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ENCOUNTERING JESUS IN THE GOSPEL OF JOHN
About this series
Jesus Unfiltered - Testify
Testify is the 4th and final volume of Chip Ingram’s series, Jesus Unfiltered, an exposition of the entire Gospel of John. Testify reveals Jesus’ last days on earth and His final words to His followers, from then to today. It’s a bold, gritty assignment – far from the ease and prosperity of content religion. Jesus tasked His followers with a mission to testify; He promised a future of tribulation; He provided the limitless power of the Holy Spirit; and He guaranteed the hope of victory. Testify will encourage and challenge you to take your faith to the next level – to be strong and courageous – for the sake of His Kingdom to come.More from this series
Anybody concerned about the future right now? I mean, in my adult life, this is the craziest, wildest, man alive. It’s not just concern about America. It’s around the world, it’s macroeconomics. It’s terrorism. I mean, if there was ever a time to be, What in the world is going to happen?
And I have a really good friend who is concerned about something else and his little kids are concerned and so his wife has battled cancer for a number of years. She is very young. This is her third time. She will have brain surgery tomorrow and he has about a ten or eleven-year-old and a six or seven-year-old – little boy, little girl – he said, “Chip, I have given it my best shot, but my kids came to me and they said, ‘If God really cares and loves us, why is He allowing Mommy to have cancer again?’”
And then his text said, “Chip, could you come over and explain this to my kids?” Would one of you like my spot on this one? I could delegate this. But behind it is way more than just, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” Really what behind it is, “How do you follow?” These kids, they have childlike faith; they love God, they know Jesus, it’s a great family. The question is: How do you move into the future when there’s adversity and trouble and difficulty and,
How do you trust when life is hard and doesn’t make sense, at times. That’s what Jesus is going to explain as we start this series. Open your Bibles, if you will, to John chapter 16. Let me very quickly go through an overview of the entire book and then I want to get you right on the edge to where we are the very last night Jesus is on the earth. And then we will look at John chapter 16. Because what he is going to do is he is going to tell a group of followers that, your body language was great when I said, “Anybody concerned or fearful of the future?” It was like, “Ahhhh! Yeah!” You know? These guys are really concerned. And what he says to them applies to us and what he says might really shock you.
In the first five chapters, you should look, we are in the gospel of John. The first five chapters were about Jesus’ miracles and these testimonies and the question was: Will you believe? The early part of the gospel was, “Will you believe that I came from God? Will you believe when I have done these miracles that I am who I say I am?”
Then, the second five chapters, verses 6 through 10 were really about, “Well, will you follow? It’s not just enough to intellectually agree that I am the Son of God, that I have raised people from the dead, that I have healed people; but I am the Savior of the world.
I am blazing a path – will you follow Me? I am the Good Shepherd,” chapter 10.
Then the next five chapters, chapters 11 through 15, He gets very intimate and it’s more with his inner group who are following. He says, “Will you love Me? And I don’t mean an ooey-gooey feeling. He says, “He who keeps My commandments is the one who loves Me. Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friend.” Are you willing to love Me? And then are you willing to love each other the way I am loving you? The bar is getting really high. And the guys stay on the team.
And then, finally, in chapters 16 to 21, we are going to ask and answer the question where Jesus will say to them and they actually obeyed, and He will say to us, “Will you verbally, out loud, testify?
What you have seen, what you have heard, what you have experienced of Me in your life, will you testify like a witness in court that these things are factual in your experience so that other people could grasp and understand the great, great love of God?”
Now, with that as a wide-angle zoom, I want to take the camera and zoom in and I want you to imagine, it’s the last night that Jesus is on the earth. And just imagine there’s a little GoPro camera on one of the disciples so we can see what is going on.
And so He has told them, “We are going to celebrate the Passover.” And they make it into this room and they all walk in and they are still a little arrogant and so there was no servant, so no one washed their feet, and it was dusty. So Jesus comes in, He takes off His outer garment, He ties a towel around Him, and one by one by one, He goes to the disciples and He, being the teacher, kneels down and washes their feet. And Middle Eastern [culture] the tables were about a foot and a half and you would put your elbow here and so your feet would be in someone else’s face.
And then they start the meal and as they start the meal, He tells them someone is going to betray Him and He gives a signal to two of His disciples and Judas gets up and goes to the religious leaders.
And for thirty pieces of silver, that night, he is going to lead some officials and some people with weapons to take Jesus away; arrest Him and then crucify Him the next day.
