Scripture Reading: Acts 9:19-21; 22:15; 1 John 4:14; John 1:40-45; 4:29; Mark 5:19
How long will the light of a candle last? Of course, the light will go out when the candle burns out. But if we light another candle with this one, the light will double in intensity. Will the light of the first candle diminish because it has lit the second? No. If we use the second to light a third, will the light of the second diminish? No. The light of each candle will last until the candle burns out. But when the first light goes out, the second will still be burning. When the second light goes out, the third will still go on shining. If we keep on lighting more candles — ten, a hundred, or a thousand candles — the light will never go out. This explains the testimony of the church. When the Son of God was on earth, He lit the first candle. After that, more candles were lit one after another. For the past nineteen centuries, the church has been like candles; when one candle burns out, it is continued by another one. This goes on and on even today. The church has never ceased shining on this earth, just as salvation has never stopped. Some have lit ten candles; some have lit a hundred. Candle after candle has been lit, and the light continues on.
Brothers and sisters, do you want your light to continue, or do you want to see it end when your candle is extinguished? You have been lit by someone. He does not expect the light to end with you. Every Christian must try his best to bring salvation to others. He must do his best to testify to others and lead others to the Lord so that the testimony may continue on this earth from generation to generation. It is unfortunate that with some people their light ends and their testimony ceases. This is most pitiful! The church has been propagating itself for generations. Some people find their testimony continuing, while others have unfortunately gone without posterity. The light of a candle can only shine while it is still burning. Likewise, a man’s testimony continues only while he is still alive. In order for the light of a candle to go on, other candles must be lit before the first one burns out. In this way the second, the third, the hundredth, the thousandth, and even the ten thousandth candle will carry on the light. This light will continue forever and spread to all parts of the world. Such spreading will not diminish the light of each candle. We suffer no loss when we witness. But by witnessing, the testimony goes on.
What is witnessing? In Acts 22:15 the Lord sent Ananias to speak to Paul: “For you will be a witness to Him unto all men of the things which you have seen and heard.” From this we see that the basis of witnessing is what we have seen and heard. You cannot be a witness to what you have not seen with your own eyes or heard with your own ears. Paul saw something with his own eyes and heard something with his own ears. God charged him to be a witness of what he had seen with his own eyes and heard with his own ears. First John 4:14 tells us what witnessing is: “We have beheld and testify that the Father has sent the Son as the Savior of the world.” A person is a witness to what he has seen. Thank God, you have believed in the Lord. You have met Him, believed in Him, received Him, and gained Him. You are saved. You have been delivered from sins, received forgiveness, and obtained peace. Now that you have believed in the Lord, what joy you possess. This joy is something which you did not have before. Formerly, how heavy was the load of sin upon you! But now, thank God, this load of sin is gone. You have seen and heard something. What should you do today? You should testify of your experience. This does not mean that you have to leave your job to be a preacher. It means that you should witness to your friends, relatives, and acquaintances of what you have seen and heard, and bring them to the Lord.
The gospel will stop with you if your testimony does not continue. It is true that you are saved; you have the life of the Lord and you are lit. But if you do not light others, you will be finished when your candle burns out. You should not meet the Lord empty-handed. You should bring many with you when you meet the Lord. New believers must learn from the very beginning to witness to people and bring them to the Lord. Never be lazy in this matter. If a believer does not open his mouth from the very beginning, after a few days he will form a habit of keeping his mouth closed, and then it will take much effort to turn the matter around. You have believed in the Lord. For the first time you have tasted so great a love, received so great a Savior, obtained so great a salvation, and experienced so great an emancipation. Yet you do not testify for the Lord or light others with your light! You really owe the Lord something!
Let us consider four portions of the Word. They are good examples of witnessing.
