Introductory Statement on Witness:
Following Jesus’ authority and command, we joyfully obey his call to go, preach the good news, make disciples, baptize, and teach obedience (Matthew 28:18-20 and Mark 16:15, abbreviated). We are calling ourselves, and everyone, to our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ.
Expanded Witness Principles:
In seeking to glorify God in and through witness, we hear words of Jesus from Matthew 28:19-20:
1. “All authority in heaven and earth has been given to me.” Jesus’ authority is the foundation for witness. We proclaim the gospel to all, not yet knowing who the elect are, but in obedience and with confidence in knowing that God is using us to bring the good news to those he has already chosen. We also evangelize, preaching repentance and the forgiveness of sins, in Jesus’ authoritative name (Luke 24:47). We believe regeneration precedes faith, that is, the Holy Spirit starts renewing a person before they can respond positively to the gospel. (John 3:5, 8) Our role, and our joy, is to faithfully present the gospel. We should study and prepare to offer good answers to those we encounter and genuinely love those we seek to evangelize as God also commands, but ultimately the salvation of others does not depend on our clever arguments or winsome ways but rather on God through his Word and Spirit.
2. “Therefore go…” (“Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” Mark 16:15) We follow Jesus’ command to evangelize -- to family, to neighbor, to the world. Evangelism is spreading the gospel, telling the good news. Romans 10:14-15 states, “How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” Obedience to Jesus’ command is reason enough to witness, but we are also motivated by the love of God. (John 3:16) And while not everyone is called to be an evangelist by vocation (Romans 12:3-8), we must ensure the church is equipped to evangelize and that we all are prepared “to give the reason for the hope that you have.” (I Peter 3:15)
3. “And make disciples of all nations…teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” The great commission is more than giving testimony or evangelism. At its heart is making disciples, fostering lifelong students of Jesus and doers of the Word (Ephesians 5:1-2; James 1:22-25).
Further biblical direction and support:
We witness to each other:
Hebrews 10:24–25 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
Romans 1:12 that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.
We witness to our neighbors:
Matthew 5:16 In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.
1 Peter 3:15 But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.
We witness to the world:
Matthew 24:14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.
Matthew 28:19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.