Basic Witnessing

INTRODUCTION

These days, its not hard to find plenty of things to do. Even as Christians, we may find ourselves under constant pressure to do so many things. Bills to pay, business to do and family commitments all take time. The worries of life may be crowding into our minds.

Meanwhile, the emphasis of the church is normally upon attending more meetings. Church services, prayer meetings, conventions, choir practice, youth nights, board meetings – the list goes on and on. Somehow into our hectic schedule we may squeeze time for personal devotions and a brief read of the Scriptures.

If we manage to do these things, and somehow hold it all together, we breathe a sigh of relief. However, it is my contention that we may do all these things, and yet have missed THE MAIN BUSINESS OF LIFE – soulwinning. This manual is designed to help you to please God in that most vital area of service and life, soulwinning.

Introduction
Why Share Our Faith
Overcoming Excuses
Overcoming Fears
Kingdoms in Conflict
Practical Witnessing
The Steps Involved
Preparation
Faith Barriers
Right Attitudes
The Indirect Approach
Lifestyle Evangelism
Creating Interest
The Message
Handling Skeptics
Conversion
Leading Someone to Christ
Future Evangelistic Appointments
Your Testimony
Using Tracts and Surveys
Helpful Scriptures
Using the Gifts of the Spirit
Helpful References

Why Share Our Faith?

– Because of Calvary. A love so great, a punishment so great, a suffering so great. Look upon the wounds of your dying Saviour. He bled for you, but not for you only, but for the whole world. When you see His suffering, you will account your own suffering a small thing. Your own problems will pale into insignificance if you can but grasp the intense misery, pain, heartache and physical agony that Christ endured for you. When you see his love expressed there on the cross, can you not abhor your own selfishness? "Be as constrained by the love of God in preaching the gospel as your Saviour was in providing the gospel."

– For the glory, honour and praise of God. Does it not pain your heart that the one to whom angels bow down and worship is so blasphemed on earth. There is a policy in the world of suppressing the knowledge of the true God? How many people give thanks to God for all the good things he has given? Their minds are blinded by Satan, the prince of darkness.

– God's love has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5). We ought to care enough to act. To do something. Don't just ask God to save them. Before anyone else cared, God gave his only begotten Son to be led away to die for your most horrible sins.

– The Gospel is Good News. We like to bring good news. God has done something for the needs of the world. This is good news. Can you dare to believe that God would do something good for those you know, bound by satanic chains of sin, disease and death? Then boldly proclaim this news and set the prisoners free!

– You are the body of Christ.

– Jesus Christ is in you. You are to abide in Him, and He in you. You must walk as He walked. Jesus came to seek and save that which was lost. (Luke 19:10). He did not call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

– If Jesus Christ is the greatest lover of your soul, the light of your life, your Lord and master, your leader, your friend and the substance of your new life, how is it that you could keep Him out of your conversation? You'll want to introduce your friend Jesus to the people you know.

– Christ commanded all his disciples to preach (preach = communicate) the gospel. (Mk 16:15; Matt 28:19; John 20:22; Acts 1:8). Matthew 28:18 means you have the right, or aauthority to do it; Jesus in Acts 1:8 promises you the POWER to do it.

– Men are lost without Christ.

a. They are going to hell ( 2 Thess. 1:8,9). Ask yourself – how can I remain silent when so many of my friends and acquaintances are heading for hell?

b. They are like sheep without a shepherd. (Matt. 9:36)

c. They are spiritually unfulfilled without Christ.

– We don't want to have the blood of sinners on our hands. (Read Ezekial 3:17-20; 33:8. Acts 18:6; 20:26-27; 1 Cor. 9:16)

– He who wins souls is wise. (Prov. 11:30)

– Great rewards are promised now and in eternity. (Dan. 12:3; 1 Thess 2:19-20)

– Our joy is made full when we testify to what we really know of God. (1 John 1:3,4; John 15:11; Luke 15:5)

OVERCOMING EXCUSES

1. That's not my ministry.

All Christians are given the great commission. Winning people to Christ is part of the Christian life. Not that other ministries are to be neglected. (Acts 1:8)

2. I CAN'T

Php 4:13 – I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Jesus would never ask you to do something you cannot do. He promises you the power (Acts 1:8). Be filled with the Holy Spirit (Eph. 5:18)

3. I've no right to tell others they need to be saved.

You are Christ's ambassador. (2 Cor 5:17-21). He has all authority (Matt. 28:18). You are his hands and feet on this earth (Eph. 5:30)

4. I'm too busy.

In reality you still meet many people whom you could talk to about Christ or invite to church. This is a poor excuse. It shows your priorities are wrong. You have made YOUR business is more important to you than Christ's. In reality, everything you do should be done for Him, His way, in His name, and according to His revealed priorities. 1 Cor 10.31. If you do things in a way which grieves the Holy Spirit you will lose the fire for evangelism and even if you get busy with many projects, you are walking in disobedience to Christ.

OVERCOMING FEARS

Witnessing is a great adventure where we are at the cutting edge of God's kingdom and can expect to see the miraculous occurring. Because God is so interested in winning people over he will give you, his soldier, great resources to use. There can be a great sense of fun and action in witnessing, and there is no greater joy than really leading a person into the Kingdom of God. Satan hates all this. One of his main weapons is fear, whereby he aims to prevent Christians from even setting out on this great adventure. Here are some keys to overcoming.

