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Text Sermons : R.A. Torrey : HOW TO BEGIN WITNESSING

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One of the most difficult points in personal work
is beginning. It is comparatively easy to go on
after one has got an opening.

I. FIND THE ONE TO DEAL WITH.

The first thing is to find the one to deal with.
As has already been said, we should pray God to
lead us to some one, or some one to us. When we go
to church, or when we walk the street, when we are
in the park, or on the train, or calling; in a
word, whenever we have time that is not demanded
by other duties we should look up to God and
definitely ask Him to lead us to the one with whom
we are to speak, if it is His will that we employ
that time in work for Him. Further than this, we
should be on the lookout for opportunities. A
fisherman cultivates a keen eye for opportunities
to catch fish; and a soul-winner should cultivate
a keen eye for opportunities for soul-winning.
Whenever we are thrown into the company of a man
or woman, the great probability is that it is a
providential opening, and we should be ready to
meet it as such. It is said of one of the most
distinguished Sunday school workers in this
country that he makes it a point whenever he is
alone with any individual to speak to him about
his soul. The story is told of Uncle John Vassar,
that being left alone in a hotel parlor with a
strange lady, he at once approached her and began
to speak to her about her soul. After he had gone,
the woman's husband returned, and she told him
what had happened. The husband was an a great
rage, and said, "If I had been here, I would have
sent him about his business." His wife replied,
"If you had been here, you would have thought he
was about his business." We ought to make
soul-winning our business, and improve every
possible opportunity. {29}

II. CONVERSATION.

Having found your man, begin a conversation. How
shall that be done? In the inquiry room, by asking
at once a few leading questions to find out just
where the man stands, for example: "Are you a
Christian?" "Are you saved?" "Have you been born
again?" "Upon what do you base your hope of
eternal life?" "Are you confessing Christ openly
before the world?" "Have you surrendered all you
have and are to Christ?" Sometimes it is well to
begin in this direct way even when you meet some
one casually. The question "Are you saved?" is as
a general rule a better one to ask than "Are you a
Christian?" It is more likely to set one to
thinking. It is more definite and pointed. Many
will take the asking of such a question as an
impertinence, but that will not prove that the
question has not done good. Not a few people who
have become angry at a stranger putting a question
like this to them have afterward been converted in
consequence of it. There are many other questions
that one may ask that will0 set men to thinking
and open the way for further conversation. For
example, you can ask a man, "Do you think that
life is worth living?" and after you have engaged
him in conversation on this point you can lead him
on and tell of the life that really is worth
living. Or you can ask an utter stranger, "How do
you think a man can get the most real satisfaction
out of life, that is, of course, by accepting
Jesus Christ as a Savior." Or you can say to a
man, "I have learned the great secret of
happiness," and when he asks you what it is, you
can tell him. Of course these are offered only as
suggestions of ways in which to begin a
conversation.

A good way to begin is by handing the person with
whom you wish to deal, a well-chosen tract to
read. When he has finished the tract, you can ask
him what he thinks about it, and thus the way is
opened to a conversation on the great subject. It
is often well to begin by engaging the person in a
general conversation, perhaps on subjects quite
remote from religion, and gradually working around
to the point. It was thus that Christ engaged the
woman of Samaria, making a very simple request of
her, that she would give Him a drink (John 4:7),
but before long, He was telling her of the living
water. If the person with whom you wish to deal is
{30} older than yourself, you might begin by
saying, "There is a subject in which I am deeply
interested, and I am trying to get all the light
upon it that I can; you are much older than I, and
perhaps you can help me; the subject is 'How to Be
Saved.'"

Showing people little kindnesses very often opens
the way for a conversation on the great subject.
For example, in a crowded car one can move along
and invite some one who is standing to a seat by
his side. It is the most natural thing in the
world then to get into conversation, and the favor
of the person who has been standing is gained. and
it will be very easy to lead on to the great
subject. When one is riding, and sees some one
else walking, an invitation to the walker to ride
will afford a splendid opportunity for approaching
him on the subject of his soul's salvation. Mr.
Moody made a constant practice of inviting those
with whom he wished to deal to go riding with him.
As he drew near to some quiet spot, he would speak
to them of what was upon his heart, and then stop
the horse and have a season of prayer. No one can
tell how many were thus led to Christ. Sometimes
it is well to show the people that you would lead
to Christ kindness for days and weeks, and even
years, waiting for your opportunity to say a word.
A devoted missionary to China who had made great
sacrifices to go to that land was received by the
people with bitterest hatred, but he simply gave
himself up to live among them and live for them.
One by one opportunities came of showing them
kindnesses, and after years of self-sacrificing
living, he had so won their confidence that it was
an easy matter for him to lead them to Christ. But
he had to begin by showing them the most ordinary,
everyday kindnesses, far away, apparently, from
the subject that was closest to his heart.

