1. THERE ONCE WAS A YOUNG MAN WHO SUPPOSEDLY GOT SAVED. He was a lumber-jack, he worked chopping down trees in the big forests. Now these men are notoriously tough, strong, hard men, & the pastor who led him to Christ warned him‚ "When you go back to the lumber camp, it's going to be very difficult for you when they find out you're a Christian, because most of them are bad, wicked men & they don't like Christians!—You'll no longer be the same as you were before‚ cursing God, speaking foul language & doing evil things.—You're going to be so different they're going to persecute you!"
2. Well, a few months later, he came back & met the pastor on the street‚ & the pastor said, "Joe, how did it go?"—"Oh‚ fine, just fine, Pastor," he answered. "Well, I told you it was going to be hard, didn't I?" the Pastor asked. "No, no, it wasn't hard." "You mean, they didn't persecute you or make it hard for you?" He said, "No, Pastor‚ they never even found out!" Well, that's not a Christian! That's not a witness for God! That's not a child of God!
3. If you have the love of Jesus you CANNOT hide it! A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid, & if men have a candlestick, they don't put it under the table, they put it on the table that it may give light to the whole house! (Mt.5:14,15) If you have this Light, you cannot hide it—it's impossible! We have to tell others about Him! If you believe it, if you have Him in your heart, if you have His Love, you'll show it, you'll tell others & you'll share it with them! This is what faith is all about!—Standing up & witnessing for Jesus & the Truth!
4. THE BIBLE SAYS, "HE THAT WINNETH SOULS IS WISE." (Pr.11:30)—It takes a lot of wisdom & a lot of love. So here are a few very valuable, important witnessing pointers to remember!—I used to call them the Four Steps of Witnessing.—Not the steps of Salvation, but the steps of witnessing!
5. Number One:—ASK QUESTIONS. In other words, show you're interested in them & dig out their background. If you understand them better‚ you're much better able to witness to them & know what they need the most.—How are you going to find out who the guy is, what he is, what he does‚ what his religion is, or anything about him at all unless you ask questions?
6. Step Two is to LISTEN TO THE ANSWERS—even if it takes them an hour or all night to tell it! There's one subject almost everybody likes to talk about—themselves! They'll pour out their troubles & their life history & maybe that's one of the best things in the World you could do for them. Maybe they just need somebody to talk to, somebody to unburden to.
7. But a lot of witnesses talk too much, quote too much Scripture & all that without listening. Well, that's not showing much real genuine personal concern for the individual if you're not willing to take time to listen to his story & to his troubles & his problems & advise & counsel him as you go along. Then, of course, as you're listening, sometimes you have a chance to interject the next point:
8. Number Three, GIVE GOD'S ANSWERS!—Give them God's answers to their problems. The main one of which, of course, is accepting the Lord. So after you listen to their answers, say, "Yes, but you know the Bible says so & so."—"Well, Jesus said that what you need to do is so-&-so, to be born again", & so on.
9. You sort of circle around looking for their weak spot. Did you ever watch boxers box? They'll dance around each other trying to find the weak spot & then barrel in. Well‚ in a way you're fighting a spiritual battle & you're trying to find out where their need is, where their weak spot it, the real soft spot in their heart.—How can you really touch them & reach them?—Not to hit them or hurt them, but to pour on the balm of love & the oil of the Spirit to heal them!
10. And the fourth point is to GET A DECISION! You can't always lead them to the Lord, but you try, & you can always get a decision—either a yes or a no or a maybe or later, which is as good as no! That final time comes in witnessing when you have to risk offending them & maybe even losing them, or hooking them, one or the other! But they have to come to the point of decision.
11. One of the simplest ways is to say, "I'm happy because I have Jesus in my heart!—Do you have Jesus in your heart? If you did, you'd be happy too!"—A simple little formula. And if they haven't, why then say, "Well‚ you can have Him right now if you want Him. Just ask Him to come in!—He promised He would!"
12. Show them the Scriptures‚ have them pray with you, & it's done! Then you have to believe the Bible that it happened, whether you see any signs of it or not. I've seen all kinds of different reactions, from an absolute explosion in the Spirit where they even got baptised with the Holy Spirit—to a completely cool, cold sort of intellectual mental acceptance where I couldn't tell whether they really had gotten anything or not, so I just had to trust the Lord.
13. How do you know whether they got the real thing or not?—By how loud they shout "hallelujah"?—How high they jump?—How loud they speak in tongues? How do you know? How did Jesus say you'd know?—"By their fruits ye shall know them." (Mt.7:20) What effect does it have in their lives? If they've really received Jesus‚ somehow they're going to change, they're going to eventually show some change, some fruit, some effect of some kind.
