EBible Fellowship Sunday Bible Study – 28-Jun-2009


by John McOwen


The Bible indicates that those touched by the Spirit of God will be witnesses of His truth to the whole world.  The Gospel of Luke ends with these words from Christ in Luke 24.  I want to read these to you as we endeavor to study today the topic of witnessing in these last months. 

In Luke 24:45-48, we read: 

Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And ye are witnesses of these things. 

Let us turn to Acts 1 as well and read in Acts 1:8, where Jesus said: 

But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. 

As you go out with tracts, into the streets or into a room or outside with a family member or a friend, and you discuss the things of the Bible as you understand them today, especially in these last days, you invariably will face resistance to the strange doctrine that you are proposing at this time. 

Someone recently wrote to me and asked me a question.  I am going to quote a part of her letter: “How long do we patiently take these rebuffs and continue to place ourselves in a position where we can discuss this information?  When should we stop discussing it with people and just commit it to God in prayer?” 

This was a great question.  I was intrigued by the letter as this person wrote to me asking for encouragement in witnessing in these last days, especially as we understand the timeline of history today and recognize the strange doctrine that we will be proposing to people as we share this with them and speak with them. 

So she was basically asking in her letter, “How long do you continue to put yourself out there in this position with certain people?  When do you just leave it to God in prayer and commit it to Him and leave it be?  Or do we never do this?”  She was genuinely interested in what the Scriptures have to say when someone is dealing with this particular emotion that one can feel. 

I think that one of the answers is found in Luke 9, so let us go there and see what the Scriptures say.  In Luke 9:1-6, we read: 

Then he called his twelve disciples together, and gave them power and authority over all devils, and to cure diseases. And he sent them to preach the kingdom of God, and to heal the sick. And he said unto them, Take nothing for your journey, neither staves, nor scrip, neither bread, neither money; neither have two coats apiece. And whatsoever house ye enter into, there abide, and thence depart. And whosoever will not receive you… 

We need to listen to this because this is answering her question.  It continues: 

And whosoever will not receive you, when ye go out of that city, shake off the very dust from your feet for a testimony against them. And they departed, and went through the towns, preaching the gospel, and healing every where. 

Here Jesus is telling us that “whosoever will not receive you,” you are to “shake off the very dust from your feet for a testimony against them.” 

So the key question is what does it mean for people not to receive you?  What does He mean by this statement?  Well, let us take a look. 

There are a lot of different ways that you can be received as you witness the Gospel.  A lot of you hand out tracts or you share with friends or colleagues at work or family members.  If you really believe that the end of the world is coming in 2011, you are naturally apt to be talking about this with people whom you care about. 

If you had known that 9/11 was going to happen, you would have been remiss in not warning people that it was about to be executed by the perpetrators who had planned to take the Twin Towers down.  But we are in a situation now that is manifold more in scope concerning what is going to happen on May 21st, 2011. 

So in sharing this with people, what does it mean for people not to receive you?  Let us take a look at a couple of examples of how this information can be received as you share this with people. 

The first could be that you might have some people who will politely listen to you.  They might take a tract that you hand to them; however, they might not really be interested.  Is this not typical of a lot of people?  You later talk to them and they appear more and more uncomfortable as you bring this topic up.  They were polite at first and so you maybe continued to discuss things with them.  Maybe the next time you see them, the topic comes up so you bring this up to them again.  Eventually you can tell that they are becoming very uncomfortable. 

At this point, it is fine to just leave it be.  You are not given an injunction in the Scriptures to continue to hound someone or to drill this into them or to shove it down their throats, so-to-speak.  You have done your job.  You have exposed someone to these truths.  If they are interested, they will let you know by asking you questions and seeming to be more intrigued. 

How about another situation where you might be aggressively berated by someone whom you are attempting to witness to?  This is possible and this is when you are to “shake off the very dust from your feet.”  I think that this is what Jesus was talking about in Luke 9.  When they will not receive you, you are to shake off the dust from your feet. 

So you just might be aggressively berated because of what you believe and because of what you are trying to speak about.  There is no need to continue in this type of situation, of course, unless that individual or that group of people approach you later and open up the topic once again.  At that point, you are wide open to re-introduce this topic; but know that you may face this. 

Ebiblefellowship is preparing to go on a missions trip to Brazil.  Fourteen of you are going to be doing this in a few short weeks from now.  Who knows what you are going to be met with.  You may encounter a 95% attitude of open hospitality where there is an acceptance of everything, or you may encounter just a few people who are interested, or you may even encounter some people in authority who are really, really resistant to what you are trying to do.  This is especially so if there is any one particular church that is very dominant in that area.  Brazil seems to be an area where you may possibly experience this type of response.  People here in the Philadelphia area receive this kind of response when they are passing out tracts outside of certain churches in this area, and naturally so. 

