July 22 - 28
The Action Words of Witnessing
TAKE YOUR MARKS! GET SET! GO! We often hear these words at the beginning of a race, just before the runners begin to compete for the medals. The sleek muscles of the athletes seem to vibrate with expectation and actionwitnessing as they do to years of training.
As Christians, we, too, run a race, full of action and expectation (1 Cor. 9:24-27). And as we do, we demonstrate our commitment to Jesus within the power of the Holy Spirit.
Action words are verbs that transmit the idea of life, energy, movement, and purpose. Space and time do not permit us to study within the confines of these pages all the action words that pertain to witnessing. The Christian witness should arise, go, move, give, proceed, travel, walk, depart, heal, feed, etc. "The disciples were to work earnestly for souls, giving to all the invitation of mercy. They were not to wait for the people to come to them; they were to go to the people with their message."Christian Service, p. 23.
Like the runners in a race, we, too, have received our instructions: "Go ye therefore." What are you waiting for? Take your mark! Get set! Go!
THE WEEK AT A GLANCE:
I. Testify! (Acts 5:32; 18:5, 9; John 15:26, 27).
II. Teach! (Acts 8:1-4; 20:20).
III. Prove! (Acts 17:2, 3).
IV. Proclaim! (Acts 8:4-8; 5:42; 15:35).
V. Persuade! (Acts 28:23, 24; 14:20-22).
MEMORY TEXT: "For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard" (Acts 4:20).
What action words regarding witnessing can you find in the following verses?
John 15:26, 27 _______________________________________________
Acts 18:5 ___________________________________________________
Acts 18:9 ___________________________________________________
It is natural for a person to talk. But to speak suggests talking to communicate a message. Disciples "cannot but speak the things" which they have seen and heard in such a way that many will believe (Acts 4:20; 14:1). Because we are surrounded by many different people each day, we should learn how to start a conversation. Usually it is easy to smile and say, "Good morning," adding a few words and giving your name. If you have a newspaper, for instance, you can ask, "Did you read the paper this morning?" A conversation may develop on the signs of the times and the return of Jesus as the solution. You may then have the opportunity to give your testimony about how knowing Jesus has helped you.
The verbs witness and testify are intimately related. To testify means "to declare emphatically about some truth," "to make a serious declaration to substantiate a fact." To witness means "to serve as an evidence of a fact." The apostles gave "witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus" (Acts 4:33). And Jesus asked His disciples to be His witnesses (1:8).
When Peter told the people to repent (Acts 2:38), he had himself repented of his own lying, denial, and profanity (Matt. 26:69-75). So he witnessed both to the necessity of repentance and to the power of God to transform the repentant one. That is why he could declare, "We are his witnesses of these things" (Acts 5:32). Experience lies at the foundation of all true, effective witnessing.
"No man has any right to recommend to others what he has not himself tasted and tested. Some people need something to tell more than they need power to tell it. Too often we preach of things in which we have no personal experience. I earnestly ask: What have you to tell that makes you so eager for God to give you power to tell it?"Froom, The Coming of the Comforter, pp. 104, 105.
What did the scattered ones do as they fled from Jerusalem? Acts 8:1-4.
These were "ordinary" Christians"men and women who had learned to love their Lord, and who had determined to follow His example of unselfish service. To these lowly ones, as well as to the disciples who had been with the Savior during His earthly ministry, had been given a precious trust. They were to carry to the world the glad tidings of salvation through Christ.
"When they were scattered by persecution they went forth with missionary zeal . They knew they held in their hands the bread of life for a famishing world; and they were constrained by the love of Christ to break this bread to all who were in need."The Acts of the Apostles, pp. 105, 106.
What two approaches to teaching did Paul use in Ephesus? Acts 20:20.
Thirty times, the gospels refer to Jesus as a teacher. From the early days of Acts (Acts 5:21, 25) to the last verse of the book (28:31), teaching was an essential part of Christian ministry. We are instructed that "there should be less preaching, and more teaching."Gospel Workers, p. 407. One of the modern approaches to witnessing through teaching is a seminaror specialized class. Many universities and colleges offer seminars as do businesses who want to give their employees further training in a specialized area. In a seminar, there are no preliminaries such as a song service, special music, or the collection of offerings. They are conducted largely by local pastors and church members rather than by professional evangelists. A seminar often offers a great deal of interaction between the teacher and the class. Prophecy, lifestyle, and family life are common seminar topics.
