Question for Discussion

Some time ago Pastor Ali McLachlan sent Walking Worthy a list of questions which he suggested would provide useful discussion topics. One of these was the following:

How would you give the gospel in 100 words to the average teenager in Britain? Where would you start?
Do any of you know the average teenager in Britain? Should you? Why/why not?
At what point does the salt and light thing kick in? If not at Key stage one, when? How?

As always PLEASE COMMENT if you can think of a relevant Bible verse or if you have had an experience that you would like to share. Let’s get sharpening each other!

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29 comments:

  1. As a starting point, I saw an interesting video explaining how to use an example of "one-verse evangelism" where you explain Romans 6v23, "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."

    http://www.sermonaudio.com/sermoninfo.asp?SID=57092136342

    Feel free to hold back this comment so that it doesn't distract immediately.

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  2. I know a lot of british teenagers, who are interested about what we beleive in and I think that I should have them as aquaintances, so that I can preach the gospel to them. The salt and light thing should kick in once you become a christian, otherwise, you will always be either a baby christian or not a christian at all.

    THE GOSPEL IN 1OO WORDS.

    In the beginning, God created the earth and everything in it, man was tempted by the devil and ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, something that God had told man not to do and sin came into the world. God sent Jesus his only son, to die, for our sins, so that they may be forgiven and when we die, anyone who believes and serves him faithfully, will go to be with him when we die. Anyone who doesn’t believe in him and doesn’t serve him will burn in hell eternally.

    Anna

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  3. That is a very interesting question. Being salt and light should not just be when with a church group or at an evangelistic event, but ALL THE TIME! We should constantly look for ways to show our love for the Saviour to a lost and damned world.

    Whenever sharing the gospel I guess it is very important to start with sin. Otherwise, as the Way Of The Master puts it, it is like offering people a cure for a disease they don't know they have. There are obviously tons of verses on sin that can be quoted, and trying to make people aware of mankind's sin and the effects it has on us is essential. From there, stating God's view of sin and what He has done to save us from the consequences of sin (Hell). The good news is good and emphasizing God's grace to us in this regard is vital. I think that once people have seen the horrible way things are and how we have all sinned, hearing of the alternative to eternity in Hell is great! It should be exciting!

    One other thing I realise about mentioning sin is that our attitude needs to be "I personally have sinned and so has she and so have you" rather than a proud and holier- than -thou "YOU need to sort YOUR mess out". Too often we can come across as hypocritical and people hate that kind of attitude.

    That wasn't exactly 100 words, but I hope it was useful!!

    Elspeth

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  4. "You might think that you are more enlightened than me, but I am happy and you are not, I have meaning in my life and you haven't. You might think it is impossible to prove Christianity, but I know it's true because god himself has proved it to me. You might think I am the moral person you know, but I am a sinner too, we all do wrong things and have rebelled against God, that's why there is suffering in the world. But God has not just allowed suffering, he has provided the answer, Jesus Christ, who was punished for our rebellion. I know that he has saved me and he can change your life too if you trust him, can I invite you to church?"

    After 8 months at college i feel reasonably well qualified to know the average British teenager, and no I think there are a lot of things I would far rather not know, for example, how much they drunk and what they did last night, or what they want to talk about. I think it is very important to have an attitude of not even wanting to know, otherwise they will be the ones trying to convert you. (from personal experience.)
    That's how the salt and light kicks in, " I don't want to know about your party. I'd rather not take part in this conversation. No, I don't do that. I'm a Christian." It's very important to explain why we are different from key Stage One.

    PS: I realize that was 127 wordswe should all be incapable of stopping talking about the gospel. :D

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  5. If we're really committed Christians and following God affects all areas of our lives, surely salt and light 'kicking in' shouldn't even have to start? As Anna said, it should start when we become Christians. Shouldn't we be being salt and light even when we aren't around non-Christians? We're still part of the battle between God and the devil, good and evil, even when we're not around anybody else, aren't we?

    Evangelising isn't just telling people in words about the gospel. It's more than that. It's what we do and say in our normal lives. Francis of Assisi said, "only use words if necessary". There are times and places for speaking the gospel and times and places for witnessing silently by your actions. Surely everyone should be able to tell that we're Christians without us even having to tell them! Simply by the way we behave, what we do and don't do and how we talk, people should be able to tell that there's something different about us.

    Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to say that we should keep our amazing faith to ourselves - but sometimes we need to back off a little and simply be ready to answer questions when they come up. If we push it too far now, there may be an opportunity in the future that we can't take because they have already tuned out and won't listen any more. I suppose what it comes down to is listening to God and being ready to speak or not speak as He directs!

    Samuel, you suggest being firm and letting them know from an early stage that you're aren't interested in their parties, conversations, etc. because you are a Christian. I agree with you to an extent - after all, we have to stick up for what we believe and not be persuaded into anything wrong. On the other hand, we have to be careful not to appear judgemental! Again, we have to leave the doors open so that God has an opportunity to work through us. There are times for keeping a low profile, so that people feel able to talk to us, even though they know who we are.

    'For the word of the God us living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division or soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.' (Hebrews 4:12) Sometimes we have to stand up and say "this is wrong" and be known for having standards that we keep. But 'A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.' (Proverbs 15:1) While still holding up what we believe, we can leave the floor open for discussion.

    Does that make sense?

    Elspeth, I agree with you about having to explain the concept of sin before you can preach the gospel. The problem is, some people don't think it's at all relevant to their lives! It's very difficult to try and help somebody understand that they need God when they don't care if He's there or not. My driving instructor *has* thought about things like sin, suffering, the meaning of life, God, etc. but she honestly doesn't think it's an issue for her. How are you supposed to counter that?!

    Sorry if this is a bit long!!

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  6. This is a great discussion everyone!

    Elspeth, I agree with you when you said that being salt and light should be constant, not just when we are in Christian circles! Christ said, "No man, when he hath lighted a candle, putteth it in a secret place, neither under a bushel, but on a candlestick, that they which come in may see the light." (Luke 11:33). "Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men...Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven." (Matt. 5:13,16). The first and most important thing, I think, is to establish the fact that we are different from the rest of the world. As Christ followers, we ought to think, act and speak differently from the world, as we should have the mind of Christ (1 Co. 2:16). A big problem in a lot of churches today, and consequently with a lot of Christians, is that they try to 'bring in the world' by showing that they are not much different from them, and they will use words, music, visual effects etc. to 'attract' the world. They will use slogans such as, "Church is cool" and use music that doesn't sound much different from the modern-day bands, and sadly many Christians will even dress and talk like a lot of non-Christians would, to show that they are not much different from everybody else. This is an example of the salt losing it's saltiness, and the light being hid under a bushel. As Christians, we are to be different in all our ways from the rest of the world. We are not in any way to try to conform to their standards! (Romans 12:2).

    I know a couple of the 'average teenagers' where I work, and they know where I stand as a Christian, because I am different from them, which promotes a lot of good discussions. If we live differently from the rest of the world, this will provide opportunities to share the gospel. They will want to know the reasons why we are so different, which happens a lot with the people I speak to at work. They know I dress differently, think and live differently because I love Christ. Sometimes I wish I could catch on camera the looks of sheer shock on their faces when I speak about courtship, because they want to know why I don't have a boyfriend! Basically, what I'm trying so say, is that if we have the mind of Christ we should live differently in every aspect of our lives from the rest of the world (from the way we dress, the things we listen to, read, watch, to the way we think, speak etc.), and that will promote discussions to share the gospel! People will want to know why we are so different! There is no shame in it! Rather, we are to rejoice in our Saviour that He has transformed us into a new creation!

    As to whether we should or shouldn't know the average teenager, I do not think it is wrong to know them in the sense that we will talk to them when we see them, for we will come into contact with them in our lives at times, and these opportunities we should sieze to sharing the gospel, but I do think it is wrong to seek after a close friendship with the world. Remember, the company of fools suffers harm (Proverbs 13:20). We can witness to the world without forming close friendships with them. Rather we should seek godly friends that will encourage and exhort us in the ways of Christ; for if we did form a close relationship with the ungodly, thinking we will eventually convert them through our friendship, we may soon find that it could be the other way around - and they will be the influence on us instead of us being the ones to influence them!

    So sorry this is so long! Stating what I need to say succinctly is not one of my fortes! I hope what I have said makes sense anyway and is of some use.

    In Him, Rebekah

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  7. Great discussion guys--am enjoying reading it :)

    I know a few average British teens and get on with them quite well, i think its fine to be friends with them, you must just get the balance right, none-christian and Christian friends. I agree with Tabitha you cant be to judgemental. Also just by your attitude,dress and speech you can show them that you are a christian, without pressing them to much.

