The overflow of our joyful faith – Matthew 5:1-15

I’m excited, I’m excited, I’m excited in the Lord,
I’m excited, I’m excited, I’m excited in the Lord,
I’m excited, I’m excited, I’m excited in the Lord,
If you walk with the Lord, you don’t get bored!
Sing Hallelujah – AMEN!

“You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses.” (Acts 1:8)
You will receive power – the Greek word for power is dunamis. From that Greek word we get two English words. The first is “dynamo”, which generates electricity. The second word is dynamite – the powerful explosive. Jesus promises to send his followers the Holy Spirit, the dynamo and the dynamite of the Christian faith. Power to be witnesses for Jesus!
POWER for signs and wonders, miracles of healing and deliverance. Power to see visions and dream dreams, to prophesy, to exercise spiritual gifts. Power to preach with boldness so that people listen and get saved. And power to keep on preaching when the authorities order you to stop, to keep on preaching when Christians are even being martyred for witnessing for Jesus.
Some people find witnessing difficult. Some people are scared or embarrassed to tell other people about Jesus. But we shouldn’t be! Because witnessing isn’t about us – it’s about the Holy Spirit in us! It is the Holy Spirit who is the witness. We don’t have to do all the work. We don’t have to convince the world of the truth of the gospel. That is the Work of God the Holy Spirit! Jesus said so.

JOHN 15:26 “When the Counsellor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, he will testify about me. 27 And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning.Yes of course we have our part to play. But the first and greatest witness to Jesus is God the Holy Spirit!

It is the work of the Holy Spirit to bring a person to saving faith in Jesus Christ.
1Co 12:3 Therefore I tell you that no-one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus be cursed,” and no-one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.

It is the Holy Spirit who takes our words and makes them live in people’s hearts.
1 Thessalonians 1:4 For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, 5 because our gospel came to you not simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction. Our witness does not rest on our own abilities – but on the power of the Holy Spirit.
1 Corinthians 2:1 When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. 2 For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3 I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling. 4 My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, 5 so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power.Weakness, fear and trembling. That may be how you are feeling as you share your faith with others. But that is exactly when the Spirit’s power can begin to work through us!

The Spirit is the witness. The Resurrection is God’s proof that Jesus is the Son of God – and it was the Holy Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead. The Book of Acts says that the coming of the Holy Spirit into the world is God’s proof that Jesus is risen from the dead, proof that Jesus is Lord and proof that He is exalted on high! The Holy Spirit who lives in us is the divine witness to the resurrection and the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

It is the Holy Spirit who is the witness through signs and wonders. God does not work miracles to prove anything to anybody! Miracles of healing and deliverance are simply the gospel in action, the loving Almighty God bringing freedom and wholeness and peace. But these miracles still function as a witness to the presence and the Lordship of the risen Christ in His church.

Hebrews 2:3-4 How shall we escape if we ignore such a great salvation? This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him. 4 God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.So the gifts of the Holy Spirit, prophecies, dreams and visions stand alongside healings and acts of deliverance as witnesses to the Lordship of Christ and the salvation He offers.

And the Holy Spirit is the witness through transformed lives. When a caterpillar is transformed into a butterfly it becomes a totally new creature. A metamorphosis takes place.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old is gone, the new has come!” (2 Cor. 5:17, NIV) When someone becomes a Christian he becomes a brand new person inside. He is not the same any more. A new life has begun!

God the Holy Spirit gives us new birth into eternal life, life in all its fullness. But then the work of the Holy Spirit continues, the work of making us holy too, metamorphosing us into the image of Christ, with the character of Christ the fruit of the Spirit. The transforming power of God – which is able to save from the guttermost to the uttermost! That is the witness. The power of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, who deals all our sin and failure and ignorance and rebellion. Jesus Christ the Son of God who has the power to transform the present and shape the future. The power of Christ which turns water into wine and heals the sick and opens the eyes of the blind and sets the captives free and even brings the dead to life. The resurrection life of Christ released into our lives here – today – now, by the Holy Spirit!

The power of Jesus Christ, who transformed the lives of all kinds of people from respectable Pharisees like Nicodemus to prostitutes like Mary Magdalene and professional thieves (tax collectors) Matthew and Zaccheus. Prodigals who were throwing their lives away, returning home and being transformed into children of God! “My Son was lost but now is found – was dead but now is alive again!” Sinners changed into saints.

His touch has still its ancient power. There is the witness – the difference Jesus makes in our lives! There are Christians you meet and seeing them now it is almost impossible to believe that they were once criminals and prisoners, or drug addicts or alcoholics, or prostitutes or abusers. This is the transforming power of Christ! The hope Christ gives us, the peace God gives us, the joy the Holy Spirit gives us. This is our witness to the world.

