Training Against Fear
Comments on our New Year’s day witnessing and preaching at the South Jetty Park in Fort Pierce Florida
The world may never understand the deep reasons for disciples witnessing in Christ. But if He has called you to be saved, then He has also called you to witnessing and to discipleship beyond your church pew on Sunday. It’s a whole lot more as you know.
For Jesus said in John 15:16 Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.
And we ask that just as we are given the great gift of life by God, we pray we can use that life for the Lord and not for our stuff. I can’t devour it for myself in video games and cruise ships and banqueting because God allows the Christian to see beyond his own life.
Why witness? It is because he called me on May 8, 1971. So you are called also. And that’s the best thing that could ever happen. I want to speak tonight on the difference between doing and being. Thank you Jesus.
Doing for Christ vs. Being… for Christ
I have to cringe whenever I hear someone say we are doing something “for” Christ. It is clear from scripture that it’s is not “the doing” but rather the “being”.
In that being comes first being in Him, and becoming more like Him by the transforming Holy Spirit that lives inside us. That’s right, we are possessed. We are possessed by Jesus who is living in us. (Read John 14:17) He said to them, now the Holy Spirit is with you, but shall be in you.
Every Christian who knows this sees how we also draw from Him who lives in us. Turn now to John 15 and see how we also abide or live in and with Him. And we are living and walking in Christ. And in Christ alone is found that vital link for us not just to exist, but more thrive even as we see the evil expanding around us.
Goo ahead and turn to John 15 where Jesus himself makes an essential point of abiding in Him. Every Christian soon finds that the world itself has a deception, a kind of gravitational pull upon us. A force and a natural process that tires us and works to something we have called “burn-out”. I hear about burn-out all the time from people. But God’s got the answer.
There’s Christians who refuse to replace idle time with God’s time. They refuse to “dive in” and swim, and finally get off the fence. But when they do and get on God’s side something amazing happens. And its called discernment and insight. With it comes the realization that that they can easily dry up. And they can easily burn out.
I don’t ever say you’re not saved, but it means you’re on the fence, not sold out, still living half-in and half-out as a kind of hybrid Christian. That lukewarm status is guaranteed to drain you and dry you up, making you ready for burn-out. But the good part is that it can also alarm you and awaken you to a new realization of the need to abide in Him, both in prayer, and in faith, in confessing Him before men.
And the scripture helps us see.
John 15:6 If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.
Abiding means walking in obedience, and our witnessing should not have to bring a fear or a discouragement. People will stoutly reject “you and your Christ”. But what remains will be important to you. It is the conquest of fear, and the exercise of stepping up with God’s Word that can feel like us finally passing an important milestone.
Yikes! Witness means Martyr!
A martyr is someone who faces death for Christ. And we cannot ever die for someone we do not know. To truly know Him is often called born again, baptism in the Holy Ghost, blessed assurance, conversion…and other names. The Greek language has a word epignosis simply meaning knowing that you know. (Compare Acts 19:2-8 where Paul comes to Ephesus and meets such disciples)
When people reject you they are not rejecting you, but the Christ that is within you. We firmly know this, yet inwardly we deal with a lifetime’s history of seeking approval from the world. Every schoolgirl want to be the popular ballerina. Every schoolboy sees a handsome hero in the mirror. But the disciple lays it down and submits to the maturity that Christ’s truths bring.
(Read John 6: 63-66 to agree that) In that text Jesus says it is the Spirit that quickens or that makes you alive. The flesh profits nothing. Then he said there are some of you who don’t believe yet, and that he knew who would betray Him. Then in verse 65 he says nobody can come to him except it were given to him by the Father. (Compare this with Matthew 16:17) that indicates that conversion is a personal and tangible revelation which man can take no credit for.
Yet Jesus wants us to go and feed His. Ultimately He does it all, but He still wants us to contribute some fishes to the meal. (See John 21:10 and let me know what you see.)
People reject Christ. He is despised and rejected of men. Yet at the same time, what is happening to us? I believe it is the joyful conditioning that is occurs when we know we are finally facing and overcoming old fears. As a result, we are growing in a precious skill.
Real witnessing should be informational but it is also our development of the real-time skill of handling classic arguments people always throw against God. And for us maybe it is the thrill of remembering that correct scripture at just the right time.
As for the dramatic conversions…they will come in time. God’s promise is clear: His Word never comes back void. But in the meantime we are facing the fear with skill and confidence. And you look back and see you “never started with that” And yet there it is.
But when we go out to South Jetty Park to witness, a greater dynamic is always taking place. We may be crude, and we may stumble but we’re learning. Critics will be many, yet none will ever get up to help. That tells you their value.
Most Christians leave witnessing out of their life. But why should it be? Is itg separated from other Christian practices like prayer, fasting, assembly, charitable works, etc?
In witnessing as well as other things, the Lord is training us and growing us as we are overcoming the world and its influences.
Put simply: “When we witness in Him, we train to trust Christ to push back the fears,and nervous anxiety.
“I could never do it!” Christians exclaim, but the challenge is opportunity to test yourself. I have seen that most have never tested themselves as far as to offer a stranger one Gospel tract and a kind word.
When disciples train they take on the identity of Christ, because the great inner life and strength of the disciple is to take on the cross. Not so we can do….but so we be. So we do, and thus we be. Leaving out the doing and emphasizing the being.
In Matthew 16:24: Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. 25 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.
Our ego and our striving works against us. What a great step for you and me when Christ we can breaks through “the fear barrier” that the world throws at us.
May the Lord bless you and keep you this week and every week , as we grow in Christ at our own pace, living and praying in strength to love and serve the Lord and serving each other in his mighty and powerful grace. Amen.