There are many reasons people choose to speak. They are several motives or agendas that cause people to express their thoughts. Most people are not without an opinion. All of these think their opinion correct otherwise they would not state it.
Paul states one motive for speaking at 2 Corinthians 4:13,
“Now, possessed of the same believing attitude - just as it has been written: ‘I believed, and because of this, I spoke’ [Psalm 116:10] - we also continue to believe, ‘and because of this,’ we continue to speak.” [Christian Scriptures 2001]
It is likely Paul means, “Because of my own deep conviction I was motivated to speak.” Mere belief is not sufficient to please God. Indeed, Paul writes in Romans 10:9, 10,
“Because if you will ever confess that ‘saying in your mouth’ that Jesus is Lord; and, you believe in your heart that The God raised him up from the dead -- you will be saved. For it is the heart which believes leading to righteousness, but it is with the mouth one makes confession leading to salvation.” [Christian Scriptures 2001]
Paul’s point is that faith will move one to speak about what is closest to the heart. [Romans 10:9, 10] Speaking is essential to salvation.
However, someone will ask: “How is this to be done? In what manner should I speak? To whom shall I speak?”
There can be no greater model of how faith motivates speech than Jesus Christ himself. He is considered the greatest teacher who ever lived. His words have motivated more persons throughout the last two thousand years than anyone else. And it is true Jesus often gave stirring and memorable sermons to large audiences. However, our focus here is speaking on a more personal level - one to one. Jesus was gifted with the ability to start conversations that centered around God’s Truth. How did he do this so effectively?
The Gospel of John gives several examples of how Jesus was moved by his faith to speak to others. One of the most famous one on one chats Jesus had with another is found in John 3:1-21:
JN3:1 Now, a man from the Pharisees -- Nicodemas was his name - was a ruler of the Jews. JN3:2 This [Jewish ruler] approached [Jesus] at night and said to him: "Teacher, we realize you have come from God. For no one is able to perform these signs that you do if the God was not with him." JN3:3 Jesus responded to him: "I tell you this truth: Unless anyone is born from above he cannot experience the Kingdom of the God." JN3:4 But, facing toward [Jesus], Nicodemas asked: "How is a person able to be born when old? He is not able to enter the womb of his mother a second time to be born." JN3:5 Jesus answered him: "I tell you this truth: Unless anyone is born from water and Pneuma he cannot enter into the Kingdom of the God. JN3:6 That which is born from flesh is flesh, and that which is born from the Pneuma is pneuma. JN3:7 Do not wonder because I said, ‘It is a necessity to be born from above.’ JN3:8 The wind blows wherever it wants, and you hear the sound of it, but you have no idea where it came from and where it is going. Just so is everyone born from the Pneuma."
JN3:9 Nicodemas answered and said to [Jesus]: "How is this possible?" JN3:10 Jesus answered him: "You are a teacher of Israel and yet do not know these things? JN3:11 I tell you this truth: What we know we speak, and what we have seen we can testify about. Now you [Jews] will not accept our testimony. JN3:12 If I have told you earthly things and you [Jews] do not believe, how will you [Jews] believe if I told you heavenly things? JN3:13 Now, no person has ascended into the Heaven if not the One having descended from the Heaven, ‘the Son of Humankind’. [Daniel 7:13] JN3:14 And just as ‘Moses raised the serpent in the wilderness,’ [Numbers 21:4-9] so it is a necessity for ‘the Son of Humankind to be raised up,’ [Daniel 7:13] JN3:15 so that everyone believing in him may have endless life."
JN3:16 "For so the God loved the world of humankind and gave His ‘only-begotten’ [Psalm 22:20 LXX] Son, [Psalm 2:7] so that everyone believing in him might not be destroyed but may have endless life. JN3:17 For the God did not send forth the Son into the world of humankind so that he should condemn the world of humankind by means of him, but rather that the world of humankind should be saved by means of him. JN3:18 The person believing in [God’s Son] is not to be condemned. The person not believing has been condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only-begotten Son of the God. JN3:19 Now this is what condemns: Though the Light has entered the world of humankind humans loved the Darkness rather than the Light because their works were wicked. JN3:20 For everyone who habitually does vile things continues to hate the Light, and he will not approach toward the Light, so that his works might be reproved. JN3:21 However, the person doing [what is] truthful approaches toward the Light so that his works should be made manifest as having been worked in [harmony with] God." [Christian Scriptures 2001]
First we notice our Master was direct and to the point in his opening words. He also did not ignore the questions put to him, but answered them. The focus of his words was faith in the Son of God. He also discussed the subject of judgment. The Master also used quotes from the Bible.
