WITNESSING

"How do I witness to someone I know, like a family member?"

For most of us, it is far easier to witness to a stranger than to someone we know and respect. An effective way to soften the message without compromise is to speak in the "first person" or in testimonial form. Say something like, "I didn’t realize that the Bible warns that for every idle word I have spoken, I will have to give an account on Judgment Day. I thought that as long as I believed in God and tried to live a good life, I would go to heaven when I died. I was so wrong. Jesus said that if I as much as looked with lust, I had committed adultery in my heart, and that there was nothing I could do to wash away my sins. I knew that if God judged me by the Ten Commandments on Judgment Day, I would end up guilty, and go to hell."

"It was when I acknowledged my sins that I began to understand why Jesus died. It was to take the punishment for my sins, and the sins of the world." Then, depending on the person’s openness, you may ask, "How do you think you will do on Judgment Day, if God judges you by the Ten Commandments?"

"How do I reach my neighbors with the gospel?"

Neighbors are like family. We don’t want to offend them unnecessarily, because we have to live with them. We need to be rich in good works toward all men, but especially our neighbors. The Bible reveals that this is a legitimate means of evangelism. Jesus said, "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven" (Matthew 5:16). It is God’s will that "with well doing you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men" (1 Peter 2:15).

Sinners may disagree with what you believe, but seeing your good works makes them think, "I don’t believe what he believes, but he sure does. He certainly is sincere in his faith." A friendly wave, a gift for no reason, fresh- baked goods, etc., can pave the way for evangelism. Offer to mow your neighbors’ lawn or help do some painting. Volunteer to pick up their mail and newspapers while they’re on vacation. Compliment them on their landscaping and ask for gardening tips. Invite them over for a barbecue or dessert. Pray for an opportunity to share the gospel, and be prepared for it when it comes.

"How should I witness to a homosexual?"

Rather than offend homosexuals by directly confronting the issue of their sinful lifestyle, modern evangelism often tries to soften the approach by saying that "God hates the sin, but loves the sinner." This isn’t a new concept.

Charles Finney stated, "God is not angry merely against the sin abstracted from the sinner, but against the sinner himself. Some persons have labored hard to set up this ridiculous and absurd abstraction, and would fain make it appear that God is angry at sin, yet not at the sinner. He hates the theft, but loves the thief. He abhors adultery, but is pleased with the adulterer. Now this is supreme nonsense. The sin has no moral character apart from the sinner. The act is nothing apart from the actor. The very thing that God hates and disapproves is not the mere event—the thing done in distinction from the doer; but it is the doer himself. It grieves and displeases Him that a rational moral agent, under His government, should array himself against his own God and Father, against all that is right and just in the universe. This is the thing that offends God. The sinner himself is the direct and the only object of his anger."

So the Bible shows. God is angry with the wicked [Psalm 7:11], not with the abstract sin. If the wicked turn not, God will whet His sword—He has bent His bow and made it ready—not to shoot at the sin, but the sinner—the wicked man who has done the abominable thing. This is the only doctrine of either the Bible or of common sense on this subject" (The Guilt of Sin).

The biblical way to witness to a homosexual is not to argue with him about his lifestyle but to use the Law to bring the knowledge of sin. This will show him that he is guilty of breaking God’s holy Law, and he is damned not because of, but despite his sexual preference. The Law was made for homosexuals, as well as other lawbreakers. See Psalm 5:5 and 2 Peter 2:6–8 footnotes.

"How should I witness to a Jew?"

Sadly, many of today’s Jews profess godliness but don’t embrace the Scriptures as we presume they do. Therefore, it is often difficult to reason with them about Jesus being the Messiah. This is why it is imperative to ask a Jew if he has kept the Law of Moses—to "shut" him up under the Law (Galatians 3:23) and strip him of his self- righteousness. The Law will show him his need of a Savior and become a "schoolmaster" to bring him to Christ (Galatians 3:24), as happened to Paul, Nicodemus, and Nathaniel. It was the Law that brought 3,000 Jews to the foot of the cross on the Day of Pentecost. Without it they would not have known that they had sinned (Romans 7:7), and therefore would not have seen their need of the Savior. See Luke 18:20 footnote for how to use the Law in evangelism.

