A Christian witness must be "ready to make a defense . . . for the hope that is in you" (1Pe 3:15). Your testimony is based on the truth of the gospel. God has "furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead" (Ac 17:31). Jesus "was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead" (Ro 1:4). To be able to explain you must understand Jesus' part in the predetermined plan. He "began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things" (Mt 16:21). He told them, "'The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men; and they will kill Him, and He will be raised on the third day'" (17:22-32). It was a planned sequence of events. However, he said, "'Tell the vision to no one until the Son of Man has risen from the dead'" (17:9). On the Cross he said, "'Father, into your hands I commit my spirit'" (Lk 23:46). Jesus was buried and would be raised on the third day. Some point out that during this time he preached "unto the spirits in prison" (1Pe 3:19 KJV). What form did he take at this time? "He appeared in a different form" (Mk 16:12) to disciples on the road to Emmaus. Later he appeared to the disciples and "He Himself stood in their midst and said to them, 'Peace be to you'" (Lk 24:36). "They were startled and frightened and thought they were seeing a spirit" (:37). He said, "'Touch Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have'" (:39).
On the journey to Emmaus "He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the scriptures" (Lk 24:27). Later at dinner "He took bread and . . . began giving it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized Him" (:30). It shows that having a supernatural body also requires a spiritual anointing to discern it. He told them, "'Do not be afraid; go and take word to My brethren to leave for Galilee, and they will see Me'" (Mt 28:10). This was to fulfill the prophetic statement made earlier that, "'After I have been raised, I will go ahead of you to Galilee'" (26:32). Then when they met with the Apostles and "were telling these things" (Lk 24:36) Jesus appeared and "when they saw Him, they worshipped Him; but some were doubtful" (Mt 28:17).
Jesus having been resurrected was discovered by two women who went to the tomb. Then Mary Magdalene "went and reported to those who had been with Him . . . [and] when they heard that He was alive and had been seen by her, they refused to believe it" (Mk 16:10-11). When the Emmaus disciples related their experience to the Apostles "they did not believe them either" (Mk 16:13). Jesus responded, "'Why do doubts arise in your hearts?'" (:37). It's as if he was saying that they should know better. How could they disregard all they had learned and experienced the last three years since even Jesus had said "'you have been with Me from the beginning'" (Jn 15:27)? Their depth of understanding was such that "Simon Peter answered Him, 'Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have believed and have come to know that you are the Holy One of God'" (Jn 6:68-69). "He reproached them for their unbelief and hardness of heart because they had not believed those who had seen Him after He had risen" (Mk 16:14). Jesus "said to Thomas, 'Reach here with your finger, and see My hands . . . and do not be unbelieving but believing'" (Jn 20:27). "'Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed'" (:29). Jesus began to refresh what he had taught them. "He said to them, 'These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you'" (Lk 24:44). He said, "'All things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled'" (:44). He also reminded that, "'Thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day'" (:46). Then "He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures" (:45).
"Jesus said to them again, 'Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you'" (Jn 20:21). This was one of the first things he said to them which shows it had a high priority. "Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, 'All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations'" (Mt 28:18). It was the next phase of the purpose for which he had been sent because the word "therefore" logically connects the first part with the second. The first part shows that God had given him an assignment. In the same way sending the disciples out was a continuation of that command. The Greek word used means "just as to the same degree." Jesus did what he had been directed to do and now had been given authority to command what was necessary to do next. The disciples became representatives. Beforehand he had said that the Holy Spirit "'will testify about Me, and you will testify also'" (Jn 15:26). They had seen him and Jesus confirmed this by saying, "'You shall be my witnesses'" (Ac 1:8). He also gave them encouragement saying, "'I am with you always, even to the end of the age'" (Mt 28:20).
Furthermore he said, "'I am sending forth the promise of My Father upon you'" (Lk 24:49). "The Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify about Me'" (Jn 15:26). "'He will bring all things to your remembrance whatsoever I have said to you'" (14:26). He instructed them to "'make disciples of all nations . . . teaching them to observe all that I commanded you'" (Mt 28:20). This involved explaining and educating people who would become believers and followers obedient to the commands. He said to go to "'all the world . . . to all creation'" (Mk 16:15) to "'all the nations'" (Mt 28:19). They were to "'preach the gospel'" (Mk 16:15) and "repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name" (Lk 24:47). It would involve "'baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit'" (Mt 28:19). "He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved, but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned'" (Mk 16:16). Signs of the manifestation of the Spirit would "'accompany those who have believed'" (:17). So "they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them, and confirmed the word by the signs that followed" (:20). There's the example where Jesus said, "'Cast the net on the right-hand side of the boat and you will find a catch'" (Jn 21:6). Someone complained that "these men who have upset the world have come here also" (Ac 17:6).
