This is an important section for both pastors and evangelists to read. It will greatly help in teaching evangelism to others.
Every house needs a good foundation. If the foundation is crooked, unstable or built with the wrong materials, the house may collapse, especially in a storm (Matt 7:24-27). The story of the two houses, told by Jesus, applies to whatever you do for God. Your ministry, family and personal life must be built on a sure foundation that will not crack or decay. So it is with the work of evangelism.
Evangelism is not understood well by many leaders in the Church. Some think evangelism is holding a church meeting and expecting unsaved people to come into a church and respond.
Some make the mistake of merely telling people they should follow certain Christian traditions instead of showing them their need to receive and follow Christ. Getting people to conform to outward behavior and adopt Christian traditions is not bringing them into salvation through Christ!
To be a Christian means to be one who receives and follows Christ and is restored into relationship with God the Father. You are not saved by joining a church or following religious traditions. Being saved is receiving the risen Jesus, surrendering your life to Him, trusting in Him and His work on the Cross to save you, and making Him your Lord and Savior.
We must clearly present the full truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This is why we must diligently study what the Bible teaches about evangelism and the true Gospel message.
An evangelism message should not be overly complicated. It should be a clear, complete, easy-to-understand presentation of the Truth of Jesus as revealed in Scripture. It should be declared in a way that listeners can understand. This is the work of the evangelist.
THE GOSPEL IS ABOUT A PERSON – JESUS
Paul gives a simple Gospel message in 1 Corinthians 15:1-5: Jesus Christ died as a sacrifice for our sins, was buried, and was raised from the dead to give us salvation and restore us to relationship with God. This is the Gospel that saves.
EVANGELISM IS TELLING THE GOSPEL
Sharing the Gospel means telling of the great things Jesus has done. Jesus loves people so greatly that He died in their place to take upon Himself the penalty for their sins. When Jesus rose from the dead, He defeated sin, death, hell and every power of evil. This is good news for every person on earth!
Understanding and using the following terms will help you present the Gospel in a clear way so that people will understand God’s plan of salvation.
Love. God loves you and gave His Son to die and take the penalty for your sin. God’s love is an everlasting love, a love without limits or conditions. God loves you even though you are a sinner and have offended Him. Nothing and no one can change God’s love for you (John 3:16; Rom 5:18; 8:31-39).
Repent. This means a changing of the mind, which results in a change of purpose and action. So, to repent is to make a decision to change direction – to turn from evil and sinful ways and turn toward God. Repentance is not just feeling sorry; it involves changes in behavior (Matt 3:8). To repent is to admit you are a sinner, and to choose God’s ways over your own (Mark 1:15; Luke 7:44-49; Acts 26:20).
Forgiveness. Every person has sinned, and needs to be forgiven. Everyone needs to know that the shame and guilt of sin can be taken away. The forgiveness of God means that God has relieved you of the burden of your offense. He has taken away and forgotten your sins (Rom 4:6-8; Eph 1:7).
New Life (Eternal Life). Jesus offers new life to those who believe on Him. You become a new creation (2Cor 5:17). You receive a new start in life, forgiveness of your sins, peace in your heart, God’s love for you and others, and a new way of living. You will also live forever with Jesus Christ in heaven (John 3:1-6; 10:27-29; 1 John 5:11,12).
Relationship. A relationship between God and a person is possible only through Jesus Christ. Our sin separated every one of us from a holy God. But when we receive Christ’s sacrifice for our sins and His forgiveness, God no longer counts our sins against us (read Romans 4:4-8). God declares us “righteous” because of Christ’s work, and we can thus approach God in relationship (Rom 3:23,24; 5:18,19; 1Cor 1:30; 2Cor 5:21).
Our salvation and relationship with God do not come from keeping a list of rules of “do this” and “don’t do that”. It is true that if we love God, we will keep His commandments (John 14:15). But our works can never save us (Eph 2:8-10).
Jesus revealed God to us as our Father (Matt 6:9; John 14:7-9). We can know God and He can know us (John 17:3; 2Tim 2:19). This is the Christian life – not empty rituals, living in fear or working in vain to be good enough to be accepted by God.
Believe. To “believe” is to trust in, have faith in, be fully convinced of, rely upon. To believe in Jesus is to put your whole trust in Him and to become His follower. This is not just a mental agreement; it means giving your entire life to Jesus (John 1:12). To believe is to be so convinced that you will confess with words your trust in Christ (Rom 10:9,10).
