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An Approaching Witness

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Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations 7394 Dallas Airport’s Soul Winner

Dallas Airport’s Soul Winner

A businessman landed at the Dallas airport and realized he had one hour and 20 minutes before his next plane connection.

He thought, How can I be used of the Lord here?

He had a supply of Gospel tracts with him. He inserted one of his business cards inside each tract. Then he gave these to single men sitting waiting for their planes.

But he didn’t just hand them out and pass on. Instead he said to each man, “Pardon me. I have a little booklet here that explains how a person can become a Christian. Inside is my business card. I would like you to read this over and if you have any questions, I will be sitting over there. I have some time before my plane takes off. Or if you would like to write, my address is there.”

At the end of the hour and 20 minutes, men were standing four deep to ask questions about how to become a Christian. And, for weeks afterwards, the businessman received correspondence because of the business cards in the tracts.

In just an hour and 20 minutes, this man cultivated weeks of eternal fruit. What are we doing with our spare time?
I titled this sermon "An Approaching Witness" for the double meaning of first, approaches to witnessing; and second, the call to approach others with the Good News
Last week, we established the "why" or the reason & the need behind witnessing, so this week I wanted to dive right into the "how"
Probably, the hardest part in the preparation of this sermon was which passages of scripture should we look at and which ones to leave out for the sake of time. So, I painstakingly weeded out a few passages until I got this sermon down to just a few hours for you this morning.
Scripture provides teaching, supported by examples, concerning when believers should witness, the methods they are to use, and the manner of doing it.
Matt 28:16-20
Matthew 28:16–20 LEB
So the eleven disciples proceeded to Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had designated for them. And when they saw him, they worshiped him, but some doubted. And Jesus approached and spoke to them, saying, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you, and behold, I am with you all the days until the end of the age.”
Matthew 28:18–20 (NA27)
19 πορευθέντες οὖν μαθητεύσατε πάντα τὰ ἔθνη, βαπτίζοντες αὐτοὺς εἰς τὸ ὄνομα τοῦ πατρὸς καὶ τοῦ υἱοῦ καὶ τοῦ ἁγίου πνεύματος,
A Baptist minister once said, "A church that is not growing is a church that is not "going." Now, Grace has shrunk over the past five years, but our srinkage is mainly due to Northland College shutting down. What is hard to see, but is true is that we have also grown in these past few years! Grace used to be primarily a "Northland church" but how many of you are here today from the college? Now Grace is no longer a Northland church but a thriving community church--just as it should be!

The "Who" to witness

In the home and family

The home is where the Gospel has a chance to work itself out from within you throughout the mundane routines of daily life. The Gospel must first change you before you can show others the changing power.
Mark 5:18–19 LEB
And as he was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed began to implore him that he could go with him. And he did not permit him, but said to him, “Go to your home to your people and tell them all that the Lord has done for you, and that he has had mercy on you.”
We see from this passage from Mark that Jesus actually forbade this healed man from following Him (physically) in order that this healed man would go first to his home to proclaim the Christ and then to go to his own community.

To individuals

Scripture is replete with examples of single, specific, key individuals hearing of Christ and responding
i.e. Luke, Timothy, Titus, Barnabas, Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch in Acts chapter 8 to name a few.
The Disciples were a band of individuals with almost nothing in common, except for being called by Christ--see Christ calls specific individuals and we are to be planting the seed
When you go out to witness to individuals you'll run into primarily two types of people:
The religious - appeal to their zeal for God (albeit a wrong god, at least they have some desire to know God) --even the avowed Atheist is religious, it's just that they, themselves, are their own god.
The nonreligious - (unfortunately the more common of the two types) appeal to their desire and need for something greater, better than what they already know and experience
Some people are easier to witness to (i.e. ones at the perceived worst part of their life) than others (i.e. those at the best of their life)

