John 4:27-42 Sharing Your Faith
When someone wants to introduce their faith to someone, there are generally two different approaches. The first approach is the “invitation” approach. This is the type of approach that someone uses when they invite someone to see Billy Graham. There is a ministry called “Fishers of Men”. This is a group of women who go to the places in the world where there are prostitutes. They dress like prostitutes and invite men into their room. Once there, they share the Gospel. I am not saying that you should be part of that ministry, but it is one way that the invitation approach is used.
The second approach is what I would call the “conversation” approach. You take the time during conversation to introduce your friend to Jesus. It is a natural way of sharing Jesus Christ with others who have never heard of Him. It works better than an invitation approach mostly because it is based on a relationship, and not an event. It is also more demanding because you have to take the responsibility to share what God has done in your life and give it to someone else.
When you start the process of sharing Jesus with other people, your conversation can naturally go through a FORM. FORM is an acronym for the subject matter that you will talk about.
This form can happen in one conversation. Or most likely it will happen over a period of conversations. When you normally talk with other people, and become friends with them, you will talk about a range of subjects. Family, work, politics, sports, but eventually you want them to talk about religion.
I asked you to write down seven names of people to pray for the opportunity to share Jesus. I’m not asking you to go around and try to force people to listen. People don’t like that. The Bible says to go and make disciples. It means “as you are going”. This implies a journey and a process. As you build friendships, you will see that they need Jesus. This may happen in one conversation or in a few conversations. You don’t force people. You make friends with people. You don’t change people. You share how you were changed.
Now when I say that you want someone to talk about religion, I mean that you want them to talk to you about it, when they are seeking. You don’t talk about religion if you know that it will cause harm. The Gospel is a Gospel of peace, and it should flow peacefully.
But at some point, you have to gauger the level of a person’s interest in Jesus Christ. You have to know where they stand. The reason you need to know this, is so that you can sense the opportunity to tell others about Jesus.
Now when I mean that you tell others about Jesus, I mean that you are a witness. The Bible says that we are His witnesses. So we are not out to convince people about Jesus, although we are convinced. Our goal in sharing Jesus is just that, sharing Jesus. A witness does not prove the case of Jesus Christ. Attorneys prove the case. A witness does not cast judgment about Jesus Christ. Judges pass judgment on the case. A witness only tells what they have observed. When asked, they only say what they know.
In order to gage whether your friend is ready to hear the testimony, you have to diagnose your friend’s religious beliefs. Just as a doctor diagnoses the patient, to see what is wrong. A doctor will ask questions. For example:
“How do you feel?”
“Where does it hurt?”
“Where is the most pain?”
These diagnostic questions can help you understand at what point or level of interest your friend has in Jesus Christ.
No interest Lots of interest
No knowledge Lots of knowledge
I want to share with you three methods of how to share Jesus with your friends. Each of these methods, will use a different diagnostic technique. Once you have the answers to these diagnostic questions, then you can share the message of Jesus appropriately. Two of these methods use the Bible as a way to lead others to an understanding of Jesus. One method can be used without the Bible.
Diagnostic Question: Do you know Jesus Christ in a personal way, or would you think you are still in the process.
This question politely gages their knowledge of Jesus Christ, not necessarily the Bible. As a result, you can talk to them about Jesus. How do you share the message with them about Jesus?
Look at your bulletin. You will see the “Welcome” side. Look at the four points. You can easily use your bulletin as a simple way to describe the message. These four points describe Jesus Christ as a relationship.
If you died tonight, where would you go?
If you did go to heaven, and God asked you “Why should I let you inside?”, how would you respond?
This reasoning method makes us reason through why I should be allowed to go to heaven. Most people believe it will be because they lived a good life, or that they believe in God. Almost everyone will answer the first question with heaven. So you ask the second question to find out if they know about Jesus Christ. If the answer to both of these question “I don’t know”, then you can simply suggest: “Can I share with you how the Bible answers these questions?”
Then I would suggest walking down the “Roman Road”. I you have a New Testament, or a Bible with you, you just simply use the book of Romans to share the message of Jesus. Here is one simple way:
I would underline these verses in your Bible and I would number them in this order. Then I would use the book of Romans to guide them to understand that Jesus is the only way to heaven.
Of course, you could use more verses from Romans, but these six verses would be the minimum that it would take. You basically reason with them through the Scriptures about their need for a Savior.
But of course some people won’t listen to this approach and they may send you questions. If you are able to answer them simply, then do so. If it becomes complicated, just simply say: “That is a good question. I can’t answer that question, but I would love to help you. I will find the answer and then get back with you.”
Are you looking for meaning?
Can I share with you how I discovered meaning in life?
I would also call this the “Purpose-Driven Life method”. You can find how to use this method on pages 289-291 in the Purpose-Driven Life, if you want to read about it. But this “revealing method” is all about revealing your life, or just sharing your life story.
While the first two methods approach the other person with basically “how-to” method of coming to Jesus Christ, this method relies on your experience. While the first two methods can receive criticism – for example, “Why is Jesus the only way to God”, “Why should I believe what the Bible says” – this last method is based on your experience. No one can argue with your experience.
While this method includes, your testimony, your life lessons, and your passions that God gave you, I want concentrate on how to give your testimony. Because I believe that your testimony is more useful than any other way in sharing Jesus with others. Here are the four parts:
What my life was like before I met Jesus
How I realized I needed Jesus
How I committed my life to Jesus
The difference Jesus has made in my life
By the way, these are the same four parts I ask everyone who wants to join our church to share with us. When you decide to join our church, you are asked to share your testimony. I ask people to write it out and share it with me and then with the church. If you have done that, then you can use this method.
So perhaps you know someone who needs to hear about Jesus. Perhaps you have even begun to invite them. You took that sheet last week and you started praying for those seven people. There is going to come a time when you may build a friendship.
Of course, you may say, well Jim, you just read from John and I don’t see how any of these methods is related to the Bible verses you just read. Look with me in verse 4:39. Some people believed the testimony of the woman. She just went and shared her experience. Others said to the woman: No, we want to hear for ourselves. That is what is shown in 4:41-42.
Jesus said that we are going to work out in the fields because it is ready for harvest. There are people out there who are ready to hear about Jesus. Many times IBC Bremen reaps the benefits as a church, although other people did the work. Some of you will share your faith with some whom have heard this same message from another Christian. You will reap when this person accepts Jesus from your testimony. Some of you will share your testimony with others and you will not see what becomes of it. You are sowing. You are planting seeds.
I think Jesus says this to keep us humble. If you say you “led” so many people to Jesus, you could start to promote yourself and not God and His glory.
So don’t get discouraged if you think that telling your story was not effective. God will make it effective. Perhaps he will let you see that. Perhaps not. But that is
not something we have to worry about. For Jesus said that the sower and the reaper will both rejoice in the end.
We should look forward to sharing our faith because we care about the people around us. We want to share the love of God with others. So, I want to challenge to look at the method that you think will work best for you and start to use it. This Wednesday, we will practice it with one another. We will go over these methods and overcome the fear that comes to most of us when we want to share, but we don’t know how. You pick the method that you think will be best for you. Keep praying for those seven people. When the opportunity comes with one of these seven, or even someone the Holy Spirit shows you, go through the FORM, and then share your message. Don’t be discouraged. God is going to use you. Just as Jesus said in Acts 1:8, Through the power of the Holy Spirit will you be able to witness. He will help you share your testimony.