An effective witness for Christ could be defined as a person whose life bears fruit for the gospel. Ultimately, when a person is saved, it is by God’s power (1 Peter 1:3-5 ), not ours, and as we speak the truth to unbelievers, it is important to remember that their salvation does not hinge on our speaking abilities or the strength of our faith, or how well we know how to explain things. Even in cases where we speak the truth very clearly and with conviction, it may not result in the salvation of the hearer. In the end, each person bears the responsibility for his own choices (Galatians 6:4-5 ). This should not be a deterrent, however. We are called to do everything in our power to witness to the lost, and to aim for effectiveness. Here are a few basic guidelines to being an effective witness for Christ.
An effective witness is humble. We cannot judge who will or will not accept the message of the cross, so we should be impartial and unprejudiced about whom we approach with the good news, remembering that our own need for salvation is just as great as the need of every person yet to be saved (Romans 3:19-20 ). An effective witness will approach unbelievers with kindness and patience, rather than an arrogant, quarrelsome attitude (2 Timothy 2:23-26 ).
An effective witness represents the Scripture. God has chosen to reveal Himself to the world through a book, the Bible. Regardless of whether this makes perfect sense to us, it is the way He chose to do things. We are called to be ambassadors of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20 ). An ambassador for a nation speaks only what he hears his king or President speak—no more, no less. When we invent new gospels, or bend the truth in an effort to make God’s message more palatable or easier to accept, we are being unfaithful, and if people are converted, they are converting to a false gospel. The truth will always be fragrant to the one who desires salvation, and powerful to effect that salvation (2 Corinthians 2:14-17 ). We should not be ashamed of it (Romans 1:16 ).
An effective witness represents the Savior. Just as we are faithful to accurately speak His Word, we should be faithful to accurately portray His character. The world has an image of Jesus that is often incorrect, and we should strive to make His true nature known to them. Jesus Christ was not always nice. He rejected the hypocritical religious leaders of His day, pronouncing woes on them (Matthew 23:1-36 ). He spoke the truth with conviction (John 3:1-15 ). He confirmed the existence of eternal separation from God (Matthew 7:21-23 ). At the same time, He accepted the outcasts of society and forgave them freely (Luke 19:1-10 ). Nobody who wanted to be with Him was rejected. His focus was to save them, rather than to judge their sin (John 3:16-18 ). An effective witness for Christ will be intimately acquainted with Christ’s character and attempt to emulate Him.
An effective witness is honest. Not every mystery in the Bible can be explained or understood, even by the wisest theologian or the most studied scholar. If an unbeliever asks a question we cannot answer, we should not be afraid to say “I don’t know.” Honesty, and acceptance of our inability to fathom God, is not a sign of weakness, but rather a trust in God that is unfathomable (Hebrews 11:1-3 ). How can we hope to fully understand a God whose mind is so far above ours? But we are not called to fully understand, but simply to trust (Proverbs 3:5-6).