Sharing the Story of Jesus

Sharing the Story of Jesus

Scripture: 1 John 5:13
Date: 09/12/2020  Lesson: 11
If our witness about Jesus comes from a heart that has been transformed by His grace, charmed by His love, and amazed at His truth, others will be impressed with how the truth we believe has impacted our lives. Truth presented in the context of a changed life makes all the difference.

Heaven: Is It for Real? - Paper or Digital Download

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Doug Batchelor: Hi, friends, want to welcome you to our "Sabbath School Study Hour." And we know that we have people who are joining us from all over the world. I was thinking, just before we went on the air, that we've been doing these programs for over 20 years now, and broadcasting the "Sabbath School Study Hour," and as I travel around the world, I meet people everywhere, and they may not get it during the regular hours because of the differences in the time zones around the world, but at some point, either just before or during and sometimes even after the Sabbath, they tune in, and they join us for this Bible study. And we're so glad that you're part of our family.

We want to also welcome those of you who are a part of the Granite Bay Church Online members. And we know that there's many of you scattered around the world. You have no local church that you can attend. We're glad that you're studying the Word with us now. We're continuing through this really good lesson dealing with making friends for God. Talking about sharing our faith and being witnesses.

And today we're going to be in lesson number 11, but before we get to that, almost forgot we have a free offer that I know you're going to find encouraging, and it's called "Heaven: Is It for Real?" "Heaven: Is It for Real?" And if you want a free copy of this, all you've got to do, you can call, and the number to call, 866-788-3966. This is for North America. That's 866-Study-More, or you can also get this by downloading it. You can text it, and we'll send it to. You can read it right now. Here's what you do. If you know how to do texting with your phone, you can text "SH033" to 40544, and you can download and read this book, and I know you'll be encouraged by it. And pass it along to your friends. If you have no friends, then share it with your enemies. You're supposed to love them too.

So we're going to get into our study today, dealing with the subject of sharing the story of Jesus. We're in our study guide, talking about making friends for God, and we're in lesson 11, "Sharing the Story of Jesus." And we have a memory verse, and the memory verse comes to us from John 5, verse 13, and that says, "These things I've written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you might know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God." And so, hopefully, you've got that verse memorized. It's a wonderful one. "I've written that you might believe and know you have eternal life." God wants us to have confidence. We're going to be talking about that as one of the points in the lesson.

Now, when we're dealing with the subject of sharing the story of Jesus, really, it's talking about sharing our personal testimony, the most eloquent and powerful sermon that anyone can share. It doesn't matter if you're a pastor, teacher, evangelist. Every member, if you are a Christian, then you have had an experience with Christ, and he wants you to share that. Nothing's more powerful. People can argue with you if you've got a theological point or a verse, but, you know, they can't really argue with what you've experienced. They can try, I guess, but you say, "This is what my experience is, and it's touched my life."

Now, the basis of our experience--that's our first section we're talking about today--is Jesus, and we're directed to Ephesians chapter 2. Talks about, sort of, the before and the after of being converted, and you tell people about this testimony of this transformation. Ephesians 2, verses 1 through 10, "And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we were once conducted ourselves in the lusts of the flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath," saying what we were before, "just as the others. But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ--by grace you have been saved--and He raised us up together and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus,"

So you've gone from being dead, figuratively, dead in trespasses and sins, to being alive in heavenly places. That's a pretty radical transition. And he says, "heavenly places in Christ Jesus," now I'm in verse 7 of Ephesians chapter 2, "that in the ages to come that He might show the exceeding riches of the grace in His kindness towards us in Jesus Christ. For by grace you've been saved through faith, that not of yourselves. It is the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them."

And so he talks about those, our experience that we were dead. We're in prison, were on death row, waiting for judgment in trespasses and sins, and all of a sudden, now we are in heavenly places in Christ Jesus, walking in good works. And this is the story of just a radical transformation, a testimony.

Every believer needs to have a testimony. This is a sermon that every believer really can share--is what has the Lord done for you? Now, you'll notice a lot of examples in the Bible of people that had this experience. When Jesus saves someone, He often told them the first thing you're supposed to do is reach those in your neighborhood. Some folks say, you know, "After I become a Christian, I want to go be a pastor and do mission work overseas," and they've not brought anybody to the Lord in their own family or neighborhood or where they work. So when you start, you start at home. It's like the Lord said in Acts chapter 1, He said, "Wait in Jerusalem. You'll be endowed with power from on high," and this is verse 8. "You will be My witnesses, beginning in Jerusalem, then Judea, then Samaria, then the uttermost parts of the earth."

So you got this circle, like a target--just keeps getting wider. And you start at home, and Jerusalem is where the Holy Spirit fell, right there. And then you expand to the neighborhood Judea, and then Samaria. That might be where you work. Then goes on to the uttermost parts of the earth. So we should all begin to be involved in sharing our testimony.

