Sharing Faith Naturally video 1: My Role
Let’s talk about sharing faith naturally in conversation. My name is Jim Found. I served in a Christian high school overseas for eleven years, and since returning in 1997 I have been giving workshops on this topic.
You and I share a common desire — the desire to let others know how wonderful God is. I believe this desire has been implanted in us by the new life God has given us, when He called us out of darkness into his wondrous light.
Our new life by its very nature wants to share about God, and wants to see others enveloped in God’s love and care. Yet, if you are like me, when we start to put this desire into action, we sometimes run into blockades. I’m talking about blockades like fear of rejection, or not knowing how to start, or not being sure what to say.
This video series is meant to help peel away those blockades, so our new life can do what it already desires to do. Each presentation is based on one “aha moment” — a concept that clears away a blockade and gives fresh confidence for natural sharing. This tape’s “aha moment” is “what a relief — I don’t have to play God’s role.”
I remember a conversation in which the doors were wide open for me to share all about Christ and his work on the cross. I reached what I felt was the high point of the conversation: “and when Jesus was on that cross, he took all the punishment that I was supposed to get, so now God has cleared the way for me to be with him forever. What do you think?”
I was surprised by her answer. She said, “I think I would rather take my own punishment.”
My thoughts were in turmoil. I said to myself, “Well, I have shared the gospel, and it didn’t work, so now I will have to get to the good stuff. Now I will have to overwhelm her with my vast repertoire of pithy answers to objections. I’ll have to show her how inadequate her response was. I’ll have to show her how her reasoning is all wrong. Then I began thinking, “but I actually am not very good at any of those skills. I guess I will just have to give up.
But when I say that to myself, that shows I believe the power is in myself. But Romans 1:16 says “the gospel is the power of God unto salvation.” If I truly believed, this, I would be freed from worrying about my own abilities. I could be content that when I have shared the gospel, I have done my part, I have provided the most powerful thing I could have, and I could leave the results in God’s hands..
Our role is to share the good news about Christ. God’s role is to work in the person’s heart. Sometimes I put unnecessary pressure on myself by thinking that I have to play God’s role. I need to remind myself what the Bible says, “No one can say Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit.”
I was further encouraged to leave the results in God’s hands when I read about a survey that had been done on Taiwan. Christians were asked this question: “How many times did you reject the gospel before you became a believer?” The average number of times was seven. That means that six people shared their faith and were rejected. But without those 6, there would not have been a seven.
Now when I have a gospel conversation and the person is not responsive, I can still leave the conversation without despair, as I say to myself “The gospel is now in his memory. I believe the Holy Spirit will use it. And how do I know? Maybe that was his number 6.”
Sharing Faith Naturally video 2: Stages of Life
Each presentation in this video series provides an “aha moment” that removes one of the blockades that we bump into when we follow the prompting of our new life to express the message of God’s love. On this video, the blockade is “fear that I will not be able to turn the conversation toward faith in Christ.” The “aha moment” is: “every conversation with someone is a valuable part of the Great Commission.”
(draw straight line on white board) This straight line represents someone’s life. Let us say that the person becomes a Christian. I will show that by this mark. Everything to the right of that line will represent progress in Christian Growth, such as learning to pray and joining a church. Helping someone grow in faith is generally called discipling them, and this is what the Great Commission commands us to do: make disciples of all nations.
But you can’t disciple someone until after he becomes a Christian. He can’t become a Christian unless he hears about Jesus. You can’t have a conversation about Jesus unless you are talking with someone. The left side of the line represents the times when you talk to a person is not yet a Christian. Unless someone takes the time to get to know that person and watch for an open door to talk about the faith, that person might never become a Christian and never get a chance to be discipled. So all parts of the line are necessary if the person is to become a Christian be disciple
What if you encounter a person who is not willing to talk about spiritual things, someone who is way over there to the left of the diagram? Does that mean God’s hands are tied? Of course not. Let’s think about what you can do if someone is not even near to talking about Christ.
You can pray for him. You can spend time with him. You can treat him with love. You can sympathize with his problems and offer him help. You can introduce him to others who are Christians.
