The Five "W" 's and the One "H"
of Witnessing

Submitted by Matthew Boedy <[email protected]>

When people, especially Christians, hear the word "witness" either they turn their ears or their heads. Usually Christians do the former. They don't want to hear the word even less do the job. Why is it that so many believers ask, doubt, or literally do nothing about the truth of witnessing? Here I wish to take a biblical look at what is the job in witnessing, who it involves, where and when it should and must be done, why it must be done, and, lastly, how we are to spread the gospel of God. So we began our journey to further the kingdom in the 5 "W" 's and the one "H" of witnessing for Christ.


As with any job we undertake we must first examine what is the job. Webster's defines the verb "to witness" as "to be the setting of. " This definition gives a great picture of exactly what is a witness. We are to be the setting- the place, the body, the instrument- for which people see Christ. We are the stage for Christ.

But some may be asking "Isn't that lifestyle witnessing?" Yes that definition does gives that particular look. But look at the scripture. To testify is the biblical definition of witness. We are to testify to and for Christ. Testify to His Death for us and testify for His Life in us. Our lifestyle comes from His life in us which gains power from His death for us. What is witnessing? To testify. Testify for Christ in full.

" But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharging the full duties of your ministry." (2 Tim 4:5) Testify in our life, our motives, our work, and our faith. Testify fully for His death which paid for our sin in full. So as we detail what is our job we must also detail our message.

What is a worker without a purpose? Scholars point out that John the Baptist was the first evangelist. Though I share their sentiment I do add that we, on the other side of Calvary, have so much more to share. But there are similarities in our position and his. John the Baptist spoke, "Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world." (John 1:29) So must we proclaim that Jesus is the sacrificial lamb for God's wrath and Savior of the world.

But he added another title to Jesus, "And I have seen, and I testify, that this is the Son of God." (John 1:34) We must proclaim God incarnate, God in flesh, as the Savior of the world. The Great Commission is our purpose and job. It is our job to "go and make disciples.........baptizing them.....teaching them.....and obey everything I have commanded you." (Matthew 28:19-20) Our purpose - our message on the job - are the same words. We make disciples by what? Baptizing and teaching. Teaching what? To obey. Obey what? Everything He has commanded us.


Obviously the job involves us. God has declared us His witnesses. (Isaiah 43:10) But how can we do the job if we don't know exactly what it requires of us?

Doing the work of an evangelist involves us doing what? And is it only us?

" Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view, of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God......" (1 Cor. 12:1)

"Therefore stop passing judgment on one another. Instead make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother's way." (Romans 14:13)

" No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize." (1 Cor. 9:27)

" We put no stumbling block in anyone's path, so that our ministry will not be discredited. Rather as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships, and distresses; in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; in purity, understanding, patience, and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left; through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors; known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and not yet killed; sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything." (2 Cor. 6:3-10).

We are to sacrifice, enslave our bodies, and furthermore have patience. We are commanded to sing in Isaiah 12:5. Shout aloud in verse six. In the psalms we are told to "tell of the glory of your kingdom, and speak of your might...." (Psalm 145:11) The Lord speaks of the parable of the lampstand. He may be the lamp but we are the ones who put it on the stand. We have a duty - a command - from our Lord to do His work. Sound hard? Hard, and yet we do it on no power of our own.

The second part of the "who" is God. He is our strength in His work. Philippians 4:13 says, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." We are "being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience." (Colossians 1:13).

"You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." (Acts 1:8).


The once fashionable beer commercial ponders us to "Why ask why?" But as such we must always examine our motives before the Lord as he does us. Why should we witness? Why do we witness? And we must ask why don't we witness.

"So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord....." (2 Tim 1:8).

Paul exhorts us by saying, "In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season;" (2 Tim 4:1-2).

We are to preach for two reasons:

  1. In view of Jesus's appearing and kingdom. In the fact that we are going to inherit that kingdom and in the hope of his glorious second coming at which we will be lifted up. Our hope is set on that day. So we prepare for it by doing the business of the Lord here.
  2. For fear of shame. If we don't acknowledge God before men, Jesus won't acknowledge us before God. (Matthew 10:32)

Now I am not saying we are doing all our work out of fear and that we are saved because we fear hell. What I am saying is that it is our duty to obey God's word. And He has given us a penalty if we don't. In the passage I am referring to, Jesus is talking to His first 12 disciples. He is about to send them out to do His work. So he is talking to us, His latest disciples. He also adds in verse 33 a statement about disowning Him.

Now we all know that Peter denied knowing Jesus three times. But his sorrow led him back to Christ for "he remembered Jesus' words and wept bitterly." If we do feel shame because we don't witness, it is God working on our hearts. We should then go back and confess our sin and start obeying.