Now, you remember that story--you find it in Matthew, Mark, and Luke--of the demoniac? Two gospels say "a" demoniac. I think Matthew says there were two demoniacs. There probably were two. One was more in the background and didn't do much speaking, so Luke and Mark record there was just one demoniac, and he is as lost as a person can be. I mean, you look at the condition of this man, and it says that he's running around in the mountains, naked, covered with chains, cutting himself, crying, angry, living in tombs, surrounded by pigs. He is the most perfect example--he's possessed by a legion of devils. He is the most lost--can you say he's the lost-est man in the Bible? And then he gets thoroughly cleansed and commissioned by Jesus, and the first thing he says is "Lord, I want to go with You."

Let me read this to you. Says, "I want to stay with You in the boat, Lord. I want to go with You and the disciples. Don't leave me here." And Jesus said, "Return," this is Luke 8:39, "return to your own house, and tell what great things God has done for you." Now, this is something--he was not a pastor, he was not an apostle. Every believer, if we've been saved, He says, "Now go home." That's the hardest place. "A prophet is not without honor, except in his own family, among his own kin." And, boy, if you can reach the people in your family that knew you in your lost, sinful condition, you can reach anybody, that's sometimes the toughest audience. And He says, "Return to your own house. Tell what great things God has done for you." And, listen, it says, "He went his way, and he proclaimed through the whole city the great things Jesus had done for him." He not only went to his house, he went to the whole city. They all knew about this demoniac that haunted the cemetery, and he told about what great things God had done for him.

Jesus wants us to tell others what He has done for us. You can read in Mark chapter 5, verse 32, this woman comes through the crowd. She's had a terrible medical condition where she's been hemorrhaging for 12 years, and she's spent everything, and she doesn't even get better. She only gets worse. And she suffered many things from many doctors, the Bible says, but then we read that, after she reaches out in faith and she touches the hem of Jesus' garment, she's made whole. She wants to quietly slip away, just rejoicing, but Jesus stops, and He says, "Who touched Me?" And you might think that's a mad thing for Him to say that day when He's being pressed and jostled on every side. And the reason He asked that question was not to mortify or humiliate that woman, but when you've experienced healing and salvation, He wants us to bear testimony.

He said, "Daughter," or so it says that "The woman, fearing and trembling," this is Mark 5:33. "The woman, fearing and trembling, knowing what had happened to her, she came down and fell before Jesus and told Him the whole truth. And He said to her, 'Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace, and be healed of your infirmity.'" Now, Jesus is surrounded by a crowd. Jesus knows everything. It wasn't for Jesus' benefit. It was for those who were there.

The reason the story is in the Bible is Christ said, "Wait, don't take off too soon. Bear testimony of what God did for you to these people here." That's why the apostles wrote it in the Bible because she gave her testimony. So if you've had--you know, I remember--we don't do it as much anymore. We need to do that more, you know, once we get through this pandemic--and "Amazing Facts" is, just, oh, we're just a few weeks away from moving in with the Granite Bay Church Community and being able to broadcast from inside the new facility.

Something we want to do that we used to do a lot more often is have testimony services where people at prayer meeting, or sometimes even church and Sabbath School, have one or two people get up and say, "What has the Lord done for you this week?" Give a testimony of what God has done, or "Someone has a new--there's a new conversion experience." Let them share that. Those are--it's such a great power for God to see that God is living and active in our daily lives of the miracles that we hear.

So he said, "Give testimony," and she did. In John 5:15, Jesus heals a man at--I think this is the Pool of Siloam. And after he's healed, it says, "The man departed, and he told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well." He wasn't snitching on Jesus. He is so excited. He said, "Oh, let me tell you, I know who it was that did this." Because he had met Jesus after the healing. He said, "It was Christ."

After Jesus has healed, after He's done a miracle, after He's set you free, He wants you to bear testimony. One more example I'll give you, and there's others I could share. Acts chapter 12, verse 16, Peter is in prison. He's on death row. He's going to be executed, and the Bible tells us that the first thing Peter does when he comes to his senses, and he says, "I realize that I've been delivered from death. I have been miraculously saved by God. I have had my chains broken."

See, this an analogy of salvation. It's a true story, but it's also--it's a metaphor. It's really an allegory of God saving us, and it says, "When he realized that, he went to the house of the church where they were praying for him. He knocked, they eventually opened the door. He motioned with his hand to keep silent. He declared to them how the Lord had brought him out of prison. So when he is saved from prison, when he is saved from his death sentence, he then goes, and he bears testimony of what God has done for him.

You'll find, when you look at the stories of healing in the Bible, there are so many examples where they come to Christ, they're saved by Christ, and then they tell somebody. And, you know, if you've been saved, it's hard to keep it to yourself. Have you told people? Are you sharing that God has done anything for you miraculously or that you've had a living experience, answered prayer? It's not just the one conversion story. It's, just, the miracles that God works for us in our lives all along the way.

