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This is a continuance of a series, of The Witness of Christ.  This morning, is part IV, “A Witness for the Defense of the Prosecution.”   The first of this series was about “Releasing the Witness,”  when the Lord changes us from a life of darkness to a life of light. Then, we brought Part II ,Translating That Witness,” into a language and conversation that people can understand, with the need for the Holy Spirit to accompany our witness.  Then last week, Part III, “Clarifying that Witness.” to ensure we’re living a life with “clean hands.”  A life with nothing that would confuse our witness.  So this morning we’d like to continue that series (part IV), and the thought in general, is about strengthening that witness.  A released witness that is comprehensible, which is clear, but must be strong. The world we live in today needs a strong witness for Christ, and not a feeble one. In Isaiah 35:3 Strengthen ye the weak hands, and confirm the feeble knees. And also that thought in the New Testament, a restatement of Himself, Hebrews 12:12  Wherefore lift up the hands which hand down, and the feeble knees;  Don’t you find it, how God is constantly reinterpreting Himself to a constantly changing, with virtually the same verse and idea, to bring us to a place with a strong witness?   Again in Isaiah 35:4 Say to them that are of a fearful heart, Be strong, fear not: behold your God will come with vengeance, even God with a recompence; he will come and save you. Still true today, that the Lord wants us to have a strong witness. That begins with our thought this morning, that will take us to a new direction, with another passage. Our text this morning is going to be, at the moment of the trial of Jesus, where Jesus and Peter find themselves important characters. We’d like to compare and contrast, what happens to Peter, to go along with our series, “The Witness of Christ.”  Speaking about a strong witness and not a feeble one, I’m going to ask you, if we have a witness for the defense, or a witness for the prosecution?  We all have a witness!  All of us!  It’s either strong or weak, either for the defense of the gospel and all that stands for, ..or the prosecution of it by the enemies of the gospel!  We’re thinking in particular of a spiritual enemy this morning, who is Satan.  So we have either a witness for the defense of the gospel, or the prosecution against it.  One, or the other.  Whether our witness for the defense is strong or weak, it’s important.  If our witness is weak purporting for the gospel, it then actually finds itself prosecuting against it, trying to defeat it!  Peter here becomes our “everyman” a symbol all of us can relate to.  About whether or not at any moment we have a strong witness for the defense of the gospel.

TEXT: LUKE 22:31-34 

31 And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat:

32  But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.

33  And he said unto him, Lord, I am ready to go with thee, both into prison, and to death.

34  And he said, I tell thee, Peter, the cock shall not crow this day, before that thou shalt thrice deny that thou knowest me.

Jesus is speaking to Peter here. Can you see the connection to that passage in Isaiah, and the words here of Jesus?  If we’re going to be a strong witness for Christ we need to be a strong witness, and not a feeble one!   A feeble one is at risk!  Peter declared he was ready for prison or death!  And anyone one who wants to do what’s right, and naturally what comes out of your mouth is, “I want to do what’s right!  I’m aware I have an opposition, but you can count on me!”  But Jesus tells Peter that before the crock crows, that Peter thrice would deny Him.  Jesus would need a witness (here Peter) for His defense in the case, but that although Peter declared his loyalty, he would actually deny Jesus three times.  You can imagine the heartache to Peter to hear Jesus say that.  (Later Peter ended up being a strong witness for the prosecution.) Jesus knew Peter’s heart, but also Peter’s weakness.  Peter’s witness ended up being an excellent one for the prosecution because of his sinning from denial.   Peter here is “every man.”  All of us have been Peter, ..wanting to protect the flesh.  Spiritual strength needs to be a “leader,”  and not a “follower,” which leads to being a weak witness.  Verse 32  Jesus tells Peter, “when converted strengthen your brethren, as a strong witness willing to suffer for Christ, for the gospel.   A weak one is for the prosecution!  What is your measure of your witness for the gospel, from 1-10?  A Christian by “association,” etc. or by suffering?

Any of us can find ourselves in this shallow place as Peter did.  When serious trials affect our existence, we need to remain strong to strengthen our brethren.  Liberty or death; I would rather be a witness and die for it, than fail Jesus!  We must be determined, if nothing else, to be a strong witness for Christ.  If trials make it easy for you to be disassociated from the gospel, you have a weak witness!   I would rather be crucified daily than to be a witness for the prosecution, (a shallow witness) !   A true conversion causes one to want to cease from your way, to be a true witness for Jesus!   Acts 3:19  Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; Peter got converted!  Has something happened to you (from your ‘trial’), and “your upper room?”  What caused Peter to be a weak witness?  He really was not yet converted,. Conversion comes through real repentance, through real change!  Not relying on excuses!  Romans 12:2 And be not conformed to this world but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God.

Psalms 51:17  The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.  A broken and contrite (humble) spirit, God will not despise!  A genuine follower!  Recognize your weakness and determine not to be there again!  Where do we find ourselves?  A witness for Christ, or the prosecution against Jesus?  Not just a case of “the do betters.”  Are we willing for the Spirit of God to use us?  The need is to be a strong witness!  Can the Holy Spirit really use us as a witness for the defense?  May God “find us” and locate us!  Where do we stand in being a witness for the gospel?  A weak witness is as deadly as spiritual death!   Be a strong witness for the defense of the gospel!  Let the Lord lead you!  Find a place of prayer!

A Witness for the Defense of the Prosecution