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  8. Rom 10:14 "How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?" I totally agree Tabitha that living like a Christain is essential to effectively proclaiming the gospel as we are instructed to do. The thing that it is important not to miss out is that pointed out in the above verse. Words are essential to lead somebody to Christ. concerning your driving instructor, I know exactly where you are-I had a driving instructor who was exactly the same. The things that I pointed out to her were probably things you have said already. God is universal-because he is God- and so rules everything thus it applies to everyone. Everyone is in sin and will face punishment unless they trust in Christ and repent. Pray for her.

    Any idea, guys, how the preaching of words and living before non-Christians relate in evangelism?

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  9. Good question! I think that as Christ followers living before non-Christians, we should ensure that we live differently from them, so that they know from the start how we stand. As Tabitha has already said, living like a true Christian is an essential part of evangelising, as they will want to know why we are different. And as I have already said before, we are to 'not be conformed to this world but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds,' (Romans 12:2). Especially where I work, if some people are talking about something that is unsavoury or ask if i do such and such, I will not join in the conversation or explain why I don't do such and such, and will try and use that circumstance to share my faith and point them to Christ. For example, I have had to explain in the past why I don't go out clubbing, drinking etc. and I think it's very important that we explain the reasons why we don't participate in such things, and not just say, "Oh, I don't do that," and then wave the subject aside, as that will be wasting an opportunity to share the gospel. It's always handy to carry a small New Testament or pocket-sized Bible with you, as it will come in useful at times! I'm trying to get into the habit of taking my small Bible with me to work in my bag, just in case I have the opportunity of sharing the scriptures with people. It can be hard at times, but it's so important not to let a good opportunity of sharing the gospel to pass us by, because just look at what Ezekiel 3:18 says, "When I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; and thou givest him not warning, nor speakest to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life; the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand." This is a very sobering verse, and should encourage us to make sure that we never let one opportunity to share the gospel escape us, lest that person dies in his iniquity, and God requires his blood at our hands!

    In Him, Rebekah

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  10. Hi, everyone. I hope you don't mind me just quickly sharing something with you...

    I think it's amazing how God works! I love the way how He works in our lives, and when He wants to teach us a specific lesson, He will bring the subject up in various different ways which all connects together! I'm so glad that the current discussion is on witnessing and sharing the gospel, as it's something I feel that the Lord is trying to improve upon in my life. Well, anyway, I had this amazing opportunity to witness to a colleague at work yesterday! We were talking about friendships, and he was saying that he doesn't like to have lots of friends, because so many of them have let him down in the past. When he said this, I felt the Holy Spirit move me to say to him that there is one Friend Who will never let him down. I felt a bit nervous, but God gave me the strength to say it, and I told Him that Jesus is the one Friend in life we can truly rely upon, which led to a fantastic conversation and I was able to share with him the gospel! He started out by saying that he didn't believe in God and didn't have time for religion, but by the end of our conversation he said that maybe he would give God some time one day. Isn't God good? All I can do now is pray for him and that the Holy Spirit will convict him of his sin and need for a Saviour, that He may trust in Christ for salvation. Praise the Lord for the seeds that have been sown! May they be watered and bring forth a harvest of righteousness.

    I hope you didn't mind me sharing this with you all. I was just excited that God gave me this opportunity and just at the time when Walking Worthy are having this discussion, too!

    Every blessing.
    Rebekah

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  11. Interesting thoughts...
    Just a few thoughts of my own on what the gospel is:

    God made the world, and into his world sin and evil have come. Our relationship with God has been ruined and the world is wrecked by evil. But God has not left us and the world in this state, rather he has come to redeem it. God's plan is about redeeming his people and his creation and he will one day make a new heavens and new earth and those who love and trust him will be resurrected to enjoy ruling with God in the new earth. The wicked will be removed from God's sight and, having rejected the God in whose image they are made, God will strip his image away from them (This is where I would not use the phrase "Anyone who doesn’t believe in him and doesn’t serve him will burn in hell eternally.." Partly because I don't believe that hell is literally fire and secondly because this isn't the primary way the Bible talks about the punishment for sin. I am not saying that we don't mention that there are consequences for rejecting Christ, I simply think that it is not particularly helpful or entirely accurate). This reconciliation of primarily people but also of creation is actuated by Jesus' death on the cross, where he died for individual sinners' sin and took in him the evil in this world and the dark powers and defeated them. His resurrection shows that he has defeated death and is vindicated by God.