You can share your faith-experiences with him. These experiences are sometimes called “testimonies.” What I am talking about here is not your complete story of learning to live by faith, but those everyday life events in which you see God’s hand at work. As an example of a faith-experience, you might talk about a time when you almost had a car accident. When the danger is past, you might breathe a sigh of relief and say “Thank you God.” That’s the kind of experience you can share with someone on the left side of the diagram. Even if the person thinks it was just a coincidence, and not God, he still sees from it that you are someone who gives credit to God. You can share these experiences even if he does not believe them, because they are non-threatening.
As you continue to build a relationship with someone, you believe that God will eventually open a door for you to talk about Jesus. You believe this because the Bible says “God would that all be saved, and come to a knowledge of the truth.” You believe that God loves this person even more than you do, and that God will therefore provide another opportunity.
Moreover, your care for that person is worthwhile not only because you believe it may lead to a spiritual conversation. Your care is also valuable in and of itself, for you are obeying God’s “Great Command” to “love your neighbor as yourself.” You would keep loving and caring for that person even if a door never opens.
The impression you leave with others through your words and actions are what I call your “witness.” When you have a conversation that includes explaining that Jesus died on the cross for our sins, I call that evangelism. The assistance toward Christian maturing that you give to a believer, I call “discipling,” but the entire line both left and right side is necessary for the “Great Commission.” My web site has a section called “nurture” which is devoted to the discipling process.
Sometimes you may have the opportunity to walk with someone all the way from the left to the right, from the time he is not interested to the time he is a thriving disciple. But more often, in fact most every day, you do have the opportunity to “cross lives” with someone. (draw slashes across the straight line) Everyone you meet is somewhere on this diagram, and you can inter-act with them appropriately no matter where they are on the diagram. For example, you might cross lives with a 7-year-old for a year as your Sunday School student, and help that person along toward further discipleship. (draw a small curved arrow toward the right) You may meet someone who has already been prepared by others to be willing to talk about spiritual things, and you are equipped to announce the salvation message to that person.
To go directly to this video’s topic, click here on befriending.
Sharing Faith Naturally 3: The Message
On this video, the blockade is “fear that I will not know what to say.” The aha moment is “the Book of Acts gives me guidance for what to share without becoming mechanical.”
There are five places in the book of Acts where we can read the words that Peter or Paul used when announcing the salvation message. I was amazed when I saw that these five places have certain concepts in common, and yet each place expresses these concepts in different words. My goal then became to understand these concepts thoroughly enough so that I could express them in my own words in a way that is suitable for the person I am talking to. This tape and the following one will allow you to pursue this goal also.
Let me introduce the concepts by talking about Peter’s speech in Acts 2, on the day of Pentecost. He accused the people of murdering Jesus, then announced that Jesus had risen from the dead, showing that Jesus is the Lord and Messiah. The people asked “what should we do,” and Peter answered by telling them to repent and be baptized. He then announced two benefits they would receive: forgiveness of sins, and the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Notice that there is a flow in this message from talking about sin (murder), to explaining about Jesus, to answering the question “what should I do,” to announcing promisess to those who believe. These four aspects are found in all five of the messages in the Book of Acts. I condense them into these four words: PROBLEM – ANSWER – RESPONSE –BENEFITS. The ANSWER is Jesus — who he is, and what he did. The PROBLEM is our separation from God due to sin. The RESPONSE includes faith, repentance, and baptism. The BENEFITS include forgiveness, eternal life, and many others.
My goal is that my friend will hear about all four of these concepts. It may not all be on the same day or in the same conversation, but when he has heard all four, I know he has heard the salvation message. I do not need to explain each at length when first introducing them. Notice that in the Book of Acts examples, these four were introduced in a matter of just seconds. This is important if your goal is to witness in conversation. You do not want to turn conversation into monologue. But when you know your friend has heard all four, you ask “what do you think?” If he says he does not accept what you say, you ask, “what part don’t you agree with?” This sets the stage for deeper conversation about whatever aspect he has selected. In the next tape I will go into more detail about each of the four, so you are ready to have those deeper conversation.