Jesus gave instructions to his disciples after his resurrection. On the subject of forgiveness he said, "'If you forgive the sins of any, their sins have been forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they have been retained'" (Jn 20:23). How can an ordinary person do this? The scribes saw Jesus heal a paralytic and heard him say, "'My son, your sins are forgiven'" (Mk 2:5). They thought to themselves "who can forgive sins but God alone?" (:7). Jesus responded saying "'the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins'" (:10). Then when Jesus met with his disciples after the resurrection he stated, "'All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth'" (Mt 28:18). With this authority "He breathed on them, and said to them, 'Receive the Holy Spirit'" (Jn 20:22). Therefore the Holy Spirit would enable them to forgive sin in the name of Jesus. Jesus told them "'behold, I am sending forth the promise of My Father upon you; but you are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high'" (Lk 24:49). You wear clothes, so therefore power becomes a personal covering. Elijah was a prophet and "a man with a nature like ours" (Ja 5:17). He had a mantle (robe, garment) and "threw his mantle on [Elisha]" (1Ki 19:19). It represented God's actual power because "Elijah took his mantle . . . and struck the waters and they were divided here and there" (2Ki 2:8). Elisha also when "he took the mantle of Elijah . . . and struck the waters . . . they were divided here and there" (:14).
Jesus was giving his final instructions to the apostles and mentioned what he had taught them and that it had been written in the Old Testament (Lk 24:48). He then said, "'You are witnesses of these things'" (:48). It means that they had experienced the prophesies coming true. In court a witness is someone who has observed something taking place. Peter repeatedly stated "we are witnesses of these things and so is the Holy Spirit" (Ac 5:32) and "we are witnesses of all the things He did both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem" (10:39). More importantly John said that Jesus "dwelt among us, and we saw His glory as of the only begotten from the Father" (Jn 1:14). Peter said "we ourselves heard this utterance made from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain" (2Pe 1:18). Then what does it mean when Jesus said "'you shall be My witnesses'" (Ac 1:8) since they were, in effect, already witnesses? In this case the phrase follows "'you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you'" (:8). It means you will have supernatural power to be future witnesses in a way you would not have had on your own. "We have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us" (1Co 4:7). Inherent in this is that there is a responsibility to witness, and motivation is provided by the Spirit to accomplish it. "God anointed Him [Jesus] with the Holy Spirit and with power . . . [so that] He went about doing good and healing all" (10:38). It's easy to mistakenly conclude when you hear the term "great commission" that now I have to do it myself. However, Jesus made it clear saying, "'I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself'" (Jn 12:32). Jesus said, "'I sent you to reap'" (4:38). "'Beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest'" (Lk 10:2).
Peter advised to be "ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you" (1Pe 3:15). I once had a pastor who used this scripture to show that you shouldn't just approach any stranger on the street to push the gospel. Instead he said the Holy Spirit would prepare the heart of a person to ask you a question. The hope in you "is Christ in you, the hope of glory" (Col 1:27). You have to make sure. "Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith" (2Co 13:5). "Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders . . . so that you will know how you should respond to each person" (Col 4:5-6). Therefore you should pray for God to "grant that Your bond-servants may speak Your word with all confidence" (Ac 4:29) and to "keep a good conscience" (1Pe 3:16). It is "'not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit'" (Zec 4:6). Paul wrote the Thessalonians that "our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction" (1Th 1:5). "My message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power" (1Co 2:4). The gospel is "the power of God for salvation" (Ro 1:16).
