Most Christians are hesitant to share their faith. Why is that? Considering all the wonderful blessings that come in placing our trust in Christ, you’d think we’d all be bubbling over with the Good News. There are two reasons most Christians hold back from sharing the Gospel. The first is that they don’t want to appear “different” or “strange” in the eyes of the non-believer. The second is that they feel they “do not know enough about the Scriptures” to adequately share their faith. It’s true that the prominent evangelists of the Book of Acts, Peter and Paul, had some pretty hefty training. Peter was taught by Christ Himself and Paul was a Pharisee. But if you seriously read between the lines of Acts, you will soon realize that the rapid spread of the Gospel was not only the result of these two men, but also due to countless unnamed believers who took what they heard from Peter and Paul and brought it back to their homes and communities. In the Christian classic Out of the Salt Shaker and Into the World, author Rebecca Manley Pippert eloquently suggests that it is not through fancy words or masterful handling of Bible passages that peoples’ lives are touched. It’s the friendship you have with them and the willingness to simply present what Christ has done in your life. The starting point of every moment the Gospel is shared is the moment you become someone’s friend.
Understanding where non-believers are, and being able to relate Scripture to those circumstances does not require years of Biblical Study (although it does build your confidence and skill). But knowing Scripture does help to present the Gospel in numerous ways. Consider three of Paul’s sermons in the Book of Acts (13:14-52, 14:8-18, 17:16-34). In each of these scenarios Paul presented the Gospel to his listeners in a completely different way, but each example spoke directly to those who were hearing his message. Whether he was reciting a short history of God’s interaction with Israel (to the Jews in Pisidian Antioch), recounting and debunking folklore and myth (to the Gentiles in Lystra), or taking note of local history and customs (to the Athenians and leaders at the Aeropagus), Paul always concluded with what Christ had done in his life and what Christ would do for those who accepted Him as their Savior. In each of these accounts Paul’s method offers great principles for us to put into practice: 1) Tailor your presentation to your audience. Use terms and illustrations they can understand. 2) Be logical and concise. Keep the Gospel as straight-forward as possible. Make no excuses for its message. Be bold. 3) Follow the leading of your heart to speak and be prepared at all times. Don’t pressure yourself to make a perfect presentation. Remember that you are not personally responsible for the outcome. That is in the Lord’s hands and He works in you and through you just as you are. However, you must be available to bring the Word wherever you go. Paul wrote to Timothy, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, handling accurately the Word of Truth” (2 Tim. 2:15). It is perhaps the best advice for any believer in any age. The best witness for Christ is one who truly knows what he or she is talking about.
One evening as I sat with my Scrapbooking friends the topic of churches and doctrine came up. By this time everyone knew I was in seminary and lovingly called me “the expert”. There was a great deal of curiosity as to the difference between what Catholics and Protestants believe. There was also an eagerness to have a Bible study which looked at those differences. We ended up meeting six times, covering a variety of topics (all based on their questions), examining church documents and comparing them to Scripture passages. They particularly enjoyed seeing what the Bible actually said about what we are to believe. I do not know what seeds were planted during those studies and our group has since gone its separate ways. But one thing I do know is this- it all began when we became friends.
Ann H. LeFevre, M. Div.
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