, people very educated. And so, this church decided that it wanted to do some type of modern debate, right, to try attract the professionals and the scholars that were in the area, to try appease to their intellect, right, to try to reach out. And so, they decided to do a debate, a debate between atheism and theism, right, a debate in regards to the arguments in favor and against these, and present a good debate in regards to this to try to draw people in.

And so, the story says that they brought in some Christian doctors and they brought in some Christian scholars to talk about, you know, creationism, evolution, postmodernism, and all of these terminology that we debate sometimes in religious settings. And there was this atheist lawyer that was in the crowd and as the presentation was going on, the story says that this atheist doctor, they asked for questions from the public and this atheist doctor stood up and he grabbed the microphone. And it says that in front of every everybody, based on everything that they had been talking about or said during that debate, he refuted every single piece of it. He just attacked. He went straight to--he went straight to the core of everything and he used his own atheistic perspective, his own arguments, right, in favor of naturalism, in favor of atheism, in favor of evolution. And he just broke it down.

Everybody was stunned, right, because he was so convincing. He was so assertive, he was so accurate, and he was so eloquent in the way that he was saying that people were stunned and people were afraid, right? Because they're saying, "Wow, he's going to even convince some of the Christians that are among us who were not trying to draw him, but they were just part of the church."

Well, amongst all the chaos, everybody was stunned and silent. But it says that this little, old man raised his hand and he called him up amongst the silence of the crowd, and he stood up and he grabbed his microphone. Little, little old man, and he says, "You know what? I was not raised in the city. I was raised out as a farm boy. I did not go--I didn't do past high middle school, I didn't do high school education. I didn't go to any of the fancy universities all of you guys are in. I didn't study all of these concepts, and I'm not as eloquent, and I can't express terminologies, and I don't have all of the knowledge that every one of you that is here on the panel and this atheist lawyer here has. But I do have something," he said.

"I don't know much about anything you're talking about, but I do know that God is alive and God is powerful." He says, "You know how I know this? Because I used to be a drunk. I used to beat my wife. I used to spend all my money on gambling. I used to do all of these horrific things. I was just a complete mess, and I hit rock bottom but that's the moment when I gave Christ the chance to be in my life, and I gave Him an opportunity because I was going to lose everything. My wife have left me, everything, my children did not respect me. I have lost everything. My business was on the ground. And at that moment, I gave Jesus Christ a chance. And from that moment to today, I have been a new man. I have been changed and transformed. I do not--I do not participate in any of the ways of the world as I used to anyway. My marriage has been restored. My children have been restored. My business has been restored. I am a new man. So, even though I'm not able to express eloquently and present all these arguments that all of you fine gentlemen can, I do have the power and the testimony to say that God is alive because I have experienced it in my own life."

And to that you say what, you say what? You say amen, right? There's no way to debate that. You might not agree with it, you might think that it was some type of superstition, but at the end of the day, the power and the impact of a personal testimony goes way beyond fancy and eloquent arguments, and big titles and big degrees. That doesn't mean that it's not good to study. It doesn't mean that it's not good to go to university. But the core of it is that, that surrender to God where we can see the power of God working in our lives in such a way that we are to share and to show others what that is, and that is what we're talking about when we're talking about a winsome witnessing, right? It's just people are drawn in to see and to notice the power which with God has worked in your heart.

You see, my loved ones, before we are able to convince people about our doctrines, our beliefs, the things that we hold so dear, the mission, the purpose of the church, first they have to be able to see the love of God in us. First they have to be able to witness, they have to be able to see that what we're saying, how we're living, is a greater sermon. Our life is a pulpit and so when people see that when they are--when they see the reality of our witness, when they're able to see the power of God in our lives, that is what wins them in, right? That is what's appealing and attractive and then, once they're convinced of our faithfulness, once they're convinced of our genuine person, then, my loved ones, then that opens the door for what? That opens the door for us then to share why we believe, why we live the way we are. And so, that is the key, my loved ones, to this.

That's why it says in Matthew chapter 24, verse 14, that this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached to all the world as a what? As a witness, all right, to all nations, and then the end shall come. So, it is through our witness that this gospel of the world, which we know is Revelation chapter 14, verse 16, everlasting gospel, right, the three angels' message of Revelation chapter 14, verse 6 and 12. It says in Matthew 24 that that gospel of the world shall be preached as a witness, is that people are going to see what we believe. They're going to see it manifested in our daily lives.

And I think it's fascinating, if you want to join me in Revelation chapter 3 because it says something, it uses a quite unique phrase when it's talking about Jesus Christ. Revelation chapter 3, look at what it says here in verse number 14, Revelation 3:14. It also says it in Revelation chapter 1, verse 5 but here, I like how it says it. It says Revelation chapter 3:14, it tells us, "And the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write, 'These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness.'" It calls Jesus, Jesus says, "I am the faithful and true witness."

