Just before Jesus ascended to heaven after His resurrection, He told His disciples to wait in Jerusalem for the Holy Spirit. They would be witnesses to Him beginning there and going out into the whole world.
“But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
– Acts 1:8
These disciples were called “apostles”, ones Jesus sent out into the world with the gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ. It was these men who were used to build the church. Their job was not to save the lost, but to point the lost to the One who could save them.
The book of Acts is the history of the beginnings of the church. One of the key phrases that keeps repeating throughout the book is “we are witnesses”…
“This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses.
– Acts 2:32 (RKJNT)
“and killed the Prince of life, whom God raised from the dead, of which we are witnesses.
– Acts 3:15
And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all.
– Acts 4:33
“And we are His witnesses to these things, and so also is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey Him.”
– Acts 5:32
“And we are witnesses of all things which He did both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem, whom they killed by hanging on a tree.
– Acts 10:39
“not to all the people, but to witnesses chosen before by God, even to us who ate and drank with Him after He arose from the dead.
– Acts 10:41
“He was seen for many days by those who came up with Him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are His witnesses to the people.
– Acts 13:31 (HNV)
“Then he said, ‘The God of our fathers has chosen you that you should know His will, and see the Just One, and hear the voice of His mouth. For you will be His witness to all men of what you have seen and heard. And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.’
– Acts 22:14-16
The apostles were eye-witnesses of Jesus’ earthly ministry. (This was one of the qualifications of being an apostle.) They heard His teaching, saw His way of life, heard Him prophecy about His death and resurrection, and saw these prophecies come true. They saw, heard, and even felt the resurrected Jesus. They were witnesses in the truest sense of the word.
The word “witness” has both an historical and legal meaning. The apostles saw everything that Jesus did. They were spectators to His life. And because of that, their witness would hold up in a court of law.
A legal witness is someone who has personally experienced something. In a courtroom, testimony is only valid if someone has personally witnessed or experienced something. Hear-say is not acceptable. Second-hand evidence is not acceptable in court. The apostles’ testimony was powerful because they were first-hand witnesses of what they spoke of. Peter’s message to the Jews in Acts 2 was very effective partially because he was a first-hand witness to Jesus.
You and I are also called to be witnesses… not of Jesus’ life and death on earth, but witnesses to His life-transforming power in our lives. To be a witness is to declare the evidence about the new life in Christ that you have personally experienced.
It is important to understand that witnessing is based on first-hand evidence. Many Christians use second- or third-hand evidence to attempt to share Christ with others. This can be dangerous, because sometimes this evidence is not true. Many of us have heard stories about the NASA scientist who, using computers, proved that Joshua’s lost day occurred ( Joshua 10:12-13). The story about the NASA scientist is false, but it has been repeated so many times that many Christians believe it. The problem with using false evidence to prove the truth is that when people find out the story is false, they also discount the truth it is trying to prove. In the end, this does much more harm than good, because it makes all Christians appear to be either gullible or liars, and the Bible appear to be based on falsehoods. The weak in faith may even lose faith when they find out these rumors are false. When witnessing, if you can’t prove second- or third-hand evidence yourself, then don’t use it. It is best to tell what you do know. Be a witness to the truth you’ve experienced, not what someone else has told you.
(Even with intellectual non-believers such as atheists and agnostics, the best approach is through presenting Jesus Christ as a living reality (i.e. “The God who has done and continues to do great things in my life”). Although theological/apologetic arguments are important, using them is not always (or even usually) the best way to lead into the gospel message. Make God attractive – glorify Him. Once they see God for themselves, their arguments against God will loose their power.
saying, “What shall we do to these men? For, indeed, that a notable miracle has been done through them is evident to all who dwell in Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it.
– Acts 4:16
Witnessing is important, but it is only a part of evangelism. Giving witness to what God has done in your life is for the purpose of opening a way to telling others about Jesus Christ – that He died to save them. Peter’ used his witness in Acts 2 as a lead-in to telling the Jews how to be saved:
“Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know — Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death; whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it. …(32) This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses. … (36) Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.” Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.” And with many other words he testified and exhorted them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation.”
– Acts 2:22-40
All believers have a responsibility to help spread the gospel message. You may not be called to literally go to the ends of the earth to spread the gospel, but you are to tell others wherever you are and support those who do go into the world to tell others the good news about Jesus Christ.
The word gospel means “good news”. In the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, this word referred to the message that the kingdom of God and His Messiah, Jesus Christ, was soon to be set up. John the Baptist preached “the kingdom of heaven is at hand”. Jesus did also, and so did His disciples. But the details of how this was going to come to pass was a mystery (Romans 16:25-27) until after Jesus’ death and resurrection.
