Providing Christian Witness

Some may think battle lines have only recently been drawn. But the battle began long ago. Paul provided instructions on how to wage this war in his letter to the saints in Ephesus, the Ephesians. Of course, his instructions are for the entire Church age.

In the face of threatening opposition, we don’t wield a sword to slice off Malchus’ ear (John 18:10; Matt 26:51). Jesus soundly rebuked Peter for doing so (John 18:11; Matt 26:52). This foolish act prompted Jesus to heal the man’s ear in response (Luke 22:51). We are to clutch a very different kind of ‘sword’.

The way we are to do battle is difficult, yet relatively easy. We stand. And pray. We put on the armor of God and stand firm (Eph 6:13). For our battle is not against earthly flesh and blood, it is against dark spiritual forces (Eph 6:12).

6:14 Therefore, stand: your waist belted in truth, adorned with the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and your feet equipped for the gospel of peace 16 —in everything taking up the shield of faith, with which you will be able to extinguish all the evil one’s flaming arrows. 17 And grasp the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. 18 With every prayer and request, pray in the Spirit at all times, in this keeping alert, in all perseverance and petition for all the saints.

We clothe ourselves in Divine armor (Eph 6:11). Then we stand for truth and righteousness, ready to proclaim the gospel of peace. We do this while holding onto our faith in Christ in order to ward off the devil’s attacks. We latch onto our salvation and the Word of God. And we persevere in prayer for all the saints.

We stand. We pray. These are the defensive and offensive weapons we must use in this spiritual warfare. And they are all we need.

The ‘easy’ part is doing this through the Spirit (consider Moses parting the Red Sea). The hard part is submitting to the Spirit and staying submitted.

In this we provide testimony for Christ. And this testimony may result in earthly martyrdom for some. It certainly has over the past two millennia.

In fact, there is one Greek word for testimony, witness, and martyr. It is martyria (also martyrion), and closely related is martys (or martyros). The first noun refers to the testimony provided, the second to the person providing the testimony. Also, there are associated verb forms (martyreō, martyromai). Both a noun form and a verb are used in John 1:7:

This man [John the Baptizer] came as a witness (martyria), to testify (martyreō) about the Light

In Acts 22:20, Paul identifies Stephen posthumously as Jesus’ witness, by using the other noun form martys (cf. Rev 2:13; 17:6). He was recounting the stoning of Stephen (Acts 7:54-60):

And when the blood of Stephen your witness (martys) was being shed, I myself was standing there, even approving of his death, guarding the coats of those who were executing him.

Though some English versions translate the Greek martys here as martyr, this may be a bit anachronistic; that is, it may have been a bit later that the term was understood as martyr in the sense we know it today. Nonetheless, Stephen’s witness (Acts 6:8—7:60) lives on in Scripture. It was his testimony (Acts 6:8—7:53) that led to him being the first Christian martyr (Acts 7:54-60). His martyrdom surely provided more notoriety for his witness. And observe what Stephen himself witnessed during his martyrdom: He saw “the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God” (Acts 7:55). How glorious!

Are you prepared to be such a witness, such a martyr (martys), if necessary?

Can I get a witness?

31 Responses to Providing Christian Witness

  1. Bruce Cooper says:

    Hi Craig, I’ve often thought of this, especially in light of the many martyrs that have gone on before us. I would have to trust in Him, versus deny Him, and trust in His grace throughout, should my witness come to that. As Paul says in 1st Corinthians, “If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied.” Blessings.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Craig says:

    Bruce,

    We here in the West, especially Americans, are less likely to think on these things. From my perspective, I find that many are complacent, waiting for that ‘golden parachute’ in the “Rapture”. But I’m not convinced the “Rapture” doctrine is correct. In fact, I don’t think it is valid. Whatever the case, too many are lulled into a false sense of security by it. We need to be ready ‘in season and out of season’, and I think the season is upon us. That is, I think we are nearing the end of all things. When that exact time will be, only God knows, of course.

    “Peace and safety!” (1 Thess 5:3)

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hey, Craig! I pray that I will be a faithful witness or martyr for Christ. In your response to Bruce about security in the rapture, I also think for those who do not hold to any kind of rapture view can lose a sense of urgency and preparedness. It’s vital that we be prepared to actively stand and pray. However, like you said, “ the hard part is submitting to the Spirit and staying submitted.” We partner with God in how large our faith shield is and how sharp our sword is by our knowledge and obedience to God’s Word. Prayer is our connective tissue, it’s our lifeblood. Thank you for this post!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Craig says:

    Very well written comment!

    Since most of my friends/acquaintances adhere to the “Rapture” view, I’m speaking from that experience, though I had not considered the ramifications of other views. Now that you’ve brought it forth, I have a friend who is a preterist, and the same loss of urgency can be construed there.

    Thanks for your thoughts!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I just wrote a response on Jim’s sacred post. I would be curious if would mind telling me if I presented my thought in a manner that made sense! I can be really sensitive to not want to offend anyone that I bumble along and since the topic at hand is one that I am sensitive toward I am not sure if that made it even worse 🤦‍♀️🤦‍♀️😭😭

    Like

  6. Craig says:

    It seems OK to me. Having a different view than SLIMJIM I’d think would be OK with him.

    I can appreciate that you don’t wish to offend someone. It’s the right, the Christian, thing to do. But that doesn’t mean some aren’t going to be offended at times. When I was consistently writing about the NAR, there were a LOT of offended people letting me know they were offended! Written conversation like this can be easily misconstrued. Real time back-and-forth exchanges can limit/correct that, but, unfortunately, we don’t have that luxury most times in cyberspace.

