I’m going to continue sharing about how to witness to people who make objections. Some of us don’t witness because we’re afraid of what people will say back. God will give you the knowledge of what to do.
As we share Jesus Christ there’s frequently someone who says, ‘Well, I don’t know – I don’t need the Lord. I do enough good works. I don’t need anything else’. A good Scripture verse to use as a reference is Titus 3.5. But I want to share about good works for a moment, about the person who says, ‘I do enough’.
There are many people who give to the church or help the poor; who are kind and do many things that are commendable and good, and yet the Bible teaches that goodness is not enough. Now when someone says that they do enough, I like to say, ‘You know, it’s very commendable that you do good things. The world needs more people doing good work, but it’s not good works which are going to save us because we’ve still got a problem, and that problem is called sin’. The Bible says, “for all who have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3.23). Our good works may seem good compared to the people around us, but we come short of the goodness of Jesus Christ. When we measure ourselves by Him, we must cry out, “Woe to me! I am ruined!” (Isa. 6.5). Often I think the thing to say is, ‘Let’s look at Jesus and how He lived and what He did,’ and also, look at the scripture which says, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith’, and ‘not by works, so that no-one can boast” (Eph. 2.8, 9). And as we talk about our good works we’re saying that what Jesus did, was not good enough. The work of Jesus, when He died upon the cross, is sufficient. That is really all that is needed.
Our goodness is not enough, for all of us have come short of the glory of God. And as we emphasize the righteousness and holiness of Christ, that person can see that their good works are not sufficient to save them. Otherwise, we get involved with trying to put them down. You don’t have to try to put anybody down, the devil has already put everybody down. We’re to lift every- body up. We’re to emphasize what Jesus can do in putting lives together. So if somebody says, ‘I do plenty of good works. I don’t need Him,’ don’t start debating or fussing, and saying that you’re really bad, just begin to speak about Jesus share the truth of the scripture, and the Holy Spirit of God will show people that they need Jesus.
I tell you, sometimes when I go out witnessing I’ll meet people who give me a line like this, ‘I enjoy what I’m doing and I don’t want to change. I don’t want to give it up’. When somebody says something like that I say, ‘It’s good to have fun, that’s why you need to be a Christian. You’re interested in life and in the fullness of life. Jesus will give it to you’.
But often, even though we feel good, it doesn’t mean that we don’t have a problem. A person who feels excellent and goes for his regular yearly check-up, and after the check-up and X-rays the doctor says, ‘You have cancer and you’re dying’, and the guy says, ‘Oh, but I feel great, I never felt better in my life.’ And the doctor says, ‘But you have cancer and you’re dying and you need an operation’. The truth sobers, the truth be comes the reality. Sometimes we’re under an illusion. How many times has a person drunk poison thinking that it was all right? How many times has a child or an adult been playing with an empty gun, and it was loaded, and says, ‘Oh I didn’t know’? Their ignorance of the fact did not bring that dead person back to life. There is affliction we call sin, and sin afflicts everybody. All have sin, and maybe for a moment it doesn’t seem too bad, but it is a growth, eating away in a much deadlier fashion than cancer.
The Bible tells us how Moses chose the reproach of Christ rather than the riches of the Pharaoh, ‘rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time’ (Heb. 11.25). Don’t ever try and tell somebody that passage is saying, ‘I enjoy. . .’ that sometime they don’t have any fun at all. The devil has an illusion of fun, he gives an illusion of happiness and pleasure but it is temporary. If you could just go where I been, behind the scenes of the neon lights; behind the stages of the night clubs; back where they’re hitting up drugs; back where they’re committing suicide; back where they’re in misery and despair; you’d see that behind the illusion of happiness, there is an emptiness without Jesus Christ. So we need to speak to the heart that pleasure is only for a moment, but God’s love is for eternity. And the peace that He gives the world cannot be taken away. The joy that He gives is not for a moment, it is for all eternity. You encourage people to give their lives to Christ, who gives life abundantly, forever.
Let’s start off right. Water doesn’t make you a fish; does it? Just because you swim doesn’t make you a fish; because you drive a car doesn’t make you an automobile. Because you go in a barn doesn’t make you a mule, does it? Because you go to church, doesn’t make you a Christian. Hey that’s heavy, but it’s true, isn’t it? That’s what we often run into when we witness and about share about Jesus Christ. There are many people who say, ‘Hey, I’m a Christian, I’ve been baptized. Well, I’m a Christian, I’ve been confirmed’, or ‘I joined a church, so therefore I’m a Christian; I’m signed up, it’s all right’. But it takes more than that, doesn’t it? Jesus said, “unless a man is born again” (Jn. 3.3). Christ often said that we could clean up the outside so that it looks nice, but inside the cave is full of dead mens’ bones. It’s like a cup that looks clean and beautiful on the outside, but inside it’s still full of dirt and grime. So, just because we carry a Bible, doesn’t make us a Christian. Just because we can say, ‘Praise the Lord’ doesn’t mean we have the Lord in our heart. Just because we see miracles doesn’t mean that we’re a Christian. When we stand before the judgement of God, it’s not going to mean that we enter heaven just because we cried. You say, ‘but Lord, I cried, I remember crying that night, I must be a Christian. Or I remember shouting, I must be a Christian’. No, the only way that a person will be saved is to repent of their sins and receive Jesus Christ into their life as Lord. I mean, to be born of the Spirit. That is what it means to be a Christian.
