Here He Comes – Patiently Prepare

Here He Comes – Patiently Prepare

Here He Comes Patiently Prepare

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CHAPTER 6

SUBJECT: "HERE HE COMES" – 'PATIENTLY PREPARE'!

SCRIPTURE: Luke 2:22-38

TEXT: "Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, looking for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him." (Luke 2:25)

INTRODUCTION: There are two sides of the Christian life. There is the Active side of the Christian life. Here we achieve, venture, preach, sing, organize, administer. The other is related to passive side of life. Here we submit, endure, suffer, wait. I propose to you that waiting upon God is usually more difficult than achieving for God! And yet, waiting is all-important, for expectant waiting is necessary if God is to prepare our hearts for the coming of Christ to us in new and powerful ways.

I. Why Is Waiting So Difficult For Us?

A. Because we are basically impatient.

B. Because we look at time from a human viewpoint instead of from God's viewpoint.

II. Why Is Waiting So Important?

A. Because God has His own timetable

B. Because some great revelations and gifts from God can only be received by the one who is more mature in his walk.

C. Because waiting upon God raises our level of expectations, desires, and anticipations, making the fulfillment of the promise all that more sweet and wonderful.

D. Because God's voice cannot be heard unless one is still and quiet, in a waiting, expectant mood.

E. Because waiting is evidence of faith – evidence that we believe in the vision God has given to us and that we believe that vision will be fulfilled in God's own time and way.

III. What Is The Result Of Waiting Expectantly Upon God?

CONCLUSION: Simeon and Anna were determined to know God's Son, and therefore they waited patiently and persistently! Learn to attend to God's whispers! Prepare to receive God's Son into your life in new and exciting ways!

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vital for God forever." (Mastery; page 298)

PROPOSITION: If a new revelation of Jesus in our lives cannot come without expectant waiting, we must ask some important questions regarding 'Expectant Waiting'.

I. Why Is Waiting So Difficult For Us?

A. Because we are basically impatient

In some non-western cultures children and adults are trained to be patient, unrushed, and meditative, slow in movements, but such training is rare in our Western Civilization. We are an 'instant' society. 'Instant' oatmeal', 'Instant' coffee, 'Instant' potatoes, 'Instant' meals in the form of T.V. Dinners and add-only-water cake mixes. We grow impatient if the fast-food places don't serve us fast enough! We are not trained to wait on people or to wait on service from people. We want something and we want it immediately! We are a very impatient society. Long years of practice don't appeal to us. We want quick results with little input. There are many who are looking at ways to 'Get-Rich-Quick'! Our young people who have been caught up in the hurly-burly of modem life are even turned off to 'slow' music. Compatible with their lifestyle of rush and hurry and speed and 'immediacy', many youth cannot stand slow, soothing classical music! It must be the fast beat, the kind of music that puts the body in motion that raises the pulse rate, that is so loud and fast that one cannot understand the words! Children get all the toys they want when they want them – no waiting, no anticipation, no denials. Get it all and get it now! A poor way to develop discipline through denial and patience through waiting! We are in the space age – the age of speed. A hard age to develop patience with old people who are very slow in their physical movements and sometimes slow in their comprehension because of mental handicaps!

Why is it so hard to Wait upon the Lord, silently, passively, receptively, alone? Because we are living in a society which hates silence, slowness, solitude! Christians who are bred in such a society will have to work at developing these important qualities, for without these qualities – no new revelation of Jesus in their lives!

We live in an activist society, a society where meditation, quiet, busyness solitude, patient waiting are lost arts. In our society busyness is more important to us than productivity. We Americans think that Doing is more important than being. We think that Talking is more important than Listening.

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We think that Quantity is more important than Quality. (For instance, we build many cheap houses quickly rather than a few quality houses built slowly.) We think that fast-moving Youth are more important than the slower moving but experienced Aged. Even in industry today, if you are over 50 and cannot move as fast as the 25 year old, you may lose your job to the faster, but less experienced, youth. (Let us remind ourselves that the greatest period in life may well be the last period of life. It was so with Moses. The first 40 years of life were years of formal education. The second 40 years of life were years of patient preparation, in the desert. The last 40 years of his life were years of unusual productivity – the years when he fulfilled his life mission of leading the people of Israel out of Egypt to the Promised Land!)

Remember, Simeon was an old man when the greatest revelation of God came to him. And remember, Anna the prophetess, was 84 when she received God's greatest revelation to her!

Slow Me Down, Lord

Give me, amidst the confusion of my day, 
the calmness of the everlasting hills. 
Break the tension of my nerves and muscles 
with the soothing music of the singing streams 
that live in my memory. 
Help me to know 
the magical restorative power of sleep. 
Teach me the art of taking minute vacations ... 
Of slowing down to look at a flower, 
to chat with a friend, 
to pat a dog, 
to read a few lines from a good book 
Slow me down, Lord, 
and inspire me to send my roots deep 
into the soil oflife's enduring values, 
that I may grow 
toward the stars of my greater destiny. Amen.

(Daily Readings From W. E. Sangster; page 368)

B. Because we look at time from a human viewpoint instead of from God's viewpoint.

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God is not slow to fulfill His purposes as some men count slowness. God's timetable is the right timetable. He is never too late, for God sees the 'end from the beginning'. He knows when men are prepared for His fuller revelations. He knows when the fullness of time is for new gifts of knowledge and insight and revelations to be given to us. Someone has said that God is the God who always answers 'in the nick of time'. From man's viewpoint perhaps, but not from God's viewpoint, for God is never rushed and He is never too slow. He is right on time. But because we human beings are living in the dimension of time and see things from time's perspective, we grow impatient with God! Our timetable is different from God's, but God's is the right timetable.

II. Why Is Waiting So Important?

A. Because God Has His Own Timetable

If God's timetable is the only right timetable, then it is all-important to wait upon God's proper time. "Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; yea, wait for the Lord" (Psalms 27:14) Good advice to us, for we tend to grow discouraged when our prayers are not quickly answered or when our projects are frustrated! Wait upon God for His timing! "Wait for the Lord, and keep to his way, and he will exalt you to possess the land." (Psalms 37:34) If you wait on the Lord, you will possess new knowledge of God's ways, God's purposes, God's plan for your life! "The eyes of all look to thee, and thou givest them their food in due season." (Psalms 145:15) Food means physical, spiritual, intellectual, social sustenance. God will give the soul who waits expectantly upon Him, all the food he needs! 'Due season' speaks of God's timetable which is the right timetable. God is never too late! Others may think He is late and give up on God. Some grow hopeless and feel that God's promises will never be fulfilled. But God likes to surprise people with His own timing! God's promises to Abraham were late in being fulfilled, but they were not too late. Abraham and Sarah became parents of the promised child when they were very old. Earlier, Abraham had grown impatient with God's timetable, and therefore he took Hagar his handmaid and she bore Abraham a son. But it was ahead of God's timing. Hagar's son was not the promised son!

