Happy New Year Everyone!
May we serve our Lord and our fellow man as best we can for as long as we can in Jesus name!
“For lack of training, they lacked knowledge. For lack of knowledge, they lacked confidence.
For lack of confidence,
they lacked victory.”
-- Julius Caesar
That quote has stayed with me from the first time I read it many years ago. Skill and confidence aren't accidents; they are results.
How do we get comfortable and proficient at anything? From cooking, to riding dirt bikes, painting, or playing an instrument, don't we improve in the areas we practice and work at? Then it shouldn't come as a surprise that those who invest time in the Word are usually more comfortable sharing them.
For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. (Hebrews 5:12-14)
By regular use and study, we'll become more skilled in the Word. Our understanding will increase and our confidence will rise. We'll be able to show others book, chapter and verse why we believe what we believe rather than having second hand faith. We'll have our own! I wasn't kidding about using Bible studies to win souls. There is a direct link between the two...
And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith. (Acts 6:7)
Few things will lift your spirits and strengthen your heart more than getting into the Word with a friend. Here are some suggestions to make it more relaxing and fun:
Don't Invite People To Church.
Shocked I'd write that? Don't be. Most people aren't looking to go to church. They're looking for truth, hope, and something real. Rather than inviting them to a building on Sundays, invite them into your life, your house, and into your circle of fellowship first.
Make Friends & Build Relationships.
Sometimes the people we want to see saved aren't open yet. But others are. Think about all the current relationships in your life. Is there someone who might be open to you asking, “Hey Nick, how would you like to get into the Bible with me sometime? No pressure. We could meet for coffee and feed our souls at the same time.” If they say “No,” no problem. Let it roll right off your shoulders. But you might be surprised who says yes.
Explore - Don't Debate.
Don't look for arguments to win. Look to mine the scriptures for all the gold that's buried deep inside! I might ask someone with a differing view why they feel the way they do. Sometimes they don't know why. Sometimes I'm the one who learns something new.
Meet Where Everyone Is Comfortable.
I'll meet just about anywhere, anytime for a Bible study. If someone feels more comfortable in their homes or someplace neutral, great. How about breakfast and a Bible study before work some morning? How about at the park while the kids play? How about at the 24-hour restaurant with the guy or gal who has to work grave yard or swing shift and doesn't have regular fellowship? Be wise, but be flexible.
An Hour Once A Week
Unless someone really wants more, I've found once or twice a week over an extended period of time is a great way to get into the word and build friendships. It's amazing how the ups and downs of life come into the conversation and make way for you to share how God has worked in your life. Then you can pray together and rejoice as God shows himself and works miracles!
We'll Never Know All The Answers.
I used to get flustered if I didn't have an answer right away. At other times, the answer came a few verses later in the study. There's no shame in saying, “Great question. Let me do some studying and get back with you next week.” Later you can search for answers or ask an elder. Get comfortable using the concordance in the back of your Bible to look up verses. You're welcome to send your question here as well.
Relax and enjoy the Word of God! The more you're in it, the more it will get into you! Take each of those Bible studies and go through them even by yourself. Make copies and share them. Let the Word change you because it will!
The more prepared we are, the more useable we'll be in the hands of the Lord. Instead of sweating, we'll open our Bibles and show people the truth. But, if we don't know the Word ourselves, we'll lack that important confidence that we should all have.
Every believer – not just a select few - should have a working knowledge of the scriptures and be able to share their faith like the early church did...
Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word.
(Acts 8:4 )
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If you are uncomfortable about sharing the gospel, is it because you don't know what to say? Are you afraid of blowing it? Having been there myself, I'd like to share some thoughts that might lift some of that pressure and help you to relax. Talking to our friends about Jesus shouldn't stress us out.
First, keep in mind that no one comes to God on their our own unless God is drawing them (John 6:44). Remember when the Lord worked on your heart? We're you open and hungry to know more about God and salvation, or did you want stories and churchy cliches? Hungry people want real food not pictures of food. So, let's give it to them! Lets give them the Word!
Our words, testimonies and experiences - as amazing as they may be - aren't what save people. We are saved by the word of God. So let the scriptures do the talking.
The Bible is the main entree, the "steak," and our testimonies are like side dishes. If we lead people to the Word, we'll be leading people to the Lord!