To assembled groups

Acts 17:17 LEB
So he was discussing in the synagogue with the Jews and the God-fearing Gentiles, and in the marketplace every day with those who happened to be there.
The foundation for street preaching!
Ac 5:42; Ac 19:8–9
Acts 5:42 LEB
Every day, both in the temple courts and from house to house, they did not stop teaching and proclaiming the good news that the Christ was Jesus.
Acts 19:8–9 LEB
So he entered into the synagogue and was speaking boldly for three months, discussing and attempting to convince them concerning the kingdom of God. But when some became hardened and were disobedient, reviling the Way before the congregation, he departed from them and took away the disciples, leading discussions every day in the lecture hall of Tyrannus.
In short, the "who" is whoever, whenever the opportunity arises.
My Favorite Illustrations Anytime, Any Place

For the Samaritan woman (John 4) the wayside well became a cathedral in which Jesus could present His claims to a needy soul. From Him we learn that the Christian can witness anytime, any place. We cannot allow those opportunities to slip away.

Jesus was weary in John 4 and we might be weary during the best opportunities, but weariness did not stop our Lord and should never be our excuse that stops us.

She was an unlikely candidate for truth.

She was a Samaritan. She was a woman. She was at the base of the Samaritan temple.

He was an improbable source of truth.

Jesus was not looking as if he was equipped. He also appeared to be ignorant by his requests.

This was a dodgy scenario for truth.

The disciples walk in on the precarious scene. The disciples don’t find the food Jesus claims to have.

He gave unbelievable truth

The "What" Methods of witnessing

The Core - What is the εὐαγγέλιον?

What is the Gospel anyway? what exactly must be accepted for one to have embraced the Good News?
Accept the universal lordship of Jesus - Jesus is GOD
Accept Jesus is Savior: Salvation comes only through Jesus
The sin of God’s people is imputed to God’s Son
The righteousness of God’s Son is imputed to God’s people
Accept Jesus, the Christ, is the promised Messiah
Acknowledge Christ will return to judge the world and bring his people to glory
Respond ourselves by
Turning away from sin,
Turning towards God - Believing Jesus,
growing in Christlikeness
Invite others to respond in like manner
So, now knowing the core, how might we share this core Gospel with others?

Sharing personal testimony - What is the Witness?

John 4:29 LEB
“Come, see a man who told me everything I have ever done! Perhaps this one is the Christ?”
Ac 22:3–8 Paul uses the account of his conversion in witnessing.
Acts 22:3–8 LEB
“I am a Jewish man born in Tarsus in Cilicia, but brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, educated according to the exactness of the law received from our fathers, being zealous for God, just as all of you are today. I persecuted this Way to the death, tying up and delivering to prison both men and women, as indeed the high priest and the whole council of elders can testify about me, from whom also I received letters to the brothers in Damascus, and was traveling there to lead away those who were there also tied up to Jerusalem so that they could be punished. “And it happened that as I was traveling and approaching Damascus around noon, suddenly a very bright light from heaven flashed around me, and I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?’ And I answered, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ And he said to me, ‘I am Jesus the Nazarene whom you are persecuting.’
So, as much as possible, always begin a witnessing encounter with the Gospel. Confirm the Good News by sharing your personal testimony. This will make the Gospel message subjectively real by demonstrating the life-transforming power of the Holy Spirit from within your own life!

Explaining the Scriptures

Acts 8:30–35 LEB
So Philip ran up to it and heard him reading aloud Isaiah the prophet and said, “So then, do you understand what you are reading?” And he said, “So how could I, unless someone will guide me?” And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. Now the passage of scripture that he was reading aloud was this: “He was led like a sheep to the slaughter, and like a lamb before its shearer is silent, so he did not open his mouth. In his humiliation justice was taken from him. Who can describe his descendants? For his life was taken away from the earth.” And the eunuch answered and said to Philip, “I ask you, about whom does the prophet say this—about himself or about someone else?” So Philip opened his mouth and beginning from this scripture, proclaimed the good news to him about Jesus.
Bible Studies surely build and edify believers, but for the unbeliever they can be a witness.

