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FRANgelism (Part 4 of 5)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg
The Truth Network Radio
September 3, 2020 4:00 am

FRANgelism (Part 4 of 5)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg

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September 3, 2020 4:00 am

In a remarkable conversation from John 4, Jesus disregarded cultural protocol and spoke with a Samaritan woman about her sin. Listen to Truth For Life as Alistair Begg examines this encounter and its relevant lessons for today.


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Erwin Lutzer

This week on Truth for Life in John chapter 4, we're looking at a remarkable encounter that took place between Jesus and a Samaritan woman. This exchange helps us understand how we can do a better job of engaging with friends and relatives or neighbors and associates about what it means to follow Jesus.

In today's message, Alistair provides seven helpful points of application. We were looking at the conversation between Jesus and the woman at the well, and we spent time in observation and left precious little time for any kind of application. As we went through the pattern of Jesus' approach, we noted that he began naturally, that he then aroused the lady's curiosity, that he spoke to her, addressing her need and search for satisfaction, and then, in turn, that he confronted her with the nature of her sin by addressing the whole area of her conscience. And as we followed that through, we recognized that while there is a unique element in observing the pattern of Christ's ministry, nevertheless, there are particular principles of approach that we might observe. We observed, then, the approach that Jesus had taken with the lady. We have said, Is there something that we might learn from this approach of the Lord Jesus?

And if so, what isn't? Well, let me give you these seven things by way of application. First of all, if we're going to make this kind of impact, it is imperative that we learn how to live radically.

Live radically. There was that about the approach of the Lord Jesus here which was absolutely radical. As we noted, he crossed the barriers that were prevalent in his day of both gender and race.

And he did so for the express purpose of reaching into the life of this woman, whom he knew to be in such desperate need. It may seem straightforward to many of us that this would be the case, and yet I fear not, because by and large it would appear that churches in general, and perhaps we as Christians in particular, have tended to believe that those to whom we speak concerning the good news of the Lord Jesus need to be the ones who make all the moves, and that we must go and invite them to cross various barriers in order to hear what we have to say to them. And while there are opportunities to do that, nevertheless, we recognize that if we're going to significantly impact people with the good news of Jesus Christ, we need to move into their territory, we need to cross bridges into their lives, and we need to make it far more accessible by means of our willingness to live in a radical way. There have in the history of the church been people who have been particularly radical in these things, and they stand out to us in the history of Christian biography.

Some of us have friends and neighbors who are particularly good at this. Some of us are naturally reticent. But I do believe that we are living in a time—indeed, presumably the church has always lived in a time—when if we're going to impact the culture with the good news of Jesus Christ, we cannot stay within our own little comfort zones of ever-diminishing circles of influence and believe that the world will come knocking at our door to inquire just why it is that we believe what we believe. Jesus took the initiative, he broke down barriers, he lived radically, and we need to discover what that means. Secondly, in following the pattern of Jesus, we need, in initiating conversations like this, to act naturally, as did he.

My father, who was never a musician, who produced one son, who is not a musician either, used to tell me always, I think, the best key in which you could ever play is the key of be natural. Be natural. And he gave me that instruction when I was tempted to mimic others at school, and when in turn, as God gave to me the opportunity of ministry, I was tempted to try and be as smart as the man to whom I was assistant or as profound as someone else. And detecting this in me, he would say to me always, remember, son, the best key is be natural. And so we might learn—I learn from that, and I learn from the example of Jesus here.

We made much of it at the time. We won't rehearse it greatly now. But he simply began by asking, May I have a drink?

May I have a drink? What a strange thing it is to hear people witnessing, and they get a funny tone in their voice. Have you noticed that? They can be talking quite naturally about anything.

How did the football game go, and did you read that in the newspaper? And then all of a sudden they have a sort of a strange sort of catharsis that takes place, because they're now speaking about divine things. And people just say, you know, you are bizarre. Why are you talking like that? And they say, You're talking like what?

