Monday, May 17, 2010

01 You Can Witness Effectively to Individuals

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Have you ever known the joy of witnessing to a friend about Christ and seeing that person's life transformed by the power of God? If so, you know that this is one of the greatest thrills that can come to a Christian. A man who all his adult lifetime gave himself to witnessing to individuals said, "Even if I were utterly selfish and had no care for anything but my own happiness, I would choose, if I might, under God, to be a soul winner." Real happiness comes to the person who witnesses to another about the Lord Jesus and sees that one pass from death to life.

What a privilege it is to see light come into a life to replace darkness, to see a soul freed from the bondage of Satan and come into the liberty that is in the Lord Jesus Christ! Did you ever have this privilege of pointing someone to the Saviour and seeing that one respond to the work of the Spirit of God? Have you also had the added pleasure of watching that person grow in the Lord and begin to witness to other individuals?


We can all know that joy and have that privilege. God intended that we should. We can witness effectively to individuals, for the Lord Jesus promised that He would make us fishers of men. One day when the Lord was walking by the Sea of Galilee He saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. He said to them, "Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men" (Matt. 4:19). The Lord Jesus commands us to follow Him, and promises that when we do, He will make us fishers of men. What He has promised, that He will perform.

We may not be like Peter who preached one day and three thousand were added to the church. We can be like Andrew, however, who after he had been brought to the Saviour, found his brother, Peter, and brought him to the Lord Jesus. Peter fished with a net, so to speak, and caught large numbers. Andrew fished with a pole and a line, catching one fish at a time. We may not be called upon to preach to great multitudes or even to groups, yet we can witness effectively to individuals one by one - the pole and line method. What a privilege that can be! We, like Andrew, might lead someone to the Lord, and that one, in turn, might lead thousands.

A shoe salesman named Edward Kimball led a young man to Christ years ago. Kimball is practically unknown today, but most of us know about the young man he led to Christ in the shoe store - D. L. Moody, who later became a great evangelist. It is well to remember that seven of the twelve apostles were won through personal work.

The Lord Jesus did not command us to be fishers of men, however. He commanded us to follow Him; and then He promised, as a result of our response, to make us fishers of men. As someone once said, "Responsibility - the response to come from us, and the ability will come from Him."

We can witness effectively for Christ to other individuals, to our friends, neighbors, and acquaintances because He has promised to make each of us a fisher of men.


The Lord Jesus, though He taught large groups, is also our example in personal witnessing. As we read the account of His life in the Gospels, we find that nineteen different times He taught just one person. Take, for example, the woman at the well. The incident is recorded in John chapter four. At noon He sat on the edge of the well, and a woman who had five husbands came to draw water. The narrative tells how He led her step by step to faith in himself, and then how she in turn brought the villagers to hear Him so that they, too, might believe in Him.

Another day He came into a town, looked up into a tree, saw Zacchaeus, a tax gatherer, and said, "Come down, Zacchaeus, for today salvation is come to thy house."

At another time a religious leader, Nicodemus by name, came to the Lord Jesus by night, and the Lord dealt with him personally. So we have both the promise of the promise of the Lord Jesus that He will make us effective witnesses to individuals, and the example of how to do it.


To witness to the saving grace of Christ, is the greatest work that God permits men to do. The Lord Jesus said of Himself, "The Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost" (Luke 19:10). He does all the saving, and most of the seeking; but the latter He wants to do through us. Being a fisher of men, therefore, is one of the greatest privileges that we can have. It not only is the greatest work that God permits us to do - to co-labor with Him in seeking the souls of men - it is also the hardest. Satan will bitterly oppose something so effective as personal witnessing.

Do not we, who call ourselves ordinary lay Christians, make a mistake when we feel that this work of evangelism is to be done by a select few, such as Bible school or seminary students or missionaries or pastors? Such a view is wrong because the Bible indicates that every saved person is to be a soldier; every child of God is to be a witness for the Lord Jesus - that includes you and me.


We may not be talented. We may lack experience. Perhaps we are afraid; but remember that witnessing for Christ either to groups or to individuals is like anything else - it is an art to be learned, and it requires certain things.

First, it takes personal preparation. We need to be prepared to have something to say, and to know what to say, and to have boldness with which to say it. A heart of love and a Christ-like life to back it up are essentials. Furthermore, we need a knowledge of how to approach a person who is seemingly uninterested or even hostile to the things of God.

In addition to all of that, we need to know how to tell the gospel story simply and forcefully, and how to care for the one whom we have led to the Lord.

The purpose of these messages is to help Christians to prepare for, and actually do, personal witnessing. The subject matter given and the suggestions made are the outgrowth of six years of experience in helping believers all over the country. For the last six years it has been my privilege, as a member of the Billy Graham team, to train counselors in various parts of this country, in Canada, and in the British Isles.

During these years I have given considerable thought to this question: If I were to take an average group of Christians and had only two things to teach them in order to make them the most effective personal workers for Christ in the least amount of time, what would those two things be? I believe that I know what they are, and among other things, they constitute a large part of the information contained in this series of messages on personal witnessing.

Even though you are totally inexperienced, if you will follow these lessons and do the homework assigned for each, you will find yourself better equipped, and more encouraged and confident to engage in witnessing for Christ to individuals with whom God brings you in contact.


The first question I would like to ask you is, Are you following the Lord Jesus in the sense of Matthew 4:19, "Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men"? It is obvious we cannot follow Him if we have not first met Him as our Saviour. Do we know Him in this way? Can you join the apostle Paul in saying, "I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day"? Do we have a rock-ribbed assurance and certainty of our life in Jesus Christ?

I grew up in Sunday school and church, but somehow or other the gospel did not mean much to me. I did not actually question the Bible nor did I disbelieve in the Lord Jesus Christ, but at that time I did not receive Him as my Saviour.

Later, when I was a freshman in college, I walked into the back of a little church one Sunday night. The message I heard left an indelible impression upon my mind. I saw that I not only needed to know the facts about the Lord Jesus - how He died on the cross to take my sins away, but that I must receive Him as my own personal Saviour.

At first I thought, "Well, I'm a Christian. I was born in America. I've tried to live a good life." As the weeks and the months went by I became less sure of my position. One night I lay awake in my bed thinking seriously about the matter. I said to myself: "I'm not sure I'm a Christian. If I died I don't know where I would go." After a while I decided to make certain, and slipped out of bed, got on my knees, and asked Jesus Christ to come into my heart. It was a definite act of faith on my part. There was no emotional upheaval. That night I became a new creature in Christ. Life has been a day by day joyous experience ever since.

Do you know Him as your Saviour? If not, ask Him to come in and take over your heart and life, and He will, because He has promised.

The next thing is, if we are going to be effective in personal witnessing, we must have a working knowledge of the Scriptures. Personal witnessing is a hand-to-hand spiritual conflict; therefore, we must use spiritual weapons.


(Note: These assignments and questions are added as guides to your private study and review.)

1. Study carefully "Beginning With Christ"

2. List as many reasons as you can why you should do personal witnessing.

3. Why is personal witnessing likely to be difficult?

4. What assurances do you have that God will help you in individual witnessing?

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