The disciples of the first century were driven by the mandate to take the good news of Christ and His Kingdom to the world.  Day after day, in multiple venues, they were aggressive in speaking boldly and authoritatively in the name of Jesus Christ.  Their intense and deep passion for what they had seen and heard of the resurrected Savior was not to be suppressed.  Persecution only intensified their resolve.  This intensity was matched by their intelligence in explaining the ways of God accurately, effectively, and persuasively.  As these disciples entered a region or a town, it was said that “those who have turned the world upside down have now come here, proclaiming that there is no king but Jesus.” (Acts 17:6-7)

Our present cultural framework is severely lacking in clarity and coherence.  People are adrift in madness and meaninglessness.  Regardless of what the Scripture says, choices are based on the desire to condone and to celebrate.  Progression toward oblivion is merrily embraced with no thought of devasting consequences that may follow.  Despite any facts, truth is defined as an individual’s perception of reality.  Self-deceiving labels such as enlightened or progressive are eagerly adopted.

Reformation seems impossible; transformation is crucial.  The question that is paramount for God-followers was framed for us long ago by the prophet Ezekiel, “How then shall we live?!”  Our privileged responsibility is to represent Christ at this turbulent moment of history.  George Orwell said that “in a time of universal deception, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.”  Let us infer further that “proclaiming Christ in the midst of universal depravity is a provocative act,” and “manifesting love in an age of universal desperation is a dangerous act.”

We have been discussing the essentials vital to each believer called to influence parts of our culture while insulating ourselves from its dangers.  In the context of this responsibility, we must discuss the witness of those who are Christ followers.  Since “we have the mind of Christ” (I Corinthians 2:16), we must “prepare our minds for action.” (I Peter 1:13) Our lives must “set apart Christ as Lord, always prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks, and to give a reason for the hope that we have.” ( I Peter 3:15) In the book of Acts there are 37 synonyms* for witnessing used 106 times.  These fall clearly into seven basic categories to define the balanced witness of believers to the culture and the world.  The English pronunciation of the Greek words are used below.

  • Martureo –We get the English word martyr from this.  This synonym for witness is used more often throughout Acts than any of the others.  We are to proclaim Christ without regard to self-impacting consequences, even persecution or death.
  • Didasko – There must be a foundational teaching quality to our witness, bringing the hearer along with a reasonable process of thought.
  • Euaggelizo – Evangelism comes from this word with the connotation of being an announcement of very good news.
  • Kerusso – There is an apostolic flavor to our witness: the message has not changed; there is no need to embellish or diminish the gospel.
  • Homologeo – The English word we derive from this is homogenize.  This speaks to making our message uniform in structure and composition throughout… or consistent to the whole of God’s Word.
  • Parakaleo – The word paraclete refers to the involvement of the Spirit in the entire process of the witness.  He is called alongside to help, comfort, and guide us.
  • Episterizo – Our testimony has an epistemology to it.  It distinguishes fact from opinion.  There is integrity in the investigation process when seeking the truth.

We are to proclaim the eternal gospel to everyone on the planet: every nation, tribe, language, and people. (Revelation 14:6) The time is now; the kingdom of God is in our midst, and we have the good news to share. (Mark 1:14) How beautiful are the feet of those who bring this news, proclaim peace, bring good tidings, and proclaim salvation saying ‘Our God Reigns!’” (Isaiah 32:7; Ephesians 6:15) We then become repairers of the breech and restorers of righteous pathways. (Isaiah 58:12)

* English synonyms for “witness” in the book of Acts: testify, teach, preach, dispute, declare, command, inform, defend, beseech, salute, warn, confess, entreat, persuade, utter, exhort, report, rehearse, expound, publish, confirm, commend, recommend, contend, reason, open, allege, convince, inform, defend, cry, etc.