Remember, in the fullness of time God reveals Himself. Simeon and Anna knew this, so they were willing to wait long and patiently upon God. And they were not disappointed, for God, in His own time, fulfilled His promise to them! In the Book of Acts we learn that the disciples had to wait for ten long days before the Holy Spirit was poured out upon them. "If Jesus had said 'go', He had also said 'tarry' and 'wait'. For ten days they did nothing but tarry and wait. They might have been champing at the bit, eager to be off to tell the Good News of His Resurrection. But it would have been half\baked if they had. For not only were

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they to tell of His Resurrection – they were to illustrate it … People were to feel the Resurrection through these resurrected lives. So the best thing they ever did was not to do. For ten days they were quiet and receptive." (Mystery; Jones; page 297)

It is important for us to work for the Lord, but it is equally important for us to wait expectantly upon the Lord. "Jeremiah said out of much tribulation that 'it is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the Lord'. Both hope and quietly wait! Some rush on with their work for God, and, meeting disappointment, get discouraged … The saint both hopes and quietly waits. Not all he has to endure robs him of the patience of hope, for he knows that God will have His way in the end." (Daily Readings; page 203; Sangster)

Waiting upon the Lord is an antidote against discouragement. Isaiah wrote, "They that wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint." (Isaiah 40:31) "Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain." (1 Corinthians 15:58) "And let us not grow weary in well-doing, for in due season we shall reap, if we do not lose heart." (Galatians 6:9) Waiting on God gives birth to hope which neutralizes discouragement during difficult times. Waiting upon God enables us to look beyond the problems of the present to the promises that are to be fulfilled in the future!

B. Because Some Great Revelations and Gifts From God Can Only Be Received By The One Who Is More Mature In His Walk.

We tell children to wait for some gifts, for we believe that until they are older they will not be able to properly receive and appreciate them. We tell a child that he must wait until he is older before he can drive a car. We tell a young adolescent that he must wait until he is older before he is ready to be married. We tell a high school graduate that he ought to wait and go to college before he gets a job or tries to enter a profession. We tell a young worker that he will have to wait to mature and to gain experience before he can have the better job or the executive position. Even within God's Church, the Lord has directed ministers to mature before they can even be considered for some offices, like deacon or elder or Bishop.

Let them also be tested first; then if they prove themselves blameless let them serve as deacons." (1 Timothy 3:10) "He (a bishop) must not be a recent convert, or he may be puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil." (1 Timothy 3:6)

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Some revelations from God can only come to those who have long prepared, fasted, waited, expected, and matured. It is not insignificant that God revealed the person and purpose of Jesus to ones who had long prepared for that special and great gift of revelation. For many years Simeon and Anna had waited upon the Lord at the holy Temple. Of Anna it is said, "She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day." (Luke 2:37) God had matured Simeon and Anna to the point where they were able to receive a great revelation from God. The long waiting, praying, expecting were necessary to prepare them for God's greatest revelation. Not even Joseph and Mary recognized the person and mission of Jesus like Simeon and Anna. "And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him (Jesus)." (Luke 2:33)

Why is waiting so important? Because some of God's special gifts and revelations can only be given to more mature Christians who have learned to wait upon God.

C. Because waiting upon God raises our level of expectations, desires, and anticipations, making the fulfillment of the promise all that more sweet and wonderful.

The farmer's harvest is more meaningful because he has had to wait for the harvest. "Behold, the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient over it until it receives the early and the late rain." (James 5:7)

A man's wife is more meaningful to him because he had to wait for weeks or months during the dating and engagement period before the wedding day.

The child's toy is more meaningful to him because he has had to wait for it.

The teen works and waits patiently to earn enough money before he can buy that dream car. How much more meaningful the car is to him because he had to work and wait for it!

What if God immediately gave us everything we desired without us ever having to wait for His gifts? Would we not, like a child, be spoiled and tend to take everything for granted? Do we not appreciate the fulfillment of God's promises even more because we have had to wait for their fulfillment? Is not the anticipation of waiting to open a gift under the Christmas tree about as great as the actual opening of the gift?

Is not the waiting for the fulfillment of God's promises part of the process of perfecting our character? Is not the communion and fellowship with God which we experience in prayer, while waiting for an 'answer', just as important as the actual 'answer' to the prayer? For prayer is not for the purpose of simply getting things;

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prayer is for the purpose of 'making' us, through communion with God, while God is taking time to give us 'things'.

D. Because God's voice cannot be heard unless one is still and quiet, in a waiting, expectant mood.

Simeon heard the voice of God because he was quiet in God's presence. This is not to say that it is easy to hear the voice of God in the silence. William Sangster said he once got a letter from a man of seventy-three who wrote, "I have tried for years to hear the voice of God. I have never heard it. Is it all illusion?" Comments Sangster, "He does not know how to listen. He seems to expect a human voice. To quote the poet to him and say 'God speaks in silences' won't help him; it sounds silly … There begins the difficulty. Many voices sound within our mind. People who have never practiced listening in the silence are astonished, when they begin, at the pandemonium of voices inside. At times it sounds like Babel Fear, hope, memory, ambition, all find voice inside us and sometimes they even talk together, and the high skill of this interior listening is to learn how to know the voice of God from all the other voices … It isn't simple. One must be prepared for patience and practice, and resolve never to use the words 'God said to me …' or 'I was guided …' (or any similar expression) without great care and reserve." (Daily Readings page 9)

I have known of persons who declared that God spoke to them and yet it was obvious from the directions they received that the voice they heard was not the voice of God.

But even though it may not be easy to hear the authentic voice of God amidst all the other 'voices', it is possible and vitally necessary to learn to hear the voice of God in the silence of our mediation and prayer. Simeon heard the voice of God's promise: "And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he should not see death before he had seen the Lord's Christ." (Luke 2:26) God had spoken. Simeon waited long. God fulfilled His promise to Simeon in due time!

"The prophets often said 'Thus saith the Lord'. They claimed to have received special messages from God. The saints often claimed that God spoke to them – sometimes in quite precise terms." (Ibid; page 9)

What is the voice of God like? Elijah learned! When Elijah the prophet was hiding from Jezebel in a cave, "the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire, a still small voice." (1 Kings 19:11-12) The 'still small voice' was the voice of God! But

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how can we hear the 'still small voice' of God if there is no stillness, no solitude, no quiet time, no waiting?

Waiting is important because God comes and speaks to us in his 'still small voice' when we wait quietly and expectantly! To listen for God's voice is all-important'! Our waiting is more than mere waiting. Simeon waited but his waiting was the waiting of a heart that was devout, righteous, and earnest. He was a single-minded, devout soul, fixed on God, not a double-minded soul, worldly-oriented and easily distracted. He concentrated on God's promises. He looked for the consolation of Israel, expecting God to deliver and to comfort Israel in God's own time and way.

Are we, like Simeon, longing and looking for God to deliver us and to comfort our people and nation in God's own time and way? If we, like Simeon, are centered on God, we too will know that the Holy Spirit is upon us (Luke 2:25), that we are 'inspired by the Spirit' (Luke 2:27). The Spirit is a mighty aid to the seeking and waiting soul. "The Holy Spirit helps us with out daily problems and in our praying. For we don't even know what we should pray for, nor how to pray as we should, but the Holy Spirit prays for us with such feeling that it cannot be expressed in words." (Romans 8:26, Living Bible)

We must identify with Simeon in our quest for God. "Why not give this quest for the awareness of the Divine an unhurried trial? Is there, in all this universe, anything more important to you than to know God? Can you expect to know him in scamped moments? Are you willing to meet his conditions when he says, 'Ye shall seek me and find me when ye shall search for me with all your heart?' Give time to it, plenty of time. Go into the silence for long periods but also into the company of those who claim to know him. Put yourself to school to the Bible. Be found regularly at worship. Hold in your mind the picture of God revealed by Jesus and just think and think on him. Don't lose heart if the hours go by and nothing seems to come. The hours are not being wasted. Persist! Faith will grow in you. The glad day will come when you also will say, 'I know him whom I have believed'" (Can I Know God?; Sangster; page 23, 24)

The practice of waiting persistently and expectantly will produce great fruit in your life – you will come to know God inwardly and intimately!

