The Challenge of Personal Witness

Robert Revie, Tarbolton, Scotland

Precious Seed

Door to door witness, or personal evangelism, is not the only form of outreach that we can engage in so we ought to be giving this matter more thought and consideration.
We could perhaps look at this subject in three ways.
[1] Why should I witness?
[2] How should I witness?
[3] Who should witness?

If we can honestly answer these three questions, it may help us to see clearly the true value of this vital ministry of seeking to reach the lost.

1. WHY SHOULD I WITNESS?

Firstly, let us look at what the Scriptures have to say about personal witness.

(a) A command of Christ, Matt. 28. 19. Before the Lord Jesus went back to heaven, He gave His disciples a command that is mandatory for all disciples in all ages. He spoke of going into ‘all the world’. This may initially involve us in the street where we live or in the estate nearest our homes.

(b) We are witnesses, Acts 1. 8. The Lord Jesus said ‘you shall be witnesses unto me’, and this involves both witnessing by life and by lip. Often people could be just waiting for someone to tell them about the message of salvation.

(c) We are sowers, Psa. 126. 6. The psalmist, reminds us of our responsibilities in ‘going’ and in ‘sowing’, and ultimately in ‘bringing’. What a wonderful privi-lege we have to bring to the lost the precious seed of God’s word.
(d) We are ambassadors, 2 Cor. 5. 20. What a wonderful honour to be heavenly citizens representing the Lord Jesus in a strange land, and seeking to promote the interests of heaven to men and women who are opposed to the gospel

As we look at this important statement let us try to answer the above question in a different way. We should be witnesses because:-

(i) All can do it. There is a mistaken idea around today that door-to-door work should be done only by the younger people. Have we passed on the responsibility of door to door work to those who are relatively inexperienced in Christian teaching?

(ii) It can be done anywhere. We can effectively witness to our neighbours over the fence, or talk to people in the shopping precincts near to where we live. When we look at witnessing in the New Testament, out of the 106 references to preaching, only 6 refer to formal meetings.

(iii) It can be done at any time. We are not confined to one hour in the week, when we can bring God’s message to the unsaved. Personal evangelism can be done at times when it is convenient, both to the one who is doing the work, and to the people they are seeking to reach with the gospel.

(iv) It reaches all classes. There are certain groups of the community that will rarely, if ever, come inside the gospel hall, as their beliefs would forbid it. Some groups like Moslems and Jehovah Witnesses are reachable with the gospel, but the only way that they can be reached is if we go to them in their own homes.
(v) It hits the mark. Sometimes, in a series of gospel meetings, people may attend the services on a regular basis, but when we visit in their homes we discover that they were under the impression the word preached was for someone else.

2. HOW SHOULD I WITNESS?

Firstly, let me deal with the manner and then look at the methods that can be used.

(i) Manner. First impressions are often lasting ones and you have to try to put yourself in the position of those you seek to reach with the message of the gospel. These people may be thinking that you could be a double glazing salesman, or someone trying to pass on to them something they don’t want or need.

(1) Be pleasant. You will be amazed at the way a smile can break down barriers, for after all we are anxious to show that we are friendly.

(2) Be natural. Try to be natural, and look for something that will be common to both of you. Listen to the person’s accent and make a comment as to where you think that they come from. Be a good listener, and be willing to pay attention to what the person has to say.

(3) Identify yourself. Many people from council offices, etc., have badges to identify who they are, and although you may not wear a badge you should identify ourselves right at the commencement of the conversation.

(4) Ask a number of questions. After you have identified where you come from you could ask the person ‘Which church do you attend?’ or ‘What do you believe about God?’ etc.

(5) Categorize the person. As the discussion develops you should try to identify whether the person is a (i) Christian, (ii) non-Christian, (iii) backslider, (iv) atheist or agnostic, etc.

As you attempt to do this it will help you as the conversation develops. Never assume that the person you are speaking to is an unbeliever.

(ii) Method. There is a variety of ways in approaching a person.

(1) Shock treatment. This is the frontal attack which often produces an immediate response and you could ask the question, ‘have you been born again?’, or ‘are you saved?’. This sometimes challenges a person who is careless about spiritual matters or even cynical about what you are saying, but it could also end the conversation!

(2) Indirect method. This is moving from an ordinary discussion and using what is said by applying it in a spiritual way. When you see someone playing bowls you could ask the question why the bowls never run in a straight line. This could lead to the suggestion that there is in all of us a bias to go astray.

(3) Practical kindness. This is where you can do something practical that can touch the heart. You may find the person with a bad cough, and if they are unable to go for the medicine you could offer to go to the chemist for it.

(4) Literature method. Leaflets are far more important than many appreciate, and should be selected with care, bearing in mind the problem of the person that you are speaking to.

In John 4 the Lord Jesus gives an excellent example of how to approach a person who is a stranger to the gospel. Notice how He engaged in conversation with the woman at the well. She was a total stranger to spiritual matters.

(i) v. 7. He gets her attention. This is so vital in door to door work, and you should try to look for something with which to gain the person’s attention.

(ii) v. 10. He finds her interest. As long as the conversation continues you can seek to bring God’s word to the person.

(iii) v. 14. He stimulates her desire. There should come a point in the conversation when the person has a desire for what you are offering.

(iv) v. 16-18. He produces con-viction. The Lord makes her aware in a gentle but firm way of her true state before God, and this is a point to which a person should be brought in the conversation.

(v) v. 20. She introduces a diversion. Sometimes, when the conversation is getting too personal, the person seeks to change the subject. Much wisdom is needed in bringing the person back to the original conversation.

(vi) v. 26 He brings acceptance. Before the conversation is concluded, the woman has trusted the Saviour. In most situations this is not the immediate reaction, but a conversation on the doors can lead to salvation.
3. WHO SHOULD WITNESS?
We mentioned at the beginning that all could, but this is only if they have the following qualifications.
1. Assurance of salvation.
2. A regular prayer life.
3. Filled with the Spirit.
4. A life that commends the gospel.
5. A working knowledge of the Bible.
6. A compassion for souls.
7. An awareness of man’s true condition before God.
8. Perseverance in reaching people.

In seeking to be effective in door to door work there are two questions that you may find most helpful as you seek to focus on where a person stands spiritually.

i. Have they come to the place in their life where they know for certain that if they were to die today they would be in heaven? If the answer to this question is ‘no’ then you can immediately go on to explain the message of the gospel. If their answer is ‘yes’ you can then proceed with the second question.

ii. ‘If you were to die today and stand before God and He were to ask you the question “why should I let you into heaven?”, what would you reply?’ This question will focus the person’s mind on what they are depending on to get them to heaven. You may find them replying with ‘I think God forgives all’, or ‘I don’t think I’ve lived too bad a life’, or ‘I am a regular church attender’, or ‘I do the best I can’. If any of these replies are given you can be fairly sure that the person is not saved.

May these suggestions be a help to us as we seek to reach the increasing number of people on the doors who are often godless and indifferent about their soul’s eternal welfare. May this article be a help to many as they engage in this vital ministry, and seek to have the joy of seeing the lost brought to Christ.