The greatest message that we as Christians can share with the world is what God has done through Jesus Christ in the gospel. The Christian witness to this great gospel should be evident in what we say and how we live our lives. As Will Metzger puts it in his book Tell the Truth, “The airplane of Christian witness has two wings, our lips, and our lives.”
This article is part of a series on evangelism using Will Metzger’s book Tell the Truth as our guide. If you don’t have this book we’d highly encourage you to pick up a copy of your own.
In our last article, we covered the importance of the content of the gospel and why it is necessary that we share the content of the gospel with others. We saw from Scripture that our good works are not enough for others to know about Jesus and that we must proclaim the good news of Jesus clearly and truthfully.
In this article, we’re talking about the other wing of our Christian witness, our lives. Our lives have a role to play in the way we are a witness to God’s great gospel in the world.
What is a Witness?
In the New Testament, the term “witness” comes from a background of being in the court of law. Picture a witness called to the stand in court to testify to the truth of a case before the judge and jury. For us as Christian witnesses, we are to testify to the world the truth about Christ. Our testimony is seen both through what we say and how we live because what we believe affects how we live. Our lives are a direct reflection of what we truly believe. As Jesus states, “The mouth speaks what the heart is full of” (Luke 6:45)
We are to faithfully proclaim the gospel with our lips and our lives knowing that God is the one who is going to work in people’s hearts and bring them to faith.
Again as Will Metzger puts it, “The airplane of Christian witness has two wings, our lips and our lives.” He explains this combination of proclaiming the gospel both in word and deed by defining witnessing both narrowly and broadly.
“Narrowly defined witnessing is confined to a rehearsal of a few gospel facts in the hearing of a nonbeliever.” It is communicating truths in Scripture with our lips to someone who is not a Christian. (Romans 10 reference or another verse?) Will Metzger goes on to broadly define witnessing as witnessing with our lives. We show the world the truth of Jesus in the way that we live. (“By this all people will know that you are my disciples if you have love for one another.” John 13:35).
Our witness contains both the gospel facts and our lives. And so many times one of these is emphasized more than the other and sadly there are times where both of these elements can be lost.
As we pointed out in the last article, people need to hear the truths of the gospel in order to be able to believe. God did not act and sit in silence and have other people attempt to decipher the meaning. The pivotal points of God’s redemptive action in history are accompanied by His Word. It’s accompanied by verbal revelation. God wants us to understand the meaning of his actions. And the same should be true of us. We should want others to understand the meaning of our actions.
Actions are a Reflection of Belief
Our actions are a reflection of what we truly believe. So if we say one thing, and do another, the watching world will question the validity of what we say. On the other hand, if we live a life that is honoring to God and for the good of our neighbors, others may be curious why we live the way we do. Not only do we need to honor God by the words that we say when we share the gospel but our lives should show our belief in the gospel. We are to be the living embodiment of the truth and share the truth with others.
As Paul said in Romans 12:1 “by the mercies of God, present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” Paul says this after eleven chapters of expounding on the great grace of God in what He has done for Christians. Because of what God has done through Christ and who the believer is in Christ, the Christian is now able and compelled to live a life that is pleasing and honoring to God. The way that you worship and honor God is to live a life that is holy and acceptable to God.
Jesus was the perfect example of this. His primary focus was to teach through the Scriptures. Luke 4:16 “As was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read.” Mark 10:1 “As was his custom, he taught them.” But not only did Jesus teach the Scriptures but He also lived out the Scriptures. “And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction.” Matthew 9:35.
He was testifying to the world that He is the Son of God, not only by what he said but also by what he did.
If we walk in perpetual disobedience, we give unbelievers a false impression of Christ and the Gospel, that it is cheap and impure. The Lord says, “Be holy, for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:16). As ambassadors of Christ (2 Cor. 5:20), we joyfully live in a manner consistent with Christ’s character. If we live and act in obedience to Christ, unbelievers will see a picture of Jesus. Christ saved us in order for us to honor Him with good works, and these works serve as a powerful testimony of Christ to a lost, sinful, and dying world.
But here’s where we need to make the difference between our testimony and the gospel. There’s a significant difference between sharing our testimony and sharing the gospel.
And we will cover that in our next time together. Until then, together let’s make God’s name famous.