The Opening and the Close
We believe it is a very rare instance when the Lord Himself would actually prefer that you say nothing at all about Him.
You perhaps will not have the opportunity to fully explain the plan of salvation to everyone with whom you have contact, but you should definitely be in prayer continually as to exactly what God WOULD have you say.
There could never be "rules" for conversation openers because each time you meet someone you will have to judge the situation. However, there are some guidelines which can help you as you are beginning to witness. In time you will discover which ways work best for you in certain situations, and you will usually be able to sense, through the leading of the Holy Spirit, the best way to approach the person with the gospel.
It is very important, as you begin to witness, to gain "favorable attention." Be friendly. Be pleasant. Be gracious. Look for opportunities to give a sincere compliment. Be alert to notice (from the other person's remarks) what his interests are, and what his philosophies are, so you can make use of these clues he has given you as you present the gospel to him. The wonderful thing about the gospel is that it meets the needs of every individual, but we should be careful to explain it properly to people so that they can SEE it will meet their need.
Sometimes several approaches will be necessary before you discover what will really open the person up to the love of Christ. Perhaps this is the key thought - not the exact words you will say so much as how you can get the person's mind open to the Lord and the Bible.
If the Lord leads you to start witnessing "cold, right off the bat" to someone you have never met - fine. Do it. However, you will usually find the person more receptive to the gospel if you can first talk with him about something he is already interested in. Sometimes you will take as long as half an hour or more in doing this; other times you can do it in a very few minutes. Each person and situation will be different, and the Lord will lead you as you go about "preparing the way" for a good presentation of the gospel.
We are not suggesting you "beat around the bush" when you witness. Not at all. But you will find that if first you speak to the person in terms of what interests HIM, he will be more disposed to listen when you speak about what interests YOU.
Your interest in this person should be genuine. You will find that people are absolutely starving for someone to care about them. This is so MUCH to your advantage. The time and effort you spend being kind to the person will really pay off in souls won to Christ, and in your influence upon him to serve the Lord after he is saved, as well.
A careful reading of Dale Carnegie's book How to Win Friends and Influence People should be of great value to you as a soulwinner. This is not advocating trickery of any sort, nor is it minimizing the work of the Holy Spirit. But it is well to have a thorough understanding of what motivates people and to use this understanding correctly for the Lord Jesus Christ. The principles in Mr. Carnegie's book are generally quite Scriptural and are presented in a clear, interesting manner.
Below is a sample conversation I might use as I start witnessing to a saleslady. You can use this approach to people of all walks of life, asking them how they became interested in whatever line of work they happen to be in.
WITNESS: "How did you become interested in selling clothing?"
SALESLADY: "As a teenager I was interested in fashion, so I was happy to get this job a few years ago in women's apparel."
WITNESS: "Guess you meet all kinds of people in selling."
SALESLADY: "Yes, it is very interesting. What kind of work are you in?"
Note: People invariably ask what you do after you have spoken to them about what they do. No matter WHAT your vocation is, your answer can be used to lead them into the gospel.
WITNESS: "I am a secretary . . . but my main interest is in people."
Note: Here is where you can give your personal testimony. As you are reading this book, take time out and go over your testimony and think of things that would be of interest to most people. This doesn't mean to make up things and put them into your testimony. Some Christians lament that their testimony isn't "interesting." But you will be amazed, if you spend time thinking and planning, how many little things have occurred in your life that you can word in such a way as to be extremely interesting to others. Most people will be interested in hearing what has happened to you. There is a certain curiosity value here.
As you plan, you should arrange your testimony into various lengths of presentation. You should be able to give the plan of salvation through your testimony in two minutes, five minutes, ten minutes, half an hour, or hours. When you have this settled in your mind and ready for use as the situation indicates, you will find you have more courage to witness because you will be prepared.
You like to talk about what you know. A baseball enthusiast loves to talk about baseball and revels in his knowledge of the players' averages. I'm sure you know people who think they are experts in some subjects and can't wait for an opportunity to air their knowledge.
Fear or hesitancy to witness usually comes from a lack of confidence in your knowledge of the subject. Pat yourself on the back for being interested in studying soul winning enough to read this book! But, obviously, just reading a book cannot furnish you with all you need to win souls.
These four things will help you to overcome your fear of witnessing:
To be a great soulwinner, you must study and practice, study and practice, and study and practice some more. Another concrete aid in overcoming fear of witnessing is an "ever ready" presentation of the gospel through your own testimony.
If you have a close Christian friend who is also interested in soulwinning, perhaps you could get together and "practice" on each other. Give your testimony to each other as you would to a lost person. Hearing one another will help you in recognizing phrases you could word better, etc. Also, after you have given your testimony a few times, you will gain more confidence.
