MUST I WITNESS TO BE SAVED? WHAT IS “WITNESSING?”
by Shawn Brasseaux
Dear friend, certainly not! Witnessing is something that Christians do, not something people do to become Christians. What is “witnessing” though? If we can define that term properly, then we can understand why it is Christians alone who witness, and not lost people who witness to become Christians.
In religion, to “witness” means to attempt to convert a person from one group or denomination to another group or denomination. A dictionary definition is “an open profession of one’s religious faith through words or actions.” This “open profession” is meant to attract new members to churches, groups, organizations, denominations, et cetera. Proselytizing is also meant to “enhance” the “witnessing” person’s chance in getting into heaven (according to the denomination’s misinformation). However, in the Bible, “witnessing” is something different. Biblically speaking, witnessing is designed to exalt God’s Word and build up people’s faith in it. Witnessing in the Scriptures is not about building organizations or establishing denominational cliques, but about encouraging people to trust God’s words to them. Soul salvation unto eternal life does not depend on our performance (including witnessing); our soul salvation in Christ (guaranteed) should motivate us to witness. What does “witness” mean in Scripture?
To “witness” in Bible usage means to testify or to bear record of God’s Word. In other words, one affirms a particular Biblical teaching to be true. Notice, I did not say, affirming a particular denominational position to be true. A Christian can witness to the reliability of the Gospel, the veracity of the Holy Bible, the faithfulness of Jesus Christ, and so on. A Christian’s goal should not be to move people from one religious group to another. That is what denominationalism is all about, but that is not Bible! A Christian should share the Gospel with that person and then that person—that saved person—will then, via sound Bible doctrine, have the ability to discern which group is theologically sound and which group is not.
EXAMPLES OF “WITNESSING” IN THE BIBLE
The Greek word translated “witness” in our King James Bible is martureo (Strong’s G3140). As you can see, our English word “martyr” is derived from it. In the New Testament of our King James Bible, this word martureo is translated as follows: “bear witness” (25x), “testify” (19x), “bear record” (13x), “witness” (5x), “be a witness” (2x), “give testimony” (2x), “have a good report” (2x), miscellaneous (11x). To better understand the concept of witnessing as found in the Scriptures, it would help us to look at many specific examples.
FATHER GOD AND/OR HOLY SPIRIT WITNESSING/VERIFYING JESUS
- John 3:11: “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness.” (This is Jesus speaking, talking about how both His Heavenly Father and He had declared that the kingdom of heaven was at hand, that He was Father God’s Son and Messenger. John the Baptist talked about Jesus Christ in verse 32, “And what he hath seen and heard, that he testifieth; and no man receiveth his testimony.”)
- John 5:36-37: “ But I have greater witness than that of John: for the works which the Father hath given me to finish, the same works that I do, bear witness of me, that the Father hath sent me.  And the Father himself, which hath sent me, hath borne witness of me. Ye have neither heard his voice at any time, nor seen his shape.”
- John 8:18: “I am one that bear witness of myself, and the Father that sent me beareth witness of me.”
- John 10:25: “Jesus answered them, I told you, and ye believed not: the works that I do in my Father’s name, they bear witness of me.”
- John 15:26: “But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me:
- Hebrews 7:17: “For he testifieth, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.”
- 1 John 5:6: “This is he that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth.”
- 1 John 5:7: “For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.”
- 1 John 5:8: “And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one.”
- 1 John 5:9: “If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater: for this is the witness of God which he hath testified of his Son.”
- 1 John 5:10: “He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son.”
BELIEVERS VERIFYING/WITNESSING ABOUT AND FOR JESUS
- John 1:7-8: “The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light.” (John the Baptist’s ministry was to validate and support Jesus as Messiah/Christ/Son of God.) In verse 15, John went on to “bare witness” that Jesus Christ was “preferred before [John]: for [Jesus Christ] was before [John].” In verse 32, John the Baptist “bare record” that the Holy Spirit came and rested on Jesus after His water baptism.
- John 4:39: “And many of the Samaritans of that city believed on him for the saying of the woman, which testified, He told me all that ever I did.” (What this Samaritan did was simply affirm that Jesus Christ was a Prophet, the Messiah of Israel, since He had known things about her that only a Man of God would know.)
- John 5:33: “Ye sent unto John, and he bare witness unto the truth.”
- John 12:17: “The people therefore that was with him when he called Lazarus out of his grave, and raised him from the dead, bare record.”
- John 15:27: “And ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning.”
- John 19:35: “And he that saw it bare record, and his record is true: and he knoweth that he saith true, that ye might believe.”
- John 21:24: “This is the disciple which testifieth of these things, and wrote these things: and we know that his testimony is true.”
- Acts 14:3: “Long time therefore abode they speaking boldly in the Lord, which gave testimony unto the word of his grace, and granted signs and wonders to be done by their hands.”
- 1 John 1:2: “(For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;)”
- 1 John 4:14: “And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world.”
SCRIPTURES/PROPHETS OF “OLD TESTAMENT” VERIFYING JESUS
- John 5:39: “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.”