Since Paul writes that the gospel is the power of God unto salvation, it is important to know what Paul means by the word gospel. He gives his definition in 1 Corinthians 15:3-4, and includes all four of the concepts in his definition. He says, “I make known to you the gospel, by which you are SAVED, otherwise you have BELIEVED in vain … that Christ DIED for our SINS … that he was RAISED on the third day. When we have shared these 4 concepts, we have shared the salvation message.
Concept 2 then is the gospel as Paul defines it. It is set within a framework that I call “the salvation message.” God’s law comes into play in the first concept, human problem, because “what the law does is show us that we have sinned.” (Romans 3:19) If we make use of the wider definition of gospel, in which the teachings of the Bible can be divided either into law (accusation) and gospel (promises), then concept 4 obviously is gospel-like in nature. The question is how to regard concept 3. My preference is to regard it as gospel in nature, that is, not as a command to be obeyed, but as a gracious invitation to receive what Jesus has gained for us.
I hope you have noticed that you already know all the concepts that are in the salvation message. Your blockade at thinking you do not know what to say may be because you had the wrong definition of what announcing the gospel actually entails. You may have confused it with “meeting objections,” which is a different topic, which will be dealt with in tape 6 of this series.
After I discovered that these four concepts were included in the Book of Acts places, I began to notice them also in the rest of the New Testament. (In addition, there are many verses that deal with each on e of the four concepts). Here is a place in Colossians 1:21 that includes all four concepts:
Once you were far from God and were his enemies because of all the evil things you did and said. But now God has made you his friends again by the physical death of his son, to bring you holy into his presence, without blemish or accusation, as you continue firmly in the faith … (Good News translation)
To see the Bible verses that include these four concepts, please go on my website to gospel-booklet
Sharing Faith Naturally video 4.1: Human Problem
On this video, the blockade is “fear that I won’t know enough to explain the message.” The aha moment is “scripture uses many different ways to teach the four concepts in the salvation message.”
The four concepts provide a way for you to organize all the isolated facts about Christianity that you have accumulated over the years For example, the things you have learned about praise and praying belong to concept 3. The wonderful anecdotes and illustrations you have heard over the years can also be fitted into one of the four concepts, so they are at your service when you are conversing about that topic. For example, the anecdote about “one apple is enough to know that a tree is an apple tree” belongs to concept 1, and illustrates that one sin is enough to show that I am a sinner.
Let’s look at each of the four concepts in more detail. This will help us in two ways. By knowing these concepts more thoroughly, we will be able to select what we want to say about each in order to make a short introduction of the gospel in words that are appropriate for the person we are talking to. Secondly, if our friend wants to talk further about any of them, we will be prepared to discuss each one in more detail.
CONCEPT ONE is PROBLEM. Peter and Paul always talked about the problem of sin, because without knowing that there is an underlying problem, there is no reason to suppose that we need a savior In this way, understanding concept 2 depends on understanding concept 1.
In a short introduction to the salvation message, if possible we start with a problem the person is experiencing. That might be a symptom of sin, such as guilt, or it might be being a victim of someone else’s sin. But if the struggle with sin is not already self-evident to a person, or if he does not see why he needs a savior, you do not need to talk him into it at this time: you can still talk about the human problem by talking about sin in your own life. You do not bring up the problem of sin in order to make the person stop sinning, but so that you can move right on concept 2 about Jesus, that Jesus accepts him as he is, that Jesus died for sinners.
After your friend has heard the complete message, and you ask what parts he does not agree with, if he were to say that he really does not need a savior, here are some ideas for continuing the conversation.
You may decide to use a expression at first instead of the actual word “sin.” When I was a missionary, I could not use the word for sin, because in that language the word meant things you could go to jail for, so I used the phrase “disobedience to God.”
Some way to express this disobedience to God is crucial, because as the Bible says, “Your sins have made a separation between you and God.” This separation is the root problem that accounts for the frustrations and wickedness we see around us, and it is this separation that Jesus came to remedy by bringing us near to God through his death for us.
