Upon completion of this chapter you will be able to:
. . .Many of the Samaritans of that city believed on Him, for the saying of the woman, which testified, He told me all that ever I did. (John 4:39)
You have learned that New Testament methods of sharing the Gospel included both personal and group evangelism. In this lesson you will learn how to do personal evangelism. In Chapter Ten you will learn how to deal with difficulties you may encounter in personal evangelism.
Personal evangelism is just what the name reflects: It is sharing the Gospel personally with individuals. It is person-to-person, one-to-one evangelism. Personal evangelism is done in one of the following three ways:
You are a silent witness to the Gospel by your Christian lifestyle. Your life will be a witness to something, whether intentionally or not. If your life is not in harmony with your verbal witness of the Gospel, it hinders people from responding to salvation.
Although Christian conduct is the strongest silent witness, some people also wear “religious” jewelry or hang Biblical verses or pictures in their home, business, or car. Sometimes these items lead to a verbal witness when an unsaved person asks about them.
Gospel tracts are brief messages from the Word of God usually commercially printed on small pieces of paper. They are inexpensive and light weight, so large numbers can be carried and freely distributed to those with whom you come in contact.
You can give a Gospel tract to anyone–those you do business with, friends, relatives, even people you pass on the street. You can enclose them in letters you write and leave them in libraries, stores, restaurants, and offices. You can also place them in bus, train, or airplane stations.
When you personally give a Gospel tract to someone say, “Here is something good to read” or “Here is something that changed my life and I would like to share it with you.” Statements like these often lead to a verbal witness of the Gospel.
When you select tracts for personal evangelism, consider the following questions:
Write your name, address, and telephone number somewhere on the tract so if a person wants additional spiritual help they can contact you. Many commercially produced tracts provide a blank space for this. A tract is not a substitute for a verbal witness, but a supplement to it. The value of a tract is that it can continue its witness after you are gone.
Although a silent witness and sharing the Gospel with tracts are both effective, remember that these are not all the Great Commission requires. It requires that you verbally share the Gospel.
Verbal witness in personal evangelism is usually done on an informal basis rather than by formal preaching or teaching. It may be done by going house-to-house sharing the Gospel. It can be done in homes for the aged, hospitals, prisons, schools, businesses, and at special evangelistic events. You can personally share the Gospel with friends, relatives, neighbors, and school and business associates. You can do personal evangelism by becoming a counselor at a mass crusade or an altar worker in your church. In personal evangelism, you can share the Gospel with anyone with whom you come in contact.
Personal evangelism can be done in an interview style, like Jesus did with the woman at the well in John 4. You can focus on something you observe a person doing or a visible need you might see they have. You can ask them leading questions that provide opportunity to share the Gospel.
Personal evangelism may be done by sharing with others the testimony of what Jesus has done in your life. In John 4, the Samaritan woman returned to the city and shared her personal experience. As a result, many people came to meet Jesus and hear the Gospel. The Scriptures record that. . .
The woman’s testimony was brief, because as yet she knew little about the Lord. She simply said, “He told me all that ever I did.” What she did know about the Lord was a reality to her. It was first-hand knowledge and God wonderfully used her words.
God will bless the faltering testimony of a new believer who knows personally of what he speaks more than the theologically correct message of one who is preaching things not real in his own heart.
Sharing the story of how you came to know Jesus and what He means to you is a powerful evangelistic tool. Your testimony brings Jesus out of the pages of the Bible, away from religion and the church, and shows Him to be alive and working today. People might be able to dismiss the Bible or religion, but they cannot deny the reality of a true experience. A person with an experience is never at the mercy of one with an argument!
If you are nervous about giving your testimony, it is helpful to write it out and study it before you share it with others. Here are some questions to think about as you prepare your testimony:
-What led you to start thinking about God?
-How did you come to know Jesus?
-What difference has knowing Him made in your life?
-What difference has it made in your family?
-How has your life been changed?
-What wonderful or miraculous things have occurred?
(For example, have you been healed or delivered from drugs or alcohol?)
After you write out your testimony, first share it with a Christian friend. Ask them to suggest changes that might help you lead an unbeliever to the Lord. Then practice your testimony until you can share it without using notes.
Personal evangelism can even include sharing a song with someone. The Psalmist David wrote:
According to this verse, the song of praise to God is a testimony that can result in the salvation of many.
