Last week I began part one of answering the question, “How can I better defend the faith, and more effectively share the gospel?” Feeling the need to separate the question into two, because “defending the faith” (or “apologetics)” is different than “sharing the gospel” (or “evangelism),” I would like to present a guideline that some have found helpful, for when God provides an opportunity to present the gospel to someone who is not yet in Christ. I am indebted to the training that Ann and I received through a group called “Open Air Campaigners.” Before we went overseas, we trained with OAC for a few months, and I highly recommend getting involved with them (they are in most major cities) if you want to gain experience in sharing your faith.
I hope that this will also help you in your ministry. One thing that I had to learn, that seemed to take me a surprisingly long time to learn, was that Jesus meant it when He said:
“No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day.”
And so to quickly answer this week's question, before getting to this hopefully helpful tool, is that you cannot “more effectively share the gospel.” It is not we who have any effect. It is God who draws one to Jesus. Evangelism is not about being effective, but about being available. It is not about spear fishing, but about letting out the nets; and trusting God who draws souls to Himself, to fill the nets. Still the joy of evangelism will be fuller, when you share the gospel clearly, so that you know in the end, that you’ve left your listener with a clear opportunity to become born of God.
“I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ.”
Philemon, verse 6
Amen and here goes:
Personal Evangelism and the Core Gospel Message
Doing the work of an evangelist is bringing to others, God’s message of salvation; presenting His plan. It is extending His invitation to people who do not yet know this. Although we are using our voices to proclaim the message, the message and plan are his for the hearer. So it is always a good idea to use scripture when presenting the gospel (good news). The message for the tender heart is between God and that person. Given this, the less we talk about what we think, and the more we talk about what God has actually said, the better. But He uses our testimonies too, and so telling of your experience in how you came to know Christ, is important to tell too.
The goal is to help people see from the scriptures, their need for Christ, and to present Christ’s offer of salvation, under His conditions. His love is unconditional, but the reward depends upon both His calling and the person’s responding appropriately. The plan has always been His.
Three things to never forget in a gospel presentation:
1. The Problem. (The problem with man is sin. The result is death. And man can do nothing about this problem by himself.)
“As it is written:
There is none righteous, no, not one;
There is none who understands;
There is none who seeks after God.
They have all turned aside;
They have together become unprofitable’
There is none who does good, no not one”
“For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”
(Fallen Short: that is, none have lived the life God intended and created us for, due to sin.)
“If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”
1 John 1:8
2. The Provision. (Jesus’ blood is the remedy for our sin.)
“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
1 John 1:9
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”
(Note: When presenting the Gospel, it is powerful to use verses that have been influential to change your life. These verses here are only samples of the many places throughout scripture, which express God’s plan of salvation.)
Note: Explain “Repentance” if necessary:
“Repentance towards God.”
“….testifying to Jews, and also to Greeks, repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Repentance gets a bum rap when we only preach half of it. The meaning of repentance is “to turn,” but Christian repentance is not just turning from sin, but it is at the same time turning towards God.
God’s love is unconditional. Salvation has this one condition; Repentance both from sin, and toward God.
3. The Promise. (Eternal life starting now, the gift of faith, peace even now, and the resurrection.)
Don’t forget to include in the Gospel presentation, the truth of the resurrection of Christ, and the promise that we who believe, have likewise been raised to life, and that death will have no power over us.
“For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.”
“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
“But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.”
Note: Remember that those who are inquiring about how they can know God, want to hear from Him. It is not God’s goal to just improve inadequate lives. The goal is not self-improvement, but death. When we die with Christ, we can be raised with Him. People come to Christ desperate, and with just enough hope. So we must not forget any element of the gospel. Good news is only good news when we are in a needy situation to start with.
“…if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty … If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.”
(From 1 Corinthians 15)
“But now Christ IS risen from the dead,”
“He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.
These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the Name of the Son of God.”
1 John 5:12,13
How many of us can testify that before we had the Son, the Bible made little or no sense. But once we had the Son, the Bible was alive and fresh. This isn’t because we suddenly got smarter. It is evidence that the Holy Spirit has indeed entered the newly born (hence “born again”) child of God. Giving the scriptures to one who has just expressed their new faith in Jesus, is an awesome gift!
Here is a checklist for after you have had an opportunity to explain how someone can know that they have eternal life. After presenting the gospel message, check to see if you covered all of the important points:
1. Did you present the problem of sin? ________________
2. Did you present the consequence of sin (death)? __________
3. Did you present God’s provision for our sin (Christ’s Blood)? __________
4. Did you present the promise (Eternal life/Living faith)? ___________
5. Did you pass on Christ’s invitation to the listener? _____________
(This can be done by praying together, or by allowing the listener to express their new faith in Christ; thus confessing their faith.)
“…whoever drinks of the water that I shall give them will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.”
“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”