    That I believe is the gospel. In witnessing we talk about the gospel but also apply it to the person. It is important to note that the gospel is not a call to repentance, but a call to respond comes from the message.

    I hope this isn't too off track from everyone else. It's just a slightly different opinion.

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  12. Mandy Mackereth6 March 2010 at 00:11

    This is a really useful question for discussion, and some great comments!

    Speaking on hell, Revelation 14v10 says (of anyone who worships the beast and his image) ...'and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever:' so the wicked are not removed from God's sight at death, but are tormented in His very presence.

    See also 2 Thess 1v9, 'who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power'. This might be taken to mean that the wicked are punished away from God's presence ('from' denoting separation from), but in the light of the verse from Rev above, would be better taken to mean 'proceeding from'. Matthew Henry's commentary says on this verse 'This destruction shall come from the presence of the Lord, that is immediately from God himself....it will be destruction from the Almighty, more terrible than the consuming fire which consumed Nadab and Abihu, which came from before the Lord.'

    Great thread :-)

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  13. Hi, Charlie! Thanks for your comments. I agree with you when you said that when we are sharing the gospel, we are to apply it to the person, and to tell them that if they do not respond to God's free gift of salvation, then He will one day cast them away forever from Himself, where they will never know His love, peace and the joy of being in His presence, and of course, the worst thing about hell is that those who are there are cast away from God and can never be close to Him, but but why do you believe that hell is not literally fire? I just want to share with you a few verses why I believe that hell is indeed, a lake of burning fire:

    "...but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire." (Matt. 5:22)

    "...it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire." (Matt. 18:9)

    Also, there is the parable that Jesus told about the rich man and Lazarus, where the rich man was cast into hell and cried out saying that he was tormented in the flame. (Luke 16:24).

    I hope you didn't mind me sharing this with you. I just wondered what your reasons were for not believeing that hell is lterally fire, as from the above verses, I should think that it was.

    In Him, Rebekah

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  14. Dear all,

    this is the kind of discussion I was hoping would arise...

    The consequences of sin are real and specific. Hell, like heaven, contains mystery. We do not understand it fully, but we do know enough to do anything to avoid it! It is a place of eternal, literal, physical and spiritual torment, regret, pain, fire and darkness.
    Yet none of this makes sense without a clear view of sin. Sin is an infinite insult against an infinitely glorious and holy God - it demands an infinite punishment (which may only be avoided by an infinite sacrifice - Christ crucified).

    The kind of thing I was getting at, particularly addressed to those in Christian Education (who generally accept what the Bible says)was this:

    How can you engage teenagers today with the issues of sin, holiness, justice, hell and atonement, when all the while they reply:
    "That's just the way you see it" or "That's ok for you to believe, but it doesn't affect my life" or else, "You are a sad, strange little man and you have my pity!"

    Is this thread wortwhile? I hope so. To my mind it seems crucial for the teen and twenties generation today.

    Ali

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  15. I could give a few reasons for why hell is not literally fire. These are a few. Firstly, hell is also described as darkness, but fire is not dark. Secondly, if the punishment for sin is fire, then why wasn't Jesus punished with fire on the cross? The punishment for sin is primarily called 'Death'. For me that means losing God's image (as annihilationism is clearly not taught in the Bible). Also, fire is a metaphor in the Bible for God's punishment and destruction, hence 'hell-fire'. Those listening would not have taken the images literally. I believe that hell, losing God's image, is something so grotesque.

    As for being out of God's sight, I think I expressed myself wrongly, thanks for picking me up on it. I suppose I meant that they are subjectively seperate from God, from His light. I ultimately believe that hell is a free choice. That is, people who go to hell freely choose to, they have chosen to reject God. In hell, they do not cry out for forgiveness, but still reject God. There is so much more I could say and points that I probably disagree on from what has been said.

    But back to the main point of the thread, as Christians we must engage with the world. I suppose primarily through friendships, but there are a multiplicity of ways. Sometimes rational arguments are key, but this is not often the case. Often it is in getting to know someone and witnessing through your life. Although, we can't escape from some form of intellectual engagement. No-one is saved by reason alone but no-one is saved without it.

    Anyway, I fear my comments and opinions are probably too contraversial for this kind blog...it's probably not the best forum to start aguing with everyone (as is my natural tendency).