The goal of all personal evangelism is leading men and women, boys and girls, to ask forgiveness of sins and receive the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior. Over the years, many methods for leading someone to Jesus have been developed which use different numbers of points and various approaches to sharing the Gospel.
While such plans can be helpful, there is no one method of personal evangelism that will work in every situation. Each person to whom you witness is different, with differing needs and problems. These differences call for various approaches rather than using routine memorized points. You need to be sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit, as He is the one who draws men to salvation. He knows exactly what the person you are witnessing to needs, for He searches the heart of man.
One thing all unsaved people have in common, however, is sin and the need for a Savior. Because of this, regardless of how the Holy Spirit may lead you to share the Gospel, your witness must always be focused on the goal of leading that person to Christ.
To accomplish this, somewhere in the presentation your personal witness must include the following:
Review Chapter Three of this manual which focuses on the message of the evangelism. The basic elements of the Gospel are given by Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4. Review this passage in your Bible. The basic message is that all men everywhere have sinned, Jesus died for sin, He was buried, and He rose again according to the Scriptures.
Here are some verses helpful in presenting the Gospel:
-God is a holy God:
I Peter 1:16; Habakkuk 1:13
-Because He is holy, sin separates men from God: Isaiah 59:2
-Sin is universal; all have sinned: Romans 3:10-12,23
-The penalty for sin is death:
Ezekiel 18:20; Romans 6:23; Psalms 9:17
-God is not willing that any should perish: I Peter 3:9; John 3:16; Romans 5:8
-To provide salvation for all men, God made a sacrifice sufficient for all: Hebrews 10:10; John 1:29; Galatians 2:20
-Jesus bore the penalty of sin for all men when He died on the cross: I Peter 2:24; Isaiah 53:6,10
-The offer of salvation is universal: 1 Timothy 2:4
-The command to repent is universal: Acts 17:30
-The invitation to believe is universal: Romans 10:9-11
-The sinner must repent and accept Jesus to benefit from this sacrifice for sin: John 1:12; 5:24
In the business world, the word “closing” is very important. “Closing” means to conclude a sale with a positive response from the prospective buyer. Closing is also important in personal evangelism. Almost persuading someone to accept Jesus is not enough to save them from Hell. As in business, delaying the closing by waiting to make a decision later often results in a negative response.
Leaders in the business world teach that closing starts the minute they begin their sales technique with the prospective buyer. Throughout the presentation they get the person to make little agreements with them. This leads to the final agreement to purchase their product.
This approach can be applied spiritually to evangelism. As you share the Gospel, lead the unsaved person to small agreements. This can be done by asking questions such as the following:
-What do you think?
-Have you ever thought about. . .?
-Do you think people feel that. . .?
-Do you think that is unusual?
-Have you ever had that happen to you?
-Have you had that problem?
Keep the person participating in the conversation. Provide a little information, then ask a question that calls for a response. Jesus used this technique with the woman at the well in John 4 and with Nicodemus in John 3.
As you conclude your presentation, build upon their own responses to close with a final positive response to the Gospel. Sharing the Gospel without providing an opportunity to respond is witnessing, but it is not evangelism. We are called to win, not just witness. Closing your presentation of the Gospel is asking, in some form, two questions:
Always remember that in personal evangelism you are doing much more than selling a product or promoting a church or denomination. You are dealing with the eternal destiny of souls.
Entrance into the Kingdom of God is similar to accepting a wedding invitation, as Jesus implied in His parable of the marriage dinner in Matthew 22:2-5. Only those who respond positively to the invitation can enter in. It is not enough to say, “I plan to attend.”
When Jesus said to His disciples, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19), He was giving a natural example of a spiritual truth. No fisherman simply throws in his line or net. He must also pull it in to make a catch.
In the Great Commission recorded in Matthew 28:19-20, there are two types of teaching mentioned. The first is the sharing of the Gospel to lead people to salvation. The second is the teaching of new converts after they accept the Lord. Evangelism (the first type of teaching) is not complete without discipleship (the follow-up teaching).
All new converts should receive follow-up ministry after they have received Jesus Christ as their Savior. Immediate follow up includes assurance of salvation, confessing Christ publicly, baptism in water, baptism in the Holy Spirit, developing a devotional life, and becoming part of a local church. You will learn more about follow-up in Chapter Thirteen entitled “Decisions Or Disciples?”