Redefining a Successful Witness

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As a missionary one of my deepest burdens is for Christians that don’t share the Gospel .  This doesn’t stop with me as countless pastors and church leaders are speaking against this lack of witness, and after asking why people don’t speak of Christ they get the usual responses

  1. They don’t know enough Scripture
  2. They are afraid of losing their friends or loved ones
  3. They aren’t confident enough
  4. Or they share more than other people

I’ve heard excuses like this many times before (and even used them sometimes) but in my opinion there’s one issue that keeps Christians from witnessing more than any other.

We no longer know what a successful witness looks like

Ask someone today what would be found in a successful witness and you would end up with something like this

  • The unsaved person is convicted of their sins by the Holy Spirit
  • They confess their need of Christ and ask Him to be their Savior
  • Their lives are completely changed and become actively involved in the local church

Now I’m not saying these Salvation experiences don’t come from a successful witness.  However normally our witnes goes something like this

  • We share the Gospel truth with an unsaved person who has the Bible answers, but hasn’t accepted Christ
  • They choose to rely on their good works or church attendance to take them to Heaven
  • When we explain to them that Jesus is the only way to Heaven their response is “well that’s just your interpretation”
  • When asked if they would like to accept Christ they either explain how good works saves them, or starts an argument about something other than the Gospel

Now let me ask you something….was that a successful witness?

In most cases I would slink away with my tail between my legs. But according to Scripture that WAS a successful witness! Because GOD is the one who does the saving, my job is to simply share His truth.

The problem with our earlier idea of a successful witness is it places intense pressure on a person to get the individual saved.  I’m all for fervent sharing of the Gospel, but the emphasis is the persons own strength or wisdom to the point where they could say “I got this person saved!” 

A bigger issue is if I clearly share the Gospel and they refuse to accept Christ it’s viewed as a loss.  The reality is however the Holy Spirit uses the truths of Scripture to impact lives in a way we cannot.  So if that person understands the truths of Scripture it’s a success!

A few weeks ago I shared the Gospel with a young man who attended Church but obviously wasn’t saved.  As we started reading Romans 3:23 I asked where he wouldn’t go when he died and the young man honestly told me “hell.”  At the end of a tract I was using there were two mountains with a large gap between them.  One one side was man living in sin and on the other side was God.  At the end I asked “which side are you on right now?” He sheepishly pointed to the sin side.  “What’s keeping you from crossing to God (through Christ)?” I asked, he thought for a moment and said “I just like sin too much.”

Now it’s very hard to call this a successful witness since the man refused to accept Jesus because sin felt too good.  But as we finished I looked him in the eyes and asked “where would you go if you died right now?”  He looked at the floor and mumbled “hell.”  I asked the question again just to impress it on his mind and then prayed for him.

Would I have been happier if he had accepted Jesus Christ as his Savior?  Of course!!  But in the eyes of God a witness that clearly explains His truth and drives home the fact death brings eternity in Hell is definitely not a failure.

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