The Release of the Lord # 2
We think that there is such a phrase, and it is this:
THE TESTIMONY OF JESUS
This accounts for everything when possessing as it possessed them. Let us look it up.
"Who bare witness of the Word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ" (Revelation 1:2).
"I was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the Word of God and the testimony of Jesus" (Revelation 1:9).
"I saw underneath the altar the souls of them that had been slain for the Word of God, and for the testimony which they held" (Revelation 6:9).
"And the dragon waxed wroth with the woman, and went away to make war with the rest of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and hold the testimony of Jesus" (Revelation 12:17).
"I am a fellow-servant with thee and with thy brethren that hold the testimony of Jesus" (Revelation 19:10).
"And I saw the souls of them that had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus" (Revelation 20:4).
"Even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you" (1 Corinthians 1:6).
"They will not receive of thee testimony concerning Me" (Acts 22:18).
"Our testimony unto you was believed" (2 Thess. 1:10).
"Be not ashamed therefore of the testimony of our Lord" (2 Timothy 1:8).
"Ye shall be My witnesses" (Acts 1:8; same root in Greek as 'testimony'.
"Must one be ordained to be a witness with us" (Acts 1:22).
"This Jesus did God raise up, whereof we are all witnesses" (Acts 2:32).
"Raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses" (Acts 2:32).
"Not to all the people, but unto witnesses" (Acts 10:41).
"With great power gave the apostles their witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus" (Acts 4:33).
"And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb, and because of the Word of their testimony" (Revelation 12:11).
The New Testament, read in the light of these passages, shows very clearly that the remarkable story which it recounts is that of a testimony. It remains for us to ask what this testimony was. To clear the way for the positive answer we must say something as to what this "testimony" was not.
1. The Testimony of Jesus Was Not A Teaching
There is nothing in the whole story upon which to rest an argument or affirmation that the Apostles went out to the world with "The Teaching of Jesus." They were not propagating new doctrines or a system of truth. The teaching resulted from the acceptance of the testimony, the expounding of its content followed that acceptance and was kept for believers only. It was a result, not a cause. The most they ever did was to substantiate their testimony from the Scriptures, and affirm certain facts concerning the Person of Christ.
2. The Testimony of Jesus was NOT a New Religion
'Christianity' was not set over against or alongside of other religions and made 'comparative.' It was some time before some of the Apostles themselves realized the implications of their testimony in the matter of their being emancipated from Judaism. Great as the change was, they did not at first realize that they had been taken out of their 'religion.' Later they found that they were out and committed in spite of their own prejudices, and had to do their thinking and discussing after the thing had become a fact in embarrassing experience. See Peter in the house of Cornelius, and the events of Acts 10, 11, 15, etc.
3. The Testimony of Jesus Was NOT a New Movement
No plans were laid. There was no policy. Organization was entirely absent, and any which subsequently had to be admitted was forced upon them by the embarrassment of the very vitality of things, and then it was of the simplest.
A thought-out campaign did not exist. To set up, launch, form, bring into being, or found a new society, sect, 'church', community, was not in mind. They did not set out for such, and although their testimony gave distinctiveness to all who believed; although outsiders labeled them and misinterpreted their motive and purpose; the distinguishing feature was life.
What then was "The Testimony of Jesus?"
All-inclusively it was the proclamation and affirmation of a fact. That fact was - and is - The Universal Sovereignty and Lordship of Jesus Christ as the Son of God, established and vindicated by the resurrection from the dead.
This testimony has two sides. The objective and historic fact, of which they had many infallible proofs, had become demonstrated in the power of that resurrection by the Holy Spirit in "the church, which is His body" - in all its members, in all its activities. That lie, which in Him had conquered sin, death, hell, satan, and had carried Him from "the lowest part" to the "far above all heavens," had been implanted in them by the Holy Spirit sent down from Heaven.
(continued with # 3)