Saturday, April 15, 2006

Living Letters

Called To Confess Christ In Word And As A Living Letter

God has graciously saved us through Christ and now calls on us to confess Christ. We confess Him formally each Lord’s day during worship as we pray the Lord’s prayer, sing hymns, recite the Apostle’s creed and the partake of the Lord’s Supper. Confessing Christ is also done in an informal manner, in different circumstances, as we share our faith in society with people which are not known to be believers. Our faith in Christ calls us to the responsibility of confessing Him to others. Jesus said that “Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven.” (Matthew 10:32) All varieties of people are to be witnessed to “I am debtor both to the Greeks, and to the Barbarians; both to the wise, and to the unwise.” (Rom. 1:14) said Paul. And note that believers in the church, after Christ’s ascension, while in the midst of persecution “went every where preaching the word”(Acts 8”4). So our call is to sanctify the Lord God in our hearts giving answers to those that ask us about the hope we have in Our Lord. This is witnessing.

Witness: To This You Are Called

It is the duty and the desire of every true believer to give witness to others of Christ. No believer wishes to deny their Lord and Savior. You may ask, “Do I have to witness, I don’t know what to do. How can I witness? I support the pastor and elders so they can witness isn’t that enough? So, what does it take to witness?” The Bible tells us, a. how we need to approach witnessing, b. the knowledge we needed to appropriately witness, c. the relationship of our life style in relation to witnessing, etc. Oh! By the way you do have to be a witness. So let us learn so that all can practice and tell the old, old story of Christ.

Witness: Know Christ and the Way of Salvation Both Factually and Experientially:

First there is a certain knowledge that we must know in order to witness about Christ properly. While I want explain them in any detail here I will list the bullet point overview. If you find you need to learn about things or need a refresher course please see your pastor or elders. The basic certain facts are:

Who Christ is:

a. Who Jesus is - the Savior , the Anointed One, the Messiah

b. He entered history - birth, life, death, resurrection

c. Why He came – Live holy, Suffer, die for sinners, make propitiation

2. What the Scriptures give concerning the way of salvation (God, Man, Grace, Christ and Faith)

a. Man’s sin - Rom. 3:10-23

b. Sins penalty - Rom. 6:23

c. God’s provision - Jn. 3:16, Matt. 20:28, 1Cor. 15:3

3. God’s requirements concerning man’s response:

a.. Repentance - Lk. 13:3

b. Faith or believe - Acts 16:31

Knowing about Jesus is not enough. There is no salvation in knowing about Him. We must know Jesus personally being in union with Christ in an experiential relationship. In having this relationship with Christ we share Him as the personal Savior for which he is. This experiential relationship helps ensure that our communication is not just a bunch of facts (and there are many) without any relevance to our life now. Hear the witness of the Apostle Paul and how it grips the heart. Galatians 2:20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. And again, 2 Timothy 1:12 For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day. Oh may we know and share Christ with persuasive words so as to be blessed by God to see hearts gripped by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as the gospel is revealed in them.

Witness: An Open Letter Read by Men

Secondly, our manner of living is very important in the witness of Christ to the world. The life of the believer is read by men who are without Christ and without hope. Many times the unbeliever will not hear us. They may “never listen” to you, attend your Bible studies, read your tracts and writings, or hear music you may sing or listen to. But one thing is for sure they will read your life. Your life may not be an “open book” but you are an “open letter” being read by men. Corinthians 3:2 ‘Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men:”
Men will not hear you if you do not live your life being sanctified by the Word. In reading you are they concluding your life is in line with your testimony of Christ the Savior? Does the content of your “life letter” include peace, joy, and righteousness in the Holy Spirit? Is it illustrated with a “picture” of the Holy Spirit’s fruit? (Gal. 5:22-23) What is the reader’s conclusion to the letter they are reading? Are they concluding, “You are a hypocrite?” In the spirit of being against God or not being in the church it is possible that some may insinuate that you are weird, strange, a Jesus freak, etc.! But, but, but even in all of this a life with Christ sanctified in the heart will show stability, truth, joy, peace, and all the fruit of the Spirit above. And now guess what? This is the epistle we want them to read, we are different, we do have answers to life’s most disturbing questions, we can live forgiven, sanctified and in a state of being continually, progressively sanctified. In this we are witnesses being read by all men. In this we have lived with the “rite”, within their mind, to be heard. Therefore, our “life letter” is very important in giving forth the message of Christ and the way of salvation to the world.

