A “witness” is someone who saw or heard something and is willing to testify that it is true, like Paul (Acts 24:15). But that means, technically speaking, we can’t be witnesses. But we can still testify for Him with something “more sure” than “eyewitness” testimony—the Scriptures (II Peter 1:16-20). If you’ve ever seen a magician, you know you can’t trust your eyes, and witnesses often lie. But God can’t (Tit. 1:2), and He wrote the Scriptures! But can you see how, when we testify using the Bible, our witness is different from that of the apostles who saw and heard the Lord?
Our witness is also different from the witness of God’s people in the Old Testament, for they didn’t do any witnessing. God witnessed for Himself (Acts 14:17), so He didn’t need the witness of men.
Another reason He didn’t need the witness of men is because of the way He witnessed for them (Heb. 11:4) by devouring their sacrifices with fire (Lev. 9:24; I Chron. 21:26; II Chron. 7:1; I Kings 18:24). Hey, if you offered an animal sacrifice on your front lawn and God devoured it with fire from heaven, would you need to tell your neighbor that your God was the only true God?
God also witnessed for Himself by witnessing to His people through the miracles He did for them. Parting the Red Sea testified to a Gentile named Rahab that He was God, causing her to believe on Him (Joshua 2). A Gentile named Naaman believed when God healed his leprosy (II Ki. 5:15), an incurable disease. Nebuchadnezzar believed when God delivered the three Hebrews (Dan. 3:29), and Darius believed when He delivered Daniel (Dan. 6:26,27).
But now that God is not testifying to Himself by working miracles like that any more, can you see how important it is for you to witness for Him?
God’s ability to tell the future also testified that He was God. He taunted the false gods that they couldn’t tell the future (Isa. 41:23). But we live in the dispensation of the mystery. God is not making and fulfilling prophecies today, nor fulfilling Old Testament prophecies, to prove He is God. So if you don’t witness for Him, He won’t witness for Himself.
All the time God was witnessing for Himself with miracles, He had one problem He couldn’t overcome—the sinfulness of His people. So in the New Testament He introduced a new plan to witness that the Jews were His people, and in so doing witness to Himself. He filled them with His Spirit and caused them to obey Him, just as He predicted He would (Ezek. 36:37), so much so they couldn’t sin (I Jo. 3:19; 5:18).
A misunderstanding of all that has impacted the witness of Christianity in a negative way. When a Christian sins a lot, men say he that he can’t be saved, because the Lord said you could know believers by their fruit (Mt. 7:20,21). Now that was true at Pentecost, and will be again in the Tribulation when God again fills His people with His Spirit, but it is not true today. Just ask the Corinthians. They were carnal, but Paul called them saints (I Cor. 1:2).
But a failure to rightly divide the Word in this instance has led to a heresy called Lordship Salvation, which says if Christ is not Lord of all, He is not Lord at all! This causes Lordship Salvationists to witness to sinners by telling them to “make Jesus the Lord of your life” to be saved. But if you promise to make Him your Lord, you’re promising to obey Him (Lu. 6:46). And if you promise to make Him your Lord to get saved, what happens if you do get saved and disobey Him by sinning? You’re going to be tempted to think you’re not saved at all! Can you see the important difference that rightly dividing the word of truth makes to our witness?
Finally, our witness is also different than the Lord’s, who testified to the world of their sinfulness (John 7:7), as did John (Mt. 14:3,4). But they were trying to establish the kingdom in which no one will sin! Paul says the only sinners that we should tell are sinners are believers (I Cor. 5:9-12). Telling unsaved sinners they are sinners just alienates them, and causes them to turn a deaf ear to the gospel.
Video of this message is available on YouTube: What Difference Does Rightly Dividing Make to My Witness? – Acts 24:14-15