Acts 1. 8
Witnesses Unto Me.
by Douglas Walter Brealey
The immediate goal, of both justification and sanctification, is to be “witnesses unto Me.” This comprises the Lord’s last great commission to His disciples.
Let us consider:—
(1) The One to whom witness is to be borne.
“Ye shall be witnesses unto Me,” i.e., the Christ. Whatever may be understood by “witnessing,” our Lord made it clear that the one all comprehensive duty of His disciples was to witness to His Person, and the Holy Spirit bears witness to them in the Acts, that wherever they went, in whatever circumstances they found themselves, their one theme, their only subject, their sole purpose, was to proclaim the Lord Jesus Christ.
But in view of the fact that He Himself had revealed that false Christs would arise, how might the true be distinguished from the false in the witness borne to Him? The answer is that the true Christ can be recognized by the four crises in His history of which the chapter speaks:—
First, there is the crisis of “His passion” (v. 3). This may be said to cover all the awful experience which commenced in Gethsemane and culminated at the Cross. Gethsemane, where He entered into, prospectively, all that it would mean to be made sin for us, where, irrevocably, He accepted that bitter cup; Gabatha, the place to which His betrayal brought Him, where He was delivered up to be crucified; and Golgotha, where He was lifted up to die, in order to draw all men, without distinction, to Himself. The Christ then, to whom witness is to be borne, is firstly, the crucified Christ!
Secondly, there is the crisis of His resurrection. We are to bear witness to the risen Christ, the One who “shewed Himself alive after His passion by many infallible proofs.”
Thirdly, we are to bear witness to the Christ who was “taken up . . . into heaven,” the ascended Christ.
Finally, we are to bear witness to the Christ who is coming again, “in like manner as He went into Heaven.” The One who went suddenly, bodily, visibly, and who will return suddenly, bodily, visibly, the coming Christ.
(2) The Witnesses Themselves.
“Ye shall be witnesses unto Me.” No doubt, the first application is to the Apostles, but the Acts testifies to its general application to all believers. A witness is one who declares the truth concerning matters of fact; one who can testify to the truth of what he has seen, heard, knows (vv. 21, 22). A true witness to Christ must be one who has personal acquaintance with Him in His hour of crises and shares, experimentally by faith, in the spiritual import of His crucifixion and resurrection (Phil. 3. 10, 11); His ascension (Eph. 2. 6), and in the “blessed hope” of Christ’s return; he must be one who loves His appearing (2 Tim. 4. 8); who not just holds that truth, but is himself held by it!
Our witness must be by life as well as lip; by works and words, even as our Lord Himself, who both “did and taught.” No witness can be effective whose doing and teaching, whose work and words, do not approximate to harmony.
(3) The Way of Witness.
a. Power is needed: “Ye shall receive power after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you.” The only witness which will count is the witness of the Holy Spirit through us (see chap. 1. 8, and 4. 31, 33). Apart from the undoubted dispensational aspect, there is the practical side; there is a vital connexion between waiting and witnessing; between prayer and power.
b. Prayer therefore is needed. “These all continued with one accord in prayer” (v. 14). The immediate outcome is “and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost.” Small wonder that thousands were saved on the day of Pentecost, and along the same lines thousands since.
God grant that in answer to believing prayer, the Holy Spirit may endue us with like power and give us to see similar blessed results.
“Echoes of Service” July 1954.