It is in Acts where the mystery was revealed and the gospel took on the meaning that it has today. The gospel is not a message about morality or the Christian way of living. It is about Jesus Christ and what He has done to save us. The gospel message focuses on Jesus’ death on the cross as the means to pay for our sin so that we can have eternal life with Him.
How can I tell others about Christ?
The Bible records various ways that people came to Christ. Peter was led to Christ by his brother Andrew (John 1:40-42). Lydia and her household accepted Jesus after hearing Paul speak (Acts 16:14-15). The Philippian jailer and his family believed seeing Paul and Silas’ witness in jail (Acts 16:27-34). Just as people come to Jesus in many ways, there are many ways you can share Him with others.
A true heart of compassion will let those on the way to destruction know they can escape, but the only escape is through Jesus Christ. We need to tell people they’re in trouble with God and that God alone has provided a way to escape. But How? Do we all have to share the same way? No, the unbelieving world is made up of a variety of people: young, old, rich, poor, educated, uneducated, urban, rural, with different race, personalities, values, politics, and religious backgrounds. it’s going to take more than one style of evangelism to reach such a diverse population!
So what is your style?
Confrontational? (Acts 2) Repent and be baptized, save yourselves from this corrupt generation.
“Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know — Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death; whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it.
– Acts 2:22
This is like the street-corner preachers. They’re out on the front lines. They take much abuse, and many believers don’t think much of them, but they reach people who won’t respond to gentler means.
…Intellectual? (Acts 17) Paul debated with the philosophers on Mars Hill to convince them.
Then Paul, as his custom was, went in to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and demonstrating that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying, “This Jesus whom I preach to you is the Christ.”
– Acts 17:2-3
These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.
– Acts 17:11
Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him when he saw that the city was given over to idols. Therefore he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and with the Gentile worshipers, and in the marketplace daily with those who happened to be there. Then certain Epicurean and Stoic philosophers encountered him. And some said, “What does this babbler want to say?” Others said, “He seems to be a proclaimer of foreign gods,” because he preached to them Jesus and the resurrection. And they took him and brought him to the Areopagus, saying, “May we know what this new doctrine is of which you speak? For you are bringing some strange things to our ears. Therefore we want to know what these things mean.” For all the Athenians and the foreigners who were there spent their time in nothing else but either to tell or to hear some new thing. Then Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, “Men of Athens, I perceive that in all things you are very religious; for as I was passing through and considering the objects of your worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Therefore, the One whom you worship without knowing, Him I proclaim to you: God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands. Nor is He worshiped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things. And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.’ Therefore, since we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, something shaped by art and man’s devising. Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.” And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked, while others said, “We will hear you again on this matter.” So Paul departed from among them. However, some men joined him and believed, among them Dionysius the Areopagite, a woman named Damaris, and others with them.
– Acts 17:16-34
Many come to Christ through a logical presentation of the gospel. Sometimes it is on their own after someone challenges them to disprove Christianity. Josh McDowell, Viggo Olsen, Stan Telchin, Simon Greenleaf, Frank Morrison, and others all tried to disprove Christianity, and came to believe anyway. Most were atheists to begin with.
…Testimonial? (John 9) One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!
He answered and said, “Whether He is a sinner or not I do not know. One thing I know: that though I was blind, now I see.”
– John 9:25
Witnessing to the power of God in your life is a powerful way to open the door to the gospel.
…Relational? (Mark 5) Go home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you.
However, Jesus did not permit him, but said to him, “Go home to your friends, and tell them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He has had compassion on you.”
– Mark 5:19
Tell your family about Jesus. The home can be the most difficult mission field because your family knows you much more intimately. Jesus remember that you are not telling them about yourself, but about Jesus.
…Invitational? (John 4) The Samaritan woman at the well begged the people of the city to come and hear Jesus for themselves.
“Come, see a Man who told me all things that I ever did. Could this be the Christ?”
– John 4:29 (MKJV)
Tell others about Jesus in a way that makes Him attractive and appealing.
…Serving? (Acts 9) Dorcas impacted her city by doing deeds of kindness.
At Joppa there was a certain disciple named Tabitha, which is translated Dorcas. This woman was full of good works and charitable deeds which she did.
– Acts 9:36
By doing good to others, you can open the door to the gospel that would be locked otherwise.
Don’t ever think you’re a second class Christian because you don’t proclaim Christ like Peter or Paul. Discover your own method. Then get out of your chair and use it, for the Glory of God. Live by faith, not fear!!!
When you present the gospel message, you must include both the bad news and the good. You must make it clear that man is sinful. Everyone has sinned, which includes yourself as well as the one you are talking to. This sin is against God, and separates from God, and because He is a just God, sin must be punished – it cannot just be forgiven.