E. Because waiting is evidence of faith – evidence that we believe in the vision God has given to us and that we believe that vision will be fulfilled in God's own time and way.

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For instance, a woman, engaged to be married to a man who is overseas in the military service, shows her faith in the man and in his promise to marry her, when she waits patiently and persistently for him to return for the wedding day.

Simeon believed so firmly in God's promise that he would see the Christ before he died, that he was willing daily to wait upon the Lord for the fulfillment of the promise.

Waiting demonstrated faith and hope. "Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience." (Romans 8:24-25) "Be patient, therefore, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. Behold, the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient over it until it receives the early and the late rain. You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand." (James 5:7-8)

Waiting on the Lord demonstrates our faith in the Lord, that the Lord will fulfill His promises and give realization to our hopes.

III. What Is The Result Of Waiting Expectantly Upon God?

When we wait upon God patiently and expectantly, and continue to claim God's promises, we will 'see Jesus' and we will understand the true nature of Jesus' saving mission.

The person of Jesus and the purposes of Jesus will be known to us more than ever before.

Is there any greater revelation to us than that of 'seeing' with the eyes of faith the Lord Jesus – seeing His 'person' and seeing His saving purpose?

To see Jesus is to see everything else, for everything in life centers on Jesus. To see Jesus clearly is to see everything else rightly! Failure to see Jesus results in everything else in life becoming hazy! If one does not see Jesus clearly, one cannot correctly see God, one cannot correctly see himself, one cannot correctly see others! To see Jesus clearly is to see everything else concretely!

To recognize the person of Jesus – that He is indeed the fulfillment of God's promise to the world – is to recognize the purpose of Jesus – that is, that He is the 'light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for the glory to thy people Israel'.(Luke 2:32)

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One who waits upon God comes to understand the purposes and plans of God. For a mere mortal to be 'let in' on God's master plans, is to be given the greatest privilege of all! What a gift – to be given the plans of the Master Architect of the Universe! Simeon's waiting and praying was all worthwhile, for, when others failed to see the saving mission of Jesus, Simeon and Anna were among the very few to whom the mission was revealed. When Jesus came, Simeon and Anna were prepared to see and to recognize the Saviour of the world! Why? Because they had long prepared for this important day. Their eyes were opened to behold the Saviour, because for long years their ears had been opened to God's voice in prayer and their hearts had been opened to God's thoughts through quiet meditation.

No one can 'see' Jesus or 'see' His saving work today with any depth unless his heart is prepared through long prayer and meditation. Jesus is only revealed to prepared people – people like Simeon and Anna who had long waited and prayed and fasted, in the Temple.

Jesus will reveal Himself to you in new ways if you learn to wait upon Him! Do you have your Quiet Times daily? Do you wait upon Him daily in prayer, training your ears to listen for God's 'small, still voice'? Have you trained your mind to meditate upon God's Word each day? Do you have a mood of expectation and anticipation as you long for the fulfillment of God's promises in your personal life? Are you learning to wait patiently and persistently upon God?

Are you prepared to 'see' God in the way God wishes to reveal Himself to you? I ask this question because many overlooked the presence of Jesus when He came the first time. Simeon and Anna and only a few others recognized Jesus when He came. Why? Because Jesus' coming was in such a common way! He was born like other babies are born, and He was presented in the Temple for the rite of circumcision and purification like any other Jewish male baby. Nothing out of the ordinary, and yet Simeon, in the most ordinary of circumstances, recognized Jesus!

Why do the multitudes today not recognize Jesus' presence? Because their hearts are not prepared to see Jesus among the commonplace things of life! Jesus can only be seen by humble people, humble folks like Simeon and Anna, whose preparation was sufficient to receive God's revelation of His Son. God reveals Jesus among the simple, routine things of life – things like the smile of a friend, a loving letter from a relative, a hymn in the Church service, the hug of a child, the kiss of a companion, the tug on your heart during your daily devotions, the testimony of a new Christian, the kind act of an employer, the sermon of God's minister, the exquisite sunset after a long day, the 'still small voice' during worship service.

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Are you surprised that people do not recognize the presence of Jesus in the world today? Notes William Sangster, "I do not think so – if we remember that men are always more attracted by the spectacular than the truly great. If God had come to earth in a chariot of fire, multitudes would have knelt before him. But He was born as we are born and His coming was marked only by a few. If He had moved among men in dazzling apparel, with a glance of flame and a voice of thunder, He would have subdued kingdoms, but He came in the dress of a common workman, spoke with a Galilean accent, and so blended the sublime with the normal that only the few saw that the sublime was there … the unusual and the ostentatious are always more attractive than that which is truly grand … I once stood at sunset with a group of friends waiting for a firework display. It was to begin at dark. While we waited I looked behind me and saw the sun sinking in a sea of glory, and I said to them, 'Look at the sunset!' Nobody looked. They were waiting for a common squib … Many people are making the same mistake today. They are seeking at a distance the God Who stands at the door of their heart … I believe that some of you have only to quiet the deafening noises of the world and you will hear Him say, 'Have I been so long time with you and yet hast thou not known Me?'" (Sangster's Daily Reading; page 125)

"God is constantly seeking to meet us in the common and unexpected moments of life. He does not wait for what we are pleased to call the 'grand moments' but He will make the common place the grand. We walk about blind to the glory that is around us because we do not expect to find it there. We mortgage the joys of the present, the quiet homely joys of humdrum days, to our anticipations of some distant time of overwhelming happiness of a kind that never comes to most people. God has not concealed our happiness in some fabled EL Dorado. It is all around us if we would only learn to see it in common things." (Ibid; page 185)

Why do some people find Jesus and others don't? Because, as we have been noting, some people, like Simeon and Anna, have prepared their hearts to look for Jesus in the commonplace things of life and others have not prepared their hearts to see Him. Simeon and Anna found Jesus at the very place where they had often and routinely gone – at the Temple.

CONCLUSION: Why do some people find Jesus and others don't? Because some persevere in their quest for Jesus. Simeon and Anna were determined to know God's Son, and therefore they waited patiently and persistently!

"That is where discipline comes into the holy life; not the toilsome, straining; failing effort to be good; but the faithful attending on God to receive …. There can be no continuance of the holy life in the soul of any man who does not continually wait on God. Only those who 'attend the whispers' of His grace can hear Him 'only speak'." (Sangster; Ibid; page 188)

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Learn to attend to God's whispers! Prepare to receive God's Son into your life in new and exciting ways!

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Here He Comes – Patiently Prepare

Questions

  1. Tell why you agree or disagree with the following statement: "The Passive side of the Christian life – the side where we submit, endure, suffer, wait – is far more difficult than the Active side of life – the side where we achieve, venture, preach, sing, organize, administer."

