I was reading through Acts chapter eight this morning about Philip the evangelist. It is the passage that talks about Philip preaching in Samaria.
Acts 8:4-7 says, “Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went. Philip went down to a city in Samaria and proclaimed the Christ there. When the crowds heard Philip and saw the miraculous signs he did, they all paid close attention to what he said. With shrieks, evil spirits came out of many, and many paralytics and cripples were healed”.
It is interesting that because of Philip’s preaching and miracles the people there paid close attention. The original Greek word used in this verse (Prosecho) means they really paid attention and it held on to their minds. They stopped what they were doing and focussed.
As we read on we see that once Philip had their attention he preached about the Kingdom of God and Jesus Christ and performed miracles. He didn’t just do the miracles in a stand alone format. The miracles got peoples attention and Philip was able to share the Good News of God’s salvation.
Let’s read on to verse 13 to see what happened. “But when they believed Philip as he preached the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women”.
So what can see from all of this? One thing is for sure that the miracles performed got peoples attention. They stopped what they were doing and listened intently. When they were listening, Philip preached the message of God’s Kingdom and people came to Jesus as a result. Even Simon the Sorcerer!
God performs miracles through us out of His compassion and mercy. However, there are a number times in the Bible we see the miracles are done to open doors to preach about the Kingdom of God and salvation through Jesus Christ.
First Peter 3:15 is often presented as a challenge to be prepared for opportunities to share one’s faith: “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” But sharing our faith might be the secondary aspect. First, we’re to live a life of hope in a world that is largely hopeless. Notice that Peter said that people will ask about the hope we have. As we live hope-filled lives in this broken world, those around us will see the difference. Then we’re to be ready to answer them about the hope that marks our lives. Our hope distinguishes believers in Jesus from those without Christ, whom Paul described as “without hope and without God in the world” (Ephesians 2:12). He is our hope, and we’re challenged to live like it.
Today the title of my message is, “Be Prepared: Taking the fear out of sharing your faith”.
As a new Christian, and a number of times since, the thought of evangelism has been a pretty scary thing. I was told that I needed to share my faith so I could reach other people for Christ. And the more people I reached, the sooner it would be for Jesus to come back. This made me very nervous. It was something I wanted to do, but I felt terribly under-equipped. From talking to others, I found I was not alone.
We have all heard those verses that say, “Go and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:18-20) and “And if someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it” (1 Peter 3:15). For some this is very exciting, for other this brings fear to their hearts!
Over the years I have found that I have learned a lot about sharing my faith. I found there were certain things that helped me be a little bit more prepared. This took a lot of the stress out of sharing my faith. Today I want to share some of those things. As I go through them I am going to share some of my successes and some of my failures.
I want this message to be really practical and helpful to us and hopefully give us some pointers to sharing our faith.
1. Pray for the Holy Spirit to move in people’s lives
The first key we need to understand to be more effective in sharing our faith is praying the Holy Spirit to move.
John 16:8 – And when He comes, He will convict the world of its sin, and of God’s righteousness, and of the coming judgement.
It is the Holy Spirit’s role to do the work of salvation.
When I meet new people I always pray and ask God if this is someone I should share my faith with. If it is someone I need to talk to, I usually find I have the desire to pray for them and opportunities to talk about spiritual things tend to open up in a natural way.
When I am praying for someone I ask the Holy Spirit to move in their lives. I pray five general things.
God would bless them and protect them.
That the Holy Spirit would draw them to Jesus Christ
That the Holy Spirit would show them their sin.
That the Holy Spirit would make them aware of the need for a Saviour.
That they would accept Jesus as their Lord and Saviour.
So this might be an example of how I pray for someone.
Dear God, I pray for __________. I pray that You will bless them, protect them and watch over them. I pray that the Holy Spirit would move in their lives. Holy Spirit please reveal Jesus to them. Open their hearts and minds to Him. I pray that you will make them aware of their need for a Saviour. Please show them their sin and the need to deal with it. I pray they will trust Jesus as their Lord and Saviour. Amen.
I have found that if God puts someone on my heart to pray this for, before long they are talking to me about spiritual things and they have a tract and a Bible in their hands.
2. Prepare a Testimony
A testimony can bring the Bible to life. I have found that people love hearing stories of how God has done great things for you. When I share about my testimony I touch on three main areas. These three things really help me to structure my story and how Jesus’ story impacted and changed my life.
My life before Christ – I share things like how I felt, my illness, my upbringing, what sort of things I was in to, and the sense of emptiness I had inside. These things set the scene.
