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Handbook of Personal Evangelism by Dr. A. Ray Stanford

I N T R O D U C T I O N

THERE IS AN URGENT NEED FOR MEN AND WOMEN TO DEDICATE THEMSELVES TO THE IMPORTANT TASK OF BECOMING SPECIALISTS IN SOULWINNING!

Simplicity

This book is written to guide a Christian in his personal witnessing so that he will present the plan of salvation in a clear and simple way that the lost can understand. To achieve simplicity in presenting the gospel takes much thought, much effort, and much practice. We must give the message in words the people can understand.

A doctor cannot communicate with most of his patients by using medical terminology. What the physician says may be true, but most patients will not be able to grasp the meaning. The Scriptures tell us in II Cor. 3:12, "Seeing then that we have such hope, we use great plainness of speech," and in I Cor. 14:8, 9, "For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle? So like wise ye, except ye utter by the tongue words easy to be understood, how shall it be known what is spoken? For ye shall speak into the air."

Communication is with words, and they have to be on the level of the person's understanding. Christ said, "Feed My sheep." He did not say, "Feed My giraffes."

As we prepare ourselves to reach a person for the Lord, we must constantly bear in mind how our words will come across to the lost. Remember, the average American cannot quote two Scriptures from memory. We do the lost a great injustice to speak in ecclesiastical terms which, though they may be precious to us, do not convey the proper meaning to the unsaved . . . and this defeats our whole purpose in witnessing.

Many people testify that before they were saved, although they went to church regularly and heard their minister use terms like "born again," "redemption," "justification," "propitiation," etc., they didn't understand that Christ had paid for all their sins on the cross. They didn't understand the gospel.

It is a crime to keep people from coming to know the Lord as their Saviour because we felt like exhibiting our "30,000 word vocabulary." Some may feel that a speaker is not "educated" unless he uses words the people cannot understand. They completely overlook the fact that to make something understandable takes much brilliance, thought, and work. As you strive to make the message plain, you will discover that "simplicity" is not simple . . . but it will greatly increase the fruit in your ministry.

Why We Should Witness

1. THE NEED: God is real. Heaven is real. Hell is real. The Bible is the Word of God and tells us that all those who have not received Christ as their Saviour will spend eternity in hell . . . separated from God, in conscious torment (Luke 16:23-26; John 3:18).

Knowing the terrible destiny of the unsaved. should motivate anyone with any compassion at all to explain the plan of salvation to them. Paul said, "Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men . . ." (II Cor. 5:11 ) . I cannot understand how any person who really knows he will go to heaven when he dies could be so selfish as to keep the best news in the world from the lost who so desperately need Christ as their Saviour.

It would be like not warning the sleeping occupants of a burning building of their great peril. To stand by and watch the building burn and let the people die in the flames would be a great and grievous sin.

A woman once said to me, "I used to have a real burden for souls, but I have learned not to let it bother me, and now I just don't think about it any more." This person is a very busy church worker and is well thought of by her Christian friends. Do you think she is well thought of by God?

I believe when we stand before the Lord Jesus Christ every Christian will wish he could call back the time and start witnessing as he should have while on earth, because then he will fully realize the need of souls for Christ as their Saviour. Now is the time to witness. Later will be too late.

2. GOD'S COMMAND: God has given every Christian a job, a responsibility, a command. "Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature" (Mark 16:15). You can obey God's command, or you can disobey it. But your orders are still to WITNESS.

Remember, witnessing is a command of God, not a leading. God leads those who are already obeying His command to a particular field of service. Obey God's command of "GO" in the Scriptures! You don't stop your car when the signal light says, "GO!"

"I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ . . . PREACH THE WORD; be instant in season, out of season . . ." (II Timothy 4:1, 2). "For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!" (I Cor. 9:16).

If a father tells his son to mow the yard, and the son replies, "I don't feel led to . . . I'd rather watch television . . . but praise your name, Father, what is your will for me?" If my son said this to me, I would again tell him, "Go mow the yard!" If my son still didn't mow the yard, I assure you, it wouldn't be long until he would be in the "lawn-mowing business."

When you feel like it, and when you don't, you should consistently give out the gospel. We are in a battle for the souls of men. Soldiers cannot stop fighting on the battle field just because they don't feel like fighting. God has chosen us to be soldiers for Him. There are enough "conscientious objectors." God is looking for loyal, front-line troops who will give themselves wholeheartedly to the task at hand . . . telling others the good news of salvation.

3. OUR PRIVILEGE: God could have chosen angels to carry the message of salvation -- but He didn't. God gave every Christian the privilege and responsibility to be a carrier of the gospel. "But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts" (I Thess. 2:4). "To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath COMMITTED UNTO US the word of reconciliation" (II Cor. 5:19).

Since God loved me enough to pay for my sins and give me eternal life, I certainly am not going to be ashamed of the gospel. Romans 10:17 says that "faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the Word of God." It is when people hear the gospel that they are saved. "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth . . ." (Romans 1:16).

No Christian can claim inability to witness and blame God for it because the last words of Christ upon earth were, "But ye shall receive POWER, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto Me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the Uttermost part of the earth" (Acts 1:8). As Christians, we already have the power, but sometimes we don't seem to want to use the power.

There is no greater joy than to lead a person to Christ. It is one of the many fruits God promises to those who obey Him. In addition to the peace of mind which comes from knowing we are doing as our Lord and Saviour has commanded us, God also promises rewards later on for the soul winner (Prov. 11:30; Dan. 12:3; I Thess. 2:19).

No book man could write could give you the desire to witness. Only the great love of God could constrain you to do so (II Cor. 5:14). Salvation is voluntary . . . you had to DECIDE to accept Christ as your Saviour. Service is also voluntary . . . you must DECIDE that the salvation of souls is worth disciplining your life.

It is our prayer that this book will give you concrete, practical suggestions on HOW to witness effectively.

"Herein is my Father glorified, that
ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be My
disciples" (John 15:8 ) .


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