    Au revoir

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  16. Charlie, I don't think I agree with you on the issue of hell not having fire - my main reason being that if you say that the Bible doesn't mean it literally you get into the position where you can't trust anything the Bible says because 'it might not mean it literally' and I think that that is a dangerous path to go down. However, you still believe that hell is hell - we simply disagree about what form it takes!

    Mr McLachlan, that is a very interesting question that you ask and I'm not sure I have a conclusive answer. My thoughts so far, are:

    "For the word of the cross is to those who are perishing foolishness, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God." (1 Corinthians 1:18) In the next chapter it says, "And my message and my teaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not rest of the wisdom of men, but on the power of God." (1 Corinthians 2:4-5)

    I took this to mean that our beliefs *are* going to be rebuffed by lots of people and that, ultimately, it's a touch from God that really stirs the heart. As Charlie points out, faith isn't without reason - but we can talk until the cows come home and not get any where, unless the person has had a revelation from God (or chooses to respond to the revelation). They have to be 'converted' because they really have made a connection with God and not just because we have been eloquent!

    My father says that it's important, when sharing the gospel, to talk about what the Lord has done in *your* life. Partly because people are more interested in how it affects you than the logic and partly because they can't dispute a change in your life. After all, if you don't have anything to say about how being a believer effects your life, why should they want to become one?!

    I am going to be radical and suggest that we are not necessarily going to get very far if we communicate the gospel as being mainly about what happens when we die. What average teenager is going to want to sign up to something with a list of rules, just so that they have a nice time when they die - which is, after all, years and years away, right? I'm not even sure that we need to start with explaining what sin is...

    "From that time Jesus began to preach and say, 'Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.'" Matthew 4:17 Jesus was just starting out on His ministry and He hadn't yet died and rose again - so what was He preaching? He was preaching that the kingdom of heaven (meaning God's kingdom) was at hand and that they could be a part of it! Although the Cross is crucial to the whole, the gospel isn't about it; it's about having relationship with God and being a part of His kingdom. That does very soon get us to what Jesus did - because of sin, that is the only way we can be a part of God's kingdom.

    "We're all searching for the answers and trying to find what it is that gives a purpose to our lives. I have found something real and tangible that is *the* answer! It's constantly changing my life and it makes life an exciting journey! Part of being a Christian is having God's protection and instant access to Him. How do you become part of this kingdom? God is so righteous that when we sin, is alienates us from Him, so that He sent His Son (who is God) to die and rise again, setting us free from the bondage of sin. Entry into God's kingdom is free and just like living in this country, when we are citizens of God's kingdom we have to obey the rules set by the King. The cost of being outside the Kingdom is far greater and the privileges of having a relationship with God and being in His dominion far out-ways anything else!"

    I know that that is nearer two hundred words than one but that is what (at the moment, I'm still thinking it through) what I would consider the Good News to be. What do you all think? Anybody disagree with me? :-)

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  17. Folks,

    This all looks like an interesting discussion.

    In answer to Mr Mclachlen's question i.e. "How can you engage teenagers today with the issues of sin, holiness, justice, hell and atonement, when all the while they reply: "That's just the way you see it" or "That's ok for you to believe, but it doesn't affect my life" or else, "You are a sad, strange little man and you have my pity!"

    My broad answer to this is to say that when teenagers give such an answer, we need to spend a bit more time trying to ask them to whether they would reply in the same way if the things that the bible spoke about were true. Let me give an example. If we were at the beach and there was a sign that said "No swimming because of danger of sharks" and I said to a teenager who was heading towards the sea for a bit of a quick swim and I said to the teenager HEY! Don't go in - it's dangerous - you could die! And to show this I pointed to the sign, do you think they would be saying to me "ah that's just your opinion" I very much doubt it. Now this is the thing we need our friends to realise. The Bible's claims are true and not simply a matter of one's opinion over another. This it seems to me is the way the Apostles present the risen Christ in the book of Acts e.g. Acts 10:34-43

    Kip' Chelashaw

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  18. Charlie,

    You say that hell is not literal fire because hell is described as darkness and fire is not dark. I think this misunderstands how the bible works. We are not to take one image and let it contradict or override the other images rather we take each picture that the bible gives and ask what it is saying about a particular rather than pressing the image to the exclusion of the others. Let me give you one example. The Bible says God is a rock. Do you think that means he is grey and lifeless? Obviously not. We are to understand this description as showing God as strong, powerful and immovable. Thus when it says hell is darkness we are not meant to think there is no fire rather we are to think of what else darkenss describes i.e. alone-ness, lostness, helpnesses, fear etc.

