Monday, July 12, 2010

09 The Approach

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We need to know how to approach persons with the gospel. Some may wonder why we have not covered this ground in an earlier lesson. The reason is that we must be prepared. The first eight lessons, when followed, provide that preliminary training.

Adequate preparation in an absolute necessity here. Many have tried to witness for Christ without it and have become discouraged. They did not know how to answer people. Unfamiliar with the Scriptures, and lacking the undergirding which a consistent time of fellowship with the Lord produces, they did not prepare the way ahead by prayer. Others have tried with no fruit to show for their efforts. Fruit in the Christian life is the result of first taking root. The Scripture says, "And the remnant that is escaped of the house of Judah shall again take root downward, and bear fruit upward" (Isa. 37:31). If we are to bear fruit in our lives by way of witnessing to others of Christ and winning them to Him, we must first take root.

How do we take root? One way is by getting into the Word of God and acquiring a working knowledge of it. That is one reason why we have emphasized in the various lessons the importance of committing Scripture verses to memory. Those of you who have faithfully fulfilled all the lesson assignments up to this point will have memorized the four verses in the chapter "Beginning With Christ," and most of the verses in the next chapter "Going on With Christ." You will also have set aside a definite time each day for devotional meditation in the Bible and for prayer. In this way fellowship with Christ will be cultivated.

Another fact that we have tried to emphasize is that we must realize our own helplessness and inadequacy. We need to learn to depend entirely on the Holy Spirit. We should not feel adequate in ourselves for as soon as we do, we will stop resting and trusting in the Lord. We will never feel like we know enough. Many servants of God with much experience back of them tell us that they do not know enough. It is because they have relied upon the Holy Spirit that they have been greatly used.


Even if you are new at this, if you know Christ and have been diligent in studying these lessons you know enough to begin. You have laid the groundwork by way of preparation in your own life. You have prayed definitely and specifically for an individual to whom you might witness, and you have sought to make opportunities whereby you might approach that person. So we suggest that you get going.

We can talk about personal witnessing, we can hear lectures on it, read books on it, listen to challenges on it, and make all needed preparation, but the fact remains that in order to approach someone we must get going.

Go where people are. In the great commission our Lord Jesus said, "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature" (Mark 16:15). We are not to sit and wait for people to come to us. We are to go to them. Exodus 4:12 is a good verse for a personal witness to take. The Lord said to Moses, "Now therefore go, and I will be with thy mouth, and teach thee what thou shalt say." We must get going to reach people where they are.

For instance, in the first chapter of John we read how Andrew came to know the Lord (vv. 35-40). Immediately following that event it is said of Andrew, "He first findeth his own brother Simon" (vs. 41). He found him. That means he went and looked for him, and brought him to Jesus. The next person reached was Philip. "The day following Jesus would go forth into Galilee, and findeth Philip" (vs. 43). That could only be done by Jesus going where he was. Following that "Philip findeth Nathanael" (vs. 45). He sought him out and brought him to Jesus.

The first essential in an approach to an individual in witnessing is that we get going. That may mean that we will have to forego some Christian fellowship. It is more enjoyable to spend an hour with a Christian friend with whom we have common interests than it is to go and spend some time with someone who does not know the Lord. Remember, however, the Lord Jesus said, "They that are whole need not a physician; but they that are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance" (Luke 5:31,32). So we must be on the lookout for opportunities to witness.

A few years ago when I was with the Graham team in the Seattle Crusade, a business man came forward in one of the services and received Christ as his Saviour. The following Sunday night he went to a church in the city and after the service he walked up to one of the leading elders in the church and said to him, "Did you hear that I received Christ as my Saviour one night last week out at the ball park in one of the meetings?"

The elder answered, "Yes, I hear that you did, and I was certainly delighted to hear it."

The man said to the elder, "Tell me, how long have you and I been associated together in business?"

The elder thought for a moment. "Twenty-three years I believe."

The other went on to say, "Have you known Christ as Saviour all of twenty-three years?"

