God has given to you the ministry of reconciliation! You are an ambassador for Jesus, and he has given you the task of introducing him to people through your testimony.
In Acts 1:8 Jesus says, ?But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.?
Jesus is speaking to a specific group of people – the early apostles – who were eyewitnesses of his miracles and resurrection. He promises that the Holy Spirit will anoint what they have seen and experienced – their testimony. But Jesus is not only talking to the early disciples; he?s also talking to us.
The desperate need for reconciliation
Today?s world is in a desperate need for reconciliation and righteousness. The need for righteousness has reached the point that even the police in our nation are despairing for it.
In the Evening Standard of 16th July 2014 Phil Gormley, the deputy director of the National Crime Agency, commented on recent 660 arrests of child abusers in Britain, many of them in prominent positions in society. He said:
?We?re going to need to understand as a society how we will confront this issue. We are not going to arrest our way out of this. The numbers involved are huge.? He added, ?I think we are all pretty appalled by what this says about human nature.?
But true righteousness is impossible without God; hence our nation is in a desperate need for reconciliation with him.
Reconciliation means that the relationship that has broken down between God and human beings is restored. But God has never broken that relationship. He has always loved us and he will always love us. God has always loved us and he will always love us.
But like the police who despair over the impact of our fallen nature in society, God also sees the consequences of sin. That?s why sin is always an offence to God, and he has to deal with it. But unlike the police that have to focus on solving only major crimes due to lack of resources and will never even know about most of the crimes committed, the all-seeing God can never overlook any sin.
?The depravity of our society? demonstrates clearly how the natural man left to his own devices is unable to produce righteousness. That is why the blood of Jesus was needed to satisfy God?s justice and open our way to God. And the blood also dealt with our rebellious nature and released an anointing of conviction so that Godhaters would become God-lovers!
The apostle Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 5:17-21, ?Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people?s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ?s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ?s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.?
Power of the apostolic testimony
?Our world desperately needs the power of our testimony. And our testimony is built on that of the early apostles.
The testimony of the early apostles has a special authority that comes directly from God. Scholars still debate over details of the early church history, but the apostolic word recorded in the New Testament is certain and reliable. The early apostles had the authority to represent Jesus to the point that what they were saying was as if Jesus had said it. But that was because they were only saying what Jesus said through them!
In 1 Corinthians 3:10 the apostle Paul writes, ?According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it.?
The early apostles? testimony was an eyewitness testimony and it should be sufficient to us when it comes to doctrine. We don?t need to invent new doctrines; only to bear witness to the doctrines that are already in the Bible. The apostolic testimony is the foundation for all churches for all time. It is the foundation we can safely build on.
The power of your testimony
?But when it comes to you being Jesus? ambassador, your testimony can be as powerful as the testimony of the apostles.
You are a new creation and your testimony has supernatural power. In John chapter 9 a man born blind is healed by Jesus. Afterwards, the Pharisees interrogate him. In verse 25 the man responds, ?One thing I know: that though I was blind, now I see.? That testimony cut through all the contradictions and religious arguments of the Pharisees. And your testimony can have the same power.
Most people come to Jesus because of the testimony of someone they know. When you tell the story of how Jesus found you, you speak with the same authority as an apostle. It is the authority of the Holy Spirit. You are the proof that gospel is true!
How I found Jesus
?Most people come to Jesus because of the testimony of someone they know. What brought me to Jesus was the testimony of my brother.
I was 18 and I had come to the UK from Australia. We had been separated for a while but now, when my brother came to London to see me, I knew instantly that something had changed in him. There was a new smile and new-found peace.
My brother?s testimony led me to Jesus. He was the final link in the chain of witness.
When I was around ten years old, my mother would take us to church every Sunday. It was the old-fashioned dressup- in-your-Sunday-best occasion in a high Anglican church with all the ?smells and bells?.
My mother wanted me to get involved in some church activity but the only thing for the youth was the boys? choir.
Very quickly they discovered that I couldn?t sing! They asked me if there was anything else I could do instead and I said that I was learning ballet. You wouldn?t want to be a 10-yearold boy learning ballet in Western Australia 50 years ago, as it was not considered cool. Still, the Archdeacon gave me a project of choreographing a dance for a hymn so that they wouldn?t need to hear me sing.
I choreographed the hymn Hushed Was the Evening Hymn written by James D. Burns and composed by Samuel and Arthur S. Sullivan. Not many will be familiar with the hymn so here are the lyrics:
Hushed was the evening hymn
?The temple courts were dark; The lamp was burning dim Before the sacred ark; When suddenly a voice divine Rang through the silence of the shrine. The old man, meek and mild, The priest of Israel, slept; His watch the temple child, The little Levite, kept; And what from Eli?s sense was sealed The Lord to Hannah?s son revealed. O give me Samuel?s ear, The open ear, O Lord, Alive and quick to hear Each whisper of Thy Word, Like him to answer at Thy call, And to obey Thee first of all. O give me Samuel?s heart, A lowly heart, that waits Where in Thy house Thou art, Or watches at Thy gates; By day and night, a heart that still Moves at the breathing of Thy will. O give me Samuel?s mind, A sweet unmurm?ring faith, Obedient and resigned To Thee in life and death, That I may read with childlike eyes Truths that are hidden from the wise.
The Archdeacon who asked me to choreograph the dance for the hymn was another link in the chain of witness. In fact, looking back at the words of this hymn, I can?t help noticing how relevant they are even to my walk with God today.
One time, when our High School Religious Education teacher didn?t show up, we were delighted, as we thought we would have some free time. But then the door opened and in came the substitute, Mr. Dobson, the maths teacher.
He walked to the blackboard and began to draw, furiously. Clouds of chalk filled the air! He drew lakes and clouds, a beautiful landscape. Mr Dodson said that all of this couldn?t have come from nothingness but God had created all of it. Then he shared a testimony of how he met God. My maths teacher was the next link in the chain of witness. His words were to me words of reconciliation, drawing me to the Father.
Then I came to London to become a star! It was the summer of 1970. I went to the Isle of Wight to a pop festival. We pitched our tent and went to listen to Jimi Hendrix in one of his final concerts.
Between the performances, a man took the microphone and said he had been given permission to preach. I could see demons begin to manifest around me ? although it was only later that I understood they had been demons. Then the man talked about how God loves us.
He was yet another word of reconciliation, a link in the chain of witness.
The concert took place just eighteen months before my brother came to see me from Africa and led me to reconciliation with God. But although he led me to Christ, God had already prepared the ground of my heart through other witnesses.
Be in the chain of witness
We can all be links in the chain of witness. God has given us words of reconciliation.
Don?t lose hope just because someone doesn?t give their lives to Jesus straight after you tell them for the first time about him. This happens occasionally, but only when you happen to be the last link in the chain of witness!
Just be there at the right time to forge the link. You need to know how to ?close the deal? ? but you can rarely do that straight away.
This nation desperately needs ambassadors for Jesus, ready, willing and able to reconcile people to God. Don?t become so preoccupied with your needs so that you forget to be an ambassador! Decide to speak the words of reconciliation and you will soon be surprised about the power of your words.