I am reading a book that considers the Christian’s approach to witnessing to an individual about Jesus Christ. I have not gotten too far in the book because I am forever arrested by the author’s words. At one point, he states that Jesus never approached any two people the same way. This made me pause to reflect on the individuals He talked to. The author was right. Jesus did not use a “formula” or “steps” to minister to individuals. Instead he met them where they were.
Dr. Guinness uses the phrase “cookie-cutter evangelism” to describe the method that most churches use when reaching out to the lost. This made me think about the church where I first got saved. My enthusiasm for my newfound faith in the Lord motivated me to join the evangelism team. They taught me the “method” to witness to souls. It was okay to put it in my own words, but certain things had to be covered before walking away from the candidate.
There was an apartment complex located down behind the church. It was on the next street. Once a month, the evangelism team would have a service there on Saturday. We would gather at the church around 10:30 a.m. for prayer. Then we would walk down to the apartment complex as the church van played gospel music announcing our arrival.
Once we got to the complex, we knocked on doors, and passed out gospel tracts, and then we gathered to sing songs. Then someone would encourage people to gather to hear the message of the day. There would be some soloists singing before the speaker brought forth the Word. Then altar call would be made before we left. The workers would get upset because the majority of the tracts were thrown on the ground. Now I know why. We used the same method every time we saw these individuals. They knew the routine, and they knew what we were going to say. It was old and outdated. No wonder they were hard to win to Christ! It was never fresh. The Word of God should be fresh—not stale!
I hope this makes you think about how you approach an individual who you are trying to win to the kingdom of heaven. It does make sense doesn’t it?
The genuineness of Jesus’ resurrection was the final witness to all the other signs and wonders as performed by Him.
The topic of resurrection is found in both the Old and New Testaments.
Jesus is the center of apostolic preaching, especially his resurrection.
Acts 2:24 (KJV)
(24) Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it.
This verse speaks of Jesus when He rose from the dead. The chains of death could not hold Jesus in their grasp. In Acts 2:29-32, Paul speaks of the patriarch, David. God tells David his seed will bring forth the Messiah. Jesus Christ would fulfill the Davidic Covenant. He speaks of the resurrection of Christ (v. 31). His soul would not be left in hell. Neither would His body see corruption. Paul states that this has been witnessed by the apostles and disciples.
The thing, which the agency of God brings about, is a new or spiritual birth, a resurrection from spiritual death, the inducing of a new and holy life.
Christ speaks of the Old Testament Scriptures after His resurrection. He says “all things must be fulfilled which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the Psalms concerning me.” Luke 24:44
As you remember, Jesus has been talking about Him being a good shepherd. He speaks of His flock, which does not include the Gentiles. They are a part of the “other” sheep. Before Jesus leaves to go to the temple, there is a division concerning what He has just done and taught. Some once again claim He has a devil while others speak up and say, “Can a devil open the eyes of the blind?” (v. 21)
The time is winter, and it is during the Feast of Dedication. Jesus walks in the temple in Solomon’s porch. When the Jews see Jesus coming, they gather around Him. They ask Jesus to tell them the truth. Is He the promised Messiah? Jesus responds by saying He did tell them, but they did not receive His words. He speaks the truth, which comes from the Father. These words witness of Him. They do not receive Jesus’ words. They are not His sheep. Jesus spoke plainly, and they did not receive His words.
At this point Jesus is approaching the end of His ministry. He has been in Galilee and Judea for an approximate period of nearly three years. He has been teaching publicly for that time. He did not say explicitly that He was the Messiah. The people were looking for a political messiah and not a spiritual messiah. This fact was dealt with earlier. If He had conformed to this statement, He would have given false hope. He had been open to other claims such as a right to have a person’s loyalties. He was able to satisfy all legitimate wants and needs. He healed the sick, and He has given sight to the blind. He has done many things in the course of three years. These works were a fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies concerning the Messiah. If they had known these prophecies, these verses would serve to answer their questions about whether He was the promised Messiah or not. If they followed Jesus and heard His teachings, they would not have been in the dark. They claimed that Jesus has not taught them plainly.