Answering questions

Colossians 4:6 LEB
Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how it is necessary for you to answer each one.
If God has not prepared that person to respond to the gospel, he or she will raise objections. When this happens, identify what are the primary objections and switch gears from proclamation to apologetics.
Apologetics has become a discipline of study of the defense of the faith relying heavily on logic and reason in an attempt to remove intellectual (or anti-intellectual) barriers that hinders belief in the faith.
Be careful to just answer genuine questions.
Proverbs 26:4–5 LEB
Do not answer a fool according to his folly lest you become like him—even you. Answer a fool according to his folly, or else he will be wise in his own eyes.
The Word of God instructs us to use discernment in our witnessing and answering. One beautiful example comes to us in John chapter 9 where Jesus heals a blind man and the Pharisees have some obvious genuine questions. Now, notice in this passage that the Pharisees don't believe in Jesus, but they are genuine in their questioning:
John 9:8–11 LEB
Then the neighbors and those who saw him previously (because he was a beggar) began to say, “Is this man not the one who used to sit and beg?” Others were saying, “It is this man”; others were saying, “No, but he is like him.” That one was saying, “I am he!” So they began to say to him, “How were your eyes opened?” He replied, “The man who is called Jesus made clay and smeared it on my eyes and said to me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash!’ So I went, and I washed, and I received sight.”
John 9:15–17 LEB
So the Pharisees also were asking him again how he received sight. And he said to them, “He put clay on my eyes, and I washed, and I see.” So some of the Pharisees were saying, “This man is not from God, because he does not observe the Sabbath!” Others were saying, “How can a man who is a sinner perform such signs?” And there was a division among them. So they said to the blind man again, “What do you say about him, because he opened your eyes?” And he said, “He is a prophet.”
John 9:24–25 LEB
So they summoned the man who had been blind for the second time and said to him, “Give glory to God! We know that this man is a sinner!” Then that man replied, “Whether he is a sinner I do not know. One thing I know—that although I was blind, now I see!”

Through writing

Tracs - illustration of Coach Castillo and his once-Mormon wife working at a Burger King and finding a trac in the trash can
Books - The wordless book for kids
John 20:31 LEB
but these things are recorded in order that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
Luke 1:1–4 LEB
Since many have attempted to compile an account concerning the events that have been fulfilled among us, just as those who were eyewitnesses and servants of the word from the beginning passed on to us, it seemed best to me also—because I have followed all things carefully from the beginning—to write them down in orderly sequence for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty concerning the things about which you were taught.

Through holy living

Matthew 5:16 LEB
In the same way let your light shine before people, so that they can see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven.
Last week I mentioned how important our holy difference is to our world. This difference is a witness and a testimony--a witness to the Good News and a testimony to a Gospel changed life.
Illustration: Matt Von demonstrated holy living by NEVER complaining about anything or anyone--HE WAS DIFFERENT! Matt's words meant something to me, but it was his life that screamed truth to me.
Danger: some people have said to me that it is not necessary to say anything to an unbeliever as long as you are living holy before them--that since actions speak louder that words, but it is WRONG to think that we might excuse ourselves from being a verbal witness based on our righteous living. What do these people then do with Romans 10:14?
Romans 10:14 LEB
How then will they call upon him in whom they have not believed? And how will they believe in him about whom they have not heard? And how will they hear about him without one who preaches to them?
And finally, Peter gives wives strict instructions to the disobedient, unbelieving husband that through holy living the husband can believe and obey:
1 Peter 3:1–2 LEB
In the same way, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some are disobedient to the word, they may be won over without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful, pure conduct.

The How - The manner of witnessing

With love

Mark 10:21 LEB
And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: Go, sell all that you have, and give the proceeds to the poor—and you will have treasure in heaven—and come, follow me.”
See also Php 1:15–17
Philippians 1:15–17 LEB
Some even because of envy and strife preach Christ, but some also because of good will. The latter do so from love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel. The former proclaim Christ from selfish ambition, not sincerely, thinking to raise up affliction in my imprisonment.