A. Going into the city to tell others
In John 4 the Lord told the Samaritan woman about the living water. By this she realized that no one on earth can find satisfaction without the living water. Everyone who drinks of the water from the well will thirst again. No matter how many times man drinks of that water, he will thirst again; he is never satisfied. Only by drinking the Lord’s water will we not thirst again, because there is a spring that will flow out of us and satisfy us continuously. Only this inner satisfaction can give us true satisfaction. The Samaritan woman had been married five times. She married one man after another; she had changed her husband five times, yet she was still not satisfied. She was a person who drank again and again but was never satisfied. Even the man who was with her at that time was not her husband. She, undoubtedly, was not a satisfied person. But the Lord had the living water that could satisfy her. When the Lord showed her who He was, and when she had Him, she left her waterpot and went away into the city, saying, “Come, see a man who told me all that I have done. Is this not the Christ?” (v. 29). Her first reaction was to testify to others. What did she testify? She testified Christ. Perhaps the people in the city knew something about her, but there were probably many things which they did not know. Yet the Lord told her everything. She testified to others, saying, “Is this not the Christ?” The moment she saw the Lord, she opened her mouth to invite others to find out whether He was the Christ. As a result of the woman’s word, many believed in the Lord.
Every Christian has an obligation to be a witness and to introduce the Lord to others. The Lord has saved a great sinner such as me. If He is not the Christ, who else can He be? If He is not the Son of God, who else can He be? I have no choice but to open my mouth. I have to open my mouth to testify. Although I may not know how to give a message, at least I know that He is Christ. I know He is the Son of God, the God-appointed Savior. I have seen that I am a sinner, and I know that the Lord has saved me. I cannot explain what has happened to me, but I can ask others to come and see what a great change has occurred in me. I do not know how it came about. Formerly, I considered myself a good man. Now I see myself as a sinner. The Lord has shown me my sins, things which I did not realize were sins. Now I know the kind of person I am. I committed many sins in the past which others did not know about and which even I myself may not have known about. I committed many sins, yet I did not realize that they were sins. Here is a man who told me everything I have done. He told me what I already knew, and He also told me what I did not know. I can only confess that I have touched Christ and have met the Savior. Here is a man who told me that the “husband” I had was not my husband. He told me that if I drank of this water, I would thirst again and come back for more. How true were those words! Come and see. Is He not the Savior? Is He not the Christ? Is He not the only One who can save us?
All those who have seen that they are sinners surely have a testimony to give. Those who have seen the Savior also have a testimony to give. This woman gave her testimony within a few hours after she had met the Lord. It was something that happened on the same day, not something that happened a few years later when she returned from a revival meeting. She witnessed to others immediately after she returned to the city. Once a person is saved, he should tell others what he has seen and understood immediately. Do not speak what you do not know, and do not give a long discourse. Just tell them what you know. This is all you need to testify; you only have to tell others how you feel. Some can say, “I was so depressed before I believed in the Lord. But now that I have believed in the Lord, I have become so happy. In the past I pursued many things but was never satisfied. Now there is an unspeakable sweetness within. Before I believed in the Lord I could not sleep at night. But now I can sleep well. I used to be full of anxiety and bitterness. But now I feel peace and joy wherever I go.” You can tell others what you have experienced. You do not need to tell them what you cannot say. You do not need to tell them what you do not know. Do not speak anything beyond what you know or beyond your present situation. That may stir up arguments. Present yourself to others as a living witness. They will have nothing to say.
In Mark 5:1-20 we see a person who was demon possessed. It is the most severe case of demon possession recorded in the Bible. A legion of demons was within this man. He dwelt among the tombs, and no one was able to bind him, not even with a chain. Night and day, he would cry out among the tombs and in the mountains and gash himself with stones. When the Lord commanded the demons to come out from him, they did and entered into about two thousand hogs. They all rushed down the steep slope into the sea and drowned. After the demon possessed man was saved, the Lord said to him, “Go to your house, to your own people, and report to them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He has had mercy on you” (v. 19).