Again, you are to “shake off the very dust from your feet for a testimony against them.”  But would this mean that you went into the wrong area to pass out tracts?  No.  Remember that Jesus said that if you are not received, you are to shake off the dust of your feet as a testimony against them.  So God is doing this.  He is driving this encounter with someone, no matter if you are received or not.  In doing this, He is going to get His own purposes accomplished through this. 

How about another example where someone persists in challenging you on your current beliefs?  They will bring it up and they will seem to demean you for what you believe.  This could very well happen, too.  They could be family members who think that you are crazy.  This might be especially so if you are younger and your parents might be saying, “Come on!  You must be in a cult.  Maybe you are brainwashed.”  Or maybe it is your friends who think this; in which case, they might just avoid your company. 

This is when you need to be very patient and loving and maintain a humble attitude, because it is not right to get angry with someone about this, even if they continue to persist.  Maybe you do not even talk to them anymore about it but they keep hounding you, “Why are you doing this?  Why do you believe this?  Why do you have this stuff on your car?  Why do you hand out these tracts?  Why are you going to that fellowship?  Why do you listen to that radio station?” 

Well, the Bible tells us to maintain patience and a loving spirit in 2 Timothy, so let us go there to look at a few verses for encouragement today.  In 2 Timothy 2:14, it says: 

Of these things put them in remembrance, charging them before the Lord that they strive not about words to no profit, but to the subverting of the hearers. 

The striving issue is something that we need to be careful of.  He is talking about striving “not about words to no profit, but to the subverting of the hearers.”  Therefore, you need to be well-versed in the Scriptures so that you are able to resist the gainsayers.  If you are challenged intellectually in a debate or, for instance, in a discussion with someone, “be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you.” 

Now verse 15, 2 Timothy 2:15: 


How else are you going to know? 

Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 

So we are to study the Word of God.  One reason for this is not just for our own benefit, but so that we can share with others.  Paul did this and he was a master at it.  He understood the Scriptures very well and was able to really resist the gainsaying, even amongst the most intellectual people of his time, including amongst the great philosophers when he was in Athens. 

Now look at verse 24, 2 Timothy 2:24-26: 

And the servant of the Lord… 

We need to remember this. 

And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will. 

So, you see, in meekness we are to instruct others.  We are not to hammer someone over the head with this information.  We are to meekly and humbly share the truth with anybody and everybody that we meet.  This is the way to do this, but we are not to strive. 

We are also not to be afraid of what we are going to encounter as we share the Gospel with others.  We never know when we go out who we are going to meet, right? 

How many of you go out and pass out tracts?  A lot of us do this.  We hand them to total strangers on the street, and we have no idea whether or not someone is going to accept them.  They might reject you.  They might actually tell you to get lost or to get off their property.  They might even call the police.  We just do not know what could happen. 

Ashley was telling me a story yesterday.  She went out in preparation for the missions trip to Brazil.  So she went out to a lake and was going to pass out some tracts.  She was very apprehensive because she was alone.  She was not sure of what she was doing and a little tense, but the first person that she hands a tract to is an older person.  He takes the tract from her and says, “You know what?  I listen to Family Radio.”  Here she was out in the middle of nowhere in the New York area where you might assume that no one else would be listening to Family Radio.  There is probably no fellowship out there in that area or anything like that. 

So you just never know who you are going to run into.  You just never know who you are going to encounter.  She wound up having a nice long chat with this man, which was a real blessing.  Right?  What a great blessing that was for her!  Even though she was scared and apprehensive before she did this, God blessed her because she did this.  We can see what an encouragement this wound up being for her. 

So remember this when you head to Brazil, because you have no idea who you are going to meet during those ten days that you are going to be there.  It is going to be a fantastic opportunity because you might touch hundreds or thousands of people right in the heart, or there may be must a few.  You will never know.  Maybe you will hand out thousands and thousands of tracts, and God may use them a lot and He may use the Bibles that you hand out, but you just never know.  Therefore, you are ready and willing to do this, but you are also humble and meek.  As well, you are consistent in your attitude and not discouraged, no matter what the response. 

So this is the key.  No matter how you are received, you are not discouraged.  You are consistent each and every day to not let yourself get down.  Also, you do not lift yourself too high when you do get a good response; because you know that the next day, it could very well be a little bit different. 

So let us continue on.  What should you expect in these last times, because this is really the focus of this letter that I received?  Her concern centered on these last times, in particular, in witnessing about the timetable and the fact that the end is coming. 

Let us look at 2 Timothy 3:1: 

This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. 

Now verse 8 of the same chapter, 2 Timothy 3:8-12: 

Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith. But they shall proceed no further: for their folly shall be manifest unto all, as theirs also was. But thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, charity [or love], patience, Persecutions, afflictions, which came unto me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra; what persecutions I endured… 

And we need to listen to this, especially if you have received any persecution when you are out there with family and friends or if you are in Brazil in two weeks or on any tract trip in the future.  Listen to what he says here: 

…what persecutions I endured: but out of them all… 

The Lord did what? 

