Introduction A person will feel different on the inside when they make a decision to accept Jesus Christ as their Savior. As they realize they are forgiven: The weight and burden of sin seems to lift from their shoulders. They experience an indescribable peace and joy deep within the heart. Sometimes emotions are expressed in the form of tears (especially if they have been resisting God’s calling). God’s grace and love begins to replace hatred and anger. Pride and self-centeredness declines as humility and empathy increases. They begin to see the world differently, because the darkness they were once living in (and controlled by) has been illuminated by the light of Jesus Christ. This transformation exemplifies a new spiritual birth—being born again from spiritual death to spiritual life by the Spirit—which Jesus declared is required to see the Kingdom of God. Jesus said: “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” John 3:3 “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’” John 3:5-7 “And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.” Ephesians 2:1-3 “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:4-10 What’s more, we want to share this experience with others. Although pale by comparison, it is similar to our human desire to share with others when we find something new and wonderful: a new recipe, restaurant, movie, place to go, and so forth. However, sharing our born-again experience with someone is quite different because the Gospel of Jesus Christ operates within the spiritual realm, and is eternal. The Gospel of Jesus Christ Gospel means “good news.” So the gospel of Jesus Christ is the good news that He provided a means for the forgiveness of sins for all who believe. Jesus Christ—who lived a sinless life—died on the cross and shed His blood as the one, only, worthy, and perfect sacrifice to God as an atonement for our sins. For we are all sinners in desperate need of forgiveness, and a restoration of our relationship with God. “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23 Jesus said, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” John 3:16-17 “If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” Romans 10:9 Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die.” John 11:25-26 Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” John 14:6 Those who place their hope, belief, faith, and trust in Jesus Christ—in what He did for us on the cross—are forgiven for their sins and are justified: blameless, vindicated and acceptable to God. “Being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.” Romans 3:24-26 Sharing the Gospel Similar to the physical birth of an infant, a new born-again Christian must first crawl before they can walk, and walk before they can run. And similar to a toddler who will often fall down as they first attempt to stand up from a crawling position, a young Christian may also fall down when attempting to share Jesus Christ with someone. This is often due to a reliance upon our own skills, attributes and capabilities—because this is how we interacted with the world when we lived in darkness. It is important for every Christian to understand the following spiritual truth. Overcoming the challenges and roadblocks created by Satan and his minions will not occur by human skills, attributes, capabilities, and sheer will. But rather, it occurs within the spiritual realm—for it is only the Holy Spirit who can directly influence someone’s heart and change it from within. The Holy Spirit: Is our Helper. Dwells with us and in us. Teaches us all things. Brings scripture to the forefront of our mind. Is the one who convicts of sin. Declares righteousness and judgment. Guides us into all truth. Glorifies Jesus Christ. Jesus spoke of the Holy Spirit prior to His death on the cross. “If you love Me, keep My commandments. And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever—the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.” John 14:15-17 “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.” John 14:26 “And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they do not believe in Me; of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.” John 16:8-11 “However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you.” John 16:13-16 As such, sharing Jesus with someone must be foundationally based upon a complete dependence upon the Holy Spirit, and a willing heart that is filled with God’s love, grace, mercy, peace, and compassion for those who are unaware they are living in sin and darkness, and do not know the truth. The Apostle Paul was a perfect example of our need to rely upon the Holy Spirit when we share the Gospel. Paul lacked speaking skills, and depended upon the Holy Spirit to guide him in what to say. “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. For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. 1 Corinthians 2:1-5 Paul did not rely upon his wisdom, and simply spoke of Jesus Christ and Him crucified. His poor in spirit condition (weakness, fear and trembling), combined with his complete reliance upon the Holy Spirit to speak through him, resulted in the demonstration of the Spirit and of power—all with the intent of directing the listener’s faith towards God. “But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.” James 3:17-18 There is an indescribable feeling that occurs when we are led by the Holy Spirit to speak life and truth into someone who is spiritually dead. What’s more, words seem to flow from our innermost being. Jesus said, “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” John 7:38 When sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ it is also important to be sensitive and empathetic, and never be judgmental or condemning. Christians are forgiven by God’s grace and mercy. Grace is receiving what we do not deserve, and mercy is not receiving what we do deserve. As such, no Christian has the right to judge or condemn someone—for this is the responsibility of the Holy Spirit (while on earth), and Jesus Christ during the final judgment. Jesus said, “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” Matthew 7:1-5 To facilitate non-judgmental sensitivity, empathy and compassion, it is helpful to remember what we were like before we accepted Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord—including our transition from darkness to light. For example: We were driven by our self-centered sinful nature and fleshly desires. We justified our sin by repositioning or deflecting the truth. We were unwilling to honestly evaluate our sin and all of the consequences. We could not see nor understand that we were held in darkness by lies. We were unaware that we needed help to overcome and change who we were. However, as the light of God began to illuminate what was hidden in the darkness, we began to see the truth and we began to change from within. This is when we first developed a disdain for our sin as we developed a curiosity and interest in seeking God. This is also the point in time when our healing began and we became a member of a new spiritual family. A New Spiritual Family Jesus