When people say that they’ve joined a church, they’re religious, or they’ve been baptized, don’t put them down. That’s commendable, that’s good, but ask them when did they personally repent of their sins and receive Jesus as their Lord. Remember the words of Christ when He said, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven, only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ ” And the Lord will say, “I never knew you. Away from Me, you’re evildoers!” (Mt. 7.21- 23).
So it is important that we personally receive Jesus as our Lord, that we know Him. If there was only one thing in this world what you knew for sure, the most important thing to know beyond a shadow of a doubt is that you are saved. And the only way to be saved is through the blood of Jesus. Through the life of Jesus, through his resurrection, and because he lives now. And people can know that, people can receive Jesus. You can know for sure that you are saved, by repenting of your sins and asking Jesus to come into your life to be your Lord. And if you have friends, who need Jesus, show them John 3.3, or 2 Corinthians 5.17, and read them the I John chapter 1, and Revelation 3.20, invite them to pray with you now.
One of the excuses I hear is, ‘Well, I’ll wait until I’m older, just before I die, I’ll get saved. I want to have a good time and when I get older and settled down, then I’ll be ready to trust the Lord’. The person who makes that statement is very foolish, and most people know it when they make it. When somebody tries to lay something like that on me, I kind of laugh and say, ‘You know better than that, you know you need the Lord right now’ ‘Well, I know I do, but I’m going to wait until I’m older’. Then sometimes I say that I want to share one scripture verse, which won’t take a minute to read, “Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes” (Jas. 4.14). What is your life? It’s here for a moment, then it’s vanished and gone.
As I’ve travelled around the world, I’ve often stopped at cemeteries along the roadside and looked at the tombstones. I like to read the writing on those tombstones. I was in London a while and went to Westminster Abbey to look at the tombstones of people who lived hundreds and hundreds, or almost a thousand years ago, their names engraved on them. But in most cemeteries the names have peeled off or fallen off there’s no marker. Who is going to remember? God remembers. He’s the only one who is going to remember a long time after you’re dead. We don’t know how long life is. In my life, I’ve been with so many people that have died. In car accidents, in the battlefields of the world, people unexpectedly die.
One night I stood on Sunset Strip at the door of our building in Hollywood, and I witnessed to a guy who came in, and I urged him to receive Jesus. And he said, ‘Arthur, I’m just about ready to do it. I’ll just wait awhile and think about it I’ll come back later tonight’. I said, ‘Now is only time. God says this moment, trust Him now, don’t put it off. He said, ‘Arthur, I’ll be back a little later’. I stood at the door and he walked off, down the street. Half a block away, just a few doors down the street, a guy walked up, stuck a sawed-off shotgun under his chin and blew his head off. Life is short, don’t put it off. Urge people to give their lives to Jesus today.
Here’s a question that many people have when I start to share Jesus Christ. They’ll say, ‘Oh, but I know a lot of Christians that aren’t living right. They’ve got problems. Why, I know a Christian who drinks too much. I know a Christian, my next-door neighbor, and they’re about to get a divorce. I work with a Christian and the other day he was cursing, he hit his finger and cursed and cursed. No, no, I don’t want to be a Christian, too many hypocrites among Christians.
Christians have got problems just like everybody. Let me share with you. The only perfect Christians are those who have already gone to heaven, do you know that? All the rest of us here on earth are imperfect. But we have a Savior who is in the business of perfecting us. But just because some Christians have problems that other people refer to and use as an excuse, is not a reason for not being saved. Our salvation does not depend on our faith in other Christians. Our faith must be in Jesus Christ.
When I start to witness people often say, ‘Why, I know a preacher who ran off with his secretary, and the treasurer who ran off with all the money. Oh, it doesn’t work’. And I say, ‘but just one thing, that wasn’t Jesus. Jesus talked about the same kind of people’. Everybody is going to stand before the judgment of God. And those Christians are going to be judged by God too. The Bible teaches that many Christians are still carnal (‘worldly, mere infants’) and God wants to give them the meat of the gospel, but they’re still like babies, drinking the milk. God wants to do more with His followers (1 Cor. 3.1- 2). Look at the disciples of Jesus, they failed after He had been teaching them for three years, but He didn’t give up on them, He kept working to perfect them. So, when somebody says to you that all these Christians have problems, you can say, ‘yes, that’s true, but I want you to know that Jesus has given victory in my life over many of the things that once defeated me and by His grace and through His strength, I’m going to overcome those things that still cause me problems. But just because I’m weak doesn’t mean that Jesus is weak’. “He is able to save completely, those who come to God through Him” (Heb. 7.25).
