Witnessing

By David Berg

Our job: Mark 16:15

"Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature" is not an option. It's a commandment. The message is clear. There's no denying it or excusing ourselves. We must simply have the faith to obey, even if it means going out not knowing whither we go (Hebrews 11:8).

Jesus made it quite clear that all Christians are ordained to preach the Gospel when He said in John 15:16, "Ye have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit."

Therefore, it is not just a nice thing to do when we feel like it, or can find the time, but it is the God-given job and responsibility of all His true children, as Paul expressed, "For though I preach the Gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me: yea, woe is unto me if I preach not the Gospel" (1 Corinthians 9:16). (See also Ezekiel 3:17-19.)

This is why we devote our time and energies to preaching the Gospel to every creature and winning their souls to Jesus Christ and His service for others (Mark 16:15). That's what we're here for: to win people to Christ! For "herein is My Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be My disciples" (John 15:8).

Man's greatest need: Matthew 9:36-38

Regardless of nationality, country, color, or creed, the heart of man is the same the world over, and his heartaches and sorrows and sins and pains and fear of death are the same. His longings, loves, and hunger for God and His truth, for joy and happiness and peace of mind, are God-created, and the same in men the world over.

Even though many people are really seeking genuine love, they seldom, if ever, find it. For there are never enough of God's people who are willing to show them His real love. As Jesus Himself said, "The harvest truly is plenteous, but the laborers are few. Therefore," He commanded, "pray ye the Lord of the harvest, that He will send forth laborers into His harvest" (Matthew 9:37-8).--His vast harvest of multitudes of frozen, cold, hungry people, wandering around in darkness without God.

God's greater solution: Acts 1:8

Only the supernatural, miracle-working power of the Holy Spirit of God Himself can do the job and win their hearts, bring them to a decision, and cause them to be born again as new creatures. Therefore, God has promised an anointing of this very power to His witnesses to help them lead others to him. "Ye shall receive power after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you. And ye shall be witnesses unto Me" (Acts 1:8). The purpose of the power is for witnessing.

We've got nothing but God, so let's show them His Spirit! As Paul said, "My speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: that your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God" (1 Corinthians 2:4-5). It's this fiery anointing that counts. If you haven't got the fire, I don't care how "good" a witness you are; it's just cold, dead icicles of facts and figures, and you'll never set anyone else on fire without it! As Jesus said, "Without Me, ye can do nothing" (John 15:5).

But if you do your part, and "abide in the vine," yielding yourself to Him in submission and humility, then the Lord will do His part, and inspire you, or fill you with His Spirit, so you can "bear much fruit"--newborn babes into the kingdom of God. (See John 15:1-8.)

As a young preacher with a real love for the lost and a sincere desire to try to win the lost the churches had failed to reach, I tried everything I could think of, dreamed up every method I could imagine to try to carry the Gospel to them. I preached on the streets and in the parks; I sang at the top of my voice; I showed pictures and movies anywhere I possibly could--to reach the people outside of the church with the message of God's love! But it was still the meeting method and the mass evangelism approach, which only had moderate success.

Then, one day I found out the exciting truth and thrilling fact that you could win more souls witnessing individually to individual people wherever you could find them, without a church or a pulpit or a meeting of any kind, anywhere, any time, and all the time, everywhere to everybody! You have to search them out individually, personally, with tender loving care and personal attention. Jesus said that the good shepherd "calleth his own sheep by name (personally, individually) and leadeth them out" (John 10:3).

As children of God, you should have love and compassion for everyone, not just your own--young or old, rich or poor, strong or weak, even if you don't like them--"every creature!" However, God's Spirit will lead you especially to those who really need your loving help, and who will respond in appreciation, just as it will also lead them to you.

God's Spirit goes where there are open and receptive hearts that are hungry: He seeks the low and the humble and the contrite heart, but resists the proud. His Word says, "The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit. He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich (or full) He hath sent empty away. … For God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble" (Psalm 34:18; Luke 1:53; 1 Peter 5:5).

Tips to use when witnessing: Proverbs 11:30

In leading people to the Lord, you often have to inspire their faith in you before they can believe God. You are their link with God. As Jesus said, "He that receiveth whomsoever I send receiveth Me; and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me" (John 13:20).

You must establish points of contact with them. There must be something in common in order for people to communicate. Use the kind of language that will win them. If it takes strong language to get the point across--use it! If it takes sweeter language, use that. Ask God for wisdom (James 1:5).

One of the most needed abilities in witnessing is adaptability: being able to be anything to reach anybody and to become all things to all men. This tactic of adaptability was largely responsible for much of the apostle Paul's soul-winning success. He said, "To the Jews, I became as a Jew; that I might gain (win) the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them. ... I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some" (1 Corinthians 9:20, 22).

Sometimes, all some people need is for somebody to listen, and that's half the job of being a witness. Let's not fail them in showing them we're willing to listen to their troubles. Often they're really hungriest for fellowship and companionship and real love and sympathy, just somebody to talk to, to relieve their loneliness and to feel like somebody cares and shares their misery and their needs and problems.