Now, the question is, what is Jesus the faithful and true witness of? My loved ones, Jesus is the faithful and true witness of the love of God, right, of the power of God, of the mercy of God, of the evidence, right? He is the evidence of the love of God, not that we love God, but that He loved us and He sent His Son. Jesus is the greatest manifestation, the greatest evidence of the love of God for humanity because He sent the greatest thing that He had, and that is Jesus Christ. And so, that's why He is the true and faithful witness because Jesus gives a perfect account of who God is, of His character, right, of what God wants to do in us and through us. And I think that's just beautiful when it ties into this concept of the powerful testimony, right, because what it's telling us is that we also are to give witness, right?

So, the question that I asked myself, myself is, am I a true and faithful witness? Because the implication is that if they're a true and faithful witness, then that must mean what? There must be false and unfaithful witnesses, and I want to make sure that I am being a true and faithful witness. And so, that's what the lesson is about this week. It was just a great lesson. And so, it's interesting because when we go into the lesson you would think, okay, so who are the first people that were sent out to work, right?

Who are the first people to send out to give witness and testimony to the love of God, to the power of God in this sense? And we probably think, oh, it must have been Peter, and Paul, or John, or some of the disciples. It's interesting because the first missionary that Christ sent out to do the work was who? Was the man possessed by demons. Join me please in Matthew chapter 5, Mark chapter 5, I'm sorry, Mark, chapter 5. And in Mark chapter 5, verse 15 forward, we have the story of the man that was possessed by a demon, right? And so, the story, if you've read it before, it's a horrific story. I mean, it says that the man, he was, he had a legion of demons that possessed him, and a legion is the estimate for a Roman army in that context is about 16--6,000 soldiers. So, this man was utterly, utterly possessed by demons, right? He was naked. I mean, it was just horrific.

And notice what it says in Matthew chapter--Mark chapter 5, I'm sorry, verse number 15. It says, "Then they came to Jesus and saw the one who had been demon possessed and had the legion, right, sitting and clothed in his right mind." So, notice the transformation. He was naked, he was tied. They tried to try to tie him down, right, but he would break the chains. He was sitting silently. That's another implication, sitting. This man was enraged, right? He was sitting and clothed in his right mind, right? That means he was at peace, right? He was sober. He was thoughtful. It says and they were afraid, and they--and those who saw it, who saw what? Who saw the transformation of this man that was demon possessed, told them how it happened to him who had been demon possessed, and about the swine. And then they began to plead with him to depart from the region.

So, these people are witnesses to this man that is demon possessed, right? They saw what he was. They saw the life that he was living before that as he was a slave to the devil. And it says, and when he got into the boat, he who had been demon possessed begged him, talking about Jesus, that he might, what? That he might be with him. Now, notice that this man wanted to be a disciple of Christ. This man wanted to follow Jesus Christ, right? But it's interesting that Christ did not let him, right? And so, the question is, why not? Well, it continues to say, however, Jesus does not permit him but said to him, "Go," right, "home to your friends and tell them what great things the Lord has done for you and how he has compassion on you," amen.

And this is just a beautiful statement because it says, first of all, he says what? Go, right? That means he was sent. That concept of going or sent is a divine commission in the sense of going as an ambassador would go, right? When a government commissions an ambassador to go represent this kingdom or this nation in a foreign land, what Jesus is telling him is that, "Go and represent Me," right? "Go and show others who I am. Go and speak of the kingdom that I am trying to establish in the hearts and in the minds of those that are around us. I want you to go to be an ambassador," right? So, he was a disciple in the sense of that he came to the feet of Christ, right? And I'm sure that it didn't stop here, his admiration, his following of Jesus. But in this context, Jesus gave him a very specific mission. He said, "Go." And notice what he says, "Tell them of the great things that the Lord has done for you," right?

We should be able, my loved ones, as Christians to give evidence to what God has done in our lives and not only what God has done, but what God is doing right now. We should be able, as this man who had a total transformation, right? Remember, everybody knew who this demon-possessed guy was, all the cities, all the towns in the area, right? It's known--it says here that the Decapolis, the ten cities, this Gentile region, they all knew who he was. They were afraid of this man. And it says, he said, "Go and tell them what you have done, for he has done compassion on you," amen?

This is beautiful, my loved ones, is that God has shown compassion, why? Because God has freed him from that bondage, from that slavery, from that demon-possessed driven life that he was. God had compassion, how? Because He sent His Son Jesus Christ. And Jesus, what did Jesus do? Jesus liberated that man from that situation and so the compassion of God, not only to send His Son, but the love of God through His Son Jesus Christ, to liberate that man from that time, my loved ones.