When people start talking about weak Christians, I say that there’s a bunch of weak ones, but let me talk to you about the one that’s strong. The one that overcame. The one that didn’t fail, the one that really made it, and His name is Jesus! You’ll notice in my teaching about witnessing and the objections which people make, that I basically feel, no matter what question someone asks, start to answer it and then just make a beeline for the cross. Just come right to Jesus and you won’t go wrong.
When I begin to witness to someone who says, `But I don’t have the faith, I just don’t have the faith`, I don’t put a person down for saying that, because that’s how they feel about it. If they say they don’t have it, it isn’t an insurmountable problem. It’s a wonderful situation when someone is honest enough to say it. The way I approach it is, if somebody says that they don’t have the faith to believe, and they don’t have the faith to give their life to God, I say that it’s good that they’re honest and recognize the need. And since they don’t have the faith, I share with them how they can get it. I say, “if you had the faith, I know you would give your life to the Lord, wouldn’t you?” `Well, if I had it, I guess I would`. `Okay, let’s look at faith`.
The Bible says, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God” (Eph. 2.18). God has a gift that He wants to give to everyone, and that gift is the gift of faith. We’re saved through faith, it is the gift of salvation, and God gives us the faith to believe. When someone says, `but how do I get that faith? By asking?` You can say, `just ask and He’ll give you the faith necessary to believe. Now, you know how much faith it takes? It just takes the same amount of faith you already have`. We get in an airplane with a pilot we’ve never seen, we get in a taxi cab with a driver and we don’t know how well he can drive, we take a pill from a chemist and we don’t know whether it’s strychnine or whether it’s a vitamin, but we trust that it’s labeled correctly. We need to put our faith in God. Put the faith you have and God will give you all the faith necessary.
Here’s how it works. Just stop and share with that person. Immediately after you’ve explained the gospel, have a prayer. I’ll ask that person to join me in prayer and I’ll pray for them like this. `Lord, I pray for my brother here that you’ll give him the faith that is necessary; that you’ll give him faith to trust in you, and I pray that he’ll exercise it for the glory of God`. When I finish praying I say that the person should pray and give that faith to God, using these words, `Dear God, I give you all the faith I’ve got, however much or little it is. I believe in Jesus. Come into my heart, save me, change me, make me new. I repent and give my life to God`. Praise God, the Lord will save that person.
So faith is the gift of God. Don’t try to generate faith, don’t try to brainwash somebody or push them into something. No, God has a gift for them and He will give them the faith necessary. So don’t be afraid, share Jesus today and go in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Have you ever been driving down the highway and looked out and seen what appeared to be a beautiful lake of water? Especially those of you who live in desert areas or travel through deserts, have you been confronted with this type of thing? You’ve looked out and seen a beautiful lake of water but it was all desert. And you say that you don’t remember there being a lake on the map. And it wasn’t, and the further you drove, the further that lake seemed to move away in front of you. It wasn’t water; it was a mirage. It was an illusion; it was not reality.
When you share Christ, you’ll encounter a person who says, ‘well you see, I don’t believe in the Bible, it contradicts itself. One of several things has happened. Most of the time I find that the person has never really read the Bible, So if you ask them what contradictions, they don’t really know. The other thing is that they have read small parts and extracts, but they’ve not taken it in total context. So what appears to be a contradiction, is not a contradiction at all. It’s just an illusion because they haven’t looked at it in it’s totality.
I have written nine books and many of them are in bookstores now, and as a result, I get letters and people who talk to me all the time who get upset, or something, because they take just a little bit out of one of my books. They open it up and read half a page and get mad and write a letter, but they never read the whole thing. And what they say isn’t accurate at all because it’s taken out of perspective and out of context. So often, when people say that the Bible is contradictory, it’s because they’ve not read it in the context in which it was written, but have pulled out one verse here and one verse there. The Bible is one message of God. It is God’s message of redemption. It reveals our condition; it reveals the work of God to redeem us from the distortion and perversion that the devil has brought into this world; it shows how, once we’ve received Him as our Savior, God begins to put our life together and prepare us for heaven; it enlightens us, that we may be whole and complete in our nature. This is the message of God.
The Bible is seeking to convey the message that God loves us, He’s interested in us. His Spirit is here, He will redeem us and bring us into fullness and ultimately we’ll be in His home in heaven. Now, I trust that when somebody says that the Bible contradicts itself, that in the midst of that you’ll want to encourage them to study the whole chapter, study the whole book of John or Revelation, or whatever it is, to see what God is saying. There is no contradiction in the Word of God. It is truth, it is accurate, it is God’s holy word, and God wants us to understand it. For, “the man without the Spirit cannot understand them (the things that come from the Spirit of God), because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Cor. 2.14). We need the Holy Spirit to teach us the truth. God will guide you to the truth. Live for Him and share Him.