So Judas leaves and we are still seeing what is going on and He institutes what we now call “The Lord’s Supper,” and He took the bread and He said, “This is My body that I am going to give for you.” And they are still foggy, but He is talking about, “I am going to die on the cross, in your place, to pay for your sin and the sins of all the world. Take this cup; My blood is going to be spilled. It’s going to be the covering of a new covenant with God.”
And then it says, “They got up, they go out, and they sing a hymn.” And as they sing the hymn, then they are walking to the Mount of Olives. That was where they hung out and prayed and Judas knew the place; that’s where he is going to meet Him.
And He is going to go pray, but before He does, these guys are scared to death. Like, We don’t get You’re going to come and You’re going to come back. They didn’t get the resurrection. But they love Him. And He says, “I want you to know, you’ve got to stay connected. All you need to do to be a follower, just stay connected to Me,” and as they pass a vineyard, He said, “I am the vine,” I am life, “you are the branches. My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me you’ll bear fruit. If you’re in Me and My Spirit is in you, I am going to produce My life inside of you.” And so, number one, all you need to do is abide – write that down. “I want you to abide in Me,” in chapter 15.
At the end of talking about what it means to abide in chapter 15, then He, it’s like He keeps repeating this. Now, “I, here is My new commandment. I want you to love each other. I want you to lay down your lives for one another. I want you, more than blood relatives, I want you to do whatever it would take. If you would have to die for one another, physically, I want you to love at that level the way I am going to die for you. Because the way the whole world is going to know that I am for real, I came from the Father, that I am fully God and fully man is they are going to watch your lives and the only explanation of your love for one another at this level will be that what I said is true.”
And then, third, He is going to say, “Finally, I want you to testify. I want you to tell people, I want you to be the witnesses, because you have been with Me from the beginning.” With that said, if you’ll open your notes, open your Bible, John chapter 16 in the gospels. There is a Bible behind you. I want you to really see: What does this actually say? Because He is going, this is His last night. And He is recruiting a team of eleven guys that will start the greatest revolution in all of history.
These eleven guys will be two billion strong, about two thousand years later – that’s us. In almost every known language, every country everywhere, followers of Jesus. And every one of these eleven, except one, will literally die, will be killed for their faith. And it will be out of this love for each other and their love for Him that, like wildfire, within three hundred years, the Roman Empire gets turned around. By 313, they estimate thirty-three of the sixty million people in the Roman Empire were followers of Jesus by their radical lives and their testimony.
So what I want you to do, as you glance at the notes, what was He saying to His first disciples, and if you just notice, He’s going to clarify their future role, He is going to give them some expectations, He is going to explain where He is going and what the Holy Spirit is going to do, He is going to give them some timing issues because they don’t really understand, and then He is going to tell them that it’s going to be really tough but there is hope. You ready to dig in? Have your passage? Let’s start with chapter 15, the last two verses.
They are outside, and now He is telling them, “Guys, it’s My last night.” “When the Helper,” or, “the Comforter, the Holy Spirit comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of truth, who goes out from the Father, He will testify about Me and you also must testify for you have been with Me from the beginning.” He clarifies their role. Here’s all I want you to get. Their role was not to start a new religion, it wasn’t just to be nice guys, it wasn’t just to be morally pure. Their role was to testify about who Jesus was and what they saw He actually did.
“Testify” means to give evidence as a witness to facts, it’s to serve as evidence or proof that something actually existed or it’s the case. All I want you to get is their role isn’t just to be nice people who even serve God. Their role is to verbally and with their life testify.
Second, He sets their expectations for the future. Now, He is going to launch a movement and I don’t know, if you were recruiting people for a worldwide movement, I think you ought to be a little bit more positive. Like, “Hey, guys, if you just follow Me, everything is going to be great. You’re going to be upwardly mobile, life is going to be wonderful. If you’re single, you’re going to find a wonderful person. Your income is going to go up, your health is going to be great.” It’s kind of like stuff you hear on TV about Christianity. But let’s find out what the Author of Christianity said about facing the future that is difficult.
Sixteen, He says, “All these things I have told you so that you will not go astray or stumble.” Literally, the word means: So you won’t be caught off guard or be surprised. He goes on to say, “They will put you out of the synagogue. In fact, a time is coming when anyone who kills you will think he is doing it as a service for God. They will do such things because they have not known the Father or Me.” Well, why are you telling this bad news to us? “I have told you this so that when the time comes you will remember that I warned you. I did not tell you this at first because I was with you.”