Witness: Love People

In a sanctified life giving forth a good witness of Christ there will be a love for people which is a qualification for witnessing. If you do not love people they know it! I was able to explain this to one person recently in this manner: Hugs to all. Everyone needs them. What I meant and went on to explain was simply that people recognizing if you are sincere. People also pick up rather quickly when someone really does not care for them. To love is to take time, energy and thought to determine how to best befriend others. Care and love those with whom you go to school with, meet at the shopping center, work with, see at the park, etc. For an example please read the earlier blog posted entitled "Listening For Gospel Opportunities". We are to love as Jesus loved in not just hang out with the so called “lovely”, “The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners” (Matt 11:19). The Scriptures teach that all men are our neighbors and that we are to love them as we love ourselves (Matt. 2:39). While loving men and women that were considered “sinners” our Lord did not approve of the sin of the people whom he associated Himself nor did He let their sin be a stumbling block to His care and love for them. Let us be like Him in our witness; as He loved us in our wretched state, so let us love others in their state and in loving them let’s witness Him to them in our word, life and love.

Mark 6:34 And Jesus, when he came out, saw much people, and was moved with compassion toward them, because they were as sheep not having a shepherd: and he began to teach them many things.

Matthew 11:19 The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners. But wisdom is justified of her children.

Witness: Have A Plan Of Action

I feel it necessary to touch briefly on the methods that can be used in witnessing. The hardest part of doing a task can be getting started. But, before you can even start to begin witnessing I believe one needs a plan of action. Now let us not make this hard or difficult but know a. the message, b. how you are going to approach people in different situations and 3. how you are going to formulate and ask the question of them, “Will they now repent and turn in faith to rest upon Christ for the salvation of their soul”.

One good method and plan in witnessing is to hold and Bible study asking non-believers to join you. In this method I suggest you ask a few, at least two, Christian friends from the church to join with you in the study. They can be a great help in praying for you and the people attending as well as the socializing that you will want to be accomplished. It does not need to be a study running from Genesis to Revelation. It also does not need to be on the subject of the second coming of Christ, nor Old Testament prophecy. I suggest the best thing to do is study one of the Gospels, preferable John or Mark. I would also suggest the Epistle of Paul to the Ephesians and 1 John. Perhaps even better for a focus be a study of the life of Christ (Acts 8:26-39). In whatever part of the Bible you decide to study the focus needs to be on Christ and God’s way of salvation. After all the purpose is to bring glory to God and evangelize.

Another method is being part of a church evangelism or evangelism team. With this you can follow up and visit those that visitor the church, relatives and friends of church members, or geographical sections of the city or town you live in, etc. You want to keep records and do follow up as you use this approach. Evangelism explosion is a good program. Also the approach of EEE which is the “evangelizing everyone, everywhere” as laid out by Jay Adams as a wonderful plan for your church and its members to follow. Also John Blanchard an English Baptist minister has a wonderful neighbor approach in explaining Christianity and in giving forth the gospel.
I have found that in life situations there are different time frames spent in witnessing to people. For example, there have been times when I could and did spend a lot of time in working with people in giving them the gospel then there are times I had to give it forth in a short concise method since I could only spend a short amount of time with someone I met. In each case the way of salvation and the gospel message must always be the same for the message of the gospel never changes. The following list are some of the plans and avenues I have used in witnessing over the years. Perhaps this list will help you in finding avenues to witness as well as being an example of different time commitments needed.

1. Weekly lunches with people at work on a set schedule

2. Family involved witnessing with other families

3. Street evangelism

4. County jail ministry

5. Passing out tracts

6. Coffee House ministry

7. Etc.

Who, where and the circumstances you find yourself in will effect the amount of time you spend with a person in communicating the gospel of Christ. Jesus. We know Jesus spent three years with the disciples evangelizing and training them. We do not know at what time in this ministry they came to truly believe. But we know a lot of time was spent with them. We also see Christ evangelizing the woman at the well, spending much less time with her compared to the disciples (Joh 4:6-25).

Perhaps you are saying, “I don’t know how to approach people in starting a conversation”. Here are a few questions that can help you start a conversation and get to the point in a direct manner opening the topic of conversation to give the gospel.

Are you a Christian?

What is your understanding of a Christian?

Have you reached the point in your spiritual life that you know that your sins are forgiven and you have eternal life?

What is the basis of your assurance?

Should you die tonight, do you think you would go to heaven?

On what basis do you think you would be received?

Which method you use, the time you spend with a person as previously stated depends on the circumstances. But since you are a “fisher of men” called to witness, lay out a plan and go fishing! Ok?


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