Have you ever shared with somebody about the Lord and asked about their relationship with Jesus Christ? Or maybe you’ve asked if they die, do they have the assurance that they would go to heaven? Or you’ve approached them about Jesus in some way and they’ve stood back and said that’s personal. And that’s why I personally ask them about their relationship to the Lord. I’m personally interested in this person. Their relationship with God is a part of my business, because the Father, the one that made us, has given us the responsibility to help each other to live in a pleasing way in His sight. God has given us a commission to be interested in our fellow man, and that’s why I can say, ‘I am interested in you and I do love you’, when witnessing. The reply will be, ‘but you don’t even know me. How could you love me?’ And I say, ‘because your Father, the one that made you, loves you and He lives in me, and He wants to give you a new life’. If you ‘just pursue that, you’ll find that a person will begin talking to you. Sometimes I’ve talked to people for an hour about what they didn’t want to talk about.
People say that they don’t want to talk about religion and politics. And I ask them what it is about religion that upsets them. Usually, they’ll just talk for fifteen minutes about why they don’t want to talk about religion. And then, I’ll just inject Jesus into the conversation, and share about Him. After a while I’ll point out that we’ve been talking about Jesus for forty minutes, which is just the subject they said they didn’t want to talk about. Often it’s just someone’s way of trying to use a little catch phrase to avoid discussing something they feel uncomfortable about. Sure it feels uncomfortable for a person to talk about Jesus Christ when satan is reigning in the heart. The old devil gets upset, and he doesn’t feel comfortable when the Lord is present. So, understand that.
Sometimes, I’ll approach the situation this way. People will say that they don’t want to talk about religion and politics. And I’ll agree with them, and call it a truce and just talk about Jesus. And they laugh, and say that I’m crazy. And I’ll agree, but add that religion won’t do them any good, religion will mess them up. You can get religion and you’re almost in worse shape than if you had nothing because so often religion has got rules and regulations and everything else and, boy, you feel miserable. You can’t have any fun.
But when you have Jesus, you have life. Jesus is different from religion; Jesus is a relationship. He is living. He is alive, and a person can know Him. We have a relationship with God through Jesus Christ.
There’s another thing. People will say that they don’t want to talk about religion or politics. And I’ll say that some of those politicians need a little dose of religion, don’t they? And people agree, and they’ll start talking about politics like they didn’t ever think they would. And I’ll say, ‘I need a little of Jesus too, don’t you think you do?’ And I begin to share. See, we’ve got to love people, share with people; not bash them over the head, but stick out our hand and love. You go forward for Jesus.
Sometimes I meet people who ask this question sincerely, ‘Is God really interested in me? I believe there is a God, but I just don’t think He’s interested in me. If He made this whole planet, and all the universe, and He made all four billion or more people that are on this earth, how could He be interested in me and my problems and my need?’ Well, God is God. He is so much greater than we are. So I love and I have a relationship with many people around the world. Now, God is much, much greater than I am.
God can have a personal relationship and a deep interest in you. The Bible says, “even the hairs of your head are numbered” (Mt. 10.30). I simply try to understand that God is so much greater, His love is far superior to mine. For God is love. If you said, ‘Arthur, how much does God love me?’ I’d read you, “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life” (Jn. 3.16). If we were to call down the angels from heaven, and say, ‘Gabriel, how much does God love us?’, all Gabriel, who stands in the very presence of God, could say is that God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son’. You can’t add to that. God loves me. God loves you. God loves everybody.
When you’re a Christian, you should be filled with God’s love, which means that we should love everybody. God said that it’s impossible to love Him if we don’t love others. We, as believers, should reflect that love. As we witness and tell others about Jesus, they need to know that He loves them, that God cares, and that love is manifest on the cross, in the life that He gave. As you present Jesus Christ to other people, show them that God is interested in them and knows their every need and is able to meet their needs through Jesus Christ.
For the next few days I’m going to share about how you can be an effective witness for Jesus Christ. First of all by looking at your own life, so that Christ can strengthen you and build you up. When a soldier goes out to war, usually he’s been through training. Jesus Christ worked with His disciples to teach them and strengthen them so that they would be strong in prayer, and in understanding His word. For you to be an effective witness for Jesus Christ, you need to know the word of God. In the letter to the Ephesians, Paul speaks about us being spiritually prepared by putting on the whole armor of God. You need to have your own life cleansed, and your life filled with the power of the Holy Spirit.