    Kip' Chelashaw

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  19. David van den Broek9 March 2010 at 16:51

    I've got some internet at last! It has been very interesting reading comments and seeing different subjects being discussed.
    My only comment would be to say that when I share the gospel I try to place 100% of emphasise on truth rather than on the perceived benefits (or not) to the particular individual involved. Let me explain before I am declared a heretic:)

    Instead of saying: "Do you need a helpline that is open 24 hours a day? - If you become a Christian you can contact God whenever you want him." I would say: "The creator of heaven and earth sees all you do (whether you want him to or not) and he requires that you present your life as an acceptable sacrifice. One day he is coming again and he WILL judge you - if you have put your effort into producing rubbish it will burn."

    I have to, I am afraid, disagree with you, Tabitha, when you say that the gospel needn't start with sin and the cross. I would use the same verse you used: "From that time Jesus began to preach and say, 'Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.'" Matthew 4:17 The very first word Christ says here is REPENT. Why? Repentance is needed when SIN is an issue.

    All the way from Genesis chapter 3 history has revolved around the cross, God's perfect plan of creation redemption. If we don't start with sin then talking of a Saviour is foolish.

    The sinful human nature hates to feel insufficient for God - it always has. Let us NEVER fall into the same foolish error: without Christ we are sinful, selfish, foolish, helpless rags! The Christian message is revolutionary because instead of trying to cover up our problem (as every other religion does), it presents the ONLY answer and sorts the problem out. God came to this earth and gave his life in order to reconcile God to man - giving worthless creatures worth - and he did for His own glory.

    PRAISE THE LORD!

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  20. Amen, David! I wholeheartedly agree with you when you said that when witnessing the gospel we should start with sin and repentance, for isn't that what the whole gospel is about? We are all of us born sinners from our mother's womb, and are all in need of repentance, and that is why Christ came to save us - that we may be redeemed from satan's clutches and from sin.

    In response to Mr McLachlan's question, when sharing the gospel with teens, I think it's imperative that we apply it to the other person's life, especially if their response is: "That's ok for you to believe but it doesn't apply to me." The importance here is that we show them that the gospel does apply to them! I would probably open with the verse: "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:23) And also: "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." (Romans 6:23) I would add: "As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one." (Romans 3:10). From these verses, we are establishing from stage 1 that the gospel does apply to them, and that they are in need of a Saviour, for sin is something we are all born in, and will lead us to destruction. But then comes the good news! I would then perhaps quote John 3:16, one of my favourite verses to use when evangelising: "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoseover believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life."

    It is vital when witnessing that we establish the seriousness of sin and that we are all in need of a Saviour. I always make it a point to emphasize that I am also a sinner and need Jesus as my Saviour, as I don't want them to think that I'm puffing myself up as holier than them and thus put them off from listening to the gospel message. I also think it's important to state how Jesus has changed our lives, and how Christianity applies to our everyday lives, and that it's not just a 'Sunday thing.' It's important to share with others that when we trust in Christ for our salvation, we are to 'put of the old man with his deeds' and we are to become a new creation in Christ Jesus (2 Co. 5:17), and thus everyday of our lives we are to walk in the footsteps of the Saviour.

    What are everyone else's thoughts?

    Rebekah

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  21. I hope it's okay for me to join in with this conversation - I'm Tabitha's older sister and I've been "listening in" on the debate from the background! :)

    The trouble with starting a presentation of the Gospel with SIN is that sin is our problem and talking about it puts the emphasis of the conversation on US - on how much WE'VE messed up, on how much WE'VE offended God, on how much WE need a Saviour and Redeemer. All those things are true … but before sin was GOD. Without Him - and His holiness and sinlessness - there's no meaning in the word or idea of "sin". Surely, the Gospel is about God first and last - because GOD created us (knowing we'd mess up), GOD gave us the choice between good and evil (in other words, obedience to and relationship with Him or disobedience and death) and when we chose evil (and sin entered the world) GOD promised to send a Saviour and Redeemer. He was talking about Jesus. HE came and died and rose again to conquer sin and death and reconcile us with GOD. HE'S coming again to "take us home".

    Our sin is great, but God's faithfulness and mercy - if we choose to accept it through faith in Jesus - is GREATER.