The Nazarene’s faith moved him to speak on another occasion. He was tired from a long walk and he paused at a refreshing well. Note how he engages the lone woman there at the well.
JN4:5 Therefore, when he arrived in a town of Samaria called Sychar - near the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph -- JN4:6 where there was Jacob’s Fountain - Jesus was tired from the journey and he sat down on the fountain. It was about noon.
JN4:7 A Samaritan woman approached to draw water. Jesus said to her, "Give me a drink." JN4:8 [For his disciples had gone into the town in order to buy some food.] JN4:9 Now the Samaritan woman responded to Jesus: "Why is that you ask me a Samaritan woman for a drink when you are a Jew?" [For Jews use nothing in common with Samaritans.] JN4:10 Jesus answered and said to her: "If you had any idea about the free gift of the God, and who the person is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ no doubt you would ask him and it is very likely he would give you Living Water." JN4:11 She said to him: "Lord, you have no way of drawing [up water] because the well is so deep. So, from where do you have this Living Water? JN4:12 Are you are greater than our father Jacob? [He] gave us this well and from it he drank, also his sons and his flocks. JN4:13 Jesus answered her: "Everyone drinking from this water will become thirsty again. JN4:14 But those likely to drink from the Water that I shall give will never get thirsty throughout all periods of time. Because the Water I will give will become an inner water fountain, bubbling up unto ageless life." JN4:15 Now facing toward Jesus the woman said: "Lord, give me this Water so that I may never get thirsty again. Then I will never have to come here again to draw water."
JN4:16 Jesus said to her: "Go call your husband to come here." JN4:17 The woman answered and said to him: "I do not have a husband." Jesus told her: "You spoke well in saying, ‘I do not have a husband.’ JN4:18 For you have had five husbands, and now the man you have is not your husband. You spoke truthfully." JN4:19 The woman said to him: "I see that you are a prophet! JN4:20 Our forefathers worshipped in this mountain, but you [Jews] say that the place where it is necessary to worship is in Jerusalem." JN4:21 Jesus told her: "Believe me, woman, that an hour is coming when neither in this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, will you people [render] worship to the Father. JN4:22 You [Samaritans] are worshipping that which you do not know. We [Jews] are worshipping what we know, because salvation is of the Jews. JN4:23 But, an hour is coming, and is now [here], when the True Worshippers will [render] worship to the Father spiritually and in harmony with Truth, because the Father is searching for such persons to worship Him. JN4:24 The God [is] Pneuma, and those worshipping Him must of necessity worship spiritually and in harmony with Truth." JN4:25 The woman said to him: "I know that Messiah is coming, the One called Christ. Whenever that person should arrive, he will proclaim everything to us. JN4:26 Jesus said to her: "I am that person, speaking to you!"
By a simple request for a drink of water, Jesus turned the moment into a marvelous witness. He uses an illustration at hand - water from the well. He does not refrain from speaking to a woman, as was the custom of some Jewish rabbis. He answers her questions. Here his theme is true worship. It is also one of two cases where Jesus uses the word “salvation.”
We realize that the Master was adept at starting conversations that led to a word of faith among his listeners. But, what about his disciples? Did their faith move them to speak to others?
The first chapter of John is an interesting study how faith moves one to speak to others. Note the sequence of events that caused a number to follow Jesus through the speech of others.
First Jesus initiates matters:
JN1:35 The next day John was standing with two of his disciples, JN1:36 and as he watched Jesus approaching, he declared: "Behold, the Lamb of The God!" JN1:37 And the two disciples listened to him, and so they followed Jesus. JN1:38 But, turning Jesus saw them following and said: "What are you seeking?" They answered "Rabbi, (which is translated, Teacher) where are you staying?" JN1:39 He said to them: "Come, and see." Therefore they went and saw where he stayed, and they remained with him that day. It was about the tenth hour. [John 1:35-39 Christian Scriptures 2001]
Again a simple question starts a conversation with the Master. Now notice how faith moves these:
JN1:40 One of the two was Andrew the brother of Simon Peter who had heard what John said and followed [Jesus]. JN1:41 [Andrew] first found his own brother, Simon, and said to him: "We have found the Messiah" [Daniel 9:25] (which translated means, Christ). JN1:42 Andrew led Simon toward Jesus. [John 1:40-42 Christian Scriptures 2001]
A good place to begin letting your faith move you to speak is among your own relatives and friends. It was Andrew who was moved to speak to his brother, Peter.