"Every message we teach . ends up with the Man of Galilee, the Lamb of God, the resurrected Savior, the in filling Lord. What Christ said, what He did, and what He does are all part of preaching Jesus Christ."Lloyd Ogilvie, Acts: The Communicator's Commentary Series (Waco, Texas: Word, Inc., 1983), vol. 5, p. 152.
What approach to witnessing did Paul follow? Acts 17:2, 3.
To reason is to think in a logical way, to form judgments, and to draw conclusions from facts. The word used in the original language suggests the method of questions and answers. Dialogue is related to it. According to Acts 17:2, 3, reasoning involves explaining and demonstrating, "as if one, having broken the rind, were to disclose and exhibit the kernel."Marvin R. Vincent, Word Studies in the New Testament (McLean, Va.: MacDonald Publishing Company, 1888), vol. 1, p. 536.
Reasoning also involves answering objections. "Many a laborer fails in his work because he does not come close to those who most need his help. With the Bible in hand, he should seek in a courteous manner to learn the objections which exist in the minds of those who are beginning to enquire, 'What is truth?'"Gospel Workers, p. 190.
An objection is an honest block to a decision. An excuse is an attempt to avoid making a decision. You can know whether the people with whom you are studying have a sincere objection by asking them whether that objection is the only reason they have for not committing their life to Jesus. Get a decision from the prospects based on the reasoning that if the objection could be removed they would make a commitment immediately. Then answer the objection and ask for a decision.
Which of the following examples from the book of Acts would help to answer the objection "I cannot decide now because everything is happening so fast"? Acts 2:41; 9:36; 16:25-34; 22:16.
Related to the word reason is the word prove. Read Acts 9:17-22. Because Paul's proofs were convincing and overwhelming, some of the people attempted to kill him (9:29). That Paul would attempt to prove the gospel to synagogues full of his fellow Hebrews is "an act of the greatest moral courage. It was to these very synagogues that Paul had received his letters of credit as an official agent of the Jewish faith and of the Sanhedrin. It would have been very much easier to begin his Christian witness somewhere where he was not known and where his past did not stand against him. Paul is saying, 'I am a changed man and I am determined that those who know me best should know it.' Already he is proclaiming, 'I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ.'William Barclay, The Acts of the Apostles, rev. ed. (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1976), p. 73.
|Where is there room for emotions in our witnessing?|
The word "announce" means "to call the gospel to people's attention." it is close in meaning to the terms "to preach" and "to proclaim," so it is translated as such in many passages (see Acts 4:2; 13:5; 17:3; 26:23).
What did Philip preach in Samaria? What did his message do for the people who accepted his message? Acts 8:4-8.
The purpose of preaching is not to demonstrate or to prove a truth. "We need far less controversy, and far more presentation of Christ. Our Redeemer is the center of all our faith and hope. Those who can mirror His matchless love, and inspire hearts to give Him their best and holiest affections, are doing work that is great and holy . The many argumentative sermons preached seldom soften and subdue the soul."Evangelism, p. 172.
The biblical term for preaching means to announce an event, a fact, a truth, and to proclaim it with the authority of a herald.
The early Christians proclaimed that the Messiah had come (Acts 9:20). They announced the good news that in Jesus there was room in God's kingdom for a repentant heart (13:38). They exhorted people to accept their message (2:40). Even today, "no discourse should ever be preached without presenting Christ and Him crucified as the foundation of the gospel."Gospel Workers, p. 158. This kind of preaching will "touch invisible chords, whose vibrations will ring to the ends of the earth, and make melody through eternal ages."The Desire of Ages, p. 823. Sermons promoting specific programs within the church do not convert people. But preaching Christ will always win many to Him.
What two witnessing functions are often found together? Acts 5:42; 15:35 (compare Eph. 4:11, 12).
"Both teaching and preaching had to be done to set forth Jesus as the Saviour, and to instruct in the way of life for God; doubtless this was especially essential for Gentiles, who, it was becoming clear, were now partakers of the new covenant under the gospel."SDA Bible Commentary, vol.6, p. 315.
|Even though "announcing" in the book of Acts usually refers to "preaching," what other forms of announcing may be used in witnessing?|
How did Paul work toward getting people in Rome to make a decision for Jesus? With what results? Acts 28:23, 24.
Persuasion means "to bring another person to a point of view." According to the divine principles of free will, we cannot coerce people. But we can help them by:
1. providing all necessary information,
2. answering their objections,
3. making their options clear,
4. inviting them to side with biblical truth,
5. affirming them as they make the right decisions, and
6. inviting them to open their lives to the convicting power of the Holy Spirit.
The specific purposes of evangelism are to persuade people to:
1. accept Jesus and His truth, and
2. serve Him in the fellowship of the church.
These two objectives are intimately related. You cannot have one without the other.
One way of helping people make a positive decision concerning a point of doctrine is by asking three leading questions:
1. "Is this subject clear to you?" (generally they will say "Yes").
2. "Do you have any question related to this subject?" (Answer their questions. Then ask the first two leading questions again until they have no more questions).
3. Finally ask, "Do you really believe in this subject?" (Will you act upon it? Some useful texts at this point are Acts 22:16; Matt. 9:9; Isa. 1:18).
After accomplishing what two purposes did the apostles leave Derbe? Acts 14:20-22. How important is the second purpose to the health of the individual member and the church at large?
Evangelism should not end with a person's decision to follow Jesus. Neither is baptism the conclusion of the process. True success in evangelism is related to the involvement of new members in church life and their continued spiritual growth.
|How can we help new believers "to continue in the grace of God"? What responsibilities are appropriate to assign to a newly baptized member? Why are they appropriate? Which responsibilities might not be appropriate, and why? Explain how the appropriateness of a specific activity might vary from church to church.|
FURTHER STUDY: Read Matthew 25:31-46. List the action words in this parable that relate to witnessing. Then list at least four things this parable teaches you about witnessing. Or look up some of the following action words in a concordance. Which verses do you find with these words in them that relate to witnessing? What do these verses teach you about witnessing? The words are arise, go, move, heal. feed, confess, praise.
Read any or all of the following: Christian Service, "Witnesses" pp. 15-17; "The Divine Commission" pp. 22-24; and "Profession vs. Expression" pp. 94-98; The Acts of the Apostles, "The Great Commission" pp. 25-34; The Desire of Ages, "Go Teach All Nations" pp. 818-828.
"God does not generally work miracles to advance His truth . [He] works according to great principles . . . and it is our part to mature wise plans, and set in operation the means whereby God shall bring about certain results."-Evangelism, pp. 652, 653.
"As His representatives among men, Christ does not choose angels who have never fallen, but human beings. . . . Divinity needed humanity; for it required both the divine and the human to bring salvation to the world . Humanity lays hold upon divine power, Christ dwells in the heart by faith; and through co-operation with the divine, the power of man becomes efficient for good."The Desire of Ages, pp. 296,297.
SUMMARIZE this week's lesson by listing and explaining the active ways we can witness to unbelievers. How do we continue to witness to those who accept the gospel? What part of this week's lesson was most interesting to you? How will it help you to become a better witness?
J. H. Zachary
Ulzhan Omarbekova [OOL-zhan oh-MAR-beh-ova] is a famous musician in her native Kazakhstan. But her success as a singer could not fill the emptiness in her life. She recognized that forces of good and evil existed in the world, but she did not know what their existence meant for her. She read books on various religious philosophies, but was disappointed when they did not point her toward Allah, or God. She began studying the Qu'ran and the Bible, but she found the Qur'an too difficult to understand.
Then while browsing a bookstore, she found The Acts of the Apostles and Steps to Christ. In these books she found answers to her deepest questions. She accepted their teachings and began searching for a church that followed the principles taught in these books. She visited several religious meetings, but was disappointed. Finally she started her own small group.
Then she met Victor, a literature evangelist, who shared his faith with her and made the Bible seem easy to understand. But she politely refused his invitations to attend religious meetings. "I do not trust religious teachers," she answered. "They have disappointed me."
Victor invited her to watch video Bible studies, and Ulzhan agreed. She was delighted with the videos, and after viewing several, she and her friends decided to visit the church with Victor. Ulzhan was so thrilled with the church members' friendliness that she offered to sing for the service. But the cautious pastor told her that she would have to be a member before she could sing. Rather than being put off, Ulzhan and two of her friends joined the baptismal class. She was baptized in 1996.
However, her road to faith was not smooth. When she became a Christian, her husband left her. Nevertheless, she rejoices in the peace and joy she has found in Jesus. "Jesus is everything to me," she says. "I don't know how I existed without Him."
Ulzhan now is the speaker for Adventist World Radio's Kazak-language programs, where her talents in music and drama draw listeners as she explains the Qu'ran in the light of the Bible. Her ministry is touching many lives in the Islamic community.
J. H. Zachary is coordinator of international evangelism for The Quiet Hour and a special consultant for the General Conference Ministerial Association.
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