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By Rev Charles Seet

Preached at / Published Life BPC Weekly, 2005-01-16

Text: Psalm 126:6

There was once a young Christian man whose church was praying for him, because he took a job during his summer vacation working in the forests as a lumberjack. They were concerned that this young man would not be able to take the ridicule and verbal abuse that the rough and tough unbelieving lumberjacks were known to dispense against Christians. When the young man completed his stint and came back to church they asked him how his job went, and his reply was "I had a good time with them" and he added with a smile: "They did not even suspect that I am a Christian!" 

Loving the Praises of Men

This story raises the question: Can a Christian remain a 'secret believer'? If a person says that he believes in Jesus Christ, can he keep that fact hidden for long? There are apparently some who believe that they can and that they should, especially to keep up their image before the world. But this desire to be loved and accepted by everyone is wrong and sinful, particularly when it is done at the expense of confessing Christ before men. A person who loves the praises of men more than the praise of God is a person who loves the world. And 1 John 2:15 makes it clear that "If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him." 

Dear Reader, if you had to choose between receiving the praise of men and receiving the praise of God, which would you choose? If you are a genuine Christian, you must choose the praise of God. You must not be afraid of being deprived of the praise of men. And you must also not be afraid of the ridicule and scorn that might arise from men, when you choose to receive the praise of God.

There are some who choose the easy way out because of this fear. They do not want to face any kind of persecution for being Christians. And so they remain secret believers, hoping that they can enjoy all the blessings of God, while at the same time, enjoy the praises of men. But this puts them in a very unstable position. They are neither here nor there, but sitting on the fence.

Living under False Pretences

A person who wants nobody to know that He is a Christian will soon have to compromise his faith. To keep himself from being discovered he is forced to live under false pretences, in the same manner as all who are around him. He may be likened to a sheep in wolf's clothing. He will find it difficult to excuse himself from the rowdy and unclean conversation that goes on in his place of work. If he were to display the slightest unwillingness to participate in their unwholesome conversation and activities he might arouse some suspicions that he is a Christian! These compromises will only make life more and more miserable for him. He is constantly filled with guilt that he has sinned against God, and with the fear that he might be found out. 

The truth of the matter is that no true Christian can be comfortable to keep his faith a secret for very long. True faith in Christ cannot be suppressed, for it will naturally seek to be expressed. Romans 10:9,10 "That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation."

A Christian is meant to be a witness for Jesus Christ. He is not ashamed to be called a "Christian" because by this, the world will associate him with Christ, and he will fulfill his God-given role of being a witness to Him. Jesus said, "Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house." (Matthew 5:14,15) A secret believer is like a lighted candle that is placed under a bushel. What use does it have? No one can see the light and benefit from it. It might as well just be extinguished! In the same way, a Christian who cannot fulfill his role of being a witness for Jesus Christ may as well not be a Christian at all. He will have to remain barren all his life, and cannot win a single soul to Christ!

Seeing how dangerous it is to be a secret believer, please be convinced that it is far better for you to come out into the open and let others know that you are a Christian. Whatever it may cost you, you will be much happier and at peace with God. You will find it really liberating and refreshing not to live in secret deception anymore, and to be able to fulfill your God-given role of shining brightly as a light for Christ!

Learning from a Biblical Example

One biblical example of a secret believer who finally came out into the open is Joseph of Arimathea. His faith was made public just after Jesus died on the cross. John 19:38,39 "And after this Joseph of Arimathaea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, besought Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus: and Pilate gave him leave. He came therefore, and took the body of Jesus." 

Joseph of Arimathea was a rich man and a member of the Jewish Sanhedrin council. He had been afraid all this time to openly confess his faith in Christ until this moment, when he no longer wanted to remain a secret disciple. He was moved in his heart very deeply when he saw how Jesus died. This may have given him the boldness he needed to openly confess his faith in Christ. How did he do this? By asking the Roman governor for permission to give Jesus a proper burial. Joseph was even willing to use his own new tomb, which he had probably constructed for himself and his family in a nearby garden.