With urgency

2 Corinthians 5:20 LEB
Therefore we are ambassadors on behalf of Christ, as if God were imploring you through us. We beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.
Ezekiel 33:7–9 LEB
“And you, son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; if you hear a word from my mouth, then you must warn them from me. When I say to the wicked, ‘Wicked one, you will certainly die,’ and you did not speak to warn the wicked from his way, he, the wicked, will die by his guilt, but his blood I will seek from your hand. But, you, if you warn the wicked from his way, to turn from it, and he does not turn from his way, he will die by his guilt, and you will have saved your life.


Ephesians 6:19–20 LEB
and for me, that a word may be given to me at the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, for the sake of which I am an ambassador in chains, that in them I may speak freely, as it is necessary for me to speak.
Acts 4:29 LEB
And now, Lord, concern yourself with their threats and grant your slaves to speak your message with all boldness,
Romans 1:16 LEB
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.
Acts 1:8 - do you believe you have the power of the Gospel?
Acts 1:8 LEB
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the farthest part of the earth.”

Clearly & courteously

1 Peter 3:15 LEB
but set Christ apart as Lord in your hearts, always ready to make a defense to anyone who asks you for an accounting concerning the hope that is in you.
See also Ac 26:1–3; Col 4:4–6
By knowing what kind of an unbeliever you are encountering in terms of belief in God and perception of salvation; by knowing when to stress the law, the gospel, or apologetics; and by discerning the difference between a tough-minded and tender-minded person, your effectiveness in evangelism will be greatly enhanced.
Presenting the law or applying apologetics to a tender-minded person who already knows she’s a sinner separated from God, is unnecessary. She doesn’t need convincing. Share the mercy and love of Jesus and what Jesus has done for you and will do for her. Stress the Gospel's Grace.
The tough-minded person who thinks he’s “good enough” to enter heaven on his own merits must see that no one is sinless, no one is to stand before a just and holy God and plead innocent. No one gains admittance to heaven based on his own behavior. No one’s that good. Stress the Mosaic Law/God's demand for perfection.
My Favorite Illustrations Just Sow the Seed

A farmer does not wrest the plant from the seed. He sows the seed and leaves the result to God. If God’s people are faithful in sowing the seed, God will be faithful in giving the harvest.

Always try to start a witnessing encounter with the gospel. If the unbeliever responds to the gospel, forget apologetics and pursue proclamation—continue to proclaim the “good news” of Christ
The job of apologetics is to pave the way for a presentation of the gospel. In this sense, apologetics is “pre-evangelism.” It identifies and removes intellectual obstacles that hinder someone from considering the gospel message
When sharing the gospel, avoid theological subjects that will be confusing to unbelievers, like eschatology or predestination. Likewise, avoid controversial, in-house issues such as speaking in tongues or wine drinking. We should never muddy the waters of good evangelism with topics Christians may rightfully disagree on (see Rom. 14 and 1 Cor. 8).

So What?

As we are commanded by God to go and make disciples, we ought to willingly, out of a love response, obey. Make no mistake about the fact that it is The Holy Spirit Who brings the dead to life and illuminates the hearts of man, YET we are privileged with the responsibility to share our hope.
I want to leave you with wise and simple words from the Duke of Wellington

The Duke of Wellington is best known for his defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo. However, one time a young minister asked him for advice as to how he could succeed in the ministry. The Duke asked, “What are your marching orders?” The young man quoted the Great Commission in Matthew 28:19–20. The Duke responded, “Then what are you waiting for?”

A good question for us this morning at Grace, what are you waiting for? Go, make disciples
A church that is not growing is a church that is not 'going'
Don't delay in our marching orders, go and tell your world about Jesus, the Messiah.
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