– Fears of others ridicule or rejection

Prov 29:25 – Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord will be kept safe. Remember that we belong to Jesus now. He is with us by His Spirit. (Matthew 28:20; 1 Cor. 6:19) Trusting God and his resources will destroy this fear.

"So we say with confidence, The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can men do to me?" (Hebrews13:6)

We must fear God more than people. See 2 Cor. 5:11; John 5:44; John 12:40-4.

– Fears of Embarrassment (Self-consciousness)

To overcome this we must be conscious of the fact that God is in us by His Spirit. Be filled with the Spirit. Pray for boldness. (Acts 4:29-31; Prov. 28:1)

– Fear of Failure

This can be overcome if you get TRAINED TO WITNESS and prepare yourself adequately. Believe what God says about you and His purpose for you. (John 15:8,16; 2 Tim. 1:6-8) We ought to realize that God has given us all we need to succeed. (2 Peter 1:3). We must receive by faith what we need from God.

Study who you are in Christ. We are who God says we are! We can do what God says we can do! We can possess all that God has given us! Read 2 Cor. 5:17; Gal. 3:26; Eph 2:4-10; 1 Peter 4:10; Eph 1:3 Eph 6:10-18; Mark 16:17-18). Meditate on these and other Scriptures. Confess them aloud. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Read also Joshua 1:8-9.

It is the will of God for you to succeed, and bear much fruit.

KINGDOMS IN CONFLICT

Fear is just one of Satan's weapons to prevent the spread of the good news of Christ's salvation plan. Others include pride, deception, unbelief, laziness and rebellion. To understand why this is so, you must understand that Satan has a kingdom. Satan wants the glory, and his kingdom is threatened when the message of Jesus Christ goes out. Behind many of the negative thoughts and emotions which have stopped you from witnessing effectively there is an evil spirit or group of evil spirits. Until Jesus came, God's Kingdom was not obvious on the earth. But Jesus came and demonstrated a greater power than the power of Satan. Demons were driven out, sin and sickness were rebuked.

Then the cross came. What Satan thought was his greatest triumph turned for him into catastrophic defeat. For Jesus disarmed principalities and powers through the cross, and rose again in the greatest demonstration of God's kingly power man has ever witnessed. He told his disciples to preach repentance and the forgiveness of sins to all that believed, promising that the same power which he exercised over the kingdom of darkness would be available to them as believers. See Mark 16:15-18; Luke 24:47-49.

The ministry of Jesus Christ is multiplied through his disciples. Our message also is the Kingdom of Heaven. We are to pray "Thy Kingdom Come". Every time demons are cast out, or people repent of their sins and give their lives to Jesus, God's Kingdom of love is extended in the world. The result will be "righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit." (Romans 14:17).

Behind many of the negative thoughts and emotions which have stopped you from witnessing effectively there is an evil spirit or group of evil spirits. If you continue to obey Jesus you will learn to overcome every attack by Satan's spiritual forces. God gave you superior armour, weaponry and greater spiritual firepower than the devil has. However, only through the patient teaching of the Holy Spirit will you learn to use this power consistently in the preaching of the gospel, the healing of the sick and the casting out of demons.

Understand then, that the source of many of the problems that an active soldier of Jesus Christ encounters is the opposing Kingdom of Darkness – Satan and his demons working through people and circumstances to create problems to produce discouragement and hindrances. However, God has given us weapons such as praise, prayer, the confession of God's Word, the blood of Jesus, the name of Jesus and the gifts and graces of the Holy Spirit for us to use in order to overcome these obstacles and successfully evangelise the world.

PRACTICAL WITNESSING – METHODOLOGY

Important Points:

As T.L. Osborn says: "You can memorize the mechanics [of personal evangelism]. But the dynamics must be born in you. It must be a revelation – a miracle." Remember that above all your witnessing is the expression of Christ in you to a lost and dying world. So let Jesus live through you. Without Him you can do nothing. (John 15:4-5)

The best way to learn to witness effectively is to work with someone else who you can watch in action and who can later supervise you as you begin to share Christ. The twelve apostles learnt how to function by watching Jesus do it first. Later they were sent out under Jesus' direction and supervision. You cannot learn how to win souls just by reading books and manuals, as valuable as this may be. You must associate with other soul-winners and learn from them as you work with them.

The Holy Spirit is putting renewed emphasis on team ministry today. Learning to work with others requires humility. We should allow others to correct us, encourage us and teach us. By fellowshipping with other soul-winners, we can keep the fire alive in our hearts. However, you should always be ready, willing and able to share just one on one with an unbeliever. Jesus didn't always have disciples with him when he witnessed. See John 4.

A SIMPLE SCHEME OF THE EVANGELISM PROCESS

Preparation — Get Attention — Create Interest — Bring Understanding — Holy Spirit Convicts — Conversion – Addition.

Generally speaking whenever we evangelise we aim to move from left to right along this scheme. With different people we may spend more or less time in each area, depending on their openness to God. Do not try to skip stages – it will lead to frustrated witness for you.

For example, if you try to bring understanding of the message before the person is even listening to you, your words will fall on deaf ears. The person may hear the sounds you make but in many cases Satan will steal the word quickly because their heart is hardened to the Word at that time.