A tape recorder can also be helpful to you. Tape your testimony and see if you like how you sound. You might discover several things in your speaking you would like to change . . . perhaps you speak too fast, use too many "uh's," or repeat a favorite cliché more than is pleasing to the ear.
No one becomes a perfect soulwinner overnight. But remember, it isn't your eloquence, anyway, that God is going to bless, but your faithful, loving presentation of the gospel. The important thing is to START witnessing now. Witness to somebody TODAY.
"He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him" (Psalm 126:6).
USING CURRENT NEWS AS A CONVERSATION OPENER
If you can relate a current news item to Scripture as a fulfillment of prophecy, a conversation is then opened for the gospel.
The cancerous growth of communism throughout the world, and this includes America, can be used to interest people in the Word of God. It probably is wise to leave "politics" as such out of the conversation, but at the same time there is no reason not to mention that government policies which aid atheism and communism certainly are unscriptural.
There is an intricately involved study of prophetic Scripture on the subject of the "last world ruling power" which cannot be entered into in this handbook of personal evangelism, but we will mention some verses briefly you might want to use to arouse a person's interest in hearing more of the Bible - which, we pray, will be verses on salvation.
1. God foretells in Daniel 7:23 that the last world ruling power will "devour the whole earth." America is not excluded from this terrible dominion, as much as we wish it were.
2. Daniel 8:23 says the ruler of the latter time will use "dark sentences" which, according to the Hebrew, means "trickery."
3. Daniel 8:24 tells us of his great satanic power, the increase of his dominion, and the martyrdom of Christians at his hand.
4. Daniel 8:25 lets us know that his policy is to use "craft." The Hebrew for this is "deceit." His policies shall be advanced through using deceit. He will think he is very great, but the Lord Jesus Christ, the Prince of princes, shall eventually conquer him.
5. Daniel 11:21 says this ruler shall say there will be peace (Hebrew, "promise of peace, false or true") and shall conquer nations through false platforms.
6. Daniel 11:24 - This ruler shall have had no precedent in his wicked works. No man shall have done evil like this before. He will "scatter among them the prey" . . . promise great economic security to the nations, but not come through with his false promise except for a short time to gain their confidence and allegiance.
7. Daniel 11:36 - The ruler will not believe in God. He will prosper until the end of the Great Tribulation when Christ shall break him in pieces (Dan. 2:45).
Our beloved America is following this world-wide socialistic trend which we believe is the system God describes as the last world ruling power. The Ecumenical Movement also plays its part in this "one-worldism," which we shall discuss in Chapter 14.
When a person realizes that communism is sweeping the entire world, including his own country, he is usually quite receptive to the gospel. Who would want to go through the Great Tribulation? God promises that His people will not have to. It is only for the unsaved on the earth at that time (1Thess. 1:10; 5:9; Rev. 3:10; Isa. 26:20).
It is not profitable to go into myriads of detail on prophecy of this sort with a lost person because its proper understanding could not come until a person is saved and has studied the Bible quite thoroughly. But as a conversation opener - used to go from a general topic INTO THE GOSPEL - it can be very valuable.
USING PROPHECY OF THE JEWS AS A CONVERSATION OPENER
Hearing about something that has happened in our own lifetime impresses us more vividly than hearing of some thing that happened before we were born.
For this reason, the return of the Jew to the land of Israel in May, 1948, is of particular value as a conversation opener. This prophecy was fulfilled within the lifetime of anyone over 43 years of age (as of this printing in 1991).
Amos 9:14, 15, "And I will bring again the captivity of My people of Israel, and they shall build the waste cities, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and drink the wine thereof; they shall also make gardens, and eat the fruit of them. And I will plant them upon their land, and they shall no more be pulled up out of their land which I have given them, saith the Lord thy God."
Isaiah 27:12, "And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall beat off from the channel of the river unto the stream of Egypt, and ye shall be gathered one by one, O ye children of Israel."
Hosea 3:4, 5, "For the children of Israel shall abide many days without a king, and without a prince, and without a sacrifice, and without an image, and without an ephod, and without teraphim: Afterward shall the children of Israel return, and seek the Lord their God, and David their king; and shall fear the Lord and His goodness in the latter days. "
You might also mention WHY the Jews were scattered. In the twenty-sixth chapter of Leviticus God gives the conditions of blessings and warnings of chastisement for the nation Israel. The final chastisement after continued disobedience is DISPERSION.
Leviticus 26:32, 33, "And I will bring the land into desolation: and your enemies which dwell therein shall be astonished at it. And I will scatter you among the heathen, and will draw out a sword after you: and your land shall be desolate, and your cities waste."
