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Posts Tagged ‘Witnessing

Evangelism & Personal Testimonies

There is no denying that a personal testimony of salvation in Christ Jesus is powerful.  Three times in the book of Acts we read of the powerful conversion of Saul of Tarsus (Acts 9:1-22; 22:1-21; 26:1-23).  Revelation 12:11 (NKJV) reads: “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.”

So a testimony can be powerful.  I have listened to many people share how they came to faith in Christ.  It always blesses me to see the hand of God leading these sinners to faith in Christ.  It amazes me that people come to faith in Christ in so many different ways (by that I don’t mean different in the sense of the gospel but from many sins and many different places in life).  The Lord continues to save lost sinners from rich people to poor people from people here in the United States to people in China, the gospel is moving!  I rejoice in sinners being saved!

However, I do want to warn us that we must guard against the temptation to make evangelism all about our testimony.  Evangelism must include the gospel and the gospel is found in the Word of God.  The Word of God is the supernatural means by which God converts sinners.  The Word of God cuts sinners (Hebrews 4:12-13) and the Word of God brings about faith (Romans 10:17).  The Holy Spirit takes the Word of God and He opens the sinners heart to the gospel (Acts 16:14-15).  As the gospel is preached from the Word of God, the Lord, by His grace, opens sinners hearts and frees the bound will of the sinner so that the sinner can either repent or reject the gospel (John 1:12-13).  The sinner who repents is saved by grace through faith by the power of the Holy Spirit working through the Word of God (1 Peter 1:20-25).  The Lord calls sinners to Himself through the preaching of the gospel (2 Thessalonians 2:13-14).  The gospel found in the Word of God is the power of God unto salvation (Romans 1:16) and God saves those who believe the gospel that is preached (1 Corinthians 1:21).  This salvation is His work (1 Corinthians 1:30-31) that God may be glorified!

We must then preach the Word (2 Timothy 4:2).  A testimony should never replace the Word of God.  The reason why is simple.  A sinner can hear a testimony from a Christian, a Buddhist, a Jehovah’s Witness, a Catholic, a Muslim, etc. and each of them can describe how they were “saved.”  They will each talk of the virtue of their religion and how faith in their religion will bring peace, forgiveness, wholeness, healing, peace, etc.  And the sinner is wondering, “They all have powerful testimonies of their religion but who is right and yet who is to say that the others are wrong?”  The Christian, without the Word of God, has nothing to stand on but their subjective experience and each of us has a different experience with life.

The foundation then for the disciple preaching the gospel must not be our testimony.  It must the truthfulness of God’s Word.  The Bible alone is the truth of God (John 17:17).  The problem with the testimony of the above religions (or even atheists for that matter) is that they must borrow from the Bible to make sense of their own experiences.  The foundation for the disciple is the inerrant and infallible Word of God.  It is not our testimony.  Apart from the Bible, the disciple is nothing but a subjective story among others.  With the Bible, the disciple is full of the truth of God and the sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:17).  We must be faithful to quote and preach the Word of God to sinners.  When sharing the gospel with a sinner, don’t just share your personal testimony (that is okay by the way) but make sure you quote the Word of God over and over again to show that your testimony is based not on your subjective view of reality but upon the Word of God.  I even encourage you to begin witnessing to sinners with the Word of God before sharing your testimony.  Forgiveness of sins, peace with God, repentance, justification, sanctification, etc. are all based not on our testimonies but upon the Word of God.

Again, I rejoice that people are being saved by grace.  I rejoice that sinners are turning from sin to the Lord Jesus and finding that He is indeed a wonderful Savior but I warn us all to preach the Word of God.  Sinners must hear the gospel to be saved (Romans 10:14-17) and we must preach the Word of God faithfully as God has called us to (Matthew 28:19-20).  The Word of God is the seed to salvation (Matthew 13:18-23).  I pray that our gospel would be full of the Word of God.

The Major Problem With Some Evangelistic Methods

I rejoice that there are people who desire to share the gospel with the lost.  I was introduced just this evening to one method that I will not share here but will critique from afar.  Let me state up front that I have no doubt that the heart of the brother who “invented” this method has a heart for the lost.  His desire appears genuine in his appeal to disciples of Christ to obey Christ and go and preach the gospel to the lost as He commanded in Matthew 28:19.  I have no doubt that the method was invented to provide a useful way for disciples to share the gospel with sinners in a quick and easy way.

Yet with this method (and many other methods I see these days), I see a major flaw.  In this case the emphasis on your own personal story of how you came to Christ.  It is designed to help you share Jesus quickly by using your own testimony to point the sinner to the hope that is found in Christ.

