Sunday, 29 November -0001 18:42

Personal Witnessing

Written by Rev. G. Procee
A most important Scriptural calling is to be a living witness of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord calls us to actively witness to His salvation. Yet this is something that many find difficult to do. Some wonder when to speak and when to be quiet. Wisdom is needed as well as boldness. One also needs appropriate words and grace to speak to our neighbours. A hindrance is that often our neighbour is not interested in the Lord and His kingdom.

Witnessing is a Scriptural Given
God calls us to be a living witness of Him: We find this repeated many times in Scripture: Ye are the salt of the earth (Mt. 5:13); Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid (v.14); And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men (Mt.4: 19); Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven (Mt.10: 32); That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved (Rom.10: 9). To the healed demoniac in Mark 5:19 the Lord Jesus says: Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee. We can also refer to Matthew 28:19,20; Acts 1:8; Hebrews 12:1,2.

In Acts 8:4 we read that the Christians were scattered abroad and went everywhere preaching the word. The result was that God's Word spread quickly. This happened by personal witnessing. It is a natural thing to testify of the love of Christ when it has been experienced. In John 9 the blind born man who was healed confessed freely of the power of Christ.

Qualifications for Witnessing
The word "witness" is a legal term and is taken from court procedures. A witness is someone who in a law trial possesses certain evidence, which he is called upon to relate. A good witness is one who:

1. Offers facts, is acquainted with facts and does not just repeat "hearsay" evidence;

2. Knows by experience of what he testifies;

3. Is of good repute; he must be of good character for his testimony to bear weight;

4. He must tell the truth and nothing but the truth;

5. He must be simple, forthright and sincere in his testimony. The more clear and sincere, the more impressive his testimony.

These are also the qualifications for Christian witnesses. A witness of the Lord Jesus must be truthful, upright and motivated by love for God and his neighbour. E. Reisinger states that personal witnessing must be done:

1. By a right rule - the Word of God;

2. With a right end in view - the glory of God;

3. With a right motive - love to God and love to man.

C. H. Spurgeon, in his book, The Soul Winner, lists some personal characteristics of those who testify to others:

1. The soul winner must have holiness of character and be dedicated to God. No wise man puts precious wine into dirty bottles. The Lord places His treasure in those who have been made holy, dedicated to the Lord by the Holy Spirit. They personally exemplify the love and the comfort of Christ. A life of communion with God impresses others and strengthens their personal testimony greatly.

2. The witness should possess spiritual life. Elisha could not raise the dead son of the Shunammite with his rod, but he had to spread himself over the child. The one who testifies should possess spiritual life in his heart.

3. There should be a humble spirit. An employer would rather have a humble person work for him than a proud, disrespectful, and careless worker. The Lord honours humility, but the proud He sees afar off. He said, Learn of me for I am meek and lowly in heart.

4. The person who witnesses should have a living, personal, saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. There should be trust that God will use the message. If there is no expectation, the testimony will be fruitless. God promised that His Word will not return void to Him. God's Word forms hearts, moulds people, and changes souls.

5. There should be an earnest demeanour. The matters dealt with are very serious and should not be explained in a frivolous style. Imagine if someone would tell you in a flippant manner that your house is on fire. Spurgeon says that you would be tempted to pour a jug of water over such a man because the way he speaks does not fit the message. We have to be serious and earnest, for the matters at hand are very serious.

6. There should be a complete surrender to God. One must not be concerned to uphold his own views, but to uphold God's truths. You should be determined not to say anything except what is in agreement with God's Word. You should desire to lift up the Lord's Name and not your own name; not your own skills or knowledge, but only the majesty of God's Word. Your desire should be to be His servant, instrument and disciple. The Holy Spirit must mould your mind, your words, and your desires.

Content and Goal
How must our personal witnessing relate to Christ? What should we say and what should we not say? In summary, a personal testimony about the Lord Jesus Christ consists of information, application and an invitation.

The information consists of our belief that God is our Creator and our Judge. We were created good, in God's image, but we fell away from God into sin. In His great mercy, God presents His Son as the perfect, able and willing Saviour of sinners.

The application is that there is forgiveness and life only through faith in Christ as Lord and Saviour. Outside of Christ the wrath of God rests upon us.

The invitation is God's summons to mankind to come to that Saviour in faith and repentance and to find forgiveness, life and peace in Jesus.

The goal of personal witnessing is to teach people the right relationship to God's Word. Therefore, our witness must convey a Biblical message: We find a key text for this in Luke 24: 46 and 47: Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem."

In these verses we find what the content of our personal witnessing should focus on:

1. The cross; "it behoved Christ to suffer." This includes the truths of God's holiness, man's sin and judgment, and the atonement and payment by the blood of Christ.

2. The resurrection; "and to rise from the dead." This includes the truth of the resurrection, the victory of Christ and that He has all power to save and lead to a new life.

3. Repentance and remission of sins. This is the divine call to repentance and forsaking of sin. One must cry out to God for forgiveness and for a life of obedience to God.

Some Guidelines
There are several matters to keep in mind in regard to personal witnessing:

1. Witness in your own way. Do not try to witness as others; their style may not fit you. David as a shepherdÕs boy could not fit into Saul's armour. There is no stereotype method. We need personal tact, forbearance and discretion in these matters.

2. Be committed to a consistent Christian life style. We need God's grace to be faithful to the Word of which we testify. No matter how weak and untaught we are, let us hold on to the Word of life and live by it. A personal example is powerful.

3. Speak God's Word freely. The contents must be God's Word and not our words or insights. We must echo God's Word.

4. Speak well of the Lord. Maybe you have nothing to say about yourself, but you can speak well of the Lord and His service.

5. Ask the Lord to give you words. He can give words to speak well of Him, above measure. He can also give opportunities and openings.

6. Recognize the right time to speak. There is a time to speak and a time to be silent. We are more inclined to be silent than to speak about these matters, yet we must use discretion and wisdom. A good time often is when you are one-to-one with someone. People will often open up with questions and concerns, which they will never bring up in a group.

7. Water your testimony with prayer. Pray for the one you talked with. Lay him or her needs before God's throne of grace.

8. Show genuine care and concern for the person. We must care about their everlasting well being. It will be either hell or heaven for everyone. Are we moved by our neighbour's need?

9. Be a witness in your own home. That is where personal witnessing starts. Mothers have a tremendous task here to win souls: their own children. The blessing of a Christian home cannot be exaggerated. And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus (2 Tim 3:15).

10. Be alert to the opportunity to write about the goodness of the Lord. Letters can speak after many years. We should be forthright and more open in these things. When writing, seek to glorify the Lord and His Word.

11. Seek to testify while engaged in your daily routine to those whom you meet and work with and who observe us is in our activities. Based on this personal contact you may see a need for a tract or little booklet to hand out. If this is done with a sincere heart and genuine concern, it will be received with gratitude. People will pay attention to it.

12. Use specific passages of Scripture in your personal testimony for clarification. What is sin? Explain Luke 12, the parable of the publican and the pharisee in the temple. To define God's love and the necessity of conversion, refer to the prodigal son in Luke 15. The judgment of God is explained by the parables of the fish net or the tares and the wheat in Matthew 13. To explain the cost involved in following the Lord Jesus, refer to the parable of the treasure in the field in Matthew 13 or the house built on the sand in Luke 6. Forgiveness can be illustrated from the account in Luke 7 of the woman who was forgiven or the unmerciful servant in Matthew 18. Love to our neighbour is portrayed by the parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10.

13. Meditate daily on God's Word. Often the Lord can prepare us in advance for a conversation by pointing us to certain passages in Scripture that we need for personal witnessing.

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