For the last couple of weeks we have been taking an in-depth look at the methods Jesus used in His efforts to win the Samaritan Woman’s soul. Today, we will conclude with PART 3 of this study of the Biblical account from John 4. The issue we so often run into when striving to be evangelistic is we really have struggles getting someone to even be interested in having a spiritual conversation. The problem lies in simply peaking someone’s interest to begin with. So far, we have discussed two of the things that Jesus did in His efforts to win her soul: He took her by surprise, and He knew who He was talking to. Without these first two things, Jesus may not have been successful in His efforts, and we today will undoubtedly struggle in finding the success we seek to find in evangelism.
In order to have success in evangelism, first we have to get out of the normal conversations and encounters that we so brain-numbingly partake in day in and day out; this is done by taking the lost by surprise the same way Jesus did, as has been described in PART 1. Secondly, we must know who it is we are dealing with the same way Jesus did, again as we have already discussed in PART 2. The third, and final thing we will see is, He exposed the truth. This is the most important step in the process, but it takes the most preparation and time to get there. Once this step has taken place then, and only then, can we begin to see people take a drink of the Living Water that Jesus describes in this chapter.
Many times, we want to skip straight to exposing the truth without having proven that we even know their names. This has been one of the greatest problems I have seen in local church evangelism. When we door-knock, we expect them to receive us differently than they would any of the denominations that are constantly ringing their doorbell. While door-knocking still has its place in local evangelism, it has become the COLDEST form of evangelism out there. This is why Jesus does not BEGIN with the Samaritan Woman by exposing the truth. Instead, He decided to build a level of trust and rapport with her first. Many times I have seen that they slammed the door because there was no rapport.
The Samaritan Woman in verse 19 began to seek the truth from Jesus about worship, and about her status as a Samaritan since Jews were the chosen people of God. Jesus responded, “Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father. You worship what you do no know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and in truth,” John 4:21-24. She then tells Him she knows about the Messiah that was to come and how the Messiah would tell them all things in verse 25. Jesus finally shines the light of truth, the goal of the whole conversation, and the point He was building to the entire time by saying, “I who speak to you am He,” John 4:26.
It is at this moment that the Samaritan Woman believed that this was the Son of God, and she partook of the Living Water. Had Jesus BEGUN by telling the woman that He was the Christ, there is no telling what she might have thought or if she would have ever taken a drink of the Living Water. It is the same with us today. When we decide to begin with telling people how they are wrong, how they need to change, and how they need to understand the problem with instrumental music before even understanding the Gospel… we have failed at PERSONAL EVANGELISM.
Jesus exposed the truth to the Samaritan Woman and that is exactly what we need to do with the lost around us. We do not need to say phrases like: “I believe…” or, “My opinion is…” or, “I have always felt…” When we say phrases like these we have passed from telling them THE WORD to telling them OUR WORD. If they have begun talking to us about their spiritual life it is because they trust us enough to do so. We can completely ruin our cause by injecting our feelings, emotions, opinions, and biases. Instead, we must expose the truth of the Word of God. That is what the Master Evangelist, Jesus, did and it is what we also must do! We can do this by saying phrases like: “Scripture says…” or, “The Bible says…” or, “Jesus says…” or, “God says…” etc. These are the phrases that will bring results and will bring people to the Living Water.
The goal of this series has been to enlighten all of us to the very practical approach to personal evangelism that Jesus implemented in John 4. We too can implement these very same three things into our evangelistic efforts. He took her by surprise, He knew who He was talking to, and He exposed the truth with the Samaritan Woman. If we could just take these three lessons into our efforts I believe we would begin to see real results! There are many methodologies out there… but I’ll take Jesus’ method any day of the week!
-Ben Hogan, Minister of Evangelism