14. WHEN YOU'RE DEALING WITH A SOUL‚ YOU SHOULD TRY TO DEAL AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE IN POINTS OF AGREEMENT. Don't dwell on your disagreements, on things that you know they're going to disagree with. You've got to win the person over to yourself first, really, before you can win their heart, before they're going to believe what you've got to say about Jesus & the Bible & getting saved. So don't start off hitting them between the eyes with something you know they don't believe & wouldn't agree with!
15. Try to stay away from controversial issues, & don't get to arguing unless they insist on it. Jesus never argued with His enemies unless they just forced Him to give an answer, then He'd sock it to them. Some argumentative types argue because they are skeptical, unbelieving & they just want to cause you trouble & waste time. But some sincere seekers will argue with you because they really want the answers, they want to be convinced‚ they really want you to convince them!
16. And always remember, your own PERSONAL TESTIMONY is just about the most effective thing you have! Because then they've either got to say, "You're a liar & I don't believe you!", or, "It must be true‚ because you say so." The Apostle Paul was a great witness, & almost every single time that he started his witness before kings & judges or whoever it was, he invariably started with his own personal testimony: "This is what happened to me!"
17. Sometimes people will not listen to anything else.—They may refuse to listen to all your preaching.—You could even prophesy & they wouldn't listen! You could do all the rhetorical, erudite teaching that you think they might need & they'll still never listen!—But when you start telling them your life story‚ "This is the way it happened to me & this is my testimony, this is my personal experience", instantly you have their attention, they're fascinated!—People are interested in people! Everybody loves a story, & life stories are a much more effective witness than getting into theological arguments & preaching sermons on doctrine.
18. Then they have got to either believe your testimony‚ that it's the truth, or that you're a down-right liar! And nine times out of ten, if you say it with sincerity in the power of the Holy Spirit in real earnestness & honesty‚ they will believe it, that you're telling the truth!—They will believe your testimony! That's one thing they cannot deny!
19. And the moment they confess that it's possible for it to happen to YOU, then they have to confess that it's possible for it to happen to OTHERS! If it's happened once, it's most likely to happen again, & it can happen to them! Once they admit the possibility, there's a spark of faith, a mustard seed of faith that has begun. And therefore there's a definite possibility for them to have faith themselves. If they can believe in you, they can believe in God. That's why I say in witnessing that you have to sell them on yourself first. If we win them to ourselves & our own happiness & our way of life first, then they'll want what we've got & what makes us that way.
20. THE COWBOYS IN THE U.S. HAVE AN OLD SAYING: "YOU CAN LEAD A HORSE TO WATER‚ BUT YOU CAN'T MAKE HIM DRINK!" Well, that's true of people too. You can lead them to the Truth, in love, but you can't make them drink it! If they don't want it, you can't drink it for them. So to make the decision to receive the Truth is their job, not yours. You can win their heart, but only the Spirit of God can really win their soul, their spirit.
21. Our job is to WITNESS & to show them the WORD! When you show them Revelation 3:20 & they see that He's promised to come in if you ask Him to come in, God by His Spirit can quicken their faith to believe it so that He will come in, because the Word is the foundation of faith. You just have to give them the Word! (Ro.10:17)
22. That's why I am so sold on the WORD & so convinced that the WORD is powerful enough to do the job! I really believe the Word will do the work. It's the Wonder Working Word & I have faith in the Word‚ that "His Word will not return unto Him void, it shall accomplish the purpose whereunto it's sent". (Isa.55:11)
23. And once you've given them the Word, your job is done, there's no use arguing about it any further. They can then choose to go to Heaven or to Hell, whatever they want to choose. So don't try to keep cramming the Gospel down people's throats. If they don't want Jesus, lay off'm!
24. You're offering them a marvellous opportunity‚ a marvellous privilege, a marvellous gift, the greatest in the World: Free salvation, eternal life! If I were offering you a million dollars‚ I wouldn't be begging you to take it! I'd say, "Here, do you want a million dollars? You can have it if you want it. Just reach out & take it.—You don't want it? Go to Hell then!" Well‚ be nice about it, but we're not going to shove it or force it on anybody!
25. Just give them the answers in the Scriptures, & if they don't accept the Word, they won't accept anything! Jesus said that if they won't accept Moses & the prophets, (the Word) then they still wouldn't believe you even if you raised somebody from the dead! In other words‚ they don't want to believe it. (Lk.16:31)
26. ONCE YOU KNOW THEY'VE HEARD THE TRUTH, YOU DON'T HAVE TO TRY TO KEEP CONVINCING THEM!—That's the mistake so many Christians make, they think they've got to convince the person. But the Holy Spirit is the only One Who can convince anybody, the only One who can persuade anybody or win anybody, & if they won't accept the Word & the tug of the Holy Spirit at their heart with the Truth, they're not going to listen to you even if you rant & rave all night long!