The great missionary church planter Lesslie Newbigin puts is so clearly.

“Evangelism is the overflow of our joyful faith.”
Our Christian witness is simply our victorious Christian living! Our lives showing the life of Christ shining through us into the darkness. The difference Jesus makes to the things we do and the way we talk and the ways we think about things. That IS our Christian witness. That is our outreach.

“Evangelism is the overflow of our joyful faith.”

Sometimes we think of “witnessing” as some desperately challenging and difficult task. But if we let God’s love flood our lives, if we are living according to the Scriptures, if we are living for God instead of for ourselves, then people around us WILL see the difference and they will WANT to know about Jesus for themselves.

Jesus teaches in the Sermon on the Mount. Matthew 5:14 “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”In other words, the way we live is our witness to the world. The difference Jesus makes IS our witness – we just need to have the answers ready when people start asking the questions. This is the way it was throughout the book of Acts. God worked in powerful ways – and people around asked questions! “What’s happening? What’s all this praising God? How was this man healed? How was that slave-girl delivered. How did that arch-enemy of the Christians Saul become the apostle to the Gentiles Paul? How CAN Jesus be alive again? What’s going on? Prayers answered. Enemies forgiven. Courageous preaching in the face of cruel persecution. How is all this possible?!!!

Outreach and witnessing are not some impossibly difficult special activities which need special “methods” or “techniques”! Outreach is simply living our Christian lives as the light of the world. Witnessing is nothing more than letting our light so shine before men that they give praise to our Father in heaven. Just as long as we aren’t hiding our light under a bowl!!

We also are witnesses to the resurrection of Jesus Christ. We know Jesus is alive. We know God raised Him from the dead by the power of the Holy Spirit. So we must TELL PEOPLE that Jesus is alive. And we must tell people what God has done in our lives. When God answers our prayers we must TELL people. When God brings miraculous healing or deliverance we must TELL people! Not keep the secret to the church, but share the good news with the world! When God speaks in prophecy we should TELL people!

We must testify by our transformed lives. The character, the lifestyle, the sufferings of believers are our witness. When people see our lives and ask us questions we should let our light shine. “Why are you like you are? Why don’t you get drunk? Why are you so honest? Why don’t you gossip? How are you able to be so patient, so forgiving? How have you coped with all you have been through? It is not boasting if we answer people, “I am like I am because of Jesus Christ!”

“Evangelism is the overflow of our joyful faith.”

Remember how in Acts 4 the apostles were arrested for preaching the gospel. Exciting things were happening. A crippled man had been healed and he was going around Jerusalem walking and leaping and praising God. The Jewish Council the Sanhedrin asked the apostles, how did this happen? By what power or what name did you do this? That’s what happens when God the Holy Spirit is at work. People will ask, how did this happen? And Peter answered,
9 If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a cripple and are asked how he was healed, 10 then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed.How did this happen? It’s simple. God did this! When God is at work and people see what God is doing our witness is simply to be there and say, “God did this!” Miracles? Words from God? Answered prayers? The peace which passes understanding? God did this!
12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” That is the gospel. Jesus is the only way to be saved. That’s the message God has given us to proclaim. And then we read,
13 When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus. “They took note that these men had been with Jesus.” This is our witness – that we have been with Jesus. The difference that Jesus has made to our lives! Evangelism is the overflow of our joyful faith! That is the witness that cannot be silenced.

18 Then they called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. 19 But Peter and John replied, “Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God’s sight to obey you rather than God. 20 For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.”
We cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard! Peter and John were not saying, “here is an important message and we have been commanded and entrusted to deliver it”. Although that is also true. Instead what they were saying was, we have seen God do incredible things. We have seen Jesus Christ raised from the dead. God has done such wonderful things in our lives. We can’t keep these things to ourselves. We are so excited in the Lord, we just have to tell everybody how great God is, how much he loves us all, how he has saved us and he wants to save you too! Evangelism is the overflow of our joyful faith.

This week, may the Lord make OUR joyful faith overflow to His praise and glory!

I’m excited, I’m excited, I’m excited in the Lord,
I’m excited, I’m excited, I’m excited in the Lord,
I’m excited, I’m excited, I’m excited in the Lord,
If you walk with the Lord, you don’t get bored!
Sing Hallelujah – AMEN!

We are entrusted with good news, the news that God reigns. That must be the starting point of all our thinking, and our evangelism will be an overflow of that joyful faith. ~ Leslie Newbigin Evangelism in the Context of Secularization

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