Witnessing from the Scriptures
NCW 8, January 1994
Q. Could you recommend a chapter from the New Testament which I could share with a friend to show him how to come to Christ and what the true faith is?
The "missionary's handbook" is, of course, the Acts of the Apostles as it shows the early Church in action evangelising. As for a particular chapter, this must be a matter of personal choice. We must also take into consideration the background of the people to whom the Gospel is being presented. Paul, who witnessed to the Gentiles, therefore took a very different approach there in comparison to when he was witnessing to fellow Hebrews.
My personal choice would be Acts chapter 2, starting at verse 14, because it really encompasses everything. It is a window into the heart of the early Church. This was the Day of Pentecost when the members, as a sign of the presence of God's Spirit, began speaking in the gift of languages ("tongues"). Peter began his discourse to the amazed Jews by explaining a passage in the Book of Joel which said that in the last days the spiritual gifts would be poured out on men and women, young and old. In other words, conversion to Christ involved not only a change in mind and a change of heart, but a change in spirit also. In short, there is a revolutionary change in the lives of believers thanks to God's personal intervention (v.14-20).
The heart of the Gospel Message is, according to the rest of the chapter, the RESURRECTION. What Jesus Christ did is unique. No-one else has died and been resurrected. True, people have "died" and then revived but they have died again at a later date. But Jesus of Nazareth is immortal physically.
Secondly, we read of Christ's DEITY. Peter compares the mortal David with the immortal Jesus who now sits at God's right hand in glory (v.34-35). Once a man or woman is convicted in his or her heart that Jesus was resurrected and is now sitting on the right hand of God as the second member of the Godhead, the Holy Spirit will move him "to the depths of (his) heart" (Ac.2:37, RBV). Once this has happened, the believer is commanded to do two things:
Peter then goes on with a long discourse, not published in the book of Acts, warning the people to be saved from the present crooked generation. This would have been a sermon on comparing the Christian life with life in the world -- living a life of holiness, giving the people the keys between right and wrong.
(1) Repent of all his wrong-doing, and
(2) Be baptized. As a result two things are promised, if the repentance has been sincere and complete:
(a) The believer will receive a forgiveness of sins and be made clean before God, and
(b) He will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit -- the indwelling spiritual presence of God as a permanent companion (vv.37-39).
THEN...and only then...when the people had been moved deeply in their hearts (this was no plastic or intellectual conversion), learned the keys of holiness as taught by the Law (Torah), were they baptised (v.41).
Then comes the four-fold follow up to conversion which is worth carefully noting:
And now look at the fruits of conversion:
(1) They persevered in the apostles' teaching;
(2) They were active in the fellowship (i.e. they were together);
(3) They broke bread (shared communal meals); and
(4) They prayed alot (v.42).
One of the main characteristics of the early Church was the overwhelming desire the believers had to be together, to partake of one another's fellowship. This was no solo Gospel, no religion of eclectics. Note also that this unity was accomplished by the supernatural activity of God, not man, and this because the people were repentant and obedient to the commandments to live blameless lives of holiness. They shared all their wealth together, placing their money at the apostles' feet.
(1) Awe filled the believers because of all the wonders and signs that took place;
(2) The believers had all things in common (v.44-45);
(3) They went to the temple often (v.46);
(4) They daily partook of communal meals (v.46);
(5) They "prais(ed) God with happy and unruffled hearts, and enjoy(ed) the good will of all the people, while daily the Lord added to the group those who were being saved" (Ac.2:47, RBV).
This is the Gospel, and this is the Gospel Life at its most basic. If these ingredients are not present, then the true Church of Jesus Christ is not present either. I would recommend a thorough study of this chapter as a good introduction to the faith.
You can then build upon what is revealed here, particularly filling in the missing gap of Peter's "many other words" (v.40a) by showing them other passages relating to "be(ing) saved from this crooked generation" (v.40b). Your best bet would then be to turn to the Gospels to see what Jesus's moral teachings were, and expand on these in the letters of Paul.
You could expand on the Law of All Things in Common (the "United Order") by relating the story of Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 4:32-5:11), showing how the preparatory Law of Tithing as practiced under the Old Covenant, was changed in the New.
The most important step to conversion is, of course, coming to know who Jesus Christ is. This discourse in the Book of Acts was addressed to Jews who already believed in God and had a long tradition of ethical and theological training. In our world this dimension is largely missing. The Jews knew, by and large, what sin was, but most modern people don't. They have been brought up on the liberal evolutionistic teaching that morality is relative -- that there are no absolutes. They need to first be brought to a knowledge in God. A short course on Scientific Creationism is probably desirably, particularly with the youth. Once they can see that evolution is false, then the foundation of atheism as well as occultism/New Age teaching is immediately destroyed. This means having a fairly good knowledge of the beginning of Genesis and some scientific data to back it up. The New Covenant Church has alot of material on this.
Another approach, which is probably the most popular amongst those witnessing to people who are not willing to sit down and go through a whole chapter, is to get them to read some short passages and then comment on them. The following collection, which is again personal, is designed to get people to think about their relationship to God and the futility to living life under their own authority and rebellion against God:
These passages help the unbeliever realise:
(1) "For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of the Lord" (Rom.3:20, NIV).
(2) "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Rom.6:23, NIV).
(3) "I tell you the truth, unless a man is born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God" (John 3:3, NIV).
(4) "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No-one comes to the Father except through me" (John 14:6, NIV).
(5) "...if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. As the Scripture says, "Everyone who trust in Him will never be put to shame"" (Rom.10:9-11, NIV).
(6) "Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. It anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with Him, and He with me" (Rev.3:20, NIV).
(7) "..faith without deeds is useless" (James 2:20, NIV).
These are the fundamental ingredients. It is well worth marking these passages in the Scriptures and cross-referencing them.
(1) that he is cut off from God,
(2) that Jesus Christ is the only way to God,
(3) that a man must be born again into a new, heavenly life if he has any hope of going to heaven,
(4) that mental belief is not enough -- it must be in the heart,
(5) that public confession is a vital step in the Christian life,
(6) that Christ is always nearby, waiting to come in, and
(7) faith without action is useless...passive believing isn't enough.
If these propositions are accepted, then a study of Acts 2 may be in order, as explained above. May the Lord bless you as you seek to witness!
This page was created on 18 April 1998
Last updated on 18 April 1998
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