What exactly is the gospel of Jesus Christ? Paul defined it to the church this way:
Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: (1 Corinthians 15:1-4)
Jesus gave himself for our sins. His death means that we can escape the judgment of God and have life more abundantly now and forever. That is good news!
So, how did the apostles preach that death, burial and resurrection message? For that, let's go to where the gospel was preached.
The New Testament is made up of 27 Books. The first 4 books tell of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ. The next book, Acts of the Apostles, is the book of church history and records the actions and preaching of the apostles. The remaining 22 books (Romans through The Revelation) are letters of instruction and encouragement to individual believers and churches who've already heard the gospel.
Acts is the only book that records how the gospel was preached to the lost telling them how to be saved. It's our blueprint for preaching the same repentance and remission of sins message Christ commanded his disciples to preach.
The study of The Gospel is available for download now. It highlights the words of Christ to the apostles, the verses in Acts where the gospel was preached and even how people responded. Please print it out and go through it with a KJV Bible. It's worth your time!
I've always found it important and comforting to go to the Word and show people why I believe what I believe. I'm amazed to see that no matter who preached (Peter, Philip, Paul, or Aquila and Priscilla), where it was preached (Jerusalem, Samaria, Caesura, Philipi, or Rome) or when it was preached, the message was always the same.
In Acts 16, a suicidal man asked Paul and Silas, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” Many of us know the short answer: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved...” But that's not the whole story. What does it mean to “believe”? Have a look at this verse:
Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. (James 2:19)
Believing is more than acknowledgment. Even Satan knows God exists. Belief is shown by our actions. James puts it this way, “Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. (James 2:18)
That man in Acts took Paul and Silas back to his house where they spake the word of Lord to him and his whole house. Then everyone was baptized in the name of the Lord (Acts 16:23-34) They heard the word, believed the word and were baptized according to the word. That is how we believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.
Using simple Bible studies, I've preached the gospel to dozens of people over the years. People who are hungry for truth will respond accordingly.
A friend asked me once, “How important is baptism?”
Instead of trying to explain it, I simply replied, “Let's see what the Bible says.”
We read a few scriptures together in a Bible study and he saw the answer for himself. Then he asked, “I've got a pool in back. Can I get baptized in there?”
I baptized him in the name of the Lord Jesus just like we read in the Book of Acts. I didn't have to rely on my intellect or gift of gab. I preached the word.
In the final part of this series, let's look at the many ways we can share the gospel with relaxed confidence. You might come to see preaching in a whole new way!
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And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.
In Part One of this article we looked at the importance of having a strong, daily relationship with the Lord as well as a godly reputation when sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ with others. Philip, the evangelist, was described as having an honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom (Acts 6:1-6). May we all be guilty of such charges!
Now let's look at the focus of the gospel: salvation. Christ died to save sinners, but he didn't just die. He died according to the scriptures (1 Cor. 15:1-4). He was betrayed by a friend, beaten, humiliated and crucified – all of which was prophesied in the word. Then he was buried and rose again the third day – also prophesied beforehand. Everything thing Jesus did was according to the scriptures. We too should preach the gospel according to the scriptures.
This is important because there's a lot of confusion out there. Sinners shake their heads at us Christians because we can't seem to get our message straight. Every church preaches something different. Have you noticed that too? That's why we need to go directly to the word. We need to read and understand it for ourselves and preach the same message the apostles preached, and have the right perspective on salvation.
Here's what I mean by perspective: Think Long Term.
What does the Bible say about salvation? Are we saved because of one decision? Or are we saved because we believe on the Lord Jesus and live according to his word? Consider these verses...
Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. (1 Corinthians 15:1-2)
I will therefore put you in remembrance, though ye once knew this, how that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that believed not. (Jude 1:5)
But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. (Matthew 24:13)
Folks, it is absolutely possible to have a great start with God, only to fall away later. We all must be vigilant to not lose our soul. I bring this up because I believe it's important for us to have a long term perspective about salvation especially when it comes to sharing Christ with others. In our natural lives, birth isn't the end; it's the beginning. Being born again isn't the end either. It's the beginning of a new life in Christ, right?
Years ago when I talked with someone about the Lord, I had the attitude that they should make a decision right then. If they didn't, I was heartbroken. But the reality is, very few people receive Christ right off the bat. How many of us needed to hear the gospel a few times before moving forward? Paul preached week after week because people needed to think it over...