Hell. The Bible describes a lake of fire reserved for Satan and his angels (Matt 25:41). Jesus said that hell would be “outer darkness…weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matt 8:12).
Those who reject Jesus Christ and His work are instead choosing sin and their own way. Sadly, they will follow Satan right into the eternal place of punishment, hell. God did not intend this for mankind, as it is not His desire for anyone to perish and suffer eternally (1Tim 2:4; 2Pet 3:9). But every person must either choose Jesus as their Savior and be restored to God, or suffer eternal separation from God in hell.
FOUR PRIMARY GOSPEL POINTS
The Gospel has four main points. Whether you preach the message, share it with someone, write a letter, or speak to a group of men or women, the basic message is the same.
The points are these: God’s Plan – Man’s Rebellion – Jesus Christ’s Saving Work – Man’s Response. Study the scriptures below to learn more about each of these four points. [Pastors: Teach this to the people in your church so that they can share the Gospel with others!]
- God’s Plan
- God loves you (John 3:16; Rom 8:35-39)
- God desires to give you abundant life and fellowship with Him (John 10:10; Rev 3:20)
- God desires to reveal His good purpose for your life (Jer 29:11; Rom 8:28)
- God desires for you to know Him (John 17:3)
- Man’s Sin
- Sin is rebellion against God and His ways (John 3:19,20; Rom 5:10)
- Sin separates you from God (Eph 2:12; 4:18)
- Every person has sinned, causing much pain, suffering and death in the world (Rom 3:23; 5:12)
- God’s perfect justice requires judgment for mankind’s sin (Rom 6:23)
- Jesus Christ’s Saving Work
- Jesus died on the Cross in our place to pay for our sins (Col 2:13-15; 1Pet 2:24)
- Jesus made the only way for us to come back to God (John 14:6; Acts 4:12)
- Jesus conquered sin and death, and rose from the dead (Tom 1:3,4; 1Cor 15:20-23)
- Jesus gives forgiveness from sin, and gives peace, love and new life (John 10:10; Rom 5:1)
- Jesus lives today as the King of all kings! (Rev 1:17,18; 19:16)
- Man’s Response
- I must respond to what Jesus has said and done (2Cor 6:1,2)
- I will accept Christ’s sacrifice for me and my sin (Acts 2:37-41; 16:30-34)
- I will ask Jesus to forgive my sins and be my Lord and Savior (John 3:15,16; Eph 1:7)
- I will turn away from my sinful life and live by God’s words and plans (Rom 6; Eph 4:17-32)
- I will follow Christ every day (Luke 9:23-26; 1 John 1:7)
- I will share with others about my new faith in Christ (Matt 28:19; Mark 16:15)
A good Gospel presentation – using these four basic points – may go something like this:
“There is One all-powerful God who created the entire universe. He is perfectly holy and just; greater than anything or anyone. There is nothing that can compare to the greatness and power of the Almighty God. This mighty God loves you. He created you for Himself. He intended to have relationship with you.
“But something has come between you and God. Something prevents you from having fellowship with God and knowing His great love and purpose for you in this life. This is called sin. Sin has come between you and God. Sin causes so many problems and trouble in the world. Sin is things like lying, cheating, hatred, stealing, evil thoughts, murder. The Bible says that every human heart is corrupted by sin (Jer 17:9). Ever since Adam and Eve [the first created humans] disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden, every person is born with a sinful nature (Ps 51:5). Sin is like a wall, keeping you from God. Because we are by nature sinful, we want to live our way rather than God’s way. All people have sinned (1Ki 8:46; Rom 3:23). God’s perfect justice requires a punishment for our sin.
“God knows that we are dead inside because of our sins (Eph 2:1; Col 2:13). He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to take upon Himself the punishment we deserve for our sins, to die in our place on the Cross. Jesus broke down the wall of sin, and made a way for us to come back to God. Jesus rose from the dead to prove that He is God (Rom 1:4). Jesus Christ now lives forever as the King who is greater than any other king!
“You can believe that this is true and accept Christ’s sacrifice. You can admit you are a sinner, tell God you are sorry, receive Christ’s forgiveness and live in peace with God. The choice is yours: Believe in Christ and receive His forgiveness, or continue in your sin and live in destruction now and for eternity. Will you choose to believe in Jesus Christ?”