    On his deathbed, John Newton said, "I remember two things: that am a great sinner and that Christ is a great Saviour". Our presentation of the Gospel should not (CAN not!) overlook the fact that "all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God", but neither should it begin and end with this. God is not willing that any should perish (2 Peter 3:9)and His arm is not too short to save (Isaiah 59:1) ... salvation and redemption "is the Lord's doing and it is marvellous in our eyes" (Psalm 118:23 KJV).

    Let's keep the focus on HIM!

    Incidentally, a LOT of non-Christian teens and twenty-somethings have never been to church and have only heard about Jesus in R.E. or as a swear word.(Yes, people using Jesus as a swear word upsets me every time, too.) When presenting the Gospel to non-Christians, it's a good idea to remember that words like "sin" and "salvation" have NO meaning to them - honestly. Amazingly, even people who don't know The Ten Commandments DO know they're always "messing up" and when God moves into a conversation it's so, so, so awesome the way they DO understand. So be encouraged!

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  22. This is a fascinating discussion.

    Elisabeth, thank you for your comment. I agree with you to a certain extent, yes; we do need to try and bring the focus back to God in our witnessing. But don't you think that people will respond better to His grace if they see that they actually need it? Let me explain...

    As I have already said in my previous comment, trying to witness without bringing sin in first is like offering people a cure for a disease they didn't know they had. Wouldn't you find it bizarre if a guy came up to you and said "Here is a bottle of medicine. You have a rare medical condition, and if you don't take this stuff you will die soon"? Much better for him to explain the disease to you and the symptoms and then point them out in you. Then you would say, "Oh. I see! I seem to have this illness! Is there a cure?!". He could then give you the medicine and you would be healed. It is like that with evangelism. Starting with God's grace means people will say, "Why do I need God's grace? I am a good person". It is surprising how good people think they are. Once people have THEMSELVES acknowledged that they have sinned, (and this can be achieved by doing the "Are you a good person test?"- see www.thewayofthemaster.com), then surely they will see God's salvation as much more needful. Does that make sense?

    I think that David and Rebekah were both right when they mentioned repentance. As we all know, "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God".

    Going back to what you said, Tabitha, how do you prove that God has worked in your life? If a non-christian says, "Prove it" what can you reply? At least when trying to convince them of their sin we have plenty of verses to back us up. Just thought I would point that out. =)

    Hope this is useful!

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  23. Elisabeth, thanks for joining in!
    You are quite right that without focussing on God in our evangelism, we are missing the point. And you are right, sin loses any meaning if it becomes detached from the one who is Truth. However, I totally agree with what Elspeth, David, etc are saying, that we must emphasize the problem of their sin if we are to be preaching the Gospel to them. John Piper has written a wonderful book called "God is the Gospel," in which he argues that the gospel is that God has given us the gift of Himself -knowing him, being his children, being with him for ever beholding his glory...! (1John3:2) -But through the means of Redemption. (1Peter3:18)
    'For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God.'

    Speaking of God to a person without addressing their need of cleansing from sin, would not be the Gospel(Good News) at all!
    Of course, we must start at where a person is at, just like Paul speaking to the Athenians or the Jews. But persuading an atheist that a God exists is not the same as preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ to him.

    On a personal note, going back to the original questions, I am fairly well aquainted with what the average youth on the street today is like as I have done a fair amount of one-one evangelism with them. I have found, as Elspeth said, that the Way of the Master 'method' is very helpful; it obviously shouldnt be stuck to, but as a conversation starter its great!

    Being a witness from day to day to people at university, etc, is something I find much harder! Obviously we arent going to 'way of the master them' every time we talk to them, but we must be continuing to let our light shine before them, and point them in the right direction.
    One thing I have found particularly difficult is that people look at you not drinking, swearing, gambling, etc, and immediately come to the conclusion that Christianity is about works. Which is we need to pray hard that the Lord would enable us to be compassionate and loving to these people, and that the Lord would open their hearts to his word(that hopefully we will have told them).

    Romans 10:14
    'How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?'

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  24. David van den Broek11 March 2010 at 18:32

    Hi Elisabeth, thanks for joining in.

    I agree that before sin was, God was. But we live in a world totally affected by sin and the people that we are witnessing to are sinners (they are individuals who's natures have been 'stained' by sin).

    I don't believe that to talk about sin first is to put the emphasis on us - we must remember that we are seeking to talk to the lost about a relationship between God and us, so we have to talk about us.