Our hope is that our friend will agree that he is a sinner and needs a savior. There are many ways to carry out this conversation. We can do it by asking if he has ever experienced any of the symptoms of sin, such as guilt or meaninglessness. We can ask if he has ever been sinned against by others. By first agreeing that there is sin “in the world,” we can go on to helping the person see sin in his own life. We can explain that it only takes one sin to show that we are a sinner, and this sin might be in our thought life, not just what we say or do, so we can ask if he truly has never felt hate or greed or revenge. We can show how serious sin is by telling the consequence: “the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
We can also show how immense of the problem of sin is by the fact that it cost the life of the Son of God. As you share about sin, remember that it is not your job to convince the person that he is a sinner. That is the Holy Spirit’s role. This attitude enables you to converse politely without being overbearing.//
For more about talking about the human problem, please go to this page on my website: message-content.
SCRIPT FOR:VIDEO 4.2: JESUS ON CROSS
There are three main topics we need to know well to talk about concept 2: why we say Jesus is God, what we think happened on the cross, and why the resurrection is such a key part of the message. These three areas are covered in detail on my website at jesus-as-answer. Here is a sampler of what is there.
The teaching that Jesus is both God and man is important, because If Jesus was not human, he could not have died, but if he were not God, his death could not be sufficient to pay for the sins of all people.
Believing that Jesus is God is a matter of faith, but it is not blind faith. It is faith that has reasons. Here are a few. We believe Jesus is God because he does the things that only God can do, such as forgive sins and control nature. The Bible describes Jesus in words that can apply only to God, such as sinless and eternal. Jesus receives worship that should only be given to God, as when doubting Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God.” The Bible actually calls Jesus God, and Jesus Himself claims to be God in verses like, “before Abraham was, I AM.”
THE IMPORTANCE OF THE CROSS. When introducing the message briefly, it would be enough to say that Jesus died for our sin. In the later discussions when you can go deeper, you will want to show that It was on the cross that Jesus solved our root problem, separation from God due to sin. The Bible says we are brought NEAR BY THE BLOOD OF Christ. Scripture uses many additional terms to explain what was happening on the cross. Here are a few: Jesus gave himself as a RANSOM for all. Jesus PURCHASED people for himself from every nation by his blood. Jesus substituted for us, bearing the punishment that we owe for our sins Jesus sacrificed for sins by the SACRIFICE OF HIMSELF.
THE RESURRECTION. Peter and Paul never left out the resurrection. You need to be able to talk about the importance of the resurrection, and to share the reasons why one could accept the resurrection. As far as importance, it is the resurrection that accounts for the fact that the Jewish followers, who were strict monotheists, could have accepted the idea that Jesus is God and Messiah. Paul writes that Jesus “was shown to be the son of God with power by his resurrection from the dead.” The resurrection shows that Jesus has power over death, so we know he can also raise us from the dead. All agree
While accepting the resurrection is a matter of faith, one can show that other explanations for the empty tomb have drawbacks. Was it empty because the disciples stole the body? Then why didn’t they renounce their plot when they were faced with persecution and death? Was it empty because the Jewish leaders stole the body? Then why didn’t they produce the body when the movement began to take off. Was Jesus not really dead, but just in a coma? The Bible goes into detail to show that he truly was dead, including mention of the spear in his side from which blood and water flowed.
Sharing Faith Naturally video 4.3. CONCEPT THREE—RESPONSE.
This video provides ideas for talking about faith, repentance, baptism, and the benefits of faith. To go directly to my web-page about response, go to invitation-to-faith.
We need to explain that Christian faith is trusting in someone — in this case, God — not just believing that something happened. Christian faith is trust in God, not one’s self. Recently I spoke with someone who said he had reached a high level of achievement in three different world religions. He went from one to another because he could not find satisfaction. When he found Jesus, he finally found what he was looking for. He told me that in the other religions, he was trying to reach God, but in Christianity, it was God who came down to reach him. The idea that an eternal relationship with God is given by faith, not by striving, can be a great relief to people. That is what why the word gospel means “good news.”
Faith and Belief are English translations of one and the same Greek word. That word means “to get convinced.” Just as in daily life situations, you don’t command yourself to believe in someone – rather, that believe happens to us as we get to know someone better. Having someone command you to trust him is not going to accomplish it. Likewise, helping someone have faith in Jesus does not come about by talking about faith, but by talking about Jesus, and how his sacrifice on the cross shows us the depths of God’s love for us.