The Scriptures do not record what happened to Joseph of Arimathea after that, and we can only imagine the angry responses of the unbelieving Jews against him. But the satisfaction he had of being able to serve Christ openly more than compensated for all that he had to suffer. Let us learn from his example: Do not hide your profession of faith, but be ready to testify for Christ! 1 Peter 3:15 "But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear." 

Dealing with Fears about Witnessing

One reason why many Christians fail to witness for Christ is the fear that people will not want to listen to them, and that their witness may offend others. But souls that are perishing will surely not mind being a little offended at first, if it turns out to bring their salvation from eternal death. Those who were enjoying their time on the beach in the recent tsunami disaster may have been initially upset to have their peace and enjoyment so rudely disturbed by the sudden loud warnings to flee to higher ground. But when they found their lives spared from the killer waves, their gratitude for the timely warnings knew no bounds! 

Another reason why some are not witnessing is that they do not know how to present the gospel and answer questions about their faith. If this describes your situation, then you need to set aside time to learn some basic steps for evangelism. 

A useful comprehensive resource for this is the book, Personal Evangelism and Discipleship, by Coart Ramey (BJU Press, 80 pages, now available to Lifers at $6.70 a copy). The book can be used for personal reading or for group study (a teacher's manual is available) and includes instructions for following up new believers using the companion booklet, Basics for Believers by Jim Berg. Here are some summarised points on following a plan for witnessing from chapter three of Ramey's book:

"1. Initiate the Conversation: The believer does not simply provide a passive, "silent" witness; he actively seeks to reach others with the gospel of Christ. An unsaved person normally does not seek the gospel, nor does he usually initiate a conversation about spiritual matters. The believer, therefore, is responsible for presenting the gospel to others. The believer can witness to someone most effectively when there is a reasonable amount of mutual trust and emotional affinity. After the soulwinner builds rapport with someone, he should then look for the right moment to turn the conversation toward spiritual matters. The soulwinner may accomplish this by asking certain questions.

2. Follow an Outline: Saving faith is based on certain basic truths of the Bible. The presentation of these truths, therefore, must be clear and complete. One way to insure that the gospel is presented clearly and completely is to use an outline. The soulwinner may follow this outline rigidly, or he may adapt it according to the particular circumstances or needs of the hearer. The following outline also provides transitional statements to allow for a smooth and logical progression between main points:

Who is God? He is a loving Saviour. He is a just judge. He is Lord over all. Transition: God loves man and wants to show him kindness, but He is just and cannot overlook man's sin.

What is man's problem? Man is guilty because of his sin nature. Man is guilty because of his sinful acts. Man is separated from God because of sin. Transition: How can a man solve his problem of sin? He must come to Christ, who conquered sin on the cross.

What has God done? Christ has become the God man. Christ has lived a perfect life. Christ bore our sins and their penalty on the cross. Christ rose from the grave as proof of His victory over sin and death. Transition: Christ has borne sin and its penalty for all men. However, men are not automatically free from their sins. The work of Christ on the cross is effective only for those who personally accept Christ as Lord and Saviour.

What must man do? Man must turn from his sin. Man must place his confidence in Christ. 

3. Conclude with an Invitation: Ask the lost person if he understands your presentation. As the believer presents the gospel to a lost person, the Holy Spirit will begin to work in the sinner's heart and mind. The believer must be cautious about his use of logic and persuasion at this point. He is encouraging the lost person to make the most important decision of his life. A relationship with Christ must not be entered into lightly, and the unsaved person must realize the seriousness of his choice. He must make his choice willingly, not because he is coerced."

The Joy of Bringing Souls to Christ

Dear Reader, why should you be a secret believer when you can have the great joy of bringing souls to your Saviour, Jesus Christ? Psalm 126:6 tells us, "He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him." May we keep sowing the seed wherever God has placed us!

Vision & Mission

 

To build a united church family that is committed to making disciples through Salvation, Sanctification and Service, to the glory of God.

Verse for the Week

December 3 & 10 - Holy Living

Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, 2 Peter 3:11