"How should I witness to my coworkers?"

When we interact with people on a daily basis, we have many opportunities for sharing our faith. First, be sure you are respectful to your employer and set a good example in your work ethic by working "as to the Lord" (Colossians 3:23).

When others around you grumble and complain, if you have a calm, forgiving, steadfast spirit, it will make an impression. As you respond in a Christ-like way to angry coworkers and stressful circumstances, people will see a difference in your life. Always be friendly and courteous, and show genuine interest in your coworkers’ lives. Invite them out to lunch to get better acquainted. Share their joys and sorrows by congratulating them in their good times and offering to pray for them in their bad times.

Be sure you do pray for them, then follow up by asking them about the situation you prayed for. They will be moved by your concern. If coworkers are discussing what they did during the previous weekend, you can share your excitement about attending church services or a special church event. Ask others if they have any plans for celebrating Christmas or Easter; be nonjudgmental of their answer, but be ready (if asked) to explain why you celebrate as you do.

Displaying a favorite Scripture or a devotional calendar, or reading your Bible during lunchtime, may prompt others to inquire about your faith. Bringing home-baked goods or leaving a small gift with a note on a coworker’s desk can sometimes have a greater impact than a thousand eloquent sermons. We can show our faith by our works. Others may not like a tree of righteousness, but they cannot help but like its fruit. Pray for opportunities to share the gospel, being careful not to infringe on your boss’s time.

"How should I witness to someone who belongs to a denomination, who I suspect isn’t trusting the Savior?"

The most effective way to speak about the issues of eternity to a religious person is not to get sidetracked from the essentials of salvation. Upon hearing a person’s background, we may feel an obligation to speak to issues such as infant baptism, transubstantiation, etc. However, it is wise rather to build on the points of agreement between the Bible and the person’s denomination, such as the virgin birth, the cross, and so on. One point of agreement will almost certainly be the Ten Commandments. They are the key to bringing any religious person to a saving knowledge of the gospel.

After someone is converted to Jesus Christ, the Bible will come alive and he will be led into all truth by the indwelling Holy Spirit. God’s Word will then give him light, and he will forsake religious tradition as he is led by God. While there are strong biblical arguments that may convince unregenerate people that their church’s traditions contradict Holy Scripture, there is a difficulty. Some religious people hold the teachings of their church to be on a par with, or of greater authority than, Holy Scripture. It is therefore often futile to try to convince them intellectually that their trust should be in the person of Jesus Christ, rather than in their own righteousness or in their church traditions. For this reason we should aim at the conscience, rather than the intellect. Take them through the Law of God (the Commandments) to show that they are condemned despite their works, and strongly emphasize that we are saved by grace, and grace alone, rather than by trusting in our own righteousness or religious traditions.

If they are open to the gospel, and are interested in what God’s Word says in reference to their church’s teachings, they will listen to Scripture. For example, in Matthew 8:14 we see that Peter (whom the Roman Catholic church maintains was the first pope) was married, as were many of the other apostles (see 1 Corinthians 9:5).

"What should I say to someone who has lost a loved one through cancer?"

Be very careful not to give the impression that God was punishing the person for his sins. Instead, speak about the fact that all around us we can see the evidence of a "fallen creation." Explain how in the beginning there was no disease, pain, suffering, or death. But when sin entered the world, it brought suffering with it. Then gently turn the conversation away from the person who died to the person who is still living. Ask if he has been thinking about God, and if he has kept the Ten Commandments. Then take the opportunity to go through the spiritual nature of God’s Law. Someone who has lost a loved one often begins to ask soul-searching questions about God, death, and eternity. Many people are so hardhearted that it takes a tragedy to make them receptive to God.