I want to ask you this. Have you let Jesus Christ take control of your life and use you as a witness? Remember Isaiah, who in the very presence of God said, “Woe to me! I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips” (Isa. 6.5). And God cleansed him, touched his lips and filled him with His power. And he heard God saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” and Isaiah said, “Here I am. Send me!” (Isa. 6.8). Today, I pray that that will be your commitment to Jesus Christ, that you will let the Lord Jesus fill you and control you and give you boldness.
I want to mention the personal life of anyone who is witnessing, because there’s one thing about witnessing, that usually if you continue, God straightens you up. We ought to be clean when we get started, but normally, if we don’t know the Bible, witnessing will drive us into it.
I want to share a few points and tips with you about the personal life of the effective, consistent witness. He is the person who is really witnessing because he loves Jesus Christ. Jesus said that if we love Him, we will keep His commandments. We share Christ with others because, like the early believers, we can’t help but speak those things which we’ve seen and heard. So what you need to do is to let God fill you with His love.
Another point is that we really should be living a clean life. If there are things in your life that shouldn’t be there, you should repent and let God take them away.
You should be obedient in your own life. You should be actively caring and ministering, in a Bible fellowship and in church. You should be baptized.
Another thing that is very vital to those who are witnessing is that we study the Word of God. The more of God’s Bible that we have in our mind, the more effective a reservoir of Scriptures we can use in sharing Christ. Remember, it’s “Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord” (Zach. 4.6).
Many of you have not witnessed in weeks or months or years. You need to tell somebody about Jesus Christ. You need to come to God today and say, ‘Lord, give me your desires. Lord, give me the hunger to win people to Jesus’. Our eyes are dry, we don’t weep for the lost, and many of our hearts are cold. Say to the Lord, ‘God, awaken me, give me your zeal, your burden, your desire’. Christian, would you pray with me now, ‘God, have mercy on me. Forgive me for not being the witness that I should be. Fill me with the power of the Holy Spirit. Set me on fire. Put your words in my mouth and use me as a witness for Jesus Christ.”
As I read and study the Word of God, I become more effective in communicating the love and salvation of Jesus. Every witness for Jesus needs to know the Bible. You need to know what the Scripture says and you need to study the Word of God. The Bible says that we should study to show ourselves approved by God. To be an effective witness we need to understand every day – to absorb the spiritual food of the Word.
Sometimes when you start witnessing, people will say that they don’t believe the Bible. When they say that to me, most of the time I never answer. I just act like they didn’t say it, and I continue sharing about the Scripture. If they come back and repeat that they don’t believe the Bible, I say, “Well, if you don’t believe it, it won’t hurt you, will it?’ And I continue to share what I’m talking about. If they come back a third time and say that they really don’t believe the Bible; that it’s just another book, I ask them what is there about Romans 6.23, that they don’t believe, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord?” Then there we are talking about the Word. Share the Word of God, lift up Jesus and He will draw all men to Himself.
Often I’m asked by people who want to know, outside of what the Bible says, what my opinion is. I say that my opinion is what the Scripture says. The Bible is the truth. It does not just contain Some truth, but it is the truth. It is the Word of God, spoken by God and recorded by man. It is His book, His message to us we should communicate this message with other people.
So study the Bible, and resolve to eat the Word as your spiritual soul food. And I want to ask those of you who’ve got a lot of Bibles stacked away at home, to get some of them out that you don’t need, and go out on the street and give them away. Give them to somebody; to a friend. You don’t need a lot of Bibles in your house, just one good one ought to do you. Give away the Word of God, okay? Study the Word and give away the Word and God will bless you and use you.
I’m happy today to be able to talk about one of my favorite subjects, which is prayer. I remember when I was at Mississippi College and I was searching for power, for the real power of God in my prayer life. As I was praying I tried to imitate everybody I met. I went to some meetings where the preacher would pray looking up and I’d pray looking up; others would pray lying down on the floor; some prayed with their hands up; some prayed with their heads bowed, and some prayed on their knees, and I imitated every single one of these positions in prayer. But I didn’t find my prayer life improved by positions. I kept searching and searching, and one time I was in my room, and I said, ‘God, what’s the key to prayer?’ And suddenly it seemed like God gave me this revelation and I felt so foolish. It seemed like the Lord said, ‘Arthur, if you want to know how to pray, read Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. And see how I prayed’. Jesus prayed. His prayer life is recorded in the Bible. So I started reading the Scriptures and studying the prayer life of Jesus. Where He went to pray; when He prayed; how much time He prayed; how and what He prayed about, and ever since I’ve had a desire to pray like Jesus. I want to encourage you to do the same; to look at Jesus Christ and develop your prayer life like His.
The disciples asked the Lord to teach them to pray, and Jesus began by showing them that they needed to say, “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Mt. 6.10). Prayer is not you controlling God, but prayer is letting God take control of you. It is allowing Him to put His mind in you. It’s not you coming up with a thought and then inviting God to get in on what you’re doing, but it is that God already has a plan. He wants to see people saved. He wants you to have the desire that He already has for the unsaved.
