This article was written for this series prior to our brother’s home call. It is a fitting and apt summary of what characterized his own life and labors. This, and the accompanying article by John Dennison, should command the reading and considerationof us all.
Evangelism as a lifestyle is one of the most difficult responsibilities that the Christian has. The greatest example of witnessing to a non-seeking person is contained in this passage. There are many lessons to be learned from the Lord’s conversation with the Samaritan woman,
1. How should I view personal gospel outreach?
“He must needs go through Samaria” (v 4).
Christ’s love for souls compelled Him to go. Although our Lord was weary, thirsty and hungry (v 6-8), He did not let these legitimate requirements hinder Him. He so aptly fulfilled “Seek ye first the kingdom of God” (Matt 6:33). We often fail to speak the gospel, even when circumstances are favorable.
There are four major reasons we should make personal gospel outreach a vital part of our daily life.
- It is commanded. “Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mk 16:15).
- It is for the glory of God. “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matt 5:16).
- It is our moral and spiritual obligation to God. “Ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s” (l Cor 6:20).
- It has eternal consequences. “These shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal” (Matt 25:46).
In view of these truths, all of us should evaluate the importance we place upon sharing the gospel with others.
Why do we not view presenting the gospel to the unsaved a necessary part of our daily life? Likely, the most common reason is complacency. We are accustomed to people around us being on their way to Hell. To overcome complacency, we need to get a fresh grip of eternity or eternity needs to get a fresh grip on us! Fear is another reason. Fear of people, of failure and of rejection can cripple personal witnessing. Only by practice can one become relaxed when speaking to people about the gospel.
We sometimes try to justify our lack of gospel outreach. “It isn’t my gift” is one of the most common excuses. Witnessing for Christ requires an appreciation of Christ. The Samaritan woman, saved only a few minutes, went into the city and spoke about Him (v 28-29). “We live in the last days” is a poor rationale for few being saved. It certainly is more difficult today; however, God is still saving souls.
Another problem is that of isolating ourselves from the unsaved. We need to communicate with unbelievers and develop friendships with a view of taking the gospel to them. As fishermen use their nets to catch fish, we should use our homes and resources to win souls to Christ. The Lord said “Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations (Lk 16:9). Satan’s desire is to quarantine us as carriers of the gospel “disease”.
Most additions “from the outside” to an assembly are throug’n friendship and witnessing of a believer. It is virtually impossible for preachers, who are new to the area, to get people to attend gospel meetings.
2. How do I introduce the gospel?
The Lord began by speaking about a subject of common interest. “Give Me to drink” (v 7) would be an expected request. It is equivalent to speaking about the weather. Since contact with this woman was going to be brief, He did not spend much time talking about ordinary water. He masterfully moved from the practical to the spiritual. There was no change of His tone of voice. We need to learn to take the conversation from the temporal to the spiritual in a relaxed, informal way
In presenting the gospel the Lord spoke about positive truths before dealing with the sinner’s need. “If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water… Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life” (v 10,14). Her interest was aroused because of the positive nature of the truth He presented.
3. How do I overcome barriers?
First, there were the racial and social barriers. She was surprised that He a Jew would speak to her, a Samaritan, “for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans” (v 9). An appreciation of the cross removes prejudice, and produces a love for all. The analytical reasoning of the woman had to be overcome. “Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from whence then hast thou that living water” (v 11)? The Lord dealt with her reasoning with remarkable patience and encouraged a two-way conversation. We need to learn to listen and sympathize with people’s ignorance.
She questioned the superiority of Christ. “Art Thou greater than our father Jacob which gave us the well…” (v 12)? To overcome this misconception, the Lord contrasted what Jacob gave and what He could give. “Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: but whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life” (v 13-14). We can never speak too much or too highly of Christ.
The religion issue came up as well. “Our fathers worshiped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship” (v 20). Her concern was where to worship. The Lord emphasized Who and how to worship. “The true worshipers shall worship the Father in s-pirit and in truth” (v 23). The Lord did not get off track on a discussion of religion.
4. How do I introduce the problem of personal sin?
As soon as the woman had a desire for a drink of living water the Lord said, “Go, call thy husband…” (v 16). We are limited in our knowledge of the sinful past of a person; however, we do have the Word of God which “is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Heb 4:12). It is not sufficient for a person to realize sin in a general way. Each person must face his own sin and its consequences. The Lord did not criticize her. We need to be careful not to give a ‘holier than thou’ impression. He did not demand a change in her lifestyle. True repentance (a change of mind) can take place before a change of conduct.
The Lord finished His remarks about her sin by saying, “in that saidst thou truly” (v 16). He commended her for telling the truth. It is good to look for areas where legitimate compliments can be made.
5. How do I present the way of salvation?
The Samaritan woman had a general knowledge of Christ, but she was not saved. She said, “I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when He is come, He will tell us all things” (v 25). Salvation is a revelation of Christ, which can only be given by Christ. He said “I that speak unto thee am He” (v 26). Great care is required that general knowledge is not mistaken for salvation. False professions are often caused by being over anxious to see someone saved. Give God time to work.
6. How would witnessing for Christ effect us?
Lack of personal gospel outreach contributes to deadness in assemblies. It also contributes to numerical weakness and difficult gospel series. Imagine the difference if all of us were actively engaged in evangelism. More unsaved would attend our gospel series. People with no connection to the assemblies would be getting saved, which would cause great joy. Prayer meetings would come alive as each person would have individuals for whom to pray.
Ministry meetings and Bible readings would deal with specific needs of new converts.
A challenging question for all of us is, “Do I have a contact that I am presently praying for and actively seeking to win to Christ?”