And they don't have a father around to hit them on the back of the head and remind them, All you gotta do is act naturally. Our friends are not impressed by pious talk, by ecclesiastical jargon, by deep-sounding words which they could never fathom, even with an excellent dictionary, but they may be intrigued by the very natural approach that we take. So the radical element of our crossing bridges needs then to be allied to a very natural approach in conversation. And thirdly, when we're able to engage with people in conversation, we should proceed creatively. We should proceed in our conversations creatively.

This is the pattern of Jesus here. In the process of it all, he could have gone very quickly to his concluding point. He could have gone directly to the issues of this woman's life.

And yet, we saw how he was very straightforward and yet intriguing in the way that he opened up the subject. Could I have a drink of water? Why would you ask me for a drink of water? He leaves the question aside. And then he says to her, If you knew the gift of God and who it was who asked you for a drink, you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.

There's an intrigue about that. So, when we think in terms of speaking for Christ, instead of blurting out with some little prepackaged, jargonized speech that we've created, and somebody says, Well, I'm very interested that you would be showing up at my door or that, here, over this cup of coffee this afternoon, that you would be speaking in this way, at that moment, let the bell go off. Don't allow yourself to go back into the, Oh, yes, I am so glad… Don't, when you feel that coming on, you've got to resist that. And say something like, You know what? It's unbelievable, isn't it?

And the person will say, What do you mean it's unbelievable? You say, Well, you know, a year ago, a year ago, I would never have been sitting here. A year ago, I would never have had this conversation. Six months ago, you would have found me dead with this literature in my hands. Now, that's kind of intriguing.

Anybody that's still thinking at all is forced to say, Well, what happened a year ago? You see? Creative. Creative.

Not the encyclopedia salesman. Creative. Living radically, acting naturally, proceeding creatively, fourthly, avoiding unnecessary controversy. Avoiding unnecessary controversy. The lady introduced the question of the Jews and the Samaritans. People regularly introduce the question of the Muslims to me.

Or perhaps the Roman Catholics and the Protestants in Northern Ireland. Very interesting question, but that's not what I came to talk about, and I'm not planning on talking to somebody about it unless it's clear to me that it is actually a great stumbling block to their understanding of faith in Jesus Christ. Well, you say, How will you know?

Well, you won't always know, but you get good at wondering as you go along and a measure of discernment, as the Lord helps. Well, what about the well of Jacob? Is this a nice well, or what do you think of this well? Interesting conversation, but not what I came to talk to you about. I'm going to set it aside. Well, do you think the flood covered part of the earth or all of the earth? Well, interesting conversation, but let's leave that for a moment.

Well, do you think that there were seven days in creation, or do you think it's periods of time? Interesting thought, but we're not going to stop there for the moment. Why not?

Because it's not the issue. And what I would say to people—and I give you this, just as those who have taught it to me is simply this—that when you engage in conversation and you're living in this way and acting naturally and proceeding creatively, and somebody says to you, Well, what about this? Or what about that? Say, You know what? That's an interesting question. Let me just leave that here for a moment and proceed with what I'd like to tell you, and we'll come back to that. And nine times out of ten, if you're able to proceed creatively, you'll never, ever come back to it. Because it wasn't something that was germane to the discussion.

It was just thrown in along the journey. But if you go down that road, there's no saying where you will end up. Someone starts to talk to you about astrophysics.

Unless you are in the 0.2 percent of the population that could answer the question with any measure of effectiveness, I suggest you don't touch it with a forty-foot pole. Because they will have you tied up in unbelievable knots within no time at all, and the issue is not astrophysics in any case. That doesn't mean it's irrelevant. It doesn't mean you may not have to go and buy a book if it's a genuine concern for the person. But in the time being, as you go through the process, it is important to avoid unnecessary controversy. Well, I notice you don't have any symbols in your church.

Is it a proper church? Good question. We'll come back to that.

