Witnessing, Principles of

Acts 1:8, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”

Mark 16:15, “And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.”

Every believer is in fulltime Christian service for our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. A main part of that service is personal evangelism of the unbelievers of this lost and dying world, which we also call witnessing.  Our Lord has commissioned each and every believer to witness for Him. In this we have two main ways to witness, through our everyday lives in how we conduct ourselves in the presence of others as believers, and with our lips by telling the unbeliever of the “good news” of Jesus Christ.

The analogy to witnessing is given to us in Matthew 4:19 where our Lord Jesus Christ said to His disciples, “Follow Me and I will make you fishers of men.” In this analogy we have several simple principles in order to be effective in witnessing.

* You must have a desire to fish. You must be motivated spiritually. Consistency in learning God’s Word determines both your motivation and effectiveness.

* You must be equipped to fish. You must know the true gospel. (There are many false gospels in the world today. You must know the true one which is “faith alone in Christ alone”, Ephesians 2:8-9.)

* You must go where the fish are located. Staying in your ivory tower will not cut it. Even though we are not of this world we are in the world and need to go out amongst those of this world to reach them with the gospel of Christ.

* You must use the right bait (God’s Word / Bible doctrines) and be flexible. Don’t create fables and myths; the Bible has all you need in order to reach the lost.

* Fishermen stay out of sight. You never make an issue of yourself.

* You must be patient. Present the gospel and if you get negative signals, get out of there and come back at a more opportune time. Leave it in the hands of the Holy Spirit. Mat 10:14, “Whoever does not receive you, nor heed your words, as you go out of that house or that city, shake the dust off your feet.”

Remember that no unbeliever accepts the Bible as the Word of God. No one believes the Bible is the Word of God until after he is saved. Therefore, in witnessing for Christ, the believer need only to make the issue clear, and the issue is always the person of Christ, not sin and not trying to add something to faith for salvation, like works. So just cast the pole towards the unbeliever (tell them of the good news) and let the Holy Spirit make the issue real to them. “The gospel is the power of God with reference to salvation”, 1 Corinthians 1:18; Hebrews 4:12; Ephesians 6:17.

Salvation is by faith alone in Christ alone, (John 3:16; Ephesians 2:8-9), and has nothing to do with giving up something or trying to make others over into the kind of person you want them to be. In witnessing, people often want the unbeliever to change their habits, their personality or something else as a part of the gospel, but this has nothing to do with the gospel.

Pitfalls to Avoid in Witnessing.
There are several common mistakes to avoid when witnessing to the unbeliever.

*    Avoid argumentation. You are to give information, not argue over its validity. You are not trying to win a debate.

*    Do not be sidetracked by false issues such as; evolution, is the Bible the Word of God, or what about the people who have never heard the gospel? These will just cloud the issue and the message. Once we are saved we have the capability to understand these things but not before.

*    Deal with the individual alone wherever possible. Witnessing in front of others creates false issues by producing embarrassment, loss of prestige, or heckling.

*    Avoid getting in a rut by always using the same approach. Flexibility comes with maturity. No two people are alike and often must be approached differently.

*    Avoid the false concept of having to witness to a certain number of people each day, or that an evangelist must have a large audience or he is not spiritual.

*    Also you do not have to be on a par level with the person you are witnessing to socially, economically, racially, academically, etc. Human I.Q. is not an issue in witnessing.

*    Cognizance of the unbeliever’s religion, philosophy, culture, hang-ups, or prejudice is not necessary for witnessing. You simply have to understand the gospel.

*    Your motivation must come from Bible doctrine in the soul, not spiritual bullying, human pressure, or approbation lust.

*    Avoid bragging about your experiences in witnessing, you are only doing your job just as every other believer. All the glory goes to God.

*    Do not judge other believers if you feel they are failing to witness. Apply the privacy of the priesthood.

Common Sense Issues in Witnessing.
Many believers lack in common sense regarding witnessing because they lack the Word of God in their soul. Some of the common sense principles in witnessing are as follows.

*     You should always stay with the subject of the gospel when witnessing. It is easy to get off the subject of the gospel because of all the questions the unbeliever will ask that are not a part of the subject.

*     Do not try to get an unbeliever to live the Christian life or meet the standards of the Plan of God before he or she is born again. Do not try to superimpose Christian standards on unbelievers. Do not try to get unbelievers to give up something. Do not make an issue of the Christian way of life or commitment or Lordship or baptism or joining a church or giving money. Never put the cart before the horse.

*     Provide doctrinal facts so that the unbeliever can make a decision. Provide information about the work of Christ; make it simple; make it in your own language in your own way.

*     Make the issue clear. Changing your life and stop sinning is not the issue. The issue is, believing in Jesus Christ.

*     Therefore, do not add to the gospel. Nothing is accomplished toward salvation by persuading the believer to give up his sins, to improve his personality, to feel sorry for his sins, to join the church, to give money.

*     Do not try to force a decision for faith in Christ; this is the ministry of God the Holy Spirit.

*     Remember Divine Institution number one is freedom of volition. This includes the right of privacy in making a decision for Christ. It is not necessary to make a public decision. Always make evangelism a private issue between God and the individual.

*     Provide gospel information but leave the results in the hands of God the Holy Spirit. The gospel must persuade the spiritually dead person to believe in Christ, nothing else. The persuasion must come from the content of the gospel; it does not come from salesmanship, begging, or emotional coercion.

*     Human popularity, attractiveness, or rapport will not bring the unbeliever to Christ.

Finally, you have two areas of responsibility in witnessing for Christ, with your life (how you conduct yourself everyday), and with your lips (speaking the gospel of Christ), 2 Corinthians 3:3; 5:14‑21, 6:3. Never be ashamed to witness for Christ, Romans 1:16, “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for salvation for everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the gentile. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “But the righteous man shall live by faith”.”

In addition, you must have the mental attitude of readiness to witness for Christ. You should be ready at any time in a conversation to present the gospel to anyone, Romans 1:15, “Thus, for my part, I am ready to proclaim the gospel to you.”

Matthew 28:19, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.”