After you are saved, the Lord wants you to tell your family, neighbors, relatives, friends, and colleagues that you are now a saved person. You should tell them not only that you have believed in Jesus but also what great things the Lord has done for you. The Lord wants you to tell others what He has done for you. He wants you to confess and witness to others what has happened to you. Others will be lit when you do this, and salvation will continue on; it will not stop with you.
What a pity that many souls in Christian families are on the way to eternal perdition. Some of our parents, children, relatives, and friends have not heard the gospel of Christ from our own mouths. They have only the blessing and happiness of the present age, without the hope of the coming age. Why should we withhold from telling them what the Lord has done for us? These are the ones who are right next to us. If they cannot hear the gospel from us, who else can?
In order to witness to our family, we must show them the great change in our conduct. We must show our family what a wonderful change has been wrought in our lives since we believed in the Lord. Only then will they listen to us. They will not have confidence in anything less than this. We must be more righteous, more self-sacrificing, more loving, more diligent, and more joyful than before. They will not believe us if there is no change in our conduct. At the same time, we need to witness to them the reason for this change.
C. Proclaiming in the synagogue
Acts 9:19-21 says, “He was with the disciples in Damascus for some days. And immediately he proclaimed Jesus in the synagogues, that this One is the Son of God. And all who heard him were amazed and said, Is this not the one who ravaged those who call upon this name in Jerusalem and came here for this, that he might bring them bound before the chief priests?”
Saul was on his way to Damascus to bind the believers of the Lord. But he met the Lord on the way and the Lord spoke to him. The moment light came, he fell on his face and became blind. The men who journeyed with him led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. He was there three days without seeing, eating, or drinking. The Lord sent Ananias to lay his hands upon him, and he received sight, rose up, and was baptized. After he had taken food, he was strengthened. After a few days he immediately went into the synagogues to proclaim that Jesus is the Son of God and to witness to others. It was obviously difficult for him to do this because he had been persecuting the Lord’s disciples all along. He could have been a member of the Sanhedrin. The Jewish Sanhedrin was comprised of seventy-one persons, and he could have been one among the seventy-one. He had secured a letter from the high priest and was on his way to bind the believers of the Lord and to bring them before the high priest. What should he do now that he had believed in the Lord? Originally, he was going to bind those who believed in the Lord. Now he himself was in danger of being bound. Humanly speaking, he should have escaped or hidden. Instead, he went into the synagogues, not just one but many, to prove that Jesus is the Son of God. This shows us that the first thing a person should do upon receiving the Lord is testify for Him. After Paul received his sight, he went at the first opportunity to testify that Jesus of Nazareth is the Son of God. Every believer of the Lord should do the same thing.
Everyone in this world knows that there is a Jesus. But they only know Jesus as one among millions of men in this world. In other words, Jesus is considered merely as one man among many. Although they regard Him as being a little more special than others, He is still an ordinary man to them. But one day light and revelation came to you; the eyes of your heart were enlightened, and you discovered something. You discovered that this Jesus is the Son of God. You discovered that God has a Son! Jesus is the Son of God! What a great discovery! You discovered that there is one man among all men who is the Son of God. This is truly tremendous! When a person receives the Lord Jesus as his Savior and confesses Him as the Son of God, he is doing a great thing, a tremendous thing. He cannot let the occasion pass by lightly, because it is a momentous event. Of the millions of men in this world, he has discovered One who is the Son of God. What a great and tremendous discovery this is! Among the billions of men throughout history, he has suddenly found out that Jesus of Nazareth is the Son of God. This is indeed a great matter. We would marvel if someone were to discover an angel among us. How much more marvelous is it when someone discovers the Son of God? We do not know how many million times more superior the Lord is than the angels. There is no comparison between the two. The angels are far, far inferior to our Lord.
