This article first appeared in the Effective Evangelism column of the Christian Research Journal, volume 32, number 06 (2009). For more information about the Christian Research Journal, click here.
The gospel is at the heart of the Christian faith. If Christians do not know how to share their faith, they have probably never been to “boot camp.” The gospel should be so much a part of you that presenting it becomes second nature. Here’s an easy way to do just that.
The first step involves developing a relationship with an unbeliever. This includes using your personal testimony as a bridge into sharing the good news of the gospel. This is the inverse of grabbing somebody by the lapels and shouting, “Brother, are you saved?”
After a relationship is established, you can move naturally into a presentation of the gospel using the alliterated words realize, repent, and receive.
First, according to Scripture, people need to realize that they are sinners. If we do not realize that we are sinners, we will not recognize our need for a savior. The Bible says we “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23).
Furthermore, one must repent of their sins. Repentance is an old English word that describes a willingness to turn from sin toward Jesus Christ. It literally means a complete U-turn on the road of life-a change of heart and a change of mind. It means having a willingness to follow Jesus and receive Him as Savior and Lord. Jesus said, “Repent and believe the good news!” (Mark 1:15).
Finally, true belief means a willingness to receive. To truly receive is to trust in and depend on Jesus Christ alone to be the Lord of our lives here and now and our Savior for all eternity. It takes more than knowledge (the Devil knows about Jesus). It takes more than agreement that the knowledge we have is accurate (the Devil agrees that Jesus is Lord). What it takes is trust in Jesus Christ alone for eternal life. The requirements for eternal life are based not on what we can do but on what Jesus Christ has done. He stands ready to exchange His perfection for our imperfection.
According to Jesus Christ, those who realize they are sinners, repent of their sins, and receive Him as Savior and Lord are “born again” (John 3:3) — not physically, but spiritually. And with this spiritual birth must come growth.
Because we are called to make disciples, not converts, we also need to be equipped to lead those who receive Christ as Savior and Lord through the basic steps of discipleship and growth as new believers.
Consider what would happen if every evangelical Christian led just one person to faith in Christ each year. If we began with only twelve committed Christians and each of them led one person to Christ and discipled that person, next year there would be twenty-four believers. If each of them in turn led one person to Christ and discipled that person, the third year there would be forty-eight believers. If this process continued, it would take less than thirty years to evangelize the six billion or more people alive today on planet Earth! If in the same time frame the population doubled, it would take only one additional year.1
Many people today run from church to church in search of the ultimate experience. No experience, however, can compare with that of the Holy Spirit working through you in the process of bringing someone to a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.
— Hank Hanegraaff
Hank Hanegraaff is president of the Christian Research Institute and host of the Bible Answer Man broadcast heard daily throughout the United States and Canada. For a list of stations airing the Bible Answer Man, or to listen online, log on to www.equip.org.
- I first heard a version of this illustration in 1980 while going through the Evangelism Explosion training process. The statistical illustration is pertinent even through it is not to convey that everyone who is evangelized will become a believer.