You know, some of you maybe already heard this because I posted it on my Facebook. I'll give you a little testimony. This last week, just since last Sabbath, I went up into the hills to do some bulldozing work, and I actually ran two different bulldozers, one on our property up there where our cabin is, and then a friend has a ranch up in the Mendocino National Forest. Now, his ranch is completely surrounded by the Mendocino National Forest--and needed to do some bulldozing work and put in a waterline. So I was up there by myself and just had a great time working, but there were some serious lightning storms. We thought it was going to be really hot, and I was actually glad that the clouds came in, but there was some lightning storms which can be a danger up in the hills. And, well, you may have heard, subsequently, we are just riddled with fires now in Northern California, and it's through that array of thunderstorms that went through the country.

Well, I got done working that day, and I was just all covered with dirt. I thought, "I don't even want to get in my truck like this." You're driving a bulldozer in the dust, and at the end of the day, you take off your goggles and--see, I wear a mask doing that, not because of COVID, but because of the dust. Take off your mask and your goggles, and you look like a raccoon. And so I took my time, and I cleaned up, and I enjoyed the sundown and got in my truck, and I started driving, and it's normally at least two hours before you get off the dirt road to the pavement, and you can make your way down to Interstate 5, and it's a four-hour ride back to Sacramento, four and a half. And it's night now, and I'm seeing off in the distance these pink clouds. I think, "Those clouds shouldn't be pink, the sun has gone down." This is way past sunset time, and the pink clouds would be in the west, and these are pink clouds in the east.

I thought, "Oh, that's a fire." And I said, "Well, I should be able to make it through. That doesn't look like it's where I'm going." I'm looking at the little--my truck has got a compass that tells you when you're heading north. Said, "No, that's north, and I'm going east." And then I go around another turn, and now I see a fire burning on a hillside. It's a big--it looked like a big--example of burning ringworm on the hillside where all the forest is burnt out in a circle, and you could see the edges are all on fire, and it's kind of glowing in the middle, and all of the smoke's coming up. I said, "Oh, wow, that's closer."

I started taking a few pictures. And then I go a little further. I see the sky is orange on the other side. I think, "Oh, this is getting a little spooky." And then I get a text. There's almost no cell reception out there, but every now and then, you'll hit a spot and a text will go through. And I get a text from some friends that are in Covelo, and they say, "Doug, if you're up at Four Pines, if you're up in the forest, you can't come back on Highway 162. There's been a lightning strike, Capistran Ranch east of Short Creek. Eight thousand acres are burning, and the highway is closed." I said, "Oh, I hope I can get out of here because I can't get back."

And so I go around this other turn, and now I see the whole hill is on fire right up to the road. And I even took a few pictures, and it probably wasn't smart, but I said, "Wow, this is really something." There's nobody there fighting it. Nobody blocked the road, and I drove into a forest fire. And so I took a picture, and I thought, "Well, this is only burning on the downhill side of the road. I don't want to turn around because it's like six hours of driving compared to two." I'm only two hours away now. I had gone through most of the forest. I thought, "I don't want to turn around. It'll take forever to get home. I think I can get through."

And so I started driving, and pretty soon I saw the fire when I ran another turn. The fire is not just burning--I mean, it's a forest fire--downhill, but the wind's not blowing, so it's just going straight up, but now it's also burning uphill. And I said, "Oh, Doug, it's not worth killing yourself." So I turned around and drove quarter mile back, and I'm so depressed, I think, "I've got to backtrack, and how can I get back out again? The other road's on fire, there must be another way." And then, I think, "I think I can make it. I didn't go far enough," so I turned around again.

Now, I'm praying like crazy because I'm going, "Lord, what am I supposed to do? I don't want to die." And I was teasing my friends, I said, "I quit smoking 40 years ago, I don't want to start again," hah. So I turned around, I tried again to see if I could get through the road where the forest is on fire. And I think, "Maybe it's just a little space, and I can get a run at it and get through and, you know, my tires aren't burning or anything so," so I got through, and, yeah, the fire is burning now on both sides of the road, but what stopped me ultimately was it's nighttime, and the smoke covered the road, and you've probably tried to drive where the road's foggy and your headlights just white out the road. You can't see. And I thought, "Now I'm breathing smoke in the cab, and I can't see," and I think, "This is really, really dumb." And, yeah, I know, it was really dumb.

So I turned around. But now I got a problem is I don't know how to get out of the forest, and I see now there's at least four fires. It wasn't until the next day I realized there was, like, 25 fires, but I saw four of them. And so I'm thinking, "Now, Lord, what do I do?" I'm at night, I'm in the middle of the forest, there's fires all around me. I said, "I don't want to be a statistic." And I got out and actually videotaped a little bit. I thought, "You know, if they find my phone if it survives, they'll know what happened," hah.

But I got my GPS, and in my truck, I've got a GPS, and the satellite was still working. And I found that, oh, there is another forestry road halfway between Round Valley and Elk Creek, where I was heading, that goes two hours down to Upper Lake. I'd never been on it before, and it was an area that had already been burned the same year the Paradise fire burned. A big--it was the biggest forest fire in Northern California history in acreage. And so I went down there. I knew that wouldn't be burning because it's just burned.

