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Question 148

Q: Why did Dr. Lutzer say we have to “earn the right” to witness to someone?

I can witness after getting acquainted for less than three minutes. It’s not our power we’re depending on, but the Holy Spirit.

If you’d known on September 10, 2001 that almost 3000 people would die the next day, and it was up to you to share the Gospel with them, what would you do? You wouldn’t have two or three years to build a “friendship” or a relationship with them.  

Asked by: Tim

A: Well Tim, I just want you to know that I agree with you, and I’m sure that whatever it is that I said, it has to be repeated in context.

The fact is, I’ve often witnessed to people in 3 minutes and, particularly, in situations like on a plane where I’ve not had an opportunity to get to know people. In context, I’ve met people and have witnessed to them almost immediately if there’s some kind of a bridge that can be built.

But at the same time, Jesus said in Matthew 5:16 “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” What Jesus was saying is that it’s not only by our words, it’s by our deeds and our friendship. It’s in these ways that we gain authenticity and a sense of integrity.

While it’s true that we can witness to people in a few moments as God opens their hearts, it’s also true that there are many people who won’t come to saving faith in Christ because they’ve been deeply wounded by the Church. They probably won’t be open to hear the Gospel until you have established a sense of credibility and friendship. Once they know that you care, that will go a long way to having them think about what you have to say.

So that’s the balance, and I hope that all of us keep it. We are ready in season and out of season to witness, but at the same time, we model lives that glorify God that eventually attract the unsaved to the Gospel message.

Scripture references

  • Matthew 5:16

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