We at Center Hill are drawing to a conclusion in our study through the book of Acts during our Sunday morning worship. We find ourselves looking at Paul’s arrest in Jerusalem and his subsequent hearings/trials/defenses of the false allegations against him. He has stood before riotous crowds, murderous Jewish leaders, Roman Commanders and Governors, and in next week’s message, a King. The stand out characteristic of Paul during his public speeches of defense has been his unwavering proclamation of the person and finished work of Jesus Christ, his Lord. It is Paul’s commitment of winning as many to Christ as possible, even in the midst of uncertainty for his personal safety, that has impressed me most about this Apostle.
The point made in our message this week was simple, we can and should remain as faithful as Paul when faced with such great opposition and even in the daily, possibly mundane, opportunities to witness. We find ourselves asking questions such as what will people think of me, will my family and friends take me serious, will this cost me any embarrassment. It is at this moment that the issue becomes a matter of supremacy in our life. What do I value as supremely important when the cost adds up?
I believe Paul valued God as most supreme in his life and thereby faced the threat of harm with assurance and boldness to proclaim the real calamity facing every man. Paul used the springboard of his situation to glorify God by declaring clearly that the situation facing him was in God’s hands and that he was simply to point the hearer to Jesus Christ as the answer to their greatest need, the need for forgiveness. The denial of his civil rights, or false accusations, or prison conditions, or the plight of the down trodden church was not foremost in Paul’s speeches. Clearly he realized that God had purpose in bringing him into suffering and that was for His glory and that the name of Jesus should be honored. Wow, what a testimony and example from historic Christianity!
There are modern day examples of true witnesses for Christ which should be honored. Case in point is Gianna Jessen. Gianna is an abortion survivor. No not a mother who had a botched abortion performed on her and survived to tell her story. Gianna was the baby intended to be murdered by the abortion doctor. Her testimony is amazing. Amazing in so many ways.
Her survival is simply a miracle from God and evidence of His providence. Her referring to the results of the failed procedure, cerebral palsy, as a ‘gift’ is astounding. Her zeal for life and bright outlook on tomorrow is incredible. But what is most amazing about her testimony is that it is given in front of a possible hostile crowd and yet she proclaims the name of Jesus Christ and the fact that her situation is all for God’s glory. She is a walking, talking sermon of God’s mercy and grace and is not ashamed to proclaim it in the midst of people who will undoubtedly malign her and the message.
As atrocious as the sin of abortion is, it is not the central message of Gianna’s testimony. She uses her situation as a springboard to proclaim the supremacy of God in her life and the person of Jesus Christ as her sole answer to her needs. This is incredible.
Watch the attached video, filmed in 2008 as she addresses a gathering of influential politicians and religious leaders in Melbourne Australia, and be encouraged to proclaim Christ and His great worth in every opportunity that God brings into your path. Let us not fall prey to the danger of simply white washing our testimony to a non-offensive tale of ‘God being our hope’, our ‘faith growing in hard times’ and ‘God sustaining us in the midst of trouble’. Truisms, yes, but they are not the gospel. The gospel must include the person and finished work of Jesus Christ as the answer to man’s greatest need, forgiveness of sins. Let the supremacy of God and His ‘Good News’ be the central message in our witnessing.
soli deo gloria