  2. Give your response to the following advice from E. Stanley Jones: "Choose to loaf in God's presence and then you'll be forever busy in His service. Be silent to God for a day, yea, ten days if necessary, and you'll be vocal and vital for God forever."

  3. Share illustrations from modem life which documents the truth of the following statements: "We live in an activistic society, a society where meditation, quiet, solitude, and patient waiting are lost arts. Society in general believes busyness is more important than productivity, that Doing is more important than Being, that Talking is more important than Listening, that Quantity is more important than Quality, that fast-moving youth are more important than slower-moving older people!"

  4. Share an experience from your own personal life which illustrates the truth of the following statement: "Because we human beings are living in the dimension of time and see things from time's perspective we grow impatient with God!"

  5. Share illustrations, both from Biblical history and from more recent times, of persons who learned to wait patiently for God to fulfill His promises to them. (Note Genesis 21:1-5; Luke 2:22-38) Concerning the importance of 'waiting upon the Lord', share which of the following Scriptures mean most to you: Psalms 27:14; Psalms 37:34; Psalms 145:15; Isaiah 40: 31; 1 Corinthians 15:58; Galatians 6:9.

  6. Why do you think that God revealed to Simeon and Anna more about the person and the mission of Jesus, than He revealed to Joseph and to Mary? (Note Luke 2:33)

  7. Do you believe that waiting for the fulfillment of God's promises is part of the process which God uses to perfect our Christina character? What do you think would tend to happen in our lives, if God immediately gave us everything we desired, without us ever having to wait for His gifts?

  8. Tell why you agree or disagree with the following statements by William Sangster: "The high skill of this interior listening is to learn how to know the voice of God from all other voices. It isn't simple. One must be prepared for patience and practice, and

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    resolve never to use the word 'God said to me ….' or 'I was guided …' (or any similar expression) without great care and reserve."

    How is the 'voice of God' described in 1 Kings 19:11-12?

  9. After reading the following paragraph, share what things you personally plan to do during the next few weeks, in attempt to come to know God better: "Can you expect to know him in scamped moments? Are you willing to meet his conditions when he says, 'Ye shall seek me and find me when ye shall search for me with all your heart?' Give time to it, plenty of time. Go into the silence for long periods but also into the company of those who claim to know him. Put yourself to school to the Bible. Be found regularly at worship. Hold in your mind the picture of God revealed by Jesus and just think and think on him. Don't lose heart if the hours go by and nothing seems to come. The hours are not being wasted. Persist! Faith will grow in you. The glad day will come when you also will say, 'I know him whom I have believed.'"

  10. Share how 'Waiting' can be a demonstration of one's strong faith in God. (Note Romans 8:24-25; James 5:7-8)

  11. Share how God has revealed Himself to you, in the most ordinary of circumstances (as in the case of Anna and Simeon). Tell to what extent you identify with the following statement: "God reveals Jesus among the simple, routine things of life – things like the smile of a friend, a loving letter from a relative, a hymn in the Church service, the hug of a friend or child, the kiss of a companion, the tug on your heart during your daily devotions, the testimony of a new Christian, the kind act of an employer, the sermon of God's minister, the exquisite sunset after a long day, the 'still small voice' during a worship service."

  12. Are you surprised that people do not recognize the presence of Jesus in the world today? Share examples that illustrate the truth of the following statements: "Men are always more attracted by the spectacular than the truly great. If God had come to earth in a chariot of fire, multitudes would have knelt before him, but He was born as we are born and He came in the dress of a common workman. He so blended the sublime with the normal that only a few saw that the sublime was there. The unusual and the ostentatious are always more attractive than that which is truly grand. God is constantly seeking to meet us in the common and unexpected moments of life."

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Introduction Rescuing the Lost Ones

Introduction – Rescuing The Lost Ones

Introduction To Book Ten – Witnessing

By

Ron Christian, Compiler

There was nothing that thrilled me more, when I served as long-term pastor of the Free Methodist Church (1967-1994) in Fort Collins, Colorado, than personally to witness precious persons repenting of their sins and turning their lives over to Jesus Christ. The coming of Christ into the lives and families of seeking souls always spelled divinely-wrought transformation! Even though I never felt I had the God-given 'gift of evangelism', I did, as a pastor, take Paul's exhortation seriously: "Do the work of an evangelist." As a young pastor of 22 years of age (in 1967), I determined that, in spite of my 'natural timidity', I would ask God to discipline me to "reach out in love" to hurting and spiritually-hungry people who desperately needed Christ. Since I grew up in a small local church (where there were hardly any men in the Church), and since my own father did not become a Christian until very late in his life (about four years before his death), I decided that I would always try to lead both husband and wife to Christ together in their homes in the evenings. I dedicated three evenings a week (Monday, Tuesday, Thursday evenings) to go into homes to witness and hopefully to lead some couples (and entire families if possible) to a saving knowledge of Christ. In spite of my fears and hesitations, mistakes and human weaknesses, God saw fit to allow me to be His 'mouthpiece' to speak to hundreds of unsaved persons about their need for Christ. On an appointment basis (what I called 'Salvation By Appointments'), I had the glorious privilege of personally leading several hundred adults to Christ. Only about 20-40 new converts per year, but over a period of some 25 years the Lord performed many transforming miracles right before my eyes! These included older persons in their 60's, 70's, 80's, as well as teens and young adults and middle-agers. A short time after I left the 'pastoral ministry', I had the thrilling experience of a 93 year old lady repeating after me the sinner's prayer. That woman (at this particular time) is still living, and I have observed during these last few years that she has grown much closer to God. She still evidences faith in Christ, and she anticipates making heaven her 'eternal home'. A short time after I prayed with this 93 year old lady, I prayed with a 78 year old lady (who, according to her own confession, had not attended church for 30 years). After reading the story of Nicodemus (John 3), I asked her if she wanted to make sure that she was ready to meet God in peace (if – or when – she would die). I asked her if she wanted to repeat after me 'a prayer of confession and faith'. She quickly answered, "Yes, of course!" Less than two months after this woman prayed to accept Christ as her Savior, she died, of a heart attack (on November 1, 1996), and I conducted her funeral service. This woman manifested such glory and joy in her countenance, the last moments before she died, that her two children (neither of whom were known for their personal faith in Christ) both testified that they believed the 'holy angels' came and carried away their beloved mother! The woman's 'unsaved' son said to me: "If I ever doubted that there is an afterlife, I no longer doubt it now, after seeing the peace and joy on my mother's face as she died!" This 78 year old woman (who prayed the 'sinner's prayer' only a few

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weeks before her death) is only one of several older folks whom it has been my privilege personally to lead to Christ. (Don't 'buy into the myth' that 'older persons are unreachable as far as salvation is concerned, for their hearts are too hardened by sin'. Thousands of older ones are waiting for someone to lead them to the 'foot of the cross' before it is too late! Reach out to them, and lovingly talk to them about the compassionate and forgiving Christ!)

