Speech at the Young People’s Convention, Redlands, 1999.
In this final installment, Rev. Gritters gives us some practical helps for witnessing and testifying of the truth.
But still you say, “I don’t feel prepared to talk about creation, or life and death.” So I would like to give a couple of suggestions as to how we can be prepared to talk about these things.
Number one: memorize. We’ve done some memorizing tonight. We memorized three texts. We memorized four points in addition to Rev. Koole’s three. Memorize! Memorize, memorize, memorize. Memorize in catechism. We’re good at it. I wonder if we do a very good job, though, of repeating the same texts every year so that the young people, when they’re finished with catechism, are able to have a dozen or two dozen texts in their mind with regard to the truths of the Word of God. Let’s do that in catechism this year. Memorize the Word of God.
I really think that one of the reasons we’re afraid to witness is that somebody’s going to say to us, “Does the Bible really say that?” And I say, “Oh, my. Where does the Word of God talk about creation?” Well, now you’re ready to start. Then, by Hebrews 11:3, write another text in the margin of your Bible that will lead you to Psalm 33:6, 9 and Colossians 1:15, 16, that say all of creation is for Christ. And then go from text to text in your Bible. But memorize! Number one: you’re not ready because you haven’t memorized very much.
Number two: practice. Practice witnessing to the neighbor. I’d like to make a suggestion, not to you but to your young people’s leaders. When society begins again in the fall and they ask, “What are we going to discuss? What will we study?” then say, “I’ve got an idea. I want us to train to witness to anyone that we meet about creation, life, death, what God has done for me, the infallibility of the Word of God, the sovereignty of grace, and the absolute inability of us to make any spiritual choices until God works in us.” There are seven subjects, seven weeks, maybe seven months. Practice! It’s going to take some work for your young people’s leaders to prepare for that, because they’re going to train you. They’re going to have to set it up. But practice. You sit there, and he asks the questions.
“Well, that’s so fake. That’s so artificial. I’m not so sure that we ought to do that. That’s just pretending.” Really? I’d like to invite you up to seminary when seminary starts. In the room that they use for what? Practice preaching. And every minister knows that that’s pretty artificial, and the profs sit there, and you preach, and you wonder whether anyone has heard a word you said. But they want you to do it, because you can’t go out into the churches and preach, and you won’t be a missionary, unless you’ve sat there in that room and practice preached. Well, we may too, young people. Practice. Practice. Practice at home at the dinner table. When your dad and mom say, “What should we read next?” say, “Let’s read this book, and every time we come to a passage that’s important for witnessing, let’s memorize and let’s talk about it, and let’s discuss after the Bible reading is finished how we could use that text to speak to the neighbor.” The neighbor? “Oh, we’ve never talked to the neighbor before!” Well, let’s practice how we’re going to talk to the neighbor.
Number three: look for opportunities, please. They’re going to fall into your lap more often than you think, but look for opportunities. Keep your eyes open. Keep your ears open. Try to find a place that you can say something to the neighbor about what you believe. And don’t make excuses! Don’t say, “Well, you know, they’re going to think that I’m just a Jehovah’s Witness or a Mormon.” It’s not Jehovah’s Witness to witness. It’s Reformed to witness. Look for opportunities.
There’s an elder in our church at whom I just shake my head when I see all the opportunities he finds to witness. He’s always trying to find a place to speak the Word of God. He was in a bad car wreck a couple of months ago and was brought to the hospital in pretty critical condition. In the stupor and the blur of morphine he asked the nurse, “Well, what’s your name?” “Mary,” she said. And with a smirk, he said, in a funny way: “Oh, may I say ‘Hail, Mary?’” And you say, “What a stupid thing to say!” Well, in a morphine-induced stupor he was saying odd things. But it gave him an opportunity to speak about his faith. “Oh, are you Roman Catholic?” “No, I’m Reformed.” “Well, what does it mean to be Reformed?” And then while he was recovering and the nurse was taking his blood pressure she said something to another nurse about the conversion factors—I don’t remember the word—in his blood, and he said, “Oh, do you believe in conversion?” What a silly thing to say, you might think. But he was looking for opportunities! He was looking for them! And then, as soon as he was well enough to make a phone call, he said, “Rev. Gritters, bring me up a stack of pamphlets on the family, because there’s all kinds of people that I can pass these pamphlets to. The chaplain was up here, and I want to give him one. He’s going to come back. And the nurses are interested in it.” Opportunities. And 15 or 20 pamphlets went out from that one man. He was looking, he was seeking. He wanted opportunities.