Now, He is setting their expectations. In just a few days, He will die, He will rise from the dead. For forty days in a resurrected body He will teach, there will be five hundred witnesses, this won’t be some little thing done in a corner.
But these followers, they will be expelled from the synagogue. That means their kids can’t get an education. They are expelled from the synagogue. That means their families will disown them and the way life worked is everything was in the family business. He is saying, “I want you to know I am leaving, and by the way, your life is going to get turned upside down. It’s going to get really bad. In fact, it’s not just that bad, here’s what is going to happen: they are going to kill you.”
How would you like to join a movement and the leader says, “Hey, this is going to be great. They are going to kill you.” But, see, they knew who He was. They knew there was a forever life, not just a “right now” life. And He says, “I am saying this to set your expectations so that you are not shocked or caught unaware.”
Notice the third thing He does. He explained where He was going – back to the Father.
Picking it up with me, look at verse 5. “Now I am going to Him who sent Me, yet none of you ask, ‘Where are You going?’ Because I have said these things, you are filled with grief. But I tell you the truth, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you, but if I go away I will send Him to you. And when He comes, He will convict the world of sin and righteousness and judgment. In regard to sin because men do not believe in Me. In regard to righteousness because I am going to the Father. And with regard to judgment because the prince of this world now stands condemned.”
And now He goes on, “I have much more to say to you, more than you can bear now. But He, the Spirit of truth, when He comes will guide you into all truth. He will speak not on His own, but He will speak only what He hears and He will tell you what is yet to come. He will bring glory to Me by taking from Mine and making it known to you. All that belongs to the Father is Mine. That is why I said, ‘The Spirit will take from Mine and He will make it known to you.’ In a little while, you will see Me no more, and then after a little while, you will see Me.”
So, imagine, you’re fearful. He’s leaving, it sounds like He is talking in circles, you believe He is the Messiah, you thought He was going to set up His kingdom now and pull down Rome. Now He is telling you, “Here’s your expectations!” And, basically, what He says is, “Are you ready, guys? You are in for the greatest paradigm shift in all of life. Formerly, you had relationship with the Father through Me, you believed in Me, you heard My words, you watched Me touch people, you watched Me raise the dead, you watched Me feed five thousand people, you saw the miracles, you have seen it all. I am leaving to go back to the Father, but I am sending another.” Some of your translations say, “…Helper,” or, “Comforter.” The Greek word is paraklēt. “One who is called alongside.”
And in chapter 14, He says, “another just like Me.” And so after He dies and is risen from the dead, and the New Covenant is instituted, every one of His followers who turned from their sin and received Christ, the Holy Spirit actually will come and live inside of them. And the very power, the personality, the person of Christ by the Holy Spirit will live inside of every believer – that’s what the New Covenant is about.
And so what He’s saying is, It’s actually better because if I was over here talking with Peter and John and James wanted to, I can’t talk to two people. I am limited by this body. But what I want you to know is that I am leaving to the Father and when the Spirit comes, a number of things are going to happen.
Number one, He is going to be working in people’s hearts. He will convict people of sin. He will show them that they fall short; their life doesn’t work. In fact, He is going to do more than that, He is going to convict people of their life. My righteous life and how I live is the bar of God’s standard – this perfect life of love and holiness. And the Spirit is going to let people know that they don’t live that way. And then I am going to defeat Satan and when I defeat death and Satan, the Spirit of God is going to be working in the world and He is going to be living inside of you and as He works and as you verbalize and live this life, there is going to be a movement of God where I am going to let everyone anywhere who longs to know what it means to be forgiven and have a relationship with the eternal and holy God, that they can have that through Me.
And, by the way, I know that you’ll have a lot of questions. So this Spirit of truth, this one coming alongside, who will represent Me, He is going to take of Mine, He will give it to you, He will guide you, He will direct you, He will whisper, “This is the way. Walk in it.” Don’t worry, guys. It’s better that I go. And, by the way, He is going to exalt or glorify Me.
When the Spirit of God is working in a powerful way, Jesus becomes the focal point. And so He is changing this paradigm and their heads are kind of spinning. And then, notice, He is going to go on to say, He is going to clarify His timing. Because He has been talking about, “In a little while, I am going to do this and in a little while I am going to do that.” And I think these guys are a lot like us. Like, “How long is a little while?” Right?
And, I don’t know about you, but if I was sitting there and I followed Him, and I have made big sacrifices and now He is public enemy number one now, people are down on me, and He has just told me, “Hey, there’s a good chance you’re going to get kicked out of the synagogue and you
will be killed,” what is this “little while” stuff? What is really going to happen? So, He explains.
