The Holy Spirit convicts the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment.
The Believer's Life and Witness
As the world watches victorious, overcoming Christians, they will be convicted. They won't understand why we're different. They won't understand our joy and peace. It won't make sense to them. They'll ask what self-help books we're reading, what therapist we're seeing, what kind of job we have, or who we're dating. They'll recognize something's different.
In the early 1200's St. Francis of Assisi made this statement: "As for me, I desire this privilege from the Lord, that never may I have any privilege from man, except to do reverence to all, and to convert the world by obedience to the Holy Rule rather by example than by word."
This is where we get the saying, "Preach the gospel at all times. When necessary, use words." The emphasis here is that we can proclaim the gospel through our actions without saying a thing. However, that's not biblical.
When we witness to unbelievers, we must include sin, righteousness, and judgment—along with faith in the Lord Jesus Christ—as the only remedy for our helpless condition.
In Acts 24:24-25, Paul says, "After some days Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was Jewish, and he sent for Paul and heard him speak about faith in Christ Jesus. And as he reasoned about righteousness and self-control (sin) and the coming judgment, Felix was alarmed and said, 'Go away for the present. When I get an opportunity I will summon you.'"
Paul spoke to him about having faith in Jesus Christ, along with righteousness, self-control (or sin), and the judgment to come.
If we're going to be effective witnesses for Christ, we must accept the reality that the world is hostile towards Christ and will be hostile towards us. If we faithfully share the gospel, we may suffer persecution or even be put to death because of it.
Motivation to Share the Gospel
What should motivate us to witness to people?
The True and Living God has entrusted us with the message of salvation through the cross, and He has promised, through the Holy Spirit, to help, comfort, encourage, and guide us.
There is tenderness in these words. Jesus was on the threshold of going to the cross, facing a terrible series of events that would bring immense physical and spiritual pain. Jesus saw His disciples' confusion, their inability to see what He was talking about, and gave them some of the most encouraging words in Scripture.
In John 16:12, Jesus says, "I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now."
We must continue to learn what the Lord said. The Holy Spirit will guide us, revealing the riches of Christ. It's amazing how we can come to the Word day after day and regularly discover something we've never seen before. As we read the Bible, we should ask the Holy Spirit to reveal more and more of who Christ is.
In John 16:13, Jesus says, "When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come."
The Holy Spirit isn't adding to the Scriptures. They are complete. But He is adding to our insight and understanding. Our responsibility is to read and study the Word regularly. If we don't, it's easy to misunderstand what God requires of us and what He has for us.
Proclaiming to the Hostile
So, what does the Lord want us to see in all this? He wants us to trust Him and cling to His Word. That's how we'll be able to endure persecution, and that's how we'll be able to proclaim the gospel to a hostile world.
In order to be effective witnesses, we must recognize that the majority of people will not like our message. If we're faithful to proclaim it, they will grow hostile not only to the message but also to us. But the more we trust the Holy Spirit to guide us in all truth, the more He'll reveal Himself to us. That will only happen when we read, study, believe, and obey His Word.
We must not compromise the message by downplaying humanity's sinful fallen state and the redemptive work of Christ on the cross. We must not compromise the message by downplaying the reality of judgment if people don't repent. He has entrusted us with the message of salvation through the cross.
We must not compromise for fear of persecution. We must stand by the gospel, love and embrace it. We must witness to this hostile world about their need for Jesus. We must proclaim the gospel shamelessly, praying that the Holy Spirit will open blind eyes, so they can see Christ.