Of course, there have been several hundreds of young adults and middle age couples whose hands I have held (around their own dining room tables at the conclusion of a "Salvation By Appointment" Bible Study), as they repeated the 'sinner's prayer'. After pastoring for nearly 27 years, I left that wonderful pastorate, but I have not left my blessed memories behind of the nights in the homes of hundreds of couples who humbled themselves in my presence as they repented of their sins and turned in faith to the merciful Savior. Some years ago, I recall being in the presence of a family of seven (father, mother, four children and an elderly grandmother), all of whom opened their hearts to the Living Christ! For several years (until this family moved to another community) all seven of these 'beautiful persons' were actively and joyously involved as 'workers and servants' in the local church where I pastored.

The local church where I pastored for so long never was a very large congregation. It grew numerically from about 35 to 350 worship attenders (on Sunday morning) during the years I pastored, and, because there was considerable mobility in this professionally oriented (college) city, I was actually pastor of several' different congregations' (because hundreds of people 'came and went' through the years). I felt God's presence so often as I preached, taught, visited, organized, and carried on the multitude of pastoral tasks in a small but growing local church – but I never felt the power of the Holy Spirit's presence as strongly as I did when I was in the hundreds of homes of 'unsaved people', leading them to Christ through my "Salvation By Appointment" Home Bible Studies. When I left this long-term pastorate, my 'Church Directory' had about 170 names and addressees of families which composed my small 'flock' of parishioners. Out of these 170 families, there were 60 of these families with whom I had personally prayed to accept Christ (in their homes through the SBA Bible studies). Many of the local church's strongest and most active leaders came from these persons who had been converted and discipled through our church's ministries.

Many local churches throughout America, like our own local church, have primarily increased in size because of consistent and solid 'Convert Growth'. Of course, there is nothing necessarily 'wrong' with other kinds of growth in a local church – i.e., 'biological growth' through babies being born to church members, or 'transfer growth' through believers who join your local church after they move to your community from another community, or 'sideways growth' as a result of believers who leave another local church in the same community to join your local church – but the most important growth is 'Convert Growth' (i.e., growth as a result of your own local church's soul-winning

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efforts).

Jesus Christ chose twelve men through whom to spread His teachings and to establish His Church in the world. He commanded His disciples to take the Gospel to all nations. The command primarily involved spreading the Gospel in lands which were under the rule of the Roman Empire. To obey Christ's command (to make disciples in all nations) meant to endure harsh persecution, separation from family, and even death (martyrdom).

Christ showed a tremendous trust in the disciples when he assigned such an immense task of world evangelization to them! Christ spent many months with his disciples instructing, preparing, and encouraging them. He knew that He would soon be gone from the earth (at least in his physical 'form'), and the disciples must carry on His work and His teachings. Christ chose the twelve to be his 'instruments' through whom a world could be won for Him. Jesus said to His followers, "Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it to you."

The disciples whom Jesus chose were ordinary men. They had no formal college or seminary education, and they enjoyed little or no 'social distinction'. It was to these men that Jesus commanded: "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." (Matthew 28:19)

Matthew 28:19 (just quoted) is Jesus' 'Mandate to the Church'. The dictionary defines 'mandate' as 'command, edict, statute, commission'.

It is not an option, it is a mandate! A command! A commission!

This is a mandate to every Christian! Every Christian is to be about the 'Father's business' – i.e., making disciples of Jesus! Yes, 'disciples', not 'mere converts'.

The Holy Spirit is the 'motivating power' by which the 'mandate' can be fulfilled. The Spirit who empowers the 'yielded believer' is the same Spirit who applies the transforming 'message' to the lives of convicted sinners whom the Spirit-filled disciples reach out to. The creative Holy Spirit also shows the creative believer the 'manners' and the 'methods' in spreading this important message.

The believer who sincerely seeks to be a participant in helping to fulfill Jesus' 'Great Commission' (and every believer, without exception, should desire to be a participant), needs to understand the 'basics' regarding Witnessing. Let us, therefore, briefly look at (1) The Mandate for Witnessing; (2) The Motivation for Witnessing, (3) The Message for Witnessing; (4) The Methods in Witnessing; (5) The Manner: in Witnessing.

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Think, First, of the Mandate for Witnessing. Jesus told his disciples, "I have been given all authority in heaven and earth. Therefore go and make disciples in all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and then teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you; and be sure of this – that I am with you always, even to the end of the world." (Matthew 28:18-20, Living Bible) Making 'disciples', not mere 'converts', is the central task of the church. In Matthew 28:19-20, the 'main' verb (with its 'object') is 'Make Disciples'. There are three 'supporting verbs' (i.e., participles) – 'Going', 'Baptizing', 'Teaching'. When disciples of Jesus are prayerfully involved in the activities of 'going' to win sinners to Christ, and of 'baptizing' new believers, and of 'teaching' growing believers, then the result is 'maturing disciples' of Christ! Think briefly of each of these 'supporting verbs'. There is 'Going' – i.e., make contracts with sinners and 'build bridges of friendship' with them. Don't expect the 'sinners' to come to your church building, any more than you would expect a Christian (yourself or any other believer) to 'take initiative' to walk into a tavern. As a Christian, it is your responsibility to 'go after' the sinner – i.e., to take the initiative to contact the sinner. Jesus went to people as a shepherd goes after his lost sheep (Luke 15). Note Luke 14:23 – "Go out to the roads and country lanes and make them come in, so that my house will be full" (not coercion, but the compulsion of caring and persuasive love). Says Matthew 13:3 – "Behold a sower went forth to sow seed." Matthew 14:14 – "And Jesus went forth and saw a great multitude." Mark 6:7 – "Calling the Twelve to him, he sent them out two by two and gave them authority over evil spirits." If you remain in your church (waiting for sinners to come to your church), you will likely be disappointed, but if you reach out to them and eventually lead them to Christ, many of these converts will come to 'your church'. The second 'supporting verb' (participle) is 'Baptizing', which is the activity that naturally follows a person's conversion to Christ. Water baptism is simply (and wonderfully) 'an outward sign of an inward work of grace'. It is a public 'induction into the Christian Faith', and, as such, can be a powerful 'witness' for Christ to the 'unsaved' friends of the new convert. The third 'supporting verb' is 'Teaching'. Everything we do and everything we teach in the local church must be evaluated to determine if the activities and subjects (courses) are helping to carry out the "Great Commission' (directly or indirectly). It is our job (as church leaders) to 'produce' committed members of Christ's Church! It is our responsibility to help believers to become disciplined in their total lifestyle. In thought, in attitudes, in actions, in priorities, in habits, in Christian service.

Think, Second, of the Motivation for Witnessing. What is the motivation for heeding the Mandate (command) of Christ to 'make disciples'? Our motivation is the blessed Holy Spirit who 'sheds abroad the love of God in our hearts'. (Romans 5:5). Without that special love – a divine-type love – we will not have the desire (motivation) or the power to witness effectively. Said Jesus, shortly before His ascension, "Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit… You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you: and you will be my witnesses in

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Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." (Acts 1:4-5, Acts 1:8)

Acts 2:1-4 records the fulfillment of this promise. "When the day of Pentecost came they (the followers of Christ) were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them." The significant thing about this passage is not the 'tongues', or the 'flames of fire', or the 'mighty rushing wind'. The all-important and lasting truth is this: Those who wait for and pray for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit shall surely be filled. Filled with love and power and boldness to witness.