The nature of Christ’s salvation is woefully misrepresented by the present-day evangelist. He announces a Savior from hell rather than a Savior from sin. And that is why so many are fatally deceived, for there are multitudes who wish to escape the Lake of fire who have no desire to be delivered from their carnality and worldliness.
– A. W. Pink
Christ is a Savior for those realizing something of the exceeding sinfulness of sin, who feel the awful burden of it on their conscience, who loathe themselves for it, who long to be freed from its terrible dominion; and a Savior for no others.
– A. W. Pink
The gospel also includes the good news of the great love of God, in that He took the initiative to provide a solution to our sin problem. He sent Jesus, His one and only Son to die in our place. This way the penalty of our sin would be paid for and we could be forgiven. Salvation is only by God’s grace, not by anything we could to do earn it. Peter included both the bad news and good news aspects of the gospel in his Pentecost message.
You also need to give the people you witness to an opportunity to make a decision to trust in Jesus for their salvation, but don’t put too much pressure on them. Evangelism is not you convicting people of their sin or saving people – these are the work of the Holy Spirit. Your part is to bring the message. You may be sowing seed, or just waiting until the person is ready to “harvest”, or harvesting where someone else has sown the seed. Bill Bright said:
“As a young lad I used to visit my uncle’s peach orchard. We would always pick the ripe peaches, but leave the green ones. Two days later we would return to the same trees and pick more ripe peaches. Every two days we would find yet more ripe ones. So it is in our witness for Christ. We need to be sensitive to people. There are those who are ready to receive Christ, ripe for harvest, and there are those who are not ready. These represent green fruit.”
– Summary of “How To Witness In The Spirit”, by Bill Bright
Bill Bright also gave some guidelines on how to witness to nonbelievers. Here is a summary of what he wrote:
1. Be sure that you are a Christian
2. Be sure there is no unconfessed sin in your life.
3. Be sure that you are filled with the Holy Spirit.
4. Be prepared to share your faith.
5. Pray. Do you want your loved ones, friends, neighbors to come to Christ? Then pray for them.
6. Go tell others of Christ. Don’t wait for men to come to you, go to them.
7. Talk about Jesus, not about peripheral matters.
– Summary of “How To Witness In The Spirit”, by Bill Bright
Here are some other tips:
- * Remember to rely on the Holy Spirit for conviction of sin and granting of repentance to the non-believer. Don’t use high-pressure tactics, based on psychology or your own self-effort.
- * Develop a personal apologetic. Write down and memorize how you came to Christ and include a summary of the reasons why you believe so you can respond readily when someone asks.
- * If you are not good with words, try practicing on your own. Also, try using a pre-written method such as the Four Spiritual Laws.
- * When telling others about Christ, don’t get sidetracked on issues such as baptism, denominationalism, morality, etc. Keep focused on the gospel message.
Their Bishop Spangenberg, for example, told how Johannes, an Indian chief who had been a very wicked man, was converted. The chief said that once a preacher came to their tribe and proved to them that there was a God. They informed him that they were not ignorant of that and told him to go away. Another preacher came and told them not to steal, drink too much, or lie. They regarded him as a fool because they already knew that, and they sent him off to preach to his own people who were worse than the Indians in those vices.
Then Christian Henry Rauch, one of the Moravian Brethren, came to his hut, sat with him and told him about Jesus. Then fatigued from his journey, Christian Henry lay down and slept, unafraid of the chief. Johannes could not get the Moravian’s words out of his mind. He dreamt of the cross. He told his tribe about Jesus and they repented as the Holy Spirit moved their hearts. Johannes said to the bishop, ‘Thus, through the grace of God, the awakening among us took place. I tell you therefore, brethren, preach to the heathen Christ and His blood and death, if you would wish to produce a blessing among them.’
– Rev. John Greenfield, “Power On High”, writing about the Moravians
Our method of proclaiming salvation is this: to point out to every heart the loving Lamb, who died for us, and although He was the Son of God, offered Himself for our sins … by the preaching of His blood, and of His love unto death, even the death of the cross, never, either in discourse or in argument, to digress even for a quarter of an hour from the loving Lamb: to name no virtue except in Him, and from Him and on His account,-to preach no commandment except faith in Him; no other justification but that He atoned for us; no other sanctification but the privilege to sin no more; no other happiness but to be near Him, to think of Him and do His pleasure; no other self denial but to be deprived of Him and His blessings; no other calamity but to displease Him; no other life but in Him.
– Count Zinzendorf
- * Don’t favor certain types of people. Don’t say “This looks like a good persons to witness to because he would make a good Christian”. A “good” Christian is not determined by their natural qualities but by the work of the Holy Spirit in their life. You can’t tell who would make a good Christian, so tell everyone the good news.
