Lesson 5

The Action Words of Witnessing

(Matthew 28, Acts 4, 17 and 20)
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Introduction: My wife teaches children to read. Simple reading, however is not her goal. She wants them to read with "expression!" Have you ever thought about witnessing to others with "expression!" Our lesson this week presents the "action" words of witnessing: Testify! Teach! Prove! Proclaim! Persuade! Let's get into the action by jumping into our study!

  1. Testify!


    1. When I say the word "testify," what immediately comes to mind? (Courtrooms and witnesses.)


      1. What is the "downside" to testifying? (You are tested on whether you are telling the truth.)


      2. Would testifying make you nervous? (It does for most people.)


    2. Let's look at some texts in Acts about this. Read Acts 4:23-27. This is the prayer of Peter and John just after they were released from prison. Do you see any testimony in this? Let's list the subjects of testimony that you find on the blackboard.


      1. Is part of their testimony that you can expect opposition? (Yes, verses 26-27.)


      2. Do you think Peter and John thought their lives were in peril because of their testimony? (Yes!)


    3. Let's read on: Acts 4:29-31, 33. When the disciples asked the Lord to (v.29) "consider their threats," for what were they asking?


      1. What did they get in response? (They were asking for help with dangerous conditions. The help given them was a demonstration of the power of the Holy Spirit. The result was (v.31) boldness.)


      2. What do you think is meant in verse 33 when it says the disciples testified "with great power?"


        1. Would you like that in your life?


        2. Would you like to testify with boldness?


        3. Would you like "much grace" in your life? What do you think that means?


    4. What do people normally testify about? (A rule of evidence is that you generally must only testify about "first hand" evidence: what you have personally seen and heard.)


      1. Is that also true with your gospel witness?


        1. If so, are you "equipped" to testify? Do you have knowledge of what you are testifying about and are your words driven by the Holy Spirit?


        2. If not, what should you do? (Study and pray.)


  2. Teach!


    1. Is there a difference between teaching and preaching? If so, what is it?


    2. Read Matthew 28:19-20. Teaching is mentioned after baptism in this text. Is teaching something we do only after a person is converted by hearing someone preach? Or is teaching part of the conversion process?


      1. Is teaching part of our witness?


    3. Our lesson (Monday) says there "should be less preaching and more teaching." Do you agree?


      1. Is teaching a superior way of transmitting information?


        1. If you say "yes," why? (Teaching is interactive. Instead of a "one way" conversation (as in preaching), you have a "two way" conversation with a person. They are actively involved. If they are in an interactive class they have to think to avoid being embarrassed.)


      1. We surveyed the church a couple of months ago about whether they liked our use of a computer projected slide show for teaching the lesson. We also asked whether people liked it being used for preaching the sermon. Since I generally make a "slide show" for my sermons I was interested in what people thought about it. The response was overwhelmingly positive, but one negative response said "We're not in school." Is that true?


        1. If we are "not in school" during preaching, should we be?


    1. Read Acts 20:20. Paul says that he taught "publicly" and "from house to house." Is public teaching important? What, exactly, is public teaching?


      1. If you say public teaching is, "the church," are you sure? Isn't your church "private property?" Isn't it like teaching in a home, except bigger?


      2. If "church teaching" is not "public teaching," how can we teach in public?


        1. Should we be standing on street corners? (We could, but that is a pretty ineffective way to reach the public.)


        2. What is the best way to reach the public? (Television, radio, Internet.)


  1. Prove! or Proclaim!


    1. Read Acts 17:1-4. When the text tells us that Paul "reasoned with them from the Scriptures," what "Scripture" are we talking about? (Old Testament)


      1. Was it "new news" that the Messiah had to suffer and die? (They expected a triumphant messiah.)


      2. How do you think Paul proved this to those in the synagogue? (By the messianic prophecies of the Old Testament.)


        1. Do you know those prophecies? Can you do what Paul did?


    2. Do you have in hand (or in mind) the Bible texts to "prove" basic Christianity? How about being able to prove any doctrine that you believe?


      1. Is this knowledge essential to being a proper witness?


    3. Right after our lesson (Tuesday) argues that we should "prove" our beliefs, it says (Wednesday) "the purpose of preaching is not to demonstrate or to prove a truth." Aside from "proving" that the lesson authors may not have been paying too close attention to their final product, what do you think is the truth here?


      1. Should we be in "proof" mode when we witness?


      2. If you look at Wednesday's lesson carefully, it seems to say that proclaiming Christ is more effective than arguing (proving) doctrines. Do you agree?


      3. This week I spoke with a lady who, after 53 years of being in a "doctrine intensive" church (Seventh-day Adventist), had changed her membership to a "sparse doctrine" church (Vineyard). When I asked her why she changed after 53 years, she told me "no one was ever converted by doctrines," instead, "they were converted by fellowship."


        1. Do you agree?


        2. If you do, doesn't this leave doctrine in the dust?


        3. If you agree, how do you reconcile this with Paul "reasoning" "explaining" and "proving" in our text ( Acts 17:2-3)?


  2. Persuade!


    1. Is "persuade" the answer to this issue? Does "persuade" lie between "proof" and simple "proclamation?" Or is "persuade" the result of "proof?"


    2. Read 2 Corinthians 5:11. Could someone show you "proof," but not persuade you? Why would some proof not persuade?


    3. Let's look again at Acts 17:2-4 again. Do you see that Paul "proved" his points to all, but only "some" were persuaded. How do you think some were moved from proof to being persuaded?


      1. Should we worry only about the proof part and leave the persuading part to the Holy Spirit?


    1. Practicing law for about 25 years has convinced me that just being "right" is not good enough to win a case. More important, you have to show your argument is "just." That is the difference between "proof" and "persuading." Proof is stringing the Bible texts together that show you are right. Persuading making a person want to believe you are right. Our texts in 2 Corinthians and Acts 17 show the goal is to persuade others, not just be able to prove our argument. We need to carefully consider not only how to "prove" but also how to "persuade."


    2. Friend, God has called us to witness for Him. Will you answer this call to action with enthusiasm?


  1. Next week: Models for Witnessing.


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