Practical Lessons on the Experience of Life, by Witness Lee

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Helping Them to Repent and Believe

In order to contact an unbeliever we must first realize what kind of person he is. We may compare this to fishing: We need to know what kind of fish we are after in order to choose the right kind of bait. If we use the wrong bait, we may scare the fish away, but if we use the right bait, we will attract the fish. If we know what kind of person someone is, we will know in what way to approach him. Then we can give this person a message, a teaching, or a verse for five or ten minutes at the most. This paves the way, clears his understanding, and helps him to realize his need. In other words, it creates his appetite. Then we can point him to the right way. Perhaps we may realize that someone is a moral person, a person who pays much attention to morality. In this case we need to approach him in the highest way, telling him, “In order to have a certain morality, you need a certain kind of life. If you do not have the highest life, you cannot have the highest morality.” We may create an appetite in him by illustrating: “If a flower has a poor life, it can never bring forth a better flower. We may be very good, but the life we have is not the highest life. You may be patient to a certain degree, but you do not have the life to be patient to the uttermost. The highest life is Christ as life to us.”

We should not give such a person mere doctrine. We must give him something living and “cooked.” Many times our talk with people is like giving them uncooked flour to eat. People cannot take this. Rather, we must give them “baked cakes” ready to eat. If we speak in a convincing way, a person will want to know how to receive Christ, but simply to say, “The gospel tells us that we have to repent and believe” is a doctrinal, not a practical, way. We need to speak with people in a practical way. We should say, “To repent means to realize that you are sinful and that you must confess your sins. Christ is holy, and we are sinful. In order to receive Him we must confess. I believe that you are a good person, but in the eyes of God we are all sinful. You need to confess your sins before Christ.” This is the practical way to speak about repentance.

After confessing his sins, a person must believe, that is, he must open his heart from the depths of his being to receive Christ into him. If we use the word spirit, he may not understand us. We can keep this term for later and simply speak of “the depths of your heart” or “your innermost being.” We can continue to tell him to say to the Lord Jesus, “You died on the cross for me. You are the living Savior. I know that You are the very God, the living and omnipresent Lord, so I receive You. I accept You.” We should stress to this person that he must have a personal contact with Christ, saying, “Although you cannot see Him, He is here. Wherever you are, He is there. He is so living and real. He is the real God, the divine Spirit. Therefore, you need to open yourself to Him. Tell Him that you receive Him into yourself as your Savior and your life. As the very God, Christ is the Spirit. Just as the only way to contact the air is by breathing, the only way to contact Christ as God, our Savior, the living Spirit, is to pray.” If this person asks how he should pray, we can say, “To pray is simply to speak something to Christ from your heart. Do not consider what to speak; there is no need to compose a prayer. Simply speak from your heart.” We all must believe that after a person contacts the Lord by prayer, something will happen, either right away or after one or a few days, because this is a real contact in the human spirit with the living Lord.

Helping Them to Be Assured of Their Salvation

After we give a person this kind of instruction, we need to give him some verses from the Scriptures, such as John 3:16. We can help him to read this verse and understand and grasp it. Then we can give him other verses, such as John 3:36, 5:24, and 6:47, reading and stressing the central point to confirm to him that if he confesses his sins and opens to receive Christ, he has eternal life. It is a little complicating to use verses like John 1:12, which speaks of being children of God, and Romans 10:9 and 10, which speak of righteousness and salvation. When we are speaking with an unbeliever, it is best to speak in a concentrated way. Do not give them too many points. Rather, we should hit one point. This is like digging a well in one place until the water comes. If we dig a little here and a little there, we may dig for our whole life without getting any water.

In summary, the way to receive Christ as our life is to repent, realizing that we are sinful and under God’s condemnation. Then it is to open our heart and whole being from within to have a living contact with Christ by praying to Him. Then we have the confirmation and assurance of God’s salvation by His Word. This assurance is something written. Someone may owe a person a thousand dollars, but if he does not put that into writing, there is no assurance that it will be paid.

We may ask a person who has just received Christ, “Have you believed in Jesus Christ?” If he is not clear, we can say, “You have confessed that you are a sinner. You realized that you need Him, and you opened yourself to Him, prayed to Him, and told Him that you receive Him. This means that you already have believed.” This helps him to be clear that he has received the Lord. Then we may ask if he knows that he has the eternal life. Again, if he does not know, we can read John 3:16 and ask him if it says, “Every one who believes into Him would not perish, but would not know if he has eternal life.” We should help him to say, “Every one who believes into Him would not perish, but would have eternal life.” He can know he has eternal life because it is written. We should give him two or three passages like this as a definite confirmation that he has the life. To not do this is like wrapping something up but not tying a knot around it; what we wrapped will come loose again. If we speak to someone properly, the Holy Spirit will work, and he will be saved very quickly.

This kind of person may immediately realize that in the past he did many evil things, and he may ask us what he should do about his sins. We need to learn how to help one like this by reading some passages that tell him that his sins have been borne by Christ. This is why we need to learn passages such as 1 Peter 2:24, which says, “Who Himself bore up our sins in His body on the tree.” Then we should quickly turn to 1 John 1:9, which says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” In this way we will cause him to realize that Christ bore all his sins and that God is now willing and ready to forgive him.

(Practical Lessons on the Experience of Life, Chapter 1, by Witness Lee)