The words of Jesus spoke plainly to the question they asked. Take, for instance, the nobleman whose son was healed from his sickness. He took Jesus at His word. John 4:50. Notice what Peter said. “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life” John 6:68. These had believed based on the words alone. Yet, there were also Jesus’ many works that substantiated them.
John’s Gospel calls the works “signs.” This is seen in John 5. A sign is a symbol. It points to something signified. The miracles are signs in that they point to the unusual ability or character of the one performing them. The signs point to Jesus. There are seven “signs” in this gospel. The last one is found in the next chapter.
How would you discredit a witness if that individual’s testimony would bring you down? Here are some ways that you could approach their testimony.
You could eliminate the witness. You could have the individual killed. You could threaten the individual so that he would keep quiet.
You could seek to discredit the witness. If you could show that, the individual does not possess good character. Perhaps this individual has lied in court before. You could get people to discount what he has to say concerning your case.
You could seek to have their testimony thrown out of court on a technicality.
These are three lines of attack for anyone who is unscrupulous. These three attacks are used against Jesus. They sought to discredit Jesus Christ’s testimony he bore to men of God’s nature and of man’s need for salvation.
First, they sought to eliminate Him. The first attack came in the closing verses of John 7. They wanted to arrest Him–but it was not time.
Second, they tried to discredit him by throwing such doubt upon His character that no one would listen to him regardless of what He had to say. This was the object of the abortive attempt to trap Jesus in the incident concerning the woman caught in adultery.
Third, they wanted to eliminate the force of His testimony as the result of a technicality. They questioned His witness.
In http://ref.ly/Jn7.10, Jesus is cautious about going up to the feast. He travels undetected, and keeps a low profile. He probably travels on the back roads. He does not want Himself to be seen until the set time.
When Jesus told them to go up to the feast, He remained behind in Galilee. The conflict over Christ begins in John 7:11-13. When the Jews saw Jesus’ brethern, they were asked where Jesus was. At the same time, the people began to murmur and debate the character of Jesus. They debated on whether He was a good man or a deceiver. This debate continues today. Deception at that time would result in stoning if found guilty. No one spoke openly on behalf of Jesus for fear of the Jews. Fear can stifle our witness for Christ.
When the feast was midway completed, Jesus is found in the temple teaching. Naturally, Jesus speaks with power and authority. Those who heard Him ask the question concerning His knowledge of the scriptures. They know He has never gone to any schools of learning for the Jews. Character and doctrine go together. A person’s belief affects their behavior. Jesus says that what He teaches comes from the Father who sent Him. If any man does the will of the Father, that individual will know the doctrine of Him. Doing God’s will gives discernment about Christ’s doctrines. The phrase “do His will” in the Greek can also read “desire His will.” The idea behind the words “do” or “desire” mean “to seize with the mind; to be resolved; to have a deeply rooted desire to know and be in God’s will.” [Mattoon’s Treasures, Treasures from John Volume 1 – Chapter 30. The wait for an Opportune Time, p. 217]
The hearer will know what is being taught is of the Father or not. The religious leaders were responsible for teaching the Scriptures. Once again, they are shown their shortcoming concerning their knowledge of the Scriptures. They were caught up in doing their will and teaching the commandments of God according to their tradition. Notice in verse 18 where Jesus bears this out. He that does this is seeking his own glory. They presented themselves as being knowledgeable concerning the scriptures, which caused them to be highly esteemed in the eyes of those they taught. The one that teaches the Scriptures according to the Father is righteous. This individual does not seek accolades from humanity. This individual seeks to glorify God by being a faithful and loyal believer.
Jesus has just fulfilled the law concerning witnesses. Despite this fact, there are some who are against Jesus for who He says He is. In this passage, Jesus tells them that they need to search the scriptures. The word “search” means a consecrated study or to pour over; to diligently investigate. [Mattoon’s Treasures, Treasures from John Volume 1 – Chapter 25. Consider the Witnesses, p. 170] This was an insult to those who considered themselves teachers of the Old Testament. How they skipped over those prophecies I do not know! Those same words testify of Jesus. Jesus says that they will not come to Him. These verses testify of Him.
