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Lead them to Believe

Recently I was teaching some friends from the book of Romans chapter 1  When I got to verse 5, someone asked a very intriguing question.  At first the answer seemed pretty obvious but as I thought about it, I knew I had to be careful.  The question was, “If we are talking to an unbeliever and we bring up verses that condemn behaviors they indulge in, are we judging them or is the Bible?”

This ignited a very robust discussion.  I listened intently and was praying for wisdom at the same time.  When the class was almost over, I decided to put my two cents in.  In essence I said our job is to present Christ to a lost world and show them their need for a Savior.  Then show them how they can accept the salvation offered by Christ. We did not have time to dig deeper into this, however, I will use this post to explain my thoughts on this topic.

Francis Schaeffer once said that if he had an hour alone with a stranger, he would spend the first 50 minutes asking questions, especially about the stranger’s beliefs and pointing out any inconsistencies. Then, in the last 10 minutes, he would present the gospel.  This approach makes complete sense.  How can you understand where a person is if you do not ask?  Asking questions give you the opportunity to get to know them and what is important in their life.  Schaeffer believed that you had to develop trust between yourself and the person you are witnessing to before they will allow you to speak into their lives, especially in more intimate areas.  They need to know you actually care about them and are not concerned with adding one to your witness counter, and once they understand this, they will be more open to listen to you.  Our interactions with unbelievers should be covered in love for them and the desire to show through our actions and then our words the reality of God’s love and grace.

During the first 50 minutes we may hear things that are obviously unchristian.  They may discuss drug usage, extramarital relationships, etc.  However, we must not condemn them.  In fact, we are not to judge them.  1 Cor 5:9-13 says, “I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people—not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world.  But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one.  For what have I to do with judging outsiders?  Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge?  God judges those outside. Purge the evil person from among you.”  We can and should let them know that these activities are not acceptable for Christians to indulge in.  We should explain how these things are counter to what God requires of us who bear the name of Christ.  However, it is important that our focus should be on the fact that God loves them and desires them to accept the work Christ did on the cross and become a Christian.  And it should be stressed that when we are saved, we become new creations, the old passes away; behold the new has come. (2 Cor 5:17)  It is this “new creation” that will be a child of God and will be totally conformed to the will of God.

It is also important that we do not in any way insinuate that their sinful behaviors are OK since they are not Christians.  Their sin is the reason Christ came down here to die for us.  For we could do nothing to rectify the relationship between us and the Father.  It is also important that we do not discuss this outside of the boundaries of love.  They need to see that we care for them, love them, and we truly want to see them saved.  This will do more to touch their hearts and open them to acknowledging God as real, loves them, and is the only way of salvation.

In closing, it is God who judges us, through His word.  We are called to judge the fruit of our brothers and sisters in Christ, and encourage them when appropriate and admonish them if needed.  As for the unbeliever, we are called to help them understand their need for Christ and the necessity to accept the salvation God provided through the death of Christ.  Then, once they have given their life to Christ, we can help them grow in Christ, eliminating all sin in their life, through the work of the Holy Spirit, just as He has done and is doing in our lives.

 

Categories: Theology
  1. July 9th, 2018 at 20:19 | #1

    This was clearly not Jonah's approach 🙂 Different dispensation?

    • William Funkhouser
      July 10th, 2018 at 08:06 | #2

      Absolutely, Margaret. A little more intense back then. A distinct difference is that the message was delivered to the city of Nineveh and not to any individual. However, we know many individuals responded by what we see in Jonah chapter 3. In love we are to reach out to a lost world, just as Jesus did. We are not to accommodate to worldly ways or compromise the truth. However, if we do not show people we care, they won't care what we say. Great point, Margaret, and thank you for sharing that.

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