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Bible verses about Witness, Quality of
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Exodus 20:7

The third commandment emphasizes the holy quality of His character and offices as identified by His names. His names reveal what He is. It is the Christian's responsibility to adorn and uphold the reputation and glory of all that those names imply. When we were regenerated, His Family name—God—became our Family name! We were baptized by the Spirit of God into that name. The third commandment therefore covers the quality of our witness in bearing that name.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Fifth Commandment


 

Exodus 20:16

To make a bad witness through ignorance or weakness is one thing, but to know better and deliberately mislead surely compounds the transgression! Why do we lie? We lie to cover up; we fear that something we wish to hide will be exposed. We also lie to rise above our feelings of inadequacy or inferiority or to lower a third party in the eyes of others. This latter reason tends to elevate ourselves in our own eyes and, we hope, in the eyes of others.

Consider the use of cosmetics in this regard. Makeup is frequently used to hide, to cover up what we consider to be inadequacies of beauty. But by whose standard are we inadequate? Are we really being a true witness of ourselves?

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Ninth Commandment (1997)


 

Proverbs 29:2

What if a ruler, the one to whom we are to submit, is an oppressive person? What if he is just incompetent or stupid, and we know better how to do the job that he is supposed to be doing? What if the person is sexually immoral or financially greedy? Does God still want us to submit? What protection do we have in these kinds of circumstances?

Abomination that it is, those in authority often do evil. They might have serious character flaws that catch their victims in the effects of their flaws. What is so maddening is that they justify their ways—seeing them as good—and they will turn around and blame the innocent for the evils that occur.

For example, the proverb says that "all the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes." The incompetent man does not think to himself, "I'm really dumb, stupid, idiotic, and shouldn't even have this job." The sexually immoral person does not see himself as perverse. Most prostitutes will say, "Yes, I'm doing wrong according to the law, but I am providing a needed and wanted service. If it weren't I would have no customers." They justify themselves; they are pure in their own eyes.

Consider the enemies of Jesus. They felt justified in taking His life on the grounds that He was stirring up the people. No one on earth has ever been more innocent, yet they justified what they were doing because the people were being stirred up by Him. They accused Him of being a revolutionary, a threat to community stability.

If we are in a position like this—under an oppressive ruler who justifies the way he is doing things, and we are suffering the effects of his actions—we feel like powerless pawns being taken advantage of. We feel that he is denying us the liberty to do what we want. Should we submit or rebel?

To know what to do, we must look at what Jesus did in a similar circumstance. This is not an occasion in which the authority figure demands submission, and in submitting, we must break the law of God. The situation does not involve being forced to sin, but simply submitting to one who is unreasonable and oppressive.

John 19:10 is part of Jesus' trial for His very life before Pilate, and occurs after He was scourged: "Then Pilate said to Him, 'Are You not speaking to me? Do You not know that I have power to crucify You, and power to release You?'" He could choose to do either. Pilate was a corrupt official. His record, according to secular history, was not at all good. The Jews despised him for his harsh ways.

"Jesus answered, 'You could have no power at all against Me unless it had been given you from above. Therefore the one who delivered Me to you has the greater sin'" (John 19:11). His response is very meaningful. It clearly shows His attitude, His approach, to every circumstance of His life.

To be in the same frame of mind, we must ask ourselves, "Do we see God?" Is He really a part of our lives? Is He really running this creation? Is He really sitting at the controls of things? Is He really aware of us as individuals? Does He have every hair on our heads numbered? Are we really the apple of His eye? Are our lives really in His hands? Have we really given them to Him, or are we holding part of ourselves in reserve?

"You could have no power at all against Me unless it had been given you from above." Jesus saw life very clearly and simply: that God was in complete control of everything going on in the universe. Not that everything was being directed by Him in the sense that He was causing it to occur, but that Jesus believed with every fiber of His being that God was with Him all the time, everywhere, and at every moment. He knew that His life was in His Father's hands and that Pilate could do nothing against Him unless God allowed it.

Would God have us submit, or be faced with submitting, to somebody who was cruel, hard-hearted, incompetent, sexually unbalanced, perverted, stupid, or financially greedy? Would He have us live and work under such a person? He put His own Son in that position! Everything at Jesus' trial and crucifixion looked as though it was totally stacked against Him. Carnally, it seems as if He had every right to rebel. He could have replied, "Do you not know to whom you are doing this?" Instead, He says, in paraphrase, "You would not have the power to do anything except that My Father passed on this. And He is now looking at Me to see how I am going to respond. Will I submit to the authority that He has permitted to be over Me right now?"

Do we see God in our lives like this? We have to begin to look at ourselves differently than the way people in the world look at themselves. We must decide whether we are in God's hand or not. Do we have the faith to trust that we are, and that these constituted authorities are also in His hand? Do we believe that He is aware of what is going on and that He deeply cares about what we will do in each situation? As He did with Abraham, He must know what kind of witness we are going to make (see Genesis 22).