And so I was able to get out after a long ride, but I was so thankful that I had that guidance. I was saved from the fire by following the map. That's my testimony. I've been saved from the fire by following the map, your GPS. So we all have live experiences every day. It might be a little thing like losing your keys and praying, and then voila, there they are. But we have testimonies, and we should be telling people what God has done for us, and, of course, not just in church, but telling unbelievers because this is what gives them faith in God.

So we covered the section where it talked about Jesus, the basis of our testimony. Let's go to the transformative power of the personal testimony. If you look in Mark chapter 3, verse 17, it says, "James the son of Zebedee and John, his brother, whom He gave the name Boanerges, that is, 'Sons of Thunder,'" the nickname of James and John was "Sons of Thunder" because they were, frankly, a little bit hotheaded. At least one example we've got of this, you can look in Luke chapter 54--oh, Luke 9, verse 54, rather. There aren't 54 chapters in Luke in case you're wondering. Luke 9, verse 54, "And then, when His disciples James and John saw that the Samaritans were not welcoming Jesus into their village, they said, 'Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, just like Elijah did?'" They said, "We got a Scripture for our wrath. Elijah did it." "But He turned and He rebuked them, and He said, 'You do not know what manner of spirit you are of. The Son of Man did not come to destroy men's lives but to save them.' And they went to another village."

So James and John were actually ready. If Jesus had given them thumbs up, they were going to pray for fire to come down from heaven and burn up a village. Wow, they had tempers, Sons of Thunder. But you know what happened? When you think of the apostle who is known as "the apostle of love," who do you think of? Most people would say, "Well, John." Do you know that, if you look at the gospel of John and the letters of John, those three letters of John, the word "love" is mentioned 110 times, way more, probably more than all the other gospels put together. John was definitely the apostle of love. The central theme of his letters and even his gospel is the love of God. John is the one who says, "God is love. He melts down who--what the quintessence of God is--is love. What happened? How did he go from "Son of Thunder," this hotheaded apostle, to a God of love?

You know, there's an interesting quote you can read in the book "Acts of the Apostles," and this is page 557: "In the life of the disciple John, true sanctification is exemplified. During the years of his close association with Christ, he was often warned and cautioned by the Savior, and these reproofs he accepted. As a character of the Divine One was manifested to him, John saw his own deficiencies, and he was humbled by the revelation. Day by day, in contrast with his own violent spirit, he beheld the tenderness and forbearance of Jesus. He heard the lessons of humility and patience. Day by day his heart was drawn out to Christ, until he lost sight of self in love for his Master. The power and the tenderness, the majesty, the meekness, the strength, the patience, that he saw daily in the life of the Son of God, filled his soul with admiration. He yielded his resentful, ambitious temper to the molding power of Christ, and divine love wrought in him a transformation of character."

That's a conversion. "By beholding, we are changed," the Bible says, and through daily constant association with Christ, by looking at Jesus, he was being changed, and it's still true that you're changed by beholding. You end up becoming like the people you hang out with. It's true. You know, after people are married long enough, they start acting and looking like each other. I've heard people even start looking like their pets after a while, or their pets start looking like their masters. But we are changed by beholding.

And, you know, a lot of the little sayings and quips and words that I speak are because that's the kind of language my friends used, and so you pick up a little here and a little there. The more time you spend with Jesus, the more like Christ you become. You know that song "Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus"? And as we're looking at Him, we're transformed.

Luke chapter 5, verse 8: "When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus's knees." Now, this is the story in the Bible where it tells us that they fished all night, and they caught nothing. Jesus said, "Push out your boat and let down your nets," and Peter said, "Oh, Lord, we're not going to catch anything." But he obeyed, and their nets were full to overflowing. It filled the nets of both boats. Took both boats to handle the catch. Peter saw this was the biggest fishing miracle he'd ever seen, and "He fell down at Jesus' knees, and he said, 'Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.' For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish which they had taken. So also were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said, 'Do not be afraid. Follow Me, and you'll catch men.'"

Peter is confessing, "I am a sinful man." And even Jesus said to Peter, "Peter, you're on the verge, the threshold of being lost because you're not fully converted." He said, "Satan has prayed for you that he might sift you like wheat. He wants to sift you like wheat, but I've prayed for you that your faith may not fail, and when you are converted, strengthen the brethren." Peter realized he was sinful, but through association with Jesus--and Jesus said, "Peter, do you love Me? Do you love Me, do you love Me?" And he was thoroughly converted after the cross, and he became one of the boldest of the disciples. And so we're transformed by the power of Christ.

All right, next section here is called "Telling the Story of Jesus." In John 1, verse 38, you can read where it says that--this is in the very beginning of the gospel of John. There are some operative words that I want you to notice: "Then Jesus turned, and seeing them follow Him, said, 'What do you seek?' And they said, 'Rabbi,'" which is to be translated, 'Teacher,' "where are you staying?" This is after John the Baptist had pronounced, "Behold, Jesus is the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world." And these two disciples are following, and he said, "'What are you looking for?' And 'Where are You staying?' Jesus says to them--notice the words--'Come and see. Come and see for yourself. You must have an experience yourself. I'm not just going to tell you. I'm going to show you.'"

