A Normal and Natural Witness

Tucked away in Acts chapter 11, is a fascinating account that at first glance doesn’t seem that impressive; Luke uses only three sentences to convey the scene. He writes, “Now those who were scattered because of the persecution that arose over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia and Cyprus and Antioch, speaking the word to no one except Jews. But there were some of them, men of Cyprus and Cyrene, who on coming to Antioch spoke to the Greeks also, preaching the Lord Jesus Christ. And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number who believed turned to the Lord” (Acts 11:19-21). This is amazing! These Christ-followers, who were scattered over the persecution of Stephen decided they would take a chance and tell the message of Christ to fellow Jews, but also, they would cross a cultural barrier and share the message of Christ with non-Jews. The Lord blessed their witness and a great number of Greeks responded to the Gospel and put their faith in Christ! What caused these anonymous men (Luke doesn’t even tell us their names) to share the message of Christ with both Jews and Greeks?

First and foremost, they have a deep love for the Lord and a concern for His glory. These men, no doubt, have a deep love for the Lord, having tasted and seen that the Lord is good. They have served Him in Jerusalem, and now having arrived in Antioch due to persecution they, out of love for Him and concern for His glory, continue to tell as many people as possible of His great mercy and love. The fact is God is glorified when His mighty works of mercy and grace are made known, which is why the psalmist encourages us to “tell of his salvation from day to day. Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples” (Psalm 96:2-3)! When you or I tell an unconverted person about the Lord Jesus Christ and His saving power, that in itself is honoring and glorifying to God.

The second thing that prompted these men of Cyprus and Cyrene to tell Jews and Greeks about the Lord Jesus is a love for their fellow man and concern for their welfare. The desire to win our fellow man to Christ is the normal and natural outflow of a heart that’s been rescued by Christ! It’s the heart behind Paul’s words when he said, “I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers…” (Rom. 9:3). If we have personally experienced and known the love of Christ and if we are filled with gratitude for His grace, which has rescued us from death and hell, than our normal and natural desire will be to tell others of the salvation that Christ offers them, as there is no greater good that we can offer another than to tell them of Christ and His grace. If, as J.I. Packer says, “we find ourselves shrinking from this responsibility and trying to evade it, we need to face ourselves with the fact that in this we are yielding to sin and Satan. If (as is usual) it is the fear of being thought odd and ridiculous, or of losing popularity in certain circles, that holds us back, we need to ask ourselves in the presence of God: Ought these things to stop us loving our neighbor? If it is false shame, which is not shame at all but pride in disguise, that keeps our tongue from Christian witness when we are with other people. We need to press on our conscience this question: Which matters more—our reputation or their salvation?”

May our lives overflow in love for the Lord, which will produce overflow in love for our fellow man and enable us to find it normal and natural to share with others the message of Christ, and that we too, like the men from Cyprus and Cyrene, would be used of the Lord to bring others into a saving knowledge of Christ Jesus, our Lord.

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