It was a powerful, powerful testimony. And Jesus doesn't say, "Come follow me." He says, "Go witness," right? "Go talk to others, go back to your city and give witness and testimony to the things that I have done." And so, it's believed that because of this Gentile region known as Decapolis, right, the Gentiles were there. There was a lot of prejudice towards the Jews and so what it says is that, what's understood is that this man went back to the city and he started to do what? He started to prepare the groundwork, right? I like to look at it in the concept of evangelism, right? You don't just show up in a city and start preaching, you have to start doing the groundwork, you have to start preparing the hearts and minds. In the same way that John the Baptist came to God's people and he prepared them for the coming of the Messiah, so Jesus also sent this man out to Decapolis, to do what? To prepare to tell, to witness to the compassion and to the love of God that was going to be manifested. And so, only he could have done it, right? You can't send the disciples, it would have probably not have gone too well.

So, Jesus understanding this, and it actually says in "Desire of Ages," that nine months later after this event, Jesus showed up in the region of Decapolis, and guess what. He started to preach and He was received and they started to listen to him. So, that's beautiful, my loved ones. And so, what was so special about this?

What was so beautiful about this, my loved ones, is the fact that this demon-possessed man, he was not a disciple of Christ. He was not walking with Christ. He was not living with Christ. He didn't have that advantage, like the disciples said, of seeing the character being developed little by little. He was just, at that very moment, freed from that which oppressed him, freed from that which was imposed on him by these demons. And so, this miraculous healing, this miraculous deliverance that Jesus Christ did was special because this man did not hesitate for a second, immediately, right?

And so, this is the indispensable ingredient, my loved ones, for witnessing is the changed life. It's the transformed life. And for that, we have to have a personal knowledge and understanding of who God is. I cannot give a witness or testimony to others about who God is if I don't know Him, right? I can't come--I would not be called to a trial to give witness or to give evidence to an event or to a person, if I don't know that person. That would be a great waste of time.

When they call somebody in as a witness is because they believe that there is credibility, right, that there is information, there is truth in this that this person is going to reveal to be able to clarify whatever situation that is happening in a courtroom. And that's what we're here on earth to do, my loved ones, we are here to give clarity to the world because there's a lot of confusion. Who is God? Is God good, right? Why does God permit all of these things happening? This is the great concept of theodicy, right?

Does God deserve to reign? Well, my loved ones, you and I, through our lives, are to give witness to this but for to be able to be effective, powerful witnesses, we have to have that one-on-one interaction with God. We have to have that one-on-one connection. I want you to join me to the Book of Psalms, a beautiful part of the Psalms that I just absolutely love it, it talks to this effect and I think it has--it's closely related to this demon-possessed man in the story of Mark chapter 15, in the story of Mark chapter 5, I'm sorry. Psalms chapter 40, if you're there, Psalms chapter 40, verse number 1, look at what it says here in Mark--Psalms Chapter 40, verse number 1, "I waited patiently for the Lord and he inclined to me and heard my cry," right?

This reminds me of when God's people were in Egypt. And it says, "And He brought me up out of the horrible pit, out of the miry clay." Now, in Spanish, I like how it says in Spanish, it says that he brought me up out of quicksand, right? Now, if you know the experience of quicksand, what happens if you caught in quicksand? It means that you're going to die, right? Unless something external happens, you're not going to be able to come out. The harder you try, the deeper you get dragged into it. And so, this is the concept of what is happening to us, right?

When we see what is happening in our lives, testimony of so many people that say, "You know what I have--I've lost everything," right? Like the disciples after Jesus Christ was murdered, they lost hope, right? They were like, "What are we going to do? We have nothing." They were afraid that they were going to--and that was the moment when they were ready, and they were ready to surrender completely. So, that's the experience that we're seeing here. There's no hope, there's no, there's nothing that can save us from the situation that we're in. And when we're talking spiritually, we're talking about the eternal death that is coming forth, right? There's nothing that can avoid that, but it says that, "As we cry to God," it says, "He brought me up. He took me out of that condition, out of that destiny that I was to die," and he says, "and out of my miry clay, and he set my feet upon a rock."

Now, who is the rock in the Bible? We know it's God. It's Jesus Christ, amen? So, you go from this condition of having of having no balance and being dragged in and drowning basically in sound--in sand, to now being placed upon a rock, amen? And it says, "He established my feet." In other words, what it means is He straightened my walk. Notice, my loved ones, that God, all we can do is cry out to God, and He drags us out of the bottomless pit. He drags us out of the quicksand that was going to be our death*. And He puts us on a rock and He straightens our steps. That's justification, sanctification perfectly explains, amen? And here's verse 3, here's where it gets beautiful. "And he put a new song in my mouth, praise to our God, many will see it and fear and will trust in the Lord."

Notice the response of this person is he's saying what? "I was dragging down. I was going down, I was going to die, and God saved me from that situation, and God put a new song in my mouth," amen. There are many people that can sing and have a beautiful voice, right, but there are not many people that can praise God. To praise God is to be able to sing, to give witness, to evidence to the beauty of God, to the power of God that He has been doing, that He has done in our lives and not only in the past, but as I mentioned already, also in the future.

