When Should We Witness?

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Good morning H____,
Knowing that our belief is at the expense of those who do not believe should give us a certain appreciation for Babylon that only a mature child of God can express:

Rom 9:3  For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh:

It is a sobering, humbling thing to live and witness how God makes a person’s light turn to darkness.
You are right about learning from Babylon. We should never look at our time there as wasted. God does not waste time. What we do is what we are caused to do. It is a waste from the point of view of the flesh, but it is all needed from the point of view of God’s sovereign work. As I said above, we need to come to appreciate the function of Babylon in the scheme of the revelation of Jesus Christ. Indeed Christ is a very dark road to those who cannot see that it is He who is working all things after the counsel of His own will:

Psa 139:7  Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence?
Psa 139:8  If I ascend up into heaven, thou [ art] there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou [ art there].
Psa 139:9  [ If] I take the wings of the morning, [ and] dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea;
Psa 139:10  Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.
Psa 139:11 If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me.

The night is like light to God because it is but a creation of His, and it is but a tool in His hand. Satan cannot move without God giving him permission and directions. This all amounts to darkness and light being the same to God:

Psa 139:12  Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee.

Bring that verse up in your Sunday school class if you dare. This chapter begins with God knowing and even “understanding David’s thoughts and Joseph’s brothers thoughts and your thoughts and my thoughts “from afar.” In other words, God knows our thoughts before we ever have them. How is that even possible if he is not the cause of all things:

Psa 139:1 <To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David.> O LORD, thou hast searched me, and known [ me].
Psa 139:2  Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off.
Psa 139:3  Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted [ with] all my ways.
Psa 139:4  For [ there is] not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O LORD, thou knowest it altogether.
Psa 139:5  Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me.
Psa 139:6  Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it.
Pro 16:1  The preparations of the heart in man, and the answer of the tongue, is from the LORD.

So every sin and mistake we make serves to show us just how incapable we are of ourselves. And every beastly act of mankind serves to demonstrate that it was God who “marred the vessel of clay in His own hand” for the purpose of disposing of that clay vessel to make it anew ‘as seems fit to the potter to make it.’

Jer 18:4  And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it

Babylon is God’s creation, and it serves us well. Babylon is those who come so close to Christ that they are healed of many of their diseases and are taught of Him and eat of his loaves and fishes and “believe on him” and yet want to kill him. Babylon is our brothers in Christ who can carry and bear for us the vessels of the temple and yet cannot touch any holy thing. It is a humiliating calling that all of Joseph’s brothers and Moses’s and Aaron’s first cousin, a fellow Levite, naturally resented:

Num 18:1  And the LORD said unto Aaron, Thou and thy sons and thy father’s house with thee shall bear the iniquity of the sanctuary: and thou and thy sons with thee shall bear the iniquity of your priesthood.
Num 18:2  And thy brethren also of the tribe of Levi, the tribe of thy father, bring thou with thee, that they may be joined unto thee, and minister unto thee: but thou and thy sons with thee [ shall minister] before the tabernacle of witness.
Num 18:3  And they shall keep thy charge, and the charge of all the tabernacle: only they shall not come nigh the vessels of the sanctuary and the altar, that neither they, nor ye also, die.
Num 18:4  And they shall be joined unto thee, and keep the charge of the tabernacle of the congregation, for all the service of the tabernacle: and a stranger shall not come nigh unto you.
Num 18:5  And ye shall keep the charge of the sanctuary, and the charge of the altar: that there be no wrath any more upon the children of Israel.
Num 18:6  And I, behold, I have taken your brethren the Levites from among the children of Israel: to you they are given as a gift for the LORD, to do the service of the tabernacle of the congregation .
Num 18:7  Therefore thou and thy sons with thee shall keep your priest’s office for every thing of the altar, and within the vail; and ye shall serve: I have given your priest’s office unto you as a service of gift: a nd the stranger that cometh nigh shall be put to death.

