This past week I had to take part in a court proceeding involving a former employee and the company that I work for. The former employee is suing the company for wrongful termination, and I was her final supervisor when she was terminated. This court proceeding has evolved into a significant undertaking for everyone associated with it, including our Human Resources group, where there has been ongoing gathering of emails, file notes, disciplinary action records and employee appraisals as part of the preparation for this trial.
I was told about three weeks ago that I needed to prepare for a deposition since I was a key witness in what had transpired leading up to the dismissal of the former employee. It is interesting to be on the “defendant” side of a trial. With all of the information gathering and the review of documentation, I had more than enough time to think about the case. I tried to separate my emotional reaction from the facts, but my first impression was that the plaintiff’s attorneys were definitely looking for ways to discredit me and my abilities and capabilities as a supervisor, and I understood that because I was the opponent. The first fifteen minutes of questions that I received during the deposition were much like those in an interview, for they discussed my past experience and my job history. In discovery, the opposition will pull any available information about who you are, and will even do a search on the Internet to see what comes up. In the scope of witness testimony, all of this is fair game.
I didn’t like it, of course, but I had to spend a fair amount of time in preparation for the deposition. I was prepped on the facts of the lawsuit, the questions that would likely be asked, and the possibility that all of this would likely take the majority of the day. All of this preparation and anticipation of being deposed made for a few days of stress and evenings of a lack of rest.
It made me also think about what it would be like to be summoned to appear at a trial pertaining to Christianity—how would I prepare, and what would I say? That is a question for all of us. If you were to be deposed in a trial pertaining to your support or defense of Christianity, how would you fare? I learned a great deal about the deposition process, its level of preparation and the actual event, and my contention is that it is a significant test of your abilities and your energy as you go through the process. Your answers to questions will have an important part of the outcome of the trial. In a like manner, if you were asked questions about your faith and trust in Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, your answers should reflect in a positive manner as to how you are walking with Christ and living for Him.
In order to be able to cut through all of the different religions and thought processes that the world presents to those who are curious about God, it is very important for believers in Jesus Christ to be articulate and well-versed when speaking about faith matters. There is a verse in Jude that addresses believers about this very issue.
Dear friends, although I was eager to write you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write and exhort you to contend for the faith that was delivered to the saints once for all. For certain men, who were designated for this judgment long ago, have come in by stealth; they are ungodly, turning the grace of our God into promiscuity and denying our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.
Here, Jude is making the point that all believers have salvation by the grace of Jesus Christ, but it is very important to make a demonstrated effort to contend, or speak up, about their faith to others. When one is a contender, he or she is speaking up in opposition to someone or something. Jude makes the statement to contend for the faith because there was an element of opposition—firmly established deceivers in their midst whose sole purpose was to deny Jesus Christ and to keep people from recognizing and accepting Jesus Christ as Savior.
Finally, be strengthened by the Lord and by His vast strength. Put on the full armor of God so that you can stand against the tactics (or schemes, or tricks) of the Devil. For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens. This is why you must take up the full armor of God, so that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having prepared everything, to take your stand.
This threat of the forces of evil is ever-present today in that there are many different messages that continually pull unsuspecting people, who are searching for the truth, in many different directions, and most of them are far from the truth of salvation in Jesus Christ. The deception comes in many ways, but the end result is that there is no need to trust Christ as Savior because one believes he or she is good enough to make it to heaven on their own, or there has to be more than one way to be with God other than through Christ. People will forsake God for their own pleasures and desires believing that there is no consequence for their actions, while others will believe that there is no eternal punishment for their life after death. In addition, for the believer who is weak in knowledge and in their faith, deceivers are ready to pull them away to the “flavor-of-the-month” religion that may look and sound good on the surface but turn out to be a disastrous road to destruction.
Those who are believers must not just rest only on God’s Word and claim that it alone speaks for itself. God’s Word is indeed the last word, but today’s world needs more from us as a testimony on behalf of Christ. With all of the mixed messages that come from the ongoing distortion of God’s Word due to contextual errors of interpretation, we need to be on the outlook to stand firm and contend for the faith, and, in doing so, have confidence that what we contend for is the absolute truth—the only truth that leads to one having an eternal destiny with Jesus Christ.
Even though the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ may be ever present today, always remember that the truth is elusive to those who do not know Jesus Christ.
“My kingdom is not of this world,” said Jesus. “If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I wouldn’t be handed over to the Jews. As it is, My kingdom does not have its origin here.”
“You are a king then?” Pilate asked.
“You say that I’m a king,” Jesus replied. “I was born for this, and I have come into the world for this: to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to My voice.”
“What is truth?” said Pilate.
The deception of Satan is effective—it prevents people from seeking the truth of Jesus Christ and asking the question “What is truth?” just as Pilate did, without finding the answer. The truth starts with our message of the love of Jesus Christ. We must step out on our faith and proclaim the gospel of Christ to effectively counter the efforts of Satan.
