This month’s Western Recorder theme, How to Share Your Faith, can present an intimidating challenge for many people — even those who would never think of skipping a Sunday morning church service.
Yet scripture resolutely declares that Christians are to be witnesses to the saving power of Christ. Every believer is charged with telling others about their need of a Savior, and that salvation is found only in Christ. Ask the average churchgoers how many people they have shared the gospel with in the past week, month or year and you’ll likely find most have not witnessed to anyone — not to a family member, not to a coworker or a neighbor.
You’ll likely get a variety of responses why that is the case. A person may feel inadequate in explaining the gospel, or fear the person being witnessed to will reject the message. Perhaps Chuck Lawless tagged it right in a recent blog post when maintaining that many believers have lost their wonder over Jesus, that many believers seem to be afraid of non-believers and, sadly, that the church has become a place to retreat from the world rather than being renewed to reach the world.
Failing to share the gospel is not an option. A story told by the great 19th century preacher Charles H. Spurgeon should motivate us to shed the fear that someone will reject the truth that we proclaim. Spurgeon told of a rich ship owner who was visited by a godly man. The Christian asked the ship owner, “Well, sir, what is the state of your soul?”
The rich man replied, “Soul? I have no time to take care of my soul. I have enough to do just taking care of my ships.” But the merchant was not too busy to die, which he did about a week later. The reality that life is like a mist and then vanishes — that no one is guaranteed tomorrow — should spur us to never find an excuse for failing to tell someone about the Lord.
Our task is simple. Tell people whom the Lord places in our path what Jesus has done to pay for their sins. Tell them the Bible teaches that we are to turn from our sins and turn toward the Savior, and when one does that, Jesus promises to forgive. Ask the person to make that crucial decision to follow Him, trusting Jesus to forgive and make that person His child. We must be dilgent about this aspect of the Christian life because eternity is at stake for the people we encounter in life.
As I read James Montgomery Boice’s book, The Parables of Jesus, it became clear that Jesus taught the importance of being faithful to follow the Lord’s instruction to reap heavenly rewards. Consider…
• The parable of the two sons (Matt. 21:28-32), where one son says he will work in the father’s vineyard but doesn’t — while the other son says he won’t work, but repents and does work. Like the second son, Christians have work to do — God’s work — and we must be faithful to do that work.
• The parable of the 10 talents in Matt. 25:14-46 and the 10 minas in Luke 19:12-27. The parables are similar, but they are told in different places at different times. They teach that believers have a responsibility to invest their lives in kingdom work. God expects a return on His investment in each of us — that we use our gifts through the Holy Spirit to enlarge His kingdom.
• The parable of tenants in Matt. 21:33-46. It tells of a master who plants a vineyard and has tenants to manage the vineyard. Then the master departs for another country. But when the owner sent his servants into the field, the tenants mistreated them — the servants were beaten, killed and stoned. Finally the son was sent, but the tenants killed him as well. The parable tells that sinful men have murdered God’s servants and His Son. The lesson is that when the master returns, the tenants will suffer judgment from the master. As believers, we have the kingdom entrusted to us, and when we tell others about Jesus, we are telling them about the kingdom of God and how they can be saved from eternal judgment in hell.
As we understand that the Lord expects a harvest of souls as the result of the witness of believers, what should our course of action be?
First, pray for courage and boldness. Consider what the disciples did when facing the daunting task of being witnesses for the Lord. In Acts 4:29-30, the disciples recognized their need for the power of God as they ministered to the crowds. They prayed that God would grant them boldness in speaking for Him and allow signs and wonders to be done through the name of Jesus. We need that same boldness the disciples prayed for. We yearn for wonders to be seen — the wonder of lost men, women, boys and girls turning in faith to Jesus.
Next, be open to opportunities the Lord presents you. Be alert to the person you meet in the grocery store line, at the fast food checkout, at the nearby pump while you get gas or at the gym where you workout. Find a way to begin a conversation with the goal of asking about a person’s relationship with Christ.
Then, depending on how that person responds, briefly share the gospel story and give an invitation for the person to trust Christ as Savior. You may weave into the conversation your conversion experience, but be careful to keep it short — two to three minutes. Hearing how God worked in your life can help a person in their spiritual journey.
If that person makes a commitment to follow Christ, provide encouragement to attend church, providing names and addresses of nearby Bible-believing Baptist churches where the person can grow in faith. If possible, tell the person you will be glad to go with them the first time since some people are hesitant to be the newcomer in a church.
Chip Hutcheson is interim managing editor of the Western Recorder, the monthly magazine of the Kentucky Baptist Convention. You can email him at email@example.com.