Again, if you try to bring a person to Christ when they are not really convinced of sin you are likely to find that they have misunderstood God's message. Perhaps they are willing to "try Jesus" to see what he will do for them. Not feeling the great guilt of their sin, they are unlikely to resist Satan's next temptation. They may in fact come to wonder "What on earth did I do praying that prayer? How embarrassing." On the other hand, a true convert will normally feel grateful to God, joyful and relieved of his burden of sin. The new convert may be fearful of falling into sin, but will have a newborn desire to please God and a trust in their newfound Saviour.

Its always good to try to bring the people you witness to to Church. Maybe they are one of the 10% of sinners that are willing to come to church. If they come to church it does not mean they have been added to the church. Only a true Christian is part of the true church, which is the body of Christ. However, if they come into a church where the gospel is faithfully preached and they hear the Word of God, they are more likely to eventually come to an understanding and a knowledge of God for salvation.

PREPARATION

Mental Preparation

1. Set your mind on the things that the Spirit desires (Romans 8:15). Think about the destiny of those who don't know Christ and God's love for them.

(Step 2. is especially relevant for beginners that have rarely, if ever, shared the message of the gospel with unbelievers, especially for those that battle with fear.)

2. Determine to do something about it – determine to share the gospel with someone. Genuinely make yourself available to God. Make a plan as to how and when you will witness. Decide who you will go with (if anyone). Be definite!

3. You should discipline yourself like this until evangelism becomes a way of life for you, and you find yourself frequently sharing God's message with those you meet even without pre-meditation.

Physical Preparation

These things apply where you have opportunity and are planning a time of witnessing.

1. Make sure you have washed and cleaned your teeth recently (1 Cor. 9:12b). Don't hinder the gospel.

2. Avoid extremes in dress. Try to fit in. Be tasteful, but modest. We want to be able to draw attention only to Christ. Try not to be a slob. You are Christ's ambassador (2 Cor. 5:20). On the other hand don't worry or become inhibited because of your clothes.

3. Get any witnessing tools ready. These might include:

tracts pencil and paper (important for follow up) survey forms advertising handbills Bible

Spiritual Preparation

1. Prayer is vital to successful evangelism because it puts you in a place to receive God's resources for your work. Bathe your witnessing in prayer. Learn to operate out of relationship to God.

Also ask God for boldness (Acts 4:29), direction and wisdom. Prov. 11:30. God is very willing to give a supernatural wisdom to us and put His Word in our mouths! (James 1:5, Isaiah 59:21).

2. Be filled with the Spirit (Eph. 5:18). Seek God for this from your base or home first if necessary. Do not underestimate the difference this will truly make in operating the gifts of the Spirit and in making the truth of God's message penetrate the hearts of the unbelieving and doubters.

3. Bind demonic power over the people you are about to talk to. Ask God to specifically reval what to bind. This will work for you if you are a praying, Spirit filled, Spirit led, obedient Christian. You have authority over the devil's works. Through your positive words of faith and your statements of divine authority over the world of spirits, you will get better results. Its like dropping a bomb on the enemy before engaging in hand to hand combat.

Faith Barriers

No matter what approach you use, there are normally a few critical and difficult points where courage and firmness are needed to press through against a build up of psychological pressure. Evil spirits will also accuse us at these points with such suggestions as:

"Wait for another opportunity." "You've done a good jopb so far, no need to go further now." "If you continue he/she will be put off"

We could call these points of tension "../apologetics/faith-unbelief barriers" and liken then to the "sound barrier". Just as an aeroplane approaching the sound barrier begins to shake and vibrate – you may shake and be afraid and feel you can't go on as you approach these faith barriers.

However, when the aeroplane breaks through the sound barrier it experiences on the other side a complete calmness, smoothness and lack of vibration. The Christian who presses through these points of tension by a deliberate act of faith based on the Word of God will likewise experience a new inner peace of mind and freedom of speech. The more often one does this, the easier it will be on the next occasion. Witnessing will become an increasing joy.

These faith barriers generally occur just before you move onto the next phase of the above scheme (preparation, get attention, create interest, bring understanding, conversion, addition to church). Don't worry about them, if it happens it's just the devil. He is trying to stop you preaching the gospel so he can destroy the people. You, on your part, must submit yourself to God, resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

RIGHT ATTITUDES IN WITNESSING

1. You must demonstrate love in the way you witness. See Gal. 5:22 for a full description.

2. Be positive and friendly. Then the person you talk with is going to be more positive to you (Luke 6:35). Treat the person KINDLY. "Let him see that you address him, not because you seek a quarrel with him, but because you love his soul and desire his best good in time and eternity" – Charles Finney.

3. Be very plain. Speak the truth. Let them see their spiritual condition before God. The Holy Spirit will work with you to convict of sin, righteousness and judgement, which is a necessary work before true conversion.

4. Be gentle and respectful (1 Pet. 3:15).

If you have the right attitude, you will never turn anyone off. You will draw them to God, not drive them away.

HOW TO GET THE CONVERSATION STARTED

The Direct Approach

This is where one goes up to a stranger and initiates a conversation with him or her. Jesus and the apostles used this approach at times (e.g. Matthew 4:19; Acts 3:1-8). It works best with religious people (e.g. Roman Catholics).