Going back to my discussion on the deposition process, there are areas of importance that are strikingly similar to how a believer in Christ must make a case in contending for the faith.
First, a witness for Christ must have credibility. In order to be taken seriously as a believer in Jesus Christ, you must live your life in such a way that your statements for Christ will not be called into question. Your life must have evidence of being different than those who live in the world. It is OK to be in the world, for that is our field of harvest for those who need to know Christ, but we are not to live as the world does. If we live as the world does, our testimony for Jesus Christ has no teeth—it lacks credibility. I would not be credible witness for Christ if I lived sinfully and was unrepentant in my behavior. Your effort to win others for Christ begins with an effective testimony as a credible witness.
Next, along with credibility, there must be a presence of Christ in your life as you live in God’s will through the Holy Spirit. The credibility of your outward testimony is reinforced by your actions as you operate in the Spirit.
Wasn’t Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? You see that faith was active together with his works, and by works, faith was perfected. So the Scripture was fulfilled that says, Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him for righteousness, and he was called God’s friend. You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.
Your true testimony to others is a Christ-like lifestyle, where people can see evidence of your faith as you navigate through a difficult and complex world each day. The attributes of having respectful behavior, even in the midst of your enemies, reflects an attitude that some will not understand, while others will observe your actions in utter amazement and want to know how you manage to live in such a way. When the time is right, the Spirit will give you the words, and the testimony.
After credibility and presence comes preparation. To be an effective witness in a trial requires preparation. In my case, it was a full six hours of questions, reviewing of documents, and role-playing with our attorneys. It was long and tiring, but it was necessary. Without it, I would not have been ready for the questions from the opposing attorney. A believer in Jesus Christ can only remain effective in his testimony with ongoing preparation through prayer and study of God’s Word. We are all still learning and living more about God each and every day, and we will continue to do so until we are no longer living. We can only share our experiences with others on how God has blessed us, kept us, and preserved us for this ministry as long as we remain in fellowship with Him and His Word. We never stop learning about Him and we never stop seeking Him and His truth for as long as we live. This is our life preparation as we can truly share with others the wisdom of God through Jesus Christ and how we can successfully live for Christ—even when the world around us seems to be falling apart. We need to be prepared for whatever comes our way…
2 Timothy 3:12-17
In fact, all those who want to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. Evil people and imposters will become worse, deceiving and being deceived. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and firmly believed, knowing those from whom you learned, and that from childhood you have known the sacred Scriptures, which are able to instruct you for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
In our presentation on behalf of Jesus Christ, it is important to focus on the leadings of the Holy Spirit. In a testimony, you need to listen very carefully to the questions of the opposing attorney. You need to be clear with your answers by stating “yes” or “no,” and also speak clearly in order to be well understood by those present, especially the court stenographer. If you are unsure of the question, you can ask the attorney to repeat or rephrase the question, or even ask the court stenographer to read back what was said. All of this requires a lot of focus on what is being said. This is quite an ordeal if your deposition takes five and one-half hours! My point is that your focus on how God leads you is very important in your efforts to lead others to Christ. Focus on the Holy Spirit, who has perfect timing in this area. Your words are ordered through the Spirit, but it is God’s Word that is the key to salvation. Our focus should always be on the power of God’s Word and proclaiming it with confidence:
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is God’s power for salvation to everyone who believes, first to the Jew, and also to the Greek. For in it God’s righteousness is revealed from faith to faith, just as it is written: The righteous will live by faith.
Finally, your testimony through the Holy Spirit will always come from the foundation of truth.
“And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Counselor to be with you forever. He is the Spirit of truth. The world is unable to receive Him because it doesn’t see Him or know Him. But you do know Him, because He remains with you and will be in you.”
“When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth. For He will not speak on His own, but He will speak whatever He hears. He will also declare to you what is to come. He will glorify Me, because He will take from what is Mine and declare it to you. Everything the Father has is Mine. This is why I told you that He takes from what is Mine and will declare it to you.”
When testifying in a court proceeding, you are asked to raise your hand and ‘swear to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help me God.’ (Yes, they still do that.) Your testimony in a courtroom is to always deal with the facts. The facts are not subject to interpretation. Facts are facts, and the truth is the truth. Your credibility and believability are at stake when you are giving testimony, and truth should always be at the forefront of what is being stated. When it comes to your living testimony of God’s Word, there is no better place to be than in the truth of the gospel and its message.
Your faith is on trial each and every day. Remember that the enemy is counting on those who profess to be followers of Christ to be languishing in their sin and to be ineffective witnesses for Christ. We can no longer afford to be ill prepared for battle. We must operate in the full armor of God with credibility, presence, preparation, focus, and truth. With all of these, in Jesus Christ, we will be victorious in life and in our testimony. Thanks to God for the ability to serve Him in such a mighty way!
Copyright © Melvin Gaines. For more content, please see melvingaines.com and melvingaines.blogspot.com.