Taking about Jesus has an additional advantage not found in everyday speech: talking about Jesus brings the Holy Spirit into action. The Bible says, “no one can say Jesus is Lord but by the Holy Spirit.” It is not that make someone believe, it is that you discover what the Holy Spirit has done when you shared about Jesus. You discover this by asking the person, “do you believe what Jesus has done for you?” If he says yes, he has made a confession of faith, and the Bible says, “if you believe in your heart that Jesus is Lord, and confess with your mouth that Jesus rose from the dead, you shall be saved.” If he says no, it is not that you tell himself to make himself have faith, it is that you keep looking for more opportunities to tell him about God’s love as shown in Jesus, so the Holy Spirit can continue to give him faith.
Here are some thoughts about repentance. Practically speaking, when we realize we have done something wrong we say “God, I admit that I disobeyed you. I am sorry. Please forgive me.” When a person asks for forgiveness, it is sign that the Holy Spirit has brought about conviction of sin.
There are two common misunderstandings about repenting, and we can avoid them by knowing that the underlying Greek word means “a change of mind.” In other words, something that we did not look at as sinful before, we now look at it the way God looks at it. This definition avoids two wrong extremes. One is being too easy on ourselves — feeling sad about being caught is not the same as having a change of mind, The other extreme is being too harsh — the thought that if you later repeat the same misdeed, your repentance was not real. Changing your actual behavior takes a longer time than repenting of one sin. We gradually improve in improving our behavior as we believe the promise that goes with each wrong doing: “if we confess our sins, God will forgive our sins.”
When Paul was baptized, he was told, “rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling upon the name of the Lord. When your explain the value of baptism, emphasize the promises, such as “He who believes and is baptized SHALL BE SAVED.“ Because of the promises, my church calls baptism a sacrament. For an adult who has made a confession of faith, there will be a time lag before he receives baptism, often because he will be attending a pastor’s baptism preparation class. Do not explain baptism in a way that makes him doubt that he is truly a saved person during this time lag.
CONCEPT FOUR is BENEFITS. Many scripture verses about the cross include a statement of a benefit. Note that the benefits of concept four are the solutions to the problems on concept one. For example, Forgiveness is the solution for guilt. Eternal Life is the solution for fear of death. The Bible mentions dozens of benefits what we receive through believing concepts 2 and 3. To find a complete list, go to this website’s page called benefits.
Sharing Faith Naturally 5: transitions
On this video, the blockade is “fear that conversation will end because I am too pushy.” The aha moment is “I can listen until I hear something that reminds me of the message.”
There are direct ways to enter into a gospel conversation, such as “is God real to you?” This video though will explore how to transition to the gospel naturally, from a statement made in a conversation. You listen until your conversation partner says something that reminds you of the four concepts introduced in the previous video, that is, PROBLEM, ANSWER, RESPONSE, BENEFITS. Once you have transitioned to one of those four, you can add the other three, and the person then has heard the message.
This first became clear to me when I was talking to a person who was complaining about others. I despaired that I would ever get a chance to bring up Jesus in this conversation, until I realized that she had already brought up the salvation message, because she was talking about concept one. Problem. I joined her on that topic by asking “why do you think people are this way?” After she gave her views, I asked if I could add my views. This gave me an opportunity to talk about sin in my life, from which I could move right to concept two by saying “but God loves me even though I don’t deserve it. May I tell you why I think this?”
Any one of the four concepts might come up in a conversation. As another example, if the person says “I’m looking for peace in my life,“ you realize the person has brought up something from the fourth concept, benefits, and so has transitioned the conversation to the salvation message for you. You transition by affirming the value of that quest, and that it is important to you, too. This puts both of you n the same page. Your hope is to share the rest of the message. One way is make a transition from concept four to concept one is to say “May I tell you how I look for peace?” If the person is willing, you can go to concept 1, problem, by saying something like “Jesus has given me peace, but the amazing thing is that I don’t deserve it. May I tell you why I say that?” If the person agrees, you can expand on your experience of your sinful nature, so that you can move on to concept 2 and talk about Jesus.