JN1:43 The next day Jesus wished to leave for Galilee. So he found Philip and said to him: "Follow me." JN1:44 But Philip was from Bethsaida, from the town of Andrew and Peter. JN1:45 Philip found Nathanael, telling him: "We have found the one of whom Moses wrote -- in the Law and the Prophets -- Jesus, the son of Joseph, from Nazareth." [John 1:43-45 Christian Scriptures 2001]
Now Philip finds Nathanael, so his faith moved him to speak to yet another. We can see that a simple question by Jesus caused others to quickly go and tell their relatives. And so the first movement in Christianity involved speaking to others. But did the early Church continue to follow this example?
Historians often express amazement over the early growth of the Christian Church. It was the faith of the disciples that energized them to share their convictions with others.
In the historical record researched by the educated doctor Luke such speaking out of faith begins with Peter’s speech during the Jewish festival of Pentecost. [Acts 2:22-36] The result was a mass baptism of over three thousand Jewish men. Then Acts 2:47 reports that more growth occurred daily. Peter and apostles continued their public witness regarding the resurrection of Christ despite local opposition. [Acts chapters 3 and 4.]
There was not letup in this faith-driven speaking. Though arrested for such work, an angel appeared to Peter and the apostles and told them:
“But, YHWH’s angel, who during the night opened the doors of the jail, and after leading the apostles out, told them: ‘Go, and standing in the Temple area, keep speaking to all the people the words of this Life.’ Hearing this, the apostles entered the Temple area at dawn and began to teach.” [Acts 5:19-21 Christian Scriptures 2001]
They not only preached publicly in such places as the Temple courtyards, but they also taught in people’s homes. Acts 5:42 records:
“And so every day in the Temple area, as well as in private homes, they did not stop teaching and preaching Christ Jesus.” [Christian Scriptures 2001]
Despite threats and persecution from the Jewish hierarchy disciples like Stephen gave powerful witness because of deep faith. Even when many of the disciples were scattered they did not stop preaching. Acts 8:4 tells us:
“However, of course, those [disciples] that had been scattered went every where proclaiming the Good News of the Word. But Philip traveled into the city of Samaria and continued preaching to them the Christ.” [Christian Scriptures 2001]
Even between apostolic missions, whole traveling from one place to another, the apostles set the example in their speaking to others. Acts 8:25 says:
“After witnessing and speaking the Word of the Lord, the apostles returned to Jerusalem, and along the way they declared the Good News to many villages.” [Christian Scriptures 2001]
Even one of the greatest persecutors of the early Church, a Jewish rabbi named Saul of Tarsus, when converted by a vision of Jesus the Nazarene began to preach:
“And immediately Saul began preaching Jesus in the synagogues - that this One was God’s Son.” [Acts 9:20 Christian Scriptures 2001]
He became Paul the Christian missionary whose faith moved him to speak among many nations.