Note the specific instructions which 'Christ gave to His disciples before He ascended: "Don't leave Jerusalem, wait for the Father's promise." (Acts 1:4) Before the disciple goes, he must wait. "But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength." (Isaiah 40:31) Says William Barclay, "There are times when the Christian may seem to be wasting time, when he must wait in a wise passivity! Action without preparation must of necessity fail. There is a time to wait on God and a time to work for God." (Daily Study Bible; William Barclay; Luke; pg. 312)

The disciples who waited were filled with the Spirit. The result? Great power in witnessing and in preaching. Peter, the very one who earlier had denied Jesus, was now 'Peter the Bold', preaching to the very 'enemies' who were responsible for Jesus' crucifixion. The result of his preaching? Look at Acts 2:38-41. After Peter preached his powerful sermon, he said, "Repent and he baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off – for all whom the Lord our God will call." With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them. 'Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.' Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day."

What 'explains' the dynamic ministry of the 'great soul-winners' throughout the ages? It is true that not all Spirit-filled persons are 'great soul-winners', but it is also Biblically – sound to declare that no person (believer) can be a great soul-winner unless he is first 'Filled with the Holy Spirit'. Notes William Barclay, regarding the ministry of the Holy Spirit in the Book of Acts: "The Holy Spirit was the source of all guidance. All the leaders of the Church were men of the Spirit The Spirit was the source of day to day courage and power. The Christian's courage to meet the dangerous situation; the Christian eloquence was needed; the Christian joy which was independent of circumstances are all alike ascribed to the work of the Spirit. In the first thirteen chapters of Acts there "are more than forty references to the Holy Spirit. The early Church was a Spirit-filled Church and precisely therein lay its power." (Daily Study Bible; William Barclay; Acts;

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pgs. 12, 13)

The effective soul-winner is a person who is filled with the Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit who is the 'great motivator' for witnessing, Dr. A.B. Simpson, founder of the 'Christian and Missionary Alliance' Church, speaks of this 'crisis' of Spirit-filling in his own life: "The Lord Jesus revealed Himself as a living and all-sufficient presence, and I learned for the first time that Christ had not saved us from future peril, and left us to fight the battle of life as best we could; but He who had justified us was waiting to sanctify us, to enter into our spirit, and substitute His strength, His holiness, His joy, His love, His faith, His power, for all our worthlessness, helplessness and nothingness, and make it an actual living fact."

Have you been 'filled with the Holy Spirit' since you became a Christian? Here are the important 'steps' to take (to 'be filled' and to 'stay filled' with the Spirit): (a) Confess all known sins to God and accept His forgiveness; (b) Surrender all known areas of your life to God, to allow Him to exercise His sovereign and 'rightful' control of your life; (c) Believe in the Father's 'Promise' to fill you with the Holy Spirit; (d) Obey every known command which God reveals to you in the Word; (e) Receive, by faith, the fullness of the Holy Spirit into your mind and soul and spirit and body as God's greatest Gift to you; (f) Daily receive the available (divine) resources from your loving God, that you might live a consistently victorious Christian life.

Think, Third, of the Message of Witnessing. Understanding the Mandate for witnessing and receiving the Motivation for witnessing (namely, the fullness of the Spirit), one must ask 'What is the Message which is to be communicated in preaching and witnessing in the world?' What was the 'basic message' that was 'declared' to sinners during the days of the 'Early Church'? As learned from a study of the 'messages' in the Book of Acts, here is, in summary form, the essence of that 'declaration': (1) God's purpose in history is to establish a 'new order' – an order of grace to replace the 'order of law'; (2) God has inaugurated that 'new order' through Jesus Christ, whose life and death and resurrection have made it possible for all persons to become members of the community and family of God; (3) Because Christ has been exalted to the 'right hand of God', He is the Christ of the Ages, forever contemporary and 'a very present help in time of need'. Christ is not a historical remembrance but He is the present reality and the personal Savior; (4) Christ is not only the Savior of all mankind, but He is also the Judge of all humanity, before whom all persons must eventually give an account of their lives (at the end of the 'present age'); (5) Because one's response to Christ determines one's personal destiny, it is imperative that one repents of his sins, and that he accepts Christ's standards ('way of life') for his life. To do so results in a rich reward – present forgiveness and new life and future hope and eternal life. God demands that all men repent – i.e., turn from their wicked ways and in faith turn to God.

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The 'content' of our modern-day preaching and witnessing (to sinners) must be based on the message of the Bible (as preached in the Early Church), but the method and the approach in presenting that message must be 'adapted' to the modern-day 'thought patterns and forms'.

One popular (simple) approach in presenting that ancient 'message of salvation' is as follows:

(1) Fact of Sin. Notes C.S. Lewis: "A sense of sin is almost totally lacking. Our situation is thus very different from that of the Apostles. The Pagans to whom they preached were haunted by a sense of guilt and to them the Gospel was, therefore, 'good news'. We address people who have been trained to believe that whatever goes wrong in the world is someone else's fault – the Capitalists', the Government's, the Nazis', the Generals' etc. They approach God Himself as His judges. They want to know, not whether they can be acquitted for sin, but whether He can be acquitted for creating such a world.

"I cannot offer you a water-tight technique for awakening the sense of sin. I can only say that, in my experience, if one begins from the sin that has been one's own chief problem during the last week, one is very often surprised at the way this shaft goes home. But whatever method we use, our continual effort must be to get their mind away from public affairs and 'crime' and bring them down to brass tacks – to the whole network of spite, greed, envy, unfairness and conceit in the lives of 'ordinary decent people' like themselves (and ourselves)." (God In The Dock; C.S. Lewis; pgs. 95,96) We, as witnesses, must 'identify' with sinners; we are not to 'judge' them, but only to share Christ with them. We must say something like this: "If Christ can save a sinner like me, He can save anyone including you."

(2) Seriousness of Sin. So many people make 'light' of sin, sometimes even denying its existence. You, as a witness, cannot persuade people that they are 'sinners'; only the blessed Holy Spirit can do that (John 16: 8). Unless and until the Holy Spirit 'awakens' sinners to their true moral condition, and brings 'deep conviction' regarding the serious consequences of unrepented sin, these persons will continue to 'rationalize' their sins: 'all humans make mistakes', and 'no one is perfect', and 'I am as good as those hypocrites in that church', and 'it is his/her fault that I am as I am', etc., etc. When there is a failure to take personal moral responsibility for one's actions, there is no repentance.

(3) Insufficiency of 'Good Works'. Even 'good actions' are tainted with pride. "All of us have become like one who is unclean and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags." (Isaiah 64:6) Pride is the 'mother' of all sins. Notes Donald Demaray, "Man commits no wrong which is not traceable to pride; to put it

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another way, every sin man commits is the product of a desire to protect the ego or self. Murder, adultery, stealing, falsifying, and any and every sin that man has ever committed or ever will commit is the result of pride… It is an amazing fact that every sin does, in fact, issue from pride. If a man commits adultery he does so to gratify self; he is doing what selfish desire dictates rather than respecting personality. If we covet we are aggravating the temptation to take what is not rightfully ours but something we imagine will make us happy. If we tell an untruth we are really 'covering up' to prevent humiliation." (Basic Beliefs; Donald Demaray; pgs. 51-53) Our 'good works' are not good enough to save us. If we could save ourselves, there would have been no need for the coming and the death of Jesus Christ on a cross. It is because we were helpless that Christ came to save us.

