Patterson Joseph's excellent article, 'The Witness Programme' [2002/8] warrants further thought as it raises some fundamental questions. Firstly does God ACCEPT me? And if so on what basis does he do so? Until this gnawing issue is resolved the prospect of entering into the Hebrews 4 rest will elude you. Our understanding of acceptance must be the same as God's. The Bible is clear, we are accepted by the Father in Christ [Eph1:6].
Undoubtedly the Pauline "in Christ" motif which appears 126 times in the NT is a “profound mystery” (Col 1:27). However, if appropriated it is the key not only to “witnessing” but it explains why Tyndale described the Gospel as “The Good glad happy news that makes a man jump for joy.”
Acceptance is based on one thing ~ PERFECTION [Mtt 5:48] Whose? Not ours, His! It is not so much that we are in Christ but rather Christ is in us. He has made us perfect forever [Hebs 10:14] He is our life [Col 3:4] & our righteousness, [2 Cor 5:21] Jesus didn't just live His life for you He lived it "as" you. He died for you then in order that He could live in you now. Consequently when The Father sees me, He sees Him, cf. Jn 14:20
Even those of us who purport to rest in the Love of God have a tendency to secretly believe that God would accept us more if we were more like X, Y, or Z. This unease is reinforced by our discipleship programmes, which, consist of somebody telling us what we can, can't and should do, rather than just telling us WHO WE ARE! Sadly, this less-than-Jesus discipleship is the inevitable by-product of less-than-Jesus evangelism, the kind where salvation amounts to a person getting their sins forgiven.
Many of our evangelistic appeals perpetuate this misunderstanding. However, if that were so salvation would be universal, for Christ died for the sins of the entire world [Jn 3:16;
1 Jn 2:2] yet not all are saved. Salvation is not getting your sins forgiven, it is receiving His Life [Jn 10:10].
Christians aren’t people who change their lives with God’s help, they are a supernatural people who have exchanged their lives, theirs for His, by God’s grace. We are saved then, not by His death but by His resurrected life [Roms 5:10] You can’t have one without the other but it is imperative that you don’t confuse one with the other. His death is the preamble to receiving His Zoë life that is life as God has it in and of Himself.
How far removed this is from our idea of the Christian life, which we feel pressured to give witness to, and wonder why our clumsy guilt stained efforts yield such meagre results. In reality there seem to be only two groups of people on the earth, those who live a life that they don't have & those who have a life that they don't live.
The latter have nothing to attract the former ~”Why” asks the world “should we come to your church, it looks like it's killing you?” If only it was~ but the truth is that having substituted religion for relationship, Christianity for Christ there is nothing abundant about religion apart from the interminable boredom and the ever-present anxiety.
Thus mine is a plaintiff plea to see the reintroduction of a third group one which comprises of people who “reckon themselves dead” Roms 6:11 knowing that "For them to live is Christ" Phil 1:21 & that "Christ is their life" Col 3:4. After all The Great Commission does not say “Do witnessing” it says, ”Be witnesses.”
If 20 years in sales & marketing taught me anything it taught me this ~ You cannot sell anything to anyone, but what you can do is create in someone a desire to buy. If only we would let Christ live His Zoë life through we would become unconscious participants in a truly effective 'witness programme' unearthing a vast number of people wanting to know how they too can “Get A Life”