The last few weeks we have discussed scriptural methods to recognize true and non-true believers (tares) in the church. Importantly, it may be someone close to you: your friends, your family or perhaps even someone on the church staff. Last week we began considering why helping a tare towards salvation can be difficult. It can be a tough sell! This week we cautiously present some suggestions for how to share your faith with a non-believer (assuming an adult age group), realizing the difficulty at hand. Here are some hopefully helpful suggestions:
- Become friends – The first step is to befriend your potentially unbelieving acquaintance or increase the depth of your relationship. Ask them peripheral questions over issues related to Christianity and the church, for example: likes and dislikes about their church such as the preaching, choir, Sunday school, leadership, etc. Then listen! People love to talk about themselves and their opinions.
- Listening is vital because it shows your respect and acceptance of the person. Further, it allows you to analyze their scriptural needs as you learn about them. Every individual is important. After you listen for a while, follow up with more specific questions, eliciting more detail.
- Advance the depth of questions – Ultimately, when they trust you then you can progress the conversation to what they believe about Christ specifically; who He is, why He came, favorite scripture about Christ, or what they thought about what the pastor said about Christ in his sermon.
- These questions should be asked in a conversational, non-threatening manner. Again, just mostly listen! These types of questions will teach you more about your friend and especially help you assess if they understand the nature of salvation through Christ.
- Advance the conversation to the gospel – At some point you need specifically to express the Gospel to your potential tare (Romans 10:9-10) without helping them answer. How to do this? This task is a 100X easier after you have shown your respect and affection by building the relationship and listening to them. Every person is different. Here are some ideas:
- Should the elders’ preparation class ask the attendees to state how to express the Gospel, what would you want them to say? An alternative, if your friend asked you how to be saved, what would you tell them?
- If your friend confesses a need to learn scripture knowledge, ask them to do a one-on-one study with you where you can discuss the gospel and who Christ is from scripture itself. Warning, they rarely will mention doing a Bible study themselves, you will need to propose to them directly a study based on the needs they express when you are listing to them.
- For example, if they have mentioned in prior conversations they do not know much scripture then propose a verse by verse study from Colossians or Ephesians. A Bible study is a great tool as it brings your friend and you to a neutral ground where they can observe the gospel themselves.
- Ask them during the study, at an appropriate verse, what they believe is important in expressing the gospel to someone. They will need to learn it with your teaching, probably over several Bible study sessions.
St. Peter’s question – If all else fails I describe a scenario in which one day they stand before St. Peter and he asks, ‘What gives you the right to enter heaven?’ or ‘Why should I let you in here?’ This question cuts to the fundamental basis of a person’s true faith. They must express exactly what qualifies them for heaven. Try this question with even long-standing church believers and you will get amazing answers.
In my wife, Jeanette’s, and my own experience in teaching the Bible to churched adults, at the beginning of the study probably ⅓ to ½ of our students did not understand the grace of salvation, even on prompting; not even close!
Once your friend knows the gospel, do not indicate they just became a Christian as this may cause discord, but just be joyful that they can express it confidently and can tell someone else. If you think they may not believe what they say, then ask directly if they believe the plan of salvation to hopefully address any questions or doubts.
Have mercy on your friends and your family! Consider carefully if they truly understand their salvation which is so carefully laid out in scripture.
That is all for today. Thanks for joining me as always.