And so, when we move on, it gives us another example through the lesson of this week in regards to Mary, right, Mary Magdalene and Mary Jesus's mother on that Resurrection Day. Join me please right there in the Book of Mark chapter 16. I want to share something with you. So again, it's talking about this personal testimony and now it's looking into Mark chapter 16. If you're there, go with me please to verse number 9. Mark chapter 16, verse number 9. Now, we know that they went to prepare, they went to embalm the body of Jesus Christ. It was Sunday morning, and as they go, it says in chapter 16 that they went and the angel tells them now He's not here anymore, for what? He has been resurrected. And look at what it says in verse--in Mark chapter 16, verse number 8. "So they went out quickly and fled from the tomb, for they trembled and were amazed," right? "And they said nothing to anyone for they were afraid."

Now verse number 9, "Now when He rose early on the first day of the week, He appeared first to Mary Magdalene out of whom we had cast," what? "Seven demons and she was--and she went and told those had been with him as they mourned and wept." Notice something, my loved ones. It says here that it's talking about Mary Magdalene, and it brings forth the fact that she had been--Jesus had cast out seven demons from this woman. Why do you think it brings up this concept? Why do you think it presents the casting out of the seven demons? Because I think it's looking back at the testimony, right, of that moment, that encounter that she had with Jesus Christ when she was freed again, right, from the seven demons that had her in prostitution, that had her living in a complete carnal way and completely ways I'm sure she was depressed. I'm sure she was not happy as most situations of people that are--that are succumbed in the--completely in the ways of the world, and so what happens is that it mentions that Jesus had saved her. That was her past testimony, but now she has what? She has more evidence to the power of God. She can testify to the past when Jesus Christ took those seven demons out, but now she is also, what? She is giving present, she is getting fresh manna coming out of that oven, fresh manna in regards to now not only has He saved me, but He has also resurrected, right, that our King, our Savior has been resurrected. And so, she's also giving testimony and witness of her past life and how that has helped her to be present for this new testimony, this new witness to the power of God when he resurrects Jesus Christ. And so, it says in verse 10, "She went and told those who had been with Him, and they mourned and wept. And when they heard that He was alive and had been seen by her, they did not believe."

So, it happens sometimes, my loved ones, when you're sharing your testimony, when you're giving your testimony, that some people might not be impressed. Don't worry about it. Our job is not to try to convince people, to convict people. That's the work of the Holy Spirit. Our job is to be a faithful and true witness to give evidence to the power of God that people can see that and that seed is going to be implanted in their heart and that's how they're going to be won over, my loved ones. And so, again, talking about this past, talking about Mary Magdalene in this sense, not only did she have a present testimony, a present evidence to the power of God, and she immediately, what did she do? She was so excited, she went to tell the disciples, thinking that they would be just as excited as they were, and they were actually afraid. But it's also pointing back to the past.

Why do I say this? I remember when I was starting off in the church, my church in New York City, Dyckman, and on Wednesday nights was known as prayer and testimony night, right, prayer and testimony night. And I remember that I would go to prayer and testimony night expecting to hear testimonies, right, just to hear evidence of the power of God manifested through the lives of my brothers and sisters of the church. And I remember that I would go there and all they would do would be giving prayer requests, and thanking God. And don't get me wrong, there's a time for a prayer requests, and there's a time for giving gratitude and thanks to God, but the purpose specifically of this service was to give testimony. And one thing that stood out to me is that people were not, very few people, very few people would actually be giving testimony.

I never forget that there was this older lady, right, God bless her, and every Wednesday night, she would give the same testimony I think it was for over 30 years. She would always raise her hand, and the elder would call on her, right? And she would come and say, "Oh, you know, 30 years ago, I had cancer, and God healed me from my cancer, and He saved me." And pray, and everybody would say amen because everybody knew because she would do the same thing. And I was just a new convert, right? I was just a baby in Christianity, and but everybody else knew already. It was kind of a joke of everybody that would go to Wednesday night testimonies, and she would give away the same testimony.

And here's my point, don't get me wrong, praise the Lord that God healed her 30 years ago, amen, and that she can continue to give witness to this. But we want to make sure that we have fresh manna coming out of that oven, amen? We want to--we're not going to be biting on old, stale bread from the past, which don't get me wrong, is powerful, right? But we want to make sure that the way that we give strength to that original miracle that God did, or strength to that original testimony that God may have done when He started that conversion process in us, is that we should be able to see fresh manna today, amen. We should be able to consistently be giving fresh evidence, fresh power, and that again only can come from a relationship with God.