said, “For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother.” Matthew 8:50 There is an aspect to our design that is unique to all living organisms, in that we are thoughtful about the opinions other persons have towards us, and how we are perceived. We want to “fit in,” be accepted, and respected amongst family, friends, work associates, and social groups. This aspect of our design is important in that it facilitates social interaction. Unfortunately, this aspect of our design can have negative consequences. For example, when we need acceptance and approval from others: Our perception of self-worth can become dependent upon the opinions of others. We are more easily manipulated by those whom we seek acceptance and approval. It can become more difficult to disengage and disconnect from our prior life of sin. It is not what God desires for us. When sharing the Gospel, it is possible for some to feel intimidated or threatened because of possible rejection, condemnation, castigation, and denouncement by friends and family members. However, those who are born again are adopted into a new spiritual family: the family of God. This family is unique in that members no longer need approval from man—but seeks to please God, desires to proclaim His truth to anyone who will listen; and supports one another in God’s unconditional love, mercy and grace. “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.” 1 Peter 2:9-10 “Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.” Ephesians 2:19-22 “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, ‘Abba, Father.’ The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.” Romans 8:14-17 “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.” 1 John 3:1-3 As a new born-again Christian matures, they will realize a large percentage of non-Christians are primarily self- centered and lack altruism (a selfless concern for the well-being of others). This enlightenment facilitates: A reduction in the dependence upon opinions, acceptance and approval from others. A realization that the only One who matters is God. Another concern when sharing the Gospel is being perceived as a hypocrite. Hypocrisy is defined as: Claiming to have moral standards or beliefs to which one’s own behavior does not conform. When someone does something they tell others not to do. Most cultures view a hypocrite as a fraud, a liar, not trustworthy, and mentally unstable. Because of this, persons prefer to avoid placing themselves in situations where they may be perceived as being a hypocrite. Unfortunately, because of our sinful nature, it is virtually impossible for anyone to live up entirely to their own moral code. As such, those who judge others as being hypocrites are usually hypocrites themselves (but are unaware of their condition). However, there is a sinister dimension of Hypocrisy in that it is a delusional lie, has a caustic influence upon our perception, and is used as a demonic means to: Circumvent a Christian from sharing the Gospel. Convince a non-Christian to reject the truth. From the Christian’s perspective, we recognize our weaknesses and failures, we understand we are not perfect, and we know we are forgiven. However, our shortcomings may be leveraged against us when we attempt to share Jesus Christ with someone. For example, a Christian may experience accusatory thoughts when given an opportunity to share Jesus Christ, such as “How can I share my faith based upon how I just acted (or how I have acted in the past)? I feel like a hypocrite!” This misdirected perception makes it more difficult for a Christian to witness to someone because it transitions our thoughts inward and away from proclaiming God’s love, grace and mercy. Satan and his minions will use lies to: Remind believers of their sin. Sow doubts of their salvation into their hearts and minds. Create a perception of their unworthiness of being a member of God’s family. Misdirect the message of God’s grace, mercy, love, and faithfulness. From the non-Christian’s perspective, humans are uniquely designed with an ability to compare what one says versus their behavior. As such, non-Christians will often look for hypocritical behavior that does not align with a Christian’s professed faith. Once an inconsistency is identified, the non-Christian’s perception of Christian hypocrisy serves as a means to hold them under the bondage of their sin, and justify their rejection of declared truth. Satan and his minions will use lies to: Harden the hearts of non-Christians. Cause non-Christians to perceive Christian faith as delusional. Maintain darkness, control, and bondage to sin. Justify rejecting Jesus Christ. 4 Foundational Truths Sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ is comprised of the following 4 foundational truths: 1 . God loves us. 2 . We are separated from God because of our sin. 3 . God sacrificed His Son as a means to restore our relationship with Him. 4 . Restoration of the relationship begins when we believe Jesus Christ took the punishment for our sins when He was crucified on the cross. It is important to note that each foundational truth must be supported by scripture. For it is the power of God’s word that breaks through internal barriers and the hardened heart of one who is living in sin. “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 Suggested words to say are italicized , and all spoken words must be supported by scripture that follows. God loves us! God loves you and wants you to experience peace and life. Jesus said , “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” John 3:16-17 We are separated from God because of our sin. God gave us simple rules to live by: the 10 Commandments. Failure to obey these are a sin. For example, the eight commandment states “You shall not steal.” Have you ever stolen something in your life? The ninth commandment states “You shall not lie.” Have you ever lied? If yes you have committed sins that have separated you from God and are in need of forgiveness. God is holy. But because of our sin—which does not align with God’s will and desire for us—we are separated from having a relationship with Him. What’s more, our sin results spiritual death while we are alive, and eternal death after we die. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23 “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23 God provided a means to restore our relationship with Him. God’s love—expressed by the crucified death of His Son, Jesus Christ, bridges the gap of separation between us and God. “Who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness.” 1 Peter 2:24 Believe Jesus Christ took the punishment for our sins by His sacrificial death. The forgiveness of our sins, and the restoration of our relationship with God, is as simple as believing in what Jesus Christ did for as a propitiation of our sins: appeasing the wrath of God towards our sins and restoring our relationship with Him). “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God.” Ephesians 2:8 “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God.” John 1:12 Here is a simple parable that assists in the understanding of what Jesus Christ did for us. A person committed a crime, was found guilty, and was standing before the judge awaiting the sentence. The judge declared “For the crime you committed, you will receive 10 lashings.” Meanwhile, in the back of the room, stood a quiet figure who walked forward, approached the bench and said, “Your honor, I will receive the 10 lashings. Although this person is guilty, I will graciously receive the punishment that is due, and fulfill the obligation because of the crime that was committed.” In a similar manner, we are guilty of sins against God and are destined to receive the consequences for our wrongdoings. However, because of our faith in what Jesus Christ did for us (by receiving the punishment for our sins as He died on the cross)—we are eternally forgiven. However, Jesus did much more for all who believe. He rose from the dead three days after His crucifixion, presented Himself to hundreds as proof, and then took His place at the right hand of God. “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles. Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time.” 1 Corinthians 15:3-8 “The God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory ... raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come.” Ephesians 1:17-21 The Next Step “For whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Romans 10:13 To receive Jesus Christ, a person needs to express the following in prayer: 1 . Admit they are a sinner. 2 . Ask for forgiveness and express a willingness to turn away from their sin. 3 . State their belief Jesus died for their sins. 4 . Receive Jesus into their heart and life. It is helpful if you lead the person in a “sinner’s prayer” and ask them to repeat after you. The following words are only a suggestion. What is most important is the prayer is spoken from the heart—regardless of what words are used. Heavenly Father, I am a sinner and I ask for your forgiveness. Thank You for sending Your Son, Jesus Christ, to die for my sins. Jesus, I place my faith and trust in You, and will follow You as my Savior and Lord. Guide my life and help me to live in Your will. In the name of Jesus I pray, amen. If you are able to lead someone in a sinner’s prayer, you have assisted them into their new spiritual born again birth. If not, don’t be discouraged. Jesus explained different types of responses a Christian may encounter when sharing the Gospel in the Parable of the Sower.

The Parable of the Sower

Jesus Christ used the physical realm to explain the spiritual realm. For example, Jesus explained sharing the Gospel is similar to a person who is spreading seeds in a field that land onto 4 different types of soil: wayside, stony ground, among thorns, and good ground. Each type of ground the seed falls upon has a different physical (and corresponding spiritual) result. In addition, from a physical perspective there are three basic activities in growing crops: sowing seeds, watering, and harvesting. One may plant the seed, another may water, and a third person may reap the harvest. The same is true within the spiritual realm. One may plant the seed of God’s word, another may water it, and a third person my witness the harvest—and all who participate are rewarded. Mark 4:3-8 describes the physical realm of the parable, Mark 4:14-20 describes the spiritual realm. “Listen! Behold, a sower went out to sow. And it happened, as he sowed, that some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds of the air came and devoured it. Some fell on stony ground, where it did not have much earth; and immediately it sprang up because it had no depth of earth. But when the sun was up it was scorched, and because it had no root it withered away. And some seed fell among thorns; and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no crop. But other seed fell on good ground and yielded a crop that sprang up, increased and produced: some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some a hundred.” Mark 4:3-8 “The sower sows the word. And these are the ones by the wayside where the word is sown. When they hear, Satan comes immediately and takes away the word that was sown in their hearts. These likewise are the ones sown on stony ground who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with gladness; and they have no root in themselves, and so endure only for a time. Afterward, when tribulation or persecution arises for the word’s sake, immediately they stumble. Now these are the ones sown among thorns; they are the ones who hear the word, and the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things entering in choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. But these are the ones sown on good ground, those who hear the word, accept it, and bear fruit: some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some a hundred.” Mark 4:14-20 It is a wonderful experience when we are used by the Holy Spirit to assist someone into their salvation. However, do not become discouraged if you fall short of your desired outcome—nor condemn or attempt to force someone into belief. Remember Jesus described 4 different types of soil the seed may land upon. And yes, it is possible for the seed to fall onto unproductive ground. However, things may change in the future for this person: winds and rain may shift the good soil towards the struggling seed, or may move the seed to more fertile ground. Besides, spiritual enlightenment and salvation are the responsibility of the Holy Spirit—for we do not (and cannot) save a person. In addition, the influence of our efforts may not be realized until sometime in the future. Personally, I correlate to the parable’s wayside when I first heard the Gospel and accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior. A few days thereafter I was back to sinning and living in darkness. But God said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5) A couple years later I gave my life to Jesus and accepted Him as my Lord. I had made a mess of my life, Jesus Christ was knocking on the door to my heart, and I let Him in. Some planted, some watered, and another witnessed my harvest into the Kingdom. “Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers through whom you believed, as the Lord gave to each one? I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase. Now he who plants and he who waters are one, and each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor.” 1 Corinthians 3:5-8 Jesus said, “Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest! And he who reaps receives wages, and gathers fruit for eternal life, that both he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together. For in this the saying is true: ‘One sows and another reaps.’ I sent you to reap that for which you have not labored; others have labored, and you have entered into their labors.” John 4:35-38 God’s word never returns void. In addition, God’s spoken word always has an eternal and purposeful result (even though it may not be initially apparent). “So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.” Isaiah 55:11 What’s very sad but true, if the Gospel of Jesus Christ is rejected by someone, each word spoken to them will be revealed during their judgment. For they will have no excuse for not knowing the truth, and will have a constant reminder of why they are being eternally tormented day and night in the lake of fire. “And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.” Revelation 20:12-15 Jesus said, “And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.” John 3:19-21 Important things to remember! How we live our life is a significant part of our witness. People will listen to what we say, and will compare it against what we do. Listen! We can earn the right to be heard by sincerely listening to others. It is important to first understand and empathize with their situation and challenges in life before we share the Gospel. Recognize people will often describe the consequences of their sin—but not realize what they are experiencing is because of their sin. As such, we need to explain the source of the difficulties in their life, and how God provided us with a means to overcome them. Keep it simple. Do not use religious terms people do not understand, and do not add denominational or other doctrines that may confuse or create barriers. The message should be simply about Jesus Christ—who was God’s expression of His love, grace and mercy. Never: o Judge someone. o Be condescending. o Speak a negative word regarding any religion, government, or person. o Get pulled into an argument. o Describe the specific details of your sin before you knew Jesus (drugs, sex, etc.) Always: o Depend upon the Holy Spirit. o Express genuine heart-felt humility, meekness, empathy, and love. o Share your testimony (how God changed you from within). o Refer to scripture to support what you say. o Answer an objection before you continue the Gospel message. Objections “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear.” 1 Peter 3:15 You will likely encounter an objection when sharing the Gospel. An objection is defined as an expression of disapproval or opposition. In addition, an objection provides a reason for disagreeing with and rejecting the truth. However, there may be times when an objection may be comprised of an honest question they are struggling with as they search for answers in life—which is a good thing and requires discernment. Objection Notes: Objections should be viewed from a positive perspective in that they are an opportunity to convert misinformation into facts, and lies into truth. If you encounter an objection that you do not feel comfortable in answering, simply state the truth. “Thank you for sharing this with me. However, I do not have sufficient information to respond. Is it ok with you if I obtain the answer and get back to you?” Some objections are not be readily apparent. A possible indicator of an objection is a negative response or comment. Careful questioning may be required to determine if an objection exists. Respond to an objection before you continue sharing the Gospel. Otherwise, they will not listen. Here are some common objections. Verbal responses are italicized , and includes scripture to support the response. If God is so good, why is there evil in the world? There are 3 reasons: man’s free will, his sinful nature, and the influence of Satan. Every living person has a free will—which is the ability to make their own decisions in life. In addition, humans have a sinful nature which strives against God. “There is none righteous, no, not one.” Romans 3:10 “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23 The third component is the influence of Satan (the “god of this age” and the “power of the air who works in the sons of disobedience”). It is Satan who influences and manipulates darkened minds via lies that align with the desires of their sinful nature. “But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.” 2 Corinthians 4:3-4 “And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.” Ephesians 2:1-3 Consider the following truth. Every war, every battle, every skirmish, every murder, every argument, every caustic word spoken, and every sin—began as a delusional lie from the father of lies. Jesus said of Satan: “He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.” John 8:44 Christians are intolerant to abortion/gay rights. Have you ever heard of the idiom “Don’t kill the messenger?” It means don’t get angry at or punish someone who is simply delivering undesirable news. For in truth, it is not Christians who are intolerant—it is God who is intolerant towards murder and homosexuality. God specifically stated “You shall not murder.” (Exodus 20:13) Abortion is comprised of murdering a small and innocent living human being. As such, based upon God’s word, any attempt to justify murder because of one’s personal rights or freedoms…is based upon a delusional lie. In addition, God was very specific regarding homosexual behavior. “Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.” Romans 1:24-27 Being a good person is all that matters. This is a common misperception that does not coincide with God’s word. This is often due to the fact that it is difficult for us to fully comprehend what is meant by the holiness of God. His holiness is: Absolute, perfect, distinct, and separate from man. His nature and character. Unattainable by man’s efforts because of our unholy sinful nature. Besides, if it was possible for someone to achieve God’s standard of holiness, the life and death of Jesus would have been useless. However: “No one is holy like the Lord, for there is none besides You.” 1 Samuel 2:2 “But we are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags.” Isaiah 64:6 “There is none righteous, no, not one.” Romans 3:10 “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23 “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.” 1 John 1:8-10 “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23 “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9 Churches are after money. There are some churches you should avoid; and there are some churches that have placed their faith and trust in God meeting their financial needs. However, pastors (on occasion) must still remind the faithful of God’s mandate (and spiritual importance) of tithing. Besides, financially supporting your church is a very good and important thing to do. However, it is important to note that it is God’s desire that when one gives, they give due to joy, thankfulness and the desires of their heart—and not out of obligation or with reluctance. “So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.” 2 Corinthians 9:7 There is more than one way to Heaven. This perception is often due to the fact that we are living in an age of tolerance, and with social norms that declare you can “believe in anything you want to believe.” However, this is far from the truth of God’s word. Jesus said, “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.” Matthew 7:13-14 Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” John 14:6 The words of Jesus Christ declare He is the narrow gate and the only path to God and eternal life. In other words, because of our sin and because of God’s holiness, the only way to establish a relationship with God is through His Son—who covers our sin with the blood that He shed when He was crucified on the cross. God will only accept His Son as a payment and covering for our sins. He will not accept any other sacrifice for our sins because nothing compares to what His Son accomplished. Can you identify anything more valuable to offer God as a payment of our sins, other than “The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”? John 1:29 “Knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you who through Him believe in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.” 