Here was a man on his way to bind all those who believed in the Lord’s name. But after he fell and rose up, he went into the synagogues and proclaimed that Jesus is the Son of God. He either was mad or had received a revelation. He was not mad. Indeed, he had received a revelation. He actually had met the One among millions of men who is the Son of God. Like Paul, you also have met this Man among men, the One who is the Son of God. If you realize how great the discovery you have made is and how important and wonderful your discovery is, you surely will tell others immediately, “I have met the Son of God.” You surely will proclaim aloud, “Jesus is the Son of God!” How can a person sit still and act as if nothing has happened when he has believed in the Lord Jesus and is saved? If a person has believed in the Lord Jesus and yet does not feel anything, if he considers this to be nothing marvelous or special, we doubt whether he has believed at all. Here is something great, marvelous, extra- ordinary, special, beyond all imagination — Jesus of Nazareth is the Son of God. This is too crucial a matter! It is not too much for a man who has seen such an important matter to knock on the door of his friends’ house after midnight to tell them of his discovery. A marvelous thing has happened in the universe — Jesus of Nazareth is the Son of God!
Here was a man who had just recovered from his illness; he had just had his sight restored. We see him running immediately into the synagogues and proclaiming, “Jesus of Nazareth is the Son of God!” Every believer who has seen the same should go to the synagogues and shout, “Jesus of Nazareth is the Son of God!” Every time we consider how Jesus of Nazareth can be the Son of God, we feel that this is the greatest discovery in the whole world. No discovery can be more amazing and more crucial than this. What a tremendous thing for us to discover that this man is the Son of God! When Peter told the Lord, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God,” the Lord Jesus told him, “Flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in the heavens” (Matt. 16:16-17). While He was among us in disguise, no one knew Him except those who had the Father’s revelation.
Brothers and sisters, never consider your faith to be a small thing. You need to realize that your faith is a wonderful thing. Saul had to go into the synagogues to speak because he knew that his discovery was too wonderful. You will do the same if you realize how wonderful the things you have seen are. Jesus of Nazareth is the Son of God. This is a most wonderful and glorious fact.
A person needs not only to go to the city, to his home, and to the synagogues to witness to others about his faith in the Lord, but also to bear a special testimony — to lead others to the Lord one on one. Such is the testimony in John 1:40-45. The moment Andrew believed in the Lord, he led his brother Peter to the Lord. Although Peter later became more gifted than Andrew, Andrew was the one who led Peter to the Lord. Philip and Nathanael were friends; Philip first believed in the Lord and later led his friend to receive the Lord. Andrew led his brother to the Lord, and Philip sought out his friend. Both are examples of leading men to the Lord one on one.
About a hundred years ago, there was a believer named Harvey Page. Although he did not have any special gift and did not know how to lead many people to the Lord, the Lord was gracious to him and opened his eyes to realize that he could lead at least one person to the Lord. He could not do many great works, but he could concentrate on one person. He could only say, “I am saved. You also need to be saved.” Once he laid hold of one, he would not let go. He would pray and talk to his friend until he was saved. Through this practice he solidly gained more than one hundred persons for the Lord by the time he died.
In a certain country there was a believer named Todd, who was very good at leading people to salvation. He was sixteen when he was saved. It was a holiday and he was in a village. An older couple from a church took him in for hospitality. They were experienced workers, and they led him to the Lord. The young man had lived a wanton life, but on that day he knelt down to pray and was saved. In the course of their conversation, the young man found out that the gospel could not prevail in that place because a certain Mr. Dickens would not repent. When Todd heard this, he asked, “Who is this Mr. Dickens?” They told him that he was a retired soldier over sixty years old. He kept a gun at home and vowed to shoot whoever came to preach the gospel to him. He regarded every Christian in the world as a hypocrite, and he called them all by such a name. Whenever he came across a Christian, he would behave in a violent way. No Christian dared to preach the gospel to him or even walk past the street where he lived. If he knew that a Christian was walking past his street, he would curse vehemently and fiercely. When Todd heard this, he prayed, “O Lord! I have received Your grace today. You have saved me. I must go and testify to Mr. Dickens.” Even before he finished his tea, he said, “I am going.” He had been saved less than two hours earlier, yet he wanted to witness to Mr. Dickens. The older couple advised him, saying, “Do not go. Many of us have failed. He has chased some away with a rod. Others fled when he threatened them at gunpoint. Even though he has beaten up so many people, we do not want to take him to court because we want to maintain a proper gospel testimony. This has given him the excuse to become more fierce.” Todd said, “I feel that I should go.”