- * Go out into the world. That doesn’t just mean going outside of the church building. It means going where the lost are. If Jesus were physically present on earth today, we may find him in the bars, in the casinos, on the street corners, telling others about the kingdom of God.
Christ met unbelievers where they were. He realized what many Christians today still don’t seem to understand. Cultivators have to get out in the field. According to one count, the gospels record 132 contacts that Jesus had with people. Six were in the Temple, four in the synagogues and 122 were out with the people in the mainstream of life.
– J.K. Johnston, Why Christians Sin, Discovery House, 1992, p. 142.
One Sunday evening, William Booth was walking in London with his son, Bramwell, who was then 12 or 13 years old. The father surprised the son by taking him into a saloon! The place was crowded with men and women, many of them bearing on their faces the marks of vice and crime; some were drunk. The fumes of alcohol and tobacco were poisonous. “Willie,” Booth said to his son, “These are our people; these are the people I want you to live for and bring to Christ.” Years later, Bramwell Booth wrote, “The impression never left me.”
– W. Wiersbe, The Wycliffe Handbook of Preaching & Preachers, p. 185.
Return the Cross to Golgotha
I simply argue that the cross be raised again
at the center of the marketplace
as well as on the steeple of the church.
I am recovering the claim that
Jesus was not crucified in a cathedral
between two candles;
But on a cross between two thieves:
on a town garbage heap;
at a crossroad of politics so cosmopolitan
that they had to write His title
in Hebrew and in Latin and in Greek…
And at the kind of place where cynics talk smut,
and thieves curse and soldiers gamble.
Because that is where He died,
and that is what He died about.
And that is where Christ’s men ought to be,
and what church people ought to be about.
– George MacLeod
- * When telling others about Christ, don’t forget to give an opportunity to make a personal decision. If they reject Christ, don’t write them off. Respect their decision, and wait. They may come to Christ later.
- * Remember, belief in God is not alone. Many non-believers have a belief in God, but are not saved. The Jews in Acts 2 believed in God, but it was still necessary that Peter preach Jesus Christ to them:
Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.” And with many other words he testified and exhorted them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation.”
– Acts 2:37-40
I read about a court case that was lost because of the silence of an attorney. The distinguished lawyer Samuel Hoar (1778-1856) was representing the defendant. When it was time to present his case, he told the jurors that the facts favoring his client were so evident that he would not insult their intelligence by arguing them. The jury retired to deliberate and returned in a few minutes with a verdict of guilty. Samuel Hoar was astonished!
“How,” he asked, “could you have reached such a verdict?”
The foreman replied, “We all agreed that if anything could be said for a case, you would say it. But since you didn’t present any evidence, we decided to rule against you.” Silence had lost the case.
How often the opportunity to speak a word of testimony for Christ is lost because we remain silent. Those who need to hear the gospel may conclude that salvation is not important enough to talk about.
- * Remember that it is not enough just to repent of your sin. This is what John’s baptism was about. A person must also believe in Jesus Christ, accepting Him as personal Savior.
And he said to them, “Into what then were you baptized?” So they said, “Into John’s baptism.” Then Paul said, “John indeed baptized with a baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe on Him who would come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.” When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.
– Acts 19:3-5
- * Be careful how you witness. If offence must come, let it be from the gospel message itself, not how you present it. Remember, those who reject the gospel are not rejecting you so much as rejecting Christ. (Luke 10:16)
- * Don’t be a hypocrite. Be careful how you live. You must make Christ attractive for someone to seriously consider him. If you’re a complainer, living like the world, etc., how can you expect someone else to want what you have?
In Europe, a Countess with close friends among kings, emperors and princes, famous for her brilliant gifts and witty conversation, found that none of her amusements and recreations satisfied her any longer. A humble Moravian shoemaker came into her presence and she was struck with his remarkable cheerfulness. She asked him why he was so happy and he replied that ‘Jesus has forgiven my sins. He forgives me every day and He loves me and that makes me happy through all the hours.’ The Countess thought about that and began to pray. Conviction led her into the same joyful faith and she became a great witness for Christ among titled people, especially in the court of the Emperor of Russia, Alexander I, her close friend.
– Rev. John Greenfield, “Power On High”, writing about the Moravians
The young salesman was disappointed about losing a big sale, and as he talked with his sales manager he lamented, “I guess it just proves you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink.” The manager replied, “Son, take my advice: your job is not to make him drink. Your job is to make him thirsty.” So it is with evangelism. Our lives should be so filled with Christ that they create a thirst for the Gospel.
– Preaching, November-December 1985.
According to the book Life of Francis d’Assisi, Francis once invited a young monk to join him on a trip to town to preach. Honored to be given the invitation, the monk readily accepted. All day long he and Francis walked through the streets, byways, and alleys, and even into the suburbs. They rubbed shoulders with hundreds of people. At day’s end, the two headed back home. Not even once had Francis addressed a crowd, nor had he talked to anyone about the gospel. Greatly disappointed, his young companion said, “I thought we were going into town to preach.”
