Victoria Fellowship Church
International & Interdenominational
Bible Study Worksheet – January 15, 2017
Theme: Building Blocks for Godly Living
Topic: Effective Witnessing
Text: Matthew 5:13-20; Luke 8:4-15
Key Verse: Matthew 5:14: “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.” (NIV)
Last Sunday, in our discussion of the topic “Joyful Perseverance” based on Matthew 5:9-12 and 1 Peter 3:8-18, we saw what it means to suffer for righteousness and why one would still submit to Christ despite the almost certain assurance of persecution. Some key points from that study are:
- The possibility and even likelihood of suffering as a result of faith in Christ should always be made clear in our preaching of the gospel. It is dishonest to present the Christian faith as a passport to a problem-free life.
- The suffering we experience as a result of our own faults – including lack of progress at work due to poor performance, sanctions due to breaches of the law, and deprivation due to lack of financial prudence – should not be seen as persecution, and do not count as Christian suffering. The only suffering that counts as persecution for righteousness is one that results from our giving the devil a hard time.
- When suffering for our faith, we should encourage ourselves in the Lord by (a) meditating on the experience of Christians who have suffered similarly, (b) remembering that Christ also suffered unjustly, and (c) noting that we are not alone in such suffering – there are others going through the same or possibly worse suffering. We should then draw from the strength God provides.
- Christians who are not suffering persecution should (a) constantly remember and pray for those who suffer persecution and violence as a result of their devotion to Christ, and (b) speak or write words of encouragement to them.
This Sunday we will continue our studies on the theme “Building Blocks for Godly Living” with the topic “Effective Witnessing”. While every true Christian accepts the mandate to preach the gospel and “make disciples of all nations”, and more churches spring up all the time and evangelistic programmes run all year round, there also continues to be evil. Learning from this study should include the following:
- The effectiveness of the Christian’s witness is seen in the extent to which he (a) draws unbelievers to commit their lives to Christ and (b) makes the world uncomfortable in evil
- In an environment where most people seem to already know the gospel message but have not believed, the upright life of the Christian, endorsed by God’s miraculous interventions in his affairs, is the most powerful witness.
- Christians need to give attention, by follow-up and mentoring, to making disciples of those who newly come to faith in Christ as new converts are certain to face significant pressures from previous relationships and environments, and may also be discouraged by other Christians’ apparent shortcomings.
Over the last few decades, there has been an explosion in the number of evangelical churches – especially of the Pentecostal leaning – and in evangelistic programmes under various great-sounding banners. However, sceptics and critics of the gospel are quick to note that in the same period, evils have increased, perhaps faster than our perceived growth of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The increase in evils should not really surprise Bible-believing Christians as Christ had warned that in the run-up to His second coming, “Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold …” (Mat 24:12 NIV). However, the prophecy of the increase in wickedness does not absolve the Christian of the personal challenge of Jesus Christ in our key verse: ““You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.” To be the light is to be different, in a positive way. John makes a universally recognised statement: “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:5 NIV)
1. What are the measures of the effectiveness of the Christian’s witness in the society?
2. Are Christians effective lights in today’s world? If so, why does it seem like evil is having the upper hand? If not, why not?
One of the challenges the Christian faces in the contemporary environment is what seems to be a saturation of the simple gospel message in many parts of the world. Increasingly, the message targets are people who have heard the message several times, some brought up in Christian environments and taught the gospel from an early age. The pervasiveness of electronic media, and highway billboards advertising Christian messages, bring the gospel to many homes. The Christian may then wonder what else he or she can share with an audience that is already so saturated with gospel communication. Despite this, many Churches lay claims to membership growth. Really, much of the perceived growth may be cases of people moving from one local Church to another, perhaps due to personal affiliations or out of convenience rather than genuine conversions to Christ as a result of evangelisation.
3. What do you consider to be effective ways of witnessing in a typical urban environment that already seems saturated with the gospel message?
Christians who witness know that many hearers who claim to accept Christ do not eventually become disciples. Jesus had acknowledged this situation in our second text – the Parable of the Sower. He described four types of hearers. Of these, two “responded to the altar call” -vv13,15. He describes those that fell on rocky ground as those who “believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away.” The “time of testing” He had in mind here obviously includes the times of opposition and confrontation with the unbelieving world, including perhaps close relatives and others whose goodwill the new believer may need for support in life’s endeavours. But it will also include times of disappointments in other Christians whom they had held in high regard.
4. What practical support can a Christian give new believers to enable them grow into disciples despite the various tests of his or her faith?
Father, revive our passion for sharing the gospel with the lost. As You do so, may we preach Your word with Your anointing and power, and may our lives be a source of strength to those you newly receive into Your kingdom, in Jesus’ name. Amen.