August 12 - 18
Approaches to Witnessing
A NEWLY BAPTIZED MEMBER was in the habit of bombarding each of his friends all in one session with his new-found beliefs about the Sabbath, unclean meats, and the importance of paying tithe! It wasn't long before most of them began avoiding him as much as they could. It is true that when we have good news we are excited and want to tell everyone everything. But how effective e is such an approach when it comes to witnessing for Christ?
Soul winning is a science. And if teachers, plumbers, doctors, mechanics, etc. train for their profession, why shouldn't we, whom God calls to witness for Him?
The objective of a Christian witness is to lead a nonbeliever to accept Jesus and His truth. Effective evangelism, therefore, should include a careful process that will lead the nonbeliever through progressive decisions to the acceptance of the whole truth. This week's lesson presents such a process. As you study, compare or contrast that process to how you presently witness. What are you doing correctly? What things should you change?
THE WEEK AT A GLANCE:
I. First Things First (Acts 18:5; 1 Cor. 2:2).
II. Appeals and Invitations (Acts 2:38; 3:19).
III. Progressive Decisions (Acts 16:30, 31; 22:16).
IV. Confessions of Faith (Acts 8:37; Matt. 10:32, 33; Rom. 10:9).
V. Baptism (Acts 2:38; Mark 16:15, 16).
MEMORY TEXT: "For I have not shunned d to declare unto all the counsel of God" (Acts 20: 27).
What was the content of Paul's witnessing in Corinth? Acts 18:5; 1 Cor. 2:2.
Leading people to Jesus Christ should be our first concern. Securing a decision for Jesus will assist the presentation of all other biblical doctrines and will help the person realize that Christ is the center of all of them. "If those who today are teaching the word of God, would uplift the cross of Christ higher and still higher, their ministry would be far more successful. If sinners can be led to give one earnest look at the cross, . . . they will realize the depth of God's compassion and the sinfulness of sin."The Acts of the Apostles, p. 209.
The witness who presents a personal testimony to a nonbeliever should not focus on doctrinal matters such as the Sabbath or stewardship. A personal testimony should transmit the joy found in accepting the salvation offered through Jesus.
Likewise, people who do evangelism should secure a decision to accept Jesus as Savior before teaching doctrines. Once this is done, they can begin to teach the whole truth. In Matthew 28:20, Jesus instructed His followers to make disciples by teaching people "to observe all things" He had commanded them. But even so, such teaching should be done in a logical sequence.
How did Paul express his confidence that he had done what he should? Acts 20:27.
Anyone using any one of the tools of evangelism we studied last week "must not feel that the whole truth is to be spoken to unbelievers on any and every occasion. He should study carefully when to speak, what to say, and what to leave unsaid. This is not practicing deception; it is working as Paul worked. 'Though I be free from all men,' he wrote to the Corinthians, 'yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more [1 Cor. 9:19-22].' "Gospel Workers, p. 117.
"Much careful thought and fervent prayer are required to know how to approach men and women upon the great subject of truth."Testimonies for the Church, vol. 4, p. 67. Are you acquainted with someone who needs to know Jesus? Pray that God will give you an opportunity to introduce Him to that person this week. Also pray for wisdom (James 1:5), boldness (Acts 4:29), and power (Acts 1:8) when witnessing to her or him.
|DEFINITION: Appeals invite listeners to use their will to make a decision based on what they already know about the gospel. The most important decision sinners can make is to accept Jesus as Savior. All other decisions depend on this one.|
Analyze below the appeal Peter made in Acts 2:38. (Compare Acts 3:19.)
What did he ask the people to do? _____________________________________________________________
Why were they to do as Peter instructed? _____________________________________________________________
What would they receive as a result? _____________________________________________________________
Why are these three elements essential in an appeal? _____________________________________________________________
We are all "ambassadors for Christ" and, as such, we are to appeal to others for a decision "as though God were pleading" through us (2 Cor. 5:20, NKJV). It is a solemn thing to realize that a person's answer to an appeal has eternal consequences. How important, then, to make an appeal correctly.