…the Lord delivered me. 

He delivered him.  It continues: 

Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. 

So we have to expect this.  Expect this.  Expect some type of persecution, because it is going to happen.  Even so, we are not going to be burned at the stake and we probably are not going to be thrown in jail here in the states.  You might in Brazil because we do not know what could happen there, but I would doubt this.  We just never know. 

So the persecutions come, but here the Lord delivered Paul “out of them all.”  So, too, expect that God will be with you no matter what you are doing.  If you are doing His work, He is going to be with you; so be encouraged about this. 

As we transition now into this topic and this answer to this woman who wrote to me about witnessing in these last days, as far as how far we go and what instruction we can find in the Bible concerning these things, let us take a look at some great Biblical examples of men and women who witnessed God’s Word and received certain responses.  So let us take a look at some of the forbearers who have gone before us and what happened to them. 

Do you remember King Hezekiah?  Let us go back to 2 Chronicles and take a look at one thing.  You might be asking yourself if he witnessed to others.  If so, how did this happen?  Look at 2 Chronicles 30 in the Old Testament.  We will pick up the context in verse 1.  2 Chronicles 30:1 says: 

And Hezekiah sent to all Israel and Judah, and wrote letters also to Ephraim and Manasseh, that they should come to the house of the LORD at Jerusalem, to keep the passover unto the LORD God of Israel. 

So how did the king send out this message?  Look at verse 6, 2 Chronicles 30:6: 

So the posts… 

The “posts” were like messengers.  This is where we get the word “postman” today or “mailman.” 

So the posts went with the letters from the king and his princes throughout all Israel and Judah… 

So here is how Hezekiah sends the message that they are “to keep the passover unto the LORD.”  This is a godly thing.  He wants the whole nation to do this for God’s sake.  He is a God-fearing king.  Guess what happens?  Look at verse 8, 2 Chronicles 30:8: 

Now be ye not stiffnecked, as your fathers were, but yield yourselves unto the LORD, and enter into his sanctuary, which he hath sanctified for ever: and serve the LORD your God, that the fierceness of his wrath may turn away from you. 

This is the message that the postmen were delivering to the nation at this point in time in Judah.  Hezekiah was sending this message out.  This is what he was saying.  “Be not stiffneckedServe the LORD your God, that the fierceness of his wrath may turn away from you.” 

Now look at verse 9, 2 Chronicles 30:9-10: 

For if ye turn again unto the LORD, your brethren and your children shall find compassion before them that lead them captive, so that they shall come again into this land: for the LORD your God is gracious and merciful, and will not turn away his face from you, if ye return unto him.  So the posts passed from city to city through the country of Ephraim and Manasseh even unto Zebulun… 

And here we see the resistance.  This is the response from the people who were under King Hezekiah’s reign: 

…but they laughed them to scorn, and mocked them. 

Does this sound familiar?  Have you ever been laughed at because of this strange doctrine that we bring today?  Have you ever been scorned upon? 

2 Chronicles 30:11: 

Nevertheless divers [various] of Asher and Manasseh and of Zebulun humbled themselves, and came to Jerusalem. 

Nevertheless.”  We should remember this.  There were still people who “humbled themselves” through this message.  Therefore, encourage yourself if you are someone who shares this message with others. 

Greg was telling us a story at dinner this week where they were out in Reading (PA) recently.  There was a Jehovah’s Witnesses convention.  He said that literally, for half an hour, he and the boys were out there passing out tracts and not one tract was received, not one.  It was a Sunday and not one.  That is hard to do for half an hour when there is constant rejection.  These people were very focused, obviously, and they probably knew what Greg was up to.  They just all shook their heads and said, “No.” 

That is resistance to the utmost.  But the Bible says here that even if you are laughed to scorn, nevertheless, there will be some who will humble themselves.  So even though that was a bad day, so-to-speak, it was still a witness and a testimony against them of the truth of the Bible. 

So remember this when you are in Brazil.  If you have a bad day, remember this verse in 2 Chronicles 30:11, “Nevertheless, there still were divers or various people who humbled themselves before God.”  So be encouraged.  Be encouraged because God has His people.  Therefore, we do not give up no matter what their answer or their resistance or what type of response there may be. 

How about Jesus Himself?  Was He received with open arms?  He was the best preacher.  He was the most perfect deliverer of the Word of God because He was the Word of God Himself. 

Let us look at John 6 to see what happened there, and remind yourself of this, too, when you are with friends or family, your children or our parents, whomever they may be, people who love you.  In John 6:58-61, Jesus said: 

This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever. 

Christ is speaking about Himself.  