He arrived at Mr. Dickens’s door. As soon as he knocked, the man came to the door. He had a stick in his hands, and he asked, “Young man, what do you want?” Todd said, “Is it all right for me to speak a few words to you?” The man nodded, and both of them went into the house. The moment they were in the house, Todd said, “I would like you to receive the Lord Jesus as your Savior.” Mr. Dickens lifted up his rod and said, “I suppose you are new here. I will let you go and not beat you up. But have you not heard that no one is allowed to speak the name of Jesus here? Get out! Get out right away!” Todd said again, “I would like you to believe in Jesus.” Mr. Dickens became furious. He ran upstairs and returned with a gun in his hand. He shouted at him, saying, “Get out or I will shoot!” Todd responded, “I am asking you to believe in Jesus. If you want to shoot, you can shoot. But just let me pray before you shoot.” He immediately knelt down in front of Mr. Dickens and prayed, “O God! This man does not know you. Please save him.” Then he prayed again, “O God! This man does not know you. Please have mercy on him. Have mercy on Mr. Dickens.” Todd knelt there and would not rise up. He continued praying, “O God! Please have mercy on Mr. Dickens! Please have mercy on Mr. Dickens!” After praying five or six times, he heard a groaning near him. A little while later, he heard Mr. Dickens lay down his gun. Soon Mr. Dickens was on his knees next to Todd, praying, “O God! Please have mercy on me.” Within a few minutes, that man had accepted the Lord. He took the young man by the hand and said, “In the past I have only heard the gospel. Today I have seen the gospel.” Later, the young man told others, “The first time I saw his face, it was truly a face of sin. Every wrinkle spoke of sin and evil. Later, light shone through the wrinkles, and every wrinkle seemed to be saying, `God is merciful to me.'” The next Lord’s Day, Mr. Dickens went to church, and later he led dozens of people to salvation.
In the first two hours after his salvation, Todd led a notoriously difficult person to the Lord. The sooner a new believer opens his mouth, the better it is. We should not waste any time in leading others to Christ.
III. the importance of witnessing
The two happiest days in every believer’s life are the day he believes in the Lord and the day when, for the first time, he leads another person to Christ. The first one, of course, is a particularly happy day. However, the joy of leading another person to the Lord for the first time may be greater than the joy experienced on the day of his own salvation. Many Christians do not have much joy because they have never spoken anything for the Lord; they have never led a person to the Lord.
Proverbs 11:30 says, “He that winneth souls is wise.” From the very beginning of our Christian life, we should learn to win souls by various means. We should learn to be wise. This will make us useful persons in the church. I am not talking about delivering a gospel message on the platform. Platform preaching can never replace the personal work of leading people to the Lord. A person who knows only to preach from the platform may not know how to lead people to the Lord. We are not exhorting you to give a message on the platform. We are asking you to save men. Many people are good at preaching, but not at saving men. They do not know what to do when a person is brought to them. They are of little use. The really useful ones are the ones who can lead men to Christ one by one.
No tree will sprout without further growth. Likewise, no one can have God’s life without begetting more life. Those who never witness to sinners are probably in need of others witnessing to them. Those who have no desire or interest in leading others to repentance unto the Lord are probably in need of repentance themselves. Those who are silent for the Lord in front of others probably need to listen again to the voice of God’s gospel. No one can be so advanced that he no longer needs to save others. No one can advance to the degree that he no longer needs to witness to others. New believers need to learn to witness to others from the very beginning. This is something we have to do for the rest of our lives.
