The world is lonely, lost, and hurting; consumed in darkness and despair. They desperately need to hear about Jesus’ forgiveness, love, mercy, and grace. Yet, many have become resistant and bitter against Christians because, in their experience, “Christians” are only out to unlovingly “brow beat” people with Scripture. So, how do we approach people in a way that makes them more receptive to the hear of Jesus’ love for them? How can we make a greater impact in sharing the gospel?
Regrettably, there are those who get caught up trying to forcefully push the Bible on the world in an unloving manner. Some uncompasionately rebuke people with Bible verses, or condemningly scorn their unrighteous behavior. And, in doing so, they unwittingly come across as condescending and unforgiving; rather than gracious and merciful.
Human nature wants to fight opposition and “win people to Christ” with strong-worded, forceful, arguments. Yet, while we may speak rightful biblical truths, it usually causes division if we try to force others to believe our way.
Remember this basic truth: Lost people act like they are lost because they are lost.
A lost person can’t act any other way than who he is—lost and outside of Christ. Therefore, even the most skilled and influential human persuasion is insufficient, in itself, to save men from their sins.
People can’t be convinced of their need for Jesus until they are convicted that they are lost in their sin. And, it is the Holy Spirit who convicts men of their sin. He speaks to the heart of a man, using the power of the living Word of God, appealing to a man’s spirit to turn in repentance to Christ. For “godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation” (2 Cor. 7:10).
The lost will die in their sins if they do not repent and accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior. For unless a person repents of their ways, that person can’t be saved. So, it is imperative, and commanded to us by Jesus, to openly speak the truth of God’s Word to the world. At the same time, we are instructed to present the gospel in love (Eph. 4:15) and with gentleness and respect (1 Peter 3:15).
“Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will” (2 Tim. 2:25-26).
A better way to speak to someone about Jesus is to follow the model of Scripture and abide in the role given to us by Jesus—that is to be a faithful witness in sharing the gospel and giving personal testimony to what Christ has done in our life.
It isn’t our role to condemn the lost. Even Jesus said, “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son” (John 3:17-18).
We aren’t called to argue for the gospel as an attorney. Instead, Jesus said, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and you will be my witnesses” (Acts 1:8). Witnesses tell of what they have seen or heard firsthand. Our role is to lovingly testify to the gospel and to be witnesses to the reality of how God has worked in our lives.
Every believer has a personal testimony to share what Christ has done for them and how He changed their life. Your personal testimony consists of your salvation in Christ and your new life in Christ. Sharing your testimony may include telling of who you were before you came to a saving relationship with Jesus Christ, how you came to Christ, what Christ has done in your life, and who you are in Christ.
Sharing your testimony is powerful, and hard to challenge. People can, and will, argue over points of disagreement; but no one can argue against your testimony because you are the expert of your testimony. You own it.
Too, every believer has personal testimony to the truth and reality of Scripture.
How so? For a believer, the words of Scripture are proven firsthand. The “gospel came to you not simply with words but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and deep conviction” (1 Thess. 1:4). We can testify to the truth of Scripture based on the reality of our salvation experience and the impact that God’s Word has had on our life.
Even the newborn in Christ can testify to the biblical message of salvation and becoming a new man in Christ. Salvation is a personal, life changing experience that came about as we were convicted through the words of Scripture.
As we share our testimony with the lost, it is essential to read or quote from the Bible. For “the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” (Heb. 4:12).
The Bible is God’s Word and testament to men. It speaks of the Lord’s salvation through the work of Jesus Christ. The Word of God “is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes . . . For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last” (Rom. 1:16-17).
Remember, though, we are talking to people who are lost. They are trapped and dead in their sin. As such, there will be those who are skeptical or resistant to what the Bible says.
If you find yourself speaking to someone who is resistant to the Bible, interweave more of your personal testimony and relate it to Scripture verses by sharing biblical truths that Christ has worked in and through you personally? Some may try to argue about their belief in the Bible, but it would be futile for them to argue against how the gospel has changed you. That again is yours and you own it.
Finally, as you share the gospel, allow the Holy Spirit to work in the heart of the hearer. We can rest on the power of the Word of God and Spirit of God to do their work because God wills for all men to come to Jesus for salvation. He doesn’t want “anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (1 Peter 3:9). However, God allows everyone the free will to choose or reject His Son.
It is the individual’s responsibility to accept or reject Jesus. Our responsibility lies in being witnesses, responsibly sharing the gospel with the lost, speaking God’s Word in love and compassion. We witness by telling others about what Jesus Christ has done for us and can testify to God’s love for all men because we have experienced it for ourself.
Along with our responsibility to give testimony as witnesses, Christ gives us this charge: “This gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations” (Matt. 24:14).
Let’s be faithful to the Lord’s directive. For, “how, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?” (Romans 10:14).