When God told Abraham go, right, when God told Abraham what to do, it says that Abraham believed God. It didn't say that he believed in God. It says that he believed God, why? Because Abraham knew God. Abraham had a personal relationship with God. And so, when Abraham is going, following God, he's giving witness and evidence to, who? He's showing others by his obedience, by his surrender to God, and by God guiding him and protecting him. And not only Abraham, we know that all the patriarchs and throughout the Bible and throughout Christianity, right?

We see this evidence, and that comes from a personal relationship with God, again, that intimate relationship to where you can say, "You know what, I know this person," Right? Right now President Donald Trump, Donald Trump is our president, right? I can't say I know Donald Trump. I can say I know of Donald Trump, right, because I know who he is, but he doesn't know who I am, right? He doesn't know me, and I don't know him personally either. I can only go by what I see him say, right? But I don't have a personal relationship, so I cannot go and give account of this person, why? Because I don't know him. But when we know God, right, when we know God, not only do we know Him, but God knows us and God, when that happens with that relationship is that you are going to share God because when you know Him, you know the beauty, the character, you're going to tell other people, right? You tell other people about when they ask you for a reference, right, or referrals, that's just basically giving--asking for an account of the character of this person, and that's what we are to do, my loved ones. We are to share the character of God to others, to the world, to share this.

There's a beautiful quote in "Desire of Ages" that says, "Our confession of His faithfulness is heaven's chosen agency for revealing Christ to the world. We are to acknowledge his grace as made known through the holy men of old, but that which is most effectual is a testimony of our own personal experience. We are witnesses for God as we reveal in ourselves, the working of a power that is divine." It is something that is supernatural, right? It is something that has no human explanation, the power of God to change and transform us. That's why in 2 Corinthians chapter 3, verse 18 it says that when we're the unveiling the book, the mirror, right, the Word of God, it says, we are then transformed, right, from glory to glory. So, when we contemplate the glory of God, when we know God through His Word, as Jesus says, "You seek the Scriptures because you think in them, that you have everlasting life, but they are they which give testimony of me."

So, when we have that daily, intimate relationship with Christ, when we get to know Him, when we hear the promises and we see how those promises have been fulfilled in the lives of other people, and then we start to see those promises fulfilled in our lives, we can just, we just can glorify Him, right? Our minds are changed. That means our character, our paradigms, right, the way we think is changed, and we start to see God in a different light. And by seeing God in a different light, by knowing God in a different light, by having that relationship, the response, the immediate response, is to tell others about this peace, this joy, this freedom that you have experienced through the power of God.

And so, in the lesson, it also tells us about the Book of Acts, right? And so, really the Book of Acts if you really notice it, my loved ones, the Book of Acts is actually the book that witnesses to the power of the Holy Spirit in that sense, to the ministry of Jesus Christ, to the power of God, why? Because remember, these same disciples that were all cowards when they went to arrest Jesus Christ, and they all fled at that right moment, what happened to them, my loved ones? When you start to look through the Book of Acts, these men became powerful, powerful witnesses to what? To what God wanted to do. They became powerful witnesses to that evidence, and it gives us the example in Acts chapter 3 and chapter 4, right, about John, the Apostle John and Peter, when they healed the man that he was a paralytic, right, from his birth. And it says that after they were healed, it says, then they have to go before the courts and judges.

Go with me to Acts chapter 4. Go with me to Acts chapter 4 because I think this context is very, is very important in the sense of what they were doing and where they were giving witnesses, right? They had just healed this man, so this man is crying out to the world, right? It says he was leaping and jumping in Acts chapter 3. He was so excited, and they were there in the temple. And so, everybody was witnessing to this. And look at what it says in Acts chapter 4, verse 1. It says, "Then Jesus filled with the Holy Spirit returned from the Jordan--" I'm sorry, that's Luke. I'm sorry, Acts chapter 1, Acts chapter 1, chapter 4, verse number 1, here we go. Acts chapter 4, verse number 1, look at what it says. "Now as they spoke to the people, the priests, the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees came upon them, being greatly disturbed that they taught the people and preached in Jesus," what? "The resurrection of the dead."

Now, jump with me to verse number 5, "And it came to pass, on the next day, that their rulers, elders, and scribes, as well as Ananias the high priest, Caiaphas, John, and Alexander, and as many as were of the family of the high priest, were gathered together at Jerusalem," right? And what do they say? "And they asked them, 'By what power or by what name have you done this thing?' " So, notice that they're being presented here to the highest governmental authorities, religious authorities, of the region, right, of the people. You have the high priest, you have them there, and they're giving what? They're giving account of what? Of the testimony, of the witness of that man that was just healed, Peter and John are there doing what? They're giving account and saying what? This is the power of God.

Notice that they recognize that there was some power that was working in them, right? And so, they know that there's something interesting. Go with me to verse number 13. Watch what it says. "Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus." I know a lot of people sometimes they say, "Well, I can't give, I can't give a personal testimony. I don't have the eloquence as some speakers. I don't have the education. I don't have the credentials, right. I didn't study theology. I don't have like this background that other people say." Well, my loved ones, you don't have to worry about that because that's not the most important thing.

