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Sabbath School Lessons on Evangelism and Witnessing
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About the Author
Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
is the author of these Sabbath School lesson study outlines. He is the Reed Larson Professor of Labor Law at Regent University School of Law. Professor Cameron has devoted his life to promoting the Gospel and defending believers. In addition to teaching at an overtly Christian law school, he continues his 41 year practice of law which is limited to the litigation of constitutional rights and religious freedom cases for employees. He holds an undergraduate degree from Andrews University and a Doctor of Law from Emory University School of Law.
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Lesson 1: Defining Evangelism and Witnessing *
Introduction: Sharing the gospel is something that all Christians
can do. The question is, "How do we do it well?" Normally, I think
of evangelism and witnessing as being the same thing. However, when
viewed from the lenses of a lawyer, the two are much different. In
most legal briefs, the facts of the case are discussed first. Next
comes the legal argument. The first section is about the witnesses
and what they say happened. The second is about persuasion. When I
write the facts in a brief, my goal is to persuade. However, no good
lawyer would be confused about the difference between stating the
facts and making the legal argument. Is that true for Christians who
want to share the gospel? Should we be sure we understand the
difference between the facts and persuasion? How much of a persuader
role do we have? Let's dive into our Bibles and see what we can
- Witnessing versus Evangelism
- Read Luke 24:45-48. These are some of Jesus' last
recorded words to His disciples before He returns to
heaven. Jesus tells them that they are to be "witnesses."
However, He started out (verse 45) teaching them about
the Bible. Are the disciples told to testify or persuade?
(Their unique role is to testify. Jesus taught them that
the Bible predicted certain events in Jesus' life. The
disciples are fact witnesses that this happened just as
the Bible predicted.)
- Read 2 Corinthians 5:20-21. Is this witnessing or
persuading? (This is clearly persuasion.)
- Read Acts 1:8. Here are some more of Jesus' last words
before returning to heaven. Why would we need the Holy
Spirit in order to testify?
- Read Acts 5:30-32. What do we see here? Witnessing or
persuading? (Peter starts out talking about the facts,
but he then moves to a legal argument ("repentance and
forgiveness of sins").
- Notice how the Holy Spirit is used. I do not read
where the Holy Spirit is giving any facts. How is
the Holy Spirit a "witness?"
- Let's take a peek at what preceded this. Read Acts 5:12-18. This is why Peter and the disciples were arrested.
How is the Holy Spirit a witness? (The Holy Spirit is
corroborating the factual testimony and the legal
argument of the disciples by performing miracles through
- Let's see how the disciples put all of these elements
together. Read Acts 10:39-41. What is going on here?
(Witnessing. The disciples are reciting the facts that
- Read Acts 10:42-43. What is going on here? (This is the
legal argument side of it.)
- Read Acts 10:44-46. What is going on here? (This is the
Holy Spirit's affirmation of the truth of the facts and
the accuracy of the legal argument.)
- Today's Witness?
- Hearsay is a statement of facts not witnessed by the
person testifying in court. What is wrong with hearsay?
(You cannot test it to be sure it is true. If I testify
that I saw someone strike another person, I can be cross-examined about my ability to see the event and asked
about my prejudices and biases. If I testify that my
brother told me that he saw someone strike another
person, my testimony cannot be tested to see if it is
- Are Christians today stuck with a hearsay gospel? (It
certainly is hearsay for us to say that Jesus lived, died
and was raised from the dead. The disciples were
witnesses of that, but we are not.)
- So, is the witnessing part of the job unavailable to
us? (No. We can tell what Jesus has done for us.)
- Remember that I said that every brief requires a
statement of the facts before the legal argument. I also
said that poor lawyers get the two mixed up. Should all
of our gospel work start with a witness before we get
into persuading? Or, has time eliminated the importance
of the facts because our facts are nothing as exciting as
Jesus being raised from the dead?