But the problem is that testimonies often are very subjected.  The major flaw is the lack of biblical content.  The Bible is what we should be quoting (even quickly) to sinners.  While I rejoice that each of us who are disciples of Jesus have testimonies of His grace and His mercy, each of us are different and often we don’t quote Scripture while sharing our testimony and thus it becomes our subjective view of Christ compared to the sinners view of Christ.  The Bible is the revealed Word of God that the Holy Spirit has given to His Church to preach the gospel with (2 Timothy 3:15-17).  Notice that Paul the Apostle didn’t tell Timothy to share his testimony in 2 Timothy 4:2 but to preach the Word.  The Word of God is what brings conviction as it cuts both believers and unbelievers to the heart (Hebrews 4:12-13).

Paul further preached in Romans 10:14-17 that it is the supernatural revelation of the Word of God that produces saving faith.  Notice his words by the Spirit (NASB):

14 How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? 15 How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news of good things!”

16 However, they did not all heed the good news; for Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our report?” 17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.

It is the divine revelation of the Word of God that produces saving faith.  It is not our testimony or pointing to natural (or general) revelation that saves.  It is the power of God’s Word that points sinners to the Savior and to their salvation (Psalm 19:7).

I believe then that what is needed is more quoting from the Word of God when witnessing to the lost.  If the Word of God is effective for destroying the lies of Satan (Matthew 4:1-13), how much more is it useful for destroying the lies of the world and the flesh (Romans 3:19-20).  The Law of God (the Word of God) is our tutor (NASB) to bring us to Christ so that the Law shows us our sins and reveals to us our need for justification by faith in Christ alone (Galatians 3:24).  1 Peter 1:23 (NASB) reads:

for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God.

It is the preaching of the supernatural, inerrant, infallible Word of God that brings true salvation.  I pray that I would quote the Word of God more and more in my own witnessing and you would as well.  Let us preach the gospel to all creation (Mark 16:15).

Common Sense Evangelism Tips

Here are a few common sense evangelism tips I have gleamed over the years.  I’m sure that we all who love Jesus and preach Him to the lost could add many more to this short list.

  1. Preach Christ above all other things. 1 Corinthians 2:1-5.
  2. Don’t get into vein arguments over points that do not matter (Bible translations, baptism issues, theological points not necessary for salvation).  2 Timothy 2:24-25.
  3. Use the Law to reveal the sinner’s sin (Romans 7:7) but don’t spend all your time on the Law without pointing sinners to the truth of justification by faith (Galatians 3:24).
  4. Keep breath mints nearby.  No one likes smelly breath especially when you are giving someone the eternal truth of God.
  5. Don’t focus on things that don’t matter in this life such as sports teams, politics, social ills.  Make the gospel the focus.  Let the gospel deal with the sinner’s sin.  That is what matters.
  6. Depend on the Holy Spirit and not your own wisdom (John 16:8-11).  The Bible promises us that the Spirit will empower us (Acts 1:8) to be effective witnesses for Christ.
  7. Trust God to bring forth the fruit of our evangelism (1 Corinthians 3:6-9).
  8. Pray!  1 Timothy 2:1-6.
  9. Fill your witnessing with Scripture.  Scripture brings conversion (Psalm 19:7 NKJV).  Scripture is the supernatural revelation of God that He uses to reveal His Son to the lost (John 20:31) and Isaiah 55:11 promises that God’s Word will bring forth the results He desires.  Furthermore, Scripture brings forth faith (Romans 10:17).  Scripture is the disciple’s only weapon (Ephesians 6:17).
  10. Don’t answer fools with their own foolishness (Proverbs 26:4).
  11. Recognize that people, by nature, do not want God (Romans 3:10-18).  People will naturally reject God and His reign over us.  We must preach the gospel to them despite their rebellion (Romans 1:16-17).
  12. When I take people through the Ten Commandments, I admit that I too have violated these laws.  Admit our sins.  Admit that we too need Christ both before our salvation and even now (John 15:1-11).  I have no trouble admitting to sinners that I still need Christ but I am walking in repentance (1 John 2:1-2).
  13. People often will try to change the subject when they either don’t have an answer for us or they are under conviction.  Don’t give in to this tactic.  Keep the focus on the gospel and on the sinner’s guilt before God.  Don’t let the person try to get you to explain the Trinity or why God didn’t heal their grandmother.  Focus on Christ and His glory.
  14. When dealing with the self-righteous, use the Law.  Ray Comfort calls this “grace to the humble, law to the proud.”  The law shuts people’s self-righteous mouths (Romans 3:19-20).
  15.  Lastly, no two people are the same.  We must depend on the Spirit to guide us when witnessing just as He did the disciples in the book of Acts (Acts 8:29).  I have had witnessing encounters with people that went great while others did not go great.  We must simply let God lead us and guide us.  He is faithful to do this for His passion is for souls (Matthew 28:19).