Deciding Who to Talk To

Jesus commanded us to preach the gospel to every creature (Mark 16:15). We could talk with anyone, anytime, anywhere. But be wise. Its usually far easier in personal evangelism to talk to a single individual of the same sex who is not to much older than yourself. Aim, however, to be all things to all men, to win more. (1 Cor 9:22).

Also, it can be very difficult to lead someone to Christ when they are with a group of friends, because of peer group pressure. That doesn't mean you shouldn't explain the gospel to small groups at a time, of course. You may be able to lead them all to Christ at the same time!

Use spiritual discernemnt, as well as thoughtful common sense in deciding who to talk with. Be like God (Eph. 5:1), who looks on the heart, not on external appearance (John 2:24-25). It is best to talk with someone whose heart is open to God, but don't give up if you talk to someone with a closed heart. God's word in your heart and mouth can be a fire, and a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces.

Learn to obey the inner nudge or impression of the Holy Spirit.

The Best Time to Talk

It is important to wisely choose the time to talk with unsaved people. The best (NOT the only) time is:

1. When they're not really doing anything important.

2. When they are not strongly excited about something else.

3. When they are sober (not drunk or high on drugs).

4. When they are in a relatively good mood.

5. When they are alone.

6. When they are aware of some need in their life, or they have a problem they can't find an answer for.

7. AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. Make appointments to see them, so they know it's important.

ONCE AGAIN BE SURE TO GO AT TIMES THE HOLY SPIRIT IS URGING YOU TO GO.

Possible Direct Approaches

Here are some suggestions to get you started. Adapt them according to what evangelistic tools you are using, and most importantlhy, what you feel comfortable with.

1. (If using advertising or tract) Excuse me, I thought you might be interested in this. (Show advertising or give the tract – wait for response, playing it by ear). Then perhaps ask something like: Have you ever considered the claims of Jesus Christ?.

2. Hi, I'm ……….., a Christian from [name your organisation if applicable] . Every now and then I like to talk with people and find out what they think of God. May I have a few minutes of your time?

3. [If you are working in a pair]. Hello. I'm …………. (and this is [your partner].). As Christians, we wanted to meet others who may be interested in spiritual things.

(If using survey) We're doinhg a survey, and we'd like to get your opinion on some questions we have been asking people, related to Christianity. Would that be O.K.?

(If using a tract) We have this little booklet called ……. that we've been asking people to look at with us [produce booklet], and we'd like to know what you think about it?

(If sharing testimony) I wonder, would you allow me to tell you about what God has done in my life?

4. Many other approaches exist. Think about it, and then use something that works well for you. You must realise that many people's lives are so dull that they find a sudden shock sometimes refreshing.

If the person clearly understands your intentions and is not interested in talking about the Gospel or about the things of God, be polite and, in most cases, thank them for their time, excusing yourself in a friendly manner.

The Indirect Approach

This method differs from the direct approach primarily in that you don't begin the conversation talking about something spiritual, but rather something natural which the person you relate to understands well and is interested in. Jesus used this method with the woman at the well, (John 4:7-26). He started by talking about water and used that as a starting point to bring the conversation round to her spiritual need.

You can use an indirect approach at parties. Begin by asking the other person all about themselves. Most people like that subject! Then when they ask you about yourself and your activities, you can share Christ with them.

This approach is useful in chatting with people over a cup of coffee, when you visit someone's place. This method is better than the direct approach when witnessing to someone you are acquainted with, perhaps a classmate or a workmate. There are no formulas, but here are some helpful principles.

1. Be yourself. If you change your voice or act strangely you will give the wrong idea about Jesus.

2. Arouse curiosity. Let them see that you have a different perspective that comes from knowing God. Do not immediately blurt out everything you know about something. Give them a puzzle, or an intriguing question.

3. Show an interest in that person. Let them see you think they are important.

4. A key to all this is asking questions. These will not only help to direct the conversation but also help you to adapt your message to where that person is at. Remember people love to give their opinions – they also love to hear their own name.

Sample Questions

– Hello. How are you? (This may reveal some needs a person has. Any answer but "great" or "fine" etc. indicates there are most likely problems that the person is worrying about.)

– Do you live in this area? Whereabouts? (Then maybe say where you live).

– Have you been waiting here long? (good at bus stops, etc.)

– Do you come here often? (Good for street witnessing)

Questions to Turn the Conversation to Christ

1 i) "Are you interested in spiritul matters?" No matter what the response, go on to ask:

ii) "If someone asked you how to become a real Christian, what would you tell them?" This will help you to understand the person's attitude. Then ask:

iii) "Would you like to know how to become a real Christian?"

2. "Have you heard about ……… ?" (some spiritual event, person or thing of interest).

3. "What do you think of God, ……… (name) ?" (Notice the way this question implies God is a person, not a concept!)

LIFESTYLE EVANGELISM

We need to show the people by our whole lives that we are the body and representatives of Jesus Christ on this earth (1 Cor. 6:19; Eph. 5:30; 2 Cor. 5:20). If we love Jesus we will certainly aim to demonstrate his life to the people we know – our friends, classmates, team-mates – everybody.

1 John 2:5-6

"… this is how we know we are in him: whoever claims to live in Him must walk as Jesus did."

The thrust of New Testament teaching is an exhortation for us to be like Jesus. This is achieved through the working of the Word of God and the Spirit of God in us as we believe and obey God from a willing heart. In regard to evangelism, Jesus was sinless, yet he was also called "the friend of sinners". We mustn't be afraid of associating with unsaved people.