Prayer is not only you speaking to Him, but allowing Him to speak to you. We say how we feel and then we need to tune our ears to hear the Spirit of God, so that God’s Spirit takes control of our life, so that we’re molded in His image. Every great witness that I’ve ever met in the world has a deep and vibrant prayer life. You can pray as you drive your car down the street; you can pray in school; you can pray as you wash dishes or work around the house. The Bible says that we should pray without ceasing, If you pray right you’ll have the power of God in your life and you’ll be an effective witness for Jesus Christ. You’ll be able to go anywhere with boldness and tell other people about Jesus. You’ll be strong.
Now take your Bible, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John and start looking at the prayer life of Jesus. Underline it in red or something. Study the prayer life of Jesus. Say, ‘Lord, I want to pray like you’. Then, “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus” (Phil. 2.5).
I’m continuing to talk about the personal life of the witness for Jesus Christ. It is absolutely essential for an effective witness to be controlled by the Holy Spirit. Many of us have a vocabulary that’s spiritual; we know all the terms, but Jesus Christ is not in control of our lives. I want you to know that if you’re so full of the Holy Spirit that you’ve got doves perched on your shoulder, and you’re not telling somebody about Jesus, those doves are just crazy. That’s not the Holy Spirit. When the Holy Spirit fills your life, He gives you the desire to tell somebody about Jesus. That’s what God wants to do with you. He wants to use you and empower you. How do we know? What’s the purpose of the filling of the Holy Spirit? “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness; faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Gal. 5.22). Let God take control and give you all that, and you’ll be a witness for Jesus.
You hear a lot about the Holy Spirit, but who is He? To be a witness for Jesus, you’ve got to realize who we’re talking about; we’re talking about the Spirit of God. God has manifested Himself as Father, as Son, and as Holy Spirit. He is one God. This is His manifestation. The Father loves us. Jesus Christ came into the world from heaven; died on the cross and rose again, and He’s alive and living. God is with us, and Christ is with us through the Holy Spirit. In the air there is oxygen. You don’t see it, but it’s the power of life. So the spirit of God lives in the believer, and by the power of the Holy Spirit, we have Christ in us. The Spirit of God is at work to bring those who do not know Jesus into His family. You are not the one who convicts somebody of sin or converts them, but it is the Holy Spirit. You allow the Spirit of God to work in you, giving you the Word, and God’s Spirit is working on the one that is listening. The Spirit of God convinces and it is the Spirit of God that convicts, and it is the Spirit of God that converts. It is the Spirit of God that converts and keeps the one who trusts Him, in God’s family. What we need to do is to allow the Holy Spirit of God to work in our lives. The Holy Spirit is not an it, or a thing. He is alive. He is God. He is God’s presence in us. He is at work in you to bring people into the family.
Many of us as believers say that God did a great thing in our life yesterday, or last week or ten years ago, but some of us wonder why we feel kind of empty. Many of us look at our life and wonder what went wrong with the way we were feeling. Have you ever seen a small glass or vase of water which was full? Maybe that was the way it was, comparatively, when you let the Holy Spirit take control of your life, or when you were saved and God filled you. You were full, but then after a few weeks or months, you were searching and felt like something was wrong and didn’t know what had happened. God took the little vase that was full and enlarged your capacity, and having enlarged your capacity, with the original amount of water, your vase is just half full. You need to be constantly filled with the Holy Spirit. You need to grow constantly in the Lord. You need to grow in your witness, in your walk in the Spirit. God gives you something and until you give it away by telling somebody else about Jesus, you can’t grow any more. You’ve got to exercise the faith God gives you, then you have the capacity to move
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JOY TO THE WORLD
By Arthur Blessitt
on and on and on. Many of us Christians get kind of discouraged when we see the troubles around us, and so many problems in the world, and it looks like so many people need Christ. As a reaction, start another prayer meeting, or another Bible study. We dig a little hole in which we’re moaning and groaning, saying, ‘God, save the world. God, do something. God, help us’. I think sometimes God gets so sick, He wants to say, ‘Shut up get out, and do something!’
Oh, praise the Lord! I’m having a wonderful time sharing. Today I’ll look at a Scripture verse which is to do with what God wants to do, to make us more productive for His glory. Listen to these words, “He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he trims clean so that it will be even more fruitful. I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (Jn. 15.2, 5).
God’s purpose is that we bear fruit, but the only way to bear fruit is for a tree to be pruned. A tree must be cut back, it must be clipped off to allow new growth, and it is the new growth that bears fruit. Therefore, there must be a cutting back. Many of us Christians need to be pruned by God, and sometimes that pruning is painful. Often when you see a skilled man who is pruning a tree, an onlooker might think that he is killing the tree, cutting off those beautiful branches and cutting it back and back and back. But out of that issues new growth, and that’s where the fruit comes. And so it is with our lives. God must cut us back. Many of us get involved in worldly things. We get more involved and interested in ball games, or the stock market, or in anything, and as we get involved in the things of the world, we lose interest in the spiritual things of God. God has to prune us back.