Let’s pick it up, verse 17. “Some of His disciples said to one another, ‘What does He mean by saying, “In a little while you will see Me no more, and then in a little while you will see Me” and “Because I am going to the Father”?’ They kept asking, ‘What does He mean by “a little while”? We don’t understand what He is saying.’ Jesus saw that they wanted to ask Him about this, so He said to them, ‘Are you asking one another what I meant when I said, “In a little while you will see Me not more, and then after a little while you will see Me?” I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will be turned to joy.’”
See, the “little while” is tonight He gets arrested, tomorrow He dies, He gets buried – little while – three days later; resurrected. Sorrow after the death and for three days, those guys don’t know what’s happening. He is resurrected.
And then He gives them a little illustration. “A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of the joy of the child is born into the world. So with you: Now is a time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice and no one will take away your joy. In that day you will no longer ask Me anything. I tell you the truth, My Father will give you whatever you ask in My name. Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask and you will receive and your joy will be overflowing or full. Though I have been speaking figuratively, a time is coming when I will speak no longer this kind of language but I will tell you plainly about My Father. In that day you will ask in My name. I am not saying that I will ask the Father on your behalf. No, the Father Himself loves you because you have loved Me and have believed that I came from God. I came from the Father and I entered the world; now I am leaving the world to go back to the Father.
“Then Jesus’ disciples said, ‘Now You are speaking clearly and without figures of speech. Now we can see that You know all things and that You don’t even need to have anyone ask you another question. This makes us believe that You came from God.”
They have had this faith journey, and now it has clicked. They really get it. God has come to earth in the flesh, fully God, fully man, lived this perfect life, blazed this trail, taught as no one else has taught, and now they get He is going to the Father and all those promises of the Old Testament are going to become a reality.
Notice, there is a new relationship. Did you catch the new relationship to the Father? Anyone? Before, if you wanted to talk to the Father, “Hey, Jesus, why don’t you ask Your Dad about this?” And He uses a completely different Greek word that says, “You have intimate access before the King of kings and the Lord of lords. Ask your Father;” “He loves you exactly the same way He loves Me. So ask big. Whatever you need. He is for you. He is unlimited in His power. He knows all things. Now the Spirit lives inside of you and you have direct access through Me.”
I heard a story of a fellow that was in a war and was wounded and realized that He was not going to live and was with the medics and all the rest and they bring him to the tent and as they do. And so he got out a sheet of paper and jotted a few things and he had this buddy
And he took this envelope, he says, “Whatever you do, you have to take this to my dad. Just, will you make this commitment? I know I’m going to die.” And he bled to death; he died. The guy comes back from the war and finds out where his father lives, knocks on the door, he said, “I was your son’s best buddy and he asked me to give you this. And here are his dog tags and here’s a letter.”
The father opens it up; he weeps. And the letter says, “Dad, I didn’t know if I was going to make it or not. But whatever you would have done for me, if I would have made it home, will you do for him? He is my best buddy. So if he needs a college education, pay for it. If he needs help with anything…” You get it? That father, what do you think that father is going to do for that guy? Whatever he needs.
See, it’s like Jesus saying, I am your sponsor! I have opened the gates of heaven. You have access to the Father on…” When we say that little word “in my name” – that’s not, like, a little code like, Oh God, oh God…in Jesus’ name, in Jesus’ name. No, no, no.
“In Jesus’ name” means that you have, this relationship with your Father. You start believing that, you’ll pray different and your answers will be different.
Finally, notice what He says to them. He says, “I want to affirm your faith, I am going to predict your failure, and I will give you hope because you’re going to get really bummed out.” Because when we know what is right to do and we blow it, we think, Oh, God will never love me again. But notice verse 31. “‘You believe at last?’ Jesus answered, ‘But a time is coming and has come when you will be scattered, each to his own home. You will leave Me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for My Father is with Me.’ Now He tells them why He told them all these hard things. “I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have trouble.” The word means tribulation, adversity, difficulty.
In the world, drunk drivers go left of center. In the world, in a fallen world, even little kids get cancer. In the world, your business partner that you thought would never lie to you, lied to you and did you in. In the world, someone that you loved, you thought you would be with forever walks out on you. In the world, you are single and you think, God, I love You with all my heart. Where is that special person? And that biological clock just keeps going and going and going and you go, What’s the deal?
And what He was helping them understand was, “I will be with you. The Father will hear you. The Spirit will live in you. But you are signing up for living in a ‘now’ world with a forever hope. And My power is going to operate, but it’s going to be really hard. Really hard. But I will be with you and there is victory.”
