God is so faithful to bring people in our lives that need to hear the gospel. My last witnessing encounter could not have been more brought into my path if the kid had skateboarded right in front of my car… oh wait, that is what happened! I parked, grabbed tracts, and went to talk to the kids.
Skater kids are almost always open to talking. They are usually running in a small pack of other like kids. And they have time on their hands. So we started talking.
I gave them tracts and asked about their eternal destination. One kid skated off to try out another trick. Another kid was in and out of the conversation, but his first question for me was, “What if I’m going to hell?” He informed me he had been arrested several times. The guy that was most willing to talk informed me he was Mormon. But then he changed his story a bit to tell me that he did not believe in religion. I always love to run with that line- because I am not into religion either! I am about Jesus.
I gave them a quick gospel presentation and encouraged them to read the tracts later. It was an encounter that I wished I had handled better, but I know God can work, even through my unclear speech. I know those skater boys will think about the conversation. It is not every day that one is asked to think about what comes next. If nothing else, their thoughts were turned towards eternity.
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Christianity Today has an interesting article called Speak the Gospel. The premise of the article is that the quote, “Preach the gospel at all times; when necessary, use words” was not an actual reflection of the supposed originator Francis of Assisi. The goal of the article is to point to a rephrase of the quote, “Preach the gospel—use actions when necessary; use words always.”
At first glance, this rephrase sounds grand. It encourages speaking the gospel versus the obscure nature of showing the gospel through action. Some of the comments on the article make a great point. Our actions should accommodate our words. There are many examples I can give of sharing the gospel with words that were falling on deaf ears. An action that accompanied the words made all the difference- be it a cup of coffee or a generous tip. The actions paved the way for the words to be heard.
We see this example in Jesus and His disciples when they fed people and healed people and also spoke the truth of the gospel. Actions are often necessary.
I do not think the purpose of the article was to minimize deeds done well for the Lord. The purpose was to counteract the rather cop-out statement that it is sufficient to live out the gospel and only use words when necessary. Perhaps the quote should really be, “Preach the gospel boldly and use your actions as tangible demonstrations of the gospel you present.”
HT: Between Two Worlds
I had the privilege of talking to one of my students yesterday who is a Catholic. I must admit that I have been rather naive about Catholic’s beliefs. I have assumed that they are basically all Christians with some different/incorrect theology. In the ten minute conversation I had with her, I realized that she is lost, despite her sixteen years in the Catholic church.
I am now starting to understand that while some Catholics are Christians, there are many who are not. They are following a different set of Scriptures (including the Apocrypha as inspired) as well as following the doctrines of their Catechism. A great starting resource for understanding the differences between Protestant and Catholic beliefs is Mark Cahill’s talk: Roman Catholicism vs. The Bible
As I talked with this student, I asked her about some of her beliefs. She told me about purgatory, but ironically enough couldn’t really tell me what it was. This is significant as this is a place she plans to spend some time after she dies. I personally would want to know what it is like!
I also asked her about confession and the process of getting out of purgatory. I asked her, “If Catholics believe that all these things must be done by us to eventually get to heaven, why did Jesus come to die?” She was really confused and said she had never thought about it before. I did a quick presentation of the fact that we have broken God’s law and that is why Jesus came to die- to pay for our sins. I explained that there is no way for us to be good enough on our own; we need a Savior. She really was thinking about it by the time we parted ways. She was confused and said nobody had ever asked her that question.
I know that the Lord is using conversations like this to open my eyes to the lost all around me. I do not want to ever assume that someone has heard the gospel, knows the gospel, or is saved based on a religious affiliation, church attendance, or any other potential indications of a belief system. Religious zeal is giving many people a false security about their eternal state. True salvation is found only in the work of Jesus Christ on the cross including His death, burial, and resurrection.
I know that the Holy Spirit goes before and behind us in our evangelistic efforts. It is such a comfort to know that we do not witness alone.
I travelled out of town this weekend for a family wedding. It was the typical story- drive to the hotel, check in, etc. With nineteen family members staying on one floor of the Fairfield Inn, we had created a bit of interaction with the gentleman at the front desk. Joe was his name.
After we had completed check in, I began to witness to him. “Joe,” I said. “I want to ask you the most important question anyone can ask you. If you died tonight, do you know where you would spend eternity?”
