Copyright 1994 - 2020 Bill's Bible Basics
Authored By :
Published On :
November 2, 1997
Last Updated :
December 31, 2012
NOTE: This article or series has not been updated recently. As such, it may possibly contain some outdated information, and/or ideas and beliefs which I no longer embrace, or which have changed to some degree.
We Are To Be Known By Our Love For God And For Each Other, Have A Burden For Lost Souls, Tested As You Are Witnessing, Endure Hardness, Resist Temptation To Become Angry, Extent of God's Mercy And Longsuffering, You Cannot Save A Single Soul, Your Fruit Or God's Saved Soul, God Alone Gives The Increase, Door-To-Door Witnessing Tips, Entire Families Can Be Saved: Lydia And Prison Keeper In Philippi And Cornelius
Known by Our Love For God and Each Other
As I explain in such articles as "The Royal Law: Thou Shalt Love", in their teachings, Jesus and the Apostles emphasized the fact that as His followers, we should be known by our love; not only by our love towards God and each other, but also by our love towards others as well; even towards those people who hate us, abuse us and persecute us in different ways. Consider the following verses which verify this point:
"Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?"
Matthew 5:43-46, KJV
"Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying, Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, Saying, What think ye of Christ? whose son is he? They say unto him, The Son of David. He saith unto them, How then doth David in spirit call him Lord, saying, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool? If David then call him Lord, how is he his son?"
Matthew 22:35-45, KJV
"And one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, and perceiving that he had answered them well, asked him, Which is the first commandment of all? And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these."
Mark 12:28-31, KJV
"But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you, Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you. And unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer also the other; and him that taketh away thy cloke forbid not to take thy coat also. Give to every man that asketh of thee; and of him that taketh away thy goods ask them not again. And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise. For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them. And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye? for sinners also do even the same. And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye? for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil. Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful. Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven:"
Luke 6:27-37, KJV
"By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another."
John 13:35, KJV
"Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law."
Romans 13:8-10, KJV
"And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity."
1 Corinthians 13:13, KJV
"For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself."
Galatians 5:13-14, KJV
"If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well:"
James 2:8, KJV
"He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love."
1 John 4:8, KJV
Have a Burden for Lost Souls
From my personal experiences as a public street preacher and Gospel tract passer for many years, I can tell you firsthand that unless you have a genuine love for lost souls, a burden for lost souls, and in fact weep in your spirit for all the lost souls, you will probably not endure for very long as a street preacher, Gospel tract passer, or in any other manner as a witness for Jesus Christ. That Jesus Himself and the early Apostles had this love for the lost, and that they in fact wept for the lost, is revealed in such verses as the following:
"He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him."
Psalm 126:6, KJV
John 11:35, KJV
"And when they were come to him, he said unto them, Ye know, from the first day that I came into Asia, after what manner I have been with you at all seasons, Serving the Lord with all humility of mind, and with many tears, and temptations, which befell me by the lying in wait of the Jews: And how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have shewed you, and have taught you publickly, and from house to house, Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ . . . Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears."
Acts 20:18-21, 31, KJV
"For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote unto you with many tears; not that ye should be grieved, but that ye might know the love which I have more abundantly unto you."
2 Corinthians 2:4, KJV
Tested As You Witness / Endure Hardness
As a soldier of Jesus Christ, one very important lesson that you are going to have to learn early, is that if you decide to invade Satan's territory by becoming a faithful witness for the Lord, do not think for a minute that Satan will just sit back and take it lightly. Quite to the contrary, he will most definitely raise up some of his children to verbally -- and perhaps even physically -- persecute you. You can be sure of it, so it would be wise to prepare yourself for it. As you will no doubt discover for yourself, such encounters with the enemy will test your mettle, and reveal the true motivations of your heart. They will allow you to check yourself, so that you can determine if you are witnessing for the right reasons. At the same time, you can take comfort in the fact that you are not alone in the afflictions you face on the battlefield of the world. Consider the following verses:
"Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world."
1 Peter 5:8-9, KJV
"There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it."
1 Corinthians 10:13, KJV
"Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ."
2 Timothy 2:3, KJV
We will return to this issue regarding persecution later on this same series.
God's Mercy and Longsuffering (Patience)
As I noted a moment ago, when you encounter adversity on the witnessing battlefield, you will find yourself faced with a decision. If your heart is ruled by God's love, then you will pity those people who ridicule, abuse and persecute you. If on the other hand you are not motivated by love, then you will probably just harden your heart against the very ones who you are endeavoring to reach with the Gospel. Witnessing that is motivated by hate, contempt and a condescending attitude will simply not work. Not only will you be miserable, but you will probably be a poor example of God's Love and Mercy as well.