My conversion – I then share how I came to Jesus. I talk about how I was feeling in the year before coming to Jesus, the people who helped me and the story of Jesus coming to die on the cross for me.
How my life has changed – In this final section I share how knowing Jesus personally has changed my whole life and outlook. I talk about the love, acceptance, hope, joy and purpose I now feel inside.
For some of us we can not think of a time when you didn’t know Jesus. You can share things some of the things that God has done for you. I actually have several short testimonies that I share with people depending on the situation.
I have had times when someone has simply said, “Dave you are a Christian right? Why do you believe?” And I have shared a short testimony and a few days later they are saved.
3. Know relevant Bible verses
Knowing some relevant Bible verses can be really helpful when sharing your faith. Especially if it someone who has had previous exposure to the Bible or shows and interest in reading it.
I have found that if you just read the Book of Romans with someone you could explain God’s plan of salvation for them.
“Romans road” is a great place to start –
The Natural State Of Man – Romans 3:10 “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one”
The Reason – Romans 3:23 “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God”
The Cause – Romans 5:12 “Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned”
The Penalty and Gift – Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord”
The Love of God – Romans 5:8 “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
The Remedy – Romans 10:9-11 “If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.”
The Decision – Romans 10:13 “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
Work out a simple presentation by putting a few verses together and memorise them. You might like to write them in the back of your Bible so you can refer to them easily. If you can’t remember them all, remember the first one and put references to the next one in your margin of your Bible.
4. Have some evangelistic tools handy
There are a variety of evangelistic tools that you can use to reach people. Sometimes people seem to want to talk about things at the strangest times. Having something on hand can help in those situations. Here are a few examples –
Tracts – You can keep one handy in your purse or wallet just in case an opportunity arises. They are very handy if you don’t have much time or perhaps are a bit nervous about sharing your faith. You can even put a library pocket in the back of all your books. Instead of a library card, put a tract in it!
Websites – Look out for websites that may help you to reach your friends. Many websites have a “refer to a friend” page that sends an email message on your behalf bringing the site to their attention. You can also share things on Facebook for a wider audience.
DVDs – The “Jesus” video is a great way to reach people. In just over an hour you see the whole life of Christ and at the end if gives the opportunity to receive Christ as Lord and Saviour. You could buy one for yourself and one to give away! These days, it is available online to stream at www.Jesusfilm.org,
The most effective three things I have used is tracts my website passionaustralia.org and the Jesus movie. I have given away thousands of tracts and hundreds of Jesus videos and many people have been saved as a result. I have had ten of millions of visitors to my website.
As an example, one Jesus video was viewed by 66 people and many got saved. We gave one to a lady and she watched it and got saved. When her husband got home they watched it again. He got saved. When the kids came home, they watched it again and they got saved. The lady took it to her work and the residents of her nursing home all watched it. Many prayed to receive Jesus.
So one resource in your hand can make a huge difference. Like the fish and loaves in Jesus’ hands.
5. Learn the sinner’s prayer
The sinner’s prayer is a simple prayer that you can go through with someone to make their connection with Jesus Christ. It gives the person the opportunity to confess their sin to God and invite Jesus Christ into their lives as Lord and Saviour. There are two examples below that you can use or memorise.
From Billy Graham
Dear Lord Jesus, I know that I am a sinner, and I ask for Your forgiveness. I believe You died for my sins and rose from the dead. I turn from my sins and invite You to come into my heart and life. I want to trust and follow You as my Lord and Saviour. In Your Name. Amen
From Campus Crusade for Christ
Lord Jesus, I need You. Thank You for dying on the cross for my sins. I open the door of my life and receive You as my Saviour and Lord. Thank You for forgiving my sins and giving me eternal life. Take control of the throne of my life. Make me the kind of person You want me to be. Amen
Today I wanted to encourage you in your evangelism efforts. The main point I hope you got is that you can be more effective in your efforts if you think and prepare beforehand. As we saw there are five things we can do.
1. Pray for people
2. Prepare a testimony
3. Learn key Bible verses
4. Have some resources ready
5. Learn the sinner’s prayer
Dear God, I pray that You will use me to reach others for Christ. Please help me to be effective in sharing my faith. Please help me to know whom to talk to and I pray that You will give me the right words to say when the time comes. I pray for all my family, friends and neighbours. I pray that the Holy Spirit will draw them to Jesus and make them aware of their need for salvation. Please use me to lead them to Christ. I also pray Lord that when people come to You that You will help me to teach them about You and how to follow You each day. I pray that I will help make disciples. I ask this in Jesus’, Amen.