And so on. Fifthly, we need to learn also to confront people honestly. There comes a time where we have to, as it were, allow the Scriptures to speak with forcefulness. And this, of course, came, as we said in the pivotal statement in verse 16, where Jesus said to the lady, Go, call your husband and come back. And in that moment, he confronted her honestly. And it is going to be important, within the framework of our speaking about the things of Jesus, to reach a point at some juncture where we're able to confront people honestly with the issues that are before them. Now, honestly does not mean harshly. For Jesus did so with sensitivity. And so, if we are making notes, we should say there is a point at which we should confront honestly, and then in brackets we should write the word sensitively.

When Peter writes to those who were his readers of his first letter, he says, I want you always to be able to give an answer to those who ask a reason for the hope that is within you. And then he immediately says, But do it with gentleness and with respect. Because the manner in which we speak will often be so overpowering that people won't hear the message that we want to bring. And some of us are more prone to that than others and need the help of others in saying, You know, I think you could temper your language a little better.

I think that you may be able to speak just as honestly, but a little more sensitively. And then, sixthly, we need to be able to explain clearly. To confront honestly and explain clearly.

There is no easy way to this. Nobody ever learns how to make presentations for their work without that they give themselves to it with diligence. For example, if you sell some piece of electronic gadgetry which would bamboozle the average individual, and they take this out of the box and they are about to use it, they expect to be able to turn around to the salesperson and say, How do you do this?

Or, Why does it work in this way? And with a measure of justification, if you are unable to answer the most rudimentary questions, they're going to assume that you really should never have been the salesperson in the first place. And I recognize that to make this exhortation tonight is to turn everything back on ourselves as a pastoral team in relationship to the way in which we edify and equip you as a congregation, and I recognize that in what I'm saying. But thinking back on it, I never once was in a church in my formative years where they ever taught me how to share my faith.

I had to go and get myself a couple of books, I had to go and get myself a couple of friends, and I had to go and stay up at night and learn these things off my heart. So when somebody said, You know, I think the resurrection is a hoax, I would be able to say, Now tell me why you think it is a hoax, rather than to say to myself, Oh goodness me, I wish they hadn't said that, because I don't have a clue what to say in response. Now, unless, you see, you have thought about the issues of the swoon theory and the idea that Jesus did not die but simply swooned in the tomb and that he was never dead but simply came around in the tomb and went walking in the street, the first time somebody hits you with that, you're not gonna have a clue what to say to them. But if you think about it for long enough and you prepare for it properly, you will be able to address them truthfully, and you will be able to explain clearly. When somebody says, You know, I think I'm a good person, and indeed, I think I'm good enough to go to heaven, you might be prepared to say, And how good do you think you have to be to go to heaven? And when they say, Good enough, you might be prepared to say, And how good enough is good enough?

And you might ask them how many times they sinned in a week. And if they said just once a day, you could tell them, Well, that's three hundred and sixty-five a year. And how old are you? Well, I'm ten.

Well, that's three thousand six hundred and fifty. The only reason I said ten was because I couldn't be sure of multiplying by any higher number. But I could double it now, but I don't want to impress you.

I'm not sure I could double it right now. But then you're gonna say to the person, Well, let's suppose you were managed to keep it down just to one sin a day for all of your life to this point. How good do you think you have to be to eradicate that volume of sin? And then when you have the person at that point, you can say, Wouldn't it be a wonderful thing if somebody died in your place so that the goodness that you could not bring they brought, so that they might die in your place, bear your punishment, and enable your life?

Well, said the person, That's an intriguing idea, but I don't know. Where do you get that from? And then you say, Oh, somewhere in the Bible.

Well, they're not going to appreciate that. They expect you to know your Bible. How would you know your Bible? You read your Bible. You read your Bible every day. You make little notes in the margin when people teach you.

You have a little loose-leaf book that you write in little gems and nuggets that you've understood. And before you know it, you're putting together the ability to explain clearly the things of the Lord Jesus. And seventhly and finally, if we're going to seize these opportunities, we need to be prepared to speak boldly. Eventually, Jesus looks the lady in the eye. She's reached the point where she says, I know that when the Messiah called Christ comes, he'll explain everything to us. And Jesus said, Guess what?