Francis responded, “My son, we have preached. We were preaching while we were walking. We were seen by many and our behavior was closely watched. It is of no use to walk anywhere to preach unless we preach everywhere as we walk!
– Daily Bread, December 15, 1991.
- * Witness to others out of love for God as well as love for them. God loves sinners! These are people for whom Christ died.
For God so loved the world, not just a few, The wise and great, the noble and the true, Or those of favored class or rank or hue. God loved the world. Do you?
– Leighton Ford, Good News is for Sharing, p. 15.
We must feel toward our people as a father toward his children; yea, the most tender love of a mother must not surpass ours. We must even travail in birth, till Christ be formed in them. They should see that we care for no outward thing, neither liberty, nor honor, nor life, in comparison to their salvation… When the people see that you truly love them, they will hear anything from you…Oh therefore, see that you feel a tender love for your people in your hearts, and let them perceive it in your speech and conduct. Let them see that you spend and are spent for their sakes.
– Richard Baxter
- * Pray for and support others who are spreading the gospel, both in your local church, as well as on the foreign field.
When Andrew Fuller, Secretary of the newly-formed missionary Society, read the account given by Mr. Thomas of conditions and gospel opportunities in India, he remarked that there was a gold mine in India, but it seemed almost as deep as the center of the earth. “Who will venture to explore it?” he asked. Carey was quick to reply, “I will venture to go down, but remember that you — you who remain at home — must hold the ropes.” And by “holding the ropes” he was referring to the support of prayer and heart-concern, even more than of money.
– Eugene Myers Harrison, Giants of the Missionary Trail
Here are some good illustrations on evangelism:
George Sweeting, in his book The No-Guilt Guide for Witnessing, tells of a man by the name of John Currier who in 1949 was found guilty of murder and sentenced to life in prison. Later he was transferred and paroled to work on a farm near Nashville, Tennessee.
In 1968, Currier’s sentence was terminated, and a letter bearing the good news was sent to him. But John never saw the letter, nor was he told anything about it. Life on that farm was hard and without promise for the future. Yet John kept doing what he was told even after the farmer for whom he worked had died.
Ten years went by. Then a state parole officer learned about Currier’s plight, found him, and told him that his sentence had been terminated. He was a free man.
Sweeting concluded that story by asking, “Would it matter to you if someone sent you an important message — the most important in your life — and year after year the urgent message was never delivered?”
We who have heard the good news and experienced freedom through Christ are responsible to proclaim it to others still enslaved by sin. Are we doing all we can to make sure that people get the message?
– Our Daily Bread, November 6, 1994.
I stood on a grassy sward, and at my feet a precipice broke sheer down into infinite space. I looked, but saw no bottom; only cloud shapes, black and furiously coiled, and great shadow-shrouded hollows, and unfathomable depths. Back I drew, dizzy at the depth.
Then I saw forms of people moving single file along the grass. They were making for the edge. There was a woman with a baby in her arms and another little child holding on to her dress. She was on the very verge. Then I saw that she was blind. She lifted her foot for the next step and it trod air. She was over, and the children over with her. Oh, the cry that I heard. Then I saw more streams of people flowing from all quarters. All were blind, stone blind; all made straight for the precipice edge. There were shrieks as they suddenly knew themselves falling, and a tossing up of helpless arms, catching, clutching at empty air. But some went over quietly, and fell without a sound.
Then I wondered, with a wonder that was simple agony, why no one stopped them at the edge. I could not. I was glued to the ground, and I could not call; though I strained and tried, only a whisper would come. Then I saw that along the edge there were sentries set at intervals. But the intervals were far too great; there were wide, unguarded gaps between. And over these gaps the people fell in their blindness, quite unwarned; and the green grass seemed blood-red to me, and the gulf yawned like the mouth of hell.
Then I saw, like a little picture of peace, a group of people under some trees, with their backs turned towards the gulf. They were making daisy chains. Sometimes when a piercing shriek cut the quiet air and reached them it disturbed them and they thought it a rather vulgar noise. And if one of their number started up and wanted to go and do something to help, then all the others would pull that one down. “Why should you get so excited about it? You must wait for a definite call to go! You haven’t finished your daisy chains yet. It would be really selfish,” they said, “to leave us to finish the work alone.”
There was another group. It was made up of people whose great desire was to get more sentries out; but they found that very few wanted to go and sometimes there were no sentries set for miles and miles of the edge.
Once a girl stood alone in her place, waving the people back; but her mother and other relations called, and reminded her that her furlough was due; she must not break the rules. And being tired and needing a change, she had to go and rest for awhile, but no one was sent to guard her gap and over and over the people fell, like a waterfall of souls.