"Yes," was the reply, "I have."

"You know," said the new Christian, "I have admired you very much, but I don't remember you ever talking to me about the Lord Jesus Christ." The elder hung his head as the man continued, "I admired you so much that I felt that if a man could be as fine a man as you and not be a Christian, than I didn't need to be a Christian either."

You see, this dear man had manifested a good life to his business associate, but he had not gone to tell him of the Lord Jesus Christ who made it possible for him to live that kind of life.

If we are going to be successful witnesses for Christ we must get going. We must get out where the people are who need our help. In other words, if we are going to go fishing, we must go where the fish are.


What are we to do when we meet the person that we are going to help? The first thing we must not do is to think about ourselves. That is the wrong way top begin. The focus of our attention should be on the person whom we are seeking to win. In this matter of personal witnessing there are two people for us to know. We are to know the Lord Jesus Christ, and the person to whom we would make Christ known. So we need to study the person we are trying to help in order to find an opening of some kind to courteously, politely, yet definitely speak to him about his relationship to the Lord Jesus.

Remember this, we do not have to know all the answers. We may fear a little lest those with whom we deal ask us some question that we cannot answer. If they do, we should admit frankly that we do not know the answer to that question. We can add, however, "This I do know. I know what the Lord Jesus Christ has done for me. I know what He means to me." In that way we can keep on the subject of what we do know.


We must study the persons we are seeking to help in order to win their confidence. A good way to do this, in fact, I believe it is a "must" in successful personal witnessing, is to try to discover what legitimate interests has so that we might show an interest in what he is interested in.

I read the other day that at one time D. L. Moody played tennis all afternoon with a young man. He had expected to be "button-holed" by Mr. Moody, but the evangelist threw him off balance and won his confidence by playing tennis with him. Later on Mr. Moody was able to speak to him about the Lord Jesus Christ. We will discover that everybody has some legitimate interest in which we too can show a genuine interest. This is very important if we are to be successful fishers of men.

Another kind of bait that can be used in this matter of witnessing is honest and sincere commendation. We must be sure to avoid flattery, however, because anyone can tell the difference between it and true appreciation. We can find something to commend in almost anyone.

I remember one day I walked into a hotel and noticed that the bellboy had a very distinguished looking mustache. It was a very thin mustache and I was amazed that he could trim it without shaving it off. A day or two later I stepped up to him and said, "Will you pardon me, but you have a mustache that is about as distinguished looking as any I have ever seen." His face lighted up like a Christmas tree, and from there on it was a very simple matter to strike up a conversation with him about his relationship to the Lord Jesus Christ.

Some kind of bait then, is needed. It may be the other person's interests, some honest and sincere commendation, or as is mentioned in the previous lesson, some thoughtful service and courtesy.

Have you ever asked the Lord to give you some idea for a service that you could perform for a friend, not with the idea that he will be indebted to you, but simply to show your interest and love for him? If you are earnest and sincere, the Lord will show you something that you can do to win that person's confidence, and thus win a hearing for the message that you wish to bring.

A wonderful way to win another's confidence is just by the power of a simple testimony as to what the Lord Jesus means to us. In Psalm 107:2 it says, "Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom he hath redeemed from the hand of the enemy." As has already been said, we do not need to know all the answers. We can be like the man in John 9 who had been healed of his blindness by the Lord Jesus, and was asked by the Pharisees whether or not Jesus was a sinner. The man answered, "Whether he be a sinner or no, I know not. One thing I know, whereas I was blind, now I see" (John 9:25). We can say to someone who asks us a question which stumps us: "Well, I don't know the answer to that question, but I know one thing, and that is Jesus Christ has changed my life." The power of that simple testimony will win confidence and a hearing for the wonderful, blessed message that we wish to bring.


1. Memorize II Corinthians 9:7 and Psalm 107:2

2. Write out in brief your own testimony so that you could give it in five minutes.

3. What two persons must we know in order to witness effectively?

4. What thoughtful services or courtesies might you render to some non-Christian friend of yours?

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