Wednesday, May 09, 2012

1888 Insight: “Personal Evangelism and Witnessing”

Second Quarter 2012 Adult Sabbath School Lessons
"Personal Evangelism and Witnessing"
For the week of May 12, 2012

Personal Evangelism and Witnessing 

         Our personal testimony of our experience in Christ is the most effective way to create in others a desire to experience Christ in their lives.

          "How shall we know for ourselves God's goodness and his love? The psalmist tells us — not, hear and know, read and know, believe and know; but "Taste and see that the Lord is good. Instead of relying upon the word of another, taste for yourself. Experience is knowledge derived from experiment. Experimental religion is what is needed now" (5T 221).

         John 17:3 tells us that salvation is to know God, and Jesus Christ whom He has sent. Therefore, our knowledge of God is more than an accumulation of assorted facts about Him; it is knowledge based on an intelligent understanding of and a heart-felt appreciation for God's love and gift in Christ. We love Him because He first loved us (1 John 4:19). God took the initiative in our salvation through a loving act that redeemed the entire undeserving race. That loving act was Christ's substitutionary death on the cross for the sins of the world.

         "Christ came to the earth and made an offering of such value that He redeemed the race" (Letter 67, 1902). That offering of such value was the Son of God suffering the second death on behalf of the entire sinful race. Believing that to be true, we want to share the love that motivated such a sacrifice.

         "In assuming humanity Christ took the part of every human being. He was the Head of humanity. A Being divine and human, with His long human arm He could encircle humanity, while with His divine arm, He could lay hold of the throne of the Infinite (1 Selected Messages, 252). He took all of humanity into Himself, and became one with us.

         "This is the very work which the Lord designs that the message He has given his servants shall perform in the heart and mind of every human agent. It is the perpetual life of the church to love God supremely, and to love others as they love themselves. There was but little love for God or man, and God gave to his messengers just what the people needed. Those who received the message were greatly blessed, for they saw the bright rays of the Sun of Righteousness, and life and hope sprang up in their hearts" (TM, 95).
         Those now who receive Christ receive the power to become sons and daughters of God. We receive Him when we perceive, appreciate, and trust His love. Psalm 16:11 "Thou wilt show me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore."

         Our mission field is the world, because it was Christ's. He redeemed the entire human race, and then calls upon us to offer that gift to the entire human race.

         In the various mission trips I have conducted overseas for both the 1888 Message Study Committee as well as for other groups, I have found that the concepts of love, God's friendship with us, and the beauty of a free gift bestowed in love have resonated with human hearts.  I remember one man in the Dominican Republic telling me that he "found Christ in these meetings for the first time."  Another time, I remember a witch doctor in Kenya accepting Christ because I was the first white person, and missionary, ever to visit her in her thatched roof hut up in the jungle.
         Christ's method alone truly does bring true success.  He mingled amongst people as One desiring their good. He showed His love for them, ministered to their needs, won their confidence, and then called them to follow Him. This is an accurate description of true personal witnessing - sharing what we have experienced and then lovingly reaching out to all so they too might share the experience and the Gift.
         Personal witnessing is based on the principle of drawing people to see the "matchless charms of Jesus Christ."  By beholding we are changed. As we behold Him, we sense His love . . . and our need.  "The more our sense of need drives us to Him and to the word of God, the more exalted views we shall have of His character, and the more fully we shall reflect His image" (Steps to Christ, 65).

         "Our acknowledgment of His faithfulness is Heaven's chosen way for revealing Christ to the world. The testimony of our own experience is what will be most effective.... When we back them up by a Christlike life, our personal stories of His grace have irresistible power that works for the salvation of others. (Humble Hero, 157-158).

         God will search our hearts, and then reveal our need for Him, for repentance, for revival, and for reformation, and will lovingly give to us the grace, experiences, knowledge, and opportunities to share (Psalm 139:23, 24). He also will permit trials we need to learn so we may exercise true living faith, a faith which "works by love and purifies the soul." A righteous life will witness to the power of the Gospel to change the human heart. 

         We cannot call people to a life of love, peace, and holiness unless we have committed our hearts and lives to those principles ourselves. It is His love and faithfulness that motivates our own loyalty to Him. 

         1 Peter 3:15 admonishes us to "sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear."

         My favorite quote is "Only by love is love awakened" (Desire of Ages, 22). Too often Christians witness through fear, guilt, or a sense of duty. Religion such as that neither moves the human heart, nor is it pleasing to God.  Our own hearts are not warmed by that kind of witness, so why would anyone else's be? Our experience of love, our heart-felt appreciation for the cost of Calvary, and the depths of love demonstrated there are God's appointed means of reaching our friends, neighbors, and families for Christ. 

         I have been blessed to be a missionary in Mongolia, Kenya, and many other countries, but what I have learned is that one does not have to travel to distant lands in order to share truth, for the very next person you meet who does not yet have the Gospel of Love is your mission field. 
--Tom Cusack
Raul Diaz