Manifesting God’s Gifts To Be His Witnesses
2nd Sunday after Feast of Epiphany
Archbishop Loren Thomas Hines
January 19, 2020
Readings: Isaiah 49: 1-7
1 Corinthians 1: 1-9
John 1: 29 -40
Many people put little value in the Old Testament. They feel that the New Testament is sufficient, not realizing that it is the Old Testament that sets the course, the principles. It gives us direction. We must know Genesis in order to know the complete plan of God. Christ came to fulfill the prophesies of the Old Testament in the New Testament. Contrary to people’s beliefs, the Old Testament was not just for Israel. It is for everyone. The value of knowing the Old Testament will unveil to us the things that are in the New Testament.
God’s plan, according to the book of Isaiah tells us that even in the womb, man’s destiny is already written. His plan for us is to be witnesses to the world. It is not enough that we preach with words, we should put action into our words, so that people may see that what we are preaching is true. Seeing is important because it is manifesting God’s will for us.
God has given us gifts not for us to keep to ourselves, but for us to manifest these gifts to the world in order to be good witnesses. The gifts are there for a purpose. Why were the disciples drawn to Jesus? They saw His actions. Christ didn’t just “preach,” He lived it out. Christ did not just bring us salvation but gave us the power to overcome obstacles.
If we truly understood the meaning and significance of baptism, it should give us the zest to be able to do things. It should strengthen us. It should make us want to do good deeds. Christ wants us to make use of the gifts because the more we use them, the more we are strengthened, because there is movement. The more we move, the stronger we become. It is similar to exercise. We can do things because Christ is in us, the hope of glory.
1 Thessalonians 5: 24 The One who calls you is faithful, and He will do it.
Philippians 1:6 Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
Psalm 89:33 Nevertheless my lovingkindness will I not utterly take from him, nor suffer my faithfulness to fail.
If God says He will do it, He will do it. He fulfills His word. He cannot and does not go against it. God was giving us messages in the Old Testament. A very strong example is, “I am the God who healeth thee.” Our bodies have the ability to heal itself because God says so. But instead, we put our trust in medicine, in the pharmaceutical companies, instead of putting our trust in God’s Word.
When John the Baptist said, “behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world,” he was identifying Christ as The Lamb who would be slain; the One who would do the ultimate sacrifice in our behalf. In the Old Testament, the shedding of the blood of the sacrificial lamb which was applied on the doors of the children of Israel saved them. The “death angel” passed over them. In likewise manner, if our lives are covered by the blood of Jesus, we are protected.
We should set our minds to believe that life is joy and not pain or difficulty. Sin should no longer control us. It has lost its power. It is our own disobedience that brings it back to our lives.
John’s whole ministry was to prepare people to receive Christ – just as we the church today should be doing to prepare people to receive Christ. We are to be witnesses to show the world. If people see the things we do to show God’s love, they will be drawn to Christ. Christ did not come to the world to destroy the law but to fulfill it.
The apostles continued with Christ’s work and built churches in different parts of the world. You hear, you see, you convince others, and that’s how Christianity is spread. To everyone a gift is given, to be used for the common good. God is faithful to fulfill His promises. He will never fail us.