Sometimes a person's face will tell the story of
discontent, unhappiness or unrest. In such a case
it is easy to ask the person if he is happy, and
when he says no, tell him you can tell him of One
who can make him happy if only he will take Him.

Tact in beginning will come with experience, but
it is better to begin awkwardly than not to begin
at all. I do not think that any one could begin
more awkwardly in this work than I did with the
first person I led to Christ. I felt that God
wanted me to speak to this young man and I called
on him for that purpose, but {31} when I met him
I had not the slightest idea what to say. I talked
on and on waiting for an opportunity, and at last
blundered out awkwardly what I had come for. God
blessed the awkward but honest effort, and the
young man was saved, and has become a very active
and efficient worker for Christ.

The best way to learn how to do personal work is
by doing it, gaining wisdom from your mistakes.

III. FIND OUT AS SOON AS POSSIBLE WHERE THE PERSON
WITH WHOM YOU ARE DEALING STANDS.

Having begun the conversation, find out as soon as
possible where the person with whom you are
dealing stands. In order to treat a case
intelligently, you need just as much as a
physician to know just where the man is at
present. But how can we find out to what class any
person belongs?

1. First of all, BY ASKING HIM QUESTIONS, such
questions as "Are you saved?" "Have you eternal
life?" "Have you been born again?" "Do you know
that you are a great sinner before God?" "Do you
know that your sins are forgiven?" Or you can ask
a person directly, "Where do you stand, what do
you believe?" He may answer these questions
untruthfully, either from ignorance or a desire to
mislead you; nevertheless the answers and his
manner of giving them will show you a great deal
about his real state.

2. BY WATCHING THE INQUIRER'S FACE. A man's face
will often reveal that which his words try to
conceal. Any one who cultivates a study of the
faces of those with whom he deals, will soon be
able to tell in many instances their exact state
irrespective of anything they may say.

3. BY OBSERVING HIS TONE AND MANNER. A man's tone
or his manner often tells more than his words. A
man who is not saved will very likely tell you
that he is, but his tone and manner will reveal
plainly that he is not. If one gets angry at you
for asking these questions, that of itself reveals
an uneasy conscience.

4. BY THE HOLY SPIRIT. The Holy Spirit, if we look
to Him to do it, will often flash into our minds a
view of the man's position, and just the Scripture
that he needs. {32}

IV. LEAD HIM AS DIRECTLY AS YOU CAN TO ACCEPT
JESUS CHRIST AS A PERSONAL SAVIOR, AND TO
SURRENDER TO HIM AS LORD AN MASTER.

When we have learned where the person with whom we
are dealing stands, the next thing to do is to
lead him as directly as we can to accept Jesus
Christ as a personal Savior, and to surrender to
Him as his Lord and Master. We must always bear in
mind that the primary purpose of our work is not
to get people to join the church, or to give up
their bad habits, or to do anything else than
this, to accept Jesus Christ as their Savior, the
one who bore their sins in His own body on the
tree, and the one through whom they can have
immediate and entire forgiveness, and as their
Master to whom they surrender absolutely the
guidance of their thoughts, purposes, feelings and
actions.

V. SHOW HIM FROM GOD'S WORD THAT HE HAS
FORGIVENESS OF SINS AND ETERNAL LIFE.

Having led any one to thus accept Christ, the next
step will be to show him from God's Word that he
has forgiveness of sins and eternal life. Acts
10:43; 13:39; John 3:36; 5:24 will answer for this
purpose.

VI. SHOW HIM HOW TO MAKE A SUCCESS OF THE
CHRISTIAN LIFE UPON WHICH HE HAS ENTERED.

The next step will be to show him how to make a
success of the Christian life upon which he has
entered.





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