(4) Jesus Christ alone can save a sinner. Why? Because He is the Son of God. Because He alone is sinless. Because He paid the penalty for our sins (satisfying the 'justice' of God). Because He loves us (sinners) supremely and He is not willing that any should perish!

Think, Fourth, of the Methods of Witnessing. Bishop Donald Bastian suggests four specific ways to witness effectively:

(1) Informal and Spontaneous Witnessing. Every Christian likely knows someone who is not a Christian. Many people (unbelievers) give you 'leads' ('openings') to talk to them about God. You, as a witness, can use a 'lead question' that you address to an unbeliever, to begin to talk to him about God. Here are a couple 'lead questions': (a) "Do you presently have peace with God, or are you in the process of finding peace with God?" (b) "If you were to die tonight, would you know for sure that you were going to heaven?" Simply share honestly what Christ has done for you and how you 'found' God. Don't preach. Don't judge. Don't be 'unnatural'. Be relaxed and sincere and honest. Be humble and approachable and 'vulnerable'. Be personable. Point people to Christ, not to yourself or to your personal 'religious experience'. Don't be afraid to talk about your 'experience' of finding God (and the life-changing results from such an 'encounter'), but don't make your 'experience' (with all the emotional aspects from that 'experience') 'normative' for everyone else. Don't 'force' your experience or your personal 'convictions' on others, but simply and joyously share Christ (as He is clearly revealed in the Word of God). Ask God to reveal to you the 'natural opportunities' for witnessing in your routine 'contacts' with your friends and relatives and business associates and neighbors, and ask God to enable you to witness as a 'way of life' (naturally, informally, regularly, spontaneously).

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(2) Organized Witnessing. Ask God if it is His will for you to participate in your local church's 'outreach programs', such as 'visitation teams', door-to-door literature distribution, or 'Salvation By Appointment' Home Bible Studies. One 'simple' but 'saintly lady' whom I knew for several years before her 'heavenly home-going' had a rather 'unique way' of witnessing to the unsaved persons in her life. She purchased a new Bible each year and, after she read that particular Bible (sometimes a different 'translation' each year), she would give away (as a gift) that Bible to a friend or relative, as a witness to them. Of course, the Bible often was filled with 'special markings' noting those passages of Scripture which meant so much to her. Some persons use 'tracts' to witness (either passing them out 'in person' or sending them to unsaved friends when they write letters). My wife's sister and her husband (members of the 'Gideon International') have distributed many hundreds of New Testaments (which include a clearly outlined 'plan of Salvation') to waitresses in many restaurants, in motels, in doctors' offices and hospital rooms, on college campuses, to service stations, etc., etc. To cultivate 'discipline' in witnessing, and to receive encouragement from 'fellow witnesses' as well as 'accountability', many Christians have found that being a regular participant in an organized (local church) 'outreach' program has been very 'worthwhile'.

(3) Supplemental Witnessing. This is the witness of 'good-deeds'. We are not saved By good works, but we are saved FOR good works (according to Ephesians 2:8-10). It is recorded of Dorcus (Acts 9:36) that she was "a believer who was always doing kind things for others, especially for the poor." A consistently 'good life' (full of 'good deeds'), combined with a 'clear verbal witness' regarding the saving power of Christ, greatly 'impacts' sinners, convincing them of the 'reality' of God and of their personal need for His wonderful salvation.

(4) Unconscious Witnessing. Notes Donald Bastian, "Undergirding spontaneous, organized, and supplemental witness, Christians at their best bear an unconscious witness to the saving power of Jesus Christ. From the start they are called to take seriously not only God's free and gracious offer of the forgiveness of sins but also His call to holiness of heart and life. Holy people – saints – are never conscious of their own holiness, but their lives take on a quality which the world cannot help but notice." (Adventures In Belonging; pg. 83)

Think, Fifth, of the Manner in Witnessing. The following is a 'list' which can help persons to prepare themselves for an effective life of witnessing. (1) Be sure you are a Christian (that you have truly been 'born again'); (2) As a believer, be sure that there is no unconfessed sin in your life; (3) Be sure that you are 'filled with the Spirit' and that you are daily 'walking obediently in the Spirit'; (4) Be prepared to share your faith, using a 'simple plan' to do your witnessing; (5) Make a 'prayer list' of those with whom you would like to share the 'plan of salvation' (and your personal 'testimony') this

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coming year, and pray ('faith believing' prayers) every day for those whom you have listed. Specifically ask God to 'embolden' you and to guide you (at the appropriate time) to witness; (6) Put 'feet to your prayers' and actually GO and make contact with your 'sinner friends'. Set up an 'appointment' to share the 'Good News' of Christ with them (usually 'on their own turf' – i.e., in their own home or office). When you share the 'simple plan' of salvation with them, remember to be courteous and 'discreet', but also 'open' and 'honest' and 'frank' and 'bold'. Keep your 'presentation' clear and concise and appropriately 'brief' (without sacrificing accuracy); (7) Depend on the Holy Spirit (not on your own 'brilliance' or 'articulation' or 'experience' or 'training') as you present the wonderful 'plan of salvation'. You are in your friend's home, not to 'impress' your friend with yourself, but to uplift the 'beautiful Christ' and to introduce your friend to the Greatest Friend of all (the Lord Jesus); (8) Talk about Jesus primarily, and only about your church and your own 'spiritual experience' secondarily. Don't try to 'sell' your church (even though you 'love' it very much). If people come to know your Christ, they likely will want to enjoy your local church (and will probably become a 'member' of your church) eventually; (9) Expect God to use you! God can and will transform lives through you (your love and your 'witness'). God greatly desires to use you as His 'effective instrument'. But remember, your 'success' in witnessing is not determined by mere visible or 'quick' results. It is your part to be obedient; it is God's part to give an increase (i.e., a spiritual 'harvest'). Don't grow weary in well-doing, for in due season you will reap if you do not faint. Be steadfast and unmovable, always abounding in the work of God, for your labor is not in vain in the Lord. "Success in witnessing is simply taking the initiative to share Christ in the power of the Spirit, and then leaving the results with God" (Campus Crusade For Christ); (10) Establish a 'Follow-up plan' for the young Christian. This is vitally important! Take care of the young converts. Either you or some other believer must meet weekly with your new converts (for at least eight to ten weeks) to share the 'basics' in Christian living. There are many excellent 'follow-up' booklets designed especially for new converts. Use them!

Wrote Paul to young Timothy: "The Holy Spirit, God's gift, does not want you to be afraid of people, but to be wise and strong, and to love them and enjoy being with them." (2 Timothy 1:7, Living Bible) A fear, unique to many Christians, is the 'fear of witnessing'. We Christians are too often close-mouthed when we should be verbalizing the Good News to spiritually-needy people. In the name of 'tact', we sometimes fail to 'speak up' for Christ. Because of our fear of rejection or our fear of being misunderstood, we remain quiet and passive, hoping that in 'some way' our lives will 'speak' for Jesus without our offering a single 'word' for Jesus.

