For centuries Christians have been spreading the Good News of salvation through Christ. However, in my opinion, most of us have been doing it wrong. Way too often the approach that we use is what I call the “plunger method,” where we try and ram it down their throats. A better way is with the use of tracts. These are very useful, but if not handed out in a proper manner, will turn the person away from Christ. If we use a testimony of what God has done for us, even in a general way, they are so much more effective. Mark 6:11 states “Any place that does not receive you or listen to you, as you go out from there, shake the dust off the soles of your feet for a testimony against them.”
Not many Christian leaders use the language of “soul-winning” today. We hear a lot about making disciples, which of course is equally biblical and theologically sound terminology. After all, Jesus’ mandate for the church in the Great Commission was (and is) to “go … and make disciples” (Matt. 28:19).
Still, none other than the apostle Paul – a staunch advocate and practitioner of disciple-making (see 2 Tim. 2:2) – also used the language of winning people to Christ and the gospel. Five times in 1 Corinthians 9:19-22, he used a Greek word (kerdaino) that means “to gain,” “acquire,” or “win (over).” It was a transactional term used in the ancient business world to describe making a profit or trading up for something better.
Jesus included this as a command in His last words before His ascension to heaven: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:18-20).
Making disciples is important because it is the Lord’s chosen method of spreading the Good News of salvation through Jesus Christ. During His public ministry, Jesus spent His entire ministry making disciples – teaching and training His chosen twelve. He gave them many convincing proofs that He was the Son of God, the promised Messiah; they believed in Him, though imperfectly. He spoke to the crowds, but often He drew the disciples aside privately to teach them the meaning of His parables and miracles. He sent them out on ministry assignments. He also taught them that soon He would be returning to His Father following His death and resurrection (Matthew 16:21; John 12:23-36, 14:2-4).
The apostle Paul by saying he had “become all things to all people,” didn’t mean that he was prepared to compromise his Christian character. Instead, he described and displayed some essential qualities of an effective soul-winner.
One of the critical and the most important factors is that we must be true Christians ourselves. We must be Christlike and that we live our lives according to Scripture presenting to others what a true Christian should be. There is an anonymous quote I use a lot and that is that “Your Life May Be the Only Bible Some People Read”. If you try and explain Jesus to somebody and present yourself inappropriately you’re actually doing the opposite, and turning somebody off from the Good News. Everywhere we go we are to be pleasant and sociable and complementary, wishing them a great day or a blessed day and leaving a good impression on them, even if we don’t mention Christ.
We must watch for openings to share a word for Christ. Peter said: “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” (1 Peter 3:15).
In fact, this may sound crazy, but with those that you see on a regular basis whether at a store, restaurant, or school, I personally believe that Christ should be one of the last things mentioned to them. We need to first show them that we care about them as a child of God regardless of their personal beliefs or lifestyle. We may hate their lifestyle, but we must remember they too are a child of God and Scripture does say that whatever we do to the least of them we do to God himself (Matthew 25:40). Don’t forget that! If we first become a friend to them or somebody they at least respect, then, when we tell them about Christ they’ll be so much more receptive. They might even start the conversation by asking us a question such as how are we always so upbeat, or happy, or at peace regardless of trying times. Now they are asking us about Christ and of course we should take every opportunity to fulfill their wishes.
The most enthusiastic laborers are those who have a heart that is on fire for Christ, and this should actually be easy when we consider the magnitude of what our sinless Savior did for us at Calvary.
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