The Confident Witness (7)
And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked, while others said, “We will hear you again on this matter.” So Paul departed from among them. However, some men joined him and believed… Acts 17.32-34
It’s not about winning souls!
I suspect that a good many Christians are reluctant to be witnesses for Christ because they can’t imagine that anyone would believe the Gospel as they proclaimed it. All they can envision, as they think about sharing Christ with the people around them, is folks getting upset, blowing them off, putting them down, or just politely saying, “No thanks.”
If that’s the case with you, take heart. Because you’re in good company. Such was the experience of Jesus and Paul. Being witnesses for Christ is not about winning souls for the Lord. Winning souls is the Lord’s work, not ours (1 Cor. 3.5-9). Our job is to troll the Gospel line out, nicely baited with our lives of loving service and friendship, and to do what we can to encourage those around us to have a nibble.
We are sowers of the good Kingdom seed; God gives growth and harvest as He sees fit. When the Lord is ready to win someone for Himself, He is quite capable of overcoming all their opposition, anger, and meanness. Just ask Paul.
Paul was a confident witness because he understood that all he had to do was his own job. If he was faithful in bearing witness, the Lord would do whatever pleased Him with the sowing of His Word (Is. 55.10, 11). Paul was content to witness faithfully and to leave the results of his witness in the hand of the Lord.
So if we know what to expect from our witness – whatever it is the Lord might do – it can help us to be more confident and consistent in sharing our faith.
Throughout the course of his ministry, the Apostle Paul consistently encountered three responses to his preaching and evangelizing. We see them there in Athens, as Paul bore witness at the Areopagus: some mocked and scorned; some wanted to talk a bit more; and some believed. God had His way with each person, as He saw fit. Paul’s job was to bear witness, and to know how to proceed with each of these responses. That’s our calling as well, so let’s have a look at these responses and what they indicate for us as witnesses to the Lord.
Mocking and scorn. There’s no getting around it. Some folks just won’t be happy to hear your witness for Christ. They might laugh at you. They might shout or get angry, and tell you to leave them alone. They might even call you names or talk about you behind your back.
Clearly these folks don’t want to hear any more about the Gospel. So, oblige them. You’ve made the effort and they’ve pushed you away. You don’t need to try again any time soon. You still need to love them and pray for them and be “always ready” should another opportunity arise (1 Pet. 3.15). But their blood is on their heads, so to speak; you’ve done what the Lord expects of you.
Talk some more. Some folks won’t be ready to believe the Gospel, but they will express an openness to talking more about it at some point. At this point I wouldn’t rush to make an appointment for a follow-up meeting. Just let the sown Word sink into their souls a bit; you can pick up on it later, and here are a couple of ways to do so.
First, offer to give your friend something to read that you can discuss later. I’ve used C. S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity with good results. I also recommend you give people a copy of the Gospel of John. Ask your friend to read it with you and talk about it together. This could be the topic of many fruitful conversations.
Or, at some point you could just bring up the question again: “Have you thought any more about what we were discussing the other day? Would you like to get some coffee and continue our conversation?” Either of these should allow you to pick up where you left off and go forward from there.
Some will believe. For those who express a desire to believe in Jesus, all you have to do is lead them in a simple prayer – phrase by phrase – in which they can tell the Lord they repent and believe in Him, and can thank Him for forgiving their sins and giving them the gift of eternal life. You can then pray for them, that the Lord would seal their faith and fill them with the assurance of forgiveness and eternal life in Jesus.
After this you’ll want to help them get started in the faith. Give them a Bible and show them how to use it. Invite them to church, perhaps even offering them a ride and lunch afterwards. Offer to meet regularly for a while until they get their feet firmly grounded in the Lord. Introduce them to other Christians you and they might know.
Really, these three responses, in some form or another, are about all you’ll ever hear as you carry out your calling to be a confident witness for Christ. Learn to anticipate, recognize, and respond to these, and your witness for Christ will greatly improve, and you’ll find greater joy and fulfillment in serving the Lord this way.
1. How well prepared are you to respond to these different responses to the Gospel? Where do you need to get a little more help?
2. Have you begun working your Personal Mission Field? In what ways? Are you beginning to feel more confident in your ability to be a witness for the Lord?
3. Meditate on Ephesians 5.15-17. What are the implications of this passage for your witness in your Personal Mission Field.
Next steps – Transformation: Share a copy of the PDF of these studies with a Christian friend. Invite your friend to read through them, then get together to discuss how you can encourage one another to be more confident and consistent in your witness for the Lord.
T. M. Moore
“The Confident Witness” is one of six studies that make up the core of our online course, Mission Partners. Preview this course at The Ailbe Seminary by clicking here. Mission Partners is one of the courses in our Certificate for Kingdom Leadership curriculum, which will open for registration on January 1, 2019. For an introduction and overview of that curriculum, click here.
How confident are you in your ability to share the Good News of Christ and His Kingdom? Our book, The Gospel of the Kingdom, can help you get your witness and testimony in proper working order, so that you can be a confident witness in your own Personal Mission Field. Order your copy by clicking here. Our book To Know Him might also be a good resource to use in starting conversations about the Lord. Order your copy by clicking here.
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Leave the Results to God
- T.M. Moore
- December 28, 2018
If we are faithful in our calling as confident witnesses, God will take it from there.
The Confident Witness (7)
T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.