When you become a little more advanced in the spiritual life, others may tell you, “You have to be a channel of living water. You should be one with the Holy Spirit so that the living water — the Holy Spirit — can flow into you.” However, a channel has two ends. This channel of the Holy Spirit, this channel of life, also has two ends. One end is toward the Holy Spirit, toward life, and toward the Lord, while the other end is toward man. The living water will never flow if the end toward man is closed. No one can be so wrong as to assume that just opening to the Lord is enough. The living water does not flow through those who are opened just to the Lord. One end must be opened to the Lord, and the other end must be opened to man. The living water will flow out only when both ends are opened. Many people are powerless before God because the end toward the Lord is not open. But many more people are powerless because the end for witnessing and leading others to Christ is closed.
D. Experiencing the misery of eternal separation
Many people have not heard the gospel because you have not yet testified to them. The consequence of this is eternal separation; it is not merely temporal parting. This is too crucial. A brother was once invited to another person’s home for dinner. As he was very learned and eloquent, he spoke quite much on intellectual subjects. Another elderly friend who lived nearby was also present at the dinner. Since both were very intellectual, they talked for a long time. It was getting late, and the host invited them to stay overnight. The elderly friend’s room was directly opposite to this brother’s room. Not long after they retired to their rooms, the brother heard the sound of something falling to the floor. When he went to the other room, he saw the friend lying on the floor, dead. Other people started rushing into the room. The brother said sadly, “If I had known that this was going to happen, I would not have spoken what I spoke two hours ago! I would have pointed out eternal matters. I did not spend even five minutes speaking to him about salvation. I did not give him an opportunity. If I knew what I now know, I would have tried my best to tell him about the Lord’s crucifixion for him. But it is too late! If I had told him these words at dinner time, you would have laughed at me for speaking at an inopportune time. But it is too late for him. I hope that you will listen now. Every person needs to believe in the Lord Jesus and in His cross!” There is an eternal separation; this separation is not just temporary. What a tragedy! Once the opportunity is gone, a man will be eternally barred from heaven! We must seek out every opportunity to testify to others.
D. L. Moody was very good at leading men to salvation. He once made up his mind to preach the gospel to at least one person a day, whether or not he was giving a message on that day. One day he went to bed, and then he remembered that he had not preached the gospel to anyone yet. What should he do? He changed his clothes and went out again to look for someone he could speak to. It was already midnight when he looked at his watch; the streets were empty. Where could he find anyone at such an hour? The only person he could speak to was a policeman who was on duty: “You must believe in the Lord.” The policeman was in a bad mood over something at that moment, and he scolded Moody angrily, saying, “Do you not have something better to do than persuade me to believe in Jesus in the middle of the night?” Moody went home after sharing a brief word with him. But the policeman was touched by Moody’s word. A few days later he visited Moody and was saved.
As soon as a person believes in the Lord, he should make a resolution before the Lord to lead men to the Lord. Everyone should have a record of how many souls he will save in a year. He may resolve to save ten or twenty a year. He should then begin to pray for them. General prayers are useless prayers. If you go to the Lord and say, “O Lord! Please save sinners,” it is too general a prayer. You must have a specific goal in mind. If you want ten, aim for ten. If you want twenty, aim for twenty. You can prepare a book in which you write down the names of the ones you have gained for the Lord. As you gain one, write his name down. At the end of the year, you can count the number of those who were saved and the number who remain unsaved. Continue to pray for those who are not yet saved. Every brother and sister should practice this. It is not too much to gain thirty or fifty souls a year; ten or twenty is common. We must ask the Lord for a specific number in our prayer. The Lord wants to hear our specific prayers. We should pray to the Lord every day and should testify whenever there is opportunity. If all of us preach the gospel and lead people to the Lord this way, our spiritual life will advance quickly in a few years.
We must uphold the torchlight of the gospel and must light everyone around us. Let every Christian go forth to light others. The testimony of the gospel needs to go out from us until the Lord’s return. We should not be lit ourselves without lighting others. We should light more and more candles. So many souls before our eyes are in need of salvation. We must try our best to testify to them and lead them to Christ.