Written by The Seeking Disciple

05/15/2014 at 10:57 AM

Remember This As You Witness….

We are called to make disciples (Matthew 28:19).  We are called to preach the gospel to all of creation (Mark 16:15).  We are called to be ambassadors for Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:20).  We are called to be salt and light to a dark and sinful world (Matthew 5:13-16).

So as you go witnessing, I want to give you some quick points that will help you see that God is the one who saves the lost and we are simply His witnesses (Acts 1:8).  We can save no one.  We are not called to save anyone.  We are not called to force people to believe the gospel or compel them to believe but we are simply to hold out the word of life (Philippians 2:15-16).  Jesus saves and we are to point all people to Him (John 3:14-15).  So remember this as you go witnessing for Jesus:

  1. Jesus saves and we are to exalt Him above all else (John 12:32; Romans 1:16-17; 1 Corinthians 1:18-25).
  2. We are to saturate people with prayer for their salvation (Romans 10:1; 1 Timothy 2:1-2).
  3. We are to declare the death, burial and resurrection of Christ and leave the results to God alone (1 Corinthians 15:1-4; cf. 1 Corinthians 3:5-9).
  4. We are to allow the Holy Spirit to bring conviction (John 16:8-11).
  5. Trust God alone to save sinners by His own power and for His own glory (Ephesians 2:1-10).
  6. Just be a witness for Jesus and Jesus will do the rest.  You need not worry about trying to get people to make a decision.  Leave the decision to the sinner and to the Spirit of God (Acts 16:14-15, 30-34).
  7. Always remember that our battle is a spiritual battle and not with flesh and blood (Ephesians 6:10-12).
  8. May people who hear you witness look to Jesus alone to be saved (Hebrews 12:1-2).

Written by The Seeking Disciple

09/06/2013 at 2:56 PM

My Heart Breaks for the Lost

This week my wife and her mother took our boys down to the beach outside of Charleston, SC.  Being an avid history fan, I drove down in my own car with my mountain bike and decided to spend some time wandering the old city.  History has largely been buried by commercialism but there is still much rich history in Charleston.  From the American Revolution down to the Civil War to World War II, history abounds in that city.

Yet I had been praying for the Lord to burden my soul for the lost.  I do enjoy giving out gospel tracts and I enjoy praying for the lost to be saved (Romans 10:1) and I enjoy supporting those who are on the front lines of the battle with the enemy seeking to evangelize the nations, but I want to be broken over the lost.  I don’t want to just pass the lost and not consider their eternal fate whether it is the rich business man or the average worker, all people that we see today and meet today will stand before the throne of God and give an account for their lives.  Most will hear the dreadful words of Matthew 25:41.  So many are lost in their sins and love their sins.  Our culture is breeding a society that loves sin and wants nothing to do with the conviction of God.  But the Spirit of God still is moving and He still is able to convict sinners and draw them to the Savior (John 16:8-11).  I want to see Him at work, to see sinners repent and turn from their wickedness.

As I was praying for this, when I arrived in Charleston, my heart broke as I saw a city where Christianity is all over the place.  It is obvious that Charleston, SC once had a strong Christian heritage.  Churches are all over the place.  The city skyline is full of steeples.  In fact, Charleston is nicknamed by historians as “the city of churches.”  Like Washington DC will not allow buildings to be higher than the Washington Monument, so no building in the city of Charleston is to be taller than the highest church steeple.  In this way, the church steeples remain the pinnacle of the city.  Written on many of the old buildings are carved sayings such as “To the Glory of God.”  I visited The Citadel and here they have a large chapel that has on the front of it the words of Ecclesiastes 12:1 (KJV).  Many of the buildings I visited had Scriptures on the cornerstones from an era where God was acknowledged though many perhaps did not know Him in truth.

Yet now Charleston is like any other American city.  It is full of idolatry, money, the love of things, no fear of God, and much sin.  I saw homosexuals walking around the city without any thought of their sins.  I saw women walking around without much clothes on even in the city streets.  Alcohol abounded.  I saw churches that now appear to be more museums than actual places for the disciples to come and worship God together.  I never saw any other people out on the streets passing out tracts or preaching but I believe there are some as a man told me that he had seen some men passing out gospel tracts the day before I arrived.  I visited an old park and sat and prayed over the wicked city.  I spoke to a few men about eternity.  I passed out a few gospel tracts.  I prayed for the park to be full of gospel preachers who would preach the truth of God to the lost souls that come there to sit and mostly eat lunch.  While there my heart broke as I watched a group come together to protest outside of a Moe’s because they believed that eating animals should be banned.  I listened to their non-sense and longed for them to know the Savior.  They will fight for an animal’s rights better than many churches will fight for the lost.