And he reasoned in the synagogue every sabbath, and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks. (Acts 18:4)
Planting & Watering. Are you a believer now because of one person's message? Or are you serving God in part because he used many people along the way to preach to you, pray with you, encourage you, get in your face and correct you, and love you through difficult times? I am a product of the latter. He used someone to plant the word in me, and many others to water. I'm living for God today because of his mercy and the active involvement of the body of Christ - not just because of one person with the “right words.” I've been encouraged by many stable saints in my life and I thank God for every one of them.
You may have never preached the gospel to a lost soul, but you may have been exactly what someone needed to ponder eternity or to stay faithful to Jesus...
Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him; Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins. (James 5:19-20)
Never forget the importance of your witness to others.
The narrow way that leads to life isn't a sprint; it's a marathon. If we have a long term, teamwork approach to soul winning we'll have a more biblical view of the way of salvation. God may use all of us at one time or another to plant here or to water there.
In the next part of this article, we'll get into the gospel message itself. Here's a hint: It's the same message the apostles and Philip preached. Nothing has changed!
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The fruit of the righteous
is a tree of life; and he that
winneth souls is wise.
What comes to your mind when you think about soul winning? Inviting someone to church? Leaving an evangelism tract on someone's door? Dragging a friend to a Billy Graham Crusade?
In this article series, we'll look at what evangelism is, what it's not and how we all can share the gospel of Jesus Christ according to the scriptures with confidence.
Simply put, An evangelist is a messenger or preacher of good tidings.
The only person ever called an evangelist in the Bible was Philip. He was a believer and so highly thought of, he was elected to be one of the first seven deacons of the church. In Acts chapter 8, Philip preached Christ to the city of Samaria and later to an Ethiopian traveler in the desert. He was specifically called an evangelist in Acts 21:8.
Evangelists are one of the many gifts given to the church (Ephesians 4:7-12). Not everyone is an evangelist by gifting, but as Paul instructed Timothy, sharing the good news of Jesus Christ is something we all can and should participate in:
But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry. ( 2 Timothy 1:1 Acts 4:5 )
For some, talking to people about Christ is as natural as saying, “Hello.” For others, it's as uncomfortable as pulling teeth. Some fear rejection or being laughed at for their faith. Others have never been shown how to preach Christ to others. Then there are church leaders who make things worse by heaping guilt upon a congregation for not doing more to make the church grow. I think that is a terrible mistake. Sharing Christ should never be motivated by guilt, obligation or to make the church numerically bigger. It should come from love and the leading of the Lord.
I'd like to offer some thoughts about sharing Christ that might change your perspective on evangelism. If you want to see people saved but don't know what to do or say, this article is for you! If you're struggling with a burden of guilt for not sharing your faith with your friends and co-workers, this article is for you!
First Things First. Before we think about others, let's have an honest look at ourselves. How's our relationship with the Lord, right now? Are we living a life truly devoted to Jesus Christ, day in and day out? Or are we more like Sunday Only Christians? If we want to point others to heaven, we'd should be on the way there ourselves...
And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?
He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou?
And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.
And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live.
If we love God, then we'll obey him and his word. So, how is our love for God? Are we demonstrating that love with obedience others can see? There's no point trying to share our faith if we're not living our faith.
Our Reputation. How would the people who know us best describe our current relationship with the Lord? Would they say, “Oh yeah, Bill totally loves God!” or after laughing, would they respond with, “Sally? A Christian? That's hilarious! Tell me another one.”
People pay attention to us, just like we observe others. We hear what jokes they tell, we know what they're genuinely excited about and what turns them off. We know if someone is nice or mean, honest or deceitful, patient or short-tempered, sharp or slow. We know if they act one way here and another way somewhere else.
They also know that about us.
Our actions and reputations are so important that they can overshadow our words. Ecclesiastes 10:1 says, “Dead flies cause the ointment of the apothecary to send forth a stinking savour: so doth a little folly him that is in reputation for wisdom and honour.”
One off color remark, lousy work performance, an indiscreet act or a single lie can torpedo our reputations for years to come. If our friends know us as solid, godly people, then we have a foundation to preach from. If not, then we might need to go into a Witness Reconstruction Program before we do any preaching. No one likes a hypocrite. Been there, done that, and I didn't like me either.
The gospel is shared by words, but let's show it before, during, and after we tell it.
In Part Two of this article, we'll get into having a biblical perspective on salvation and how that can change our attitude toward sharing the gospel with anyone without being fearful or nervous.
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