    A tip if you’re already not doing so: write somewhere else first (Word, Note, etc.) before posting. I sometimes have difficulty posting longer comments in those small comments boxes. And sometimes the font is not to my liking, and I cannot self-edit well as I go. Further, if the subject matter is something with which one has strong convictions it is usually better to just sit on it for a bit. That is, write the comment in, e.g. Word, but come back to it later before posting. A more fresh brain and set of eyes can better edit.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. That is all wise counsel, thank you! I’m sure you received a ton of backlash for what you said against the NAR!! Your post today was GREAT! One that I am going to meditate on for the rest of the day!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Craig says:

    This post took over twice as long to complete as I thought it would. My sticking point was exegeting the Ephesians passage. I, of course, wanted to be faithful to the Greek text, but I also didn’t want to mirror another version. Without getting into specifics, I had it one way, which was contrary to most every other out there. It seemed right to me (and it wasn’t technically wrong in micro-context), but as I looked at the larger context–spurred on by O’Brien’s words in the PNTC commentary–I changed it. This, then, required a bit of reframing and rephrasing. But that’s a great way to learn! From my mistakes.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Love the O’Brien reference! For me, Ephesians is a harder one of Paul’s letters to exegete! I appreciate your love, passion and commitment to the Greek!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Craig says:

    Now remember, O’Brien is the guy that was charged with plagiarism. So, I cannot use him for a footnote reference. I like the way he writes, though, and his work is comprehensive.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I know, that’s why I appreciated the reference!

    Like

  12. So, I’m not sure if I said this last time we talked about O’Brien. I had an old and I mean old professor for my Leadership Development and Team Building Class and he gave us all kinds of old and I mean old material from Willow Creek and other such outfits. My question to my professor is how much should we use this material because we know what the result was 20-30 years later? I realize Hybels and O’Brien are completely different. I am hoping that after everything that I shared with my professor he has started using new material!

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  13. Craig says:

    My basic philosophy is: if it lines up with historic Christian orthodoxy and orthopraxy, then it’s valid. If it’s not, then we should investigate it before implementing.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Craig says:

    I should add, I consulted a few works, and O’Brien was the only one explaining why my exegesis wasn’t quite right. The others merely stated their position on this particular issue without explaining why alternatives were not as good.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. SLIMJIM says:

    Very good; reading this led me realized that us as witness even to the point of death is a powerful spiritual weapon God uses to destroy the kingdom of darkness

    Liked by 1 person

  16. SLIMJIM says:

    Keep em coming! Even as I slowly read

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Craig says:

    The pace may be slower for a bit.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Jim says:

    Jesus, the first and finest witness. Rev 1:5 NIV

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Craig says:

    Absolutely! And we are told to pick up our cross daily. But this doesn’t seen to be a popular sermon topic.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Jim says:

    True Craig. I read a comment recently that I think sums up where a large section of the western church is at, and it links to your observation:

    Spirituality + self = new age

    Such a form of godliness will lead to many ‘Christian’ ships wrecked on the spiritual rocks now rising to the surface in the US and around the world. As you say, the only true path is to take up our cross daily and humble ourselves to the life Jesus calls us to and equips us for.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Jim says:

    Turning and turning in the widening gyre
    The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
    Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
    Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
    The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
    The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
    The best lack all conviction, while the worst
    Are full of passionate intensity.

    William Butler Yeats, ‘The Second Coming’

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Craig says:

    Sounds inviting, no?

    Sorry for the delay in response; though I was right at my computer, I was taking a break from a fruitful day of writing (working on 2 different posts), by listening to an 85 year old drummer play with Chick Corea:

    Roy Haynes started professionally in the mid-40s, playing first with Lester “Prez” Young then Charlie Parker. He first played with Corea in 1968. He’s been on countless jazz albums, and was counted on as a last-minute substitute for gigs.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Craig says:

    Apparently, I forgot to fully post a comment I started. I sure thought I posted it, but it ain’t here! It is somewhat similar thematically to the Yeats poem, and I thought you were responding to it!

    Now I’ll post it (link fixed):

    “Where will it end?”

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Jim says:

    Not so inviting, no, but the only hope for those going through the coming Babylon is the body of Christ. He is our light, and we get the honour and privilege of shining his love into the ever deepening shadows falling across our communities and nations.

    That clip was amazing. I sent it to my son suggesting that’s his end of year finale selected!

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Craig says:

    A timely message:

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Craig says:

    This is hilarious! But it’s not funny…

    This is the sort of the thing that gives Christianity a very bad name. Copeland is probably the worst offender in that realm.

    But the dude doin’ the metal accompaniment does a bang up job spoofin’ it!

    Like

  27. SLIMJIM says:

    THanks for sharing your favorite posts on our blog; I’m a few days behind on my WordPress reader but will eventually get to your latest posts!

    Liked by 1 person

  28. gemmaclover says:

    Hey Craig,

    From Chick Corea to Joy Division. Wow. You probably saw that Chick passed away Feb 11th? NPR did a nice story on his illustrious career.

    https://www.npr.org/2021/02/19/968929175/remembering-legendary-jazz-pianist-and-composer-chick-corea

    Like

  29. Craig says:

    Yep, my musical taste is quite wide. Most are remnants from my ‘BC’ days.

    Yes, I did see that Chick Corea passed away, but I hadn’t known about the NPR piece. I used to enjoy Terry Gross’ “Fresh Air” programs. My favorite was her interview with Johnny Cash. He’s a very down-to-earth guy, and she’s a very prepared interviewer.

    Like

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