Bearing witness is a fundamental process of life today. We see or hear something and then we tell others who may believe what we say or not. those who are sceptical may have the person telling the story say things like, “I saw it with my own eyes,” or “I heard it with my own ears.” This is an attempt to convince another person of the truth of whatever the matter is being discussed.
Bearing witness is also a fundamental of the legal system and the process of justice. Courts of law seek the witness of people to get to the facts of the issue before them to prove a case one way or another. And it is not just the word of people that bears witness, but also forensic evidence. The physical state of things surrounding the event can also bear witness to the facts.
It is the same with bearing witness to Jesus. There are many things that prove the facts about Jesus and the truth of the New Covenant.
Bearing Witness to Jesus
Jesus said to the people of His time that He was the Son of God and that He was the Christ or Messiah. Some believed and others did not believe, much as it is today. Those who did believe saw His work and listened to those who were close to Him and accepted the things that they heard and saw.
And Jesus Himself said not to just take His word for it. He said to the Jews who were about to try and stone Him in John 10:37-38,
37 If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me;
38 but if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.”
This is similar to believing the forensic evidence. The signs that Jesus did were proof that He was who He said He was. Who could do the miraculous things that Jesus did unless He was from God? And even though most of the Jewish leaders did not publicly recognise Him, in private they knew He was sent from God because they DID believe the signs. Nicodemus who was a Pharisee and a leader of the Jews came to Jesus by night and said these words in John 3:2
This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do, unless God is with him.
And there were other proofs of who Jesus was. John the Baptist came preaching a baptism of repentance to prepare the way for the Lord. He was told that he would bear witness to the Christ. Note in John 1:31-34,
31 I myself did not know him; but for this I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel.”
32 And John bore witness, “I saw the Spirit descend as a dove from heaven, and it remained on him.
33 I myself did not know him; but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’
34 And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.”
And then the Father Himself bore witness to Jesus when He spoke to the people on several occasions from Heaven. One of these Peter recounts for us, which occurred at the Transfiguration in 2 Peter 1:16-18
16 For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.
17 For when he received honor and glory from God the Father and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,”
18 we heard this voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain.
And then finally we see the disciples and apostles who walked with Jesus day in and day out over the few years that He walked the earth. They had a specific role to do which was to be a witness to Jesus death and resurrection and to spread the word of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the entire world.
So there were an abundance of witnesses to who Christ Jesus was and the work He did. But what about today? What witnesses do we have to prove this stuff to day that we can accept the truth?
Evidence of Two Witnesses
Under the law of Moses there was a principle that no matter could be established except under the evidence of two or three witnesses. If there was only one witness to an issue, judgement could not be made, for how could anyone know if they spoke the truth.
Similarly it was on the evidence of two or three witnesses that a matter was to be established in the New Covenant too. There are multiple examples where evidence may have been sought over matters and in each case it was stated that there needed to be the evidence of at least two or three witnesses. If you wish to check this out, here are a few scripture references that may help: Matthew 18:16, 2 Corinthians 13:1, 1 Timothy 5:19.
We also should note that each time the Lord sent the disciples out to preach the word, He sent them out in twos. In Luke 10:1 He appointed seventy of His disciples to go ahead of him and preach and prepare for His entry into the towns ahead. Note they went “two by two.”
After this the Lord appointed seventy others, and sent them on ahead of him, two by two, into every town and place where he himself was about to come.
Likewise in Mark 6:7 when He sent the twelve out to preach they went in twos.
And he called to him the twelve, and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits.
The purpose for this is that a matter is established on the evidence of two witnesses. By sending His disciples out in twos, there were two people to witness to the truth of the Lord and to convince the people that what was being said was not the ravings of a single madman. Having two people bear witness was a stronger proof than the word of just one.
Witness of the Holy Spirit
Finally we come to the witness of the Holy Spirit which leads us to the ongoing witness we have today. In this section of scripture Jesus said,
26 But when the Counselor comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness to me;
27 and you also are witnesses, because you have been with me from the beginning.
The Holy Spirit will bear witness to the truth of the Gospel and to Jesus Christ Himself. The work of the Holy Spirit is to teach, guide, counsel and protect us as well as to intercede with God on our behalf. The Holy Spirit prays for us on our behalf when speaking in tongues. And the Holy Spirit is the one who does the work of transformation in our lives to bring us into the image of Jesus Christ.
The sign of tongues in particular is a proof of the truth of Jesus Christ. Here is a question: How do we know we have received the gift of the Holy Spirit? Jesus gave the answer in John 3:8.
“The wind blows where it wills, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know whence it comes or whither it goes; so it is with every one who is born of the Spirit.”
One who is born of the Spirit or who has received the Holy Spirit is known because they hear the “sound” of the Spirit. Note that the Greek word for “wind” (pneuma) is the same word that is translated as “spirit.” If you read the above scripture and replace “wind” with “spirit” you see a different picture.
We know that the Holy Spirit comes from God and is sent to us by God. But where it comes from and where it goes when it dwells within us we do not know or understand. However, we know we have received the Holy Spirit when we receive the gift of speaking in tongues. This is the “sound” of the Spirit and is proof that a person has indeed received the Holy Spirit.
Tongues are a sign and are also used for many other things too, which I do not have time to discuss here. But they are a sign and a witness to the truth of the New Covenant. And they are available to all who ask God to receive the Holy Spirit. In almost every instance where people received the Holy Spirit in the New Testament it was accompanied with speaking in tongues. (Refer: Acts 2:4, Acts 10:45-46, Acts 19:6)
Paul also made the point that he wanted everyone to speak in tongues and also to prophesy, which is also a “sound” gift of the Holy Spirit. See 1 Corinthians 14:5
Now I want you all to speak in tongues, but even more to prophesy. He who prophesies is greater than he who speaks in tongues, unless some one interprets, so that the church may be edified
This scripture is speaking about the use of tongues in the church and prophesy is more important in the church setting than tongues. However the purpose and power of tongues is seen in private rather than corporate worship. And tongues is a sign and a witness of the truth of Jesus.
Finally, to any who still believe that tongues was only used to spread the Gospel in the early church, as some mistakenly believe, let me ask this question. Why were all of the letters and gospels that were sent to the early churches written in just one language…Greek? Greek was the common language of the Roman Empire and all countries spoke Greek so there was no need for tongues to spread the gospel. At Pentecost the many people from different countries heard tongues in their own languages as a proof that the disciples were not just babbling nonsense.
And tongues is still needed and offered to us today. Note the words of Peter in his oration after receiving tongues and the gift of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost in Acts 2:38-39.
38 And Peter said to them, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
39 For the promise is to you and to your children and to all that are far off, every one whom the Lord our God calls to him.”
The promise of the Holy Spirit and tongues is to “all who are far off.” We are far off from Peter in those days, separated by millennia. So the promise is still available to us today.
Even more significant is his next words in verse 39 where he says the promise is to, “…every one whom the Lord our God calls to him.” Do you believe that the Lord God has called you to Him? If so then the promise is to you. And if you have not already received the Holy Spirit and the gift of tongues, then I urge you to seek it out for the power of the New Covenant and the change that MUST take place in us if we are to stand with Christ only comes when we are transformed by the working of the Holy Spirit. And tongues is a part of the process being one of the powerful tools the Lord has given to us to overcome in our lives.
(Photo sourced from Citizen Tom at “www.citizentom.com”)
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