(Prophecy:) "To love is to weep with them, to cry with them, to suffer with them that suffer, and to feel the agony of heart with them whose hearts are broken!"

Simplicity of the Gospel

I led a lot of people to the Lord with only John 3:16: "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." That's all you really need to know to win souls. You shouldn't try to cram the whole Bible into the people you're witnessing to anyhow. Often it's good enough to harp on a verse or two until they've got them so memorized they can't forget them.

Beware lest ye be led away from the simplicity of the Gospel (2 Corinthians 11:3). Except ye be as a little child, ye shall in no wise enter into the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 18:3). You've got to be a baby! And babies don't waste most of their time arguing over theoretical, theological, doctrinal shibboleths.

On answering questions

Answer sincere questions honestly and show people the truth, and if they really want to know, God will show them. "My sheep hear My voice" (John 10:27). You don't necessarily have to always give them the answers they want, but the answers they need.

But it's good to be aware that there are those that ask questions not because they want the answer, but because their minds are already made up and they don't want to be confused with the facts, but are only trying to trap you or waste your time. This happened to Jesus, when the self-righteous Pharisees tried to trap Him with His own words. "And the scribes and the Pharisees began to urge Him vehemently, and to provoke Him to speak of many things; laying wait for Him, and seeking to catch something out of His mouth, that they might accuse Him" (Luke 11:53-54).

Don't try to cram the truth down the throats of those who don't want it. Seek out the hungry sheep. Jesus walked miles out of His way in the heat of day to love and win one wicked woman at a well. "For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost" (Luke 19:10).

This lowly lady at the well was so thrilled about her experience with this stranger named Jesus that she "left her water pot, and went her way into the city, and saith to the men, 'Come see a man that told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ?'" And as a result of her personal testimony, "many of the Samaritans of that city believed on Him for the saying of the woman" (John 4:39-42).

So when witnessing, it often helps to give your own personal testimony. They can hardly deny that without calling you a liar, and they're not likely to do that if you present it with earnest sincerity, love, and power of the Spirit--real conviction.

Lift up Jesus, who said, "If I be lifted up. I will draw all men unto Me" (John 12:32). Preach Christ.

On your greatest witness: Love

Your greatest witness is love, for the only love of God they can see is the love they see in you. If you don't show them the love they can see and feel, they're going to have a hard time believing that there is someone up there whom they don't know and that He really loves them.

So you should always drop a little love into the hearts of those you pass by, even if only with a word, a smile, or a look of sympathy, and they will know that God has loved them that day. His Spirit will tell them so. It never fails, because "God is love" (1 John 4:8), and it's impossible for Him to fail! And He will help us not to fail if we are willing to win them with the kind of love that led Jesus to the cross to lay down His life for you, to die that you might live.

That is the only kind of love that's going to win the world: the love of Jesus. "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (John 3:16).

Let them know that the true God is a good God who is kind and loving and concerned about His children, and who hates war and deplores the poverty of the poor and their suffering, and is determined to set things right soon.

On prayer power

It's always helpful to have prayer with them, if the occasion warrants. Never underestimate the power of prayer. There are very few people who don't respect prayer, or at least your right to pray.

You can show them that Jesus said, "Behold, I stand at the door (of their heart) and knock: If any man hear My voice and open the door, I will come in to him" (Revelation 3:20). In other words, they can ask Him to come into their heart with all His love, life, liberty, truth, peace, plenty, and happiness--here, now, and forever.

Sometimes I hang onto my subject's hand with both of mine for a word of prayer, or to try to get them to make a decision, and often they really break and accept the Lord. There's something electrifying about prayer. As Jesus said, "Where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them" (Matthew 18:20).

The results and rewards of soul-wooing: Daniel 12:3

Spiritually, everyone you witness to, you're wooing them in the spirit--wooing and loving and sowing the seed of God's Word in the spirit. When the soul is receptive, the seed just pours in, and then you bear a spiritual baby!

This is the end result and greatest goal of soul-wooing, a newborn babe in the family of God, a whole new created soul made by the hands of God for all eternity to enjoy--the only thing we can take with us from this world.

As Paul wrote to one of his flocks, "We preached unto you the Gospel" (1 Thessalonians 2:9), and "Ye received the Word of God, which ye heard of us" (1 Thessalonians 2:13). They got saved! Then, referring to Jesus' return, he says, "For what is our crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye (the souls he had won) in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming?" (1 Thessalonians 2:19)

These are the gifts the Lord is most pleased with: the lives and hearts of men. There was always a glorious presentation of gifts before the conquering king. We, God's victorious army, will lay at His feet--the feet of the conquering King--the souls we have recaptured from the Enemy!

So get out and do your best for Jesus and lost souls, and God himself will reward you with everlasting souls and joy of the Lord for a job well done which has reaped much fruit, whose fellowship we shall enjoy in God's Family, both now and forevermore, and for which both you and they will be eternally thankful and God everlastingly grateful! "Well done," He'll say, "thou good and faithful servant. ... Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord" (Matthew 25:23). Hallelujah! They that win many shall shine (Daniel 12:3).