1 Peter 1/18-21 There are errors in the Bible. There are times when someone will interpret a verse or words out of context and declare it as an error. As such, it important to “drill down” and identify the specific scripture, text or whatever is supporting their perception of a biblical error. Sometimes, this type of response is simply an opinion, or a deflection, and is not supported by any specifics. The only way to determine if this perception is real or unfounded is to ask for specifics. I would very much like to understand what you are saying. Can you please provide me with specifics? What in the Bible is incorrect? If they provide you with a specific “error” in the Bible: o If you are aware of this misunderstanding, answer it directly. o If you are not aware, it is best to document what they say, research the topic and meet with them again to explain the truth (and share the scriptures below). If they do not provide you with specifics, share the scripture below. “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.” 2 Peter 1:20-21 “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17 “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 Christians are hypocrites. The only time Jesus Christ demonstrated righteous anger is when He was directly dealing with religious hypocrites. For example, He turned over the money changer tables in the Temple and declared to them: “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a ‘den of thieves.’” He also directly confronted the Jewish religious leaders by declaring their hypocrisy—which is documented in Matthew 23. Here are a couple of examples of what Jesus said for all to hear. “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee, first cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside of them may be clean also.” Matthew 23:25-26 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.” Matthew 23:27-28 Like you, Jesus disapproved hypocritical behavior, and chided them in public for all to hear. And yes, in truth every church has members that may demonstrate hypocritical behavior. This is inevitable because the church is filled with people who have a propensity to make mistakes (like you and me). However, many in the church are actively seeking to grow in Christ and overcome their faults. This perception of hypocrites in the church is akin to someone walking into a hospital and complaining “There are sick persons in here!” In addition, most Christian churches will have a “core” of believers who truly seek Jesus Christ; desire to eliminate any behavior that does not align with the character of Jesus; and willingly yield to the Holy Spirit with the intent of doing everything possible to exemplify Him in their lives. Christian persecution. This is a real concern. Satan and his minions will do everything possible to keep people in darkness, and diminish the light of Jesus. As such, Christians have been persecuted for almost 2,000 years—and is becoming more prevalent as we enter into the last days. Christian persecution ranges across the globe from social rejection to death. Many are not aware of the challenges faced by Christians living in countries where punishment is justified (and in some countries mandated) for noncompliance of government or religious laws. In addition, it is common in some countries for non-Christians to either trap a Christian into saying or doing something considered a crime, or they will make an accusation based upon a lie. Here are examples of Christian persecution that occurs in different countries today. North Korea Imprisonment & torture who do not worship the nation’s leader. Afghanistan Christians are rejected by family or killed. Somalia Islamist group al-Shabab will kill a suspected Christian. Sudan Converting from Islam to Christianity is punishable by death. Pakistan Christian women and children are targets of abuse. Eritrea Many Christians have been attacked, tortured, and imprisoned. Libya Islamic converts risk being killed. Evangelism and Bibles are illegal. Iraq Public executions of Christians by Isis have occurred. Yemen Tribal leaders & al-Qaida kidnapped and killed Yemeni Christians. Iran Christians are treated as second-class citizens. India Christians who convert from Hinduism are attacked; homes destroyed. As such, an objection based upon fear of persecution is real, accurate and true because their life may be in danger for expressing faith in Jesus Christ. Christian persecution has existed since Jesus walked on earth, and will continue until He returns. Early Christians living under severe persecution would draw this symbol as a clandestine means to identify themselves as a Christian, or to convey a meeting place to worship. Jesus warned of persecution and described the associated blessings of persecution. “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:10 “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you.” John 15:18-20 “Blessed are you when men hate you, and when they exclude you, and revile you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of Man’s sake. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy! For indeed your reward is great in heaven, for in like manner their fathers did to the prophets.” Luke 6:22-23 Many believers who live in free societies do not fully comprehend what it is like for a brother/sister in Christ to live under the threat of persecution; for they are a light that shines in absolute darkness. What’s more, their faith requires a complete disengagement from self-preservation; and an absolute dependence upon God, His word, and His promises—for “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9 Summary There is an indescribable feeling and joy on the inside when we are used by the Holy Spirit to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ—especially when we witness the “harvest” of someone who is bound by sin discover the power of God’s grace and love, and are radically changed. It is important to be sensitive to the urging and guidance of the Holy Spirit. There will be times when you encounter someone and thoughts of sharing the Gospel will enter into your mind. In addition, you will also experience a welling up of compassion for this person from deep within your being. This is when you need to “internally” pray for the Holy Spirit’s assistance, and for the heart of the person you are speaking with. If you do not know them personally, get to know them before you share the Gospel. Regardless of the response, ask them to attend your church, a bible study, or a planned Christian get together. Provide a Bible or the link to BibleGateway—which offers different versions of the