There are no formulas here. There will be many people with whom you will relate first on a purely natural level. As they see you grow more like Jesus they will listen to what you say about Jesus. Remember however, that while your actions speak loudly, if they never hear the gospel, they will die in their sins. Let them see that you mean and live what you say. Here are some additional principles:

1. Give of yourself. Love your enemies. Bless them in practical ways. Show care and interest in them (Luke 6:27-36)

2. Never compromise your standards. Don't be drawn into doubtful areas to gain approval of the group. You must hate sin more than you love man's favour. (Romans 12:9)

3. Learn to relate to all men (1 Cor. 9:22). Speak in the vernacular. Avoid using religious terms. Ask yourself, how can I explain this in the simplest possible language. Work at effective COMMUNICATION.

4. Pray often for those you know. Never give up on anyone, even if they seem closed to the gospel. Pray continually (1 Thess. 5:16). Pray in faith (1 Tim. 2:4).

HOW TO CREATE INTEREST

– Ask questions to find out what motivates and interests the person you are talking to.

– Let them know what God has done in your life recently (e.g. healings, answers to prayer etc.) You must communicate that God is real.

– Introduce your subject in an unexpected fashion. Jesus does this in John 3 with Nicodemus.

– Talk about how God feels about something in current affairs e.g. abortion, war, unemployment, or a current moving of the Holy Spirit.

– Let them know God loves them, and that Jesus came so they could experience fullness of life (John 10:10).

– Use the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Be tuned in to God. You need to believe that God can speak to you and work through you.

Your aim is to arouse curiosity and interest in spiritual questions so that the person will closely listen to your presentation of the gospel.

PRESENTING A POWERFUL GOSPEL MESSAGE

There are many different ways, different stories, different approaches. We will consider in turn the MATTER, the MANNER and the METHOD involved in preaching the gospel.

The Content of the Gospel Message (Good News)

Let's look at what Paul preached as his gospel message

The Kingdom of God

Acts 20:25. Paul preached the Kingdom of God. God is King. He is establishing His Kingdom in the hearts of men who believe.

Romans 14:17 For the Kingdom of God is not food and drink, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

The gospel reveals God's provision of righteousness, peace and joy through faith in Jesus Christ.

Righteousness is rightness with God "being right with God". Romans 1:16 – 11:36 reveals God's plan to reconcile man to Himself.

The Coming Judgment of God on Sin

"For as many as have sinned without law will also perish without law, and as many as have sinned in the law will be judged by the law,

"in the day when God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, ACCORDING TO MY GOSPEL." (Romans 2:12,16)

In order to prepare people to appreciate the gospel, you should preach something of the moral law of God, e.g. the Ten Commandments. The Holy Spirit often works with the preaching of the law to produce conviction of sin and the recognition of the need for a Saviour.

Righteousness Comes Through Faith

Eph 2:8,9 Rom 1:16,17;3:23;4; 5:17; 6:23

God's Provision is through the Death and Resurrection of Christ

Historical Facts 1 Cor. 15:2-4

You need to explain the meaning and significance of these events. Through these events mankind can be saved. What does this mean?

Salvation (Gk: soteria) is a word that describes all that God does for fallen man in taking him out of hopelessness in Satan's kingdom and bringing him into abundant life – including the forgiveness of sins, the cleansing of the heart, deliverance from evil spirits, escape from condemnation in hell, healing to body, soul and spirit, and the restoration of fellowship with God. Salvation gives new hope, eternal life, love, peace and joy through the life of God come to dwell in us.

Salvation begins with justification, but goes further than that to encompass all that God can do in cleansing and making a person whole.

What you Must Do

Acknowledge your sin and guilty before God 1 John 1:8-10

Repent Acts 17:30; Luke 13:1-3

Believe- that is trust, cling, adhere to – JESUS CHRIST. Acts 16:31

Obey God – In Baptism, through the Holy Spirit, through God's Word Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 2:38-39; John 8:31

HOW TO HANDLE SKEPTICS

Sometimes in witnessing one talks with negative or skeptical people. 1 Peter 3:15 says, "Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect". We need to be prepared for skeptics and know in what manner to answer them.

– Be yourself full of faith. Your childlike confidence will speak more powerfully than the most forceful arguments. This will flow from spending time with Jesus (Acts 4:13)

– Be a good listener (Jas 1:19; Prov 18:13, 29:20). Try to discern where the real problem lies, and then address it.

– Let love be your motive, not winning the argument (1Cor 13:1-2). Love will open the skeptics heart to the truth. God wants the heart (Prov 23:26)

– Reallize that there is an answer to every intellectual objection. However, if you don't know the answer to a question, admit it, but tell them you will go and find out the answer, getting back to them if they so desire. Many times they are not really interested in the answer anyway.

– If a person is basically careless and indifferent to the things of God, awaken their concience by talking about God's law (Rom 7:7, 3:20; 1 Tim 1:9).

– If the skeptic is being foolish and not taking you seriously then rebuke him, firmly and with love. Let him see how unwise it is to mock God (Prov 28:23).

– If you sense the skeptic loves to hear his own voice more than to come to a knowledge of the truth then resist the temptation to waste time arguing with him. Speak truth, avoiding long discussions (2 Tim 2:24-26).

