- Partnering With God
- Overcoming Obstacles
- Living As an Insider
- Conversing the Gospel
- Participating in a New Birth
God passionately desires to see all people embrace Christ and find salvation through Him. He invites His children to partner with Him through their natural relationships. As insiders in our own culture and spheres of influence, we are strategically placed to introduce our friends and acquaintances to the Lover of their souls-through our deeds and our words.
17 For God did not send the Son into the world in order to judge (to reject, to condemn, to pass sentence on) the world, but that the world might find salvation and be made safe and sound through Him. John 3:17 AMPC
Partnering with God
God’s relationship purpose and plan for all people is revealed in Ephesians 3.
1 For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus on behalf of you Gentiles— 2 if indeed you heard of the stewardship of God’s grace which was given to me for you; 3 that by revelation there was made known to me the mystery, as I wrote before in brief. 4 About which, when you read you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, 5 which in other generations was not made known to the sons of men, as it was now revealed to His holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit: 6 that the Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel, 7 of which I was made a minister, according to the gift of God’s grace which was given to me according to the working of His power. 8 To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to proclaim to the Gentiles the good news of the unfathomable riches of Christ, 9 and to bring to light for all what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God who created all things; 10 so that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places. 11 This was in accordance with the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord, … Ephesians 3:1-11 LSB
God’s purpose in sending Jesus is revealed in the verses below.
Jesus came to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many.
45 “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10:45 NIV
Jesus came to seek and to save the lost.
10 “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” Luke 19:10 NIV
Jesus came that we might have life, and have it to the full.
10 “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10 NIV
In Jesus’ prayer just before He went to the cross, He describes the part His followers would play in working out God’s purposes among those who don’t know Christ yet.
15 “I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. 18 As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. 19 And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth. 20 I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; 21 that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. >22 And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: 23 I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.” John 17:15-23 NKJV
It is critically important to share Christ with others. It is a matter of eternal life and eternal death.
There is only one way to have a relationship with God.
6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” John 14:6 NKJV
There is no salvation apart from Jesus.
12 “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12 NKJV
When we share Christ with others, we are entering into God’s ongoing work in their lives. We are partnering with God in His work in people’s lives. The Holy Spirit is always actively engaged in preparing people’s hearts to receive Christ.
5 Jesus answered, “Truly I tell you, unless someone is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 Whatever is born of the flesh is flesh, and whatever is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not be amazed that I told you that you must be born again. 8 The wind blows where it pleases, and you hear its sound, but you don’t know where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” John 3:5-8 CSB
7 “Nevertheless, I am telling you the truth. It is for your benefit that I go away, because if I don’t go away the Counselor will not come to you. If I go, I will send him to you. 8 When he comes, he will convict the world about sin, righteousness, and judgment: 9 About sin, because they do not believe in me; 10 about righteousness, because I am going to the Father and you will no longer see me; 11 and about judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged.” John 16:7-11 CSB
4 For we know, brothers and sisters loved by God, that he has chosen you, 5 because our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power, in the Holy Spirit, and with full assurance. You know how we lived among you for your benefit, … 1 Thessalonians 1:4-5 CSB
The best preparation for sharing Christ with others is for you to be a follower of Christ. One of the reasons people do not share Christ is because they are not following Christ.
19 “Follow me,” he told them, “and I will make you fish for people.” Matthew 4:19 CSB
As we partner with God, many of us face obstacles within our own hearts. Some of us associate almost entirely with believers because our fears and busyness keep us from forming quality relationships outside our religious circles. We may fear exposing our own struggles, sins, and weaknesses. Christ will help us overcome these obstacles as we follow Him into our needy world.
Look at the people the Lord Jesus associated with and how He interacted with them in Matthew 9. The Amplified Bible is especially powerful in explaining this.
10 And as Jesus reclined at table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and[especially wicked] sinners came and sat (reclined) with Him and His disciples. 11 And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to His disciples, Why does your Master eat with tax collectors and those [preeminently] sinful? 12 But when Jesus heard it, He replied, Those who are strong and well (healthy) have no need of a physician, but those who are weak and sick. 13 Go and learn what this means: I desire mercy [that is, readiness to help those in trouble] and not sacrifice and sacrificial victims. For I came not to call and invite [to repentance] the righteous (those who are upright and in right standing with God), but sinners (the erring ones and all those not free from sin). Matthew 9:10-13 AMPC
Write down the names of people you know who have not yet met Christ. Pray and ask God to help you partner with Him in reaching every single name you wrote down. If you have few unbelieving friends or family members, ask God to lead you into association with people with whom you can share Jesus and demonstrate His love.