Bible and in multiple languages ( https://www.biblegateway.com/ ). If appropriate, you may also provide contact information. And, if they are willing, pray over them before they depart. Remember…you are a reflection of Jesus Christ—as Jesus Christ was a reflection of the Father. Jesus said, “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:14-16 All for His Glory! Harold D. Thomas Bible Study Thought-Provoking Questions The purpose of the questions is to facilitate a deeper understanding of the Bible, this Bible study topic and ourselves. The questions may be answered by each reader, or used by a Bible study group leader or church pastor. The following questions should be answered or discussed after reading “How to Share the Gospel.” There are two types of questions: lesson and opinion. Lesson questions (preceded by a number) are provided an answer. Opinion questions (preceded by an “O”) are designed to enhance learning via the determination of opinions and/or discovering how the lesson content illuminates our personal lives. As such, no answers are provided. Questions 1. What is the definition of gospel, and what does the Gospel of Jesus Christ mean? O Why would someone want to share the Gospel with someone else? O When sharing the Gospel, is it appropriate to rely completely upon one’s personal skills, attributes and capabilities? If no, why not? O Who should they seek assistance and guidance from? O What should be the condition of their heart? O What should a Christian do from an interpersonal perspective before they share the Gospel with someone? O Why is it important to listen to and get to know the person? O What is the relevance of being sensitive and empathetic? O What are the potential consequences of being judgmental or condemning? O What can a Christian do to facilitate being non-judgmental, and convey empathy and compassion? 2. What are the 4 foundational truths of the Gospel of Jesus Christ? O Why is it important to support each foundational truth with scripture? 3. What are the 4 conceptual things a person should express during a “sinner’s prayer.” O Should all prayers follow specific words, or should they simply speak from the heart? Explain. 4. What are the 4 different types of soil described by Jesus in the Parable of the Sower, and what were the physical and spiritual meaning of each type of soil. O Is it possible for the seed to initially fall on bad soil, but eventually produce a good crop? Explain. O What is the spiritual concept of planting, watering and harvesting? O What is meant by God’s word will never return void? 5. List the 5 things a Christian should never do when sharing the Gospel. 6. List the 5 things a Christian should do when sharing the Gospel. 7. The lesson states objections should be viewed from a positive perspective. What was the reasoning stated? O Have you encountered objections to the Gospel in the past? What happened? Is there room for improvement? O Have you experienced/seen persecution for your faith? If yes, how do you minimize the threat of persecution? 8. What are some of the thoughts and feelings a Christian may experience prior to sharing the Gospel? 9. What can a Christian do to properly prepare their heart moments before they share the Gospel. 10. Who is responsible for the spiritual enlightenment and salvation of a person? O What is the role and function of a Christian when they share the Gospel? Answers 1. Gospel means “good news.” So the gospel of Jesus Christ is the good news that He provided a means for the forgiveness of sins for all who believe. Jesus Christ—who lived a sinless life—died on the cross and shed His blood as the one, only, worthy, and perfect sacrifice to God as an atonement for our sins. 2. God loves us. We are separated from God because of our sin. God sacrificed His Son as a means to restore our relationship with Him. Restoration of the relationship begins when we believe Jesus Christ took the punishment for our sins when He was crucified on the cross. 3. Admit they are a sinner. Ask for forgiveness and express a willingness to turn away from their sin. State their belief Jesus dies for their sins. Receive Jesus into their heart and life. 4. (1) Wayside is a stony ground with no earth to germinate the seed, and where Satan comes immediately to take away the word that was sown via continuance of sinning. (2) Stony ground where there is some earth to germinate seed and the word is received, but the word is quickly choked out by a lack of “root in themselves” and will disengage because of tribulations or persecution. (3) Among thorns. There is sufficient earth, but surrounded by thorns which grew up quickly and chokes spiritual life because of the cares of this world, deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other worldly things. (4) Good ground that supports healthy productive crop of fruit for all to benefit from. 5. Never judge, be condescending, speak a negative word regarding any religion/government/person, get pulled into an argument, nor describe specific details of your sin prior to knowing Jesus. 6. Always depend upon the Holy Spirit; express genuine heart-felt humility, meekness, empathy, and love, share how God has changed you from within, refer to scripture to support what you say, answer objections before you continue the Gospel message. 7. Objections provide an opportunity to convert misinformation into facts, and lies into truth. 8. An urging and guidance by the Holy Spirit, a desire to share the Gospel, a welling up of compassion for the person. 9. Internally pray for the Holy Spirit’s assistance and the heart of the person. Remember a Christian is a reflection of Jesus Christ—as Jesus was a reflection of the Father. 10. The Holy Spirit. You may download a PDF version of the questions by clicking on this button. Can you think of someone who may benefit from this lesson? If yes, PASS IT ON!
The words of Jesus Christ are in red text.
I ntroduction A person will feel different on the inside when they make a decision to accept Jesus Christ as their Savior. As they realize they are forgiven: The weight and burden of sin seems to lift from their shoulders. They experience an indescribable peace and joy deep within the heart. Sometimes emotions are expressed in the form of tears (especially if they have been resisting God’s calling). God’s grace and love begins to replace hatred and anger. Pride and self-centeredness declines as humility and empathy increases. They begin to see the world differently, because the darkness they were once living in (and controlled by) has been illuminated by the light of Jesus Christ. This transformation exemplifies a new spiritual birth—being born again from spiritual death to spiritual life by the Spirit—which Jesus declared is required to see the Kingdom of God. Jesus said: “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” John 3:3 “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’” John 3:5-7 “And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.” Ephesians 2:1-3 “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:4-10 What’s more, we want to share this experience with others. Although pale by comparison, it is