What is "witnessing"?
What Is The Meaning of Life?
In addressing the age-old question, "What is the meaning of life?" a traditional Christian answer states: "Man's chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him for ever."
But the Bible teaches that those who have faith in Jesus will, after death, live in a sinless state directly in God's presence; in the after-life, therefore, our ability to glorify God and enjoy Him will dramatically increase.
And so we must ask, "What is the purpose for life now in this sinful world?" Certainly believers are to strive to glorify God and enjoy Him, but why are we left here- and not immediately taken into heaven- after we trust Christ?
Evangelical Christians believe that certain words spoken by the resurrected Jesus to His followers hold the key to answering this question. These words are recorded in New Testament passages such as Matthew 28:18-20 and Acts 1:8. In both of these passages Jesus gives specific commands for what His followers are to be doing on earth after He ascends into heaven. These commands extend beyond those who are present to hear Him speak, as they endure "always, even unto the end of the world" (Matt 28:20b), as His followers go "unto the uttermost part of the earth" (Acts 1:8b).
To focus on one of these passages in particular: in Acts 1:8 Jesus says,
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.
"Ye shall be witnesses." The reason that Christians exist in this world is to be witnesses.
What Is A Witness?
As in a contemporary law-court, the term witness is used in the Christian faith to refer to 'a person who can give testimony to establish the truth of a charge or statement of fact.'
The word translated "witness" is the Greek word that is the basis for our English word "martyr." (Originally the words "witness" and "martyr" were synonyms.) The terms are related in that, biblically speaking, a "witness" is one who is so convinced of the truth about Jesus that he is willing to die rather than forsake his testimony to Christ and the gospel.
What Is "Witnessing"?
Again as in a contemporary law-court setting, the term witnessing is used in the Christian faith to refer to "giving a report, evidence, and an account of personal experience."
The New Testament is full of examples of witnessing: the Gospel accounts (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) are reports concerning the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. In 1 Corinthians 15 the Apostle Paul gives evidence concerning the resurrected Christ (citing eyewitness testimony), and in passages such as Acts 22 and Acts 26 Paul tells of his personal experience with the resurrected Christ.
Christians are to follow the commands of Christ and the examples of the New Testament in regards to witnessing. We must be able tell what we believe; that is, we must be able to give a summary of the main points concerning the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, and we must seek opportunities to tell this "old, old story." We must be able to tell why we believe; that is, we must be able to tell the evidence for why faith in Jesus is superior to skepticism or belief in other gods. Finally, we must be able to tell how we came to believe; that is, we must think carefully and be able to speak cogently about what circumstances God used to convince us to trust in Jesus.