Lesson 2

Winsome Witnesses: The Power of Personal Testimony

(Mark 5, Acts 26)
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Introduction: Has someone ever convinced you to change your mind? I’ve been convinced I was wrong. But, there is a pattern in this. I rarely recall changing my mind when the other person was attacking me. When someone attacks you on Facebook does it change your mind? The most persuasive argument is a personal testimony, because it is hard to attack. How can you argue with what someone else experienced? Let’s jump into our study of the Bible to learn more about the power of personal testimony!

  1.         A Dangerous Witness

  1.         Read Mark 5:1-3 and Mark 5:6. How would you like to have this fellow running towards you?

  1.         Would you consider turning and running the other way? What do you think the disciples did?

  1.         Read Mark 5:4. Is there a good reason to worry about your personal safety in this situation?

  1.         Read Mark 5:7-9. If demons (unclean spirits) are fallen angels, why would these demons fear being tortured by Jesus?

  1.         Have these demons been torturing this man?

  1.         Consider how the local people have been treating this man?

  1.         Read Mark 5:10-12. Consider the life of a demon. Why would you want to enter pigs? Why would you want to torture this fellow? (Notice how the demons are erasing the image of God from this fellow. Satan’s followers are defacing God’s creation.)

  1.         Would you call demonic work sophisticated?

  1.         Read Mark 5:13. What is Satan’s goal for you? Is it the same as for these pigs?

  1.         Do the actions of the demons make any sense?

  1.         Is this still the way demons operate - they seek to destroy and not create?

  1.         What do you think about the total control that Jesus had over these demons?

  1.         What lesson is there for us today when we are faced with demonic activity?

  1.         Read Mark 5:15-17. Jesus just healed the man who was terrorizing the neighborhood. Why would the people be afraid? Why would they ask Jesus to leave the area?

  1.         Read Mark 5:18-20. Why doesn’t Jesus disciple this man more before He sends him out as a witness?

  1.         This raises several important questions about witnessing. Do you think you lack the tools and sophistication to witness? If so, how do compare to this man?

  1.         What, exactly, was the content of this fellow’s witness? (“How much the Lord had done for [him], and how [Jesus] has had mercy on [him].”)

  1.         Should that be the content of our witness?

  1.         Why didn’t Jesus give this fellow a list of the things that a Christian should do before He sent him off to witness?

  1.         A Witness on Defense

  1.         Read Acts 26:1-2. What do you understand to be the context of what we are about to read? (When Paul visited the church leaders in Jerusalem, he was arrested and taken before the Jewish leaders. In a series of hearings (at which Paul witnessed), Paul ended up appealing to the Roman authorities.  He now appears before King Agrippa and the Jewish leaders argue the case for the prosecution.)

  1.         Read Acts 26:3. What is Paul doing here? (In part, he is attacking his opponents based on their controversial behavior. In part, he is saying to Agrippa that he has a great understanding of the relevant religious issues.)

  1.         Read Acts 26:4-5. If you are using this witness as a model, what would you say to follow Paul’s pattern? (Paul is telling Agrippa about his life and his religious background.)

  1.         Read Acts 26:6-7. What would you do next, after explaining your background, if you follow Paul’s pattern? (This is what lawyers call “framing the issue.”  Nothing is more important than framing the issue in a correct and favorable way.)

  1.         How does Paul frame the issue? (The issue is whether Paul correctly understands the hope of every Jew. This is a religious question, and it is a question about the fulfillment of prophecy.)

  1.         What should King Agrippa conclude from the issue being framed like this? (Rome has no legitimate interest in religious controversies involving hope for the future.)

  1.         Read Acts 26:8. What is this? What is Paul doing now? (Lawyers call this “the call of the question.” What, exactly, is the question to which a response is required?  Paul frames the issue, and then states the precise question to be answered.)

  1.         How do you think King Agrippa would answer this question? (It would turn on his understanding of the power of the gods, or the power of the God of Israel.)

  1.         Would this be an issue on which a person should be criminally prosecuted? (This is where Agrippa’s inside knowledge of the Jews would be helpful. There was a great divide in Judaism over the state of the dead. See Acts 23:6-8.)

  1.         Read Acts 26:9-10. What is the pattern we should follow here? (Paul says I used to have a different opinion - and I was strongly convinced of it.)

  1.         If you were witnessing to an unbeliever, would you say (if true), I used to hold your opinions?

  1.         Read Acts 26:13-15. What does Paul do next? (He gives his personal conversion experience.)

  1.         Could you debate Paul about this? How would you do it?

  1.         What does this account say about the answer to the question about the state of the dead? (At least this dead person now is alive!)

  1.         Read Acts 26:16. If you were King Agrippa, and you considered Paul’s testimony credible, what should you conclude about Paul’s case at this point? (If Jesus rose from the dead, then He told Paul to do what he is on trial for today, Paul is talking about a religious issue, whether Jesus rose from the dead.)

  1.         Read Acts 26:17-19. How would you feel about punishing a person who followed a vision about believing that people can live again? Does that strike you as a criminal offense?  A threat to Rome?

  1.         Read Acts 26:20-21. Why are the Jews trying to kill Paul? (Because he obeyed the vision and asked others to repent and turn to God.)

  1.         What do you think about this issue framing?

  1.         Let’s compare this to how you normally witness. Do you come with a doctrine, like the Sabbath, and explain the texts that make the Sabbath holy?

  1.         Do you have people read about the future, such as the Great Controversy, and show them pictures of the monsters of Revelation?

  1.         What is the result when you take this approach? (We’ve all taken this approach. It works sometimes, but it also creates debate because it is an appeal to logic. Lots of people who are initially convinced leave after a while.)

  1.         Why is Paul’s approach superior? (It might seem that Paul’s approach works only one on one. But, he is speaking to a group.)

  1.         Do you feel comfortable explaining the monsters of Revelation? How good are you at debating prophecy?

  1.         What is your comfort level for explaining what God has done for you? How you decided to follow God?

  1.         We have looked at two stories in this lesson. What does our first story (the demon-possessed man) teach us about Paul’s approach to witnessing? Does it confirm or contradict Paul’s approach? (Paul is perfectly capable of the most sophisticated argument about Scripture. Instead, he took the approach demonstrated by our Lord in sending the unschooled former maniac to be His witness.)

  1.         Read Mark 5:19. Friend, can you do this? Why not ask the Holy Spirit, right now, to give you opportunities to share how God has shown love and mercy to you?

  1.         Next week: Seeing People Through Jesus’ Eyes.

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Lessons on Witnessing: Making Friends for God

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