“But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves. For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict.”
The person is standing in front of you waiting to hear the hope she so desperately needs. She is unsure if you can deliver, but she knows there is a void in her life that she has been unable to fill. She is hanging on your every word.
Uh. Not likely.
In most cases, she is skeptical, angry, fearful, and in a hurry. However, if you read our first article about how to introduce the discussion of the Gospel, she is at least pausing. Your first words better get her attention.
When I began volunteering as a sidewalk counselor, I quickly learned that the most powerful tool I had to change the outcome for the abortion-minded women was to give them Jesus. But how? I had no idea. So, I went to YouTube and found hundreds of ten-minute videos from Ray Comfort and Kirk Cameron (Way of the Master) on how to share the Gospel. I watched all of them. By the time I had absorbed a few hundred videos of Gospel sharing, I felt confident I could do this! That is the framework presented here with some of my personal suggestions interwoven.
I have been a Christian for over 30 years now, and I LOVE scripture. I read the Bible every day. I have read the whole Bible countless times. This is not to sound boastful but to encourage. You cannot share what you do not possess. If you truly want to communicate the hope and truth of God, you must know that for yourself. The more I delve into God’s word, the more effectively I can share with others the reason for the hope I have in Jesus.
Step One: Ascertain Their Beliefs In One Simple Question
“If you were to die today, where would you be going? Heaven or hell?”
No one has yet refused to answer when I ask this question. If the person says neither, they do not believe in God, heaven, or hell, I do not launch into the Gospel immediately. I first use an apologetics approach to convince them that the evidence for God as creator of the universe is compelling. That will be the subject of another article perhaps, although there are excellent apologetics podcasts that can delve deeply into this expansive subject.
However, most of the women we encounter in the Southern Bible Belt here where we minister as sidewalk counselors do believe in God. They may not believe in Jesus, or have thought much beyond the fact that God exists. They usually have a sense of where they will live in eternity, and most responses have a “works-based” theology. Most believe they are pretty good, though not perfect. Most believe since God is forgiving, and knows they are “only human” that they will probably make it to heaven. A few know they are hell-bound, but don’t dwell on that fact and often feel helpless and hopeless to change it.
If they answer Heaven, ask why they believe they are going to heaven? If the answer is Hell, again ask why and ask if that concerns them. Since there are VERY few people about to abort their child who truly understand what it means for Jesus to be Lord of their lives, the next question is always revealing and leads them into the Gospel discussion.
Step Two: Recognition of Sin
Next, I rephrase why they believe they are going to heaven or to hell.
“So you believe your good outweighs your bad? Is that correctly stating your belief?”
Or: “You believe your bad outweighs your good? Is that correctly stating your belief?”
Next, I lead them through a series of questions designed to illustrate the sin in their lives. I always tell them I will answer the questions I ask as well so they do not feel like I am a paragon of virtue looking down on them.
Have you ever lied? What does that make you and me? Yes, liars.
Have you ever stolen? What does that make us? Yes. Thieves.
Have you ever taken the lord’s name in vain? What does that make us? Blasphemers
Have you ever looked on a person with lust whom you are not married to? What does that make us? Adulterers (show them Matthew 5:28 But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.)
Have you ever committed murder? No? Well, Jesus says if we call our brother fool, we have murdered him in our hearts! (Matthew 5:22 But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.)( 1 John 3:15 Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.)
I then tell them we agree we are lying, thieving, blaspheming, adulterous, murderers. And that is only five of the Ten Commandments we have broken. We don’t look so good, do we? In fact, the Bible says ALL have sinned and fall short of God’s glory. At this point, I have never had a person disagree with me that this is clearly true.
Step Three: Show that there is a Penalty for Sin and Why
Now, I ask if they know what the Bible says is the penalty for sin? (Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death…) Most do. I make sure they believe and understand that God as Creator has the right to exact a penalty for the transgression of the laws He has set. I also ensure they understand that as Creator He also has the right to make those laws.
Oftentimes, examining the role of God as parent is a good way to help them understand and agree with this, especially if they have young children. They all agree that rules are essential and that without consequences when rules are broken, children are endangered. Each one believes they have the right and obligation as parents to set rules and expectations and punish the breaking of those rules. They all agree this is for the protection of the child.
This is not a perfect analogy but it is useful in conveying God’s right as our Heavenly Father to set rules and consequences for our behavior. It is also useful to discuss the character of God. He is perfect in all ways. Perfect in love. Everyone is happy to agree with that! Perfect in Justice. Hmmmmm. That often gives them pause.