For anybody here, is that a little bit different paradigm or picture of the Christian life than: If you believe in Jesus, all your sins will go away and everything is going to be wonderful and your kids will all turn out right and you’ll never get sick and life is wonderful and if you send x amount of dollars to some ministry, then God is going to give it back to you ten-fold and…
There’s a lot of ridiculous teaching that completely misses the Jesus of the New Testament. We have been overwhelmed with a sense that you follow Jesus, because He is your self-help genie to give you what you want and need. And the idol of American Christianity and now across the world is the goal of life is to be happy. And you’ll be happy when you have, achieve, own, look.
And I just, I am hard-pressed to find that here. But the goal of being happy is – what? Someday, somehow if you had all those things or looked a certain way or accomplished certain things, then you would have peace because you have accomplished things and you would have joy.
But the crazy part is is that people who have done all that find that there is never enough and Jesus promises, instead, What you have is Me. And I may give you a number of those things, but that is never the goal. But I will give you a peace that no one, no relationship, no circumstance, not even death itself can take away. And you will have joy, My joy, in you on the journey.
So here’s the question I think we ought to ask. That’s what He said to the first century Christians. What about us? What would Jesus say? They were facing some hardships. We are facing some hardships, aren’t we? America is a nutty place to live right now.
So what would Jesus say to us, would be His game plan for us in our day, with our challenges? Are you ready? Got your pen ready? Let’s go.
I would say Jesus is saying to us, “The time is now.” Underline that, bold that, exclamation point. The time is now! Here’s what I know: Those early disciples got, there is a sense of urgency. He is leaving; the Spirit is coming. The world is in a mess. The time is now to boldly testify about your relationship with Jesus. The time is now.
Testify. Declare! I am unashamed. I am a follower of Christ. I understand some people think that’s anti-intellectual. I am unashamed. I believe He is the Son of God, He died for my sins, rose from the dead, this is what I am experiencing. I don’t push anything on anyone. I just love radically. I testify to the reality of Christ.
The Early Church, 1 John, same author, writes a small, little letter to a group of people. And chapter 1 of 1 John says, “We proclaim to you, the One who existed before the beginning, whom we have heard and seen. We saw with our own eyes and we touched with our own hands. He is the Word of life, the One whose life itself was revealed to us and we have seen Him. And we now testify and proclaim to you that He is the One who is eternal life. He was with the Father, and then He was revealed to us. We proclaim to you what we ourselves have actually seen and heard.” Well, why? “So that you may have fellowship with us and our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son, Jesus Christ. We are writing these things to you so that you may fully share in our joy.”
Every person at work needs to hear that Jesus cares about them. Every person in your neighborhood needs to hear. Every person in your family and relational network and on your Facebook page and your Instagram and your Slack needs, in the right way at the right time, sensitively, for you to proclaim – what? What you have seen and what you have heard. Not pushing religion, not that they ought to morally change their life. But this is what you have experienced.
Now, what I know is, for many of us, this feels like, Ooh. No. Ooh. In fact, it feels like some people are going through your head like, Ooh. Ooh. And, see, we have believed two major lies. Lie number one, that if you would boldly, clearly proclaim with your words your belief in Jesus, that people would be – A – turned off or would disrespect you or you might lose your job. Some of that may happen. But I will tell you, for every five percent of the time that might happen, ninety-five percent of the time, what you would experience is, guess what, the Holy Spirit is out convicting of sin and righteous and judgment that all the people at work and in your neighborhood, they are afraid too. They see the chaos in America, they see terrorism, they have children and grandchildren. They see a twenty trillion-dollar debt. They see what is happening in the world and you know what? They just either put their head down or they just don’t know what to do. And the answer of peace and joy resides in you as a follower.
Here’s a couple that I think communicate this in ways that are as winsome as any that I know. Watch this for both inspiration and opportunity.
Rich: We are Rich and Charlene. We started the God Talk Ministry about eleven years ago over in Oakridge Mall.
Charlene: And the reason we started was we had gone to the movies one night, waiting for the movie to start and we saw all these young people just milling around the mall. Just hundreds of them. We thought, These kids are never going to come to our churches. So we decided that we, as the Church, need to go out into the mall to try to speak with these kids about Jesus Christ. And we just loved the opportunity that God has opened up for us to go in the kiosks.