The most important thing, my loved ones, is a surrendered heart because that's what God wants to use. That's the power of the Holy Spirit. That's why he could not use the Pharisees and the priests of those times because, what? They were so educated, they were so--they thought they were so self-righteous in regards to everything that they knew that nobody can teach them. And so Jesus says, "I'm going to I'm going to pass you guys. I'm going to go to these men that I know are not going to hold on to their education, not going to hold on to their knowledge, not going to hold on to their position." Are going to what? "Are going to let me work."

And so, because they were uneducated and untrained, that gave even more power, right? Because they were--if you when you study the Book of Acts and the rest of the gospels, they were schooling, right, to the Pharisees and the doctors of the law in the same way that Jesus was. Right? That He wasn't--He didn't go to any rabbinical school, per se, in as the tradition would be. And so, this is a powerful testimony again, to what? To the power of God, God working with us.

Doesn't mean that it's not good to get an education, it doesn't mean that it's not good to get training. It doesn't mean that it's not good to learn, that's good. But that, if it's not surrendered to--if it's not given to a surrendered heart, to somebody that has completely given in to God, then it's not worth it. It actually becomes an impediment to the gospel. And so, this is the witness that they were giving in regards to that.

Look at what it says in verse number 14, "And seeing the man who had been healed standing with them, they could say nothing against it. But when they had commanded them to go aside out of the council, they conferred among themselves, saying, 'What shall we do to these men? For, indeed, that a notable miracle has been done through them is evident," Right, evidence, there it is, "testimony to the all who dwell in Jerusalem and you cannot deny it."

My loved ones, it is impossible to deny that evidence, the power of somebody that is speaking truth, somebody that is standing up for what is right, somebody, my loved ones, that is wanting to give a faithful account to clear the waters, my loved ones. And that's why it says in Acts chapter 4, verse 20, "For we cannot but speak to things which we have seen and heard." Notice they're saying, "We cannot stay quiet. We cannot stay quiet to wonderful things that God has done in us and the wonderful things that God is doing through us," my loved ones. And so, this is the witness. That's why it says in Acts chapter 1, Jesus says, "You shall be witnesses to all the world," right? You will be martyrs, basically what the Word is saying, "They will see that through your surrendered life, they will see that through your giving over that you have surrendered completely to me. I am going to work through you and people will see that manifestation," my loved ones, people will see that power, my loved one.

And so, it's only genuine, authentic Christianity, my loved ones, pure Christianity that can capture the attention of the times, my loved ones. Now there's so much chaos, now there's so much confusion, and, my loved ones, it is we think that we have to do, oh, we have to make our services interesting, we have to use this type of music, or we have to use this type of entertaining service. No, the gospel shall be preached through our testimony, says Jesus in Matthew 24:14. So, it's when people see genuine love, when they see the character of Christ in us, that is what's going to draw them in, that is what's going to bring them and they're going to see that and that's what's going to win the world over. It's not trying to impress people, it's trying to represent the character of God, it's trying to humbly go and share others and when you do, you cannot stay quiet, my loved ones, right?

It's like when you're in love, right? When you know when somebody is in love because you can tell there's something different about you, right? Your face is different, your expressions are different. Now all of a sudden, you're so happy, you're so glittery, you're changing your hair, you're whatever people are doing, right? You have a countenance and the person is also consistently speaking about that person, right? "Oh, because I just met somebody, and oh, this and that," right? And sometimes you're like "Ah, here we go again," right?

But in this context, in this state, my loved ones, no, it says the beauty of the gospel, right? It's that transformation that we can share with others. And again, here's the problem, my loved ones, the problem is is, what if I don't have anything to say? Well, if I don't have anything to say, if I'm not seeing fresh manna, if I don't have anything to share about God, my loved ones, then that means that there is some type of disconnect with God. And so, we want to make sure that we're connected with God always, that we're always seeking God, that we're always with him so that he can continue to, that power continue to flow consistently, not hold on to a 30-year-old testimony. Don't get me wrong, is great, but we want to see that that testimony has continued to grow and has continued to go deeper and deeper.

We want to--God wants that to be--He wants us to be the witnesses to His love and His power. And so, it's interesting because in the, in the study it talks about Acts chapter 6 when Paul is in front of King Agrippa, right? And we won't read the whole thing because of time, but in the lesson, it actually gives us, it breaks down Paul's testimony in three parts. It talks about Paul mentioned before he was, before he was a Christian. He talks about his encounter with Christ. And he then he talks about, and then he's giving evidence to his current life. And so, sometimes people come to me and they say, "You know what? I don't know how to give my testimony. How do I give my testimony in a quick way?"