You see the difference? "'But you've got to come to me in order to see.' And one of the two who heard John speak, and followed Him, was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother. He first found his own brother Simon, and said--he found Peter, 'We have found the Messiah,' which is translated the Christ." You notice, right after he finds Jesus, he finds somebody else to tell. And when we find Christ, we are so excited, we've got to tell somebody. Who does he start with? His own family. There you have it again. "And he brought him to Jesus. Now when Jesus looked at him, He said, 'You are Simon the son of Jonah. You will be called Cephas,' which is translated, 'a piece of rock' or a stone."

Then you go to John chapter 1, verse 45: "Philip then finds Nathanael and says, 'We have found Him of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, wrote--'" Now, you know, they're talking about the Messiah. Moses in the law, and the prophets all talked about Jesus. And he's wondering who it is. "'Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.' 'Of Nazareth?' And Nathanael says, 'Nazareth?'" That was like, you know, saying, "Jesus of Las Vegas." It was a town of ill repute. "And he said, 'Can anything good come out of Nazareth?'" Well, he doesn't argue with him. "He says, 'Come and see, come and see.'"

Now, he is repeating--see, he heard Jesus say, "Come and see." So he now takes the teaching and example of Christ. He uses those same words to share his testimony. So the best place for us to go to know how to share our testimony is look at how Jesus shared. Look at how he talked to Nicodemus. Look how he talked to the woman at the well. And through beholding, we become changed. "Come and see." And it is true that, if we come to Jesus, we see.

Some of you remember the story of blind Bartimaeus. He was there on the roadside. Mark chapter 10, Jesus was going through Jericho, and Bartimaeus is jumping up and down and saying he's blind. "Son of David, have mercy on me. Son of David, have mercy on me." They told him to be quiet, but he would not be quiet. So he called and shouted for help even more. He's praying out loud. Finally, Jesus stops, and he says, "Come, bring him to Me." He came to Jesus, and his eyes were opened. We come to Jesus, and then we see. One of the things that happens, like Paul, when he repented and he came to Christ, then the scales fell from his eyes.

We come to Christ, and then we see. You're never going to see clearly. Some people say, "I just don't see it." It's because you're not converted. Spiritual things are spiritually discerned, but if you come to Christ and surrender, you'll have a testimony. You look at John chapter 4, verse 28, the woman at the well. Jesus says--she says, "We know that when Messiah comes, He will tell us all things." Said, "Woman, I who speak to you am He." He told her something that He did not even tell His own people, but He plainly tells the Samaritan woman, "I am the Messiah." Her mouth fell open, and her eyes got big. She dropped her water pot there by the edge of the well. She didn't even get any water. And the first thing she had to do is, when she met the Messiah, she had to go, she had to go tell everyone.

Now notice what she says. And you read in John 4:28, "The woman left her water pot. She went her way into the city, and she said, 'Come and see a man--'" You notice there's no theological argument? She says, "You come and see for yourself. Come and see a man who told me all things that ever I did. Could this be the Christ?" She doesn't say, "Oh, this is the Christ. I'm going to tell you." She said, "You need to find out yourself. If I'm right, you ought to come and explore it. Study it." "Then they went out of the city, and they came to Him." Through her invitation, they came for themselves.

Notice how this happens then. First, they come because of her testimony. And then you go to chapter 4, verse 39: "And many of the Samaritans of that city believed in Him because of the word that the Samaritan woman testified, 'He told me all things ever I did.' So when the Samaritans had come to Him, they urged Him to stay with them, and He stayed with them two days. And many more believed because of His own word," because of what Jesus said, not just the testimony of the woman, but now they've heard Jesus themselves. "Then they said to the woman, 'Now we believe, not because of what you said, for we ourselves have heard him and know that indeed this is the Christ, the Savior of the world.'"

Now, this is how it works. We, through our testimony, we have a part to play in ultimately bringing them to Christ so they have their own experience in hearing the Word. What she had to do is simply get them to Jesus so they heard the word of Jesus. This is what happened if you bring a person to a Bible study. It can't always be you talking. They've got to hear the Lord speaking to them. So it begins with your testimony of what He's done for you, and then you say, "Now you need to hear God's Word to you." And as a result, they said, "Now it's not just your testimony. We've heard Him for ourself, and we believe that He is the Christ."

That's how the testimony, witnessing, evangelism process works. Acts 21, and you can read here in--there's several times in the Bible you'll notice the apostle Paul shares his testimony. In fact, I don't know that Paul realized right away how powerful his testimony was. I know I didn't. When I first came to the Lord, I was trying to convince everybody with doctrine, and it wasn't until people started asking me "Well, so how did you learn these things?" And I told them my testimony. They said, "Oh, that's quite a story."

I really--it wasn't until--matter of fact, some of you read the caveman book. I was a Christian for years before someone persuaded me that that was worth writing into a book. I didn't know that there was power in the testimony, and now there's been, like, nearly a million in various languages and English that have gone out there. People want to know, "How did the Lord reach you?" But I always wanted to argue the particular points of doctrine with people.