– Avoid conversation with committed skeptics who try to convert you away from Christianity (Prov 14:7, 23:9; Matt 7:6).

– When you have dealt with objections bring the conversation back to Christ and their own spiritual need. Try to avoid long discussions on peripheral issues, eg, creation, evolution, other religions etc. We are to major on Christ (1 Cor 2:1-5).

– It will be worth your while to study some basic Apologetics as well as the Bible in order to have some answers.

GENUINE CONVERSION

We aim in evangelism to bring people into the Kingdom of God. We are not aiming to chalk up mere "decisions" for Christ which vanish overnight. Much evangelistic effort is wasted because Christians forget this. The truth is that true conversion involves a miracle of regeneration (Titus 3:5) in a person, where the person gets a new heart which hates sin and loves God (Jer 31:33).

There are three ESSENTIAL aspects to genuine conversion: Repentance, Believing and Following (Mark 1:14-18).

1) Repentance involves simply a turning from the old life to God's way. There is a change in attitude which results in a change in action concerning all Known sin. "The sinner must be willing to forsake his previous selfish way of life, whatever the cost to his plans, his pride or public image in the world." C.G. Finney.

2) We are saved by grace THROUGH FAITH in the Gospel (Eph 2:8-9) – that Christ died for sinners and that we can receive the free gift of salvation if we turn to God and invite the Lord Jesus Christ into our lives.

3) Following Christ and obeying Him as Lord is the positive aspect of repentance. It will be an ongoing thing. It is essential for salvation (Luke 3:21,22; Acts 2:38). A new Christian will usually need this explained to him before this will happen.

LEADING A PERSON TO CHRIST

EXPLAING THE DECISION CAREFULLY

1) The person must understand that the decision is one to trust Christ for forgiveness of sin and eternal life and to give Him their whole life. It is not just some words to get Christ to come into his life.

2) Two ways to make sure the person understand the decision: i. Listen to his comments or questions ii. Ask the right questions that will reveal the persons thinking and pinpoint any misconceptions eg, "What does it mean for Christ to come into your life as Saviour?", "What does it mean to follow Christ as your Lord?". The marriage relationship can be a good illustration to explain what it means to accept Christ.

CHALLENGING TO A RESPONSE

After you are sure the person has become aware of their sinfulness and has enough basic understanding of the Gospel to be saved, it is vital that you challenge them to respond to the Gospel by giving their lives to Christ. Be led by the Spirit at this point. You might ask: "Would you like to ask Christ into your life right now? " Expect them to say "Yes!" Or, you could ask, "Is there any good reason why you cannot receive Christ right now?"

If they are unsure or do not wish to accept Christ find out what is holding them back. Let them see that it is a poor excuse for rejecting Christ's offer of grace and forgiveness.

If possible, deal with the excuse and bring them back to a point of commitment. Drive them out from whatever false refuge they are hiding in.

The surrender is one of the heart (his ultimate choice) and will usually centre around ONE PARTICULAR POINT of obedience – usually the ONE THING the sinner is most unwilling to do for God.

Questions that may be used in leadin a person to Christ

1. Have you understood what I have explained to you?

2. Do you sense a need for God's forgiveness in your own life?

3. Would you like me to explain to you how you may receive God's forgiveness and come into God's family?

4. Would you like to invite Christ into your life right now?

After 3. Explain 1. Repentance 2. Need for the Word 3. Blood Covenant relationship with God 4. Water Baptism 5. Coming to church

PRAY WITH THE PERSON

If the person sincerely desires to receice Christ and begin a new life then you need to explain that they need to invite Christ into their life through prayer (talking to God).

Be sensitive to whether the person is truly repenting and deciding to trust Christ for salvation (not their own efforts).

It is good to give them an idea of what to pray, either by showing them a written "sinners prayer" or by leading them in prayer yourself. Any prayer must come from the heart. It is therefore best that they pray in their own words. They prayer shuold include these important things:

1) Confession of, and sorrow for sin

2) Expression of a willingness to turn away from sin and follow Jesus

3) Thanking Jesus for dying on the cross to take away sin and its consequences

4) Asking Jesus to come into their life, making them a new person and forgiving their sin

5) Confessing Christ as Lord and Saviour (Rom 10:9-10)

FUTURE EVANGELISTIC APPOINTMENTS

No matter where your initial conversation ends up, express a desire to meet the person again at the soonest convenient time in order to talk further about Jesus. Invite them to an evangelistic event if possible.

Don't be discouraged if a person does not pray to receive Christ with you at first, yet is interested to meet with you again to talk some more. The seeds you have sown will sometimes need time in order to germinate. Many of the most sincere committments have been made by people who have taken time to think through the issues and then make their decision.

Depending on the persons area of interest, you can challenge them to meet you again, perhaps over a cup of coffee, so that you can share your personal testimony on how Christ changed your life, or perhaps look through some material related to the evidences for the Christian faith. In the meantime, be sure to pray for that person.

Always give them a tract with your name and number on it. Tactfully ask them for their phone number so that you can contact them.

WHAT TO DO WITH A PERSON WHO HAS JUST PRAYED TO RECEIVE CHRIST ( and What not to do)

DON'T TELL HIM:

a) " Now you are saved! " – They ought to rely on their own inner witness (Rom 8:16) and God's word, not yours. – You'll know by the fruit (Matt 7:16-21)

b) " How do you "feel"?" – The Christian life is a choice of the will. The feelings will follow. "We live by faith, not by sight." (2 Cor 5:7)

c) Too much! – Spiritual babies don't need too much food. We don't want converts to get confused and feel a failure before they start.