Rich: When we first started God Talk, on our minds at the time was, we are going to do this for a month and we are going to see what was going to happen. And we witnessed about seventy-five salvations that first month and we handed out, I think, it was about four thousand invitations to our church. So we are astounded with the opportunity that God had presented.
Charlene: When we first started out, we were very fearful. We were thinking, We’re older people and why would they stop and even talk with us?
Rich: But, honestly, anytime you’re forming a new habit, if you have never witnessed before or you seldom witnessed, you’re always going to be fearful of something new, forming a new habit. But after you have done it two, three, four times, it just kind of, it feels good. It feels fine.
And it’s such a wonderful blessing to be able to have a godly conversation with someone who is hurting, maybe they have got troubles in their marriage or in their family and, actually, they’ll share with you about that. Testifying to who Jesus is, is a command. Very often I hear people say, “Well, it’s not really my gift.” Well, this is not a gift of the Holy Spirit. This is actually a command at the end of the gospel of Matthew, Jesus said, “As you go, be My witnesses.” So giving testimony to who Jesus is, what He has done for me, what He has done for Charlene, we have this great God. So we’ve got to share this with people and we have got to help people understand. And, yes, we have fears but if we form the habit of sharing our faith, you can do it in your personal life on a regular basis and you can do it in the public square. You can do it at work and after you do it a few times, it’s comfortable. And it feels great because God blesses us as we share our faith.
Amen. You bet. It’s very easy to agree with that in this room, isn’t it? Aren’t you glad someone courageously communicated, testified about Jesus to you? A young fifteen-year-old girl came to the kiosk and talked with a guy and he said, “Have you ever heard about Jesus?” And she said, “I think it’s a boy’s name.” She had never heard of the person of Jesus, she had never heard of Easter, she had never heard of the Bible. Do you understand, that there are hundreds and thousands and tens of thousands of people that have no clue, no clue.
And this isn’t about guilt. This is about opportunity. What would happen if we realized that our calling isn’t just to serve God, be a nice person, maybe serve in the church – what if we realized the call is to testify?
Second, as you do that, you notice it’s time to expect rejection and persecution and be prepared to die for your testimony. I got the right out of the text. I almost changed this. I didn’t want to put that word die. That sounds too radical, doesn’t it? In America, if I taught this even five or ten years ago, I mean, I would say, “It’s hypothetical, and we would need to be willing to die.” Things have changed. The terrorism isn’t out there. Christians are being targeted all over the world, including here.
Here’s a question: what would it do to your “Christianity” or your faith if you asked yourself, I should expect to be persecuted. I should expect, not for being a jerk, by the way. For being a loving, committed follower of Christ who testifies in a winsome way. I should expect difficulty. I should expect it might cause a problem in my family. I should expect there might be some issues at work. I should expect maybe I don’t get promoted. And I should expect, if necessary, I might die. What kind of Christian does that produce?
I came across something recently that, it’s a group of people that sends people into hostile areas and they do help the poor, the widows, refugees, but in very difficult places. They have an oath after they go through training. And this is the oath and commitment our graduates make at graduation upon being sent out as pioneer missionaries.
“I stand with the apostle Paul in stating that, for me to live is Christ, to die is gain. I take my stand to honor the Lord Jesus in my mind and I will meditate upon His Word and His promises to me. I give my earthly treasures and all that I possess to follow the way of the cross. I commit to love my family, orphans, widows, lepers, the wealthy, the poor in the same way that Christ loved the Church.”
This one hit me, “I surrender this body on earth to the perfect will of Jesus and should my blood be spilled, may it bring forth a mighty harvest of souls. I pledge allegiance to the Lamb; I will seek to honor His command. I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation to everyone who believes.”
See, the power is not in the messenger and what you say. The power is in the message. And then, this is the very bottom, “I have read this pledge and understood it completely, being of sound mind and body, I do solemnly declare this martyr’s pledge without any persuasion of enticement.”
You know, I just wonder. I’m not trying to be dramatic. I wonder if this was the qualification for walking out the doors here to be Christians I wonder how many of us are at the point where you could sign that.
See, the Early Church didn’t have technology, they didn’t have a printing press, they didn’t have a lot of power, they were completely broke. They didn’t even have a building. They met in the catacombs. But what they had was that alliance and allegiance to the person of Christ, the Holy Spirit living within them, and they were compelled to share what God was doing in their life. And here’s the promise: It’s time to be bold, to remember that I am with you 24/7, to give you all that you need. That’s what they realized. “We can’t do this, but God can!”