In the parable of the weeds, Jesus talks about living as members of His family in the midst of those who do not know Christ. This parable gives powerful insight and understanding as to why God wants us (the wheat) to continue to grow together with unbelievers (the weeds).
24 Another parable He set forth before them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. 25 But while he was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed also darnel (weeds resembling wheat) among the wheat, and went on his way. 26 So when the plants sprouted and formed grain, the darnel (weeds) appeared also. 27 And the servants of the owner came to him and said, Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? Then how does it have darnel shoots in it? 28 He replied to them, An enemy has done this. The servants said to him, Then do you want us to go and weed them out? 29 But he said, No, lest in gathering the wild wheat (weeds resembling wheat), you root up the [true] wheat along with it. 30 Let them grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will say to the reapers, Gather the darnel first and bind it in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my granary. Matthew 13:24-30 AMPC
36 Then He left the throngs and went into the house. And His disciples came to Him saying, Explain to us the parable of the darnel in the field. 37 He answered, He Who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. 38 The field is the world, and the good seed means the children of the kingdom; the darnel is the children of the evil one, 39 And the enemy who sowed it is the devil. The harvest is the close and consummation of the age, and the reapers are angels. 40 Just as the darnel (weeds resembling wheat) is gathered and burned with fire, so it will be at the close of the age. 41 The Son of Man will send forth His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all causes of offense [persons by whom others are drawn into error or sin] and all who do iniquity and act wickedly, 42 And will cast them into the furnace of fire; there will be weeping and wailing and grinding of teeth. Matthew 13:36-42 AMPC
As you live with and for and in Christ among unbelievers, which of these fears (if any) do you have in your thinking?
- Being rejected
- Exposing your inadequacy in talking about the gospel
- Exposing your own feelings
- Exposing the flaws in yourself or your spiritual life
- Saying the wrong thing
- Being stereotyped and labeled as intolerant
- Losing friendship
- Adding more stress to your busy life
- Negatively affecting your family by involving them with the unbelieving culture
- Being contaminated or losing holiness
- Living outside your comfort zone
- Fearing other believers’ disapproval
- Other fears?_____________________________________
Let us receive encouragement from Paul’s example of openness and vulnerability about his own struggles.
1 And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. 2 For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. 3 I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. 4 And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5 that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. 1 Corinthians 2:1-5 NKJV
7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. 8 We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed— 2 Corinthians 4:7-9 NKJV
9 And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 11 I have become a fool in boasting; you have compelled me. For I ought to have been commended by you; for in nothing was I behind the most eminent apostles, though I am nothing. 2 Corinthians 12:9-11 NKJV
Living As an Insider
The way you live life and conduct yourself and love God and love others reveals Christ and attracts people to Him as God works out His purposes in and through you. The importance of this cannot be overestimated.
12 So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure. 14 Do all things without grumbling or disputing, 15 so that you will be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, 16 holding fast the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I will have reason to boast because I did not run in vain nor labor in vain. Philippians 2:12-16 LSB
Practical guidelines for relating naturally to others are found in the verses below.
13 “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how will it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out to be trampled under foot by men. 14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; 15 nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16 Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. Matthew 5:13-16 LSB
46 “For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?” Matthew 5:46-47 LSB
27 “But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who disparage you. 29 Whoever hits you on the cheek, offer him the other also; and whoever takes away your garment, do not withhold your tunic from him either. 30 Give to everyone who asks of you, and whoever takes away what is yours, do not demand it back. 31 And treat others the same way you want them to treat you. 32 And if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners in order to receive back the same amount. 35 But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to the ungrateful and evil. 36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” Luke 6:27-36 LSB
The simple act of greeting people by name can open up opportunities to develop deeper relationships with them.
- Learn the names of three people you would not ordinarily greet and write them down.
- Take the initiative to greet these people multiple times in the coming weeks.
- Write down what happens.
- Look for small initiatives that you can take to strengthen these relationships (such a meal, an act of kindness, or just listening).
Early believers were recognized as followers of Christ by outsiders because of the quality of their love and their acts of service.
1 If I speak human or angelic tongues but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith so that I can move mountains but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 And if I give away all my possessions, and if I give over my body in order to boast but do not have love, I gain nothing. 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 CSB
Consider practical ways you can imitate Christ’s servant heart by serving those around you. As you read over the list of biblical acts of service below, ask God to give you the name or names of any unbelievers you could serve in this way.
