The Tools for Witnessing
(Acts 8, 9 & 22)
Introduction: Many years ago I bought an old Mercedes as an experiment. It was a beautiful car. The "experiment" was whether I could drive it at a reasonable cost!
Just after I bought the Mercedes I was asked to help at a church "work bee." I needed to work on the Mercedes, including changing the oil. But I went to the work bee first.
When I returned and tried to change the oil, I found it required an odd wrench of a size I had never seen, much less owned. Discouraged and frustrated, I noticed in the tool belt I brought back from the work bee an old "nail puller." It turned out the hexagonal end of the nail puller fit perfectly as a substitute wrench! An ordinary tool, that I rarely used, turned out to be a critical part in maintaining my car. If I had not helped in the work bee first, I doubt I would ever have noticed the potential of the nail puller.
This week our lesson is about the "tools for witnessing." Do we have critical tools for witnessing that we have never noticed? Do we have in our possession ordinary tools that can be used for extraordinary purposes? Let's jump in and find out.
- The "One on One" Tool
- Read Acts 8:26-28. What do we learn about Philip in these three verses? (That the Holy Spirit led him and he was willing to follow.)
- What do we learn about the eunuch in these verses? (That he was an important man (Secretary of the Treasury) that he was a Jew or a Jewish proselyte (Barne's Notes) who had traveled to celebrate the Passover. A couple of commentaries I consulted indicated that he was probably not an actual eunuch. Instead, the word was used to indicate that he was an important "insider." We also learn that he was studying the Bible.)
- Read Acts 8:29-31. Is there a lesson about the "tool" of personal witnessing in this story so far? What is it? (The importance of the leading of the Holy Spirit and the importance of following the Spirit's directions exactly. The eunuch, as we will see next, was reading Isaiah 53 -- a messianic prophecy! What could be a better circumstance for witnessing about Jesus?)
- Do you pray daily that the Holy Spirit will lead you to witness to the right person?
- Read Acts 8:32-35. Can we expect that the people that we witness to will be reading the Bible? What can we do to recreate this situation in our witnessing? (The eunuch had an interest in the subject. If the Holy Spirit inspires an interest in the heart of the individual, we can encourage them to read the Bible to trigger more questions.)
- Notice the sequence here. The eunuch is reading, Philip asks if he understands, and the eunuch then asks Philip for an explanation. Our lesson suggests that we:
- Have the "student" read the Bible texts;
- Ask them (like Philip) "Is this clear to you?";
- Answer any questions of the student; and,
- Ask if they believe the doctrine.
- Do you agree with this sequence? Is this simple enough? Are you prepared to witness?
- Let's read on. Read Acts 8:36-40.
- Who decided the appropriate time for baptism?
- Is this the way things should be?
- I hear about people not being "ready" to be baptized - although they want to be baptized. Should we insist they know all the "doctrines" before they are baptized?
- This story of Philip and the eunuch is an example of personal evangelism. What advantages or disadvantages does it have over big evangelistic series?
- Does your church have an evangelistic series each year?
- How many people are converted in these series?
- How many are still with your church after three months?
- Although it seems that you would convert more people with a big series, would that still be true if you had personal evangelism going on all year long with a committed group of members of the church?
- I asked you before about how to recreate this perfect situation with Philip and the eunuch. Are small group meetings one way to do this? A number of members meet to study the Bible. They invite friends to come and study with the group. As a result, they are all reading the Bible. Have you tried this?
- Your Testimony
- Let's look at another "tool" -- personal testimony. Read Acts 22:1-5 to discover Paul's personal testimony. Why do you think Paul started out his testimony like this? What is his purpose? (He wants his listeners to identify with him. He was a model citizen, a very successful man, from their point of view. He was someone they could look up to, someone with whom they could identify.)
- When you witness to others, should you try to get them to identify with what you were before?
- If you think this is a good strategy, why?
- Let's read on. Read Acts 22:6-10. You may have difficulty coming up with a story like this in your personal witnessing! What do you have in your life that is similar? (This is the conversion experience. The moment when you made the decision to turn away from your old ways.)
- I have been a Christian all of my life. What should you do, if you are like me, and do not have a "conversion experience" to relate? Is personal testimony a "tool" you do not have on your tool belt? (What makes you decide to continue to be a Christian? That should be your "experience." What keeps me a Christian is logic. I believe there is a God who created us because man cannot, with all of his computers and knowledge, perfectly replicate something "simple" like my hand. If man cannot replicate a hand, what kind of an idiot believes that body functions much more complex than my hand (like my eye/mind function) not only evolved, but evolved into the complex total unit that is a human? Logic tells us only a Master Intelligence could create man. If you think chance is brighter than you are, then I invite you to quit your job and see how chance gets your job done!
The brightest minds are currently looking for a unified theory of the universe. I would be delighted to cross-examine anyone who believed in a unified theory without a Master Designer.)
- Read Acts 22:11-16. What role did Ananias have in the conversion experience of Paul?
- Why did Paul tell about the role of Ananias in his testimony? (This seems important. Paul is telling his listeners that someone like them helped lead him to Christ. They not only can identify with who Paul used to be, they can also identify with those who helped bring him to the truth.)
- Who made the decision on baptizing here?
- How would you describe Ananias as a witness? (You might want to read Acts 9:10-15 for more background on Ananias.)
- Read Acts 22:17-20. Is Paul arguing with God? Why would he relate that as part of his testimony? (Once again, he is working on creating a bond with them. They would believe that Jerusalem was the center of the universe. They would believe that God would choose the Jews only for the message. But Paul wants to show them that God has corrected his thinking.)
- Read Acts 22:21-24. Now you know why they put a floor in your church -- and why you should only witness indoors! What do you think about this system of justice?
- We have a story that is similar (in the end) to the Stephen story. Both Stephen and Paul gave a solid testimony. The result of their testimony is the intended converts thought they should be put to death. What does that teach us about testifying? That it is dangerous? That it is frustrating? That the quality of our witness is not always reflected in good results?
- Last week we noted that the last approach of a failed argument is violence. We see that again this week. Why do you think the crowd's "argument" failed? Does it have anything to do with the nature of personal testimony? (One of the great things about personal testimony is that it is hard to argue against. How can someone refute your personal story of a changed life?)
- The Testimony of Healthy and Generous Lives
- While the Old Testament has quite a bit to say about diet and health, the New Testament focus is on what comes out of your mouth instead of what goes in it. See, e.g. Matthew 15:11. Given this
focus of the New Testament, do you agree with the lesson that "health evangelism" is important. Why? (Notice the quote(Tuesday's lesson): "[T]he great object of [health] reform ... is to secure the highest development of body, mind and soul." E.G. White, Evangelism, p. 525-26.)
- Read Acts 9:32-35. The healing of Aeneas caused the people in the area to convert. Were there already Christians in the area? Why hadn't they converted the people before?
- Why do you think the healing converted people, but the witness of the other Christians did not? (Different things will convince different people. The reason why healings, an emphasis on a healthy lifestyle, and that kind of thing draw others to the gospel is because that is the area of practical interest for many. Many will initially say about the gospel, "What will this do for me?")
- Let's continue reading in this area. Read Acts 9:36-39. What "tool" did Dorcas use in her witnessing?
- Is this similar to the tool of healing and health reform?
- Friend, what tools has God made available to you for witnessing? Have you carefully examined what you have and prayed about how you can use them to promote the gospel? I invite you to do that.
- Next Week: Approaches to Witnessing.