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Sharing The Message

by H. L. Olmstead

April, 1919, in the Word and Work Magazine

 Most men come to the appreciation of a new value through the experience or testimony of others. If I am thrown with a man for any length of time who is an enthusiastic student of agriculture, the chances are strong that I will, myself, become interested. Few men enter upon their own initiative into any new field of interest or knowledge. This is just as true in spiritual matters as in scientific matters. Andrew interests Peter. Philip finds Nathaniel and brings him into acquaintance with the Lord only after he, himself has been interested by Jesus.

THE CONTAGION OF TESTIMONY.

Men and women, upon the persecution and scattering of the Jerusalem church, went everywhere preaching the Word with an effect most marvelous. Men do not like to hear off hand what one thinks of France, but one who has been there and actually experienced something of her climate, customs, spirit and purposes can interest his fellows. Thus is the secret of contagious witness-bearing for Jesus Christ. Those who have had actual experience with Jesus Christ are those who alone are able to really share His message. Men and women who have really gone into the laboratory of spiritual forces, made their tests and experiments in the world of divine things can share the message of Christ with the assurance that it will be contagious. A man who, upon acceptance of Jesus Christ, finds his sense of wrong removed, that his whole being has been thrown unto the struggle for a higher life, who finds a growing sense of happiness and peace, who finds begotten within him a desire to serve his brethren, can do no better than tell “how great things the Lord hath done for him.” In fact, it is the most fundamental thing he can do. It is an experience worth sharing. Of course, if nothing has happened, if there has been no experience, there is nothing to share. Consequently, silence is golden—otherwise silence is sin.

REASONS FOR SILENCE.

In the case of David (Psa. 51), sin had sealed his lips. We frequently fail to bear testimony because we do not have a life that agrees with a testimony that would be Christian. On the other hand, we frequently have persons who are great “talkers” of religion, yet it has happened unto them after the true proverb, “What you are thunders so loudly in my ear that I cannot hear what you say.” For a person like that to attempt to share the message of Christ would be as useless as for starving Armenia to offer to share her food (of which she has none) with the famine-stricken people of Serbia. To have met the Lord in the way, and to have entered into the secret place with Him, is no small thing to have done. To share this experience with others is one of the real joys of life.

MISTAKEN VIEWS.

           The religion of Jesus is so much more than a knowledge of facts that I fear lest many of us are trying to bring it to others who have not experienced it ourselves. It does include the knowledge of facts but what is more and better, it is the experience of a fellowship as well; a fellowship that issues in a changed life. Realization of fellowship with God is fundamental in the matter of speaking for Jesus Christ. A religious system which emphasizes a knowledge of certain facts above the realization of the experience of fellowship is wrong in its fundamental conception.

The inner life of men is pinched and starved and dying. In America today we are glutted and gorged on all things which go to make up the externals of life. For this reason, entering into fellowship with God is the country’s crying need, and sharing the message of Christ is the pressing duty of the hour for all those who have experienced fellowship with God. Let none others attempt it.

100 years ago, H. L. Olmstead, April 1919 Word and Work—Bro. Olmstead was preaching at the Gallatin (TN) Church of Christ during that time.




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Philippians 4:13