similar to our human desire to share with others when we find something new and wonderful: a new recipe, restaurant, movie, place to go, and so forth. However, sharing our born-again experience with someone is quite different because the Gospel of Jesus Christ operates within the spiritual realm, and is eternal. The Gospel of Jesus Christ Gospel means “good news.” So the gospel of Jesus Christ is the good news that He provided a means for the forgiveness of sins for all who believe. Jesus Christ—who lived a sinless life—died on the cross and shed His blood as the one, only, worthy, and perfect sacrifice to God as an atonement for our sins. For we are all sinners in desperate need of forgiveness, and a restoration of our relationship with God. “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23 Jesus said, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” John 3:16-17 “If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” Romans 10:9 Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die.” John 11:25-26 Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” John 14:6 Those who place their hope, belief, faith, and trust in Jesus Christ—in what He did for us on the cross—are forgiven for their sins and are justified: blameless, vindicated and acceptable to God. “Being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.” Romans 3:24-26 Sharing the Gospel Similar to the physical birth of an infant, a new born-again Christian must first crawl before they can walk, and walk before they can run. And similar to a toddler who will often fall down as they first attempt to stand up from a crawling position, a young Christian may also fall down when attempting to share Jesus Christ with someone. This is often due to a reliance upon our own skills, attributes and capabilities—because this is how we interacted with the world when we lived in darkness. It is important for every Christian to understand the following spiritual truth. Overcoming the challenges and roadblocks created by Satan and his minions will not occur by human skills, attributes, capabilities, and sheer will. But rather, it occurs within the spiritual realm—for it is only the Holy Spirit who can directly influence someone’s heart and change it from within. The Holy Spirit: Is our Helper. Dwells with us and in us. Teaches us all things. Brings scripture to the forefront of our mind. Is the one who convicts of sin. Declares righteousness and judgment. Guides us into all truth. Glorifies Jesus Christ. Jesus spoke of the Holy Spirit prior to His death on the cross. “If you love Me, keep My commandments. And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever—the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.” John 14:15-17 “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.” John 14:26 “And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they do not believe in Me; of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.” John 16:8-11 “However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you.” John 16:13-16 As such, sharing Jesus with someone must be foundationally based upon a complete dependence upon the Holy Spirit, and a willing heart that is filled with God’s love, grace, mercy, peace, and compassion for those who are unaware they are living in sin and darkness, and do not know the truth. The Apostle Paul was a perfect example of our need to rely upon the Holy Spirit when we share the Gospel. Paul lacked speaking skills, and depended upon the Holy Spirit to guide him in what to say. “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. For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. 1 Corinthians 2:1-5 Paul did not rely upon his wisdom, and simply spoke of Jesus Christ and Him crucified. His poor in spirit condition (weakness, fear and trembling), combined with his complete reliance upon the Holy Spirit to speak through him, resulted in the demonstration of the Spirit and of power—all with the intent of directing the listener’s faith towards God. “But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.” James 3:17-18 There is an indescribable feeling that occurs when we are led by the Holy Spirit to speak life and truth into someone who is spiritually dead. What’s more, words seem to flow from our innermost being. Jesus said, “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” John 7:38 When sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ it is also important to be sensitive and empathetic, and never be judgmental or condemning. Christians are forgiven by God’s grace and mercy. Grace is receiving what we do not deserve, and mercy is not receiving what we do deserve. As such, no Christian has the right to judge or condemn someone—for this is the responsibility of the Holy Spirit (while on earth), and Jesus Christ during the final judgment. Jesus said, “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” Matthew 7:1-5 To facilitate non-judgmental sensitivity, empathy and compassion, it is helpful to remember what we were like before we accepted Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord—including our transition from darkness to light. For example: We were driven by our self-centered sinful nature and fleshly desires. We justified our sin by repositioning or deflecting the truth. We were unwilling to honestly evaluate our sin and all of the consequences. We could not see nor understand that we were held in darkness by lies. We were unaware that we needed help to overcome and change who we were. However, as the light of God began to illuminate what was hidden in the darkness, we began to see the truth and we began to change from within. This is when we first developed a disdain for our sin as we developed a curiosity and interest in seeking God. This is also the point in time when our healing began and we became a member of a new spiritual family. A New Spiritual Family Jesus said, “For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother.” Matthew 8:50 There is an aspect to our design that is unique to all living organisms, in that we are thoughtful about the opinions other persons have towards us, and how we are perceived. We want to “fit in,” be accepted, and respected amongst family, friends, work associates, and social groups. This aspect of our design is important in that it facilitates social interaction. Unfortunately, this aspect of our design can have negative consequences. For example, when we need acceptance and approval from others: Our perception of self-worth can become dependent upon the opinions of others. We are more easily manipulated by those whom we seek acceptance and approval. It can become more difficult to disengage and disconnect from our prior life of sin. It is not what God desires for us. When sharing the Gospel, it is possible for some to feel intimidated or threatened because of possible rejection, condemnation, castigation, and denouncement by friends and family members. However, those who are born again are adopted into a new spiritual family: the family of God. This family is unique in that members no longer need approval from man—but seeks to please God, desires to proclaim His truth to anyone who will listen; and supports one another in God’s unconditional love, mercy and grace. “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.” 