One of the key lessons we learned on our wilderness journey was how to bear testimony. Bearing testimony means that we witness something and then tell others about what we have witnessed. Witness and testimony are words often used in courts of law because of their legal implications. This is true in the spirit as well. God taught us that we are to be a witness and bear testimony for God and to God. There is a critical distinction between the two.
Learning how to bear testimony for God was our first lesson. To do this we first had to witness His nature and His actions. Wanda and I have been believers for many years but it wasn’t until we had our renewal in 1997 that we earnestly began to follow Jesus. Our first step was learning how to hear His voice. Sandy Warner and her Quickened Word helped us out tremendously in our early days. Lately, Mark Virkler has taught us even more. Learning to hear the voice of Jesus is simple enough but has taken a good deal of practice to get right. We need time to learn how to separate His voice from our ‘self’ nature and other spirits. Once we learn how to hear Jesus it is yet another step to obey His commands. Everything Jesus spoke to us, no matter how odd, matched with what was written in His Word. This confirmation helped us find confidence in His voice. As we learned how to discern His voice, we began to see His emotions and character come through His words. Over time this led us to become much more intimate with our Lord. These lessons of what He is like, His thoughts, emotions, character, we would share with others. This is bearing testimony for God. Even though we are still learning more about Him we can still bear testimony of what He is like and what He is saying.
One of the saddest things we see is people bearing testimony about God when they do not know Him. What I mean by that is that they know about Him from what they have learned from others but they do not know Him personally.
This causes a disconnect because the words of the speaker do not match the actions of their life. As witnesses we must realize that only when we live the words we hear from Jesus will we become effective witnesses. Now this mistake can be happen innocently by those that are still learning about Him. This is quite normal for new believers and is not a problem. We all have misconceptions about God as we mature. As long as we accept correction when it comes we will be fine.
The real problem we saw was when older believers became hardened in their wrong ideas about God. When tried to force their false testimony onto others it led to great confusion. God will punish those that do this. They are proud and will not humble themselves. This blocks God’s voice so they can not hear God clearly nor testify about Him correctly.
I can remember clearly the day God sternly told me, “I do NOT ‘use’ people.” He was fed up with people saying. “God ‘used’ so and so to do something.” By warning me, Jesus was letting me know that He works ‘with’ people, and their sovereign will, to achieve His purposes. Jesus does not ‘use’ anyone. On the other hand satan loves to ‘use’ people and frequently overrides their free will through deceit, treachery and bullying. God is not like that. These are the kind of lessons we learn about God as we mature and then bear that testimony to others. If I had not humbled myself and accepted His correction I might be one of those people who incorrectly think that God ‘uses’ man. This is but one example of bearing testimony for God.
The most difficult lesson we have had to learn was how to bear testimony to God. This is unlike bearing testimony for Jesus where we tell people about the God we know personally. Bearing testimony to God first involves witnessing the behavior of people around us; most often in specific situations. As we observe, we learn. Over time we begin to see patterns and understand what is at the root of that person, either ‘self’ or ‘spirit.’ This takes a good deal of time, practice and maturity. When we have collected sufficient evidence we are called to bring that testimony back to the Father. In doing so Jesus would then teach us about ourselves and the nature of ‘self.’
These were tough assignments because we had to first experience the brutal, callous, heartless betrayal of man. Seeing the duplicity, hypocrisy and unfeeling hardness of heart from those who called themselves believers was very hard. The purpose of these lessons was not to break us, but to train us. God was giving us the privilege to be His witnesses. This meant we were honored by the rare opportunity to suffer the kind of betrayal Jesus went through. We experienced what He experienced so we could know Him better and know what the nature of man is like. Regardless of what people testified about themselves how they treated us was what we witnessed.
God was giving us the privilege to be His witnesses. This meant we were honored by the rare opportunity to suffer the kind of betrayal Jesus went through.
The disconnect between how people saw themselves and how they actually behaved was astonishing. People often think about themselves as being ‘good’ people but God alone is worthy of that description. As humans we all fall far short of that bar. When ‘good’ people act out of ‘self’ and cause great pain to others how is that ‘good’? As we take our testimony to God and lay it before Him we see the difference. From there He will judge those people. We do not. Our job is to simply bear testimony and learn; nothing else.
