Thoroughly Equipped to Be Witnesses of Christ: Part I

February 7, 2015

In my first message in this series, I presented key introductory truths about how all Scripture equips us thoroughly to be witnesses of Christ. The following seventeen points summarize most of the teachings of Scripture about this vital subject that I emphasized in this message.

  1. God has given us the Bible to make us wise unto salvation (2 Tim. 3:15) and to equip us thoroughly for every good work (2 Tim. 3:16-17). We can only know with certainty what those good works are through what the Scripture says.
  2. Because we are believers in God after the coming of Christ, the NT books are of special significance for us in our knowing what good works God wants us to do (cf. Heb. 1:1-2). To understand further what these good works are that the NT books specially equip us to do, we must examine some key features of these books.
  3. Of the 27 books of the NT, we know that God explicitly directed many of them to the same original recipient or recipients. For example, First and Second Corinthians were both written to the same church (1 Cor. 1:2; 2 Cor. 1:1), First and Second Timothy were both written to the same man, Timothy (1 Tim. 1:2; 2 Tim. 1:2), and Luke and Acts were both written to the same man, Theophilus (Luke 1:3; Acts 1:1).
  4. Because of this key feature of these books, we are justified in treating them together as units of the NT. Among such units of the NT, Luke-Acts is by far the largest; in fact, Luke-Acts comprises more of the NT than the combined writings of any other author of the NT.
  5. Because God directed far more of the NT to Theophilus than He did any of the rest of the NT to any other original recipient or recipients of Scripture, we can be certain that Luke-Acts is of special importance for our understanding of the good works that Scripture equips us to do.
  6. Another indicator of the special importance of Luke-Acts relates to the special nature of the first five books of the NT in our present canonical order of Scripture. Each of the first four books ends by informing us that Jesus gave authoritative instructions to His disciples after His resurrection (Matt. 28; Mk. 16; Luke 24; John 20) and Acts, the fifth of these books, begins by doing so (Acts 1; cf. also Acts 10).
  7. From Matthew, the earliest written of these books as well as the first in the canonical order, we learn that Jesus informed His disciples that He had been given all authority in heaven and in earth (Matt. 28:18). Based on that authority, Jesus commanded them to go and make disciples of all nations (Matt. 28:19).
  8. Moreover, in making disciples of all nations, they were to baptize them and instruct them to obey everything that He had commanded them themselves as His original disciples to do (Matt. 28:19). Finally, He promised to be with them until the end of the age (Matt. 28:20), which implied that believers from then on were to continue making disciples for all time until the age would end.
  9. From Matthew, therefore, we learn that Scripture thoroughly equips us to do the good work of making disciples of all nations by teaching them to obey all that Jesus commanded. We are to do this good work because Jesus with the authority that the Father has given Him commanded us to do so  and because Jesus promised to be with us as we do so until the end of the age.
  10. The Gospel of Mark ends by specifying that Jesus commanded His disciples to go into the whole world and preach the gospel to every person (Mk. 16:15). Based on Matthew and Mark, we learn that all Scripture equips us for doing two primary good works that Jesus with the authority that the Father has given Him has commanded us to do: (1) evangelize all people in all nations; and (2) disciple all nations to obey all that Jesus commanded. Moreover, we are to do these good works until the end of the age.
  11. Although Matthew and Mark both provide us with vital information that equips us to do these good works that Jesus has commanded us to do, we should expect Luke-Acts to be even more important in doing so because it comprises by far the biggest section of the beginning books of the NT in the present canonical order of books. When we give special attention to Luke-Acts to see what it teaches us about these good works that Jesus has authoritatively directed us to do, we certainly discover that such is the case.
  12. The Gospel of Luke teaches us that God wants us to know the certainty of the things that we have been instructed (Luke 1:4). It also teaches us that God wants us to know all that He has revealed about what Jesus did and taught (cf. Acts 1:1).
  13. Luke ends with a record of explicit teaching from Jesus that He directed His followers to be witnesses of repentance and forgiveness of sins to all nations (Lk. 24:46-48). Based on what Matthew, Mark, and Luke combined teach us, we learn that Scripture equips us to do two primary good works: (1) evangelize all people in all nations by preaching the gospel to them, including especially witnessing to them about repentance and the forgiveness of sins; and (2) disciple all nations to obey all that Jesus has commanded.
  14. Acts begins with a record that amplifies our understanding of what Matthew, Mark, and Luke teach us by specifying that the disciples were to be witnesses of Christ to all places in the world in a specific geographical progression (Acts 1:7-8). Matthew, Mark, Luke, and Acts, therefore, equip believers to do two primary good works that Jesus has commanded them to do until the end of the age: (1) evangelize all people in all places in all nations, including testifying to them about repentance and remission of sins; and (2) disciple all nations to obey all that Jesus has commanded.
  15. Based on what we find in the rest of the book of Acts, we know that a major purpose of the book of Acts is to relate to us how the believers in the apostolic company were witnesses of Christ from Jerusalem to the world (Acts 1:7-8). Moreover, by applying Matthew 28:18-20 to what we find in Luke-Acts, we know that Christ wants us also to be such witnesses for Him (cf. Acts 8:1-4).
  16. Based on the discussion above, we learn that God has given us Luke-Acts especially so that we would be thoroughly equipped to be witnesses for Christ. In these four messages, we will look at many passages in Acts to learn more about how God wants us to be witnesses for Christ.
  17. The goal of this series is to present as thoroughly as possible in the time allotted many key biblical truths from Luke-Acts that we all need to give more attention to in our teaching and ministry in the area of witnessing.

Rajesh

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