A perfectly just God MUST punish sin. He cannot turn a blind eye to our transgressions. I love how Ray Comfort explains this through the analogy of a lawbreaker brought to court and standing before the judge pleading her case. I almost always use this analogy to paint the picture of a murderer begging not to go to the gas chamber. She is sorry, she was having a bad day, and the person she murdered deserved it. All the while, the mother of the murdered son is beside her, sobbing her eyes out. Would the judge be a good judge if he let her go free?
Of course not.
How much more so God!!!
Step 4: Examine What True Repentance Means
I pause in the court case analogy to talk about repentance since most people try to claim that it is fine to continue in sin as long as they are truly sorry afterwards. There are hundreds of Bible verses about repentance. We examine the meaning of the word repentance: to rethink.
It is very useful to introduce two important verses here:
Luke 6:46 “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?
Hebrews 10:26-27 For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries.
I ask if someone knows the truth, willfully continues to sin presuming on God’s forgiveness, are they truly repenting? Are they asking God’s forgiveness or His permission to sin?
This always helps people to pause and consider something we hear all the time at the abortion center. “I have to abort my child, but God will forgive me because He is a forgiving God.”
Step 5: Share the Good News
Just as God is perfect in justice, He is perfect in mercy. So now He has a problem. We all have sinned. The penalty of death, eternal separation from God, must be paid. But He loves us. He is merciful. How can He watch us endure an eternity in Hell, no matter how deserved it is??
I go back to the judge analogy and in the Ray Comfort framework, ask them to consider the following scenario. What if the judge said the law required the penalty for murder be paid. The Gas Chamber. But instead of the murderer paying it, the judge will offer to pay it in her stead. We will pretend the judge has the power and authority to do so.
The murderer has a choice. She can now accept or deny the judge’s incredible offer.
This is what God did for us. He sent Jesus, fully human and fully God, to earth. Jesus lived in the flesh among us for 33 years but never sinned. He alone of all humanity did not deserve the penalty of death. Yet, He willingly offered to pay the penalty we owed. If we accepted His sacrifice on our behalf, we would be set free. We have a choice now. Submit or refuse.
At this point, I quote Romans 10:9: because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
I break this verse down, asking what each section means.
If you confess with your mouth
In other words, speak it!
That Jesus is Lord
I spend a lot of time on this phrase. What does it mean if Jesus is Lord of your life? I believe there are many people who claim to know and love Jesus, but continue in willful sin. They do not have an understanding of what lordship entails. To submit our lives to Jesus as Lord means we do NOT continue to live a life of sin. We will sin, but our attitude towards sin is dramatically transformed if we have had a real encounter with God. The Holy Spirit enters and indwells us and guides us into righteousness. If we do sin we have an advocate, but our desire and our actions should always be to obey the Lord we love who sacrificed so much for us.
And believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead.
Here I discuss the Resurrection, the evidence and eyewitnesses of the Resurrection, and the convicting fact that all but one of the apostles was martyred refusing to denounce the truth of the Resurrection. Would they die for something they KNEW to be a lie? Not likely. And they did know. They SAW the resurrected Christ.
I also ask two very critical questions here. What did Jesus prove when He rose from the dead. That He is God.
And what did He overcome when He rose from the dead?
He showed that He was God and had the power and authority over death. Jesus proved that He had the power and authority to save us from death. He had the power and authority to determine where our eternal souls would reside.
You will be saved.
I ask what that means. Then we discuss salvation and the security of knowing your eternal destiny when you submit your life to Jesus.
Step Six: Extend an Invitation to Submit to Jesus
At this point, I always extend an invitation.
Have you ever done this?
Would you like to?
I never pray “the sinner’s prayer.” I always offer to start us in prayer, but then I will be silent and let them speak out loud to God. What they say out loud is very telling in whether they have understood, and whether they have made a true profession of faith. I would be very cautious using a “repeat after me” confession of faith. I believe there are many false converts in such an approach.
If they do submit their lives to the Lord, this is only the beginning. These baby Christians will need mentorship and discipleship. We always try to connect them to a local mentor and church.
My own salvation began as a profession of faith, filled with doubt and ignorance. Yet I landed in churches with people who discipled and guided me. From that very tiny kernel, a life of faith grew and developed.
My prayer is that this brief introduction to sharing the Gospel will help you. Be confident that He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it. What He has sent you to do, He empowers you to do. And those who rescue a soul from death will reap eternal reward and delight. Go in God.