Once a child caught at a tuft of grass that grew at the very brink of the gulf; it clung convulsively, and it called — but nobody seemed to hear. Then the roots of the grass gave way and with a cry, the child went over, its two little hands still holding tight to the torn-off bunch of grass. And the girl who longed to be back in her gap thought she heard the little one cry, and she sprang up and wanted to go; at which they reproved her, reminding her that no one is necessary anywhere; the gap would be well taken care of, they knew. And then they sang a hymn. Then through the hymn came another sound like the pain of a million broken hearts wrung out in one full drop, one sob. And a horror of great darkness was upon me, for I knew what it was –the Cry of the Blood.
Then thundered a Voice, the Voice of the Lord. “And He said, What hast thou done? The voice of thy brothers’ blood crieth unto Me from the ground.”
The tom-toms still beat heavily, the darkness still shuddered and shivered about me; I heard the yells of the devil-dancers and the weird wild shriek of the devil-possessed just outside the gate. What does it matter, after all? It has gone on for years; it will go on for years. Why make such a fuss about it?
God forgive us! God arouse us! Shame us out of our callousness! Shame us out of our sin!
– Amy Carmichael
Oh, to realize that souls, precious, never dying souls, are perishing all around us, going out into the blackness of darkness and despair, eternally lost, and yet to feel no anguish, shed no tears, know no travail! How little we know of the compassion of Jesus!
– Oswald J. Smith
Be Prepared to Communicate Your Faith in Christ
Keeping Christ on the throne of your life as the Lord of your heart is the best preparation for communicating your faith. 1 Peter 3:15,16 says:
In your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.
Like any other skill, the ability to give the reason for the hope you have in Christ – or “witnessing” – can be done better after instruction and practice.
Let me illustrate. A pastor told me he had been in Christian work for more than twenty-five years, but had never introduced anyone to Christ until after he had participated in one of our training conferences. He said, “Your message on how to witness in the Spirit and understanding of how to present the gospel through the use of the Four Spiritual Laws changed my life. Never have I been so happy. Now, I know something of the abundant life which Jesus promised.”
This Christian leader was beaming with new-found joy as he shared how he had, for the first time in his life, introduced not one person, but two people to our Savior.
During that same week of training, hundreds of students and the few lay people in attendance had been used of God to pray personally with more than nine hundred people who received Christ through their witness. Training made the difference.
I thank God for the way He is using theological seminaries, Bible schools and similar instructional Christian institutions, but you don’t need to take long years of training before God can use you. Not everyone has the gift of evangelism, but every believer is called to “do the work of an evangelist.” You have the privilege and responsibility of being witnesses for your wonderful Lord Jesus. Christ’s Great Commission recorded in Matthew 28:18-20 is for you.
By learning how to use a simple tool like the Four Spiritual Laws in the power of the Holy Spirit, you too can experience effectiveness in your witness.
Some Christians will be more fruitful than others. Don’t be distressed if you find that some of your friends are introducing more people to Christ than you are, Just rest in the knowledge that those who come to Christ through the witness of a Christian are coming as a result of the ministry of the Spirit of God who alone enables you to bear fruit. Remember, success in witnessing is simply taking the initiative to share Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit and leaving the results to God.
I am personally convinced that if you give ten Four Spiritual Laws to non-Christians each day, at least one to five will receive Christ, depending on the country or culture.
Dr. Lewis Sperry Chafer, evangelist and founder of Dallas Theological Seminary, told a simple story from his life. It seems that one day Dr. Chafer was walking along the street when he encountered a flagman sitting in a little house at a railroad crossing. He noticed that the man was reading a large family Bible. Though a sign on the door said, “No Admittance,” Dr. Chafer went boldly through the door to greet the man. In reply to a question from Dr. Chafer, the man said that he read the Bible a lot. So Chafer asked a second question–one most people are too timid to ask these days–“Are you saved?”
The answer of the flagman carries the sentiments of many: “I never could be good enough to be saved.”
Dr. Chafer countered, “Friend, if God would make an exception of your case, and give you salvation outright as a gift, would you receive it?”
“Mister,” the flagman replied, “I don’t know what brand of fool you think I am that I wouldn’t take a gift like that!”
Chafer asked the flagman to read John 10:28. It took the man awhile to find the passage, but then he read, “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish…” Then Chafer directed him to Romans 6:23, where he read, “the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
The flagman was amazed. He said to Dr. Chafer, “Stranger, I don’t know who you are, but you’ve done more for me today than any other man.” Chafer crisply replied, “What have I done for you? I’ve got you in a trap. You told me that if it was a gift, you’d accept it. Now, what are you going to do about that?” “I will accept it right now,” the flagman responded. And he did. Dr. Chafer prayed with him and left. That is the simplicity of the gospel. The gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ, our Lord.
