Born To Bear Witness
By: Hoyt W. Allen, Jr.
"There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light." (John 1:6-8)
"Now this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levities from Jerusalem to ask him, 'Who are you.' He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, 'I am not the Christ.' And they asked him, 'What then? Are you Elijah?' He said, 'I am not.' 'Are you the Prophet?' And he answered, 'No.' Then they said to him, 'Who are you, that we may give an answer to those who sent us? What do you say about yourself?' He said, 'I am
The voice crying in the wilderness: Make straight the way of the Lord, as the prophet Isaiah said.' Now those who were sent were from the Pharisees. And they asked him saying, 'Why then do you baptize if you are not the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?' John answered them saying, 'I baptize with water, but there stands One among you whom you do not know. It is He who, coming after me, is preferred before me, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose.' These things were done in Bethabara beyond the Jordan, where John was baptizing.
The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, 'Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! This is He of whom I said, "After me comes a Man who is preferred before me, for He was before me. I did not know Him; but that He should be revealed to Israel, therefore I came baptizing with water."' And John bore witness saying, 'I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and He remained upon Him. I did not know Him, but He who sent me to baptize with water said to me, 'Upon whom you see the Spirit descending, and remaining on Him, this is He who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.' And I have seen and testified that this is the Son of God.'
Again, the next day, John stood with two of his disciples. And looking at Jesus as He walked, he said, 'Behold the Lamb of God!' The two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus."
"After these things Jesus and His disciples came into the land of Judea, and there He remained with them and baptized. Now John also was baptizing in Aenon near Salim, because there was much water there. And they came and were baptized. For John had not yet been thrown into prison. Then there arose a dispute between some of John's disciples and the Jews about purification. And they came to John and said to him, 'Rabbi, He who was with you beyond the Jordan, to whom you have testified - behold, He is baptizing, and all are coming to Him!' John answered and said, 'A man can receive nothing unless it has been given to him from heaven. You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, "I am not the Christ," but, I have been sent before Him. He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom's voice. Therefore this joy of mine is fulfilled. He must increase, but I must decrease.'" (John 3:22-30)
John The Baptist
He is not to be confused with John, the apostle, who was the son of Zebedee and authored; John's Gospel, the three letters of John, and the Revelation of John.
John the Baptist was the son of Zachariah and Elizabeth (Luke 1). His birth was foretold by an angel to his parents, when they were elderly. His birth preceded that of Jesus', who was his cousin. He became a "Hell-fire and Brimstone" preacher. Preaching "repentance to the Jews." His dress was very crude, that of camel's hair. His diet consisted of locusts and wild honey. However, even though he was not a "polished" preacher, he drew the crowds. He baptized Jesus in the Jordan. Due to his straight forward preaching, he ended up having his head removed (Matthew 14:1-12).
The name "John" means "Gift of God" and is a Hellenized form for "Jonathan." There is a similarity between John and his Old Testament namesake. They both gave up the opportunity to be popular for someone else. Jonathan stepped aside for David, while John stepped aside for Jesus. When we find the name "John" in the fourth Gospel, it is always in reference to John the Baptist, and never the Gospel writer. John realized that he was born to witness.
John had a tremendous amount of people that followed after him. He was very careful to inform them that he was not the Christ, but only the one to point to Him.
Quite often a preacher has problems with having "Preacher Lovers" in a congregation. That is, people want to follow him, rather than Christ. If he is not teaching or preaching because he has to be out of town, they don't even attend services. One preacher never tells his congregation that he is going to be gone, because he knows that "when the cat is away, the mice will play." One has a poor religion if it is "built upon a preacher" instead of Christ. If a preacher "falls," so does their hope of Heaven. John made it very clear that he came to witness of Christ. Any preacher worth anything today, will do likewise.
In John 3:25-30, an argument broke out among some of John's disciples over ceremonial washings. They came to John to settle the dispute. He was quick to tell them that Jesus must be given the pre-eminence in all things. John said that he (John) must become less and less in the eyes of man and Jesus must become more and more. The disciples of John were having problems with Jesus gaining popularity, and John had to resolve this problem. John showed how "big" he was by his willingness to take second place. This is a "monument" to his character. It is one that all of us Christians would do well in duplicating. When Christians are willing to work in the Lord's Church and not care who gets the credit, a great deal can be accomplished. However, if a person fears doing anything, due to not getting a "pat on the back," then the Lord's work is drastically limited. If John taught us anything, it was a life of servanthood.
In John 1:6 the word "sent" is from a Greek word (Apostello) from which we get the English word "Apostle." This word normally means "one sent with a message."
No one has ever had a greater sender (God), nor has had a greater message than to point people to Jesus Christ, as John did. John's purpose of coming was to testify of Jesus. Day by day people enter court rooms to testify on behalf of others (witness to accidents, business frauds, martial disputes, etc.). However, no one can give a greater testimony than to inform people how Jesus saved them from their sins, when they accepted Him as Lord and Savior, by allowing their faith to cause them to repent of their sins, confess Him publicly, and permit someone to immerse them in the watery grave of Christian baptism.
Now - some people may THINK they are saved, but were really not, according to God's Word. Some would say they were saved when: they heard a voice; they prayed the "sinner's prayer" (not found in the Bible); laid their hand on the radio or TV; recited a confession or creed; got goose bumps when hearing a Gospel song; signed a commitment card at a religious service; or "prayed through" at an alter.
In John 1:8, John made it very plain that he was not the Light, but came to be a witness of the Light. All Christians today need to do likewise. That is, make it plain: who Jesus is (God in the flesh); what the church is (God's redeemed family); there will be a Judgement Day; there is a hell, as well as a heaven; and the Lord's Plan of Salvation.
Just as John realized that he was born to witness about Jesus, today God needs men, women and youth to do likewise. Too many church members go to the gridirons, ball diamonds and gymnasiums and shout, scream and yell for some athletic contest and then become closed-lipped and yellow-bellied when it comes to "speaking up" for Jesus. Shame on us if we are guilty of such. If we are a "Born Again" child of God, we have been born to witness! Let's do it, every day that God allows us to live.
The Christian Counter