Text: John 1:43-49 July 24, 2011
1) “Sure, I’ll take you there”. I was surprised to hear that answer from a store employee when I asked for direction to find something I need. In some stores today employees are instructed to take customers to find what they are looking for rather than simply giving them verbal directions. This common act of courtesy makes it lot easier for customers to find what they need. May be we can use this simple step to lead people to find Jesus Christ whom they really need.
2) “Come, I’ll take you to see Him.” Well, not the exact words but close. After he had spent a day with Jesus, Philip went to find Nathanael and told him that they had found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, Jesus of Nazareth. But Nathanael was skeptical about this Jesus of Nazareth, he said, “Nazareth? Can anything good come from there?” Facing a skeptical question, Philip did the right thing. Instead of waging a war of argument, he told Nathanael, “Come and see.” When Nathanael saw Jesus, his life was changed. He confessed to Jesus, “You are the Son of God. You are the King of Israel.” (John 1:46, 49)
HONEST ASSESSMENT ON WITNESSING:
1) We just don’t care enough: To be fair, I believe most Christians do care the need of salvation of all people, particularly their loved one. But from all facts and evidence, few people really care about this need. We allow ourselves float on the idea that someday or somehow God will do a miracle to save them. Few of us have spent enough time to pray, to learn, to go and witness to bring someone to Christ in many years. We just don’t care that much.
2) But we are scared enough: While most of us don’t care enough to witness and save souls, most of us are scared enough to do any thing on it. We are scared of ridicule from those we want to witness to, scared on the potential failure, the inability to answer questions and scared if our friends and family will turn against us. We tend to keep the issue of witnessing under the carpet and never raise it up in fear of “personal involvement.” We love to see others do it and rejoice with them of their fruits, but we just can’t get to do it ourselves because of fear.
3) We haven’t learned enough: Like in many churches, we gear so much in meeting internal needs of our people inside the church than meeting the needs of the unsaved outside the church. Look at the way we structure our church and Committees, the man power and resources we designated to their ministries, we see that our people are not well taught or trained to learn even the simple steps on sharing our faith to people around us. When we don’t know what to do or how to do it, we tend to stay away from it and that is human nature.
4) We love our comfort zone: A comfort zone is an environment in which we feel comfortable. Many of us have that feeling in our church for years. With many churches are declining, losing their membership and budget, we are blessed to continue to grow in recent years. Some of us see this as a comfort zone, feel good about it and so lose the sense of urgency and focus on missions in our local community. While it is good that we support others to evangelize, to witness and save souls, we have lost our focus in doing that our won. We are too comfortable with what we have and we forget that we could and need to do more.
WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY ON WITNESSING?
1) It is the Lord’s command: “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you and you will be my witnesses in Jeru -salem, Judea and Samaria and to the utter most part of the earth.” (Acts 1:8) This is what we called the second command on mission, the first is in Matthew 28:19-20. In both commands, Jesus called on his disciples, including us, to go and witness for him in the power of the Holy Spirit to make disciples for him. We all are familiar with these commands and we need to be more serious to obey and follow his commands.
2) It was what Jesus prayed for: “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message.” (John 17:20) Those who will believe through their message including us. We all are the fruits of those who are faithful in presenting the gospel message generation after generation throughout the 2,000 years of Christian history. The Lord prayed for them and for us because we are the links of the unbroken chain He wants us to continue witnessing.
3) It was what the disciples did: “Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: “Fellow Jews and all who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say.” (Acts 2:14) Few of us really pay attention to facts like this: the disciples of Jesus did exactly what the Lord told them to do: witnessed to people around them about Jesus and His message of salvation first from Jerusalem then continued to spread to other parts of the world. The power of the Holy Spirit did come on them and they were bold to give witness for their Lord Jesus.
4) It was what the believers did: “On that day a great persecution broke out against the church at Jerusalem and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria. Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went.” (Acts 8:1,4) Jesus did not just give the commands of witnessing to the Twelve apostles, he gave it to all his followers including us. The early believers obeyed his command and gave their witness wherever they went. We should be doing the same thing wherever we are at home, at work, in school or elsewhere.
SEE HOW THEY DID THAT: (John 1:43-49)
1) It all starts with you: “The next day, Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, he said to him, “Follow me.” (1:43) No one may be a true and effective witness of anything if he is not personally involved in something. The fact that Philip later on witnessed to Nathanael started with his personal relationship with Jesus: he heard the call and he started to follow. If you want to be effective in witnessing for Jesus, you need to be a true believer of the Jesus, respond to his call and faithfully following him. Without a personal experience with Jesus you can’t be a true and effective witness for him.
2) Start with people you know: “Philip, like Andrew and Peter was from the town of Bethsaida.” (1:44)Before you can witness to people from afar, begin with those close to you: family, friends, classmates, coworkers, neighbors, etc. God plants us in a circle of people for a purpose so we can witness to them.
3) Share your personal experience: “Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law and about whom the prophets also wrote, Jesus of Nazareth the son of Joseph.” (1:45) This is where most of us fail: we have personal experience with Jesus, but we fail to find someone to tell them our story. Philip gave a very simple story, no doctrine, no theology, no dramatic experience, just told what he knew of the one and what he had found. Anyone can tell other stories of personal experience. But we must get out and find someone to tell our story to.
4) He extended an invitation: “Nazareth? Can anything good come from Nazareth?” Nathanarel asked. “Come and see.” Said Philip” (1:46) Philip did not have an easy target. Nathanael was a skeptic who was not easily persuaded to believe anything someone just tell him. But Philip didn’t back off from setbacks. He didn’t have all the answers to all the questions. But he knew he had truly met the Lord. His personal faith in Jesus made him confident to extend an invitation: “Come and see him for yourself.” If you don’t have all the answers to the questions people may ask you, you can invite them to come to church, to Bible class, to discipleship sessions where they will see Jesus and his word face to face to find out their answers. You don’t need to know everything to witness for Jesus. All you need to do is invite them to come and find their answers in the church.
1) God is the Lord of harvest: “Then, Nathanael declared, “Rabbi you are the Son of God. You are the King of Israel.” (1:49)We see clearly that Nathanael was ready to believe in Jesus as the one both Moses and the prophets wrote about. But he won’t have the opportunity to make that confession without Philip’s witnessing. Too often, we miss precious moments to save souls just because we are hesitant with fear and stop short to witness. Do not be afraid to reach out and share your testimony. You never know when someone is ready to accept Christ and saved.
2) But we need to do our part: “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow.” (1 Corinth. 3:6) Paul was talking about how we work together with God to bring results for His glory. To see results of witnessing, we need to plant the seed and do the watering, then God will bring the harvest. This doesn’t mean that God can’t do it all, but it means God designs it that way in which we have a part o play in bringing souls to His kingdom.
3) Receive the seed today: If you have not yet received the seed of the gospel of salvation, this is the day for you to do so. God has planned this message for you to be witnessed to, to hear the gospel for your soul, God wants to save your soul today. Don’t hesitate to make that very important decision of your life to be a child of God. Confess your sins to Him, ask him to forgive you and invite Jesus into your heart to become Savior of your soul.