There are many ways to talk about these four main points. Presenting the four points of the Gospel will become easier as you practice. You may begin by speaking them out loud to yourself; then practice with another Christian, and then begin sharing with non-believers.
PAIRS IN PRESENTING THE GOSPEL
Here are some “pairs” that work well together when you present the Gospel. Learn to use these pairs; they will help you share the Gospel clearly and lead people to accepting Christ.
First Pair: Your Story And The Word Of God
Telling your story, or testimony, of how you came to believe on Jesus helps people see that God is interested in helping them personally, too. It is good to give thanks and tell others what Christ has done for you (Luke 8:39).
Sometimes it is also helpful to tell another person’s story. The testimony of what God can do to change people’s lives is a powerful witness of Christ’s transforming work.
A good testimony has three parts:
1) What was my life like before I met Jesus?
2) How did I come to meet Jesus (what situations brought me to Christ)?
3) How is my life different since I met Jesus?
If you answer these three questions, you will give a good testimony as you speak. Do not tell all the details, but choose the important details. Do not emphasize the many bad things in your past life, but tell how good Jesus is and how He changed you. It is helpful to write out your testimony. It does not have to be very long. You can make a strong impact by a short story.
The words of the Bible are living and powerful. There are no other words that are more important. Share the words of the Bible, as God’s Word is powerful to save sinners: “having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever… the word of the Lord endures forever. Now this is the word which by the gospel was preached to you” (1Pet 1:23-25; see also James 1:18).
The Bible is our most important tool. Our testimony can also be an effective tool. Use these tools together when you witness for Jesus or when you preach.
Second Pair: The Word And The Spirit
As you witness or preach for Christ, use the words of the Bible. In some cultures, people have very limited education. They may not even know how to read. Their vocabulary is limited and simple. If it is necessary, you can carefully take God’s words and make them simple for others to understand.
For example, you can say, “All people have done wrong things and dishonored God; we deserve punishment, but God offers us forgiveness through Christ.” This is a principle [truth] found in the Bible in Romans 3:23 and Romans 6:23 that you have put into simpler words. But you must be very careful to never change the meaning of what the Bible says.
The Holy Spirit is the second part of this pair. He promised you that He would help you understand and remember what Jesus taught (John 14:26; 15:26; 16:13). It is the Holy Spirit who convicts sinners and leads them to believe in Jesus (John 16:8). Without the Holy Spirit’s work, you cannot bring people to salvation.
The Spirit of God promises to give you power to be a witness (see “Be Filled With The Spirit” in Part Seven). It is important to ask the Holy Spirit for power and boldness. Preach using the Word of God and trust the Holy Spirit to bring conviction. It is God’s will for all persons to be saved and know the truth (1Tim 2:4), so God will help you!
Third Pair: Prayer And Preparation
You can be effective in winning people to Christ as you pray for those with whom you will share the Gospel. Much prayer should be made for the people and the place where you will preach. God may even place on your mind a burden for a specific man or woman. You ought to pray regularly for this person.
Then you also need to be prepared. Your preparations involve:
- reading and studying God’s Word;
- preparing a message (see Part Seven of this magazine);
- practicing what you will say;
- spending much time before God in prayer.
Take time to ask, “What is the right approach to this person or group?” Memorize verses from the Bible. Ask Jesus to show you better ways to share Him with people. If you pay close attention, God will help you, so that many people can come to know Christ.
Fourth Pair: Go Out In Twos
Jesus thought it was important that His workers not travel alone, but “in twos”. If you are witnessing on the street, take another person with you to pray silently while you speak. This is a very good practice. Working in pairs also allows you to train others in the work of witnessing and evangelism. You can also encourage and help each other.
In South Africa there are young men and women who love Jesus Christ and work every day to win souls to Him. Some are students; some have jobs. They do not pastor a church but they are soulwinners. Every week they go out on the street or into homes to tell others about Jesus. They have learned the four points of the Gospel and they understand the pairs of tools to use. They pray and prepare themselves to witness. A young woman wins two to four people a week by walking in the city during her lunch hour and speaking to people. She leads people to Jesus and brings them to church.
This is God’s will for every Christian: to understand His Gospel message, to know how to present the message, and to speak it without fear or shame. Every Christian should learn how to share the Gospel in the most effective way possible.