Many of us have to be pruned by God because we get involved in spiritual activities or religious activities. Back and forth to the church; coming and going, to hear this evangelist, this singer, but we’re not bearing any fruit, all we’re doing is becoming parasites of the Kingdom of God. Wanting good music, wanting good sermons, and burning up gas that we should never have, and we’re never sharing Christ. And so God needs to prune us and cut us back as He wants us to bear fruit. The Bible says, “If a man remains in me and I in Him, he will bear much fruit” (Jn. 15.5).
God wants you to bear a lot of fruit. He doesn’t want you to be a plant that grows up and looks pretty and then bears no fruit. As Jesus said, “If anyone does not remain in me, . . such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned” (Jn. 15.6). God will only keep the plant that bears fruit. God is wanting you to be fruitful. God is wanting your life to bear others into the Kingdom of God. Be filled with the Spirit and from your life, go forth in the power of Jesus today.
It is so good to know that all the time Jesus Christ lived, He truly communicated to the heart and not only to the mind. He spoke in words and in language that people about Him understood. In Matthew Chapter 13, we see Christ relating the whole gospel message to a thing as small as a seed, as He tells the famous parable of the sower. Some seeds fell on stony places and some on soft soil, and they sprang up, and some withered away when it got hot. Jesus was speaking to farmers who knew that way of life.
I grew up on a farm in Louisiana, and I have many terms that I used as a child which I don’t use out on the Sunset Strip in Hollywood, because many people don’t know those terms. Our vocabulary on that cotton farm in Louisiana is different from the vocabulary of Hollywood’s Sunset Strip. So in my own life I use words that vary from place to place. I don’t use the same words in the African Bush, or the South American jungles, as I do in a big city in Central America, or in London or Paris. We must communicate the gospel in a way people understand, because many people growing up in the city find it hard to understand some of the terms in the Bible.
Sometimes critics get upset because I’ll say things like ‘turn on to Jesus’. And I know when I preach on the Sunset Strip, where I often preach, I’ll be saying things like, ‘Hey, if you wanna get high, you don’t have to drop acid, all you gotta do is pray and you go all the way to heaven. If you wanna get loaded, you don’t hafta load up on downers or pills, just drop a little Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, and God will get it together in your heart and in your mind. Turn on to Jesus, He is an eternal rush, He’ll get your trip together. Get your act together, man, and get right with God now’. Now, those words sound like terms that some of you don’t understand, but the guys and girls that I work with in Hollywood, they understand, just as clear as Jesus speaking of seeds and farming. The Bible truth is real.
Jesus met people where they were and when He met Nicodemus, who began to intellectualize about how he could be born again, Jesus spoke about the wind, and He spoke about the Spirit, and He spoke about birth, because here was an intellectual trying to figure things out. And Jesus brought him back to simplicity. He spoke in such a way that the man understood what He was saying. So let us share Christ in fullness, and in words that people understand. Go and meet someone today, and share Jesus with them.
Good news! I love you! And better news than that, Jesus loves you! And that’s the best news in all the world. God loves us all even though many of us are unlovely, and that is the good news that Christians share in witnessing to the world. We are Jesus’ representatives and so we are to love people, not just to love ‘the soul’ but all of that person. We’re to be interested in people. Jesus loved people. The Bible tells us, “A man with leprosy came to Him and begged Him on his knees, ‘If you are willing, you can make me clean’.” (Mk. 1.40). Now, by law, a leper was supposed to stay away from those who did not have leprosy. Lepers had to stand at a great distance and cry, ‘unclean, unclean’, but this man, breaking all law and tradition, rushed up to Jesus and fell at His feet and looked up, with a hand and face distorted by leprosy, and said, ‘If you are willing, you can make me clean’, and Jesus, “Filled with compassion, reached out His hand and touched him” (Mk. 1.41). I don’t think that Jesus reached out just a little finger and touched him, I feel that He put His arm around him, and He hugged him right up close, and He said, “I am willing. Be clean! Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cured”. (Mk. 1.42). Jesus is interested in our needs and He loves us. Even though we may be physically unlovely, even though spiritually we may be unlovely, He has the power to make us whole, and you can experience that life-changing power of Jesus Christ. But as a Christian, this is the Jesus that you represent.
Sometimes we meet a person who may be obviously drunk; a wino or an alcoholic, somebody who is lying on the curb in their own vomit, and as a loving Christian, you should genuinely care. You should want to sit down there by them, lift them up, help clean them up, sober them up, minister to them and give them the life of Jesus Christ. That’s what God wants from you, to use you to transmit His love.