God knows all things, including how very hypocritical we all are, so we wondered why He wanted us to bear testimony to Him. Our experiences had taught us about humility, self-sacrifice and empathy but why did we have to bear testimony about others back to Him? The answer is found in Deut. 19:15, Matt. 18:16, 2 Cor. 13:1 and 1 Tim. 5:19. All these Scriptures point to a simple spiritual principle whereby no judgement can be rendered without 2 or 3 witnesses. This is true on earth as well as in heaven. For Jesus to render a just judgement against a person He first needs 2 or 3 witnesses to testify about their behavior. We had been trained to be those witnesses so that any judgement God would render against these people would be just and fair.
There is a delusion in many believers today that how we behave toward others is unimportant and inconsequential. Many they think that what really matters is what we do for God or say about God. It is our desire to dispel that myth. Our journey led us to many believers. We came to them as destitute and homeless, the least of men, not looking for handouts or help but not wanting to be persecuted. What we saw in their response was appalling. Instead of compassion and love we saw vitriol and anger. It was at these moments that Matthew 25:35-46 became clear. Here we began to understand the importance of our testimony to God.
I was naked and you clothed Me, I was sick and you visited Me with help and ministering care, I was in prison and you came to see Me. Then the just and upright will answer Him, Lord, when did we see You hungry and gave You food, or thirsty and gave You something to drink? And when did we see You a stranger and welcomed and entertained You, or naked and clothed You? And when did we see You sick or in prison and came to visit You? And the King will reply to them, Truly I tell you, in so far as you did it for one of the least [in the estimation of men] of these My brethren, you did it for Me.
Then He will say to those at His left hand, Begone from Me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels! For I was hungry and you gave Me no food, I was thirsty and you gave Me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome Me and entertain Me, I was naked and you did not clothe Me, I was sick and in prison and you did not visit Me with help and ministering care. Then they also [in their turn] will answer, Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You? And He will reply to them, Solemnly I declare to you, in so far as you failed to do it for the least [in the estimation of men] of these, you failed to do it for Me. Then they will go away into eternal punishment, but those who are just and upright and in right standing with God into eternal life.
God is serious about judgement. He clearly laid out that Jesus will judge us on the basis of how we treated the poor and needy, the least of men. He is so serious that our family was sent out as destitute and homeless to test the hearts of those who claimed to be following Him. It is this testimony that we bear against them to God. This is an awful duty that must be done. As we witnessed so shall we testify. We cannot overemphasize how serious this is to our Father. God will look at how we treated others, especially the poor and needy. The basis of His judgement will be what we did for them, not what we ‘did’ for Him. All of our ‘good’ deeds in the church will not carry an ounce of help if we forget about the weightier matters of helping those in need. If we cannot learn to sacrifice of ourselves to help those in need then we will have a hard time when judgement comes.
We were sent to remote places to test the response of believer’s to the homeless. Their cold, brutal words and icy hearts were in stark contrast to their testimony of a warm, loving God. The hypocrisy, duplicity and hate was rubbed in our faces. To bear such testimony about others is a solemn task. We are not alone though. There are many like us. We are in your streets, back alleys, vacant lots and parks. We wear dirty clothes and keep all our worldly possessions with us. We are hungry and tired; cold, sick and hurt.
You pass us by hoping we’ll go away, ignoring us lest we ask you to help us.You walk by silently, judging us, thinking the worst about us or fearful that you will be harmed. If you do speak you tell us to go get social services, take welfare, or ‘get a job, ya bum.’
You offer other people’s help but not your own. You are afraid we’ll take from you but the reality is you refuse to give. You refuse to give anything that costs you something. You even refuse to give a smile or a kind word. This is the testimony we bear against you. This is what we bear silently now but will testify before God with a grieving heart. In tears of anguish and pain we will testify before Him how you refused to give of yourself to help us in our misery, our hour of need. We won’t be angry or hateful just bearing the overwhelming agony of your callous, insensitive heart.
We plead with you, with tears in our eyes, don’t let us have to testify about you like this. Let us say that you gave of yourself, that you cared and poured out your heart to help those who needed your help. Let us rejoice with you as you receive a reward of blessing because you first blessed others. Don’t let your reward pass you by. We are waiting just around the corner for you. God will bring us to you and we wait for that cup of cold water from your hand. Give freely of yourself. Give abundantly and you will nurture your own soul. Then, and only then, will we rejoice in our testimony.
Homer and Wanda