Helps In Sharing Christ With Others
Witnessing is the responsibility of every Christian. God expects each to witness both by life and by lips. We give witness primarily to Christ, but also to the Father and to Bible truth. In Old Testament times God gave this responsibility to Israel. "‘You are My witnesses,’" says the Lord, "‘that I am God’" (Isa. 43:12). Today our witness primarily focuses on Jesus our Savior. Jesus said, "You are witnesses of these things" (Luke 24:48). "You also must testify" (John 15:27). "You will be My witnesses" (Acts 1:8). A great portion of Paul’s ministry was witnessing (Acts 22:15-16; 26:16,22).
1. Christian Testimony as Witness
One important form of witnessing is Christian testimony. This may be shared privately to fellow-Christians and to non-Christians or to Christian groups and to non-Christian groups. Testimony to non-Christians can be a powerful form of witnessing. Christian testimony should follow these simple rules:
• Relate your testimony personally to Jesus. Tell of His guidance, love, blessings, answers to prayer, companionship.
• Bring glory to Jesus, not yourself. Testify in such a way that people remember what Jesus did and not what you did. Draw people closer to Jesus, not primarily closer to yourself.
• Testify humbly. If testimony is not humbly given, people are less likely to accept it or be helped by it. As you testify humbly, God will continue to work for you and through you. If you let pride enter, God cannot trust you with continued blessings or success. Be honest in your testimony so that people sense it is genuine.
• Adjust your testimony to the situation. In some situations you must be brief. Do not impose upon others’ time. A brief, joyous testimony can open the door then or later for others to ask you to share further details.
• Watch for opportunities to weave your testimony into conversation inoffensively. Help others always to be ready with an up-to-date word of testimony, including personal fresh blessing, and recent answers to prayer. Your own brief word of personal testimony, humbly given, can bring life to your sermon or Bible exposition.
• Help create opportunities for others to testify. "Isn’t that similar to what Jesus did for you, John?" "Mary, you ought to share the wonderful answer to prayer the Lord just gave you." "Have you ever heard how Jesus helped Bill?" "You know, I wish everyone could have the kind of opportunity Sally had. Tell us about it, Sally."
2. Witnessing to the Unsaved
This can be of two kinds: as part of an attempt to lead a person to Christ or as preparation for someone to become open to further soul-winning efforts later. Christ expects each Christian to be alert to both kinds of opportunities.
We are not primarily witnessing to the role of religion, defending Christianity in general, or even the Bible as true. There are times when that kind of presentation is appropriate. But witnessing is primarily pointing to Jesus. We present Jesus. People may argue with your opinions, beliefs, or even about the Church. But it is more difficult to argue with a sincere, deeply personal witness of what Jesus means to you.
Leaders may prepare their people for more effective witnessing by sharing such suggestions as these:
• Keep Jesus central. Help them realize that Jesus is a real person – alive and active today. Other questions can be dealt with later. The primary question they will have to answer at the Judgment will concern what they did with Jesus.
• Be personal. When did you meet Jesus? What has Jesus done for you? True, Jesus died on the cross, but bring that in as a part of your testimony of the reason you love Him, or trusted Him to forgive your sins, or are glad that His love reached you.
"He really changed my life." "Jesus has given me a peace and joy I never had before." "You know, when I pray, Jesus is so real, so close to me." "I never would have believed that Jesus could make such a difference in my life." Witnessing is not preaching. Remember, the two main parts in your testimony are Jesus and you.
• Be definite. A witness in court is a person who has definite information. He saw, he heard, he was present. Your witness to Jesus must always be specific. Tell what He did for you, when He did it, and what happened in your life. "You know, I have known Jesus personally only about two years." "It was October 16, 1979, when I first met Jesus." "I know my sins were forgiven. I can never forget that day." "I had a real problem with a habit of….before Jesus saved me." "I have not been defeated by….since I met Jesus four years ago." The more personal, the more definite you make your testimony, the more the Lord can use it.
• Be up-to-date. Be sure to include something recent and real from your present life. "You know, as I was thanking Jesus this morning…" "Really, this week Jesus has seemed so near to me." "Just Tuesday while I was praying to Jesus…" "It was really important to me this week that Jesus has been so near in my prayer time because…."