- One day I was visiting a church, and a very large man
stood up to give a praise about his witnessing that week.
His story was this: he was doing prison ministries, and
he saw that the correctional officer in charge was eating
a ham sandwich. He told the officer that eating ham
would cause her to go to hell. The man, who was about
50-75 pounds overweight, was thankful that God gave him
the opportunity to witness to this officer.
- Let's break this down by the elements of what we
have learned. Did the church member witness to any
facts? (He had a health message, but his non-verbal
"facts" showed he had a mixed message at best.)
- What was the man's legal (persuasion) message? (That
the Leviticus 11 command against eating unclean meat
was a salvation message. Whether or not this man
was right on his underlying theological assumption,
this does not seem to have anything to do with the
gospel message of Jesus' life, death and
- What was the witness of the Holy Spirit? ("Ham man"
did not report any.)
- Read Matthew 15:16-18. This suggests that the ham man
needed to do a little bit more work on the legal
(persuasion) side of his evangelism. More importantly,
what does it teach us about witnessing? (The important
thing is what we say.)
- Read Matthew 12:36. What does this suggest about
witnessing? (That every word we say is significant.)
- Is that how you look at evangelism - as a moment by
moment, word by word process?
- Consider our large ham man again. What do you think
was his hope? (That the correctional officer would
repent of eating ham, and be converted to membership
in the ham man's church. It did not happen. But,
the ham man thought he should mention it during the
"praise" period so someone would consider him worthy
of praise for at least trying. No doubt this was the
only witnessing event the ham man could recall
during that week.)
- Read Mark 4:13-16. To what does Jesus compare sharing the
gospel? (Like words being tossed out along the path of
- There is a popular book I've read whose title is "Nudge."
It is about government, economics and decision-making. At
the same time, there is a less popular religious book I
am reading also entitled "Nudge." The religious book is
about evangelism. The two books have a common theme:
small attempts to influence can have large results. How
would you relate the "nudge" idea to the three Bible
texts that we have just read: a)"every word counts in the
judgment;" b)"what comes out of the mouth is critically
important, not goes in the mouth;" and, c) "evangelism is
sowing words?" (All of Jesus' statements tell us that our
every word has a nudge effect. We either nudge people
towards the gospel or away from the gospel.)
- How would your outlook on witnessing and evangelism
change if you viewed it as a moment by moment thing,
rather than the ham man's "one great opportunity every
few months to hit a home run and convert somebody?"
- The Holy Spirit as Witness
- Read Mark 16:19-20. We see the disciples sharing the
word. What is the role of the Holy Spirit in this? (It
confirms the correctness of the shared word. It
corroborates the witness of the person.)
- Read John 16:7-11. What work of the Holy Spirit do we see
here? (That the Holy Spirit brings conviction of sin,
guilt, righteousness and judgment.)
- Read Acts 8:29-31. What work of the Holy Spirit do we see
here? (The Spirit directs Philip to a person who wants to
understand the gospel.)
- What do these three texts teach us about the role of the
Holy Spirit in our witnessing? (That He will bring us to
the right people, He will bring conviction, and He will
corroborate our testimony.)
- Have you experienced this in your life? (My guess is
that you have stories to show the Holy Spirit
brought you together with a seeker, and brought
- How many of you have experienced the Holy Spirit
corroborating your witness by signs?
- As you might have guessed, I thought the "ham
man's" witness was unhelpful. I'm rather
certain many people have an unhelpful witness,
and sometimes I wonder about my own witness.
Are you uncertain about the best way to
- If we find that our witness has no
corroboration by the Holy Spirit either through
signs or conviction, should we take that as a
sign we are doing this the wrong way?
- Friend, we have just started our study about witnessing.
Will you do two things? Ask the Holy Spirit to give you
insight into witnessing, and study along with us as we
explore God's word on the subject?
- Next week: Every Member Ministry.
* Copr. 2012, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.