LEADING OTHERS TO CHRIST:
Knowing how great and glorious God is, you might think that it would be so much easier if He handled the entire process of preaching the gospel. Wouldn’t it be better if God called up people on the phone or met them in their homes: “Hi, this is God. I have something important to tell you.”
The reality is that the primary method God uses to reach those who do know Him is verbal communication from average, everyday people, like you. The call is urgent (see Romans 10:14). So what do we need to remember as we share the gospel?
PRACTICAL PRINCIPLES: Based on Acts 8
1. God is the One who saves people. It is easy to think we have to rely on our words and our intellect to convince someone to give their lives to Christ. But it is not our efforts that bring someone to Christ. Even though we play an important role in the process – planting a seed, watering it or reaping the harvest (see 1 Corinthians 3:6-7)—it is God who does the work (see John 6:65)
2. We need to have a burden and a heart for nonbelievers. It is notable that Philip went to preach in Samaria (Acts 8:5), because Samaritans hated Jews and vice versa. But Philip had a heart to reach out to them with the gospel. We need to be willing to go and minister to people who are different than us. All of our conversation starters and techniques will mean nothing if we don’t show how much we care about the other person.
3. We need to be open and obedient to the leading of the Holy Spirit. When the angel sent Philip into the desert, the details didn’t become clear until he started following the directions. Philip could have turned and run, like Jonah did. But he was obedient to the call and was at the right place at the right time. God’s way becomes evident when we start walking in it.
4. We need to give the gospel accurately. The last thing we want to do as Christians is to preach a false gospel that doesn’t talk about sin, repentance, or the Cross. Philip taught the Ethiopian from Scripture (see Isaiah 55:11) and preached Jesus Christ (see 1 Corinthians 15:1). Anything different is a false gospel (see Jeremiah 6:14).
5. The gospel must be responded to appropriately. It would be silly and cruel to take a thirsty man to water and not give him a chance to drink. Likewise, once you’ve presented the gospel message, it is imperative to give the person an opportunity to respond. The worst thing that would happen is that they say no and even then you have still planted a seed. But you also could have the privilege of helping lead them to Christ.
Something that is often lacking in gospel presentations is tact. It has been defined as “the intuitive knowledge of saying the right thing at the right time”. Many times, Christians treat nonbelievers with a huge amount of disrespect, hitting them with hellfire and brimstone. When you look at Jesus’ conversation with the woman at the well, He was very tactful, He had every reason to criticize the woman for her background and her past but instead He built a bridge and created a dialogue. He didn’t treat her as a lesser person but as someone worthy of respect and kindness.
What a wonderful image at the end of Acts 8, as the Ethiopian walks away after being baptized, rejoicing and praising God. And what a joy it was for Philip to have been able to play a part in his salvation. We may not have the same experience when we share the gospel but God has called us to communicate the Good News and whatever part we play is crucial.