The Early Church, as you open the book of Acts, it just begins to roll out these ordinary, regular, late-teenagers, middle-twenty-something guys and a number of women who said, “We are going to testify. We are going to move forward.” And it was crazy!
And so I remember one time Peter comes and, “Well, what do we do?” “Well, we will keep doing what we are supposed to do until God tells us different.” And they are going to a prayer meeting in the temple and there is a guy that has been paralyzed sitting there for as long as anyone can remember, from birth. And Peter, this is the Chip translation, looks at John, “You got any money?” “I ain’t got any money either. We’re broke, aren’t we?” “Yeah.” “Okay.” “Silver and gold have I none, but in the name of the Lord Jesus, arise!” And he’s healed!
God does powerful, supernatural things when people are out there saying, “You know what? I’m not ashamed.” And then, of course, five thousand people showed up and trusted Christ as a result of that miracle. And then they were arrested. And then the religious leaders said, “Don’t you ever speak in His name again.” And what do they say? “There is no other name under heaven by which we can be saved. Should we obey you or obey God? We can’t stop,” I love this, “we can’t stop declaring what we have seen and heard,” their experience.
Now, I want to give you a quick moment here, because some of your body language tells me, I’m feeling a little guilty. Some of your body language is, I feel real guilty. I never…
And some of you are thinking, I don’t think I could ever do this. Here’s the deal: You have got the equation completely wrong. This isn’t a moment where we are starting a series: I ought, I should, I’ll try harder. No, no, no, no. Here’s the deal: You always testify about what matters! You testify every day. So do I. Are you ready? Did you see last night? Curry went off! Right? I testify. I love the Warriors! Did you see? Oh. Did you hear? My grandson. Look at this paper. He got in this. Oh wow! We went public! I have got four patents. Oh my gosh, I found her. Let me tell you about her. Oh man. Here’s my grandkids.
You’re going, “Oh my gosh. Please testify,” you know, right? “I don’t need thirty-nine pictures.” You testify and I testify about whatever really matters. And if you’re not talking about Jesus and your experience with Him and what He is doing in your life, the problem isn’t a guilt, ought, and should to try stuff. The problem is, maybe, get one of these, it works, but to get into God’s Word and say, I want to experience You. The Early Church, they didn’t preach at people. “This is what we have seen and heard. He changed us. He changed us.”
I was taking a broken screen door – we got a new puppy – and the grandkids have kind of pushed on the screen. You know how they do? Well, this little puppy ran through the screen. So we now have a doggy door. Just… So it didn’t, it didn’t bust, but you know how it comes out? So my day off, I’m going to try and be a good husband, “Yes, let’s go to Orchard, honey.” So we go to Orchard Supply and we give it to this guy and I’m thinking we’ll give it to him, three weeks later, and blah, blah, blah.
He said, “No, I’ll take a look at that right now. So, you know what? I think I could fix this right now.” And he starts with all these tools and, for fifteen minutes, twenty minutes he does all this. And he said, “No charge.” I said, “What?” “No, it’s good.” It was like the nicest guy in the whole world. Orchard Supply. And so I grabbed this thing and Theresa is behind me and I had that little inside, I really need to thank this guy. I need to look him in the eye and say, “Hey, thank you!” And I was, “Yeah, hey, yeah.” I gave a, “Hey! Hey! Yeah, dude.” But I didn’t thank him.
And so I get the thing, we go get home, and I remember sitting on the floor, taking off my shoes. And I had this little whisper, You need to go back and thank that man. “Oh, Lord. I don’t want to drive all the way back there.” And you wonder, how do you know God is speaking? When He asks you to do something that costs, that’s loving, that’s caring, to help someone else it’s probably not you, right?
And so I argued for a little bit and I said, Okay. I put my shoes back on. “Honey, I’m going to be back. I’ve got to go back to Orchard.” “Why?” “I didn’t thank him from the heart. I need, God, I need to look him in the eye, shake his hand, and thank him.” And so as I got up, I got to my doorway and I thought, You know, he told me why he was doing that about his daughter who hasn’t been married and people propose to her and she doesn’t get it and he’s concerned about her. I wrote a book on Love, Sex, Lasting Relationships. Okay. So I got that one. Then he said something about his wife and so I had this book on heaven. So I took these two books and I jotted, “To the daughter of one of the very nicest men I have ever met.” I don’t know her name.