    I think Elspeth is right - a sick person doesn't want a cure unless they know that they are sick. I have been asked the same question by several people at college this week: "why don't I see you down at Guys? (the local)" or "why don't you swear when you talk?" It is my prayer that seeing my way of life and hearing my response to their questions will show them that they have a problem, and that they can get the cure where I got mine!

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  25. Of course, having a clear 100 words to tell them the gospel is a highly hypothetical situation. Perhaps a more accurate question would be, "How would you explain the gospel in threee sentences in response to the question, "Why does God allow suffering?""
    I think it is very important that we do not confuse 'preaching' with personal evangelism. When I share the gospel I find that it goes far more along the lines of, "Why are you a Christian" "Isn't that just because of your parents?" "What about the occasion when God sent a bear to kill loads of children?" " What about evolution?" "Why can't you do this that and the other and be a Christian at the same time?" "Do you really believe that?" "Wow! you are so narrow minded!"
    That's why I think it's not important to have the 'Perfect gospel formula and proof' in our mind, but rather an Instinct to share the gospel and a passion for souls. Colossians 4v6 says "Let your speech be always with grace seasoned with salt" and I think this is the key to personal evangelism, being able to talk about the gospel in response to any vaguely related question and subtly creating oppurtunities.
    From personal experience, the best way to create oppurtunities is to be unambiguous in condemning and avoiding compromise. If you appear weak at the start of a freindship with an unbeliever, they will take the initiative and it will be them trying to convert you not you witnessing to them, it is always far harder to be drawn into sin if the people you are with know you have previously made a moral stand on it. I think the key to witnessing to unbelievers around us is not you knowing them, but them knowing you, because then they ask the questions.

    Samuel.

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  26. Elspeth - sorry for taking so long to answer your question! You said, "Going back to what you said, Tabitha, how do you prove that God has worked in your life? If a non-christian says, "Prove it" what can you reply? At least when trying to convince them of their sin we have plenty of verses to back us up. Just thought I would point that out. =)"

    I agree with you that we can't prove God's working in our lives. But, if we are truly seeking God and allowing Him access to every part of our lives, there should be changes that cannot be denied by anyone. Look at some-one like John Newton – no-one could deny that something major had gone on in his life to change him so drastically, even if they didn't credit his story of God touching Him.

    I think even if they ridicule us for believing in such notions, most people can't argue with you when you say, “I've found that when dealing with such-and-such, praying helps,” or “I've gone through that too and I know just how you feel – but when I prayed, such-and-such happened.” A lot of people will sit up and take notice when you recount how you've been changed or helped, or whatever, when they would just sneer at a Bible passage.

    Not that I'm advocating simply telling your own experiences: the Bible is, as you say, our back up and we can't expect to explain what is going on without referring back to God's Word. I just think that maybe there needs to be a balance, to show that God's power wasn't just displayed in Bible times – He's working now, in some-one real and alive!

    Does that make sense? Even if you don't agree with me, I hope I've explained what I mean more fully! :-)

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  27. Consider trying to show their need, and show the salvation offered, by quoting the Bible. Do so under the banner of, "do you know what the Bible really says?" If they give their permission, and hear briefly the truths of the Word of God, we can seek that the Lord would bless it to the saving of their souls.

    Paul Washer advocates beginning with the nature of God. Try and persuade them that they want God to be just, and then show the implications of that on them, etc.
    The video explains it, and engaging in conversation:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jt9V4Q5n9gs

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  28. Tabitha,

    Thanks for explaining your position to me more fully. It makes much more sense now! I think that as long as you continue to use the Bible in your witnessing, sharing your personal experience can be very useful. With the both of them used together it could work as an evangelistic conversation.

    Also, Samuel, you are absolutely right- sharing your faith in 100 words is a very hypothetical situation. Could you perhaps explain your last sentence a bit more fully? "I think the key to witnessing to unbelievers around us is not you knowing them, but them knowing you, because then they ask the questions." I didn't quite get how that could be worked out practically. Thank you. =)

    Elspeth

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  29. Samuel Mackereth22 March 2010 at 16:49

    Elspeth, I think I'm not saying we shouldn't try to be friends with unbelievers, I am saying we don't need to understand the way they live to witness to them, it is better to be clear and open about your faith and principle and then they are interested in the way you live and what it is that makes you different.From personal experience whenever I simply try to "fit in" and "make friends" i lose the oppurtunities to witness, but when I actively try to talk about Christian things I find people are interested in what I have to say.
    I hope that clarifies what I meant a bit.
    Samuel M.

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