- Give your time
- Offer hospitality
- Stop and listen, being fully present
- Weep and rejoice with people
- Show mercy instead of judgment
- Speak the truth in love
- Keep your word
- Hold your anger
- Be generous
- Treat an enemy with loving care
Not everyone responded positively to Jesus, so don’t be surprised if some people do not respond well to your fragrant lives or words of truth. There is a reason some people will resent or resist your attempts to share Christ with them.
14 But thanks be to God, Who in Christ always leads us in triumph [as trophies of Christ’s victory] and through us spreads and makes evident the fragrance of the knowledge of God everywhere, 15 For we are the sweet fragrance of Christ [which exhales] unto God, [discernible alike] among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing: 16 To the latter it is an aroma [wafted] from death to death [a fatal odor, the smell of doom]; to the former it is an aroma from life to life [a vital fragrance, living and fresh]. And who is qualified (fit and sufficient) for these things? [Who is able for such a ministry? We?] 17 For we are not, like so many, [like hucksters making a trade of] peddling God’s Word [shortchanging and adulterating the divine message]; but like [men] of sincerity and the purest motive, as [commissioned and sent] by God, we speak [His message] in Christ (the Messiah), in the [very] sight and presence of God. 2 Corinthians 2:14-17 AMPC
Pray for those who have not yet met Christ in line with the verses below.
44 No one is able to come to Me unless the Father Who sent Me attracts and draws him and gives him the desire to come to Me, and [then] I will raise him up [from the dead] at the last day. John 6:44 AMPC
8 And when He comes, He will convict and convince the world and bring demonstration to it about sin and about righteousness (uprightness of heart and right standing with God) and about judgment: 9 About sin, because they do not believe in Me [trust in, rely on, and adhere to Me]; John 16:8-9 AMPC
1 FIRST OF all, then, I admonish and urge that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be offered on behalf of all men, 2 For kings and all who are in positions of authority or high responsibility, that [outwardly] we may pass a quiet and undisturbed life [and inwardly] a peaceable one in all godliness and reverence and seriousness in every way. 3 For such [praying] is good and right, and [it is] pleasing and acceptable to God our Savior, 4 Who wishes all men to be saved and [increasingly] to perceive and recognize and discern and know precisely and correctly the [divine] Truth. 5 For there [is only] one God, and [only] one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, 6 Who gave Himself as a ransom for all [people, a fact that was] attested to at the right and proper time. 1 Timothy 2:1-6 AMPC
Jesus was sensitive to the needs of people and spoke to the issue that was of deepest concern to those He met. The primary need of people without Christ is to receive Him as Savior and Lord. But people without Christ may feel they have many other needs that should be met before they consider Christ.
You may have to meet felt needs before you can help people with their real needs.
People usually want to know how much you care before they care how much you know.
Conversing the Gospel
Some of the guidelines are we given for talking naturally with others about our faith in Christ are in the verses below.
5 Act wisely toward outsiders, making the most of the time. 6 Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you should answer each person. Colossians 4:5-6 CSB
23 But reject foolish and ignorant disputes, because you know that they breed quarrels. 24 The Lord’s servant must not quarrel, but must be gentle to everyone, able to teach, and patient, 25 instructing his opponents with gentleness. Perhaps God will grant them repentance leading them to the knowledge of the truth. 26 Then they may come to their senses and escape the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will. 2 Timothy 2:23-26 CSB
13 Who then will harm you if you are devoted to what is good? 14 But even if you should suffer for righteousness, you are blessed. Do not fear them or be intimidated, 15 but in your hearts regard Christ the Lord as holy, ready at any time to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you. 16 Yet do this with gentleness and reverence, keeping a clear conscience, so that when you are accused, those who disparage your good conduct in Christ will be put to shame. 17 For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil. 1 Peter 3:13-17 CSB
Here are some additional guidelines on how to have a spiritual conversation.
- Talk about the realities of our shared humanity
- Talk about the beauty and mystery of nature
- Ask open-ended questions that deepen relationships
- Listen closely to what the other person is saying
- Reflect on what the other person says by expressing spiritual truths in non-religious language
Preach the gospel at all times. If necessary, use words. Attributed to Saint Francis of Assisi
Why and how we ought to use the Bible appropriately in sharing the gospel is revealed in the verses below.
