Stuff you should know: How to pass on your faith
More than anything, everyone needs to experience God’s love and grace. Not only that, but God has commanded His followers to always be ready to give a reason for the hope they have (1 Peter 3:15) and to go make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19). There are people near, like your neighbors, acquaintances, friends and family, and people far, like those from different cultures than you and those in other countries, whom God has called you to share Jesus with.
Bottom line: Handing down your faith is intentional, not accidental.
Something To Talk About:
- Principle: Jesus was asked what is the most important or greatest of all the commandments, and He said, “Love the Lord your God with all you’ve got—all your heart and soul and mind and strength. And love your neighbor as yourself.” What’s the main thing? Love. Love God with all you’ve got and love people. This command, love one another, is addressed directly to Jesus’ followers. Christians are to love one another. This doesn’t mean that we don’t love people who are not Christians. On the contrary, we are to love everyone always. Because of what God has done for us in Jesus, we extend the same grace, compassion, mercy, forgiveness, and love to those around us. Jesus’ love for us should change every facet of our lives and lifestyles.
- Pattern: Paul talks about the Gospel as a “pattern,” a stencil, a pathway. “Thanks be to God that you who were once the slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness” (Romans 6:17-18, ESV). The Gospel is a pattern (“standard”) for living through which we find freedom. We first follow that pattern at baptism, and we experience the saving grace of Jesus in the forgiveness of our sins, the gift of the Spirit, and new life in the Spirit. We need to talk to people again and again as we seek to share our faith. Not as a hammer but as a manifestation of your life.
- Persistence: Is it really important to share Christ multiple times with someone who rejects it? Is rejection of the gospel a sign that God isn’t working? Are we wasting time and resources when we persevere in evangelism? The answer to all these questions is a resounding, “no.” Has someone you love not become a Christian despite your best evangelistic efforts? Are you feeling like a failure? Keep sharing Christ. Effective evangelism demands patience, persistence, and faith. Some people take more time to trust Jesus and our goal in evangelism would be to help the person move one step (or more) toward a relationship with Jesus.
- Participation: Watching the Olympics is entertaining, but it changes little in the life of the viewer. In much the same way, the life of a spiritual spectator is safe and comfortable, too. We were made for more. We were given life in Christ for a purpose don’t waste it with inaction. Making disciples requires more than presence—it requires participation. Discipleship is more than being exposed to the gospel and community—it’s being engaged with the gospel and community.
- Praise: For many people, receiving praise is a treasured experience that makes us happy or proud. However, how often do we ourselves give praise? More specifically, how often do we give praise to God for all He has done for us? Hebrews 13:15 tells us to “…offer through Jesus a continual sacrifice of praise to God…” In the Christian community, praise may often be associated with singing and worship. However, praise can also go beyond this. Praise relates to having a thankful heart and declaring our gratitude, and this can be through the form of music or other expressions. How often do we give praise to God for all He has done for us?
- Prayer: Whenever it comes to sharing the Gospel, we frequently pray for individuals we want to share with. On the other hand, prayer needs to prepare our hearts for witnessing, positioning us to be used by God. Pray for love and compassion for the unbeliever. Pray to have the desire to share the Gospel. Pray to discover the openings God can bring our way. Pray for an obedient heart to share when the opportunity arises. Then be watching and alert throughout the day for opportunities to share. Search to “discover” and realize how God may be working in those individuals around you. Allow the Holy Spirit to help make you sensitive to and watchful for opportunities. This develops and cultivates with time and practical experience.
- So how is the gospel different from religion?
- What obstacles keep believers from sharing the gospel with others? What keeps you from sharing your faith more boldly than you already do?
- Should my position be that “I try not to offend people?” Why or why not?
- What role does timing play? Don’t launch into “the talk” if you’ve only got a limited amount of time. It’s best if you can make an investment in any questions or discussions that ensue.
- It isn’t a failure if you choose to wait for a better time. Agree or disagree and why?
- Is there a difference between merely presenting the gospel and aiming to persuade people to repent and believe?
- ” …Live an exemplary life in your neighborhood so that your actions will refute their prejudices. Then they’ll be won over to God’s side and be there to join in the celebration when he arrives.” 1 Peter 2:12 (MSG) Would people wait in long lines to sign up for your life? What could you change about your lifestyle to better display your life in Christ?
- What do you need to learn? “…And if someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it.” (1 Peter 3:15)
- If you were more active in sharing your faith, how would your immediate circles look different?
- First and foremost, “success” doesn’t depend on you. The Holy Spirit takes care of changing people’s hearts; all we have to “do” is share in faith. Agree or disagree and why?
- List and pray for opportunities to share the good news of the gospel with the people in your circle of influence who do not know Jesus.
Take One Thing Home with You:
Can I communicate the gospel? You’ve probably heard this old quote typically attributed to St. Francis, “Preach the gospel at all times. Use words if necessary.” And while the tenor of this quote is true, it’s a little misleading. The way we live our lives should demonstrate the gospel’s truth, but at its core, the gospel is a message.
That’s why Paul tells the Corinthians, “So faith comes from hearing, that is, hearing the Good News about Christ” (Romans 10:17). People need to hear the Good News. There are many ways to communicate the crux of the gospel, and sometimes it takes some effort to find a method of sharing it that works for you.