During such times when you are persecuted for being an active witness of your faith, more than ever, it is so important to remember that Jesus did not come to our world to condemn and to destroy, but rather to save that which is lost. Not only that, but because of His great Mercy and Longsuffering -- or patience -- our Heavenly Father's desire is that all people repent of their unbelief, and be spiritually healed. Being mindful of your own previous state as an unsaved sinner can also help you to maintain a soft heart towards the lost. In short, you need to resist the temptation to become angry at the people you are trying to reach; even when they show very little appreciation for your witnessing efforts. Maintaining this frame of mind in such a hard, cold, unbelieving world requires a Divine Love which surpasses human love. Consider the following verses which confirm these points:
"And the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed, The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth,"
Exodus 34:6, KJV
"The LORD is longsuffering, and of great mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression, and by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation."
Numbers 14:18, KJV
"But thou, O Lord, art a God full of compassion, and gracious, longsuffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth."
Psalm 86:15, KJV
"Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?"
Ezekiel 33:11, KJV
"It is of the LORD'S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness . . . For the Lord will not cast off for ever: But though he cause grief, yet will he have compassion according to the multitude of his mercies. For he doth not afflict willingly nor grieve the children of men."
Lamentations 3:22-23, 31-33, KJV
"Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven. For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost. How think ye? if a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray? And if so be that he find it, verily I say unto you, he rejoiceth more of that sheep, than of the ninety and nine which went not astray. Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish."
Matthew 18:10-14, KJV
"And it came to pass, when the time was come that he should be received up, he stedfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem, And sent messengers before his face: and they went, and entered into a village of the Samaritans, to make ready for him. And they did not receive him, because his face was as though he would go to Jerusalem. And when his disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did? But he turned, and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. For the Son of man is not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them. And they went to another village."
Luke 9:51-56, KJV
"For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost."
Luke 19:10, KJV
"So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs. He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep. He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep."
John 21:15-17, KJV
"Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?"
Romans 2:4, KJV
"What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory, Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?"
Romans 9:22-24, KJV
"The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance."
2 Peter 3:9, KJV
"And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby. Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees; And make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed."
Hebrews 12:5-13, KJV
You Can't Save a Single Soul
Another important point which is worth remembering is that we cannot lead a single person to the Lord, no matter how much talking we do. It really annoys me when I hear certain proud, self-righteous Christians boasting about how many souls they supposedly saved. "Oh, I saved twenty-five souls last week." "Yeah, I saved this guy the other day and . . ." And on and on they go in their foolish delusion. Oh, so you saved that person? Really now? Well aren't you just proud of yourself! God help you! I discuss this issue, as well as the dangerous practice of keeping statistics, more at length in the series entitled "Elijah: Where Are the True Prophets of God?".
The simple truth of the matter is that all of our talking will accomplish nothing if the Lord's Spirit is not behind it. In fact, it may interest you to know that in some rare cases, some people will actually go along with you, and even say a Salvation prayer with you, just to shut you up and get rid of you; even if they really do not believe in what they are doing. If you make the mistake of engaging in aggressive witnessing tactics, so that people feel forced and pressured into praying with you, then don't be the least bit surprised if sometime down the road, you discover that the person you thought you had led to the Lord, is thinking, behaving and living in the very same manner as before their so-called "Salvation experience" had occurred. Could this be because they are your fruit, and not really a soul who was saved by the Lord?
God Saves Souls and Gives the Increase
Do you get my point? Instead of working so hard in our own strength to bring someone to Christ, maybe some of us need to learn to trust the Lord more. After all, He is the only one who can cause our efforts to result in spiritual fruit -- that is, saved souls -- and not us. Unless a person is truly convicted by God's Holy Spirit in their heart; unless they honestly recognize their sinful condition; unless they truthfully acknowledge their need for a Savior; unless they understand that faith in the Sacrifice of Jesus Christ is the manner which has been chosen by God Himself to redeem humanity, and to save us from the penalty of sin -- which is eternal death -- then saying a robotic Salvation prayer will in effect be absolutely meaningless.
So as I mentioned earlier, it is totally impossible for you, or for me, to save a soul. It is entirely up to God alone to convict a person's heart. It must be a work of His Spirit, and not a work of our fleshly endeavors. Carefully consider the following verses, and notice how we are told that it is the Lord who added to the Church daily, and that it is God alone who gives the increase:
"And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved."
Acts 2:46-47, KJV
"I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase."
1 Corinthians 3:6-7, KJV
Clearly then, unless it is the Lord who touches the heart of the sinner, and convicts them to repent of their unbelief and sin, our efforts are in vain. Please do not ever forget this. On a related note, I also discuss the topic of prayer -- both Salvation prayers and repetitive prayers -- in the article entitled "To Pray or Not to Pray? That is the Question".
As we learned earlier in this series, there are many ways in which a dedicated Christian can be a faithful witness for the Lord. Door-to-door witnessing is one of such ways. Up until a few decades ago, in addition to street witnessing, I engaged in this form of witnessing for many years, all across my own country of the USA, throughout Mexico, in Japan, and in my current locale as well. One reality which makes door-to door witnessing a lot different from street witnessing is that you are at a disadvantage. That is because there is a door -- and perhaps even several doors -- which separates you from the person you wish to minister to. Whereas on a city street you can directly encounter the people you wish to reach with the Gospel of Salvation, this is obviously not the case when it comes to door-to-door witnessing. It is entirely up to that person to decide whether or not they even want to open the door for you; assuming, of course, that they are even home.