Just tell them, what did He do for you? And is there evidence that your life has been changed? Paul realized that, and you can see several places, when Paul has a crowd, he starts with his testimony. Notice Acts 21, Paul's just about being beat to death by this Jewish mob in the temple. He's rescued by a Roman guard. He asks the Roman guard as they're bringing him up the steps, he says, "Can I talk to the people?" And he said, "Oh, you speak Hebrew? You speak," he said, "Yeah." "I didn't know, I thought you were this Egyptian." He said, "No, let me speak to them."

"So he stood on the stairs," this is Acts 21:40. "He stood on the stairs. He motioned with his hand to the people. Then there's a great silence. He spoke to them in the Hebrew language, saying, 'Brethren and fathers, hear my defense before you now.' When they heard that He spoke to them in the Hebrew, they kept all the more silent. He said, 'I am indeed a Jew, born of Tarsus, a city of Cilicia, brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel.' He's saying, 'I can relate to you. I was taught by one of the greatest Jewish teachers, taught according to the strictness of our fathers' law, and was zealous towards God as you all are today. I persecuted this way,'" meaning Christianity, "to the death, binding and delivering into prison both men and women, and also the high priest bear me witness, and all the council of the elders, from whom I also received letters. They're the ones that gave me letters to go arrest Christians. And I went to Damascus to bring in chains even those who were there to Jerusalem to be punished.

Now it happened, as I journeyed--" He said, "Look, I was a complete enemy of Christians, but the Lord got my attention." He says, "As I journeyed, I came near Damascus about noon. Suddenly, a great light from heaven shone around me." Well, this has got to be a light brighter than the sun because it's noon. "And I fell to the ground, and I heard a voice saying, 'Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?' And I answered, 'Who are You, Lord?' He said, "I am Jesus of Nazareth, who you are persecuting." '"

And so he's sharing his testimony, and it gets real quiet in the crowd when he's doing that. He's saying, "I had a divine revelation just like the ancient prophets. I've got a message for you because I've got this personal conversion experience. Like Isaiah saw the Lord, I saw the Lord." And then you not only have it there, you go to Acts chapter 26. Now, don't forget, you've got the story. Luke is sharing the testimony of Paul in Acts chapter 9. Now you've got Paul sharing his testimony in Acts chapter 21, then again in Acts chapter 26, verse 6. He's now standing before Felix.

"And now I stand, and I'm judged for the hope of the promise made by God to our fathers. To this promise our 12 tribes, earnestly serving God night and day, hope to attain. For this hope's sake, King Agrippa, I am accused by the Jews. Why should it be thought incredible to you that God raised the dead? Indeed, I myself thought I must do many things contrary to the name of Jesus. This I also did in Jerusalem, and many of the saints I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests, and when they were put to death, I cast," and you notice he doesn't say, "when he." It's not just "he." He says, "when they." There was more than one that he was responsible for.

"When they were put to death, I cast my vote against them. And I punished them often in every synagogue--" By the way, do you know why Paul went to synagogues to punish Christians? Because Christians were still worshiping on Sabbath. Have you thought about that? "--and compelled them to blaspheme. Being exceedingly enraged against them, I persecuted them even to foreign cities," meaning Damascus. "While thus occupied, as I journeyed to Damascus with authority and a commission from the chief priests, at midday, O king, along the road I saw a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, shining around me and those who journeyed with me. And when all had fallen to the ground, I heard a voice speaking to me, saying in the Hebrew language, 'Saul, Saul,'" notice God speaks to him in his own language, "'why are you persecuting Me? Is It hard for you to kick against the goads?' So I said, 'Who are You, Lord?' He said, 'I am Jesus, who you are persecuting.'"

So Paul is sharing--and I said that Felix, he also shared with Felix. This one was with Agrippa. And he also shares it in his letters in different ways. His testimony was often part of his preaching. As he went from one synagogue to another, Paul realized the power of a testimony. 2 Corinthians 11, verse 23, "Are they ministers of Christ? --I speak as a fool--I am more: in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequently, in deaths often. From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I've been in the deep. In journeys," he's telling his "caught in the forest fire" stories, see? "In journeys of the deep, in perils by my own countrymen--"

So not only did Paul tell his conversion story, he's now telling the experiences that God has delivered him through while he's a Christian. So sharing your testimony is not just sharing the story of how you were converted. You know, that can get pretty dry. If you can only get up one time in your church in a testimony service and tell how you were saved, you should be able to get up frequently and tell how God is continuing to act in your life. You've got a fresh experience. Some of us, our testimonies are pretty stale because we keep saying the same thing. We have no fresh experience. You ought to have fresh experiences in the Lord and evidence of His mercies and His salvation.

So he tells them, "In weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness, besides all these things, what comes upon me daily: My deep concern for all the churches." And this is just one example. There's several times in the writings of Paul, who wrote almost half the New Testament, where he shares what he's going through personally. There's a testimony of his being delivered through a great shipwreck. There's a testimony of Paul being delivered by a snake bite. There's a testimony of his being risen from the dead after being stoned. I mean, Paul's got some great testimonies of God's continuing power and mercy in his life, and you should too.

