In England, in the early part of the nineteenth century, there was a woman who had heard the Gospel but had never been able to respond to it personally. She had come from a Christian home. She understood the faith. But, she could not come. She considered herself unworthy. One day she wandered into a very small church and sat down in the back. She was almost in despair and hardly heard the words of the elderly man who was speaking. Suddenly right in the middle of his address, the preacher stopped and, pointing his finger at her, said, “You, Miss, sitting there at the back, you can be saved now. You don’t need to do anything.” His words struck like thunder in her heart. She believed at once, and with her belief there came an unimaginable sense of peace and real joy. That night Charlotte Elliott went home and wrote the well-known hymn:
Just as I am, without one plea,
But that thy blood was shed for me.
And that thou bidd’st me come to thee,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.
If we are to witness for Jesus Christ, we must never give the impression that a man must first become worthy of the Gospel. We must not forget that there is comfort in the Gospel for sinners.
The fifth principle is that we must end by confronting the individual with his responsibility to decide for or against Jesus Christ. Jesus said to the woman, “I who speak to you am he [the Messiah]” (v. 26). Well, was He or wasn’t He? This was the decision placed before the woman. It must be the same in our witnessing. If we do not get to the point of focusing on Jesus Himself, our witness is incomplete. And if we do not get to the point of showing that a decision is necessary, our witness is inadequate.
These then are the principles of how we should tell others about Jesus Christ, taken from the story of Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman. First, be friendly. Second, ask questions. Third, offer that which most suits the individual’s needs. Fourth, stress the Good News. And fifth, show that the person must decide either for or against the Lord Jesus Christ.
What will happen if you do that? Well I believe that the results will be similar to those which Jesus experienced in Samaria. The first obvious result was in the life of the woman. About midway through the conversation, the woman acknowledged her need, saying, “Give me this water, that I thirst not” (v. 15). A few moments later she confessed her sin, “I have no husband” (v. 17). Then she began to show a quickening of spiritual intelligence: “‘I perceive that thou art a prophet” (v. 19). Next she affirmed her faith in Jesus: “Is not this the Christ?” (v. 29). Finally, she took to others the Good News that she had received (v. 39).
You may think the people among whom you work or with whom you associate are difficult specimens to speak to. That may be true. So was this woman. And yet, she became the first great witness after John the Baptist. It may be that if you do this, God will use your witness to reach one who in his turn or her turn may evangelize an entire generation.