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First, we need to understand the needs of the spiritual dead person. Although we are all unique and grew up with a different world view, the needs of the spiritual dead are the same. This is not necessarily what they want, but what they need. Some of the needs include:
- A secure relationship with a mature believe
- An example of someone who lives out Jesus before them
- Answers to life’s hard questions, evidences for Christianity
- An explanation of the gospel message
- An invitation to receive Christ
It is important to build an ongoing relationship with the person that you want to disciple. We must earn the right to speak into their lives. Spend time with them and give them information to read and listen to that will challenge their thinking.
Here are some of the things that unbelievers might wrestle with:
- How does a good God allow evil in this world?
- How do we know the Bible is true? What about other religions?
- Evolution – Is there a God?
- Atheism and agnosticism
- I got hurt in church?
- How did bad things come about?
What objections about Christianity or church have you heard from unbelievers before?
Defending the Gospel (Apologetics)
- Geisler, Norman L., and Frank Turek. I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist.
- Habermas, Gary R., and Michael R. Licona. The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus.
- Keller, Timothy. The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism.
- Little, Paul E., and James F. Nyquist. Know Why You Believe.
- McDowell, Josh. Evidence That Demands a Verdict.
- Strobel, Lee. The Case for Christ: A Journalist’s Personal Investigation of the Evidence for Jesus.
- Wright, N. T. Simply Christian: Why Christianity Makes Sense.
Authority of Scripture
- MacDonald, James. God Wrote a Book.
- Wright, N. T. The Last Word: Scripture and the Authority of God.
How Christianity Differs from Other Faiths
- Ridenour, Fritz. So What’s the Difference?
- Stott, John R. W. Basic Christianity.
- Zacharias, Ravi. Jesus Among Other Gods: The Absolute Claims of the Christian Message.
Dealing with Past Hurts
- Arterburn, Stephen. Healing Is a Choice.
- Bridges, Jerry. Trusting God: Even When Life Hurts.
- Crabb, Larry. Shattered Dreams: God’s Unexpected Pathway to Joy.
- Yancey, Philip. Where Is God When It Hurts?
Many people reject Jesus because of what they think Jesus said rather than because of what He actually said.
Sharing the gospel
The first and most obvious principle of evangelism is that the church is a body that received a command from Christ to preach the gospel to the whole world. And if we do not do this, we fail to really be a church.
The greatest lie ever believed by the church was that it’s preacher, evangelist or professionally educated person’s work to proclaim the gospel. But in the book of Acts we see that it was not always so. Acts 8:4 says, “Now those who were scattered (not the apostles, according to v1) went about preaching the word., went through the land and preached the word of the gospel.”
In Eph 4:11,12 we see that Christ gave the church apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds and teachers to equip the believers for the work of ministry, for the building up of the Church.
Part of the commandment in Matthew 28:19 to make disciples is to teach them as well. The commandment is straightforward, “Make disciples, baptize them, teach them to do it too.” Jesus did not say, “Make converts and leave them”. He said, “Make disciples, baptize and teach them.”
“Evangelism is more caught than taught.”
The average person can no more learn to evangelize in a classroom as he can learn to fly an airplane in the living room. What is missed in modern evangelism training, which was so clear to Jesus, is “on the job” training.
It is more important to train soul winners than to just win a soul. Spiritual multiplication cannot happen if new believers are not changed into evangelists. 95% of believers have never won anyone for Christ because they were never trained to do it.
“The gospel on the tips of your fingers”
This “Good New” consists mainly of 5 key points, namely. Grace, Man, God, Christ and Faith.
These five points represent the reality of the gospel, and when one wants to share the gospel with someone, it is only necessary to focus on these five points. To philosophizing about the Lord and the Bible, or to debate about all other theological topics is interesting and constructive, but ultimately it does not make any difference to one’s salvation. Therefore, it is necessary to know and understand these five key points of the gospel before sharing the gospel with an unsaved person.
These five key points can be discussed in more detail, but our purpose here will only be to briefly reflect on what each one entails. And to make it easy to remember, we are going to use our hands and learn these five key points on the tips of our fingers.
The thumb reminds us that heaven is a free gift (Rom 6:23) (The thumb pointing up to heaven). The thumb reminds us of God’s grace. The word “grace” simply means to receive something that you did not earn, and or cannot buy or gain – it’s a (free) gift. A Hitchhiker also uses his thumb to ask for a free ride and this opportunity could not be earned in any way.
That’s why the thumb reminds us of God’s grace when He gives eternal life for free without ever being able to earn it. This aspect of salvation distinguishes the Christian faith to all other religions.
(All other religions teach that one has to do something to be saved, and consequently it’s hard to ever get certainty.)
When the gospel is shared with someone, it’s usually here where one has to start – with the good news, namely that eternal life is free gift of God and man cannot earn or deserve it. Often people want to start such conversation with the sin of man, but sin, and man’s inability to do God’s will is negative, and can easily deter people. Therefore, it should be left for a little later in the conversation, after we begin with God’s grace.
Here it is specifically about man’s condition before God. The problem is sin. The index finger is the finger that points and accuses and therefore it can be used to remind us of the second point of the gospel. Man is a sinner and guilty before a holy God and there is nothing that he can do to change that.
This point is about the total inability of man to get rid of his sin in which every person is prisoned and that he is completely lost, no matter how good he tries to be. There is eventually nothing that a man can do to improve his case before God.
The middle finger stands out above the other fingers, and represents God, which is bigger and mightier than anything or anyone else. Two characteristics of God are important. First, He is a loving and merciful God, who does not want anyone to be lost. But secondly, He is also a righteous and just God, and as such He cannot overlook sin – all sin must be punished, otherwise God would not be righteous.
The ring finger is the finger that you put on a wedding band – it symbolizes the love band between two people. Therefore, this finger is used to remind us of the love of Christ, and the bond He brings between man and God.
Here are two aspects of importance. Firstly, “Who is Christ?” It is important to realize and remember that He is human and God at the same time. He is unique, nobody else is like him. He was completely human, but without sin, and also completely God. And secondly, “What did Christ do?” He laid down his life and died on the cross to bear the punishment for the sin our sin, because man is unable to pay the price for his own redemption. Christ thereby earned eternal life for you and me.
The little finger is the smallest of the fingers, and reminds one of faith, without which nobody can be saved. Faith does not have to be great, even faith as small as a mustard seed, is enough. God does not ask great faith, but faith in a great Saviour. It’s not about how one believes but in whom you believe! Faith, however, is not just head knowledge, but indicates a trust in Christ alone for salvation.