David Brandt Berg
Why the Bible is important
The Bible is well known and a well-recognized authority. Most people have at least heard about it, and a lot of people respect it, and there are millions of people who believe in it. If you can quote the Bible to people, or if you can find the verses you are quoting or the proof in the Bible and show it to them, a lot of people will believe it.
Even for the people who may not believe it, the Word is powerful just the same and very convicting. “Sharper than any two-edged sword,” full of the power of the Spirit and very convincing (Hebrews 4:12). I’ve used the Bible with a lot of people who didn’t believe in God or the Bible at all, but it sank in and it drove home.
I hope you’re not neglecting your Bible reading and Bible studies. The letters I’ve written are like a commentary, explaining a lot that’s in the Bible and a lot that’s not. But these were given more or less with the understanding that you already knew the Bible and were at least familiar with the Word of God.
The Bible is an authoritative book, recognized and believed by millions, and a lot of people will accept it if you can show it to them in the Bible, that the Bible says so. They’ll believe it, or at least they’ll respect it, or they’ll stop and think about it and it will impress them in some way. So it’s important to at least be able to find the verses that you want to show people when you’re witnessing.
Most people have heard about the Bible, and a lot of people claim to even believe in the Bible. But we have found that most people, though they have heard about it, know about it and believe in it, don’t know it. A lot of people know about Jesus, but they don’t know Him.
The Bible is an absolutely inexhaustible source of wisdom and knowledge, out of which you constantly find “treasures new and old” (Matthew 13:52). It’s a marvelous book!
Faith comes by hearing the Word
If you get the Word down in your heart and you know it, it’s going to be a great help to you; but if you don’t even know it, how can you believe it? It’s almost hard for me to believe anybody’s even saved who doesn’t know or at least grasp John 3:16. If they don’t know one single scripture verse in the Bible, how can they believe? What do they believe?
You’re saved by believing the Word. “Faith comes by hearing the Word of God” (Romans 10:17). I believe anybody who’s really saved must remember at least part of John 3:16 or some scripture that gives them the essentials on salvation. They must know some verse on which they’re hanging their faith. They must know some verse by memory, or at least part of the verse, on which they’re leaning for their salvation by faith.
How can they be saved if they don’t know the Word? Paul goes into that and finally winds up with, “How can they believe if they don’t have the Word, because faith comes by hearing the Word!” So when your faith depends on your knowing the Word, it is very important for you to know the Word.
The way I used to teach witnessing was: First of all, ask questions; second, listen to the answers; third, give God’s answers; and fourth, get a decision.
It’s amazing how few people know how to witness. It’s amazing how many people want to preach sermons instead of witness. It’s amazing how many people want to reverse things, like some people do about prayer. Most people pray, “Hear, Lord, Thy servant speaketh,” instead of like dear Samuel, who said, “Speak, Lord, Thy servant heareth” (1 Samuel 3:1–10). You get a lot further that way, listening to the Lord instead of talking so much that you don’t even have a chance to listen to what He has to say!
With most people, prayer is a one-way street, and they do all the talking and don’t have time to listen to God; and some people witness that way. I went door to door with a preacher who knocked on the door and the only way he knew how to witness was to preach a sermon. “Dearly beloved, we are gathered here together.” I mean, you’d think he was preaching to a congregation! The dear little housewife would come to the door and blink her eyes and wonder, “What in the world is going on, anyway? Here’s this preacher on my doorstep, and the baby’s falling out of the high chair, the dinner’s burning, and the wash is ready to be hung, and I’d like to hang him!”
So there are a lot of dos and don’ts in witnessing, but they’re mostly embodied in just those basic four things. How are you going to witness to somebody if you don’t know a thing about them? You don’t even know whether they’re saved or not, or whether they know the Lord or believe the Bible or believe in God or anything else. How are you going to know those things if you don’t ask them?
As a witness, you’re a soul doctor. You ask the patient what’s wrong: “What are your symptoms? What’s your problem?” Wouldn’t you think it was funny if you walked into a doctor’s office to tell him about your illnesses and problems and he grabbed a piece of paper and wrote you a prescription before you had a chance to open your mouth! That’s the way some people witness!
We know the Bible’s a prescription and we know it’s got all the answers, but how do you know you’ve got exactly the right one for that particular case unless you ask some questions? And what good is it going to do to ask the questions if you don’t listen to the answers? Sometimes it does people good just to talk. You might have to sit there and listen to them for an hour or two or more. And the more they talk, the more you learn about them and the better you’ll know how to talk to them in the long run.
You’re like a doctor to a patient, who listens to them give their symptoms and all their troubles and what their aches and pains are. As you listen, then you begin to diagnose what their principal problem is and what they really need.—What kind of prescription they need, what verse they need, what particular answers they need. The answers, of course, are all in God’s Word. So after you’ve heard all of their answers—which are not always the right answers—then you can give them God’s answers to their problems.
You’ve asked them and you’ve heard what they need, they’ve heard the answers, then you just simply get some kind of a decision. That’s witnessing in a nutshell!
The arithmetic of soul-winning
Dr. Chafer, the famous professor who got himself in trouble with Billy Graham and other evangelists by saying that a Christian who was a good witness for the Lord could win more souls to the Lord in his lifetime than evangelists, used to prove by statistics that if you faithfully witness and win at least one soul every six months and teach that soul in the next six months how to win another soul, that by the time your life was ended more souls would have been won than Billy Graham could ever think of winning.—Just by a simple process of personal soul winning and teaching others to win souls.
It’s like the old story of, “Which would you rather have, a hundred thousand dollars today or a penny on the first day of the month, two cents the next day, and then double it every day until the end of the month?” As I recall, you wind up with a total of over $10 million just by doubling those pennies every day.
If you would win one soul to the Lord at least every six months, one good firm salvation, and spend the next six months teaching him or her how to win other souls, and thereby you win at least two souls a year to the Lord, and each of your converts wins two souls a year to the Lord, and each of their converts wins two souls a year to the Lord—it would be possible to win the entire population of the earth in 16 years, believe it or not!
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