Testimony And Teaching
20 “But some of them were men from Cyprus and Cyrene, who, when they had come to Antioch, spoke to the Hellenists, preaching the Lord Jesus. 21 And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number believed and turned to the Lord.” Acts 11:20-21 NKJV
The account of non-Jews hearing the preaching about Jesus and then surrendering themselves to Him comes on the heels of the persecution growing from the stoning of Stephen. Because of the persecution followers of Jesus are being scattered, but wherever they go they preach Jesus. Here in Antioch the sharing the good news and the giving of their testimony have resulted in Gentiles coming to accept Jesus.
According to verse 21, when we give a testimony about Jesus Christ to others, the Lord moves through that testimony in powerful ways. Giving of your testimony is more than just sharing with people how you got saved, it is sharing with people what you know, what He has taught you in the Word and what you have seen and experienced with the power of the Holy Spirit and the faithfulness of Jesus. When you read verse 21 in the Amplified Bible it says those who believed “learned” to believe. When you share the things you know about Jesus with others, you are teaching them how to believe on Jesus themselves.
We need to be active in teaching or sharing that which we know as believers in Jesus. You don’t have to know everything; you just have to be willing to share what you do know with others so that they might learn from you and from your experiences. As you share what you know, you are helping to build them up to be His disciples. Remember the great commission that Jesus gave was not win converts but rather to make disciples. As you teach what you know and share your zeal for Jesus it will win the hearts of others as you are making them disciples of Jesus. As you share what you know, the Holy Spirit will move with power through your words to lead them to a deeper relationship and desire for the relationship with Jesus.
We don’t always think along these lines, but sometimes the best way to win someone for Jesus is not to give them an evangelistic sales pitch, but rather to make them disciples. Make them followers of Jesus by leading them there with the things you know and have learned. Give them testimonies; invest in them and disciple them into the truth.
As you look further in Acts 11, you find that Barnabas, seeing the Holy Spirit move at Antioch, goes there personally and he is so encouraged by what he finds, that he then proceeds to Tarsus seeking Paul. The two return to Antioch and for a year they instruct those who are there. Here in Antioch, these converts are the first ones identified by the title of “Christians”. There is power in what you know, share it others to build the body through your testimony and teaching.
3 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 NKJV
Let’s focus for a moment on the word “comfort” in the 4th verse. In the Greek, it implies “to come alongside another” or “called to one’s side for the purpose of comforting”. It speaks to offering guidance, aid, and defense and to be an advocate for another.
That is all pretty good stuff! Even if you feel as though no one else is coming alongside you, you can be encouraged in the knowledge that Jesus Himself is walking alongside you to give you all you need and to comfort you through any trial. He is alongside you to give you guidance and direction, to give you aid, when no one else is willing to, or even has the power to. He is your defense against the foolishness and foolish ways of man, He is your advocate so who can possibly hope to stand against you?
Now we can even build upon that good news. Verse 4 also says He will be the one to provide you with all of that comfort we just spoke of when you are in troubled times or any trouble. Here is what the word “trouble” means. It is to “crush, press, or compress, to squeeze. It is pressure or burden upon the spirit”
Perhaps today you feel as though you are being pressed and crushed by life, take strength as you make this promise personal. You are in position and in the place to be the recipient of His comfort and all that we just saw that the comfort implies and promises.
Jesus has everlasting consolation and encouragement for you in every situation, certainly even the pressures you are facing today. Take your eye off the silly and foolish things the world is throwing at you and walk in the comfort that is yours in Jesus, the one who is coming alongside you as your powerful and victorious advocate.
J Todd Hostetler