Most evangelists know that very few people will make a decision unless they are asked to do so. This is why "in every discourse fervent appeals should be made to the people to forsake their sins and turn to Christ."Testimonies for the Church, vol. 4, p. 396.
What appeal did Ananias make to Saul? Acts 22:16.
The key to helping people decide for baptism is to help them make progressive decisions. Make an appeal at the end of every Bible study and sermon. If the person or people respond positively every night, then responding for baptism will be easier. If you make no invitations during the series, the appeal for baptism or an altar call at the end will be a surprise, and many will not respond.
The following are some basic guidelines.
1. Lead the people to decide for Christ before presenting doctrines. Soften the person's heart first by presenting the cross. "More people than we think are longing to find the way to Christ. Those who preach the last message of mercy should bear in mind that Christ is to be exalted as the sinner's refuge.... [M]any people are sadly ignorant in regard to the plan of salvation; they need more instruction upon this all-important subject than upon any other.... Christ and Him crucified" is "the foundation of the gospel."Gospel Workers, p. 158.
2. Do not present doctrines until you are reasonably sure that the person desires to follow Jesus. "When they surrender heart and mind and will to God, they are then prepared candidly to weigh evidence in regard to these solemn, testing truths."Evangelism, p. 485.
3. When the people understand the truth, urge them to decide to obey it with the Lord's help. "Bring the people to the point to decide. Show them the importance of the truth-it is life or death."Testimonies for the Church, vol. l, p. 152.
For what decision did Paul and Silas appeal to the Philippian jailer? Acts 16:30, 31.
"As the meeting progresses the appeals should include not only accepting Christ but also following Him in loving obedience. When a person makes a decision of this nature it will generally indicate a willingness to accept all of the truths they have learned in the meeting. Specific calls to keep the Sabbath and to join the true church will not often be necessary. To accept Christ is to accept what Christ taught and what Christ is doing, which is the primary focus of all the prophetic teachings of Scriptures and all the doctrines found in the Bible."John W. Fowler, Evangelism 2000: Proclaiming Christ in the 21st Century (Nampa, Idaho: Pacific Press, 1994), p. 55.
|How does Proverbs 4:18 apply to making "progressive decisions"?|
|DEFINITION: A confession of faith is a statement of faith in Jesus. Even though an oral confession is not necessary for baptism, a public testimony always affirms a private decision. Therefore, it is also useful in evangelism.|
Use different versions of the Bible to study Acts 8:37. What did the eunuch confess before being baptized?
Not all versions include verse 37, because some manuscripts of the Bible do not have it. It should be noted, however, that the Bible expresses this truth elsewhere. In Matthew 10:32, 33 Jesus says, "Whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven" (NKJV). Paul added: "If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved" (Rom. 10:9, NKJV).
What reason for witnessing and sharing your testimony does Revelation 12:11 give?
The following is an idea for preachers, Sabbath School teachers, Bible instructors, lay evangelists, pastors, and all others doing evangelism. After presenting salvation and forgiveness, ask for various individuals to express a short confession of faith. Ask them to use the name of Jesus, because "whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved" (Rom. 10:13) and because "there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12, NKJV).
The following list offers examples of short confessions of faith:
1. "Jesus is my Savior."
2. "I accept Jesus as my personal Savior."
3. "Jesus is the king of my heart."
4. "I want to follow Jesus."
5. "I give my heart to Jesus."
6. "I renew my commitment to Jesus."
Assure your hearers that heaven rejoices when someone confesses Jesus; that those who believe in the name of the Lord have "the right to become children of God" (John 1:12, NKJV); and that those "who believe in the name of the Son of God... have eternal life" (1 John 5:13, NKJV).
|Write your own confession of faith.|
Review Acts 8:36-38; 16:29-33; and 22:6-16.
After Philip preached Jesus to the Ethiopian ruler, the ruler requested baptism. Philip baptized him immediately, thus illustrating that no one who believes in Jesus Christ is to be excluded from the people of God.