Jesus told them "'you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses'" (Ac 1:8). John the Baptist said, "'He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit'" (Mk 1:8) and Jesus followed through when "He breathed on them and said to them, 'Receive the Holy Spirit'" (Jn 20:22). This would enable them to witness. However, they would also need the power that was promised. So they waited as instructed (Lk 24:49) and on Pentecost they were "filled with the Holy Spirit" (Ac 2:4) as he was "poured forth" (2:33). Jesus said the Holy Spirit would "'come upon you'" (1:8) and "the Holy Spirit came on them" (19:6). He "fell upon all those who were listening" (10:44) and "fell upon them just as He did upon us at the beginning" (11:15). They then were "full of the Holy Spirit and of faith" (6:5, 7:55, 11:24). "When they had prayed, the place where they had gathered was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak the word of God with boldness" (Ac 4:31). Others "were unable to cope with the wisdom and the Spirit with which he was speaking" (6:10).
The Holy Spirit fell upon them at Pentecost which required Peter to explain to them what it meant. Later he was arrested and the authorities ordered them to cease witnessing. Their answer was "'we cannot stop speaking what we have seen and heard'" (Ac 4:20). "Having the same spirit of faith . . . we also believe, therefore we also speak" (2Co 4:13). Jesus said that you don't shutter your lamp but rather put it "'on the lampstand; and it gives light to all who are in the house'" (Mt 5:15). It is understandable that the apostles would tell everyone because they had just been with Jesus for three years and it was fresh. Then as the years passed the experiences and teaching were written down and you might say it became second-hand evidence. In fact, a Bible school professor told me there are people called cessationists who believe that many of the things which happened through Jesus and the apostles stopped being exercised after their deaths. However, Paul explains "even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer. Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature" (2Co 5:16-17). "You have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable" (1Pe 1:23). "'Unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God'" (Jn 3:5). So you are not a second-hand Christian. "'You are the salt of the earth'" (Mt 5:13). Therefore "let your speech always be with grace, seasoned, as it were, with salt" (Col 4:6). However, someone reported that through a study they found that a preponderance of witnessing was done by those who had been Christians for less than a year. That is why Jesus said to the church in Ephesus, "'I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Remember therefore from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first'" (Rev 2:4-5).
Paul explained that Jesus "has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were entreating through us . . . be reconciled to God" (2Co 5:19-20). It was so important to Jesus that he said, "'My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to accomplish His work'" (Jn 4:34). Peter recognized God's work as "'to do whatever Thy hand and Thy purpose [has been] predestined to occur'" (Ac 4:28). "It is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure" (Php 2:13). Paul's goal was to reach "every man . . . [saying] for this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me" (Col 1:28-29). He also said "I press on in order that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus" (Php 3:12). Furthermore he asked the Colossians to pray "that God may open up to us a door for the word" (Col 4:3). This demonstrates that they needed God to accomplish their purpose. However, you must still "conduct yourselves . . . making the most of the opportunity" (:5). Jesus pointed out, "'Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes, and look on the fields, that they are white for harvest'" (Jn 4:35). Do not postpone it. "He who watches the wind will not sow, and he who looks at the clouds will not reap: (Ecc 11:4).
When you approach a stranger to give him a booklet you don't know if he's religious, an agnostic, or an atheist. When you offer a booklet at the start, at least the person knows you are giving him something and he should appreciate that. At the same time you should have an introductory remark which catches interest. It could be in the form of an interesting question and not sound like you are challenging him. After all, you have his welfare at heart. We are to "love your neighbor as yourself" (Mt 19:19). Therefore be friendly and not argumentative. We were once in his shoes regarding being unsaved and we should have a humble attitude and not feel superior. The conversation should be informal but focused. You have an agenda to follow but should be receptive to questions that come up. Its possible to get off track, and time will expire without coming to a conclusion. An answer should be presented for the original question. Agreement would be a sign you are getting somewhere. If the person wants to think it over some more just make sure he's aware of the main points in the booklet as a reminder. Don't rule out that you can lead a person to Christ. Then thank the person for spending time with you. It would be beneficial to provide a phone number or e-mail address for asking questions
Various tracts are available for witnessing. World Missionary Press scripture booklets are portions of the Bible and each is designed for a particular purpose. You must thoroughly understand the message so you can explain it even if you're not referring to the booklet. Each point in the topic should have a reference to a place in the booklet. You should be so familiar with the booklet that you know immediately which page to refer to. A pregnant pause can cause the train of thought to be lost. By being conversant you communicate confidence and the person stays connected. Concentration precipitates thought which leads to comprehension.
