Lesson 1

Why Witness?

(James 5, Hebrews 6, John 7, 1 Timothy 2)
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Introduction: The idea of justification by grace alone is broader than the issue of salvation. It explains the larger relationship humans have with God. For example, when I felt guilty that I had not converted my neighbors, it came to me that I am not the prime mover in converting others.  That is the work of God. When I was mowing the neighbor’s lawn, visiting the neighbors in the hospital, and trying to have gospel conversations, I thought that I lacked the skill to “close the deal.” How foolish of me! Our series of lessons this new quarter is about how we cooperate with God in His mission of drawing the world to Him. Let’s dig into our first lesson about witnessing and find out what the Bible has to say!

  1.         Bringing Them Back?

  1.         Read James 5:19-20. Should we try to witness to those who have left the church?

  1.         Whose soul is saved from death, the person witnessing or the person witnessed to? (It must mean the person who is brought back. The Bible does not teach that we are saved by converting others.  That would be righteousness by works.)

  1.         Whose multiple sins are covered? The person witnessing or the person witnessed to? (This is a more difficult question. The person being re-converted is given forgiveness. While it is obvious that we do not have our sins forgiven by our works, perhaps converting others compensates for other failures in our life.)

  1.         Read Hebrews 6:4-6. Let me ask again, should we try to witness to those who have left the church? (This says it is “impossible ... to restore them again.”)

  1.         Add to this Hebrews 10:26-27. Is James involved in wishful thinking? When it comes to former members, is “No good reason” the answer to the title of our lesson, “Why Witness?”

  1.         Let’s read more in Hebrews to see if we can understand this. Read Hebrews 6:7-8. Why does Hebrews compare its statement on futility to raising crops?  You get a new crop every year! That seems contrary to the “once a backslider, always lost” statement.

  1.         Read Hebrews 6:9-10. Does this sound like the recipients of this letter have fallen away? Why say “We think it will turn out better for you?” Why say “God is just and He won’t overlook your past good deeds?”

  1.         Let’s revisit Hebrews 6:4-5. Do you know anyone who fits this description and later falls away?

  1.         Can this be understood to say that if your faith fails, it was not right in the beginning? Can this be understood to say that those who really walk closely with God are not going to fall away?

  1.         If we conclude that Hebrews and James are not in conflict, what does this teach us about how to approach witnessing to those who have left the church? (It tells us there was something previously wrong in their understanding of God. We need to help them to have a correct understanding of God.)

  1.         What If You Fail?

  1.         Read Romans 1:18. What is God’s attitude towards those who “suppress the truth?” (He feels “wrath” towards them.)

  1.         This text tells us that “unrighteousness” suppresses the truth about God. Have you ever felt that you failed to witness when you should have?  Have you ever been concerned that your failure to speak up means someone loses their only opportunity to hear the gospel?

  1.         Is it the unrighteousness in you that causes you to fail to witness?

  1.         Read Romans 1:19-20. What does this tell us about the opportunity of every person to learn about God? (Nature teaches everyone about God. All are “without excuse” for not exploring the “God issue.”)

  1.         Does this clarify what is meant by unrighteousness suppressing the truth? (It is not talking about the failure of believers, it is talking about those who try to hide the obvious truth about God revealed in nature.)

  1.         So, let me ask you again, “Why witness?” If everyone has the witness of nature, why are you needed?

  1.         Read Romans 1:21-23. What does it mean to “exchange the glory of the immortal God for images?”  (Everyone has the opportunity to have a relationship with the true God of heaven.  These fools (see verse 22) preferred to have a relationship with “images resembling man [and animals].” What a lost opportunity.)

  1.         What claim do these fools make? (That they are wise!)

  1.         Do you see this today?  Are there those who have rejected God, and then claimed they are smarter than those who accept God and give Him thanks?

  1.         What does God desire of us? Can we believe in the God of heaven and still be fools who claim to be wise? (Verse 21 tells us the root failure is not honoring God or thanking Him.)

  1.         Consider your life. Do you thank God? Do you give Him honor instead of claiming the credit for yourself?

  1.         How can we witness to someone who is sure that he is smarter than we are?

  1.         Read Romans 1:24-25. If God “gave them up,” is it foolishness to think that we can witness and convert people like this?

  1.         Read Romans 1:26-28. Again, we see the phrase, “God gave them up.”  Is God giving them up to eternal destruction? (I don’t think so. God gives all of us free choice. Thus, God gives them up to their evil decision making. God still wants them to be saved, and so we have an opportunity to witness.)

  1.         Living Waters

  1.         Read John 7:37-38. What do you think it means to have “rivers of living water” flow out of your heart?

  1.         Read Revelation 22:1-2. Is this the same kind of living water?

  1.         Read John 7:39. What additional understanding of “living waters” comes from this text? (This is talking about the Holy Spirit!)

  1.         Let’s put all of this together. We have been discussing what we can and cannot do about witnessing. How do these verses in John 7 change the direction of the conversation? (It is not a matter of what we cannot do, rather it is a matter of what we cannot help but do. Living water flows from the Christian in rivers! Our witnessing is automatic.)

  1.         Read 1 Timothy 2:1-2. Who should be on our prayer list?

  1.         Why should we pray for people in positions of power? (In part, so that we may lead “a peaceful and quiet life.”)

  1.         Does this prayer make sense? What is the connection between praying for people in “high positions” and leading a peaceful and quiet life? (Rulers of countries are put in place to enforce order and justice. Order allows all citizens to lead peaceful and quiet lives. The leaders are responsible for allowing people to worship God and retain their dignity and property.)

  1.         Friend, God has a plan for us. He wants the Holy Spirit to flow out of us in life-giving witness to others. He wants us to pray for leaders to defeat evil and restore order. Will you do that today?

  1.         Next week: Winsome Witness: The Power of Personal Testimony.

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Lessons on Witnessing: Making Friends for God

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