Now that is the answer to your question about what is the world. Yes, Pilate did not want to kill Christ, but Babylon, God’s own people, those who claim that they are the spiritual seed of Abraham, those who have come out of Egypt and have crossed the Red Sea and have endured the trials of the wilderness and have followed Christ and are hungry for His parables and “believe on Christ,” still want Him dead, simply because they cannot go all the way with Him to the cross. Babylon is our brothers in Christ. Judas is one of our closest brothers. “To you they are given as a gift for the LORD, to do the service of the tabernacle of the congregation.” But thou and thy sons with thee shall keep your priest’s office for every thing of the altar, and within the vail… and the stranger that cometh nigh shall be put to death.”  Which is just another way of saying that their light becomes darkness.
Here is this same admonition in New Testament spiritual words:

2Jn 1:10  If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into [ your] house, neither bid him God speed:
2Jn 1:11  For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.
Tit 3:10 A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject;

Coming out of Babylon has as more to do with keeping false doctrines out of our spiritual house than it does with staying away from a physical building. Nevertheless we are commanded not to bid them godspeed or we are guilty of their evil deed. We are never to be seen as approving of what is being said in Babylon.

1Co 10:20  But I [ say], that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils.
1Co 10:21  Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord’s table, and of the table of devils.

Oh yes, Paul did indeed go into the synagogue. But he never lasted very long because he was there “as a testimony against them.”

Mat 10:18  And ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles.

You ask: “Why would the world hate us?” Just try telling any man on the street that he ought not be participating in the affairs of this age, that he ought to be loving his enemies even if those enemies are Arabs, and you will very soon see that there is no real difference between your brothers in Christ and the world. That is why Babylon is called ‘the world.’ Christ did not call His disciples out of Rome. He called them out of Israel, God’s people, and this is what He tells them:

Joh 15:19  If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.

There is a letter on the site and a video entitled What Is The World. Check them out. You will see that Babylon is God’s people who are of the world, and that in New Testament terms the phrase ‘the world’ includes and generally means the apostate church.

1Jn 4:1  Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.

“The world” in this verse, is not referring to the local sports stadium. It is a reference to the local church. You and I both know that no denomination is going to tolerate hearing the truth of God’s Word. The synagogues of old were much more designed for general discussion than are the very strictly structured organizations of orthodox Christianity. None of the apostles were regular attendees at the local synagogues as quiet ‘pew warmers’ just hoping for an opportunity to be asked about Christ. If Peter had waited for the man at the gate called beautiful to ask him about Christ, the man would never have been healed. I have no doubt that the man had already heard about Christ, but Peter, under the inspiration of the holy spirit, took this opportunity to bring Christ into the conversation and use this man, so well known by so many, as a witness to the power of the resurrected Christ.
At our last conference I told the attendees that I felt that I have perhaps overemphasized the fact that Peter tells us to be ready to answer any who asks of us a reason for the joy that lies within us.

1Pe 3:15  But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and [ be] ready always to [ give] an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:

What really needs to be emphasized about that verse is “with meekness and fear.” There is no room for pride in the service of our Lord. It is all of Him, or it is counterproductive.
Being told to be ready to answer a question is not the same as saying that you must always wait for a question before you ever bring up the subject of Christ. Following Peter’s own example at the gate called beautiful, we should also be ready to take advantage of any excuse to declare our faith in the resurrected Son of God. We are not to just “sit there like a bump on a log” while others discuss Christ in our presence and never say a word just because a question was not posed to us directly. No, we ought not cast our pearls before swine, but there is no scripture that I can think of which says that we are to assume that everyone we meet are swine who will reject our witness and our testimony of Jesus Christ:

Rev 19:10  And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, See [ thou do it] not: I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.

You are right, we are today’s prophets who speak to men to edification, exhortation and comfort:

1Co 14:3  But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort.

I hope this has answered your questions, and I hope you can see that we don’t need to wait until a question is specifically directed toward us before we take the opportunity to be witnesses for our Lord. I feel that I have indeed overemphasized the need to grown in grace and know whereof we speak. It is true that we ought not try to force what we have learned down the throats of babes who are not even interested. It is also true though that we are to be zealous in a good thing:

Gal 4:18  But it is good to be zealously affected always in a good thing, and not only when I am present with you.
Tit 2:14  Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.
Rev 3:19  As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.
Mat 5:14 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.

Mike

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