ave you ever felt impressed or directed by the Lord to speak or act toward another person on God’s behalf? By obeying such a leading, you witness “in the Spirit.” All effective evangelism is done in the power of the Holy Spirit. The apostle Paul wrote to some of his converts, “We know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction” (1 Thess. 1:4-5 ESV).
It is a divine experience to have God direct you to someone who needs a word from Him. Our job is to be ready to be used. Here are three principles that have guided me for many years as a personal evangelist.
- 1. BE OPEN TO THE HOLY SPIRIT
Being led by the Spirit begins by inviting Him to control and empower you to lead a holy life and be a fruitful witness by faith.
It does take a bit of boldness. I saw this on a T-shirt recently: “I am a wide- eyed, sanctified, blood-bought, Spirit- taught, Bible-totin’, Scripture-quotin’, Satan-blastin’, sin-trashin’, Christ-followin’, pride-swallowin’, hard-prayin’, truth-conveyin’, faith-walkin’, gospel-talkin’, bonafide big-time believer! And proud of it! (Romans 1:16).”
Whew! I’ve never been quite that bold, but I do believe God will lead us to people who need to hear the gospel if we are open to being used by Him.
What does it take to be used of God?
God has chosen submissive believers as a receptacle for His power and blessing. God has set up lines of authority through which He sends His power, blessings, and resources. Submission means “to be arranged under.” It is connected with humility. If we humble ourselves and submit to God’s authority, He will lead us to people who are hurting. There is power in submission.
God will never force us to be obedient to witness, just as He never forces us to any other form of obedience. However, when we are faithful, He will overcome any barriers in our way.
Satan is a subtle deceiver who tries to discourage us, but nothing he can do is powerful enough to make our witness a failure when we are faithful to do what God has called us to do. Success is simply living as Christian witnesses, sharing the gospel whenever we can, and trusting God for the results. A Christian who resists or neglects the Holy Spirit is like a lamp that’s not plugged in—the power is there but not being used.
God is in control of any situation, and we cannot fail if we speak up. Did you hear about the guy who hardly ever showed up at church? He finally attended a service and the preacher said to him, “You need to join the army of the Lord!”
The man replied, “I’m already in the army of the Lord, Preacher.”
The preacher questioned, “How come I don’t see you except for Christmas and Easter?”
He whispered back, “I’m in the secret service.”
That’s not us! We’re called to be Christ’s ambassadors. God does not want us to be “spiritual knickknacks”—people who look good but do nothing. Let’s be ready to be mightily used of God.
- 2. BE SENSITIVE TO THE WORK OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
As we witness for the Lord, learning to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit is very profitable. Most Christians care about people who don’t know Christ, and long to share the good news of salvation with them. But our approach can drive non-Christians away instead of drawing them in. People want to know that you genuinely care about them and their situations.
Not long ago I returned a rental car at the airport. The car lot was a few miles from the air terminal, and when I got on the van to return to the airport, I was the sole passenger.
The sign above the rearview mirror read, “Your driver today is DANNY.” He asked which airline I was traveling on. I said, “To Delta, Danny. I’m drawn to Delta today.”
I continued, “Danny, have you ever noticed how some people are drawn to their own destruction? How is it that a man can have two sons—one is obedient and stays home and works, while the other one is rebellious, runs away, and spends his life in immorality and loose living?”
Danny said, “Are you a preacher? I’ve got goose bumps all over my arms.”
It then occurred to me that God was dealing with this young man. I said, “Danny, you’re that son who left home, aren’t you?”
He said, “Yes sir—that’s me.”
I said, “Now is the time for you to come back home.”
As we pulled up to the airport parking spot, Danny gave his life back to Christ.
God is at work in the life of the believer and the unbeliever to bring them together. We must be sensitive to His leading.
- 3. WITNESS THROUGH THE SPIRIT’S POWER
Years ago, the Merv Griffin Show had a guest who was a body builder. During the interview, Merv asked, “Why do you develop those particular muscles?”
The body builder simply stepped for- ward and flexed a series of muscles from chest to calf. The audience applauded.
“What do you use all those muscles for?” Merv asked.
Again, the muscular specimen flexed; biceps and triceps sprouted to impressive proportions.
“But what do you use those muscles for?” Merv persisted.
There was a moment of confused embarrassment as the body builder sat down in bewilderment. He didn’t have an answer for the use of all his muscles other than to display his well-developed frame.
Let’s not be like him! Jesus said in Acts 1:8 that the power of the Holy Spirit is for us to be witnesses for Him everywhere we go. God’s power is bestowed upon us for a divine purpose—not just to flex our “spiritual muscles.”
- WHAT YOU CAN DO NOW
Write down the names of at least three people to whom you believe God would have you speak about Christ within the week. Ask the Holy Spirit to prepare these individuals, freeing their minds so they can make a logical, intelligent choice to receive Christ as Savior. Ask the Holy Spirit to lead you to these individuals at the proper time, and to speak through you in giving them the message of Christ.
As you witness, remember it is the Holy Spirit who penetrates the mind of the other person, revealing spiritual truth. As Paul said, “I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase” (1 Cor. 3:6).
You will either be sowing the seed or watering what has already been planted, but rest assured . . . the Lord will give the increase.