All right, next section, "Testifying with assurance." Now, this is a--wooh. You know, I think sometimes Christians, Adventists, in particular, are caught between a rock and a hard place. We want to avoid bragging as though, "Once you're saved, you can't be lost." And when you say, if someone says to a Christian, "Are you saved?" you've got to say, "Well, does that mean I believe 'Once saved, always saved,' or does it mean I believe that God has entered my life and saved me?" Can a Christian have assurance of salvation and believe they are in a saved condition? Let's read what the Bible says. Now, this does not mean you believe "Once saved, always saved." 1 John 5:11-13, "And this is the testimony: That God has given us eternal life, has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He that has the Son has life."

If you've got Jesus, you've got life. "He that does not have the Son does not have life. These things I've written to you that believe in the name of the Son of God, if you believe, that you may know that you have eternal life."

Can you know that you have eternal life? What did I just read? It's not my word, it's what the apostle says. If you believe, Jesus said, "Whosoever believes in Him will not perish, but have everlasting life." So we can have assurance.

Now, the reason I say that is, I think, many, our testimonies are handicapped because we don't seem to exude much confidence that God is saving us. We don't act like we're interested in heaven, that we believe heaven is for us or that it's our home. If we lived always in fear, if we're always apprehensive, "Oh, I wonder if I'm going to make it?" people aren't going to want your religion. The Gospel is supposed to be good news. The Gospel is not doubt, the Gospel is faith. And so I think that one of the most powerful things we can do is to let people know that we do have faith that Jesus came into our lives and that He saved us and that we have been transferred from sickness to health, from death to life, from prison to freedom, and there's a dramatic conversion and that He's going to finish the work He started in your life.

It doesn't mean you're believing that once you're saved, you can't be lost, but if you have been saved, believe that, if you don't let go of the Lord, He will never let go of you. That's the promise. We should be able to have that kind of assurance.

Here's a few other verses: Hebrews chapter 10, verse 19, "Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and a living way He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart," notice, "in full assurance of faith." If we have faith, if Jesus had enough power in His blood as efficacious enough to save the whole world from sin, does He have enough to save us? Why would we doubt He wants to save us? "Having full assurance--" how much assurance? "Full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water."

Just because you continue to be tempted every day does not mean you're saved. Every Christian is tempted every day. You don't have to give in to temptation, but it's not a sin to be tempted. Jesus was tempted. I think we need to have more confidence and more assurance as Christians, and that'll be a great encouragement in your testimony. Look at Hebrews 3, verse 6: "But Christ as a Son over His own house, whose house we are if we hold fast the confidence--" We need to have confidence and hang on to that, "and the rejoicing of the hope firm in the end."

One reason some Christians don't rejoice very much is they constantly live in doubt, and if we believe that we're saved, we should be rejoicing. Now, some people are afraid to share their testimonies because they think, "I just don't know how."

By the way, this is a great place--please forgive me for a little shameless promotion, but "Amazing Facts," especially if you're among the millions around the world right now that are kind of locked at home, and you can't work, we have a course. It's our AFCOE Online program that teaches people--one of the segments teaches people how do you share your personal testimony. Goes through the science and examples and illustrations of how do you share your testimony, and I wish we had more time for that, but you can just take a look at the AFCOE, A-F-C-O-E, dot com, or dot org, and it'll tell you about how you can learn how to do this.

Moses, when he was called by the Lord, Exodus 4, verse 10, he said, "O, my Lord, I'm not an eloquent man, neither before nor since You've spoken to Your servant. I'm slow of speech and slow of tongue." Keep in mind, Moses had not spoke Egyptian in 40 years, and you get rusty. And he said, "You don't want me." He was called the meekest man in all the world. Says, "I'm supposed to go and talk to the Pharaoh?" And the Lord said, "Who has made man's mouth? Or who makes the mute, the deaf, the seeing, or the blind? Have not I, the Lord? Now therefore, go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall say."

You know, when I felt the Lord was calling me to go and to be a preacher, hah, you know, I lived in a cave. I would go days without talking to anybody. I was not eloquent by any means, and I remember I would really struggle sometimes to share my faith. And, you know, one of the things that actually helped me that brought about my--helped me get into ministry is I worked with the Heritage Singers for about a year and a half, off and on, and this was very early on before I was a pastor. They would have me go. They have heard my testimony. They said, "You want to share your testimony?" I didn't even have a book back then.

And, the first time, I remember getting up in Spokane to share my testimony, and there was, like, a couple thousand people there, at least it seemed that way. I was so scared. My hands were sweating, and my knees were knocking, and I was shaking, and my mouth went dry, and I walked out there to try to croak out my testimony, and I struggled through, and I got it out, and folks were pretty receptive. And the people in the group were real encouraging, and so I did it the next night. It got a little easier. And I knew I was just stumbling over my words, but then, the next night, it got a little easier because four or five nights a week they did concerts, and I had to practice public speaking till, pretty soon, I wasn't worried about it anymore, and I think, frankly, my speech got better.