His initial response question was about his physical body or his spirit. It was a valid question, and I told him I wanted to know about his soul. He said he was going to float around in the clouds and hang out with some people. Needless to say, the answer did not suffice. I talked to him about the two options: heaven or hell. I asked him by what means he thought he was going to heaven. With every question, he danced around every answer and accused me of not asking the right questions. It turned out his mother was a reverend, but his inability to directly tell me the gospel was alarming. I laid it out in a straightforward manner.
Meanwhile, another guy, Chris, walked up and asked what we were talking about. I handed him a tract too. He said he had been saved for eight years, but in the next breath got onto me for supposed solicitation and handed me back the tract. It is always interesting to see how offended certain people that claim to be Christians are at hearing the gospel. It’s a strong reminder how much we need to preach the gospel to ourselves and how much we need to thank those who preach it to us.
I only hope that Christ was glorified as His message was spread. May those seeds of truth be carried before and behind by the work of the Holy Spirit.
Paul Washer gives a great in-a-nutshell method of talking to Jehovah’s Witnesses in this seven minute clip. I love how he uses Galatians 1:9 (ESV): “As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.”
Listen and be encouraged. Share the true Gospel boldly with the Jehovah’s Witnesses you meet.
I was praying for boldness. I had wimped out on sharing the Gospel a few too many times. God loves to answer the prayer for boldness.
A week or so ago I awoke to the following thought: God cares more about the spread of the Gospel than we do. And apparently God wanted a few guys at the Waterless Car Wash sales table at the gas station to hear what He did for them.
I pulled up to the pump and set the auto fill lever. With a handful of tracts, I went to see their product demonstration. It was impressive.
After they finished, I told them I had a question for them. I passed out tracts to the six guys standing around.
“If you died today, would you go to heaven or hell?”
One guy told me heaven and gave the right reason. Another guy said he was Catholic and would go to purgatory. I told him that wasn’t in the Scriptures.
I turned my attention to the other guys and proceeded to go through the Ten Commandments. I made it through three of the ten, and by that point they understood that they had broken God’s law. We talked about what Jesus did for them. The whole conversation lasted minutes. The implications of it will last for eternity.
Seeds were planted. Praying for the Holy Spirit to do His work.
How do you know if you are witnessing to a Jehovah’s Witness?
- They may just tell you!
- They will say only 144,000 are going to heaven.
- They may talk about the meek inheriting the earth.
- They begin to divert the questions you ask them.
- They will deny the Trinity.
- They will refer to God as Jehovah (what they believe is His one true name).
- They will deny that Jesus is God.
- They will deny that there is hell.
- They will claim salvation only through the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society.
These are a few of the key things that I am learning to listen for when I am street witnessing.
See also Jehovah’s Witnesses Part I. More to come!
It’s Motivate Me Monday at Like a Warm Cup of Coffee. I hope to motivate you to share your faith.
I propose (and not as the originator of this thought) that evangelism is not a matter of gifting- it is a matter of obedience! Mark Cahill puts it this way in One Thing You Can’t Do in Heaven:
If you read Matthew 10, you’ll find that when Jesus sent His disciples out, he didn’t make it optional for His followers to share their faith. They were all called to witness about the Lord. It today’s Christianity, it seems that many people have made witnessing an optional part of the faith. And that is absolutely not biblical. One of the true highlights of being a Christian is to bring the good news of Jesus to the lost. (pg. 175)
Jesus is clear in His final command:
And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.” Mark 16:15 ESV
I wonder if we skim over this verse as we read the gospels. Or maybe we are just afraid to obey the command. The disciples were stoned, beheaded, mocked, and crucified for preaching His name. We know that this kind of persecution is practically unheard of in our country, yet in our freedom, we say so little about Jesus. We will ask people about their kids, their pets, and their jobs. We will ask trivial questions, but we won’t ask about the state of a person’s soul before God. Is there any question of greater importance?
Most of you can probably think of a friend or family member who needs to hear the message of salvation. Please do not let fear stop you from speaking the truth of the gospel.
There is more to come on the practical aspects of how to share your faith. Let us be motivated like Paul who said in I Corinthians 9:16:
For necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!