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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
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. 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 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.
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. And so, 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. The next picture is just, this is a picture of a certificate and this certificate is, you can see, they make this commitment and then they sign their name and they date it. And if you have really good eyes, you can read what that says. But I’m guessing you don’t. So I just grabbed three or four things. These people go through a training, they realize there are orphans, there are widows, there’s poor, there are refugees – they are called by God. Who is going to help them? Jesus said that we should.
So, “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. 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? 33 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, 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, 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, you don’t tell them they are wrong. I think I’m getting a little…
Number four, it’s time now to ask the Father for big things in My name because He loves you.
What if eight thousand people, seven thousand 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.
Later this afternoon, my appointment with two little children, who want to know why God has allowed their mommy to have cancer. And the other morning, since I believe this is true, that God’s Spirit lives in me and that He would lead me and guide me into all truth, after the dad asked me, I said, Lord, man, I can’t explain this to adults, let alone to a ten or eleven-year-old; six or seven-year-old. But, God, if You’ll speak to me, I’ll give it my best shot.
So, I wrote this down and then when I got done I realized, I think I need this more than these kids. And then later I thought maybe some of you need this for your challenges, for your trouble.
In the world, you have tribulation, but be of good cheer. He has overcome the world. How do I explain to the kids why God allowed their mommy to have cancer? Well, kids, 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 for the surgery to go amazingly well, 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.