John W. Ritenbaugh
Submitting (Part 1)


 

Matthew 28:19-20

The third commandment involves the quality of our personal witness of everything God's name implies. His name represents His position as Creator, Lifegiver, Provider, Ruler, and Sustainer, as well as His character, power, and promises. As Matthew 28:19-20 shows, "God" became our spiritual Family name upon regeneration by His Spirit, and thus we have a responsibility to grow and uphold that name's reputation by bringing honor upon it by our words, deeds, and attitudes.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Fourth Commandment (Part One) (1997)


 

Acts 6:1-3

It is not without validity that most of our impressions or beliefs about our family, close friends, and acquaintances automatically involve knowledge about their character as a part of their reputation. Obviously, our interactions give us insight to these people's characters and reputations, whether our perceptions are true or false. Those who know us best will see any growth of character or lack of it. Even so, some can have blind spots in relation to a particular person (for instance, a mother may ignore her son's flaws), or the person may have a talent for concealing their shortcomings, even from those closest to them.

We see a positive side of this in Acts 6:1-3, where the apostles tell the church to choose seven men to become deacons. One of the criteria was that these men were to be "of good reputation," which translates from the Greek word martureo, meaning "to be a witness, that is, to testify (literally or figuratively)." The KJV also renders martureo as "give [evidence]," "bear record," "obtain a good honest report," "be well reported of."

These men were to show evidence of God's Spirit and wisdom in their lives, a combination of a good name as well as growth in character. It is interesting that, because they knew them best, the people were to select these men according to their character.

Staff
Our Reputation, Our Character


 

Romans 8:14-17

If we are regenerated children of God and led by His Spirit, we will exhibit His character and spiritual image. Before God summoned us, began to reveal His truth to us, forgave us, justified us, and imparted His Spirit to us, our spiritual father was Satan! We were no better than the Pharisees, whom Christ told that they were of their father, the Devil, because they were doing Satan's works (John 8:39-47). Children display the characteristics of their parents, so Christ judged the Pharisees to be the children of Satan because they were exhibiting the Devil's characteristics.

Before God intervened in our lives, we, too, were the children of Satan (Ephesians 2:1-3) because we were exhibiting his spiritual characteristics. However, God began to redeem us and called us into a relationship with Him, which, as Romans 8:15 says, was symbolically an adoption. God was not our original father, but He took on that role after He extracted us from the grasp of Satan, sin, and this world.

Verse 16 reiterates that the Holy Spirit is intended to provide a witness of who we are and who God is. If we allow the Spirit to lead us, we are sons of God. It follows that, if we are sons of God, then we will be exhibiting the same characteristics as our Father! When we exhibit God's characteristics, we are a witness to the world of His character and the way He lives.

Under the New Covenant, with access to the Holy Spirit, the quality of our witness must be much higher than what God expected of physical Israel. To whom much is given, much also is required (Luke 12:48)! If our neighbors, co-workers, or family members look at us, and all they see are people who go to church on different days, do not eat certain foods, give multiple tithes on their income, and do not believe in the Trinity, are they seeing anything different than Old Covenant Israel, who did not have the Holy Spirit? Certainly, God's law will set us apart from the world because the world is against God, but merely keeping the letter of the law will not provide the complete witness that God is looking for.

This is not to denigrate the royal law of liberty to any degree. Acts 5:32 says God gives His Spirit only to those who obey Him. However, one can be nominally obedient, keeping God's law in the letter, without making a truly effective witness for God.

David C. Grabbe
The Pentecost Witness


 

1 Corinthians 15:1-8

As he opens this chapter, Paul's clear purpose is to show that the hope God has placed before us is not based on men's guesses or possibilities, but on the testimony of many eyewitnesses then yet living when he wrote this in the AD 50s. Paul adds that he did not make up the gospel, but it was what he received from Christ, and what he received was exactly the same as what he had later been told by the apostles when he met with them in Jerusalem. Paul is presenting the resurrection of Christ as a historical fact.

We also have available to us the witness of the apostles' lives following the resurrection. Now, people just do not do the things the apostles did without believing what they saw with their own eyes with all their heart. Thus, in the first eight verses Paul reinforces what Peter says in II Peter 1:16-21, that there is plenty of strong evidence of the proof of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. This is not a figment of these men's imaginations. It really did occur, and God did not provide a mere two or three witnesses, but hundreds of them to the fact of the resurrection of the dead.

Paul establishes that our hope is resurrection into the Kingdom of God. However, we must take this hope one step farther if we want to make it a motivating force. The resurrection is, in one sense, merely a promised event given at a point in time. It does not occur merely because we believe it, or even because it has been promised. It occurs because of Who promised it. It occurs because there is a powerful Being of utmost integrity, who cannot lie and who will make it occur. This is where our hope must be, not in what He has promised, but rather Who has promised it. Is our faith in God? So must our hope be in God.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Perseverance and Hope


 

Hebrews 11:2

It was by faith that the elders, meaning those who lived long ago, the ancients, received God's approval and made a good testimony. Because of faith, they were enabled to become good witnesses. We need to connect this word "testimony" or "witness" with Hebrews 12:1, where it is said that we are "surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses." The author does not mean that these people are watching us as unseen spirits, but that they witnessed through their lives that they had faith in God, and we see them now in our mind's eye.

These heroes of faith are dead and still in their graves. However, we can look at the record of their lives in Scripture, and it is as though they yet live. It is similar to Paul saying that the blood of Abel crying out from the ground yet speaks, for that story tells us a great deal about Cain and Abel. This great cloud of witnesses is there in the Bible for us to observe so that we can examine the testimony that they left—how that they used their faith, how they endured, how they glorified God by the things they said and did.

It was faith that strengthened them and enabled them to overcome. It enabled them to suffer and to endure the privations of their lives. This patient waiting under trial is the primary object, teaching, or subject of this wonderful chapter.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Faith (Part 2)


 

 




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