Deuteronomy 28:63 - 66 describes the scope of the final Old Testament dispersion, "And it shall come to pass, that as the Lord rejoiced over you to do you good, and to multiply you; so the Lord will rejoice over you to destroy you, and to bring you to naught; and ye shall be plucked from off the land whither thou goest to possess it. And the Lord shall scatter thee among all people, from the one end of the earth even unto the other; and there thou shalt serve other gods, which neither thou nor thy fathers have known, even wood and stone."
In Mark 14:27 Christ quoted from Zechariah 13:7 which says, ". . . saith the Lord of hosts: smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered . . . ," indicating that the Jews would again be scattered, this time because of their attitude toward the Messiah - for not receiving Him.
If you will have in your mind what you want to say in regard to the Jews going back to the Land as a fulfilled prophecy, you will be amazed to discover how often the Lord will allow conversations of people around you to make a perfect gateway for your remarks.
This prophecy will arouse their interest in the Bible and you should then lead the conversation into the plan of salvation. Perhaps, if Jewish people are present, begin with prophecy about the Messiah. Chapter 12 of this book will give details on witnessing to Jews.
USING TRACTS TO OPEN CONVERSATIONS
Check What's Required:
No. 1 - It is impossible to get to heaven this way. The Bible says: (see Romans 3:19 - 28).
"Therefore we conclude that a man is justified (vindicated) by faith without the deeds of the law." (Romans 3:28)
No. 2,3, or 4 - These things could never save you. The Bible says:
"Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us..." (Titus 3:5)
No. 5,6, or 7 - Good works can not save anyone. The Bible states:
"For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: It is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast." (Ephesians 2:8,9)
No. 8,9,10 or 11 - We can not be saved by works, regardless of how good or well intended. God saves us by His grace (mercy). The Bible says: "And if by grace, then it is no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. but if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work." (Romans 11:6)
No. 12 or 13 - Water baptism and communion are for those who are already saved. It is not our work that saves us, but faith in Christ. The Bible says: "But to him that worketh not, but believeth on Him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness." (Romans 4:5)
No. 14 - This can not save you. The Bible says:
"They which are the children of the flesh these are not the children of God..." (Romans 9:8)
"But as many as received Him (Christ), to them gave He power to become the Sons of God, even to them that believe on His Name: which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God." (John 1:12,13)
"Not of blood" means "not of one's parentage." You must be born of God to be saved.
No. 15,16 or 17 - These are man - made doctrines and are not taught in the Bible. God says:
"But in vain they do worship Me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men." (Matthew 15:9)
No! None of these things can save you. You can do nothing to earn eternal life. It is faith in the Lord Jesus Christ alone that can save you.
"And by Him (Christ) all that believe are justified from all things, from which you could not be justified by the law of Moses." (Acts 13:39)
The way to have eternal life is not found in what we do ourselves, but by having a perfect righteousness given to us. We receive this when we believe the Lord Jesus Christ took our sins on Himself and paid for them by His death on the cross.
"For He (God) has made Him (Christ) to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him." (II Corinthians 5:21)
You do not receive eternal life by working for it or by trying to make yourself behave. You receive eternal life by believing the record God gave of His son. Remember, if you disagree with these statements you are calling God a liar.
"...He that believeth not God hath made Him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of His Son. And this is the record, that God has given to us eternal life, and this life is in His Son." (I John 5:10,11)
God, in His Sovereignty, permits man's destiny to depend on man's choice.
"...He that believeth on Him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the Name of the only begotten Son of God." (John 3:18)
AFTER you are saved, obedience to God brings love, joy, peace and happiness into your life (Gal. 5:22,23).
When we disobey God, He will punish us, but our punishment will never be hell. God deals with us as a father deals with his son. (I Cor. 3:15; I Cor. 5:5; I Cor. 11:32).
God will never cast us out or lose us.
"...Him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out...all which He hath given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day." (John 6:37,39)
Doesn't it make sense to believe on the One who came back from the dead and trust Him for the payment of your sin? Why not do it now and you can be sure of going to heaven when you die. He loves you. Right now, why not accept the payment He has made for your sins and you can KNOW you have eternal life.
"These things I have written unto you that believe on the Name of the Son of God; that ye may KNOW that ye have eternal life..." (I John 5:13)
Christ Died...That's History
Christ Died For Me...That's Salvation!
"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that
whosoever (your name)
believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." (John 3:16)
Friend, if you can sincerely put your name in the blank space above, on the authority of God's Word, you can KNOW you have eternal life.
"Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that believeth on ME HATH (possesses now) everlasting life." (John 6:47)
If you are now trusting in Christ alone for your salvation - and in nothing else - you have become His workmanship, saved to do good works (Ephesians 2:10). You should read the Bible, tell others the Gospel, pray, and fellowship with other believers.
G.C.C., P.O. Box 775
Pharr, TX 78577
While undoubtedly any clear salvation tract can be used in your witnessing, we have pictured in this chapter the "Heaven" tract, which has proven exceptionally effective as a conversation opener, because of its probing title, "Am I Going to Heaven?"
If you have only a few moments, you can simple give this pamphlet to someone with a remark such as, "I'd like to give this to you to read. I think you will find it very interesting."
When people receive this tract, they almost invariably ask a question or make a comment about it - and this is your direct lead into the plan of salvation. Often they will say something like, "Not me, I'll never make it to heaven." This is fine, because then you know they already realize THEIR works are unable to make them fit for heaven.
If you have the time, it is well to go over the tract with them first, explaining that while the list contains many wonderful things to do, the Bible says good works cannot save a person, and that they need to trust Christ as the One who has made complete payment for their sins. Show them John 3:16 on the back page and how they can put their name in the blank space when they believe in Christ as their Saviour.
This tract is not copyrighted. The original author has given his permission for the tract to be used by others. It has been revised twice from the original form. We know of over two million copies of this tract that have been given out. Because of its unusual clarity in presenting the plan of salvation, and because of its tremendously fruitful results, we encourage you to use it also. Your group can have these tracts printed by an offset press. If you would like a few sample copies, you may write to Pastor Wally Morillo, P.O. Box 775, Pharr, TX 78577.
We think you will be pleased with the way it will increase your ministry.
Note: May we suggest that if you are leaving a tract with a tip for a waiter or waitress, that you leave a generous tip. They will probably be more inclined to read it because of your kindness to them.
THE "GOOD NEWS" CARD - UNIQUE CONVERSATION OPENER
Everybody likes to hear good news, and this idea has been incorporated into a telephone ministry called TEL-EVANGELISM, using two-and-one-half minute recordings, in endless tape cartridges, of the plan of salvation.
USING TEL-EVANGELISM AS A CONVERSATION OPENER
Miami, Florida, was the experimental city for a new kind of ministry, TEL-EVANGELISM, which, as the name implies, is evangelism by telephone and is an excellent conversation opener with the "good news" card to be handed out. For information on how your group can have this unique, inexpensive ministry write: TEL-EVANGELISM, Inc., Rev. Herbert Paynter, 3313 Fowler Blvd., Lawrenceville, GA 30301 (404) 921-5078.
Printed below is a sample "TEL-ADULT" message:
"Thank you for calling. This is a recording of the best news you could hear. First, ask yourself this question: 'Where are you going when you die?' Have you ever wondered if some of the things you have done would keep you from going to heaven? You can know right now whether or not you are going to heaven or hell. The reason you can know now is because your destination of heaven or hell does not depend on what you do. It depends upon your acceptance of what God has already done for you.
"The good news is that God tells us He saves us by paying for our sins and giving us eternal life. Look up and study carefully Ephesians 2:8, 9, 'For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.'
"Amazing, isn't it? But God said that He would save us through faith, not what we do ourselves. It is the gift of God. This means that it is free to us, because God has paid the price.
"Why not take God at His Word and believe that 'God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.' This would make you God's child - this believing in Him - and then, when you disobey Him you would certainly receive punishment, but He would never lose you or cast you out. God guarantees this to us in John 6:37 and 39. If you trust Christ as your Saviour, God will deal with you as His son, and while the punishment for what you do wrong will never be hell, because you are now His child, He will chasten you because He loves you.
"To have eternal life you do not have to join a church or pay money; in fact, you can do nothing to earn eternal life. You simply accept the payment for your sins that God has already made for you. Believe the record God gave of His Son.
"You can trust Him. Why not, right now, silently, tell God you believe that He paid for your sins on the cross, just like He said He did. Right now, receive Christ as your Saviour. God bless you."
You can see that the message is a non-denominational, clear, gospel presentation with an invitation to receive Christ as Saviour at the end. The person is then invited to call your church or your appointed counselor to receive further information or to have any questions he might have answered from the Bible. This "call back" number has proven very valuable because the caller then receives Scriptural counsel from a qualified soulwinner. This soulwinner could be someone confined to bed, a housewife, or anyone who wants an opportunity to witness to those actively seeking the Lord Jesus Christ.
The soulwinners using TEL-EVANGELISM report that over 90% of those who call this "call back" number indicate they are accepting Christ as their Saviour.