One time I was witnessing and carrying the cross, in Africa, and I had an interpreter. The interpreter loved God and he loved the Word. He was driving in front of me as I walked with the cross, and crowds would gather and he would interpret as I preached. And I noticed something very strange, as soon as I finished preaching, he was ready to get in the Land Rover and drive off. He didn’t even want to touch the people. What he wanted was to be able to preach somehow, but not be involved with touching the diseased skins and sick bodies. Sometimes I think that’s the way it is with some of us who love God. We love the Word, but we don’t love others, and that’s what we need to do. To love other people with all of our heart, all of our soul, all of our strength, and let God’s love flow through us to other people. When Jesus was here, He touched the lepers; he let the sinner woman wash His feet; He washed the disciples’ feet. As you witness, be sensitive, and allow God to fill you with His love for people, so that His pure love reaches out and touches them.
Let’s look at how Jesus was interested and sensitive, and approached an opportunity to change a man’s life. The Bible says in Mark Chapter 10 that there was a blind man named Bartimacus who was sitting by the highway begging, and he heard that Jesus Christ was coming by. And when he heard this, he began to scream, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!’ and ‘Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but the man cried out all the more,” and then, the Bible says, “Jesus stopped.” (Mk. l0.47-49). The religious leaders who were Jesus’ associates wanted Him to move on, ‘Here’s a heckler, here’s a guy that is going to cause problems’, and yet Jesus saw him and loved him, and said, ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ and the blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.” “Go,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you. Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road” (Mk. 10.51, 52). Isn’t this a wonderful story, about how Christ was there, and was interested in that man, and in his needs.
I was in Portugal one day, and as I was walking along the road, I saw a bus on the roadside and a mass of tourists pouring out of it. I knew they were tourists because they had so many cameras. And because they had their cameras, they were taking pictures of a poor old lady with a huge pot on her head. I saw them taking pictures of that lady, and they soon saw me, and came rushing over and said, ‘You’re brother Blessitt with your cross. Why, this is the highlight of our trip. We want to take a picture.’ And I refused because I’m not a slide. They had just seen a woman who was suffering. She was carrying a huge load on her head and they didn’t give her a prayer, a tract or a Bible. They didn’t help her with her load; offer her money; nothing, but just took pictures. And I thought, oh my, that’s what many of us have done. We’ve only photographed the world. We haven’t gone into the world. We have too many tourist Christians, and God wants us to be involved.
Oh Praise the Lord! The joy of the Lord is my strength! And it is such a joy to live for Jesus Christ and to serve Him and walk with Him in our lives. It’s important for us to get started in serving the Lord Jesus Christ. On Christmas Day, 1969, I took one step that was very significant. It didn’t seem like a very big step but it was a step forward from Hollywood, California toward Washington D.C., carrying a twelve foot cross on my shoulder. Now that first step didn’t get me to Washington, but I would have never made it to Washington if I hadn’t taken that first step. And now, years and years have passed, and I’ve walked 19,000 miles with that cross across every continent in 59 countries, and if I hadn’t taken that first step and begun, I would never have made it around the world.
Many people have shared with me about talking about Jesus, because they’ve had the desire to. God’s Spirit has been stirring them, but they’ve got to take that first step of witness in order to be the kind of person God wants us to be. Many of us have said, ‘If I knew how to witness like you do, or if I could preach like Billy Graham or something, I’d be out there doing it, but I don’t know, I don’t have the experience, and I don’t know what to say’. But the key thing is to begin; “Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, ‘says the Lord’.” (Zech. 4.6). The beautiful thing about the Bible is how it tells the truth.
The early disciples weren’t any more experienced in witnessing than you are. I dare say you’ve heard a lot more of the gospel than those early Christians because you’ve been hearing it for years. It was new to them, and yet Jesus took them and trained them and not only that, but in the book of Acts, we find other people who had never met Jesus; except in their heart as their Saviour, who began to witness and share their faith.
So reach out and go for God. There is a mighty harvest that is mighty harvest that is sharing Christ today.
Now you say, ‘But Arthur, I wish I had a group.’ Then start the group. When I was in college, and through the whole of my life, I’ve got together one, two or three guys or girls and we’d go out together. So get your own group. You be a kind of captain of a group and say, ‘John, Joe, Bill, Mr. Smith, Mr. Jones, let’s go out witnessing in our neighborhood, or downtown, or where ever it is the Spirit of God leads you.
Get started, get together, pray together, witness together, and go out into the world. And if there is anything I can do to help you, just drop me a note. I’ll send you gospel tracts, Jesus stickers, and share with you in any way I can; to help you get out there, moving for God. Truly, the fields are ripe for harvest. Now is the time, today is the day of salvation. Share Jesus Christ with somebody today, not tomorrow, today. Get out and let’s get going for God!taking
place in this world. God is pouring out his Spirit today in a fresh and mighty way. Not with bought or commercialized evangelism, but just by using people, like you; men, women, and young people. So begi.
Copyright Â© Arthur Blessitt 1986
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