Another dramatic baptism is that of the first Christian baptism in Europe. The Philippian jailer must have come from a heathen background. However, he was baptized somewhere between midnight and sunrise, the same night of his conversion. Notice, though, that he was not baptized immediately after accepting the invitation to "believe on the Lord Jesus Christ" (Acts 16:31) but after the apostles "spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house" (v. 32).
Ananias asked Saul a question that soul winners know very well:
"And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord" (Acts 22:16, NKJV). The man who later would be known as "the apostle Paul" did not eat or drink from the time he met Jesus until the time he was baptized (Acts 9:18, 19).
What requirements for baptism does the book of Acts mention? Acts 2:38 (compare Mark 16:16).
To repent means literally " 'to think differently after,' hence, 'to change one's mind,' 'to change one's purpose.' It includes far more than confession of sin. . . . Theologically the word includes not only a change of mind but a new direction of the will, an altered purpose and attitude."SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 5, p. 295.
Based on the following texts, what does baptism symbolize?
Rom. 6:3-5 ___________________________________________________
Col. 2:11, 12 _________________________________________________
Titus 3:5-7 ___________________________________________________
|Consider this symbolism in relationship to your own life.|
FURTHER STUDY: Read Luke 9:18-20; 22:54-62; and John 21:15-17. Compare Peter's first confession of Christ with his second confession. Was Peter serious about his first confession? Explain your answer. Why was his second confession necessary? What does Peter's story tell us about the seriousness of confessing Christ before others?
Read any or all of the following chapters or sections from Evangelism: "Christ the Center of the Message" pp. 184-193; "Appeals and Altar Calls" pp. 283-285; "Methods of Clinching Decisions" pp. 295-301; "Establishing and Holding New Converts" pp. 334-383.
"Do not at the outset press before the people the most objectionable features of our faith, lest you close their ears to which these things come as a new revelation."Evangelism, p. 201.
SUMMARIZE in your own words the concept of "progressive decisions." Why is this concept so important? Based on what you have learned about this concept, what will you do differently in presenting the gospel to family members and friends who are not Christians?
Samithy needed help-fast. A Global Mission pioneer in Cambodia, he had prepared 42 people for baptism and needed a pastor to come and baptize them. But it was too dangerous for outsiders to travel the roads around Samrong, where Samithy lived. Many unwary travelers had been killed by bandits or renegade soldiers. In addition, it was the height of the rainy season, and the road was often flooded, making travel nearly impossible.
But the urgent plea for help came after Samithy encountered a number of orphans as he visited people. Three young children told him that their father was killed by soldiers and their mother had just died of malaria. They had no one care for them. Samithy located 20 orphans in all who desperately needed care. The children had nothing to eat or to wear. With no other alternative, he took them home until he could find help for them.
Samithy notified the mission of the urgent need, and the mission director arranged to charter a small plane and fly to Samrong with representatives of an international relief group. But the rains intensified, washing out bridges, flooding the dirt airstrip, and leaving doubt whether anyone could get to Samrong. Samithy did the only thing he could do: he prayed, asking God to work it out. Then he notified his baptismal candidates to meet at the river at the specified time.
Two days before the plane was to arrive, the rain stopped, and a strong north wind began to blow, drying out the dirt airstrip. Occasionally, threatening storm clouds gathered, but it did not rain. Samithy notified the pastor that the airstrip was dry enough to land.
The pastor and relief workers endured a 13-hour trip across nearly impassable roads and through rivers to reach the nearest airport some 40 miles away. They boarded the small airplane and flew through blue skies to Samrong. The pilot examined the airstrip to be sure it was dry enough to land, then he set the plane down. Friendly soldiers quickly surrounded the plane to protect it as Samithy greeted his guests. He hurried them to the river for the baptism then took the relief workers to survey the needs of the orphans and arrange for their care.
Their work done, the group boarded the airplane and soon disappeared into the distance. Less than an hour after the plane had taken off, the rain had returned, flooding the dirt airstrip.
Khut Chouen works in the Cambodian Mission.
Produced by the General Conference Office of Mission Awareness
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