Using this "good news" card as a conversation opener is really unusually effective, for while some people will refuse a tract, almost everyone is pleased to receive this "good news" card. People want to hear good news! This card seems to cause an instant rapport, as well as to arouse an interest and desire in the person to hear more about this "good news."
Very often the person will ask questions that you can answer directly with the plan of salvation . . . and from the conversations opened many have received Christ as their Saviour even before they had the opportunity to call the TEL-EVANGELISM number!
THE CLOSE - THE INVITATION TIME
It is extremely important not to try to close before the person understands the plan of salvation. When you feel sure he understands the gospel and you are ready to ask him to trust Christ as his Saviour, then do so. Don't wait.
Here is a sample conversation:
THE WITNESS: "Does what I have been saying make sense to you?"
THE LOST: "Yes, it does."
THE WITNESS: "Since it makes sense to you, wouldn't you like to receive Christ as your Saviour right now?"
THE LOST: "Yes, I would like to do that."
THE WITNESS: "All right, the best you know how, do you really believe Jesus was the Lord and that He paid for all your sin?"
THE LOST: "Yes, I do."
THE WITNESS: "I am so glad, because when you believe this God says you can KNOW you have eternal life. Look at this verse: I John 5:13, 'These things have I written unto you that believe on the Name of the Son of God, that ye may KNOW that ye have eternal life....'"
If for some reason the lost persistently refuses to trust the Lord, or if he seems really set against pursuing the subject of salvation, it may be best to let the subject "drop" for the time being. But I would certainly caution such a person with a remark such as, "You know, you are in a very precarious position, rejecting the Lord who loves you so much. If I were you, I would certainly give this much thought and not waste any time coming to a decision, because if you were to die now, in your present condition, you would go to hell." This must be done in love, though firmly. You could use a verse like John 3:18, showing him he is condemned because of his unbelief.
An effective way to get the person to see the error of NOT accepting Christ as his Saviour is to use I John 5:10, "He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God HATH MADE HIM A LIAR: because he believeth not the record that GOD gave of His Son."
Most people will readily admit they wouldn't call God a liar. And yet, if they don't believe what the Bible says about Christ and salvation, that is exactly what they are doing.
Use I John 5:9 which says "If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is GREATER...." Every time we go into the grocery store and buy something in a can, we "receive the witness of men" when we believe that the label on the can TELLS THE TRUTH about what is in the can. When we buy tomato soup we never stop to worry if maybe it will turn out to be onion soup. We take the company at its word. We are receiving the witness of men.
When a boy tells a girl he is going to marry her, the girl accepts his word, and they become "engaged." She believes her young man is telling the truth. She isn't calling him a liar. She receives the "witness" of this man. Sometimes people make mistakes. Sometimes they will be wrong. Sometimes they will even lie. But the Bible says if we receive the witness of men, who are fallible, HOW MUCH MORE we should receive the witness of God who is infallible - who never makes a mistake - who never lies (Titus 1:2; Psalm 18:30).
Occasionally a person is so obstinate, and even blasphemous toward the Lord that a statement like, "If you died in your present condition and didn't go to hell, it would be the first time the Bible ever made a mistake," is necessary for him to realize the gravity of the situation that he is in.
It amazes me how seemingly totally indifferent some people are to the gospel. Romans, chapter one, verses 18 - 32 give us a picture, a horrible picture, of unsaved mankind. You could call it "evolution in reverse." When man was created, he had fellowship with God. But mankind has gone downward, not upward. Atheism and idolatry don't come from ignorance (Rom. 1:19, 20, 28) but from WILLFUL refusal of the truth.
During the invitation to receive the Lord, don't ask him to change his life or to make any promises to God. This has nothing to do with his salvation and will only confuse the issue in his mind.
The invitation time is one of the most CRUCIAL times in your witnessing. You can either drive the person from Christ or lead him to Christ as a result of what you say, the way you say it, and how you word it.
Many people, having a sincere desire to see the person come to have the joys of serving the Lord, speak of salvation and service in the "same breath," and we have heard many, many testimonies of those who had heard this kind of invitation, who testify they were never saved under that preaching, but were only confused, made bitter, and caused to think they could never be saved because they didn't think they could change the way they were living.
Preach the gospel of salvation by grace through faith . . . God the Holy Spirit will save the person, indwell his life, and give him the power then to live a life pleasing to the Lord. "For it is God which worketh in you, both to will and to do of His good pleasure" (Phil. 2:13).
ONE CAUTION: You will do harm to the new Christian to TELL him he will go to heaven, without having him see it for himself in the Bible. His assurance shouldn't come from the word of any person, but from the Word of the Lord.