God’s Witnessing People

KEY VERSE: “We are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us.” —II Corinthians 5:20

SELECTED SCRIPTURE: Matthew 5:13-16; 28:18-20; II Corinthians 5:18-21; II Timothy 4:1,2

WHEN Jesus was baptized in the river Jordan, he was illustrating the consecration to God that had already taken place in his heart. God was pleased to recognize our Lord’s surrender ‘of himself by anointing him with the Holy Spirit. A prophecy pointing to this event is found in Isaiah 61:1-3, “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; to appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called the trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified.”

Jesus recognized that this prophecy was speaking of himself and that it was his commission to preach the Gospel. Before he started his ministry, he stood in the synagogue and read from the scroll Isaiah 61:1 and the first phrase of the second verse. And when he had finished, he said, “This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.” (Luke 4:17-21) He apparently did not read all of the prophecy because all of it did not pertain to the time of his first advent. The work for him at that time was principally to provide the ransom for Adam; to gather the nucleus of the church, especially the apostles; and to announce that the kingdom of God was at hand. It is important to note that in the Lord’s providence all of these things were accomplished, because Jesus was faithful in preaching the good tidings. And this was attested to by another prophecy which states concerning him, “I have preached righteousness in the great congregation: lo, I have not refrained my lips, O Lord, thou knowest.”—Ps. 40:9

The consecrated footstep followers of Jesus down through the Gospel Age have received the same commission to preach the good tidings with respect to the kingdom of God. But, in addition, the balance of the second verse of the sixty-first chapter of Isaiah and the third verse are applicable to the ministry of the church and are part of their commission. The anointing of the church is spoken of by the Apostle Paul, “For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us. Now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us is God; who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.” (II Cor. 1:20-22) The word Christ is from the Greek word which means anointed, and with this in mind the statement of the Apostle Paul becomes especially meaningful, “For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is [the] Christ. For by one Spirit we are all baptized into one body … and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. For the body is not one member but many.” (I Cor. 12:12-14) This means that all of the consecrated footstep followers of the Lord come under the same anointing as their head, Jesus.

One of the selected scriptures of our lesson is II Corinthians 5:17-21. In this text the Apostle Paul brings forcefully to our attention the importance of our commission, “And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation.” That is, because we have become footstep followers of Jesus we have also been given the responsibility of the ministry of reconciliation. “To wit, that God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.” The thought is that since Jesus is no longer on earth, it becomes the responsibility of his true followers to carry on the witness to the world, not with the thought of converting the world—that will come in the next age—but rather to gather out from the world the few who will be reconciled to God now.

Dawn Bible Students Association
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