But our third question does bear some pondering. The gospel without witnessing is the social gospel. Witnessing without the gospel is foolishness. So are we throwing out the baby with the bath water because we can't seem to find the gospel and we don't want to admit we are lost in witnessing? The gospel can only be found by studying God's Word and then applying it to life. When we find the gospel in our own lives only then can we speak the gospel to others. Our foolishness in witnessing is directly related to our not finding the gospel. If we can't find our way around the map how can we expect to go out to the ends of the world? The map - God's word - must show us our own limits before it shows others God's unlimited power.


The next two questions are directly related in that time is of the utmost. We don't know when our Lord is coming back to take us. We don't when the judgment will come. 2 Timothy says "be prepared in season and out of season." But I do not wish to dwell on the long periods of time for as such we must be witnessing until our Lord returns. I wish here to properly decided when are the best times to share with people the good news of Christ. Not that I say these are the only times but I do find there are some better times than others to talk about something that now, in these days, has become taboo and "narrow-minded." I must begin by assessing our source of power.

If the Holy Spirit is not with you any time is the wrong time. Because after all, it is His words and not ours. The Holy Spirit convicts people of sin, righteousness, and judgment - the three things that are essential to the Christian's gospel. Often times many people try to find the "down on their luck" people who seem lost in material things in certain situations. I see this as selective witnessing. Though one may witness to others who are not poor, this choosing tends to be grounded in one's idea that a happy worldly person can not be convinced of the gospel truth. This is not true. The power of the gospel can save anyone.

But let us get back to when not to whom. When a person chooses to speak is quite important. A foresight of debate is a quick sign not to speak. Argument on social issues, right versus wrong, and debates concerning the important things in society should not be an impetus for witnessing. Though these issues are covered in the scripture we must first address our lives before God before we can address our lives before men. So there is a time and a place for societal debate but not as a motive for spreading God's word.

"Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have." (1 Peter 3:15).

This command from Peter is a witnessing timetable. Our lives make people see Jesus, if indeed we live as sons and daughters of God. We are told to be prepared to answer any seeker when they ask us for our reasons for hope. The Old Testament book of Proverbs gives us wisdom in this. "A man finds joy in giving an apt reply - and how good is a timely word!" (Pro. 15:23).

My last point in this section is this. In the last days there will be many gospel haters and strong persecution of those who spread it. But if we realize that our main objective is not to save people but to spread the saving word, we will be rejoicing in all our persecutions.


In the early church days Paul, Barnabas, and Peter spoke at mostly temples and gatherings of religious people. As lay masses were present those speeches had a wide variety of listeners. Since we don't have the incumbent Jewish synagogues today as in the early church days, where do we find masses of people like that? I would say we don't. Witnessing can be done in a room of two people, forty people, or even an auditorium with 10,000 people. Many Christian musical concerts are a testament to the last number. There have been inspiring stories with a preacher having thousands find the light in one session as many Billy Graham services are like.

But I do stress the biblical factor of missionary witnessing. We must first get to know the people - their needs, background, and culture - before we choose a "time" for which we can speak on spiritual matters. People must think we actually care for them or else our words sound unsupported and out of love. Where there is love, there is a bond that can be strengthened by the gospel. Where there is no love, the gospel can make no bond.


Now we have covered what is witnessing, who is involved, why it must be done, and even when and where to start. So we must learn how if we are to follow the above suggestions. First we must have a plan. What is the good news? Why is it good to us? And how can it be spoken to individualize each person's need for a savior? If we intend to be able to give an apt response we first must know what is appropriate. The gospel in its simple, but truest, from. That is our main objective here. The news of Jesus' death, burial, and resurrection is good for one reason - the wrath of God is turned away from those who take His death as theirs. He was crucified as sin for us, buried to our old depraved nature, and risen to new life for our justification - we are righteous before God. It is good to us because we are "sinners in the hand of an angry God" who can't save ourselves from our nature of rebellion. Depravity stands on us, in us, and against our salvation. Sin has so entangled us that we need a supernatural element for a change. In our depravity, we have chosen to take God laughingly about His judgment. We have fallen so far away from God and yet He is still our God, shoveling mercy upon us......hoping we will look at Him.

But the last part of our plan - the personal application to others - is the hardest of our steps. Each person is different in many ways. No doubt. But the gospel applies to us all. Jew, Gentile, black, white, Korean, Russian, Texan, and New Yorker. Our sin as a creation is before God. Each of us must take the wrath of our jealous God. But we can also take the mercy of that same God if we confess our sin and believe that His death was enough for us.

When we live as children of God - saved from His hell - the truth of the gospel is in us. When we ask for His power to spread it, He gives it without reservation. How we spread the message is dependent on how we are with God.


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Unless otherwise stated, all scriptures quoted in these studies are from the New International Version of the Bible, New York International Bible Society, used by permission. Other versions referred to are: KJV (King James Version), NKJB (New King James Bible), TLB (The Living Bible), Amp (The Amplified Bible) and The Message. All versions used by permission.

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