As stated earlier in this chapter, the Father gave honor to the Son. Jesus says that He does not receive honor from humanity. Note verse34. Jesus keeps nailing their casket. He then says they do not possess the love of God in them. That is why they have rejected Jesus and His teachings. They are not humble like those that have received Jesus. They walk around piously proclaiming themselves to be learners of the Old Testament. They do not accept His Name. Jesus tells them that if somebody would come in their own name, they would accept that person.
They are honor seekers, and their honor comes from man. They do not seek the honor of God which is better. http://ref.ly/Jn12.43 They want to be seen of men for their great knowledge. Who accuses them? Moses accuses them for their unspiritual life. If they had received the words of Moses, then they would have known who Jesus was. Jewish teachers regarded Moses as the central prophetic figure of their history. This would have caused them to accept the Messiah when He came. If they would have received Moses’ words, then they would have received the words of Jesus.
The Bible says that to let everything be established at the mouth of two or three witnesses. http://ref.ly/Dt19.15 Jesus’ first witness is John the Baptist. Jesus’ next witness is the works the Father wants Him to finish. These works are a better witness that John’s words. They are a manifestation of the words that Jesus speaks. The Father Himself sent Jesus and bears witness of Jesus. There are Jesus’ three witnesses! This requirement of the law was fulfilled.
Jesus then makes a scathing accusation by saying that the Word of God is not abiding in those who hear His voice. This is a pointed statement toward the religious leaders of that day. If they had the Old Testament residing in their lives, then they would have believed in Jesus! What a statement!
Jesus begins this section by saying that He cannot be His own witness. The reason being He cannot be a true witness to Himself. There is another individual that bears witness of Who Jesus was. We have already studied this witness and his testimony concerning Jesus. That witness’s name was John the Baptist. John had been ordained of God to declare who the Messiah was when He came. Jesus says that John’s witness is true because the Lord gave him instructions concerning the Messiah. Jesus goes on to say that John was a burning and shining light during the time of his ministry. They, for a season, were willing to rejoice in his light.
God the Father does not send someone without sending ahead of time a witness to prepare the way. Through this witness, hearts and minds are prepared to receive the individual who is coming to His people. This is also true of judgment. God always sent a warning before judgment.
Have you ever thrown a stone into a pond? It produces a small ripple in the water. The ripple spreads into larger ripples. This is what happens when it comes to witnessing. John truly shows in this chapter that Jesus is a soul winner. It begins with the woman, and it ends with possibly her entire village coming to see Jesus. This is a perfect example of effective witnessing. Can we say that our witness is this effective?
The woman’s testimony caused many of the Samaritans to believe in Jesus Christ as the Messiah. She said that Jesus told her about her life. When the citizens of that village heard this, they came to Jesus to see and hear for themselves. They asked Jesus to stay with them for a while. Verse 40 states that Jesus stayed there for two days. It is important that new believers be rooted and grounded in the Word of God. http://ref.ly/Ep3.17 In those two days, Jesus fed them spiritually. There is no such thing as “second hand salvation.” People must come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ for themselves. Then many more received salvation. Those who received salvation told the woman they believed the words of Jesus. They heard for themselves. Their belief and faith came not from her testimony. Her words stirred up their curiosity. They accepted Jesus as the Christ, the Savior. Verse 42.
Do you see how important your witnessing will become? You may be saying that your witness is not that strong. You may have excuses for the reason you do not witness. “I cannot speak well. I do not know the scriptures that well.” You must realize that God will give you the words to say to that individual. This means you must read and study God’s Word. You must pray to the Father for help in witnessing. As I stated earlier, you cannot use a template to witness to people. You must be in touch with the Holy Spirit so He can give you the right words to say. You are not alone. The Holy Spirit is your Comforter and Your Guide. He will bring all things back to your remembrance. That is a part of His ministry in your life. Read the following verses:
Note http://ref.ly/Ac1.8, which states that people shall be witnesses in Samaria. This is true even though the Jews despised these people. Nobody is left out when it comes to salvation. Jesus died for the world. If we faithfully follow Jesus, He will give us the harvest. We have no idea how many came to the Lord in Samaria because of this woman’s witness. She bore much fruit for the kingdom of God!