These things said he in the synagogue, as he taught in Capernaum.  Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it? When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, Doth this offend you?

This is a key point.  Jesus was giving them a hard doctrine and then He said, “Doth this offend you?”  Are you afraid of telling someone the truth because it might offend them? 

Well, let us see what happened after He said this.  Let us go to John 6:64-66.  Jesus said: 

But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him. And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father. From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. 

Even though it was a hard saying, He did not resist.  He did not hesitate to give it, to speak it, no matter what the consequence.  From here, “many of His disciples went back” and would no longer listen to Him. 

This is going to happen.  This is what happened in Jesus’ day and this is happening today.  The truth is not popular.  It is usually never popular, but stay encouraged. 

Let us look at another Biblical example of witnessing.  We never know what we could be up against, but we should take encouragement from these men who went before us in history.  In Acts 6, who are we going to be reading about?  What great saint is referenced in this chapter?  It is Stephen.  Let us look at Acts 6:9-10: 

Then there arose certain of the synagogue, which is called the synagogue of the Libertines, and Cyrenians, and Alexandrians, and of them of Cilicia and of Asia, disputing with Stephen. And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit by which he spake.

Is this not something that we should pray for before we head out to witness to others?  We need to pray to God for the spirit and the wisdom to speak His Word. 

Acts 6:11-13: 

Then they suborned men, which said, We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses, and against God. And they stirred up the people, and the elders, and the scribes, and came upon him, and caught him, and brought him to the council, And set up false witnesses, which said, This man ceaseth not to speak blasphemous words against this holy place, and the law: 

Do you see what happened?  He was speaking the truth.  He was witnessing the Christian truth concerning Jesus Christ who had not that long before risen from the dead.  Then false witnesses were set up to set him up for the inevitable persecution, which was what?  What happened to Stephen?  Stephen was stoned to death. 

After all of this, look at what happened in Acts 7:57-58: 

Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord, And cast him out of the city, and stoned him… 

So they stoned him and he died.  This is what happened.  Yet he did not hesitate to speak the truth before all of this happened, even though false witnesses were set up. 

Most of us, if not every one of us, will never face this severe of a consequence in witnessing the truth of the Gospel.  Therefore, we have it made, do we not?  We should not get discouraged.  We need to think about Stephen if we ever become discouraged when we are out there trying to be a witness to family members or to friends or to colleagues or to even strangers, those in a foreign land or those in your city or even in your own neighborhood.  We should never be discouraged because our forbearers had it much worse. 

Look at Paul in Acts 28.  This will be our last example today of a few Biblical role models who faced a lot of resistance and disappointment and persecution.  In Acts 28:23-24, we read: 

And when they had appointed him a day, there came many to him into his lodging; to whom he expounded and testified the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus, both out of the law of Moses, and out of the prophets, from morning till evening. 

This is speaking about Paul.  It continues: 

And some believed the things which were spoken, and some believed not. 

Do you get discouraged if not everyone can understand or believe you?  You show them the timeline of history and they just do not get it.  Do not get discouraged, because some will believe and understand it and some will not.  It is okay.  This is what happened here with Paul, yet he continued speaking “from morning till evening.”  This was his practice in the last couple of years of his life, and “some believed…and some believed not.” 

Now look at what verse 25 says, Acts 28:25-28: 

And when they agreed not among themselves, they departed, after that Paul had spoken one word, Well spake the Holy Ghost by Esaias the prophet unto our fathers, Saying… 

If you are heading to Brazil, please listen to this: 

…Go unto this people, and say, Hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and not perceive: For the heart of this people is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes have they closed; lest they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them. Be it known therefore unto you, that the salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles, and that they will hear it.

So if you get discouraged handing out the Gospel today here on America’s soil, be encouraged by the potential that could occur while you are overseas.  If you are one of the fourteen people who are going to Brazil in two weeks, be encouraged by the fact that Acts 28:28 says: 

Be it known therefore unto you, that the salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles, and that they will hear it. 

There may be a great harvest out there.  You do not know, yet God may very well be sending you there for this very reason.  Get excited about this, because God has a reason for why you are going.  Be encouraged and be optimistic that there will be many people reached for the truth of the Scriptures with the fact that the end is near.  Be encouraged that they might cry out to God for mercy. 

Let us close with a thought.  It is nice to summarize a study.  The topic of this study is “Witnessing in These Last Days.”  So is there a passage in Scripture that really says this well?  I would like to encourage you as you go out from here today, whether you are going to go out to your neighborhood or to your family or to a foreign people in a few weeks.  We read in 2 Timothy 4:1-8: 

I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry. For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. 

We only have a short time left.  We are all in the same boat now.  There is only a short time left.  It continues, as Paul says: 

I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing. 

Be encouraged.  May God give each and every one of us the grace, the strength, the zeal to witness His Word and His truth as He gives us opportunity.  Amen.