Welcome back to our fifth and final lesson on how to share the gospel. After sharing the whole gospel with the whole person, a personal response is commanded by God. The sinner is commanded to repent, to turn from sin, and to believe, trust in Christ.
There are only three possible responses to hearing the gospel and the command to repent in belief, to receive Christ, to reject Christ, or to investigate further.
Begin With A Summary
The last part begins by summarizing what you shared with them, what you’ve presented to them, or perhaps a better way of saying it is you’re reinforcing what you already told them. In a sense, you’re giving them the same truth, but you’re restating that truth for them.
It begins with where it has to begin, that God, who is their maker, is calling them back to Him. That’s the problem. Their relationship with God has been severed because of sin. Your sin has separated you from your God and in order to return to God. What must they do? They must repent. They must turn from their sin.
And you may want to remind them again what repentance is. Repentance isn’t a resolution to try and do better. Repentance isn’t turning over a new leaf. Repentance is turning from our sins, is turning from our self-trust, is turning from any thought that we can do some kind of good work in order to make ourselves acceptable to God. Repentance is turning from our self-righteousness and utterly casting ourselves upon the mercies of God.
The third thing is that they must trust in what Christ Jesus has done for them. If we convey properly what it means to repent, this third point comes naturally. If they can’t depend upon themselves for salvation, then there’s only one other person they can depend on for their salvation and that is the Lord Jesus Christ.
First Response: Receiving Christ
And so there are only three possible responses. The first one is that they can receive Christ. In other words, they agree with the Gospel, they understand the gospel, and they are ready to move forward with Christ if you want to put it that way.
Now, I know a lot of times people have a question. Should I ask them to pray?
It’s fine to pray with them, it’s fine for them to pray, as long as we are clear that it is not their prayer that’s saving them, it’s Jesus that’s saving them. So to that end, you can see on the presentation it says, “Realizing my self-centeredness, I now want to turn from my sinful lifestyle. I now trust in the risen Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of my many sins. I give you control of my life and I desire to follow your instructions. Whatever it may cost. I receive you as my Savior and Lord. I ask your Spirit to be merciful and enable me to respond to your call home.”
They don’t have to say that word for word, but that’s the idea. And you can help them if you feel like they need help verbalizing it. But again, it’s not those words that save them. It is the mercy of Christ that changes their heart attitude to one that is repentant.
Don’t worry if they don’t pray the perfect sinner’s prayer, that’s not what you’re pushing for. I do believe that it is appropriate that once we have gone through this presentation, that we should extend the invitation, the offer to them to receive Christ. You’re going to read books on evangelism and none of them agree with whether or not you should push for a decision or not push for a decision.
I would offer them the opportunity to express faith in Christ. That’s what I would do. I wouldn’t twist their arm. I wouldn’t put any undue pressure on them.
But if the Holy Spirit’s working in them. He can create far more pressure than you and I could ever create.
We do people a disservice if we don’t at least press upon them the need to make some kind of a decision to have some kind of response to what they have heard. The first thing they can do, they can receive Christ. And we trust that many that we share the gospel with, they will do exactly that.
Second Response: Reject Christ
But let’s be honest, there’s going to be others that they’re going to reject Christ. And that is a possible outcome here.
There will be some who will gladly receive Christ and there will be others who will be more than happy to reject Christ. It simply means that the Holy Spirit is not drawing them to Christ at that time. Does it mean that your time is wasted? No, it doesn’t mean that you’ve been unsuccessful. You have been successful by your obedience. You are successful through your obedience. The very fact that you obeyed by presenting the gospel to them. You are successful if you want to put it in those kinds of terms.
But there are people who will reject Christ. We need to understand that. And as hard as it may be for us to come to grips with, our hearts should be broken when someone rejects Christ.
They’re not rejecting you, but they’re doing damage and harm to themselves by rejecting Christ or being fooled about their relationship with Christ. It’s a serious thing. But we don’t want to take it personally. We don’t want to take it as they’ve now become our enemy. They rejected the gospel so they rejected me. Please don’t take that attitude. Far too many Christians have done that far too many times. And we make far too many enemies.
And then we have nobody left to evangelize because nobody will talk to us or we won’t talk to them. Do not take it personally, let it break your heart, weep for them, pray for them, but don’t take it personally.
Third Response: Learn More
Then there’s this third and final thing that they could say. I want to investigate further. This is a fine response. We want to spend the time with them and go through the gospel then leave them on their own to investigate.
The Value of Practice
Do not underestimate the value of practice. And let me give you a couple of suggestions, and I wish I could claim originality for that, but I borrowed these from a book on evangelism.
Why not ask an unbelieving friend or perhaps a family member if you could practice on them. Ask them, “I’m learning how to better present the gospel, I want to be better prepared to present the gospel. Would you help me out by letting me present the gospel to you?”
Now, unless they’re hardened atheists, they’re probably going to say, yeah, I’ll help you out. Just think about the wonderful opportunity that is that you can practice presenting the gospel to a person that you know is an unbeliever, who knows Holy Spirit may even convert them.
And by the way, if you tell your unbelieving friend or family member that you’re just practicing and you mess up, so what? You know, they’re not Bible scholars. They’re not going to know if you say something wrong.
But I think that’s a wonderful opportunity. And let me go even one step further. Don’t be afraid to approach other professing Christians and ask them. If you could practice on them or practice with them.
Practice is part of the preparation and isn’t it amazing how when you prepare yourself, God opens doors for you?
Don’t underestimate the value of prayer, don’t underestimate the value of your preparation, and don’t underestimate the value of practice.
We pray that this series has been helpful to you for God’s glory. I want to ask you as I challenge myself with this as well. Who can you ask to practice sharing the gospel?
Maybe it’s a family member, friend, coworker, a neighbor. I want to encourage you to try and reach out to them right now and trying to set up a time that God’s name might be glorified among the earth together. Let’s make God’s name famous.