Paul declared, "I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is God's powerful method of bringing all who believe it to heaven. This message was preached first to the Jews alone, but now everyone is invited to come to God in this same way." (Romans 1:16, Living Bible)

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Paul requested his friends to pray for him, that be might remain bold in his witness for Christ. "Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should." (Ephesians 6:19-20, Living Bible)

Our 'guilty silence' regarding our communication of the forgiving grace of God to sinners, must be broken! We Christians must boldly proclaim from the 'housetops' that God is alive, that He is a saving God, that He invites everyone to repent and to find new life in Christ! "For God was in Christ, restoring the world to himself, no longer counting men's sins against them but blotting them out. This is the wonderful message he has given us to tell others. We are Christ's ambassadors." (2 Corinthians 5:19-20)

We must not be bound by our fears regarding our call to witness to unbelievers. God's power is able to give us deliverance from our bondage to fear. Said Jesus, "But when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, you will receive power to testify about me with great effect." (Acts 1:8, Living Bible) As a sincere believer, open your life anew to the Holy Spirit each day, to receive a 'fresh outpouring' of holy love and compassion for the 'lost ones' all around you.

When we are released from the fear of witnessing, we will see God's church grow in an unprecedented way! Multitudes will be added to the Church of Jesus Christ (and this is already happening all around the world). When we are delivered from our fear of people and our fear of witnessing to people, we will begin confronting people lovingly with the claims of Christ. "Witnessing' results in 'soul-winning', and 'soul-winning' results eventually in new and dynamic local church growth. It is still true that 'convert growth' is the best kind of growth for a local church. Notes David Mains, "Conversions always 'work' the church during times of revival. Church growth is not through transfer of membership, it is not through people fleeing the churches of the city to come to the suburbs, but the growth is because many new people bow before the King and say, 'Please accept me as part of your kingdom, Jesus.'"

To get over the fear of witnessing, a believer must 'die' to his own reputation. You may be considered foolish in the eyes of the 'world', if you try to witness. It is said that once a bold 'witnessing Christian' walked down the street of a large city, with a placard hanging from his neck which read "I'm a fool for Jesus! Whose fool are you?" Wrote Paul, "I know very well how foolish the simple message of the cross of Christ sounds to those who are lost. But we who are saved recognize this message as the very power of God." (1 Corinthians 1:18, Living Bible)

The effective soul-winner is one who is 'dead' to self-centeredness and selfish interest. George Muller was one whose goal in life was to please God. He wrote: "There was a day when I died – died to George Muller, his opinions, preferences, tastes, and will. I

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died to the world, its approval or censure; died to the approval or blame of my brethren and friends; and since then I have studied only to show myself approved unto God."

The effective soul-winner is one who is daily dedicated to his task of winning souls. This is the 'passion' of his life! Said one of John Wesley's contemporaries regarding Wesley's 'passion' for souls: "To one great purpose he dedicated his power of body and mind; for this he relinquished all honor and preferment. At all times and in all places, in season and out of season, by gentleness, by terror, by argument, by persuasion, by reason, by interest, by every motive and every inducement, he strove, with unwearied assiduity, to turn men from the error of their ways and awaken them to virtue and religion. To the bed of sickness, or the couch of prosperity; to the prison or the hospital; to the house of mourning or the house of feasting, wherever there was a friend to serve or a soul to save, he readily repaired. He thought no office too humiliating, no condescension too low, no undertaking too arduous, to reclaim the meanest of God's offspring. The souls of all men were of equal value in his sight and the salvation of the immortal creature unutterably precious." (Quoted in 'Goodly Heritage'; J. Paul Taylor; pg. 69)

One time Kipling was on a world tour, and he saw General William Booth (founder of the 'Salvation Army') board his ship amidst a horde of tambourine-beating 'Salvationists'. This scene revolted the 'sensitive' and 'sophisticated' Kipling, and when Kipling later got to know General Booth, Kipling told Booth of his disapproval of the incident. Booth replied to the disapproving Kipling: "Young man, if I thought that I could win one more soul for Christ by standing on my hands and beating a tambourine with my feet I would learn to do it."

When a modern-day saint, Toyohika Kagawa, first became acquainted with Christianity he cried out: "O God, make me like Christ." To follow Christ's example, Kagawa went to live in the slums, although he himself had tuberculosis. He lived in a six foot by six foot hut in a Tokyo slum. Cecil Northcott tells what Kagawa did. "On his first night he was asked to share his bed with a man suffering from contagious itch. That was a test of his faith. Would he go back on his point of no return? No. He welcomed his bed-fellow. Then a beggar asked for his shirt and got it. Next day he was back for Kagawa's coat and trousers, and got them too. Kagawa was left standing in a ragged old kimono. The slum dwellers of Tokyo laughed at him, but they came to respect him. He stood in the driving rain to preach, coughing all the time. 'God is love', he shouted. 'God is love. Where love is, there is God'. He often fell down exhausted, and the rough men of the slums carried him gently back to his hut." Only in heaven, when the 'Books of God' are opened, will we know the number and quality of this godly man's 'good-works' – the 'works of love' which pointed many to the 'Christ of the Ages!'

Kagawa himself wrote: "God dwells among the lowliest of men. He sits on the dust heap among the prison convicts. He stands with juvenile delinquents. He is there with the beggars: He is among the sick. He stands with the unemployed. Therefore, let him who

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would meet God visit the prison cell before going to the temple. Before he goes to Christ let him visit the hospital. Before he reads his Bible let him help the beggar."

Rescue the perishing, care for the dying, 
Snatch them in pity from sin and the grave; 
Weep o'er the erring one, lift up the fallen, 
Tell them of Jesus, the mighty to save.
Though they are slighting Him, still He is waiting, 
Waiting the penitent child to receive; 
Plead with them earnestly, plead with them gently, 
He will forgive if they only believe.
Down in the human heart, crushed by the tempter, 
Feelings lie buried that grace can restore; 
Touched by a loving heart, wakened by kindness, 
Cords that are broken will vibrate once more.
Rescue the perishing, duty demands it - 
Strength for your labor the Lord will provide; 
Back to the narrow way patiently win them, 
Tell the poor wanderer a Savior has died.
Rescue the perishing, Care for the dying; 
Jesus is merciful, Jesus will save.

Fanny Crosby

"Then I heard the Lord asking, 'Whom shall I send as a messenger to my people? Who will go?' And I said, 'Lord, I'll go! Send me."' (Isaiah 6:8, Living Bible) Will you be a "Great Commission" Christian? But (come to 'think about it'), is there any other kind of Christian? Isn't a 'non-witnessing Christian' a 'contradiction in terms'?

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A WORKING FAITH

Give me the faith which can remove 
And sink the mountain to a plain; 
Give me the child-like praying love, 
Which longs to build thy house again; 
My every sacred moment spend 
In publishing the sinners' Friend.

I 'want an even, strong desire, 
I want a calmly fervent zeal, 
To save poor souls out of the fire, 
To snatch them from the verge of hell, 
And turn them to a pardoning God, 
And quench the brands in Jesus' blood.

I would the precious time redeem, 
And longer live for this alone, 
To spend, and to be spent, for them 
Who have not yet my Saviour known; 
Fully on these my mission prove, 
And only breathe, to breathe thy love.

Enlarge, inflame, and fill my heart 
With boundless charity divine! 
So shall I all my strength exert, 
And love them with a zeal like thine; 
And lead them to thy open side, 
The sheep for whom their Shepherd died.

Charles Wesley

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