Are My Witnesses
by David Engelsma and Herman
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Is it important that we witness? How are we to do it? What are we to
say? What is our motivation and goal? Does the Bible have much to say
about this subject? This new book, consisting of the speeches at the
2012 British Reformed Fellowship (BRF) Conference, gives scriptural
answers on our vital calling as God’s witnesses.
"We desire that the one to whom we witness comes to share our hope.
Our desire is not to win the argument, but to win the person. Our
desire, if God will grant it, is not even simply to establish the truth,
victoriously, beyond contradiction, shutting the opponent’s mouth, but
to establish the truth in the soul of the one to whom we witness, so
that also his mouth is opened to confess the truth with us ...
In our witness, whether to an unbeliever or to an erring or weak
brother, our purpose must be to gain and save him, if God wills. This
will control the manner of our witness. This love for him will manifest
itself in how we speak to him.
Such witness—truth in content, meekness and love in manner—God may use
to gather and save His own to His glory.
What a motivation to witness!
What a motivation to witness properly!"
(David J. Engelsma, Ye Are My Witnesses, pp. 89, 90)
"I have enjoyed reading Ye Are My Witnesses, which
I purchased recently. It is a great antidote to the Arminian
idea of witnessing and I found the last chapter on mission
work very helpful" - Middlesex, England
Chapter 1: The Divine Calling to Witness
Chapter 2: The Content of Our Witness
Chapter 3: The Official Witness of the Church
Chapter 4: Personal Witnessing by the Word
Chapter 5: The Personal Witness of a Godly Life
Chapter 6: The Manner of Christian Witnessing
Chapter 7: By the Spirit of the Lord
Chapter 8: The Martyr-Church’s Witness to the Ascended Lord
Chapter 9: Mission Work: Message and Methods
About the British Reformed Fellowship 128
The Bible is a book of witness. It is God’s written
testimony to the world and it records the witness of His
people to His glory, from the corporate witness of the
worshipping church (Gen. 4:26) and the (largely rejected)
preaching of Enoch (Jude 14-15) and Noah (II Pet. 2:5)
before the flood, all the way to the book of Revelation
penned by the Apostle John, who was exiled to Patmos “for
the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ”
This witness is rich and varied, coming from God’s people of
various backgrounds and ages, with both life and lip, to
both believers and unbelievers, and highlighting different
aspects of the character and salvation of the God of the
What a witness of faithfulness and contentment was Joseph
who was sold into slavery by his brothers, slandered by his
master’s adulterous wife and imprisoned for a crime he did
not commit (Gen. 37; 39-41)! Moses and Aaron testified
courageously to hard-hearted Pharaoh and his court (Ex.
5-12). The faith and works of the harlot Rahab in Jericho
are a great witness (Josh. 2; Heb. 11:31; James 2:25-26).
Who can forget Ruth the Moabitess’ moving plea to her
Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following
after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where
thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people,
and thy God my God (Ruth 1:16).
Listen to the Israelites at the temple with their baskets of
firstfruits, confessing with joy and gratitude that Jehovah
redeemed them and gave them the promised land (Deut.
26:1-11). Remember the little Jewish girl’s word to Naaman
the Syrian’s wife of God’s power to heal through His prophet
Elisha (II Kings 5:3-4). The four young men from Judah were
a fine witness to Nebuchadnezzar and his pagan court by
their faithfulness to God’s law and diligence in studying
If anything, the theme of witnessing is even stronger in the
New Testament. Think even of the earliest history contained
in its pages: the Virgin Mary’s joyful witness to Elisabeth
(Luke 1:46-56), the praise uttered by the formerly dumb
Zacharias (vv. 67-79), the shepherds who spread abroad the
things they had seen and heard on that marvellous night in
Bethlehem (2:8-20) and the words of the “wise men from the
east” to King Herod (Matt. 2:1-2).
John 1 repeatedly describes John the Baptist as a “witness”
who “bare record” of Jesus Christ (vv. 7-8, 15, 19-20,
32-34; cf. vv. 26-27, 29-31, 36-37, 40). During His public
ministry, the Lord’s followers witnessed of Him, such as,
the man born blind, with quick-witted responses to His
interrogators (9:24-34); Zacchaeus, the chief tax collector,
by generous giving and restitution (Luke 19:8); the children
in the temple, with praise to the Son of David (Matt.
21:15-16); and the penitent thief, with sharp rebukes of his
fellow criminal and a beautiful request for inclusion in
Christ’s kingdom (Luke 23:40-42).
The Lord Jesus, “the light of the world” (John 8:12; 9:5),
came to earth to “bear witness unto the truth” (18:37),
through his preaching, parables and miracles, as well as His
conversations with individuals, such as Nicodemus at night (ch.
3) and the Samaritan woman at the well (ch. 4). It all
climaxed with His atonement on the cross and the “good
confession” that He “witnessed” “before Pontius Pilate” (I
Tim. 6:13; cf. John 18:33-38). The women at Christ’s tomb
testified of His amazing resurrection on the third day
Especially after the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at
Pentecost (Acts 2), the apostles were witnesses of the risen
Lord (1:22; 2:32; 3:15; 4:33; 5:32), as Christ had earlier
promised (John 15:26-27; Acts 1:8). Acts is a book of the
witness of the early church by apostles, prophets,
evangelists, pastors, elders, deacons and believers;
faithful Jews and Gentiles; young and old—often reviled and
persecuted but always victorious in Jesus Christ.
Sometimes, the testimony to the Lord Jesus was made in legal
settings, especially by Paul in his various trails before
religious and civil rulers (chs. 22-26). This even took him
to Rome itself, for he appealed to Caesar (25:11, 21, 25;
Not only do the holy angels witness to saints on many
important occasions in the Bible, but also the sufferings of
the apostles (and even of the church) are “a spectacle” to
angels (I Cor. 4:9).
