“And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive , because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.” (John 14:16-18)
This verse explains (among other things) why, when we share the Gospel, the message we present must be kept simple. Going too far beyond, “You’re a sinner and Jesus died for your sins,” and the Bible verses needed to support the doctrine, typically only serves to muddy the waters. In fact, it’s almost guaranteed that if you stray too far and too often from the Good News message, your non-believing audience will deem your words as folly.
That’s not merely an opinion — it’s the Bible.
“But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” (1 Corinthians 2:14)
It’s not that the unsaved soul is simple-minded, but rather, they are natural-minded. Frankly, we’re spinning our wheels when we begin to expound upon deeper theologies and heavier doctrines before the listener has understood and received the fundamentals of the faith. It’s akin to teaching algebra (or geometry, physics, or calculus), before the student comprehends basic math; these weighty subjects are foolishness to the student who cannot yet add or subtract whole numbers.
I like how Pastor Lloyd Pulley puts it. “A hundred gallons of water,” he explains is very heavy — almost a thousand pounds! Imagine trying to carry that weight on your head. You can’t. It’s just too heavy. But when you’re fully submersed in water, that same amount of water is nothing to bear. It’s the same way with the things of God — unless we are fully immersed, the notion of bearing such weight is foolish. Like fish out of water, we cannot yet bear the weight of heftier matters. Full immersion; us in God and God in us is the answer.
It’s Not My Fault
What about Jonah and the whale?“
How many of us already know the importance of keeping the Gospel message simple, but get dragged into these weightier discussions by the listener, or a bystander? It seems to occur almost every time we begin to share! We’re going along nicely, “And John 3:16 says…” (or something to that effect) and someone interrupts, “But what about contradictions in the Bible, ” or, “What about Jonah and the whale,” or some other issue that takes both listener and teacher down a rabbit trail.
In the same way an elementary-school teacher would reel-in one of her students who wants to distract the rest of the class, it’s your job to bring the discussion back to basics. If you cannot get your listener back, it just might be a sign from the Lord that perhaps you should ‘dismiss the class’ and move on. Failure to do so will just lead to more rabbit trails, confusion, and probably frustration on your part. Often times this where we get into arguments. Reel it in or cut if off — we never want to argue.
Reeling It In
In this regard I believe honesty is the best policy. Explain to the person how you would love the opportunity to explore any and all Bible doctrine with them, but they need to understand and receive God’s grace and plan for salvation before these other matters will make any sense. Be firm and loving and stick to the Good News. The Holy Spirit needs to be in them in order to grasp these other things of God, and at this particular point in time, the Holy Spirit has only come alongside them so that they might understand the Gospel.
How to Share the Gospel Simply
Are you going to Heaven?”
There are many ways to deliver the Gospel message, but I believe there is no better (and simpler) way than using the Bible and the Roman’s Road method. Start with your Bible and a highlighter and mark the following passages:
I like to start a conversation off with, “Hey, can I ask you a question…are you going to Heaven?”
Many conversations stop right there, but most do not. The reality is that most people, if they’re not busy, like to talk. How they answer the initial question will guide how the rest of the conversation goes. If they say yes, ask them why. If they say no, ask them why. If they say they don’t believe in Heaven, ask them why not. Eventually (be a good listener — there’s no rush), use the Ten Commandments as a road sign to point them to the truth: they are a sinner. This is the precise intersection where we pick up the Roman’s Road!
“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23
Go directly to the highlighted portion of your Bible and tell them to read it aloud, asking, “What does that mean?” trusting the Holy Spirit (which has come along side them) to give them understanding. I have never had anyone tell me anything other then, “It means all have sinned and fallen short of God,” or something similar. I might ask them to elaborate, “What does it mean to fall short of God,” and eventually they come around to the issue of separation. Occasionally someone will say, “I dunno,” but I just have them read it again until it clicks. And click it will.
At this point one of two things will happen: the Holy Spirit will convict them of their sin and you’ll be able to move onto the next Bible verse or the Holy Spirit will convict them of their sin and they will attempt to end the conversation. You can lovingly try to re-engage them. If they’re adamant about leaving, let them go, but know this: you have done well. You may not have gotten to the Good News portion of the Good News message, but you planted the most important seed: the seed of conviction. Your listener will never be the same again. Trust that the Lord will send another to ‘tend’ that seed; a waterer, a fertilizer-er, and eventually a harvester. You never know, He might send YOU back to do all those things!
The remaining portions of the Roman’s Road method is self explanatory. Read over each passage and as you highlight, formulate in your mind (and by the guidance of the Holy Spirit) how you would easily move from one to the next. I actually wrote in the margins of my Bible where the next step was so I could quickly find it. Remember, the convicted soul is likely feeling very uneasy and may attempt to hijack the conversation with obscure questions in an attempt to stump you and throw you off your game. See these distractions for what they are and don’t allow them. Be focused and stick to your simple Gospel presentation. The Holy Spirit is on your side, inside and out.
Finally, remember this is all a work of God. He has provided all the components towards salvation — the Son, the Holy Spirit, and the script. We’re just willing vessels having made ourselves available to Him and for Him. The results are entirely up to God. It’s His plan and He’s responsible for it. We don’t need to fret about our presentations and appearances, we just need to show up ready on game day.
“Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season;reprove , rebuke , exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.” 2 Timothy 4:2
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