As another example, if the person mentions guilt, you recognize this as a symptom of sin, and so you talk about your own guilt-feelings, showing that you affirm the value of talking about this topic. You are now together on concept one, and your goal is to move on to concept 2, to talk about Jesus.
If the person says “I wish I had more faith,” you realize your friend has brought you into the salvation message by talking about concept 3.
Your goal is not to argue about what the person has said, but to affirm the topic and use it as a natural transition so he can hear about Jesus. After you have briefly announced the salvation message by touching on all four concepts, you can ask “What do you think?” The person may say, “I already believe in Jesus.” In that event, you realize you are not in an evangelistic conversation, and your goal becomes mutual encouragement in the faith.
If the person says, “I could never believe that,” you can ask him “what part don’t you agree with?” and talk together about why each of you has their particular view, using video 4 as your source. You do not need to pressure yourself to get him to change his opinion, because you know he has heard the gospel and that God can open another door at another time.
If the person says, “sounds good. I would like to be a Christian too,” you can again go over each of the four concepts and ask “do you believe this?” If he professes belief, you accept that at face value, according to Romans 10:9, “if you believe in your heart, and confess with you lips, you shall be saved.” You can pray with him, encourage him to confess that he is a sinner and ask for forgiveness. It is important to set a time to meet again. You will want to arrange for him to enter your pastor’s baptism preparation classes.
I invite you to look at my website for more details on these topics. My website is foundbytes.com. To go directly to this video’s topic, add a slash and then type how-to-begin. The page about meeting with a new believer is slash first-steps.
Sharing Faith Naturally video 6. MEETING OBJECTIONS
On this video, the blockade is “fear that someone will ask a question that I can’t answer.” The aha moment is, “it is the gospel, not arguing, that brings people to Christ.”
I want to remove “fear of objections” as a blockade that would keep you from getting started in a conversation. My website has ideas for responding to more than 50 different objections. You can find these by going to foundbytes.com at meeting-objections.
What I would like to do on this video is provide some principles about encountering objections, for But even if you would know all these answers, there is still a chance someone will ask you something you have not thought about. What you can do then is to tell him the reasons why the existence of that objection has not led you to reject God. This answer is authentic and non-threatening.
Your attitude is important. The person raising the objection is not your opponent. He is a fellow human being giving you the opportunity to talk together about important subjects. Regard the objection as valid, and inquire with respect into his reasons for holding that objection.
Remember that “Answering objections” is not how people become Christians. They become Christians through the Holy Spirit, and our role in the process is to talk about Jesus on the cross and what that means. This means that even if you win the argument, the person is still not a Christian, and so it is important that you do not argue in such a way that you shut off future conversations. It also means that if you lose the argument, all is not lost. If the person has heard the gospel, it will stay in his memory bank and the Holy Spirt can use it.
My first year as a missionary, I had the privilege of introducing the gospel to a young man. Over a period of six months, he asked me all of the common objections: why do the innocent suffer, why do babies die, how can you think there is a god when you can’t see him, what will happen to my ancestors who did not believe in Jesus. I cannot say that I answered these objections as well as a more clever person would have answered them. But in each case, I told him my reasons why thee objections have not caused me to reject faith in God — and I also looked for ways to include God’s love shown on the cross in our conversations. After six months he had run out of objections. Later, he became a Christian. My take-away from this experience is that the objector dos not need to be convinced, but he does need to know that there are other possible explanations out there. Talking about objections keeps the conversation going and keeps the relationship going.
There is no doubt but that Christianity is based on faith. But it is becoming clearer that every human endeavor has a faith component. We humans live by faith — but it is not a blind faith: we have reasons. As an example, when you brushed your teeth last night, did you test the tap water before using it? If not, you were living by faith that it was not poison. But it was not blind faith. You knew that technicians in the water department test the water periodically. You knew you had used it yesterday, and you weren’t dead yet. In the same way, we have reasons for believing in God. I prefer to use the word “reasons” rather than “proof.” For one thing, I suspect any reason I would give could be disputed by some philosopher somewhere. Acts 1:3 says that Jess showed himself alive to his disciples by many convincing proofs. Nevertheless, Matthew 28:17 says “some doubted.” It remains true that believing in Christ is a miracle brought about by the Holy Spirit.