– Today in the Word, May, 1990.
While teaching a college writing class, I used a textbook based on Aristotle’s classic work Art of Rhetoric. He outlined three forms of persuasion that can apply to the way we witness to others about Christ.
1. Ethos (character. Henry Stanley said of Scottish missionary and explorer David Livingstone, “He never tried to convert me, but if I had been with him any longer I would have become a Christian.” When people around us see the reality of Christ in our lives (1 Thessalonians 4:12), our words are taken more seriously.
2. Pathos (feeling). While touring Europe, a group of students from a Christian college witnessed to their busdriver. One girl tearfully pleaded, “If you don’t accept Jesus, you’ll go to hell. Please, please trust in Jesus.” That reminds me of Paul’s impassioned plea and its effect on King Agrippa (Acts 26:28).
3.Logos (reason). When we live a holy life, we will attract attention. This will lead to questions. it’s then that we are to be ready to give reasons for what we believe, and we are to do so gently and humbly (1 Peter 3:15).
Is God leading you to witness to someone? Ask for His help. One, two, or all three of these classic methods may help open the door of that person’s heart.
– David C. Egner, Our Daily Bread, January 17, 2002
If we go about apologizing for speaking to people of the things of God, we must not be very much surprised if they catch our timidity and they feel awkward and we feel awkward. There is a certain shyness and awkwardness about us when we go to tell men and women of the things of eternal life, which react upon them until they become nervous and awkward too.
– Mildred Cable
As I was walking in the fields, the thought came over me with almost overwhelming power, that every one of my flock must soon be in heaven or hell. Oh how I wished that I had a tongue like thunder, that I might make all hear; or that I had a frame like iron, that I might visit every one and say, ‘Escape for thy life! Ah sinner! You little know how I fear that you will lay the blame of your damnation at my door.
– Robert Murray M’Cheyne
In the great commission (Matthew 28:18-20), Jesus told His disciples to “make disciples of all the nations”.
And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.
– Matthew 28:18-20
Jesus did not tell His disciples to make converts to their way, or even Jesus’ way, of thinking. They were to make disciples – followers – of Jesus. They were to act by example as teachers to new believers who would then be able to teach others.
It is not enough to just bring people to the Lord so that they can be saved. This is like irresponsible fathers who bring children into the world but do nothing to bring them up. We all have a responsibility to train new believers to follow Jesus. A disciple makes disciples.
What is discipling? Discipling can be thought of as spiritual mentoring. When someone becomes a new believer, there is a need for that one to be fed spiritually and to grow. A new believer is like a baby – totally dependent on its parents. It cannot feed itself, clean itself, or know what is beneficial or detrimental. Each of us started out life like that, but we grew up with the help of our parents and others. Now we can live life without having to ask mom or dad to do this or that for us.
Spiritual growth is the same. With baby Christians, growth usually does not happen without the help of others.
The earliest church was made up almost entirely of new believers. The apostles had much work in bringing up these believers to maturity, but God blessed their work.
Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them. And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.
– Acts 2:41-42
And when they had preached the gospel to that city and made many disciples, they returned to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith, and saying, “We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God.” So when they had appointed elders in every church, and prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord in whom they had believed.
– Acts 14:21-23
Discipling takes time. Paul spent a year and a half in Corinth to establish the church there. He spent it teaching the word of God.
And he departed from there and entered the house of a certain man named Justus, one who worshiped God, whose house was next door to the synagogue. Then Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his household. And many of the Corinthians, hearing, believed and were baptized. Now the Lord spoke to Paul in the night by a vision, “Do not be afraid, but speak, and do not keep silent; for I am with you, and no one will attack you to hurt you; for I have many people in this city.” And he continued there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them.
– Acts 18:7-11
As you grow in Christ, you also need to help those less mature grow in Him. This requires spending time with them. Close friendships is one of the keys to effective one-on-one discipling. Discipleship is about doing, not just knowing. The discipler needs to lead by example and the disciple needs to step out in faith to grow. With a close friendship, accountability helps to keep the growth process going. Accountability should be both ways, because the discipler needs to continue growing also.
In Rebuilding Your Broken World, Gordon MacDonald suggests twenty-six questions to help develop accountability and invite feedback. If we desire to grow, we should submit our selves to a spiritual mentor and answer these questions honestly.
1. How is your relationship with God right now?
2. What have you read in the Bible in the past week?
3. What has God said to you in this reading?
4. Where do you find yourself resisting Him these days?
5. What specific things are you praying for in regard to yourself?
7. What are the specific tasks facing you right now that you consider incomplete?
8. What habits intimidate you?
9. What have you read in the secular press this week?
10. What general reading are you doing?
11. What have you done to play?
12. How are you doing with your spouse? Kids?
13. If I were to ask your spouse about your state of mind, state of spirit, state of energy level, what would the response be?