You witness to someone because you must always be "ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you" (1Pe 3:15). You must make sure you are "accurately handling the word of truth" (2Ti 2:15). You might precede your response with "the Bible says." But the reply might be "how do you know the Bible is true?" It would be a circular argument if you said its true because it says its true. However, you could use logic to substantiate it. Inductive reasoning takes evidence and works its way back to the truth. God accomplished his works to make it known, and one is apparent, where he "brought them up from Egypt" (Isa 8:8). "He saved them for the sake of His name that He might make His power known" (Ps 106:8). If you have the faith to acknowledge that this history is true then, to you, it is a testimony that the Bible is the Word of God.
You should determine what the person's world view is so you can relate to him. Many people believe in evolution and that they are the end product of a very long process proving that their adaptability and intelligence enabled them to prevail. Others are spirit-oriented who believe in other dimensions or realities where the spirit takes precedence over the physical. Your reference must be the Bible and you don't want to go around in circles just talking about philosophies and theories. If you say that the Bible says that God created man you can quote the scriptures where the Bible says it is true. On the sixth day "God created man in His own image" (Ge 1:27) in "spirit and soul and body" (1Th 5:23). "It is I who made the earth and created man upon it" (Isa 45:12). "It was Adam who was first created" (1Ti 2:13). In Hebrew his name means "humanity" and, in an extended sense, the word "flesh" is also humanity. The human race inherits from Adam for, "as in Adam all" (1Co 15:22), applies to everyone. Then "the Lord fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man" (Ge 2:22) and they "were both naked and were not ashamed" (:25). "God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good" (Ge 1:31). The person might be surprised that it sounds logical and consider it.
How valuable is spreading the gospel? "'Beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news'" (Ro 10:15). How important is it? Paul said "I also please all men in all things . . . so that they may be saved" (1Co 10:33). However, you encounter many kinds of "religious" people who will counter with their rendition which challenges your understanding and committment. John warns "make sure no one deceives you" (1Jn 3:7). Even Jesus warned, "'These things I have spoken to you so that you may be kept from stumbling'" (Jn 16:1). It is by "the living and enduring word of God" (1Pe 1:23). These words are instrumental in one being "born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable" (:23). But you must be one "accurately handling the word of truth" (2Ti 2:15). Peter says "whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God" (1Pe 4:11). You must be confident when you explain the gospel. Paul admitted "my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and power" (1Co 2:4). Peter said "whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies" (1Pe 4:11). Your confidence is in God. Paul knew where it came from saying "knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade men" (2Co 5:11).
Some Christians attend the Olympics to witness to people from around the world. They find out the time of certain events and which nations will be competing. They get tracts in the language of the spectators who will be present. World Missionary Press (www.wmpress.org) has booklets in over 340 languages. Peter instructed to be "ready to make a defense" (1Pe 3:15), but handing someone a tract is being on the offense, though taking it is implied communication. Jesus did warn that they will "'persecute you'" (Lk 21:12) and said "'it will lead to an opportunity for your testimony'" (:13). He instructed "'make up your minds not to prepare beforehand to defend yourselves'" (:14). Making a defense, then, pertains more to the meaning of apologetics which is proving the validity of Christianity.
A world view is how you understand things are, and with attendees to the Olympics being from around the world, you would expect many different perspectives. The following describes the situation. Many people have strong esoteric convictions even though they may represent only a select few. However, what they believe to be true may only be relative to their culture. Also, there are hundreds of religions in the world and each adherent believes he is right. How is it that the mind chooses a particular belief? Universalism says that each religion has its own truth. So if the mind is that flexible then a person can make an ephemeral choice in a transitory way on an existential basis. But Peter warned to "prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ" (1Pe 1:13). Therefore, "be transformed by the renewing of your mind" (Ro 12:2). Be a "workman . . . handling accurately the word of truth: (2Ti 2:15). Do you know where you stand? "Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith" (2Co 13:5). Are you in touch? "You are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls" (1Pe 1:9). You "grow in respect to salvation, if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord" (2:2-3). Someone's explanation of another religion may sound intriguing, but "Beware, lest your hearts be deceived and you turn away and serve other gods and worship them" (Dt 11:16).