Because of this fact, door-to-door witnessing can be a more trying experience. Not only does one have to arrive when the occupants are home, but he must also hope that they will be willing to open their door. Then, of course, there are also guard dogs, broken doorbells, and other issues that one must contend with. If you do happen to engage in a door-to-door ministry, what may eventually happen to you is that a person will offer you a donation -- many people automatically seem to assume that this is why you are at their doorstep -- not because they really believe in your cause, but just to get you out of their face so that they can return to whatever is they were doing before you knocked on their door. In other words, it is their way of bribing you so that you will go away quickly and leave them alone.
As I said, just getting past the front door can be the most difficult aspect of door-to-door witnessing. Due to the fact that there are now so many different churches and groups who engage in this type of witnessing, a lot of people have in effect become hardened against it. To be honest, given some of the tactics that are used by some of these groups, I can't say that I blame people for acting in this manner. I myself grew tired of the Mormons and the Jehovah's Witnesses coming to my door years ago. As such, I no longer even respond to them when they come knocking. In the case of the Jehovah's Witnesses, it would just lead to doctrinal disputes and a lot of wasted time anyway; that is, when they even let a person talk.
On a related note, there are some individuals who are so very set in their religious beliefs -- or maybe their lack thereof -- that they will even go so far as to place a wooden plaque on their door, so that any would-be door-to-door missionaries will know that they should stay away. In my own experiences, Roman Catholics appear to do this a lot. Perhaps we should be thankful. Who wants to engage in an encounter with a staunch member of the so-called "one true faith"? Excuse my sarcasm.
To balance out my previous statements, let me also state that door-to-door witnessing can be a very rewarding experience as well. While you will obviously encounter some reprobates and goats, you will also meet a lot of very sweet people as well who will be very happy to let you into their home in order to learn more about what you have to share with them. Sometimes these people will even invite you to a drink or a meal, which is always a blessing when you are hard at work on the mission field of the world. If there happens to be inclement weather at the time that you engage in your door-to-door activities, coming in from the rain, cold or snow for a short while is likewise a blessing.
Entire Families Saved
Another positive aspect of door-to-door witnessing is that sometimes there will be more than one member of the family at home at the same time. Now, if the head of the household is receptive to your message, they may even call out other family members to listen to you as well. Thus, you can reach multiple people at the same time. We find a number of clear examples in the Scriptures were entire families were saved all at the same time. For example, in the sixteenth chapter of the Book of Acts, we read about an incident that occurred in the city of Philippi, which involved a Thyatiran woman by the name of Lydia. Consider the following verses:
"And from thence to Philippi, which is the chief city of that part of Macedonia, and a colony: and we were in that city abiding certain days. And on the sabbath we went out of the city by a river side, where prayer was wont to be made; and we sat down, and spake unto the women which resorted thither. And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul. And when she was baptized, and her household, she besought us, saying, If ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and abide there. And she constrained us."
Acts 16:12-15, KJV
Only a few verses later in the same chapter, we find another example with the unnamed prison keeper. As we have seen, if we choose to become a bold witness for the Lord, we must also expect that the Devil will not take our advances into his own territory lying down. It should not come as a surprise to us then that Paul and Silas eventually ran into trouble in the city of Philippi, and were in fact whipped, as well as thrown into prison. However, even this was the Lord's setup, as we discover by what happened next. Consider the following verses:
"And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them. And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one's bands were loosed. And the keeper of the prison awaking out of his sleep, and seeing the prison doors open, he drew out his sword, and would have killed himself, supposing that the prisoners had been fled. But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm: for we are all here. Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas, And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway. And when he had brought them into his house, he set meat before them, and rejoiced, believing in God with all his house."
Acts 16:25-34, KJV
Allow me to share with you a final Scriptural example where an entire household receives the Lord at the same time. Many of you will already be familiar with the special vision that God gave to the Apostle Peter in Acts chapter ten. The main purpose of the vision was to signal to Peter that it was now time to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles as well. Shortly thereafter, Peter -- who was residing in the city of Joppa at the time -- accompanied some men to the city of Caesarea, where he met the Roman centurion Cornelius and his family. After some fiery preaching was conducted by Peter, consider what happened next:
"And as he [Peter] talked with him [Cornelius], he went in, and found many that were come together . . . While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter, Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we? And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days."
Acts 10:27, 44-48, KJV
As you can see, not only did Cornelius and his family accept the Lord, but in gratitude -- and no doubt because they were eager to learn more about the Lord -- they invited Peter and his traveling companions to remain with them for some time. While leading entire families to the Lord at the same time may be rare, it can and does happen sometimes; even in our modern day. When it does, it can be such a boost to your personal faith.
Please go to part four for the continuation of this series.
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