Thus we are surrounded by a great “cloud of witnesses” (Heb.
12:1), consisting not just of Old Testament believers (e.g.,
ch. 11) but also of children of God in the New Testament
Scriptures and even of Christians in the two millennia of
the post-apostolic church.
Like many other parts of the world, the British Isles has a
noble history of witnessing, including Saint Patrick in
fifth-century Ireland; John Wycliffe, the fourteenth-century
English pre-Reformer; Bishop Robert Ferrar, martyred in
Carmarthen, Wales, in 1555; and the great sixteenth-century
Scottish Reformer, John Knox.
Add to this the godly pastors, profound theologians,
faithful missionaries and vibrant Christians whom God has
raised up in these islands to testify of His rich saving
truth at home and abroad, and summarized in the gospel
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 (Rom. 10:9-10).
All of this stands in sharp contrast to the development of
“the mystery of iniquity,” which has been working for two
thousand years (II Thess. 2:7) and which will culminate in
the Man of Sin and his big lie, for he “opposeth and
exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is
worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God,
shewing himself that he is God” (v. 4; cf. Rev. 13:6). Yet,
most will follow him and perish in God’s just judgment of
them for their not receiving “the love of the truth” (II
Thess. 2:9-12; cf. Rev. 13:3-8).
The British Reformed Fellowship (BRF) seeks to increase and
strengthen godly witnesses and true witnessing in the
British Isles and further afield by the grace of the Holy
Spirit. To this end, the BRF organized its twelfth biennial
Family Conference in Lorne House, by the north coast of
County Down in N. Ireland with the theme of “Ye Are My
Witnesses” (28 July – 4 August, 2012). Now the BRF has
published this excellent material in the book you are
reading. The cover photo is of Blackhead Lighthouse on the
east coast of County Antrim, to which a number of Lorne
House conferees walked during one of the day trips.
Part 1 consists of the six main lectures by Profs. Herman
Hanko and David Engelsma, dealing with the calling, content
and manner of our witness, both of the official witness of
the church and the personal witness of the believer by word
and life. Since the two Sunday sermons by our two main
speakers developed aspects of our great theme, they are
included in Part 2.
Part 3, “Mission Work: Message and Methods” by Rev. Martyn
McGeown, gives a concrete and practical application of the
biblical teaching on witnessing from one man in one
missionary work, the Limerick Reformed Fellowship. This
originally constituted the special lecture at the 2012 BRF
Family Conference and is included especially for the
instruction and encouragement of others involved in mission
work or small churches.
Ye Are My Witnesses is the fifth BRF book co-authored by
Profs. Engelsma and Hanko, the others being Keeping God’s
Covenant (2006), The Five Points of Calvinism (2008), The
Work of the Holy Spirit (2010) and The Reformed Worldview
I hope you read this latest BRF book prayerfully, and that
it stirs your soul to witness more faithfully. May the truth
of God’s Word, set forth here, resonate in all our hearts:
“Ye are my witnesses” (Isa. 43:10)!
Rev. Angus Stewart
Ye Are My
David J. Engelsma & Herman Hanko
British Reformed Fellowship, 2014
How can churches grow in these days? This question was
raised by members of the British Reformed Fellowship, and
answered from Scripture by the speakers at the 2012 British
Reformed Fellowship Ulster Conference. the addresses given
have now been collected and edited into this important
little book, and made available to a wider audience.
Professors Engelsma and Hanko show that in all ages the
church has grown by three means: a) from within as covenant
children are born and raised by believing parents within the
church, b) by the witnessing of believers, and c) by
evangelism. this is the balanced pattern of the Bible, and
thus church members play a vital role as witnesses: a point
enforced from Scripture in the nine chapters of this book.
These chapters cover "The Divine Mandate to Witness,"
"The Content of our Witness," "The Official Witness of the
Church," "The Personal Witness of a Godly Life," "The Manner
of Christian Witnessing," "By the Spirit of the Lord," "The
Martyr-Church's Witness to her Ascended Lord," and "Mission
Work; Message and Methods."
We are shown that witnessing is a divine mandate for all
believers, but when and where is not our choice: God brings
about the opportunities. What we witness is also not our
choice for Scripture has many warnings about false
witnessing. God's Word provides the message. Believers must
never be tempted to "leave evangelism to the professionals."
All are required to study the Word, and be ready to explain
and defend their faith at any time. The core message is
always to be the proclamation "Jesus is Lord" and there must
be an emphasis on the Law (10 Commandments) as God's rule
for life on earth. The visible church must have a stated,
confessional, doctrinal stance, should ensure that this is
as Scriptural and God-honouring as possible, and must
faithfully hold to it. This is the on-going witness of the
organised church. Words can soon be forgotten: a
consistently Christian life, distinct from that of the
world, is a powerful witness. Witnessing must be in love,
meek when called for, but bold and uncompromising when the
truth must be defended. Witnessing will inevitably also
raise opposition. Faithful witnesses are never alone: they
are supported by the Holy Spirit. "Witness" and "martyr" are
interchangeable terms. It is very possible that in the near
future there will be an ever heavier price to pay for
witnessing for Christ in word and life. These issues are
also in the sovereign hands of God, but we must be prepared
to stand faithfully until Christ returns.
The final chapter, "Mission Work: Method and Message" by
Martyn McGeown, is a challenging and encouraging narrative
of missionary church planting in Limerick, Ireland.
... [It] presents material from a Scriptural basis
that all concerned Christians would do well to ponder and
pray over. A wide circulation of this book would do much
(British Church Newspaper, 12 June 2015)