1 Peter 2:9-10 “Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.” Ephesians 2:19-22 “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, ‘Abba, Father.’ The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.” Romans 8:14-17 “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.” 1 John 3:1-3 As a new born-again Christian matures, they will realize a large percentage of non-Christians are primarily self- centered and lack altruism (a selfless concern for the well- being of others). This enlightenment facilitates: A reduction in the dependence upon opinions, acceptance and approval from others. A realization that the only One who matters is God. Another concern when sharing the Gospel is being perceived as a hypocrite. Hypocrisy is defined as: Claiming to have moral standards or beliefs to which one’s own behavior does not conform. When someone does something they tell others not to do. Most cultures view a hypocrite as a fraud, a liar, not trustworthy, and mentally unstable. Because of this, persons prefer to avoid placing themselves in situations where they may be perceived as being a hypocrite. Unfortunately, because of our sinful nature, it is virtually impossible for anyone to live up entirely to their own moral code. As such, those who judge others as being hypocrites are usually hypocrites themselves (but are unaware of their condition). However, there is a sinister dimension of Hypocrisy in that it is a delusional lie, has a caustic influence upon our perception, and is used as a demonic means to: Circumvent a Christian from sharing the Gospel. Convince a non-Christian to reject the truth. From the Christian’s perspective, we recognize our weaknesses and failures, we understand we are not perfect, and we know we are forgiven. However, our shortcomings may be leveraged against us when we attempt to share Jesus Christ with someone. For example, a Christian may experience accusatory thoughts when given an opportunity to share Jesus Christ, such as “How can I share my faith based upon how I just acted (or how I have acted in the past)? I feel like a hypocrite!” This misdirected perception makes it more difficult for a Christian to witness to someone because it transitions our thoughts inward and away from proclaiming God’s love, grace and mercy. Satan and his minions will use lies to: Remind believers of their sin. Sow doubts of their salvation into their hearts and minds. Create a perception of their unworthiness of being a member of God’s family. Misdirect the message of God’s grace, mercy, love, and faithfulness. From the non-Christian’s perspective, humans are uniquely designed with an ability to compare what one says versus their behavior. As such, non-Christians will often look for hypocritical behavior that does not align with a Christian’s professed faith. Once an inconsistency is identified, the non-Christian’s perception of Christian hypocrisy serves as a means to hold them under the bondage of their sin, and justify their rejection of declared truth. Satan and his minions will use lies to: Harden the hearts of non-Christians. Cause non-Christians to perceive Christian faith as delusional. Maintain darkness, control, and bondage to sin. Justify rejecting Jesus Christ. 4 Foundational Truths Sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ is comprised of the following 4 foundational truths: 1 . God loves us. 2 . We are separated from God because of our sin. 3 . God sacrificed His Son as a means to restore our relationship with Him. 4 . Restoration of the relationship begins when we believe Jesus Christ took the punishment for our sins when He was crucified on the cross. It is important to note that each foundational truth must be supported by scripture. For it is the power of God’s word that breaks through internal barriers and the hardened heart of one who is living in sin. “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 Suggested words to say are italicized , and all spoken words must be supported by scripture that follows. God loves us! God loves you and wants you to experience peace and life. Jesus said , “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” John 3:16- 17 We are separated from God because of our sin. God gave us simple rules to live by: the 10 Commandments. Failure to obey these are a sin. For example, the eight commandment states “You shall not steal.” Have you ever stolen something in your life? The ninth commandment states “You shall not lie.” Have you ever lied? If yes you have committed sins that have separated you from God and are in need of forgiveness. God is holy. But because of our sin—which does not align with God’s will and desire for us—we are separated from having a relationship with Him. What’s more, our sin results spiritual death while we are alive, and eternal death after we die. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23 “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23 God    provided    a    means    to    restore    our    relationship with Him. God’s love—expressed by the crucified death of His Son, Jesus Christ, bridges the gap of separation between us and God. “Who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness.” 1 Peter 2:24 Believe   Jesus   Christ   took   the   punishment   for   our   sins by His sacrificial death. The forgiveness of our sins, and the restoration of our relationship with God, is as simple as believing in what Jesus Christ did for as a propitiation of our sins: appeasing the wrath of God towards our sins and restoring our relationship with Him). “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God.” Ephesians 2:8 “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God.” John 1:12 Here is a simple parable that assists in the understanding of what Jesus Christ did for us. A person committed a crime, was found guilty, and was standing before the judge awaiting the sentence. The judge declared “For the crime you committed, you will receive 10 lashings.” Meanwhile, in the back of the room, stood a quiet figure who walked forward, approached the bench and said, “Your honor, I will receive the 10 lashings. Although this person is guilty, I will graciously receive the punishment that is due, and fulfill the obligation because of the crime that was committed.” In a similar manner, we are guilty of sins against God and are destined to receive the consequences for our wrongdoings. However, because of our faith in what Jesus Christ did for us (by receiving the punishment for our sins as He died on the cross)—we are eternally forgiven. However, Jesus did much more for all who believe. He rose from the dead three days after His crucifixion, presented Himself to hundreds as proof, and then took His place at the right hand of God. “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles. Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time.” 1 Corinthians 15:3-8 “The God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory ... raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only