The book of Acts records several evangelical tours. Wherever Paul could find people, wherever they gathered together, his faith moved him to speak. Note how he used the busy market places to do this:
“As a result he continued to reason everyday in the synagogue with the Jews and other reverent persons, as well as in the marketplace with those who happened to be on hand.” [Acts 17:17 Christian Scriptures 2001]
Though Paul made great use of the Jewish synagogue where he was still highly respected, he also preached and taught in other locations. Doctor Luke tells us about this:
Now Paul entered the synagogue speaking boldly for three months, reasoning and persuading regarding the kingdom of the God. “However, when some [Jews] became hardened and disobedient -- speaking harmfully about the Way before the crowd -- he stood away from them. He separated the disciples from [the synagogue] and began to reason daily in the school [lecture theater] in the hall of Tyrannus.” [Acts 19:8, 9 Christian Scriptures 2001]
Acts 20:20 summarizes his methods:
“I did not shrink back from telling all of you all those things that were helpful to you. Nor did I stop teaching you in public as well as in your homes.” [Christian Scriptures 2001]
Even when he was under house arrest in Rome Paul did not stop speaking, for Acts 28:30, 31 tells us how his faith moved him:
“Now for two years Paul remained under house arrest in his own rented room, receiving all who came to him, preaching the Kingdom of the God, and teaching subjects concerning the Lord Jesus Christ with unhindered outspokenness.” [Christian Scriptures 2001]
In some of his letters, possibly written during this time, Paul encouraged the Christian disciples to let their faith move them to speak. For example, in part he writes in Philippians 1:14-18,
“And most of [the] Lord’s brothers have gained confidence regarding my prison bonds and are much more daring in their willingness to speak the Word without fear. Some proclaim Christ … because of good intentions. These later ones do so out of loving concern, knowing I have been appointed to defend the Good News. … What then? Only that in every way - whether in pretense or truthfully - Christ is proclaimed. Now because of this I rejoice and will continue to rejoice!” [Christian Scriptures 2001]
Paul makes it clear that faith is the engine behind the mouth when it comes to declaring the Gospel message. To the Romans he writes:
“Because if you will ever confess that ‘Saying in your mouth’ that Jesus is Lord; and, you believe in your heart that The God raised him up from the dead -- you will be saved. For it is the heart which believes leading to righteousness, but it is with the mouth one makes confession leading to salvation. For the Scripture says, ‘Everyone believing upon him will not be ashamed.’ [Isaiah 28:16] Because there is no difference between Jew or Greek, for the same Lord [over all] is rich to ‘everyone calling upon Him.’ For, ‘Everyone who ever calls upon the Lord’s name will be saved.’ [Joel 2:32 (3:5)] How, then, will ‘they call upon Him’ in whom they have not believed? But, how will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? But, how will they hear without someone to preach? But, how will they preach if they are not sent forth? Just as it has been written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those proclaiming the Evangel of good things.’ [Isaiah 52:7]” [Romans 10:9-15 Christian Scriptures 2001]
Nothing has changed as far as the Christian disciple’s responsibility to speak as faith moves. Now two almost two thousand years removed from our Master’s original preaching and teaching sincere Christians throughout the world can say, “I believed, therefore, I spoke.” [2 Corinthians 4:12, 13] But how can this be done?
The manner of sharing the Gospel is only limited by personal imagination and willingness. Of course, some by nature are very bold and can start conversations with others very easily. While others are more timid and find it difficult to speak. Let each one’s faith move them the best they can. Some of those more withdrawn may find writing letters to friends and relatives a way to share their faith. The Internet has proved an excellent tool for some.
One method would be to first start a family Bible reading group and invite friends and neighbors. Some have printed up business cards or leaflets to advertise that there is a Christian reading group in their neighborhood. Many of us live already in Christian communities with many local churches. However, a little trust in God will move us to find opportunities to let others know how the Bible has helped us.
In part witnessing to others is a matter of developing the ability to start conversations with strangers. Some are very gift at this and they can start a conversation with complete strangers at will in a variety of situations. Most people are willing to talk about the economy or world events. Some have been successful by simply saying, “I don’t know about you but I am still old-fashioned and I think the Bible has a lot of answers we need to investigate.”
Should a Christian preach from house to house? Current law in some countries permits door to door canvassing with the Gospel. Some religious groups have been very successful at this, and more and more denominations are using the method. For example, one of Jehovah’s Witnesses was going from house to house in one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in the United States. However, at the same time - calling on the same doors - was a Catholic priest encouraging church attendance as well as Mormon elders! Thus, in one block three different sects were preaching from door to door. It is obvious this does not go over well with most householders.
One successful method is to have a supply of simple literature with a Gospel message and walking along sidewalks just approach people who are outside their home. This is very effective if one is letting neighbors know about a weekly Bible reading group in the neighborhood. As the group grows the area can be expanded in this simple manner. In time God may bless the formation of a real Christian ecclesia or house-church just as the early Christians were blessed.
Whatever method a Christian uses good manners and respectfulness will go a long way in attracting others to a Gospel message. Little is accomplished by just irritating people. Often the most successful evangelists have been those who informally speak to those at work, at school, in the market place or other areas. Some of the most timid persons - strengthened by their deep conviction and the pressure of God’s Pneuma - can become powerful witnesses for Christ Jesus. May, with your own prayers and our Father'’ blessing, become someone who can say, “I believed, therefore, I spoke.”
Nazarene Commentary 2000© by Mark Heber Miller
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