I who speak to you am he. This is a time for sensitive boldness, loved ones. This is a time of a great interest in spiritual things in our country. It's an interesting combination of an interest in spirituality with the demise of the mindset and worldview that is scientific rationalism, and into that vacuum of the thinking of men and women has come this unbelievable confusion. And I think we tend to believe that if ever we lay it straight out boldly, the words of Jesus, I am the way and the truth and the life, and no one comes to the Father but through me, that somehow or another our very boldness and clarity at that point will be the thing that turns everything in the wrong direction. But the fact is, we don't have any option but to proceed along the lines of Jesus himself. You are writing a gospel, a chapter each day, by the deeds that you do and the words that you say.

Men read what you write, distorted or true. So what is the gospel according to you? The danger is the idea that somehow or another, if we can only be effective with our tongues, we will be inevitably effective in our witness. And it isn't always so. Not that there is no place for what we've just outlined.

There is a vital place for it and a necessary place. But I was struck this week to read again the encounter of Dr. Stanley when he tracked down Dr. Livingston in his missionary journeys. Stanley met Livingston, recognizing something of what Livingston was doing, but at the time that Stanley met him, Stanley himself had no knowledge of Christ and no awareness of what Livingston was really about. In reflecting upon those early days, Dr. Stanley wrote as follows, Livingston never spoke a word to me about being a Christian. It was not his words or his preaching that won me for Christ. I was not a Christian when I found him. But I had not been with him very long before I was worshiping Livingston's God, trusting Livingston's Savior, and reading Livingston's Bible.

It's really the response to the children's song, God make my life a shining light within this world to glow, a little flame that burneth bright, wherever I may go. For the issue, you see, is not that they are impressed with our ability to speak of him, but it is that they are introduced to him who is the Lamb of Calvary, who takes away the sin of the world. Seven clear and practical points that emerge from this beautiful encounter between Jesus and the Samaritan woman in John chapter 4.

You're listening to Truth for Life with Alistair Begg. Well, the global pandemic we're living in and this season of intensified civil unrest has opened a lot of doors in some unusual ways for us to be able to talk about Jesus with friends or relatives, with business associates or neighbors. It's also a time when we need to remain especially sensitive to volatile issues that can easily sidetrack a gospel conversation. Today we want to recommend two books that we've packaged together to help you speak more clearly and more boldly and to stay on message when you're talking to others about Jesus. The first is a book that addresses the insecurities we can sometimes feel when we're sharing the gospel.

The book is called Have No Fear, and if you sometimes feel reluctant or ill-equipped to speak about Jesus, this book will explain how you can overcome those barriers. It also gives easy-to-follow framework for using Scripture, specifically John chapter 1, as a way to tell the gospel story. And then there's a uniquely designed book called The Word One to One, and in this case we're going to send you two copies, one for you and one to share with a friend. This book is published in large print so it's easy to read, and it guides you and your reading partner through the first chapter of the Gospel of John. It offers interactive questions along with answers to help move the conversation. We really like the format of this book.

We posted a page of samples for you to be able to view it on our website. Just go to So when you give a donation to support the ministry of Truth for Life, we'll say thank you by sending you this three-book bundle. These books are perfectly aligned with our mission at Truth for Life, which is to teach the Bible with clarity and relevance so that unbelievers will be converted.

When you give, you're contributing to this important biblical mission. To give a donation and request your packet of three books right now, go to slash donate, or you're welcome to give us a call. Our number is 888-588-7884. One more time, the number is 888-588-7884. And if you would prefer to mail your donation, you can write to Truth for Life at Post Office Box 398000, Cleveland, Ohio 44139. I'm Bob Lapine. Tomorrow we'll hear the final message in the five-day Pharyngealism series, so be sure to join us again Friday. This daily program features the Bible teaching of Alistair Begg, and it's furnished by Truth for Life, where the Learning is for Living.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-03-18 02:33:45 / 2024-03-18 02:42:23 / 9

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