Personal Witnessing—How Jesus
How to address the sinner’s
conscience and speak with someone who doesn’t
believe in hell John chapter 4, verses 7–26 give
us the Master’s example of how to share our faith.
Notice that Jesus spoke to the woman at the well when
she was alone. We will often find that people are more
open and honest when they are alone. So, if possible,
pick a person who is sitting by himself. From there,
we can see four clear principles to follow:
Jesus began in the natural realm (v. 7). This
woman was unregenerate, and the Bible tells us "the
natural man receives not the things of the Spirit of
God" (1 Corinthians 2:14). He therefore spoke of
something she could relate to—water. Most of us
can strike up a conversation with a stranger in the
natural realm. It may be a friendly "How are you
doing?" or a warm "Good morning!" If
the person responds with a sense of warmth, we may then
ask, "Do you live around here?" and from there
develop a conversation.
Jesus swung the conversation to the spiritual realm
(v. 10). He simply mentioned the things of God.
This will take courage. We may say something like, "Did
you go to church on Sunday?" or "Did you see
that Christian TV program last week?" If the person
responds positively, the question "Do you have
a Christian background?" will probe his background.
He may answer, "I went to church when I was a child,
but I drifted away from it." Another simple way
to swing to the spiritual is to offer the person a gospel
tract and ask, "Did you get one of these?"
When he takes it, simply say, "It’s a gospel
tract. Do you come from a Christian background?"
Jesus brought conviction using the Law of God (vv. 16–18).
Jesus gently spoke to her conscience by alluding to
the fact that she had transgressed the Seventh of the
Ten Commandments. He used the Law to bring "the
knowledge of sin" (see Romans 3:19,20). We can
do the same by asking, "Do you think that you have
kept the Ten Commandments?" Most people think they
have, so quickly follow with, "Have you ever told
a lie?" This is confrontational, but if it’s
asked in a spirit of love and gentleness, there won’t
be any offense. Remember that the "work of the
Law [is] written in their hearts" and that the
conscience will bear "witness" (Romans 2:15).
Jesus confronted the rich young ruler in Luke 18:18–21
with five of the Ten Commandments and there was no offense.
Have confidence that the conscience will do its work
and affirm the truth of each Commandment. Don’t
be afraid to gently ask, "Have you ever stolen
something, even if it’s small?" Learn how
to open up the spirituality of the Law and show how
God considers lust to be the same as adultery (Matthew
5:27,28) and hatred the same as murder (1 John 3:15).
Make sure you get an admission of guilt. Ask the person,
"If God judges you by the Ten Commandments on Judgment
Day, do you think you will be innocent or guilty?"
If he says he will be innocent, ask, "Why is that?"
If he admits his guilt, ask, "Do you think you
will go to heaven or hell?" From there the conversation
may go one of three ways: 1. He may confidently say,
"I don’t believe in hell." Gently respond,
"That doesn’t matter. You still have to face
God on Judgment Day whether you believe in it or not.
If I step onto the freeway when a massive truck is heading
for me and I say, ‘I don’t believe in trucks,’
my lack of belief isn’t going to change reality."
Then tenderly tell him he has already admitted to you
that he has lied, stolen, and committed adultery in
his heart, and that God gave him a conscience so that
he would know right from wrong. His conscience and the
conviction of the Holy Spirit will do the rest. That’s
why it is essential to draw out an admission of guilt
before you mention Judgment Day or the existence of
hell. 2. He may say that he’s guilty, but that
he will go to heaven. This is usually because he thinks
that God is "good," and that He will, therefore,
overlook sin in his case. Point out that if a judge
in a criminal case has a guilty murderer standing before
him, the judge, if he is a good man, can’t just
let him go. He must ensure that the guilty man is punished.
If God is good, He must (by nature) punish murderers,
rapists, thieves, liars, adulterers, fornicators, and
those who have lived in rebellion to the inner light
that God has given to every man. 3. He may admit that
he is guilty and therefore going to hell. Ask him if
that concerns him. Speak to him about how much he values
his eyes and how much more therefore he should value
the salvation of his soul. (For the biblical description
of hell, see Revelation 1:18 footnote.) If possible,
take the person through the linked verses in this Bible,
beginning at the Matthew 5:21,22 footnote.
Jesus revealed Himself to her (v. 26). Once the
Law has humbled the person, he is ready for grace. Remember,
the Bible says that God resists the proud and gives
grace to the humble (James 4:6). The gospel is for the
humble (see Luke 4:18 footnote). Only the sick need
a physician, and only those who will admit that they
have the disease of sin will truly embrace the cure
of the gospel. Learn how to present the work of the
cross —that God sent His Son to suffer and die
in our place. Tell the sinner of the love of God in
Christ; that Jesus rose from the dead and defeated death.
Take him back to civil law and say, "It’s
as simple as this: We broke God’s Law, and Jesus
paid our fine. If you will repent and trust in the Savior,
God will forgive your sins and dismiss your case."
Ask him if he understands what you have told him. If
he is willing to confess and forsake his sins, and trust
the Savior with his eternal salvation, have him pray
and ask God to forgive him. Then pray for him. Get him
a Bible. Instruct him to read it daily and obey what
he reads, and encourage him to get into a Bible-believing,
Christ preaching church.