Charleston is typical of many cities that I have visited before.  New York City.  Boston.  Washington DC.  Chicago.  Atlanta.  Miami.  Tampa.  Charlotte.  All these cities abound with wickedness.  Yet Charleston is unique in that it is the city of churches and there is a strong Christian history here.  Yet the city, like those above, is full of Satan.  The Church must realize that we are at war for souls (Ephesians 6:12).  The gospel must be preached (Matthew 28:19).  The gospel will break the chains of sin (Psalm 107:14).  The gospel alone can save sinners who cry out to Jesus (Acts 2:21; 17:30-31; Romans 10:14-17).  The gospel can turn these wicked sinners around (John 3:3-5) and make them new creations in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17).  The gospel can turn a wicked city such as Charleston, SC into a city full of the glory of God.  I long to see the Lord save sinners for His glory and honor (1 Corinthians 1:18-25).

I urge you who perhaps read this to pray for the lost to be saved (Matthew 9:38).  Pray for the Word of God to go forth and bring forth conviction.  Pray for the Church of Christ to be stirred to prayer and to evangelism.

John 4:34-38.

Measuring Evangelism by Pragmatism

It seems that many want to measure the failure or success of evangelism based purely on numbers.  How many people were saved (said the “sinner’s prayer”) or how many have you added to your church?  Do you think your evangelism is effective?  Do you believe there is a better way to tell others about Christ?  All of these questions are pragmatic in nature and are designed to put the faithful, hungry Christian who is sharing their faith in a corner to which they must answer that their efforts are in vain in comparison to the seeker model or some other pragmatic means.

The pivotal issue is not about the results.  The pivotal issue regarding evangelism is that we must ask ourselves four questions (and I am borrowing these from Jon Speed’s short booklet, Evangelism in the New Testament):

1.  Was the true gospel proclaimed?

2.  Was the true gospel understood?

3.  Was Christ glorified?

4.  Was the attitude of the Christian godly as they communicated the gospel (2 Timothy 2:24-26; cf. 1 Corinthians 13)?

I have been asked about my own forms of evangelism.  I enjoy passing out gospel tracts, doing more one-on-one witnessing (confrontational evangelism) and I am about to start carrying a cross in our town near the busy streets to hopefully do some open air preaching and witnessing.  The first question someone will ask is, “Do you think that is effective?”

But again, I point back to the issue of faithfulness to the gospel.  God is the One who saves the lost (John 6:44) and He is the One who opens the eyes of the unbelievers by His grace.  Salvation is the work of God (John 1:12-13; Ephesians 2:8-9) and He saves those who believe the gospel by His grace.  The Lord is the One who adds to His Church (Acts 2:47).  The Lord is the One who saves and not preachers (1 Corinthians 3:5-9).  The Lord does use the preaching of His Word to save the lost (Romans 10:14-17) and He has commanded His Church to go and make disciples (Matthew 28:19-20) but He is the Savior and not us.  Our duty is to be faithful to Him as Lord.  We are not to measure evangelism by our numbers.  We must allow the Spirit of God to measure the success of our efforts in eternity (1 Corinthians 15:58).

Evangelism is not about building up our churches or our name.  It is about exalting the Lord Jesus.  The Lord Jesus is the One who gave His life for our sins (Galatians 1:4).  Our passion is for His glory and not ours.  Whether I pass out gospel tracts to 10 or to 10,000, I want Jesus to be exalted.  Whether I stand on the corner with my gospel cross and witness to 1 or 100, I only want Jesus to be exalted.  My first and ultimate priority is to be faithful to Jesus and allow Jesus to be exalted through my feeble efforts.  I will not get into the pragmatic questions of whether I am successful or not.  That is not the issue.  If numbers are a sign of success, the cults are doing something right.  However, the ultimate desire for the faithful disciple of Jesus is to be faithful to Him and exalt His name (Philippians 1:20-21).

So my witnessing friends, be faithful (Revelation 2:10).  Focus on pleasing Jesus above all else and make Him your goal, your passion, your gospel.  Let us preach Christ and Him crucified above all else (1 Corinthians 2:1-5).

 

Written by The Seeking Disciple

07/07/2013 at 2:19 PM

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