The Lord has commissioned all believers to tell lost people about the Good News! of salvation in Jesus Christ, however, most people these days are averse to anyone talking to them about “religion.” “You have your beliefs and I have mine” and “Never discuss religion or politics” are society’s widely-held standards when it comes to conversations about spiritual matters. Despite that, we are still charged to reach out to people with the Gospel. But how do we do it?
Methods of spreading the Gospel range from “friendship evangelism,” where the Christian invests in a relationship with someone and witnesses/shares their faith over time as trust builds, to standing on a street corner with a bullhorn yelling at passersby to “turn (to Christ) or burn.” The approach we choose is going to be different depending on the person/s and circumstances.
Thirty-six years ago, the Lord led me out of Roman Catholicism to salvation by His grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone. For the past four-plus years, I’ve been publishing posts on this blog pleading with Catholics to accept Christ as Savior and to come out of the Roman church with its false gospel of sacramental grace and merit. My other mission is to warn Christians of ecumenism with Rome. In my posts, I don’t pull any punches when it comes to the RCC’s spiritually deadly teachings and its bloody, oppressive history. The information I present is sorely needed in this era of compromise and accommodation. Praise God for men like James White, Mike Gendron, and Leonardo De Chirico who faithfully confront the deadly errors of Catholic doctrine. But should I take the same approach when witnessing to a nominal Roman Catholic in a personal conversation?
A nominal Catholic family member came over to our house for dinner several weeks ago and the conversation eventually turned to spiritual matters. As the discussion continued, my wife became more and more animated and began bringing up such topics as the pope being an anti-Christ and the RCC being the Whore of Babylon as mentioned in Revelation 17 and 18. She also began expounding on how pope Francis had ominously joined the Hitler Youth as a teen, although it was actually pope Benedict XVI who had been involuntarily conscripted into the Hitler-Jugend. It was clear that the conversation had moved entirely away from the Good News! into details that, although mostly true, were not helpful in that circumstance and were even counter-productive. This later led to a discussion between my wife and I over the proper approach in that situation. God bless my wife, an extrovert, who shares Jesus more readily than I do. I certainly agree that there are conversations with some particular people where going deep into doctrinal differences and historical evidences would be appropriate, but with most people in most situations, we should focus on the Gospel basics:
- We are all sinners.
- We all deserve eternal punishment.
- God the Father loved us so much He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, God the Son, to die on the cross to pay the punishment for our sins.
- Jesus rose from the grave, defeating sin and death and offers the gift of salvation to all those who repent of their sin and trust in Him as their Savior by faith alone.
Yup, it is often very helpful while witnessing to also point out that all religions, including pseudo-Christian sects, teach that a person must merit their salvation, while Bible Christianity proclaims a person can only be saved by trusting in Jesus Christ as Savior by faith alone. But getting wrapped around the axle over secondary doctrinal differences, church history, and eschatology in most outreach conversations can easily take the focus off of Jesus Christ and the Good News! Angry debates over secondaries and non-essentials can also needlessly aggravate and turn off the listener. “Yeah, but didn’t Jesus angrily confront people?,” some believers may ask. Yes, we read in the four Gospels that Jesus certainly confronted false teachers, sometimes in righteous anger, but He reached out to the masses with grace, love, and compassion in conjunction with truth.
The Gospel will offend. No doubt about it. Most people don’t want to hear that they’re sinners on their way to hell and in desperate need of the Savior, but that’s what they need to know. We need to make sure our approach with most people is focused on mankind’s sin predicament and the Good News! of Jesus Christ, the Savior, and not on theological, historical, and eschatological rabbit holes that take the focus off of Jesus Christ and the Gospel.
Comments are welcome!
“Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.” – Matthew 10:16