DO ASK HIM:

a) " Did you REALLY MEAN what you asked God?" – This will help to expose any doubts. Doubt almost always shows an incomplete heart consecration. Make sure they aren't holding back from God. They must repent of all known sin (Rom 14:23).

b) " Would you like to thank God for what you just did?" – This will be a test of real faith.

The person who has just received Christ needs special care and attention. Be sure to arrange a meeting with them within 48 hours, preferably within 24.

Give them a tract with your name and phone number on it. Get them to read it before going to bed that night. Encourage them to begin to read their Bibles (make sure they have one) and to talk to God. Also encourage them to tell non-Christians about their decision. This will produce strong, abiding Christians.

Make sure you get their name and phone number so you can contact them. Pray often for them in the first few days.

Continue meeting regularly with the new Christian until they become part of a healthy church. You will have begun the process of discipling them to become more like Jesus.

APPENDIX A – Your Testimony

Everyone loves to hear a story – and you have a special story to tell: the story of God's working in your life. Your life is living evidence to the reality of the Gospel (2 Cor 3:2-3).

Your testimony is important, as it confirms to people that God's word works today. They will see that Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today and forever (Heb 13:8; Matt 10:32).

Your testimony, whether or not it is dramatic, is powerful (Rev 12:11). Your experience of God adds to your authority to witness about what He is like – because you have experienced Him for yourself(1 Jn1:3). Your experience must line up with God's word to be of any value here. Concentrate on your experience of forgiveness and transformation.

Elements in Your Testimony (see Acts 26 – Paul's Testimony)

V2,3 Introduction – acknowledge the privelege of sharing your testimony.

V4 Life before knowing Christ

V4-8 Good part – you don't have to come out of the gutter! Ordinary sinners need Christ too.

V9-11 Bad part – eg selfishness, bad relationships – don't exaggerate bad part! Be real and truthful – don't glory in how bad you were. We are recommending Jesus, not sin.

V12-18 Conversion – what God did – What you had to do – present Jesus as a person, not as religion – emphasize coming into a relationship with Jesus – glorify Jesus – share a scripture truth that meant a lot to you at conversion – give details, so it's verifiable – be specific

V19-23 Life after you received Christ – mention important changes Jesus made – be specific – give equal time to this as " life before Christ " – be positive, but realistic – present Jesus, not your mistakes – talk about what it means for Jesus to be Lord of your life

V25-29 Challenge

Extra Tips

1) Make your story interesting. Do not waste words or woffle on ! 2) Do give enough specific detail to arouse interest 3) Do not make statements that reflect negatively on the Church, other denominations, or people. 4) Do not use religious terms or cliche's. Share in a simple fashion that a non-Christian can understand. 5) Talk about who Jesus is (Saviour, Lord and God), not just what He does. We are not selling soap!

APPENDIX B – USING SURVEYS AND TRACTS

Surveys

There are many surveys available. You can design your own. They are useful tools for contacting total strangers, and for discovering what spiritual attitudes are prevailing where you are. They can give you an opportunity to present the gospel, adapting your message according to what the person's answers are.

Tracts

Most tracts contain helpful information, but sadly, many are incomplete and give a distorted view of the gospel.

Do not rely on tracts for your witness. Your MUST know and study the message of the gospel so you can communicate it naturally. Tracts that fail to emphasize repentance, the law, the Lordship of Christ (what that means), and total surrender of the heart to God tent to produce "converts" that rapidly fall away and bring dishonor to Christ. We must balance the grace, love and mercy of God with the holiness, righteouseness and justice of God in our presentations of the Gospel.

Good tracts include those from "Glad Tidings School of Evangelism" such as "Are You Going to Heaven?". It is good to leave such a tract with every person you witness to.

Good tracts have the advantage that they don't change or compromise the Gospel, and can be read at any time by the person you give it too, at a time that suits them. Leave details of your name and number and meetings of the back of tracts – but realize that this alone will not cause people to ring you or come to a meeting.

APPENDIX C – HELPFUL SCRIPTURES

The Word of God is the seed you must sow. When spoken in faith, it has more power and authority than human argument, apologetics or experience (Luke 8:11; 2Tim 3:15-17; Jas 1:18). Your authority comes from the Word of God.

Some Gospel Scriptures (very incomplete)