BE CLEAR WHEN YOU SPEAK
The Bible asks, “How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?” (Rom 10:14). But how can people be saved if they don’t understand the message?
It is important to learn to present the Gospel simply and clearly so that people will understand the decision you are asking them to make and truly believe. (See Part Three, The Message of the Evangelist). Sometimes, religious terms that are familiar to us will sound like a foreign language to someone who does not understand them. Avoid terms that people without a Christian background will not understand.
Use simple, everyday language in your Gospel presentation. If you use Christian terms, be sure to explain them, and any Gospel concepts they may not know. Above all, make sure that the words you use clearly and fully explain the Gospel.
Hard to Understand
“You should be saved, submit to Christ.”
“Hallelujah, brother, eternal life can be yours!”
“I was saved and delivered.”
“I was a sinner but now I am saved.”
“Let me tell you my testimony”
Easy to Understand
“You have a need. Christ died for you to take away your sins.
“Give your life to Him.”
“My friend, Jesus wants you to have life – now and forever!”
“Jesus took away my sins and made me free.”
“My life was ruined by sin. Then I met Jesus and He forgave my sins and changed my life. He has given me a life worth living.”
“Let me tell you my story of how Jesus saved me.”
A good rule to follow: make your words as simple to understand as possible without changing the truth of the Gospel.
A second rule: Try to understand the circumstances of the people you speak to. If you understand them, you can speak clearly to them.
It is of the greatest importance that you – as a pastor, evangelist or leader in the church – understand how to give a Gospel presentation. You should know how to present the Gospel in a clear and complete way. Once you know how to do this, you can speak about Jesus Christ in any place, to any person, in the way that is needed for that moment.
God requires that you handle the truth diligently, accurately and carefully (2Tim 2:15). This means more than being able to explain the Bible to Christians. It also means being able to present the Gospel of Jesus Christ to unsaved men or women.
METHODS FOR SHARING THE GOSPEL
- In relationships. This is sometimes called “friendship evangelism”. Become a friend to someone. Get to know the person before you begin to share about Jesus. Build a bridge of trust and caring. The person will be open to hearing about Christ as you love them and live your life as an example of faith to them.
In some cases (as with Muslim people), you must earn the right to speak to them. People need time to see that you are sincere and genuine.
This way of evangelism takes time. It is a process. It means you will be involved with this person’s life – their cares and joys, their worries and hopes, their family and work.
- One chance to speak. This way of evangelism is quick and powerful. It is what you can share as you sit on a train or bus next to someone, or when you meet someone on the street. In most cases, the person is a stranger whom you will probably never meet again. This is a confrontation. You tell them the four points of the Gospel and, if possible, ask them to pray with you to receive Christ. Sometimes you can leave them a Bible, a tract or a piece of literature. You can show the love of God to them. Ask the Lord to give you boldness to share the Gospel when you have the opportunity.
- A service. An act of kindness or sacrifice speaks loudly. Doing something to help someone can open their heart to listen to the Gospel about Jesus. Pray and look for opportunities to share Jesus in this way. This is what God did for us: He demonstrated His love for us by sending Jesus to die for us (Rom 5:8).
- Public declaration. This type of evangelism is speaking to a spontaneous crowd of people. Sometimes you must gather the crowd so that you can speak. Music, a singer, dancers or other performers will draw people, and then you can preach.
This is not the time to preach a long sermon. You must give the Gospel in five or six minutes. People will not stay to listen to you if you preach a long message. Remember, this is not a church meeting! You have only a few minutes to share information that is very important to the people who are listening. This also is a time to ask people to pray with you to receive Christ.
- A special event. Your church or ministry can sponsor an event or activity to gather people. Churches in many countries have done such things as: hosting an evening of music or a festival; inviting a special speaker; giving a dramatic presentation; showing a Gospel movie; or having a choir perform. Some churches have had a meal for invited guests who are not saved.
The people in your church can go to serve at schools or in a hospital. This may give an opportunity for you to share the Gospel with a group of people.
You must always make the people feel welcome and not bound to your particular church customs. If you want to convert them just so they will become members of your church, they might sense your selfish motive. But if you want to introduce them to the wonderful Savior Jesus, they will likely receive Christ (and may come into your church).
There are many other ways to reach people. God will give you wisdom to know how to
share the Gospel, and to train others to share also. Learn and remember the four points of the Gospel. Then you can teach others to also share about Jesus.