Christian Witness

How Christians Witness; Or at Least They Should

Having discussed the reason for why Christians witness, I want to now turn our attention to the “How” or the “What” of Christian witnessing. In other words, is there a right way to witness to the world at large, or is it pretty much a “Do as you feel what’s right” game? Does our method really matter, as long as we are sharing Jesus?

When I was about ten years old my mom instructed me in the art of dish-washing. She laid out the plan very thoughtfully, explaining in detail how I was to wash the dishes in our home. That is, when it was my turn to do them. Given the mindset of our youth today, I imagine such instruction and enforced responsibility seems way too harsh and demanding for a child of ten. Heck, I know kids who complain about doing dishes and all they have to do is load the dishwasher (LOL). Anyway, as a child I learned a valuable lesson, and I do not regret having been told to do it.

Now imagine for a moment that after hearing the painstaking instruction my mom had given me, that I decided then and there I would wash the dishes my way. I accepted the fact that I had to wash them, but I disregarded the manner in which I was instructed to do them. What do you suppose my mother’s response would have been? It is at this point that the modern rebel would reply, “Why does it matter how I did them, as long as I did them?” Well, if you have no respect for those over you (authoritatively), then I suppose it doesn’t matter. But, the real question is “Was I honoring my mom if I ignored her instructions and did what I was told to do in the fashion that I found acceptable?”

The answer is a definite “NO!” Regardless, of my accomplishments, I dishonored my mother by rejecting her authority over me. A rebellious child says to their parent, “I’ll do it my way.” To silence any opposition, I will merely point you to Genesis 4 with the objective case we are provided in Cain and Abel. Theologians can debate the intricacies in this passage until they are blue in the face, but the simple lesson to be learned here is that both brothers were instructed in how to offer sacrifices to the Lord God (an act of worship). Although, only one succeeded in doing what he had been instructed to do. Cain, like Abel, had received instruction on how (what) was appropriate to offer to (for) God, but only Abel acted in faith (cf. Heb 11.4; 12.4 compare with 1John 3.11-12; Jude 1.11). True faith is recognizable[1] by only one thing “obedience” (see James 2.17).

Just as my mom was my head as a child in her home, so too is Christ Jesus the head of His Church. As the head he alone exercises the authority to determine what it is we should and should not do. Now the question I have raised is “How should we witness for Christ?” OR put another way, “What is the right method for being Christ’s witness?”

Remember when I speak of offering a Christian witness, I am not merely speaking about evangelism (i.e. sharing the good news), but within this word (witness) I include apologetics (i.e. defending/giving an answer for the Christian faith). Evangelism and Apologetics are two sides of the same coin. One cannot do the one without at some point including the other.[2] Therefore, as Christians we should naturally ask, “What is the method that the head of the House—i.e. Jesus—expects his followers to use in witnessing?”

Often 1Peter 3:15 is cited as a supporting text of Christian apologetics. The verse reads, “but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to given an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and respect” (NASB 95’). Believer’s tend to hone in on “always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you…[about] the hope that is in you…,” but in so doing they miss the most important part of this command. What is it? What’s the most important part? It is “sanctifying Christ as Lord in your hearts…” the Christian cannot hope to have a sound answer nor be an effective witness for their faith unless Christ is recognized as supreme.[3]

A person can have the best of intentions, the most thoroughly thought out argument, and irrefutable evidences to back up their claims for the Christian faith, but without building that argument on the solid Word of Christ, the effort is for naught. A comparable example would be for a builder to have the best tools/materials, the best workers and the best architect and engineers on the planet, but if he ignores the blueprint that was given…if he refuses to build upon the correct foundation, the project is a lost cause. Oh, it may seem to stand for a while. The building may appear to be a success, but in the end (whether it be by rains or winds) the building will not last.

In the wilderness, Jesus faced off against the greatest adversary creation has known. He was challenged to win the argument by an appeal apart from God’s Word. How did the Lord respond? “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God’” (Matt 4.4; ESV). Commenting on the passage quoted above (Matt 4.4), Jason Lisle writes, “Not only did Jesus respond with a Bible-first approach, but the very Scripture He quoted indicates a Bible-first approach—that we should live [witness] by the Word of God.”[4]

Mankind was created to be God’s image bearer. Christians are being reformed into the proper image for which the original creation intended—the image of Christ, the exact imprint of the image of God. Therefore, our approach to witnessing if it is to truly be Christ honoring, must reflect His methodology. Our witnessing must not be after a fashion that ignores His instruction, intending to do the work we were created for some other way.

How should Christians witness? Beginning and ending with Scripture. This does not mean that I need to quote a verse of Scripture at the beginning and the end of my dialogue. Nor am I insinuating that quoting biblical verses is always the best policy. More than likely an unbeliever may not even know the reference we are giving.

What I am seeking to communicate is this, our words needs to be salted with Christ’s Word. We may not quote directly from the Bible, but our speech should be guided by biblical precepts and wisdom (cf. Acts 17.15-34). Our interpretation of evidences, our critique of assumptions, biases and traditions should be seen by the light of God’s Word, and defined and communicated in like fashion to our audiences; whether they are one or many. To use the words of a very apt witness of biblical Christianity, “What we lead people with is what we lead them to.”

ENDNOTES:

[1] Not “acquired,” for we cannot earn our salvation. Salvation is a gift of grace, not a result of the work we do. Cf. Rom 3.28; 4.5; Eph 2.5, 8-9.

[2] This statement is not insinuating that every dialogue with an unbeliever will cover all topics involved. Time constraints affect us all, and so there will be times when such witnessing opportunities will be cut short. The only point being made is that to share ones faith (either verbally or by a living witness) naturally leads to questions, or to question another’s faith leads to the sharing of the gospel. The two go hand-in-hand.

[3] Regarding this statement, Kenneth D. Boa and Robert M. Bowman write, “Almost certainly, then, Peter is telling us to conduct our defense of the faith with an attitude of holy fear or reverence toward Christ, whom we honor as Lord (3:15). We do so by striving to be faithful to Christ both in what we say and in how we live (verse 16).” Kenneth D. Boa and Robert M. Bowman, Faith Has Its Reasons: Integrative Approaches to Defending the Christian Faith, 2nd ed. (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2005), 13-14.

[4] Jason Lisle, The Ultimate Proof of Creation: Resolving the Origins Debate (Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 2009), 163.

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