1. God's purpose for man Gen 1:27; John 10:10, 17:3; Matt 5:16

2. God's holiness Is 6:3; Ex 15:11; Ps 99:1-5

3. Sin Rom 3:10-11,23, 14:23; Is 53:6

4. God's law Matt 7:12, 12:29-31; Jas 2:10; Ex 20:2-17

5. Judgement Rom 6:23; Heb 4:13, 9:27; Ezek 18:20

6. Jesus the Saviour 1 TIM 1:15; John 1:29, 14:6, 3:16; 1 Pet 3:18; Rom 5:8; Is 53:4-5

7. The Resurection Acts 2:32; John 20:1-20

8. The new birth Eph 2:8-9; Tit 3:5; 2 Cor 5:17

9. How to be saved Acts 18:30: John 1:12; Rom 10:9-10; 2 Cor 5:15; Matt 10:32-22

10. Fellowship Heb 10:24-25; Acts 2:42; 1 John 1:3

OBJECTION AND EXCUSES

1. I'm too bad Heb 7:25; Is 1:18; Ps 103:8-14; Rom 10:13; 1 Tim 1:15-16; Ezek 33:19

2. There's too much to give up Mk 8:36; 1 John 2:15-17; 1 Kings 18:21

3. I'm too afraid I couldn't keep it up 1 Pet 1:5; Phil 1:6; Jude 24; Phil 2:12-13; 2 Tim 1:2; 2 Pet 1:3; Rom 4:20-21

4. I'm too afraid of what others might think John 15:18-19; Matt 10:32-33;1 John 4:18; 2 Tim 1:7-8

5. Not now, some other time Prov 27:1, 29:1; Matt 24:44; Lk 12:19-20; 2 Cor 6:2; Josh 24:15; Is 55:6

6. I'm doing the best I can Eph 2:8-9; Is 64:6

7. I'm not so bad Jas 2:10; Is 53:6; Rom3:10-12,23; Mk 12:28-30

8. God will not condemn anyone Jn 6:37; Heb 2:3, 9:27; Lk 13:3; Matt 22:13; 2 Thess 1:8-9

9. How do I know God will accept me? Jn 6:37; 2 Pet 3:9; 1 Tim 2:4; Jn 14:2-3,6

10. I can't understand the Bible Jn 7:17; 1 Cor 2:12, 14; 2 Cor 5:7; Jn 16:13; Ps 119:18, 27, 32

11. It sounds too simple 1 Cor 1:18-20

12. How do I know that Christ is the only way? Jn 14:6; Acts 4:12; 1 Cor 3:11; 1 Tim 2:4-6

13. Too many hypocrites in the church Mt 7:11; Rom 14:12; Heb 4:13; Lk 16:15

14. I can't give up my friends Prov 13:20; Prov 22:24-25; 1 Cor 15:33; 2 Cor 6:14; Ex 23:20

15. I can't repent and obey God Dt 30:11-14; Rom 10:8-10; 2 Cor 8:12

16. I tried before and it didn't work Hos 14:4; Phil 3:13-14; Jn 6:67-68

Remember – be selective. Don't swamp the person with too much Scripture. Aim, however, to add to those scriptures which you have memorized.

APPENDIX D – USING GIFTS OF THE SPIRIT

Witnessing involves demonstrating the Kingdom of God. Witnessing like Jesus involves using spiritual gifts.

All Jesus' witnessing was prophetic, in the sense that it was a word straight from the heart of God to mankind. We are exhorted to do this as well (1 Pet 4:11; 1 Cor. 14:25)

Jesus used the word of knowledge (John 1:47-48, 4:18) and spiritual discernment (John 2:24-25) in ministering to individuals. He also demonstrated the Kingdom of God in healing the sick and casting out demons (Matt 8:15-18). This is part of the great commission (Mk 16:15-18). Let's aim to witess with signs and wonders.

The key to moving in gifts is getting to know God. Spend much time praying in the Spirit, meditating on God's word, and learn to recognise and obey the promptings and voice of the Holy Spirit. Be filled with the Holy Spirit continually. Fasting is a great key to moving in the power of God.

Use spiritual discernment in deciding who to talk to. Learn to obey the inner nudge of the Holy Spirit. He may give you pertinent other information about the person if you are listening to Him. On the other hand, do not try to manufacture a word of knowledge, or refuse to move until you get one.

Final note: the gifts are tools, not ends in themselves. Your aim is to be fruitful, and make real disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ.

APPENDIX E – HELPFUL REFERENCES

1. T.L. Osborn, Soulwinning – Out Where the Sinners Are; Tulsa, Oklahoma; Harrison House 1980

2. Rice Broocks, Change the Campus, Change the World; Gainesville, FL 32602; Maranatha Publications 1985

3. Winkie Pratney, Youth Aflame; Minneapolis, Minnesota 55438; Bethany House Publishers 1983 "This is a fairly comprehensive manual on discipleship. Read Chapter 10 (ANDEW) non witnessing. Pratney emphaises the message to be used with different classes of sinners and genuine conversion.

4. John Wimber, Power Evangelism – Signs and Wonders for Today; London, Hodder and Stoughton 1985 This book is a theology of signs and wonders today. It emphasises the use of gifts of the Spirit in witnessing. Highly recommended for anyone wanting to witness in the power of God.

5. Charles Finney, Revival Lectures; Revell (especially lectures 1x,x, xv11, xv111) This is classsic literature on revival and evangelism written by an outstanding 19th century revivalist, Charles Finney – perhaps America's greatest ever evangelist, responsible for the conversion of many hundreds of thousands of people. He emphasises man's responsibility in evangelism and conversion.

6. Josh McDowell, Evidence That Demands a Verdict; Campus Crusade for Christ 1972 An excellent book on apologetics, providing detailed and comprehensive historical evidences for the Christian faith. Topics include the reliability of the Bible, the person and resurrection of Jesus Christ, fulfilled Bible prophecy, and the evidence of modern day Christian experience. (C) 1987,1997 Michael Fackerell
 

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About Michael Fackerell

The Christian faith is about Jesus. He came to save the lost. About Jesus Christ, Bible teaching, Testimonies, Salvation, Prayer, Faith, Networking.

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