Not only that, I have a lisp--I know it--but it's not bad now. It was really bad before, and the Lord helped me with that. For one thing, I had to get braces, and I had to try so hard to talk. I was preaching in New Mexico, pastoring a Navajo congregation, and I had to talk with braces on, plus a lisp, and it kind of taught me to overcome a lot of that. And so, when I read about Moses and Jeremiah--I haven't even read Jeremiah to you yet. Jeremiah 1:6: "Then I said, 'Ah, Lord God, I don't know how to speak. I'm only a youth.' And the Lord said to me: 'Do not say, "I'm only a youth," for to all whom I send you, you will go. Whatever I command you, you will speak. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you.'"

You know, you don't have to be eloquent. Amos said, "I'm not a prophet or the son of a prophet. I am a gatherer of summer fig fruit," and he said, "God could use a shepherd." You know, "God can use a farmer. God can use a fisherman, and He can teach you." You know, look at Peter, one of the greatest preachers in the world. He was a crude, cursing fisherman at one time. So don't say, "Lord, I can't do it." If you say, "Lord, I'm willing to be used," He will equip you. He'll train you. It may not happen overnight. It might happen miraculously. Isaiah said, "Lord, I'm a man of unclean lips. How can I preach and teach and share my testimony?" God took a coal from His altar and touched his lips, and then He said, "Who will go forth, and who will I send?" And Isaiah said, "Send me."

And, of course, you got one of the great prophets of the Old Testament, and they all said--Moses, Jeremiah, Isaiah-- "I can't speak." And so don't make excuses and say, "Oh, God can't use me," or "I'm afraid." You say, "Lord, I'm going to try." You step out in faith, and God will give you the words. He'll empower you. He'll help you get better and overcome your handicaps in public speaking or in--not even public speaking--just sharing your testimony with somebody.

And then, finally, last section, we want to have something worth talking about. Psalm 107, verse 2: "Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom he has redeemed." If you've been redeemed, say so. John 10, verse 10, Jesus said, "The thief does not come except to steal, kill, and destroy. But I've come that they might have life more abundantly." Tell others about your abundant life, and show them you've got that joy. Let them see that you have been converted and that you now have the fruits of the Spirit.

Well, I've run out of time. I got through most of the lesson, friends. I want to remind you about our free offer just before we go off the air. It's a book called "Heaven: Is It for Real?" This is for you for free. If you'd like a copy in North America, you can call. That's 866-788-3966. That's 866-Study-More, and you can download this book and be encouraged right now. Do it. All you have to do is text. You text "SH033" to 40544, and you'll get the information how to link that. God bless you, friends, and we'll look forward to studying His Word with you again next week.

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Announcer: Multimillions have been infected, and thousands have died. Race riots are rampant. Is this what the end of the world looks like?

Doug: Hi, friends, this is Pastor Doug Batchelor. You know, the Bible talks about a global crisis at the end of time, and the book of Revelation clearly describes what's ahead. I'd like to invite you to watch "Revelation Now!" where I'll be explaining the relevance of Bible prophecy for today.

Announcer: Beginning October 23, visit revelationnow.com.

Male: I grew up in a church-going family. I mean, we were at every meeting. I sang in four of the choirs there. I directed three. Very involved, very active. It almost seemed like busy work sometimes. You know, I went to Sunday school. I knew about God. I knew about Jesus, but I didn't have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

My senior year in high school, I got the news that my father had been murdered. I played it off well. No one really saw that I was struggling with it. It just really felt like there was a hole that needed to be filled, and I tried to fill it with drugs, with alcohol, with partying. After college, I just stopped going to church altogether.

One day, on a Sunday, because I didn't feel like going to church with my mom, I thought, you know, I should get a little bit of Word. She had the satellite system hooked up, and I'm flipping through channels, and then the logo pops across, "Amazing Facts Presents." I've listened to a lot of different ministers, but, here, this was the first time that he's actually saying something where I had to grab my Bible and actually pick it up, and "I've never heard this before. Let me look through and find this."

I went through all the Storacles. I went through all the study guides, and I just couldn't get enough. And then the Sabbath came up, and he's going through the appeal and I'm just going, "Lord, I hear you. I have to go to church." So I show up. It was funny. I didn't feel like I was going to be judged, anything judgmental--anything. And I walked in the door, and I just felt at home, but there's still a problem: I'm still partying. I was still going out to the bars. At this time, I was selling cocaine to pay my rent.

Sixteen days later, I find myself in a life-or-death situation. I just came back from a liquor store, and I grabbed a bottle of vodka. And there I am, high off cocaine with my Bible in hand, trying to do a Bible study, and I heard an audible voice, "Just look at yourself." And I did, and I was like, "What am I doing?" And I got on my knees, and I said, "Lord, if you do not take this away from me now, I'm going to kill myself." I was going to continue this lifestyle, and I was going to end up overdosing, having a heart attack, whatever it was. "You have to take this away--all of it." And that day, he lifted all of it away from me. It was all gone. When God does something in your life, he does it complete.

Doug: 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 crack 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.

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