27. So don't try to shove it down their throats! I don't mean you shouldn't be persistent‚ I don't mean you shouldn't keep praying & dealing with'm & do what you can, but try to have a little common sense! Don't try to force it on people. Forget about trying to convince people who don't want to be convinced!
28. And when giving the Word to someone, remember, it's better to have a FEW good salvation verses that you know VERY well, than a whole bunch of verses that you forget or you don't remember where they are or you can't quote correctly. In fact, it's better to harp on one verse, just one verse! I remember a fellow who had been a Catholic priest, he was in the hospital & this little old lady came by & quoted him the verses Ephesians 2:8 & 9. And she just kept talking to him & quoting those same verses over & over to him, "For by grace are ye saved" & so on. He said it just burned itself into his mind until he couldn't get rid of it! And it finally woke him up to the fact that he didn't have to work his way to Heaven!—And as a result, he was finally saved & began preaching the Gospel! PTL!
29. The Word of God ALWAYS has an effect & is "quick & powerful & sharper than any two-edged sword!" (Heb.4:12) No one can hear the Word of God without being influenced‚ affected in some way. And the most effective way to get it across is not just to quote it to them, not just to read it to them‚ but to let them read it themselves. You remember about 80% of what you see, but only about 40% of what you hear—which means reading it is twice as effective! Besides that, it takes you out of the way as a target for their objection & then they're going to have to argue with God‚ because they're reading it right straight from His Word‚ the Bible.
30. BUT NO MATTER HOW EFFECTIVE A WITNESS YOU ARE, THE FRUITS ARE IN THE HANDS OF THE LORD & THE RESPONSE IS UP TO THE INDIVIDUAL. We have no control over that, we can't force people to have a good receptive response. You can't force results!—It's God Who gives the increase. It says that one sows, another waters, but it's God that gives the increase! (1Co.3:6)
31. And if, after all your witnessing, they still claim that they don't believe in God or the Bible‚ if they have any sense of fairness at all, you can suggest to them‚ "Why don't you say, `God‚ if there is a God out there somewhere, show me, reveal Yourself!'"—Even if they don't believe the Bible or anything, if they really want to know, God's Word says if they seek Him they'll find Him! He says, "He that hungereth & thirsteth after righteousness shall be filled." (Mt.5:6)
32. I've tried this in witnessing many times & I believe it can help some people! That's one of the best ways in the World to witness to Jews. It's that old formula: Try it, you'll like it! It's the $64 question & they've either got to try it or they're not really giving it a fair chance! I've said, "All right, now what have you got to lose? You don't have to buy it. Just go home tonight & kneel down beside your bed or lie down in your bed or whatever you're going to do & just say‚ `God, God of Abraham, Isaac & Jacob, if Jesus is the Messiah, show me! Show me'!" The Jews require a sign (ICor.1:22), & many times I've known God to do some miraculous, specific, supernatural things to convince them!
33. So you still have to leave most of the results up to the Lord. We can't force them to receive it, we can only try to prepare the ground, soften it with our tears & our prayers & sow the Seed, but it's up to God to cause it to take root.—In a way it's up to the ground to receive it, & God to make it root & grow & produce fruit. PTL!
34. JESUS SAID, "I CAME NOT TO SAVE THE RIGHTEOUS‚ WHO CLAIM TO BE SO GOOD‚ WHO CLAIM TO BE SO BEAUTIFUL, SO CHURCHY, WHEN REALLY THEY'RE ROTTEN INSIDE." (Mt.9:11-13) He said, "I am come to save such as she." (A prostitute.) (David cries.) "I came to give the kisses of My love unto these. I came to preach the Gospel to the poor, to heal the sick, to mend the broken–hearted, & to set the prisoners free!" (Lk.4:18) PYL! TYJ!
35. Help us‚ Lord, just to try to find the little lost sheep, the hungry ones, Lord, those who are looking for help, in Jesus' name. Help our kids to find the right ones who will receive & respond, who are hungry & needy‚ & whom we can help.—Not the full ones that You send empty away, not the self-righteous ones who have no need of a physician, but the hungry & the empty & the sinners who know they need help & are thankful for it!
36. Help us to do our best with them & not fail them in any way, so that we will have delivered our souls & their blood will not be on our hands & we will not have failed Thee‚ Lord, nor them.—So that You can say, "Well done, thou good & faithful servant, enter thou into the joy of thy Lord!" Thank You for the joy You give us everyday, Lord!—We've already entered into it in many ways & have been rewarded. Even the witnessing in itself, Lord, is a form of reward & a blessing & encouragement & it inspires our own hearts as we see You work, & we count it a privilege, Lord, that You've called us to be ambassadors for Thee! It's an honour‚ a high honour, Lord, & we thank You for it! TYJ! PTL! Amen? Happy Witnessing!