Introduction: My wife teaches children to read. Simple
reading, however is not her goal. She wants them to read
with “expression!” Have you ever thought about witnessing to
others with “expression!” Our lesson this week presents the
“action” words of witnessing: Testify! Teach! Prove!
Proclaim! Persuade! Let’s get into the action by jumping
into our study!
- When I say the word “testify,” what immediately
comes to mind? (Courtrooms and witnesses.)
- What is the “downside” to testifying? (You are
tested on whether you are telling the truth.)
- Would testifying make you nervous? (It does
for most people.)
- Let’s look at some texts in Acts about this. Read
Acts 4:23-27. This is the prayer of Peter and John
just after they were released from prison. Do you
see any testimony in this? Let’s list the
subjects of testimony that you find on the
- Is part of their testimony that you can expect
opposition? (Yes, verses 26-27.)
- Do you think Peter and John thought their
lives were in peril because of their
- Let’s read on: Acts 4:29-31, 33. When the
disciples asked the Lord to (v.29) “consider their
threats,” for what were they asking?
- What did they get in response? (They were
asking for help with dangerous conditions. The
help given them was a demonstration of the
power of the Holy Spirit. The result was
- What do you think is meant in verse 33 when it
says the disciples testified “with great
- Would you like that in your life?
- Would you like to testify with boldness?
- Would you like “much grace” in your life?
What do you think that means?
- What do people normally testify about? (A rule of
evidence is that you generally must only testify
about “first hand” evidence: what you have
personally seen and heard.)
- Is that also true with your gospel witness?
- If so, are you “equipped” to testify? Do
you have knowledge of what you are
testifying about and are your words
driven by the Holy Spirit?
- If not, what should you do? (Study and
- Is there a difference between teaching and
preaching? If so, what is it?
- Read Matthew 28:19-20. Teaching is mentioned after
baptism in this text. Is teaching something we do
only after a person is converted by hearing
someone preach? Or is teaching part of the
- Is teaching part of our witness?
- Our lesson (Monday) says there “should be less
preaching and more teaching.” Do you agree?
- Is teaching a superior way of transmitting
- If you say “yes,” why? (Teaching is
interactive. Instead of a “one way”
conversation (as in preaching), you have
a “two way” conversation with a person.
They are actively involved. If they are
in an interactive class they have to
think to avoid being embarrassed.)
- We surveyed the church a couple of months ago
about whether they liked our use of a computer
projected slide show for teaching the lesson.
We also asked whether people liked it being
used for preaching the sermon. Since I
generally make a “slide show” for my sermons I
was interested in what people thought about
it. The response was overwhelmingly positive,
but one negative response said “We’re not in
school.” Is that true?
- If we are “not in school” during
preaching, should we be?
- Read Acts 20:20. Paul says that he taught
“publicly” and “from house to house.” Is public
teaching important? What, exactly, is public
- If you say public teaching is, “the church,”
are you sure? Isn’t your church “private
property?” Isn’t it like teaching in a home,
- If “church teaching” is not “public teaching,”
how can we teach in public?
- Should we be standing on street corners?
(We could, but that is a pretty
ineffective way to reach the public.)
- What is the best way to reach the public?
(Television, radio, Internet.)
- Prove! or Proclaim!
- Read Acts 17:1-4. When the text tells us that
Paul “reasoned with them from the Scriptures,”
what “Scripture” are we talking about? (Old
- Was it “new news” that the Messiah had to
suffer and die? (They expected a triumphant
- How do you think Paul proved this to those in
the synagogue? (By the messianic prophecies of
the Old Testament.)
- Do you know those prophecies? Can you do
what Paul did?
- Do you have in hand (or in mind) the Bible texts
to “prove” basic Christianity? How about being
able to prove any doctrine that you believe?
- Is this knowledge essential to being a proper
- Right after our lesson (Tuesday) argues that we
should “prove” our beliefs, it says (Wednesday)
“the purpose of preaching is not to demonstrate or
to prove a truth.” Aside from “proving” that the
lesson authors may not have been paying too close
attention to their final product, what do you
think is the truth here?
- Should we be in “proof” mode when we witness?
- If you look at Wednesday’s lesson carefully,
it seems to say that proclaiming Christ is
more effective than arguing (proving)
doctrines. Do you agree?
- This week I spoke with a lady who, after 53
years of being in a “doctrine intensive”
church (Seventh-day Adventist), had changed
her membership to a “sparse doctrine” church
(Vineyard). When I asked her why she changed
after 53 years, she told me “no one was ever
converted by doctrines,” instead, “they were
converted by fellowship.”
- Do you agree?
- If you do, doesn’t this leave doctrine in
- If you agree, how do you reconcile this
with Paul “reasoning” “explaining” and
“proving” in our text ( Acts 17:2-3)?
- Is “persuade” the answer to this issue? Does
“persuade” lie between “proof” and simple
“proclamation?” Or is “persuade” the result of
- Read 2 Corinthians 5:11. Could someone show you
“proof,” but not persuade you? Why would some
proof not persuade?
- Let’s look again at Acts 17:2-4 again. Do you see
that Paul “proved” his points to all, but only
“some” were persuaded. How do you think some were
moved from proof to being persuaded?
- Should we worry only about the proof part and
leave the persuading part to the Holy Spirit?
- Practicing law for about 25 years has convinced me
that just being “right” is not good enough to win
a case. More important, you have to show your
argument is “just.” That is the difference
between “proof” and “persuading.” Proof is
stringing the Bible texts together that show you
are right. Persuading making a person want to
believe you are right. Our texts in 2 Corinthians
and Acts 17 show the goal is to persuade others,
not just be able to prove our argument. We need
to carefully consider not only how to “prove” but
also how to “persuade.”
- Friend, God has called us to witness for Him. Will
you answer this call to action with enthusiasm?
- Next week: Models for Witnessing.