And so I get in there and I wait my turn and I say, of course, I was so loving and sensitive the first time, I didn’t even notice his name. But, now, okay, it’s Mark. “Mark, hey, I just, the Lord prompted me to come back and thank you. You were so kind and so generous to me and my wife. Could I shake your hand?” He’s looking at me like, “Yeah! I made your day?” “Yeah.” I looked him in the eye and I said, “Also, I, as we were talking, I heard you’re really concerned about your daughter and this is a book I wrote that really helps single people kind of find the right person.” “Really? Man!” I said, “I put, ‘To the daughter of…’ what’s her name?” So I filled her name. And I said, “I don’t know if you even want this one, but it’s, I’m just thinking the world is crazy right now and this is what heaven is like and how to know for sure you can go there.”
He grabs that one. “Oh, man, my wife reading the Bible, she’s telling me all kind of stuff all the time. I’m not very spiritual, I’m not into all that, but I’ll read this.” Before you start either feeling really guilty or, like, Chip is so spiritual, here’s what I can tell you something. I bet I had a hundred opportunities like that in the last thirty days and I missed ninety-nine of them. Why? Because I’m not thinking, Testify. I’m not thinking, Oh, I’m living a good life. I’m a pastor. Yes, when I have opportunity and I’m looking. But what if you said, “Man alive!
If they don’t hear it from me…some people don’t even know who Jesus is! What if the Holy Spirit actually is working? What if this is true? What if He is convicting and wooing and people are just waiting?”
A guy told me yesterday, he says, “I think we walk here with the answer and God has been working in this person and there is a bubble over their head that says, ‘I really need God. What is the meaning of life?’ And this Christian passes by and an angel goes, ‘Oh my gosh, we set this whole thing up. We set this whole thing up! Could you guys…?’” All you’ve got to do is just open your mouth. You don’t preach, you don’t have to tell them,
they are wrong.
Number four, it’s time now to ask the Father for big things in My name because He loves you.
There’s a picture coming up right now and I know I have personal needs, you have personal needs, I have kids, I have grandkids, I have work issues, there are physical issues. What if we asked God for that? There are four thousand or so, maybe, that come on a weekend and there’s another forty percent that are out and we, sort of, so I don’t know, maybe there’s, what, six, seven, eight thousand people that call this home.
What if people started testifying? Not just by our life and our integrity and our commitment – great. But with our words! “I am not ashamed of Jesus. He has changed my life. I’m not pushing anything on anyone. This is what I have seen and this what I have heard and this is what He has done inside of me. I am as excited about Jesus as my patent! I’m as excited about Jesus as the Warriors. I am as excited about Jesus as Jenny Craig, because I lost seventeen pounds in only thirty-nine days. Don’t you share what you are excited about?
Finally, this is so powerful, it’s time to be strong and courageous when failure, trouble, and challenges overwhelm you. You don’t have to have it together. The disciples didn’t have it together. It’s time to be strong and courageous, when you are overwhelmed and you just ask God for wisdom and just simply do what He says, little by little.
In the world, you have tribulation, but be of good cheer. He has overcome the world.
Maybe some of you need this for your challenges, for your trouble: There is a “now” world where there is a battle with evil and the author of evil, Satan, whose aim is to kill and steal and destroy. The one who causes cancer and is behind what happens, why people get drunk and go left of center, the reason murder happens, the evil one and the evil within every human heart happens in the “now” world. And they need to be healed and forgiven and given a new heart.
There is a “forever” world that God has already planned and prepared for His children and whoever wants to be with Him forever. He has defeated the king of the “now” world, Satan, and his number one tool of fear and death. So we will all be safe and together in the “forever” world. But until that time, there is a fierce battle with the evil one in the “now” world that is corrupted by evil people. But we all get to choose, each and every day, who we will listen to and who we will follow.
Like in any battle, even when the good people win, many of the good people get wounded and some die and go directly to the “forever” world where they receive God’s reward and wait for us to join Him. Many of these people, God has loved. They are the most special to Him that have been wounded, that have cancer, and died what we would all call very prematurely, even those who have been hurt by bad people.
And some even died before they could fulfill all the things that we think a life ought to have. God says that the world wasn’t even worthy of those special people. He says they are precious in His sight and precious in the sight of God is the death of His godly ones.
I don’t know God’s plan and I am praying but what I know is this: in the “now” world there is trouble and tribulation. And Jesus told His first disciples: this is what to expect. But I have overcome the world. And so I call you, with the Holy Spirit’s power, to testify and to recognize that power will flow through you in ways and there will be a joy that you can’t explain and that circumstances and disappointment and people and even death does not have the power to rob you of what matters most.
There is a “forever” world and if you focus on the “forever” world, it will give you a lens to live in the “now” world in a very different way.