10 “For just as rain and snow fall from heaven
and do not return there
without saturating the earth
and making it germinate and sprout,
and providing seed to sow
and food to eat,
11 so my word that comes from my mouth
will not return to me empty,
but it will accomplish what I please
and will prosper in what I send it to do.” Isaiah 55:10-11 CSB
15 … and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 2 Timothy 3:15 NKJV
12 For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Hebrews 4:12 NKJV
Loving actions and service in the context of relationships can open the door for you to converse with others about your faith. Good open-ended questions can help you introduce spiritual matters into your conversations with unbelievers.
Write down the names of two friends with whom you would like to share Christ, along with loving actions and questions tailored to them.
Name one unbelieving friend or family member you see regularly. Create some questions that would help you transition your conversation naturally into the good news of Christ. Also brainstorm practical ways in which you can demonstrate the love of God to this person. Ask God to help you. He will!
Participating in a New Birth
Can you summarize the main points of the gospel using John 3:16-18?
16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. John 3:16-18 NIV
The gospel in a nutshell:
3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, … 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 NIV
Be ready to speak about Christ in any situation. Know the gospel essentials. Plan and practice how to explain Jesus Christ in a clear and interesting way. Then pray and take advantage of your opportunities. God will show you opportunities to partner with Him.
After explaining the gospel, the key to helping a person open his heart to Christ is often a question such as, “Would you like to receive Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord now?” If he would like to, ask him to pray and invite Jesus to come into his life as Savior and Lord.
In bringing a person to this point of decision, it is good to use action verses to show him his part in responding to Christ’s offer as the Holy Spirit prompts him according to God’s Word. Consider how you can use the verses below in such a situation.
12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God — 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. John 1:12-13 NIV
8 On the contrary, what does it say? The message is near you, in your mouth and in your heart. This is the message of faith that we proclaim: 9 If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 One believes with the heart, resulting in righteousness, and one confesses with the mouth, resulting in salvation. Romans 10:8-10 CSB
16 “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” John 3:16 LSB
24 “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.” John 5:24 LSB
20 “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.” Revelation 3:20 LSB
What happens every time a person repents and trusts Christ is found in Luke 15.
7 “I tell you, in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who don’t need repentance.” Luke 15:7 CSB
15 but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and fear, … 1 Peter 3:15 LSB
Points to Remember
What part did other people play in introducing you to Christ and helping you overcome your own obstacles to trust Him? As you think about this, what most motivates you to share Christ personally with those you know who are still seeking Him?
Things to Ponder
Conviction of sin and the desire to receive Christ come from God alone. But He gives followers of Jesus the privilege of cooperating with Him in helping others come to faith in Jesus Christ.
People who have heard the gospel have all kinds of reasons for not receiving Christ. You can become familiar with some of the more common objections and courteously point out how the Bible responds to them. This may help others see more clearly their need for Jesus Christ. The following verses apply to some of the most frequently given objections.
“If God is all-powerful and a God of love, why does He allow evil in the world? Why doesn’t He stop it?” Deuteronomy 30:19; Matthew 13:24-30; Romans 6:14
“I don’t deserve the love of God.” Ephesians 2:3-5; 1 Peter 2:9-10
“Christians are intolerant people who have caused many wars.” John 13:34-35
“What about those who have never heard the gospel?” Psalm 19:1; 97:6; Romans 1:19-20; Acts 14:17
“What about the errors in the Bible?” Isaiah 55:8-9; 2 Timothy 3:16
“Why do so many educated people reject Jesus?” Daniel 12:10; 1 Corinthians 2:14; 2 Peter 2:16-18
“What about all the hypocrites?” Job 8:13; Matthew 7:1; Romans 14:12
“If a person is doing the best he can, God will accept him. Sincerity is what counts.” John 3:18,36; Romans 3:23; 6:23; Hebrews 2:3
“Surely there is more than one way.” John 11:25; 14:6
“There is too much to give up.” Psalm 116:12; Mark 8:36; Luke 18:29-30
“I will probably become a follower of Jesus some day.” Proverbs 27:1; Isaiah 55:6; Matthew 24:44; 2 Corinthians 6:2
“There are so many things in the Bible I can’t understand” or “I must wait until I understand more.” Deuteronomy 29:29; Romans 11:33; 1 Corinthians 2:14; 13:12
“I’m really not such a bad person.” Genesis 6:5; 1 Kings 8:46; Proverbs 20:9; Isaiah 53:6; 64:6; Romans 3:23; Galatians 3:22; 1 John 1:8
“Maybe we’ll get another chance after we die.” Luke 16:19-31; Hebrews 9:27
“I’m too sinful to be saved. God won’t accept me.” Mark 2:17; John 3:17; Romans 5:8; 1 Timothy 1:15