Principles for Introducing the Gospel from the Life and Ministry of Jesus Christ
The gospel (good news) is that Jesus is the Christ, who died for our sins, was buried, and raised from the dead and lives today (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). In order to be saved from one's sins and perishing in the lake of fire, one must repent of (turn from) their sins and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, including the fact that He died for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead. Having repented and believed in Christ, follow Him in a life of loving obedience.
How does the Christian introduce the gospel? One can learn several principles for introducing the gospel from the life and ministry of Jesus Christ. The following are principles to consider:
1. Learn to transition a discussion about natural issues to spiritual matters. In John 4:1-26, notice how Jesus initiated a conversation with the Samaritan woman and shifted the discussion from physical water to “living water.”
2. Seize opportunities during the holiday seasons. In Luke 24:13-27, Jesus spoke about Himself to two men on the first Easter. These men were probably believers, but Jesus’s resurrection provided the context to teach them about Himself from the Scriptures. In Luke 2:10-20, the angel and the shepherds announced the birth of Jesus on the first Christmas. Particularly, during Easter and Christmas, people are accustomed to hearing stories and messages about Jesus Christ. So, seize the opportunity.
3. Look for occasions during difficult and catastrophic times. In Luke 13:1-5, Jesus used two calamities to warn people of the consequences of not repenting. Some examples today might include economic challenges, death, and natural disasters (e.g., earthquakes, tsunamis, etc.). Whatever the case, this must be done with tact, Christlike patience and compassion.
4. Just Say It! In John 3:1-3, Jesus immediately went to the point regarding the conditions for entering the kingdom without entertaining Nicodemus’s introductory comments. Sometimes, the Christian may need to go straight to the point and explain the conditions for salvation immediately. One may not have much time to lead up to the gospel, or this may be the umpteenth time that one has evangelized the person. Just prayerfully communicate the gospel.
Questions to Help Jumpstart an Evangelistic Conversation
Oftentimes, Christians struggle with transitioning to or jumpstarting a conversation about the gospel. Sometimes this is due to the nature of their relationship with the person(s). However, Christians cannot expect unbelievers to initiate a conversation about God. Often, this is one topic unbelievers wish to avoid. Therefore, the Christian's job is prayerfully, build relationships in order to launch a conversation that will lead to the gospel. The following are questions that a Christian might ask a person to transition to a conversation about their salvation:
1. “How can I pray for you?”
2. “What would you consider to be the greatest gift?”
3. “Are you familiar with the good news (or the gospel)?”
4. “Do you know what it means to be born again? Can I explain it to you?”
5. “What do you believe happens to people when they die?”
6. “If you were to die in your sleep, where would you awake?”
7. “If you were to die today…
… where would you spend eternity?”
… do you believe that you would go to heaven? Why or why not?”
8. “What do you believe are God’s requirements to enter heaven?”
9. "May I ask, what do you believe about God? Jesus?"
Responding to their Answers
How the person answers the above question(s) can provide a springboard to the gospel. Depending on their response(s), one might reply in one of the following ways:
1. “The Bible says God’s standard is much different. May I explain what He requires?”
2. “You obviously thought through your answer, but it is different than what the Bible says. May I show you what God says we need to know about Him?”
3. “What you told me about God is interesting, but God describes Himself much differently in the Bible. May I show you what He has said about Himself?”
4. “You make it sound like you are a pretty good person, but the Bible says you are missing something. May I show you what it is?”
Next, try transitioning to the gospel using Four Truths Every Person Should Know.
Source: Jesse Johnson, "Evangelism," (Course Syllabus, The Master's Seminary, Sun Valley, CA, Spring 2012).