Sharing the Gospel: One-on-One Evangelism

Throughout the Bible, God uses human agents to accomplish His eternal purpose. He chose Israel from out of all the peoples in the world to be His people. He chose Moses, speech impediment and all, to lead His people out of bondage. He chose Saul of Tarsus, persecutor of followers of Christ, to bring the Gospel to the Gentiles. He chose His church, believers in every age, to carry His Truth to the lost. Therefore, even now, we have a role to play in God’s redemptive plan. We are called to witness to the world and act as agents through whom God the Father can draw to Himself all those He would save through His Son, Jesus Christ.

We all are sincere in wanting others to hear the Good News and be transformed, as we have been, into a new creation. How can we fulfill this commission in our daily lives?  How can we be bold and smart in approaching others and telling them what Jesus has done for us and what He is ready to do for them? It is a question that paralyzes most of us. It’s hard to seize on opportunities and find the right words to say. After all, we don’t want to offend anyone, and we don’t want to come across as religious zealots, right? Being arrogant and obnoxious won’t win souls. What then is the best way to approach people with the Gospel? One guideline to follow in evangelizing is to study and imitate what Jesus did.

Suppose you have a witness opportunity that is ripe for you to take action. A friend sees you reading the Bible all the time (do your friends see you with your Bible?) and one day comes up to you and sincerely asks, “What do you get from that old Bible anyway?”

What do you tell him? Where do you start? Not sure? Let’s see how Jesus handled the situation.

In the story in Luke 18, when the young ruler approaches Jesus, he is excited and asks the question, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Interestingly, Jesus doesn’t immediately give him a set of instructions. He doesn’t tell the young ruler to pray a prayer, or go read the scriptures, or join a fellowship group of disciples. The first thing Jesus seizes on is the young rulers’ use of the word “good” to address him. “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.” (Luke 18:19). He then turns the conversation into a dialogue about the Law of God. Jesus asks him if he knows and keeps the Law. As Jesus runs through a select checklist of the Law, the young ruler confidently states that he knows these commandments and obeys every one! In the mind of the young ruler he has just passed Jesus’ test; he is so self-righteous that he seeks and expects Jesus’ approval.

You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery, Do not murder, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother.'” And he said, “All these I have kept from my youth.” (Luke 18:20-21)

But Jesus knows his heart (which deceives) and presses on with the Law to uncover the man’s spiritual nakedness.

When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “One thing you still lack. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” (Luke 18:22)

When He tells the young ruler to sell all he has and follow Him, Jesus has struck the raw nerve that exposes this self-righteous seeker as merely a sinner in need of repentance. The point of the Law that the young ruler has buried deep inside himself is idolatry. Jesus reveals to the young ruler his hidden sin—that he has made his wealth into a god and treasures it above the One True God. He would rather hold onto his money than embrace the Author of Salvation, Jesus Christ.

In a nutshell, here is revealed Jesus’ evangelism process. Jesus holds up the mirror of the Law and shows the young man that he is included in the statement “no one is good.” That’s the diagnosis. He then offers the prescription: repentance and faith. By selling all he has, the young ruler would demonstrate repentance, turn from his sin, and then direct his gaze and his steps in the direction of Jesus: “and follow me.” Faith means believing in Jesus as Savior and trusting in Him for everything.

We can use the Law like a mirror as Jesus did when we engage people in Christian evangelism. Start by asking that inquiring friend a simple question: Do you think you’re a good person? Like the young ruler, most people will say yes. Then follow up a few more questions:

How many lies have you told in your life?

Have you ever taken anything that didn’t belong to you, even something small (your fair amount of taxes, a sibling’s toy, food in the refrigerator, office supplies at work, etc.)?

Have you ever used God’s name in vain, as a cuss word or phrase?

Have you ever committed adultery or lusted in your heart for someone?

No one can stand innocent before the Law. Your friend, if he is honest will admit he falls short of these standards (and that’s just four points you’ve brought up). He  may of course, declare himself  innocent  by professing that he is doing his best and is much better than most other people he knows.  He may even state that God won’t judge him on little sins like white lies or taking pencils from work or having sexual thoughts about another. That’s his god, however, not the God of the Bible. So he has created a god according to his own design and therefore is guilty of idolatry too!

The Bible teaches that God is a good God, a loving God, a just God and a holy God. In fact He is perfectly holy and perfectly just and perfectly good. He cannot be perfect and still allow sin in His presence or allow sin to go unpunished. Ask your friend if his daughter were raped and beaten, what would he think if the judge allowed the offender to go unpunished? Would that make him a good, loving judge?

 Notice where you have steered the conversation. Your friend has admitted to being a lying, blasphemous, adulterous- at- heart (and perhaps idolatrous) thief. He acknowledges that God, to be just, must punish sin. Now comes the $64,000 question. When your friend stands before the judgment seat of Christ, in light of the Law just reviewed, will a perfectly just judge, God Himself, find him guilty or innocent? Guilty. And what is the punishment for guilt on judgment day? Hell—eternal separation from God and torment in the lake of fire.

That’s the bad news. Ask your friend if the reality of eternal damnation concerns him. It should because God has given him a conscience and the Holy Spirit works to convict him. Now that he understands his position before a just and holy God, a position of utter helplessness doomed to damnation, you can deliver the Good News of how God has worked to save him from Hell. He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to earth as a man to take his sins upon Himself and pay his fine.  God substituted (for us) His Son, who was sinless and blameless, as a perfect sacrifice to satisfy His perfect justice. Through His blood we are cleansed. Through His punishment we are pardoned.  Through His death and resurrection we can live forever. Jesus paid your friend’s fine! He is free to go to heaven.

That is indeed good news—the best news anyone can ever hear!

What must he do to receive salvation? He must profess faith in Jesus as Savior, believe that Jesus is the Son of God, died for our sins, and that He was raised from the dead. Then submit to Him as Lord, repent and turn from his sins. The Holy Spirit will strengthen him to do that with all his heart and soul and strength, and through Jesus Christ he will become a new creation.

Now is the time to pray with him for the gift of faith and the miracle of salvation! Counsel your friend to read the Bible (start with the book of John), help get him connected to a local church and help him to pray, pray, pray! If the friend does not see the light at that moment, tell him you care about him and implore him to think and pray about what he just heard and read the Bible. Ask him if he has one. If not, get him one. You have shined the light of Truth upon him; now it is up to the Holy Spirit to convict him and unharden his heart.

When we are at a loss at how to steer a spiritual conversation to the Gospel, remember how Jesus did it. He held up the Law like a mirror and allowed sinners to convict themselves and become aware of and acknowledge their need for a Savior. Once they understood the bad news, He then offered them the Good News, that by repenting of their sins and following and trusting in the Lord, they will be saved! Go hold up that mirror of the Law to someone you care about—today!

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Published in: on April 24, 2010 at 10:19 pm  Leave a Comment  

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