We hear a great deal about “witnessing for Christ” in our present day. Even some of our brethren use this word. The denominational world uses this expression to refer to a “special working of grace.” So what is witnessing?
It is defined as: “To behold personal knowledge of an event, to have direct observance with one’s own eye, to bear witness to one’s religious convictions.” In the Bible, the Greek word for witness means, “One who is a spectator of an event.” It is one who has information or knowledge of something and who can give information. It is further defined by Vine’s Dictionary of New Testament Words as: “One who has seen, heard or knows; to observe.” In the Bible, there are thirty three references to being a witness (examples: Acts 1:8, 22; Acts 5:32; 1 Pet. 5:1; etc . . .) Each time the term is used in the sense of stating what one has actually seen or observed or has direct knowledge of.
Many people who are using this term, including those of the brotherhood, do not use this word as the Bible uses this term. One cannot bear witness of the death of Christ for none of us were there. One cannot bear the work of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost because none of us were there to observe it. Now, we can pronounce to others about the testimony of Luke who wrote the book of Acts. We can give to others what the apostles witnessed, but this is not our testimony. In other words, there is a difference between telling of what another witnessed and actually witnessing something yourself. So, when we proclaim the good news of the Gospel, we are passing on to listeners, the testimony of those who were actually witnesses.
But, the question then arises: “What is the big deal if we use this word or not?” Well, as Christians, we are taught to speak as the oracles of God (1 Pet. 4:11). For this reason alone, we should be cautious in using expressions like “witnessing for Christ” lest we begin to change the way the Bible uses the term witness. Second, no one qualifies as a witness for Christ today and it brings into Christianity, an element of deceit which defiles a person (Mk. 7:21-23). Third, if we truly seek to speak where the Bible speaks, we will understand that witnessing, as recorded in God’s Word, was in reference to the witnessing of the resurrection of Jesus Christ and all he did (Acts 1:21-22; 10:39-43). Fourth, our purpose is not to be a witness for the Lord as the disciples were in the first century. Christ, His message and His kingdom has already been established and proven to be true. We do not need to share testimonies of what the Lord did in our lives nor do we need to witness: anything. What we need to do is speak as the Bible speaks and teach as the Bible tells us to teach so that we and others are absolutely sure of the message we bear. And, to do contrary to this, is to pervert and confuse people of the message we bring. Therefore, let us teach the Gospel to others by using the examples of conversions we find in God’s Word and leave witnessing to those who lived in the days of Christ.