• Include some form of special appeal. Let the Spirit guide you as to how direct that appeal should be. Timing is important. If the person to whom you are testifying continues to listen well and sympathetically, become even more direct. "I hope Jesus is as real to you as He has become to me." "When I think of the joy Jesus has brought into my life, I want everyone to know Him too. I hope you have that joy." "You know, it’s hard to realize that all those years I struggled with (life, a problem, a particular sin) all alone, Jesus wanted to help me. If you are facing anything like that, I know He can help you." "If you would like to know how simple it is to come to Christ and receive Him as your Savior, I’d be glad to talk with you." "Would you permit me to pray with you just now?" Then include prayer for God to bless the person and meet his personal needs. Prayer is a powerful form of witness.
• Prepare the person beforehand by intercession. Ask the Lord to place upon your heart people to whom He desires you to witness. Ask God to guide you in advance and then prepare the way by definite intercession daily for each of the people for whom the Spirit burdens you. In the meantime, use every opportunity to be friendly and a blessing. Then after some weeks or months of prayer, ask God’s guidance for the right time and place, and seek to witness to and lead that person to the Lord.
A few years ago God led the leaders of the Korea Evangelical Church, the denomination there that has grown out of our OMS ministry, to call their churches and people to special soul-winning witness. At the beginning of January they asked each believer in each church to ask God to show them five unsaved people for whom they should be spiritually responsible. They were to pray for each of these as often as possible throughout each day from January 1 until Good Friday.
They were urged, "Don’t try to witness to them now. Just keep saturating these people with your prayer. Show love in any way you can, but wait with your witness." In the meantime, the church prepared soul-winning lessons with flip-charts for each congregation. Each pastor trained his people in witnessing. They prepared a special soul-winning tract outlining the steps to Christ, and taught each believer in its use.
Each believer was given five tracts, one for each person he had been covering with prayer. They were not to go out and distribute these indiscriminately, but only to those for whom they had been praying, and only at the time they tried to lead them to the Lord.
On Good Friday each was to go to the five people for whom he had been praying daily. On Easter Sunday new converts were introduced at church to their new Christian brothers and sisters.
That year more than 11,000 were won to Christ. Never had the church had such a day of salvation! The next year the number rose to more than 15,000. Year by year it increased until more than 25,000 were won to Christ at this season. Could your people be trained for similar efforts?
3. Leading a Person to Christ
Often in witnessing you do not have an obvious opportunity to lead the person to a personal experience of Christ. Look for opportunities to do so. Don’t be timid about bringing people to the point of decision, especially when you sense God is near as you witness. If you help them receive Christ, in heaven they will thank God and you that you were faithful to them.
Every Christian should know the bare essentials of personal evangelism. If you happened upon an accident and a person was alert but near death, could you, along with giving appropriate attention to his physical needs, lead him to salvation? You must know how to be concise and prepared for any emergency. Don’t hesitate to be direct in such an emergency.
In some situations you know that the person you have been witnessing to has a definite problem or sin blocking the way. You may need to deal with that first. You may have to resolve questions or problems before the person is willing to make a personal commitment to Jesus. Know the answer or how to get the answer from another person. But remember that many things which seem like huge problems before conversion almost disappear once one experiences salvation. As quickly as you can, point the person away from his question or objection and to Jesus.
Trust the Holy Spirit to guide you in how much time you spend on each of the following points. In an emergency, go directly to the essential point: "Trust Jesus this moment to forgive you and He will save you."
• Assure people that Jesus, His love, and His forgiveness are for them. "Jesus died for you as well as for the whole world. He loves you now. It is not too late to ask and receive His forgiveness now." Scriptures: Matthew 11:28; John 3:16; Revelation 22:17b.
• Help them confess their need and sins now. "We have all sinned. You have sinned. Admit your need. Be ready to forsake your sins by God’s help. If you need to ask forgiveness of others, or make things right with others, promise God you will do it." (In an emergency, have them confess their sins or admit they need Jesus. If they cannot speak, ask them to confess in their hearts. Or say, "I will pray aloud, and you agree in your hearts with me." Then pray a short, specific prayer of confession, asking forgiveness, and placing trust in Jesus as Savior, then thanking Him.) Scriptures: Proverbs 28:13; 1 John 1:9.
• Help them trust Jesus to forgive them. "Accept His love, His forgiveness, and His power to change you." You may want to quote a promise or two and then emphasize it. (In an emergency, it is enough to say, "Jesus said…" "Just thank Him.") Scripture: John 6:37; Romans 10:9.
Quoted from Ablaze for God by Wesley L. Duewel. Copyright © 1989. Used by permission of the Duewel Literature Trust, Inc., Greenwood, Indiana. Dr. Duewel’s books may be purchased by calling (317) 881-6751 Ext. 361.