In order to learn how to discharge our duty as a witness for Christ, let's look at His example. He's always witnessing: by the well of Samaria, or in the Temple of Jerusalem: by the lake of Gennesaret, or on the mountain's brow. He's witnessing night and day; His mighty prayers are as vocal to God as His daily services. He witnesses under all circumstances; Scribes and Pharisees cannot shut His mouth; even before Pilate, He witnesses a good confession. He witnesses so clearly, and distinctly that there's no mistake in Him. Let's make our life a clear testimony. Let's be as the brook wherein we may see every stone at the bottom----not as the muddy creek, of which we only see the surface---but clear and transparent, so that our heart's love to God and man may be visible to all. We need not say, "I am true:" Let's just be true! No need (or benefit) to boast of integrity, let's just be upright. Our testimony will be such that men cannot help seeing it. Let's never, for fear of feeble man, restrain our witness. Our lips have been warmed with "a coal from off the altar"; let's let them speak as like heaven-touched lips should do. "In the morning sow thy seed, and in the evening withhold not thine hand." Let's not "watch the clouds", or "consult the wind"---"in season and out of season" let's witness for the Saviour, and if it shall come to pass that for Christ's sake and the gospel's, we shall endure suffering in any shape, let's shrink not, but let's rejoice in the honour thus conferred upon us, that we're counted worthy to suffer with our Lord; and joy also in this---that our sufferings, our losses, and persecutions shall make us "a platform", from which the more vigorously and with greater power we shall witness for Christ Jesus. Let's study our great Exemplar, and be filled with His Spirit. Let's remember that we need much teaching, much upholding, much grace, and much humility, if ourwitnessing is to be to our Master's glory.
Imitation...A Form Of Praise
(15) I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. (16) So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. (17) Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: (18) I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. (19) As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. (20) Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.
We are, to a great measure, victims of an age that's certainly not apathetic to seeking its own pleasure but is apathetic about having a true relationship with God. Would anybody in all honesty not care to eat or to have fellowship with Jesus Christ? Yet, verse 20 says He's standing at the door and knocking, and He will come in and dine with them if they just open the door.
Many would like to eat and fellowship with Christ just to say that they had that novel experience. But the irony here is, that God is seeking "His people", and they're too uncaring to even rouse themselves to answer the door! The message to this church shows that the problem is: they're so far from Him they're not even aware of their spiritual need and thus have no desire to be near Him. No desire, no prayer. No prayer, no relationship. No relationship, no awareness of spiritual need. It goes in a vicious cycle.
God is hoping that He can stir us up enough to repent and to break out of the cycle. He says, "Repent. Be zealous." Zeal indicates heat, passion, and feeling. He's hoping to break us out of this circle by rekindling an awareness of our spiritual need.
An awareness of need resides in us because we're close enough to Him to see how holy, gracious, kind, merciful, and good He is and desire to be like Him. In other words, we admire Him so much and respect His personality and character so much that we want to be near Himóright across the table from Him, as it were. We don't want to be near Him just to have a novel experience, but to exalt Him and honor Him by being like Him. Isn't imitation the most sincere form of praise?
On the day of Pentecost, Peter warned the people, "Save yourselves from this untoward generation." Acts 2:40. Other translators used words like "crooked," "perverse," and "wicked" generation. It was clearly a generation that was headed in the wrong direction, away from God, toward judgment. With the fresh anointing of Pentecost upon him, Peter preached separation, not revival.
People need to be saved from their sins, to be sure, yet Peter, in his first epistle, said, "Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot." I Peter 1:18-19.
Saving people from their sins is easy compared with saving them from their religion. Why do you suppose Jesus said to the chief priests and elders, "... the publicans and harlots go into the kingdom of God before you"? Matthew 21:31.
Let's take another look at Matthew 23:38. "Behold, your house is left unto you desolate." Another key word is "left." It indicates an abandonment by God.
Up until this time, the nation as a whole had, for the sake of the small preserved remnant, enjoyed a measure of divine favour and protection. When they sinned, they were judged, but when they called on God, deliverance was available. An example was the Babylonian captivity which was God's judgment on centuries of wickedness. Yet there was a restoration and a rebuilding of the temple and the city of Jerusalem.
But the judgment Jesus predicted was not like what had happened previously. The divine protection was being removed and the devil was going to have a free rein. The whole nation was being turned over to the power of Satan. That's why Jesus wept.
There's a time to preach and pray and there's a time to leave.
I remind you again of the city of Bethsaida. In Mark 8:22-26 we find the account of a blind man being brought to Jesus for healing. Jesus first led him out of the town, had to pray for him twice, and then told him not to go back into the town or even to tell anyone who was going there! Each fact points to the spiritual state of that city. Despite its outward piety, in God's eyes Bethsaida was more wicked than the ancient cities of Tyre and Sidon, cities God had judged. The city of Capernaum was ranked below Sodom! Matthew 11:20-24. Man looks on the outward appearance, but God looks on the heart. I Samuel 16:7.
The severest judgment will fall upon those who have had the greatest light. The greatest darkness lies in the hearts of those who have had light and turned away from it, choosing rather their own way. Remember, Jesus said, "Walk while he have the light, lest darkness come upon you ...." John 12:35. A great factor in this present darkness is the rejection of light.
Hebrews 10:26-27 describes the consequences of deliberately rejecting the grace of God: "For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries."