Okay so I know I said I’d be back on Monday but I the more I thought about this the more I wanted to post it. The following information, much of which is taken from the Way of the Master program, will help encourage you to be a better witness for Jesus. There is also additional information on how to deal with some common question and objections to the Christian faith. It is a bit longer than my normal posts but it’s well worth the time it takes to read it. Feel free to copy this and print it off so you can use it for your own personal evangelism. Also feel free to share this blog post on Facebook, Twitter or through e-mail!
Start a Witnessing Encounter
To get your feet wet witnessing, an easy first step is learning to be friendly and talk with people. This may seem obvious, but make a habit of talking to your family members and friends regularly. Then practice being friendly with people at the park, at the gas station, or at the grocery store. Perhaps you already have an outgoing and friendly personality—that’s great! If you tend to be a shy, introverted person, try to open up a little and start talking with people. With a bit of practice, anyone can learn to be friendly. Most people respond warmly to warmth.
To share our faith effectively, we must let people know that we are not weirdo’s or religious fanatics. We must show them that we care, and we start by being friendly. A good friend, who is admittedly quite shy, recently mentioned that he and a buddy went to the park on a Saturday afternoon, just to practice being friendly with strangers. They had a great time and had so much fun that they couldn’t wait to get out the following weekend to take the next step.
After you have gained a measure of confidence in speaking to strangers, you can swing to the subject of spiritual things. It’s not wise to walk up to people and immediately assault them with talk about Jesus. They’ll most likely think that you’re strange. Instead, start in the natural realm, every day things, and then swing to the spiritual realm. That’s what Jesus did in John 4. He began talking to the woman at the well about natural things, then He swung to spiritual things. You may want to talk about sports or the weather and then into the subject of spiritual things.
Remember the acronym RCCR. Relate to the person. Create an opportunity to share the Gospel. Convict the person using the Law. Reveal the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Here are some possible questions to ask in an effort to Create an opportunity to share the Gospel (swing the subject to spiritual things).
- Do you have any kind of spiritual belief?
- To you, who is Jesus?
- Do you think there is a heaven or hell?
- If you died today, where would you go? If heaven, why would God let you in?
- If what you believe was not true, would you want to know?
- If the answer to the last question is “Yes,” then open your Bible and proceed to the four stepping stones.
- If the answer to the last question is, “No,” do nothing but thank the person for their time.
Alternatively, you can simply ask if the person knows of a good church in the area. Or you can use a Gospel tract. It doesn’t matter how you do it, as long as you do it. Start in the natural realm so the person doesn’t think you’re a religious nut, and then make the transition any way you want. That will lead you directly into the conversation about God.
WWJD: The Four Steppingstones
If you can remember four points, you can confidently lead any witnessing encounter. You will be in control of every conversation you have about your faith. Imagine—you will know exactly where you are in a conversation and you will know exactly where you are going. You don’t have to study Greek: you don’t have to understand archaeology; you just have to follow your four “steppingstones” to reach your goal. You can say goodbye to your fears. These stepping stones can be easily remembered using the acronym WDJD.
There is no doubt that the first point is the most difficult to ask. Once you’ve brought up the subject of spiritual things, it becomes much easier. Here are the four steppingstones.
W: Would you consider yourself to be a good person?
You will be surprised to find that people are not offended by this question. If they say “No” (highly unlikely), ask them what they mean. Remember, you are asking people about their favorite subject—themselves. Most likely you’ll find that they are kidding or that they’ve done something in their life that they feel badly about.
Otherwise, expect individuals to respond, “Yes I’m a good person.” This reveals their pride and self-righteousness. At this point, you are ready to use the Law (the Ten Commandments) to humble them.
D: Do you think you’ve kept the Ten Commandments?
Some will say yes, others will say no. Regardless, you simply continue by saying, “Let’s take a look at a few and see. Have you ever told a lie?” Some will admit to lying; others will say they have only told “white lies”; a few will claim they have never told even one lie. Gently press the issue. When they affirm that they have told a lie, ask them, “What does that make you?” They will hesitate to say, but get them to admit, “A lair.”
People do not get angry with this approach; instead, they become sober. They may declare, “I don’t believe the Bible.” Simply continue on your course. IF they argue about the Bible say, “I know you don’t believe it. I’m simply sharing with you what the Bible says. Okay? Let’s keep going.”
Continue going through the Commandments. You may want to go in this order Ninth Commandment, then the Eighth Commandment, then the Seventh Commandment, then the Third Commandment, then the Sixth Commandment, then the First Commandment, then the Second Commandment, then the Fifth Commandment, then the Tenth Commandment, then the Fourth Commandment.
Before you get through all Ten Commandments you should start noticing that the individual is growing quite because their mouth is being stopped by the Law (Romans 3:19) or they will be getting agitated. When the person seems to recognize his guilt, you may want to say, “By your own admission, you’re a…” then list the Commandments they’ve admitted to breaking. If he still tries to defend himself (I’m not a bad person), go through a few more Commandments. The goal is to let the Law stop their mouths and make them recognize their guilt before God (Romans 3:19).
1) “You shall have no other gods before Me.” Exodus 20:3 (NKJV) Has anything or anyone ever been more important to you than God?
2) “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth;” Exodus 20:4 (NKJV) Have you ever worshipped anyone or anything other than God?
3) “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.” Exodus 20:7 (NKJV) Have you ever used the name of God as a curse or without respect?
4) “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.” Exodus 20:8 (NKJV) Have your work or hobbies ever been more important to you than taking time to rest and spend time with God?
5) “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the LORD your God is giving you.” Exodus 20:12 (NKJV) Have you ever disobeyed or failed to honor your parents?
6) “You shall not murder.” Exodus 20:13 (NKJV) Have you ever hated another person, or called someone a fool to hurt his or her feelings?
7) “You shall not commit adultery.” Exodus 20:14 (NKJV) Have you even been sexually immoral, or had sexually immoral thoughts?
8) “You shall not steal.” Exodus 20:15 (NKJV) Have you ever taken anything that wasn’t yours, including time or property?
9) “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” Exodus 20:16 (NKJV) Have you ever lied?
10) “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.” Exodus 20:17 (NKJV) Have you ever been greedy or wanted something that belonged to someone else?
J—Judgment: If God judges you by the Ten Commandments on the Day of Judgment, will you be innocent or guilty?
If the individual has not yet begun to show signs of conviction, he will more than likely start now. Most will sense where you are going with the conversation and say, “Innocent.” But they must understand and confess their guilt if they are ever to come to Jesus. The following will help them do that. Use this guide as in directing the conversation and dealing with common responses. This is not a script for what to say; feel free to use your own words.
Them: “I’m a pretty good person.” You: “You just told me you broke God’s Commandments. By your own admission you’re a…Think about it. Will you be innocent or guilty?” Them: “But I haven’t done those things in a long time.” You: “Imagine saying that in a court of law. ‘Judge, I know I am guilty but it has been years.’ He won’t ignore your crime. He will see that justice is served and will punish according to your crimes no matter how much time has elapsed. The courts punish war criminals from decades ago and God doesn’t forget sin no matter how long ago a person did it. Do you think you will be innocent or guilty?” Them: “But I’ve done more good than bad.” You: “Again, think about a court of law. IF you have broken the law, you are guilty. It doesn’t matter how many good deeds you’ve done when you are being tried for your crime. You have broken God’s Law. Will you be innocent or guilty?” Them: “But that’s man’s law. God is different.” You: “You’re right. God can never be bribed or fooled. And His standards are much higher than a human judge’s. He loves justice and has promised that He will punish not only murders and rapists, but also liars, thieves, adulterers, and blasphemers. You are in big trouble aren’t you?”
Often people become awakened (aware of their sin) but not alarmed. In other words, they understand they have broken God’s Law, but it seems that they just don’t care. Your goal is to see them alarmed, because they should be—they are in great danger. This line of reasoning can help:
“Let’s imagine that a computer chip had been placed behind your ear, and it records everything that runs through your mind for a whole week: every secret through, every deed, and every word that comes out of your mouth. Then all of your friends and family are called together and all of your thoughts are displayed on a big screen for them to see. How would that make you feel? Embarrassed? Ashamed? That is just what will happen when God requires you to give an account for everything you’ve said and done for your whole life. All of your secret thoughts will be laid before Him. You are in big trouble.”
It is wonderful to get a confession of guilt, but if the person simply won’t be honest and admit his guilt, at some point you may have to help him. Say, “If you would just be honest, you know you will be guilty before God. Besides, that is what the Bible says and if you claim to be innocent, you are calling God a liar (1 John 1:10).
D—Destiny: Will you go to heaven or hell?
Gently ask, “In light of what we’ve just talked about, do you think you’ll go to heaven or hell?” People won’t be offended because you are simply asking a question, rather than telling them where they’re going. Some will say, “Hell,” but most will say, “Heaven.” If they think they are going to heaven, you can use this analogy.
“Consider this. You are standing in a court of law, guilty of a serious crime. There is a $50,000 fine. The judge says, ‘You are guilty. Anything to say before I pass judgment?’ You answer, ‘Yes judge. I’m sorry for what I have done. Please forgive me.’ Can a good judge let you go simply because you are sorry, or that you say you won’t do it again? Of course not. There is a $50,000 fine that must be paid. However if someone pays the fine for you, can the judge let you go? Yes; once the fine has been paid, your debt to the law has been satisfied and the judge can set you free.
In the same way, each of us are guilty before God, and He will not let us go simply because we say we are sorry or we promise that we won’t do it again. Of course, we should be sorry, and we shouldn’t do it again. However, the fine for our crime must still be paid.”
If the person responds by saying that this is man’s justice, and that God’s ways are different, agree with him. Say that God’s justice is far harsher than man’s justice, that His standards are infinitely higher and that there are no loopholes in God’s justice.
Do not be afraid to tell people that if they die in their sins, the Bible makes it clear they will go to hell. Ask, “Does that concern you?”
If they say that it doesn’t concern them, or if you sense they are humbled and don’t recognize their need of God’s forgiveness, it’s very helpful to describe what hell is like until they show signs of concern. According to the Bible, hell is a place of eternal, conscious torment, where “the worm doesn’t die and the fire is not quenched”; there is “weeping and gnashing of teeth,” “everlasting punishment,” “shame and everlasting contempt,” and “eternal fire…the blackness of darkness forever.” Tell them that you don’t want them to go to hell. Plead with them (2 Corinthians 5:20). IF they do not seem concerned, it may be that they are just hiding it.
Don’t feel pressured to give the good news of the Gospel to a proud, self-righteous sinner who is not willing to admit his guilt before God (Mathew 7:6). Remember that Jesus didn’t give the Gospel to the rich young ruler because he needed the Law to humble him first. You will have to watch and listen carefully because humility is not always obvious.
If the person admits that it does concern him, only at that point should you go to the Gospel. If you are able to detect humility (the person is no longer justifying and defending himself), or if his responses indicate that he has been humbled, you now have the glorious pleasure of sharing the good news of the Gospel.
Sharing the Gospel
Here is a good way to begin sharing the Gospel: “God provided a way for you to be forgiven. The question is, how do you access this forgiveness?” Take the time to explain this thoroughly. “God loves you so much that He sent His only Son to take the penalty that your sins deserved so that you could be forgiven. It is this simple: you broke the Law and Jesus paid your fine on the cross. Then Jesus rose from the dead and defeated death. If you repent—turn away from sin—and place your trust in Jesus Christ as your Savior, God will forgive you and grant you everlasting life. He will change you from the inside out, and make you a new person in Christ.”
This is the time to magnify the love of God to the sinner. Now you have the green light—go for it. Don’t hold back. Explain the amazing length, width, depth and height of God’s love for the person as a sinner. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16 (NKJV) “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8 (NKJV) Help them to understand that God offers complete forgiveness of sin and the gift of eternal life freely to those who will surrender everything to Him through faith in Jesus Christ.
Ask if the individual understands what you have told him. If he is willing to confess and turn away from his sins and trust the Savior for his eternal salvation, have him pray and ask God to forgive him.
Should we pray the traditional sinner’s prayer with someone who we think is willing to turn from sins and receive Christ? Perhaps this will shed some light on the subject: If someone you know committed adultery, would you lead him back to his wife and say, “Repeat after me: ‘I am really sorry. I should not have slept with that woman.’”? More than likely you wouldn’t. If someone says he wants to pray right then and there, encourage him to do so. You might like to say, “You can pray right now. Confess your sins, turn from them and ask God to forgive you. Tell God you are placing your trust in Jesus as Lord and Savior of your life. Surrender your heart to Him. After you’ve prayed, I’ll pray for you.” If the person is completely lost on how to pray in the manner described above, then you can lead them in a prayer. However, it is best if they pray themselves from their hearts.
Then make sure the person has a Bible (get him one if necessary), and encourage him to read it daily and obey what he reads. If they don’t know where to start encourage them to start in the Gospel of John that was written so that people would believe that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of God and believing might have life in His name (John 20:31). Also encourage him to get into a Bible believing, Gospel preaching, Christ centered church.
If the person doesn’t ask you to pray with him, let him go on his way, but encourage him to think deeply about your conversation and to get his heart right with the Lord as soon as possible. You can then leave him in the hands of a faithful God, who will continue to speak to him through His Holy Spirit and bring genuine repentance in His time.
Answers to Common Arguments:
Being prepared with ready responses to some of the common arguments will help you feel more confident as you witness.
“I don’t believe in hell.”
If an individual claims not to believe in hell, gently respond, “That doesn’t matter. You still have to face God on Judgment day whether you believe in it or not. If I step onto the freeway when a massage truck is heading for me and I say, ‘I don’t believe in trucks,’ my lack of belief isn’t going to change reality.” Remember: The Bible isn’t true because we believe it. The Bible is true, so we believe it.
“I just hope God is forgiving.”
Someone who acknowledges his sins but is relying on God’s forgiveness could be referred to as “awakened, but not alarmed.” Explain that God is forgiven—but only to those who repent of their sins. Ask him, “If you died right now, where would you go?” If he says, “Hell,” ask if that concerns him. If it does concern him ask, “What are you going to do?” Then tell him that God commands him to repent and trust the Savior. If it doesn’t concern him, speak of the value of his soul (what shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world but lose his soul), the reality of eternal damnation, and the Biblical description of hell. Caution him that he doesn’t have the promise of tomorrow, and plead with him to come to his sense.
“You are trying to make me feel guilty by quoting the Ten Commandments.”
Ask the person which one of the Ten Commandments makes him feel guilty. “The Bible says…If you feel guilty when you hear that, why do you think that is? Could it be because you are guilty?” God gave us our conscience so we would know when we break His Law; the guilt we feel when we do something wrong tells us that we need to repent.
Encouraging quotes and verses to meditate on.
You can’t fail. Success in sharing the Gospel has nothing to do with leading someone to accept Jesus. Instead, it has everything to do with obedience. Even if you do not have the privilege of leading someone to Jesus, you have not failed because you were obedient ot share the Gospel.
“…The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground, and should sleep by night and rise by day, and the seed should sprout and grow, he himself does not know how. For the earth yields crops by itself: first the blade, then the head, after that the full grain in the head. But when the grain ripens, immediately he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.” Mark 4:26-29 (NKJV) Once the seeds of the Gospel have been planted, they will continue to grow and eventually bear fruit.
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.” Romans 1:16 (NKJV) The Gospel, not you, is the power of God that brings salvation.
“For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12 (NKJV) The Word of God has great power to bring conviction and show the person their need for Christ.
“And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they do not believe in Me; of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.” John 16:8-11 (NKJV) The Holy Spirit WILL take God’s Word and bring conviction where conviction is needed.
Helpful Verses to Use When Witnessing
Exodus 20:1-17 (the Ten Commandments)
Psalm 51 (as an example of a prayer of repentance)
Isaiah 53:5, 6
Matthew 5:27, 28, Matthew 12:36
Luke 13:3, Luke 16:15
John 3:16-18, 36, John 14:21
Acts 4:12, Acts 17: 30, 31
Romans 2:5, 6
1 Corinthians 6:9, 10
1 John 1:8-10