I want to share with you something, a very simple way that you can prepare a short three-to-five-minute testimony that you can prepare because sometimes, you know, there are moments in life where you come across people, and you kind of have that desire to share what God has done. Try to reach that person, my loved ones. Well, you always want to have, you want to have a full testimony. You want to develop a full testimony, right, so that in some places, you go to a church, you go someplace where you have time, you can develop and talk to the love of God. But what about if you have a short time? And I don't want to take this last couple of minutes and share with you that we should follow the same pattern, but I want to add a fourth part.

So number one, before Christ, write a sentence, write in one sentence what God has done. What were you before God? Don't exaggerate sin, right? Don't give sin. Don't prop up sin, right? Just keep it basic.

Number two, how did you--what happened when you knew Christ, your conversion?

Number three, what happened after Christ, right, or what is God doing currently in your life?

And number four is, what are your expectations for the future?

One sentence, right, one sentence and I'll share mine very quickly with you. So number one, before Christ. Well, you know, my loved ones, before I came to Christ, I was living in all the ways of the world. I was following the ways of the flesh. I was doing all the wrong things, with all the wrong people, in all the wrong places, right, I was depressed, even suicidal.

Number two, but at that moment when I hit rock bottom is when I looked up and I gave God a chance. And I came and I let Jesus Christ come into my heart, and I started my relationship with him, my loved ones.

Number three, currently that testimony, it's been 12 years since I gave my life over to Jesus Christ, and my loved ones, I have never had so much joy, so much peace, so much desire to live so much purpose, so much reason, right? We're trying to point back to that past and to see how this is being transformed. I'm just sharing with you as I'm explaining to you, right? And so, we want to focus on what is your life now since that moment?

And number four, what is the future? You know what? I'm really looking forward to what God has for me, because I know this is just the beginning. There's so many things that need to be done, so many people that need to be reached, Christ. And so, I'm excited and waiting to see what plan God has for my life. Four simple points, four sentences, right? You can say I took a little bit longer because I was explaining in between, but that can be the power of your testimony in three, four, five minutes if you have to. If you have more time, amen, but you should be able to share.

And sometimes I come across Christians that say, "Oh, I was raised a Christian, right. I don't have this powerful testimony like a lot of people have that they were taken out of drugs, or they were gangs, or one of those things, or they were prostitutes. I don't have a witness like that." But you know what? Nobody is born a Christian. We might be born in a Christian family, right, but to be a Christian, you have to make decision and that decision has to be made. There has to be a moment in your life where you know that your life has been changed or transformed, right?

If we're seeing in our Christian walk, if we're seeing in our Christian life, that things are just the same, that nothing is changing, my loved ones, again, there's a problem there. There's a disconnect. We should be able, whether we came from the ways of the world or whether we come from Christian family, to give evidence, to give testimony, to the power of God, to show them, right? And I know lots of Christians that were raised in Christian families, and they talk about it. They said, "You know what? I was just going through the routine, I was this nominal Christian, I, no, no power whatsoever." And then it wasn't sometimes until they hit rock bottom that they hold on to that faith of their father's and then they give evidence and power to the testimony. So, you must have it, right?

You must have that connection, you must have that experience with God, to be able to testify and give witness, evidence of the love of God, you have to know Him, you have to relate to Him, you have to spend time with Him so that He can show His love, His grace, His mercy, his power to others.

And so, I invite you that if you don't have anything to say, if you don't have anything new to say really, right, then I invite you to say, "God, I want to be a powerful witness. I want to be a powerful testimony to others. I want others to see your love in me, your grace, your power. I want to be that instrument. I want to be that ambassador, and I want to go tell others and share others through my life, through my character, through my words, that they may see the power in you," my loved ones. And that's what it means, my loved ones, to live a life of testimony, a life of witnesses is that we have this connection with God, and we are sharing the love of God with others. And when that happens, it's attractive. It's winsome, it's beautiful, and people are going to be drawn in as they see our lives, as they see what God has done with us, and they're going to want to know more about the God that you and I serve.

So, I invite you to have that opportunity, my loved ones, to share. Spend that time, one-on-one time with God, which is the key to connection, prayer and study, daily devotional. And if you go with the attitude of wanting to know God, and wanting to share God, and wanting to have a deeper walk with him, you will see, I promise you, God because it's impossible for God to come into the life of somebody and for the person to stay the same. You are that instrument, you are that piece of evidence that God wants to present, so I invite you to ask for that. God bless you.

Announcer: Don't forget to request today's life-changing free resource. To get your copy of today's free gift, simply text the key word on your screen to 40544 or visit the web address shown on your screen. It's now easier than ever for you to study God's Word with Amazing Facts wherever and whenever you want, and most important, to share it with others.

Doug Batchelor: Friends, have you ever heard of the bowhead whale? This enormous leviathan is the second largest creature in the world. Dark and stocky, it roams the fertile arctic northern waters. These massive creatures can be more than 65 feet long and weigh more than 75 tons, that's heavier than the space shuttle. Yet in spite of their titanic size, they're able to leap entirely out of the water. Can you say belly flop?

