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Lesson 8: Equipping for Evangelism and Witnessing *

Introduction: Have you ever made a spur of the moment decision to do something? How did that work out? Often, last-minute decisions are a bad idea because they give us little time to prepare. If we go for a hike, we need to consider what kind of clothes to wear, what kind of shoes we need, and whether we need something to repel bugs or the sun. We might even need a GPS! If we have a work project, we find the tools and supplies that we need to accomplish the task. If we decide on a certain career, we go to school to prepare for it. Is witnessing and evangelism any different? If we want to be effective, we need to prepare. Ephesians 6 is a great chapter about how to prepare. But, this week we will look at other ways to prepare. Let's dive into our study of the Bible and see what we can learn!

  1. Fishers of Men

    1. Read Mark 1:14-18. If you were Jesus, and the time had come to preach the good news that you had come, would you choose these two? Do they strike you as being "prepared?"

      1. What are the positive aspects of choosing fishermen? (In a general sense, they were in the "catching" business. They were also willing.)

      2. What are the negative aspects of choosing fisherman? (No theological training. They seemed to know nothing about the business of evangelizing.)

      3. What did Jesus promise to do for them? (If they will follow Him, He "will make [them] fishers of men.")

    2. What hope does this historical account give us? (We have previously discussed the issue of natural and spiritual gifts, but this shows us that Jesus can train us for witnessing and evangelism. Jesus will prepare us.)

  2. The Think Big Training

    1. Read Matthew 14:14-15. Would you make such a suggestion? This is being practical, right? This is a person who is paying attention to reality. A person who is not so heavenly minded that he is of no earthly good (to paraphrase a popular saying). Right?

      1. Is there anything wrong with this suggestion? (No. It makes sense.)

    2. Read Matthew 14:16. Recall that Jesus told them that He would make them fishers of men. Is this fisher of men training - being asked to carry part of the load of helping others?

    3. Read Matthew 14:17. Is this fisher of men training - to be logical and reasonable?

      1. Look again at the response the disciples made to Jesus. Are they "following Jesus?" (Remember, Jesus said "follow Me" and I will make you fishers of men. They are not following Jesus, they are questioning Jesus.)

    4. Read Matthew 14:18-21. What lesson should the disciples have learned about becoming fishers of men? (Jesus' miracles extend to practical things. Jesus could have reasonably sent the crowd away to go eat. But, God encourages us to "think big" - even when it comes to practical things that are not strictly needed, but which help to advance the Kingdom of God.)

  3. Making the Main Thing the Main Thing

    1. Let's continue on with the training! Read Matthew 15:1-2. My hope is that the disciples washed their hands before they started handing out all that bread and fish! Do you agree with the religious leaders?

    2. Read Matthew 15:3-6. Have you ever done what Jesus appears to be doing? Someone criticizes you and in response you criticize them for something they do wrong?

      1. Have you ever heard that two wrongs do not make a right?

      2. Have you any defense for Jesus' defense? (The hand washing thing is a tradition of men. The failure to help your elderly parents is a violation of God's law - the Ten Commandments. Jesus is saying that you criticize my followers over small matters, while you teach people to violate the Ten Commandments.)

    3. Read Matthew 15:7-11. What lesson is Jesus teaching for those who want to be fishers of men? (That we should not get bogged down with the teachings of humans. We need to keep God's requirements front and center.)

      1. How do we do that? (Jesus teaches that this is a "heart" thing. A heart for others does not get bogged down in the petty religious requirements created by humans.)

    4. Read Matthew 15:12-14. Why did the disciples care about giving offense? (I don't like to offend people. Jesus was generally against giving offense ( Matthew 17:27). But, when someone is leading others astray, you can (and should) leave them alone. Some fish get tossed back in the water because they are dangerous to others in the boat.)

    5. Read Matthew 15:15-20. Peter asks Jesus for an explanation of this, and Jesus says, "How dumb are you?" Is there a lesson in this for us? (The point we are about to study is not a close theological question. If you disagree about Jesus' conclusion, you are a dope.)

      1. In our evangelism, what should be the target of our efforts? (The mind.)

        1. Why? (It is the source of the evil in our lives.)

        2. Why do you think that the first thing Jesus lists is "evil thoughts?" (Our thoughts are the foundation for our evil deeds.)

        3. What would you do to target the mind? (We should work on changing opinions, not on changing the outward appearance. Our main goal is to change hearts, not change diets or clothes. A change in heart brings change in the externals.)

  4. The Faith Component

    1. Read Matthew 17:14-16. What report do we have on the evangelism efforts of Jesus' disciples? (Fail! The disciples tried to heal the boy, but they failed.)

    2. Read Matthew 17:17-18. Who is being addressed here? The father? The boy? The disciples? (I think the disciples.)

    3. Read Matthew 17:19. Why did the disciples come to Jesus privately? (This confirms they were the target of Jesus' words. They came privately because they did not understand why they failed. They did not understand how Jesus' words applied to them. They did not want to be publically humiliated again.)

    4. Read Matthew 17:20. What was wrong? (A lack of faith.)

      1. How can we relate this to our first story - the one about feeding the crowd? (Jesus asks us to have faith that nothing is impossible for us. Just a small amount of faith can do great things. The failure to have faith shows us to be an "unbelieving and perverse generation.)

      2. How do we reconcile this instruction with our desire to do God's will? Don't we normally say, when someone is not healed, "It was not God's will?" We don't say, "We are a wicked and perverse generation that lacks even a mustard seed of faith - that is why this person died." Which should we say?

        1. Could there be any doubt about God's will in the situation of this boy?

    5. Read John 15:5-7. Jesus again promises to give us what we ask, if we satisfy certain conditions. How does Jesus describe the condition? (Remaining in Jesus describes faith. We have to be connected to Jesus. This connection should give us an insight into His will.)

      1. I always get worried when we use terms like being "connected" to Jesus. What does that mean, as a practical matter? (Read John 15:26. This connection is the presence of the "Counselor" - the Holy Spirit.)

      2. Is your life filled with the Holy Spirit? Do you seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit on who to heal?

    6. Friend, we need Jesus to make us fishers of men. Part of that training is to think big, to understand and be focused on what is important, and to keep a solid faith connection with Jesus through the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will give us the power and direction to do the great and important things to advance the Kingdom of God.

  5. Next week: Releasing Into 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.

© 2021 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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