Then in the fourth place, be excited. I went with one of my sons to buy a computer a couple of months ago. We went from store to store and finally ended up at this store and bought a computer there. You know why? They had the very same computer that all the other stores had. Why then? Because the salesman met us at the door and, with a friendly look on his face said, “I’ll show you the computer I bought. I’ll show you the one I like. I’ll show you the one I use. It’s a good one.” And he knew everything about that computer, and he knew everything about all the other computers; and nobody else in the other stores even came up to ask us what we wanted. We bought his computer because he was excited about what he was selling. Be enthused. Be excited. How? By nurturing in your heart and your soul love for God. Not love for your name, not even love for the name of the Protestant Reformed Churches. Throw your name away. Say, “I’m concerned, and I love the name of God.”
And that brings up the most important questions, guys and girls: do you? Are you? What has God done for you? Is this life for you? Or this one: The Lord, the portion of my inheritance? Who are you? What do you think about yourself? Are you depraved? Do you realize it? Has Christ died for you? Do you trust in Him? Are you showing in your life now that you’re thankful? Be enthused, people of God, for there’s nothing worse than an artificial enthusiasm. There’s nothing worse than a phony salesman. There’s nothing worse than someone saying, “That’s the computer I use,” but it really isn’t. Have you found righteousness in Christ? Examine yourselves. Let me examine myself.
Then I assure you that God will bless that witness. He’ll always give fruit, because His Word doesn’t come back empty. Pray for positive fruit—but all of the fruit really is positive. God may harden that one, He may soften that one, but He’ll use it; He’ll always use it, I promise you. He says it. And He’ll use it only in the way of fervent prayer and in the way of a godly walk and witness that you show to them. Walk the walk, guys.
Your walk. It’s not true that only our walk is witness enough, that all we need to do is show them how we live. We need to speak. But without our walk there isn’t any profit. Walk the walk. Walk it. What would you think if tonight when you were going back to your dorm up the hill, you saw the cook behind the cafeteria, sneaking out over the edge of the hill, puffing away on a cigarette? In a Seventh-Day Adventist camp? And they won’t allow us to smoke because they don’t believe in smoking? What if you saw the camp director in the back room, reaching into the cupboard for his private jar of instant caffeinated coffee? You’d say, “What in the world is going on?” Or all the staff secretly cutting through their big steak after we’re finished eating those soy burgers. What would you think? What would you think!? But you haven’t, have you? You haven’t. Have you asked them to give you an answer as to why they don’t do those things? They’re walking their walk. I don’t care about their walk; I care about our walk. But their walk makes me want to ask them.
So I did today. Carlos there, the lifeguard by the swimming pool, was reading a book that said on the front, “Why Christians Get Sick.” That piqued my interest. So I asked him, “Why don’t you smoke? Why don’t you eat meat? Why don’t you drink caffeine? Why won’t you put Mountain Dew in the soda dispensers?” He told me; it was interesting. Ask him! But let him ask you. Let him ask you. Please don’t, young people, ever let him ask you why you’re going over the edge of the hill to smoke, and why your mouth has words coming out of it that ought not come out of it, and why your dress doesn’t look much like Christian dress. Let them ask you, young people, please. Let them ask us a reason for what we have in our hearts and why we live the way we do. And God will bless it. I promise you. Thanks for listening.