14. Are you sensing spiritual attacks from the enemy right now?
15. If Satan were to try to invalidate you as a person or as a servant of the Lord, how might he do it?
16. What is the state of your sexual perspective? Tempted? Dealing with fantasies? Entertainment?
17. Where are you financially right now? (things under control? under anxiety? in great debt?)
18. Are there any unresolved conflicts in your circle of relationships right now?
19. When was the last time you spent time with a good friend of your own gender?
20. What kind of time have you spent with anyone who is a non-Christian this month?
21. What challenges do you think you’re going to face in the coming week? Month?
22. What would you say are your fears at this present time?
23. Are you sleeping well?
24. What three things are you most thankful for?
25. Do you like yourself at this point in your pilgrimage?
26. What are your greatest confusions about your relationship with God?
– Paul Borthwick, Leading the Way, Navpress, 1989, pp. 171-172.
How should you disciple young believers? Campus Crusade for Christ’s New Life Training Center has some excellent materials for developing a discipleship ministry. In one of their teacher notes, they drew attention to the examples of Jesus and Paul. Jesus…
- * He prayed for His disciples ( John 17:9-12).
- * He taught them the Scriptures (Mathew 24:35, Luke 24:44-49, Matthew 22:23-33, Luke 4:14-21).
- * He depended on God and the power of the Holy Spirit (Luke 4:1, John 5:30).
- * He trained them and sent them out to minister (Mark 3:14, John 17:18, Matthew 9:35-10:42).
- * He sowed among the multitudes and then selected the few who would continue to minister to the many (Matthew 9:35-10:1).
- * He urged them to take steps of faith ( Matthew 14:22, 27-28).
- * He emphasized an eternal perspective ( Matthew 6:19-34), John 5:25-27).
- * He modeled evangelism (Luke 8:1, John 4:27-42).
- * He was an example of what it means to be a servant (Matthew 20:28, John 13:1-17).
- * He prepared them to continue His ministry (Matthew 16:13-20, John 17:8, 18-19).
Paul’s example is taken from his description of how he discipled the church at Thessalonica:
But we were gentle among you, just as a nursing mother cherishes her own children. So, affectionately longing for you, we were well pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God, but also our own lives, because you had become dear to us. For you remember, brethren, our labor and toil; for laboring night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, we preached to you the gospel of God. You are witnesses, and God also, how devoutly and justly and blamelessly we behaved ourselves among you who believe; as you know how we exhorted, and comforted, and charged every one of you, as a father does his own children, that you would walk worthy of God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory.
– 1 Thessalonians 2:7-12
- * He was gentle and caring (v. 7)
- * He was loving (v. 8)
- * He shared with them not only the gospel but his life (v. 8)
- * He toiled and suffered hardship (v. 9)
- * He was holy, righteous and blameless (v. 10)
- * He encouraged and comforted his disciples (v. 12).
- * He urged them to live lives worthy of God (v. 12).
These are methods and qualities that you need to keep in mind when you lead others to greater maturity in Christ. An important point is that leading must be by example – not by force but gently and humbly.
But Jesus called them to Himself and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave – just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”
– Matthew 20:25-28
You cannot force someone into a closer walk with Christ, but you can use positive methods to encourage a closer walk.
One of the most important initial goals in discipling is to seek to ground the new believer in the word of God. The new believer must have or develop a strong desire (thirst) for the milk of the word of God. The goal is to eliminate dependence on others and to depend solely on God for spiritual growth. (Discipling others is not teaching them your point of view.) All spiritual growth is the work of God.
“Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.
– John 17:17
Prayer and stepping out in faith are also areas that new believers need to be focusing on, but it is in God’s word that they will come to better know the God they pray to and how trustworthy He is. Always encourage focusing on studying the Bible to find God’s will. The new believer who spends time in God’s word will probably be able to teach you some things also.
Spiritual maturity comes over time, so don’t expect big results all at once. It is natural for a baby believer to be somewhat dependent on others for a time, but no one should remain a baby. This goal of independence from others also does not mean that the believer is not to listen to other mature believers or to abandon meeting together with other believers. God speaks through mature believers, and as you mature, He will speak through you also.
If you haven’t done it before, discipling others is a great step of faith, but you’ll find that it will be a great boost to your own spiritual growth.
For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that <U>Christ may dwell in your hearts</U> through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height — to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be <U>filled with all the fullness of God</U>.
– Ephesians 3:14-19 (ACV)
And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head — Christ — from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.
– Ephesians 4:11-16