The bowhead whale gets its name from its bow-shaped skull, and they've got one ginormous noggin. Matter of fact, their heads are about 40% of their body size, which comes in handy when you find out how they use their heads. They've got very thick skulls. Sometimes they get trapped under the surface, and they use their heads to ram the ice. They can break a breathing hole in the ice that is a foot-and-a-half thick. Friends, you have to just imagine what it would be like to be walking around on the Arctic ice and all of a sudden have the ground beneath you cracked and split and rise as one of these sea monsters pushes its head up to breathe for the first time in 90 minutes. Because bowheads make their home in the coldest part of our world, they have the thickest blubber of any whale. But this, plus their friendly and curious nature, made them prime targets when the European whalers discovered the bowheads. They hunted them nearly to extinction. Fortunately, because of conservation efforts, we've slowly seen their numbers begin to increase since the '60s.

One of the most amazing facts about the bowhead whale is its longevity. Scientists have discovered, by evaluating harpoon tips found in their skull and examining their eye tissue, there are bowhead whales out there that are probably over 200 years old. You realize that means there are bowhead whales swimming the oceans right now that were alive before Abraham Lincoln was elected president. Can you imagine that? Among the other amazing mega facts about the bowhead whale, is its mega mouth. They have the largest mouth of any in the animal kingdom, and when they open their pie hole full extended, it's large enough to park a medium-sized SUV inside. Yet in spite of the fact they've got such big mouths, they survive by eating the very smallest creatures in the ocean, plankton, krill, and other microscopic animals.

Friends, I'm always amazed by the creatures God has made. This bowhead whale is able to dive to the deepest oceans. They can break through the ice and move mountains with their head and completely leave the water and fly through the air, and yet they do all that by gaining strength from almost microscopic organisms, helps us remember that we survive through the little promises in God's Word. Jesus, when tempted by the devil, he quoted just a few little verses, and he sent the enemy running. You can also have that same durability and long life as the bowhead whale by trusting in God's Word and His promises.

Announcer: Amazing Facts, Changed Lives.

Male: I'd have to say that I had a wonderful childhood growing up. I went to a private school up until the seventh grade, till junior high. I believe it was at that point in junior high that my life began to change. Going from a Christian education into a public school was a big difference. There was a lot of secular influence, peer pressure. And for me it was the music. I started listening to heavy metal music. Every concert that would come to town, I was there. That had a profound effect on me. I started using marijuana, probably at the age of 14. I started drinking, using a lot of cocaine, and that led to methamphetamine, and that completely changed my life. I dropped out of high school my sophomore year and went to work. I would get off of work, and we'd go into the bar until two o'clock in the morning. I'd get back up at five and I'd go back through it again six, seven days a week.

At the age of 20, I lost my dad to a heart attack. I didn't know how to handle the loss, so I tried to mask my pain with alcohol and drugs. I got three DUI's in one year. I was arrested, and they gave me a year in the county jail. And the moment I got out, I went back to doing the same thing, hanging with the same people, the same crowd. I was involved in a hit-and-run motorcycle accident, and I was charged with a felony DUI. Even though at the time of the accident, I was not under the influence, I still had methamphetamine in my system. At my sentencing day, I left the courtroom, and I didn't come back, and that left me with a felony warrant. And I'd fallen asleep at a park, and I woke up to a park ranger knocking on my window. I knew I was wanted, and I knew that I was not gonna just turn myself in. I turned to him and I'd made the comment, "Not today," and I took off. I led five different agencies on about a 35-minute chase, and I realized at that point that I wasn't going to get away and that this was going to end up either me killing somebody or myself. And so, I made a decision to pull over.

At that point, everything that I had, I lost. I was sentenced to two years in state prison and it was there that God got a hold of me and it was through Amazing Facts Ministries. I remember listening on my radio Pastor Doug Batchelor. I wanted to get to know the Bible. I wanted to know God. And so, my Aunt Marilyn sent me the Amazing Fact study guides, and it was there that my relationship with Christ began. I had called home and I knew my mother wasn't doing well, but I didn't realize that she had cancer. She had about a 30% chance of making it through her surgery. She had told the doctors that she was not going to have chemo, and she was not going to have radiation, that if her God was going to save her, then He would save her.

I remember hanging up the phone to what I thought was my last conversation with my mom. I turned around, I got down on my knees, and I prayed to God. I said, "God, if you're there, please save my mother, and wherever you lead me in life, whatever you want me to do, I am yours." And I had a feeling of such peace that I knew that my mother was going to be okay and that my life was going to change.

There are no words that I can adequately express to Amazing Facts and to Pastor Doug to say thank you. To all those people who support the ministry, I am a product of your support. My life has changed because of this ministry, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

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