Monday, April 21, 2014

Knowing by Witness

         Jesus Christ is risen from the dead. We rejoice in this day above all others for in it, the Lord gained the victory over sin and death. We rise with Him on this day, having had our sins nailed to the cross and being raised and justified in the Resurrection of our Lord.
         We know these things to be true for we have read them in the Word of God and have received in ourselves the testimony of the Holy Spirit.
         But it is not simply a subjective knowledge that we possess. We have made a connection to God and we are sure of this but our certainty is not from ourselves. We have put our faith in the authority and the experience of others.
         Granted, we could not even do that if the Lord had not freely given us His Spirit whereby we see and hear the things of God. It is true that these things are spiritually discerned. But we sometimes make our knowledge too difficult to obtain. If we cannot fully realize the truth in our own minds by the direct inspiration of the Holy Spirit, then we simply will not be convinced.
         But there is a simpler and more reliable way than trying to figure out the subtle movements of the Spirit in our own hearts. The way that God has given us to know is through witnesses, what the Bible calls martyrs. Martyrs are simply those who witness for the faith. That word has come to mean those who die in their belief and testimony to the truth of Christ. This is fine but originally the word simply meant those who witness the truth.
         In the passage from John 20 about Easter morning, there are several immediate witnesses to the Resurrection. They have different responses to what has happened. I want to take a look at those responses and then consider how we respond to the Resurrection of our Lord.
         I’ve entitled this sermon four martyrs. Martyrs are not simply those who die for their faith in Christ, but also those who witness to the truth of Christ’s death and resurrection. In this sense, we are all martyrs. We may not have the opportunity to witness unto death but we will all have the opportunity to die to self in witnessing for Christ. Will we stake our lives and faith on the Resurrection of Jesus Christ or will we make peace with Christ’s enemies, refusing to upset them, afraid of their persecution, cowed by their seeming authority, even refusing to save them by proclamation of the truth?

         We must choose to be bold witnesses of the truth of Jesus. We do this foremost in recognizing that He is indeed Lord, that He died because men are sinners, that He was innocent of any crimes and thus the Father vindicated Him in His death and raised Him from the dead. Furthermore, we embrace the truth that He did this not only for us but for all His people everywhere, whoever will hear and submit themselves to the Lord Jesus. This is good news. This is life.

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