- Acts 10:43: “To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.”
JESUS BEARING WITNESS OF THE WORLD’S EVIL WORKS
- John 7:7: “The world cannot hate you; but me it hateth, because I testify of it, that the works thereof are evil.”
JESUS BEARING WITNESS UNTO THE TRUTH
- John 18:37: “Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.”
GOOD TESTIMONY, GOOD REPORT
- Acts 6:3: “Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business.” (These seven helpers in the Jerusalem Church had a solid, good reputation. Saints would give testimony to affirm these men were worthy of being assigned to the job that needed to be accomplished.)
- Acts 10:22: “And they said, Cornelius the centurion, a just man, and one that feareth God, and of good report among all the nation of the Jews, was warned from God by an holy angel to send for thee into his house, and to hear words of thee.” (The nation Israel could verify that Cornelius was a good person, a blesser of Abraham and his seed. He had righteous works that the God of Israel had noticed.)
- Acts 22:12: “And one Ananias, a devout man according to the law, having a good report of all the Jews which dwelt there,”
- Hebrews 11:2: “For by it the elders obtained a good report.”
GOD GIVING TESTIMONY, BEARING WITNESS OF CERTAIN PEOPLE
- Acts 13:22: “And when he had removed him, he raised up unto them David to be their king; to whom also he gave testimony, and said, I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfil all my will.”
- Acts 15:8: “And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us;”
- Hebrews 11:4: “By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh.”
- Hebrews 11:5: “By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.”
- Hebrews 11:39: “And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise:”
CHRISTIANS BEARING WITNESS OF OTHER CHRISTIANS
- Acts 16:2: “Which was well reported of by the brethren that were at Lystra and Iconium.”
- Galatians 4:15: “Where is then the blessedness ye spake of? for I bear you record, that, if it had been possible, ye would have plucked out your own eyes, and have given them to me.”
- Colossians 4:13: “For I bear him record, that he hath a great zeal for you, and them that are in Laodicea, and them in Hierapolis.”
- 1 Timothy 5:10: “Well reported of for good works; if she have brought up children, if she have lodged strangers, if she have washed the saints’ feet, if she have relieved the afflicted, if she have diligently followed every good work.”
- 3 John 3: “For I rejoiced greatly, when the brethren came and testified of the truth that is in thee, even as thou walkest in the truth.”
APOSTLE PAUL BEARING WITNESS OF JESUS CHRIST
- Acts 23:11: “And the night following the Lord stood by him, and said, Be of good cheer, Paul: for as thou hast testified of me in Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also at Rome.”
- Acts 26:22: “Having therefore obtained help of God, I continue unto this day, witnessing both to small and great, saying none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come:”
- 1 Corinthians 15:15: “Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not.”
APOSTLE JOHN BEARING WITNESS OF THE WORD OF GOD AND OF JESUS CHRIST
- Revelation 1:2: “Who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw.”
HOLY SPIRIT BEARING WITNESS TO GOD’S FAITHFULNESS
- Hebrews 10:15: “Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that he had said before,
JESUS AND HIS ANGEL TESTIFYING THE TRUTH
- Revelation 22:16: “I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star.”
- Revelation 22:20: “He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.”
SUMMARY AND CONCLUSION
Friends, God does not use lost people to preach His Word and share His Gospel. Never in the Bible does God tell lost people in any dispensation to preach His Word. Jesus never told lost people to share His Gospel during His earthly ministry. Paul never told lost people to preach the Gospel. Neither did Peter, James, John, et cetera.
The reason why is that lost people consider the Bible foolishness and they consider the Gospel of the Grace of God foolishness. Only Christians have the indwelling Holy Spirit (the Author of the Bible), so only Christians can shed light on the Bible text. Everyone else in the world cannot receive the things of God. The things of God only make sense when the Holy Spirit is present to give understanding. You can read all of 1 Corinthians chapter 2 for more information.
As people who have trusted alone in the Gospel of the Grace of God—Jesus Christ died for our sins, He was buried, and He rose again the third day (1 Corinthians 15:3-4)—we can testify or witness that that message has impacted our lives and it will do the same for others if they only trust it, too. We can share with others how the Gospel has brought us joy, peace, assurance, forgiveness, acceptance before God, resources to handle life’s problems, and so on. Lost people cannot witness according to the Bible because they have never experienced God’s Word for themselves.
Truth be told, if witnessing saved Christians, very few Christians would be saved into heaven. Many Christians do not witness. They have not been taught enough to share anything worthwhile. There are many Christians today who do not know how to witness to lost people. They know only how to scream, shout, yell, and condemn. They do not know any verses to help people solve their sin dilemma.
It is sad when professing Christians would rather bring their lost friends and relatives to church, and let the preacher or priest “lead them to God” with a sermon or homily, than them sharing their own testimony with those friends outside of a local church setting. How often it is said, “Preaching the Gospel is the preacher’s job—not mine!” Oh, dear friends, may we never say such a thing! We should “witness” of God’s faithfulness and His salvation in Christ. Not because we want to be saved but because we already have His soul salvation… and we want others to have it too!
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