Thursday, 24 May 2012

Introducing people to Jesus

When you go somewhere for and event, a party, dinner or something else like that you probably do something without even realising it. You introduce people. Saying things like: “Can I introduce you to ….” Or, “This is …” or even, “Meet ….” The point I am making is that it is a perfectly natural thing to do. Isn’t that how we should be when it comes to letting people know about the Saviour of the world?

I was at a recent outreach with the School of World Evangelism. During a break for lunch an African lady that was living in Kent passionately shared about how we as Christians should introduce people to Jesus. The point being that God could use the person that we introduce mightily, just as He did with the Apostle Peter who led 3000 to Christ with his first sermon.
“Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said and who had followed Jesus. The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, “We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ).  And he brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You will be called Cephas” (which, when translated, is Peter)” John 1: 40-42

Peter was introduced to Jesus by his brother Andrew who is mentioned only a few times in the New Testament. The point to note is that on the occasions we do find him, he is actually doing what Jesus commanded us to do. That is introducing other people to the Lord Jesus Christ.

First of all he introduced his brother Peter to the Lord in the scripture above; then he introduced the boy who had the five loaves and two fishes:

“Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?” John 6: 8-9

Then finally, along with Phillip he introduced the Greeks to the Jesus. I believe that there is no more important work in the world than introducing other people to Jesus.

“Now there were some Greeks among those who went up to worship at the festival. They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, with a request. “Sir,” they said, “we would like to see Jesus.” Philip went to tell Andrew; Andrew and Philip in turn told Jesus” John 12: 20-22

Key Point: We may just be ordinary people; like Andrew however Jesus wants us to introduce people to Him
We may well be very ordinary people, just like Andrew, but the Lord desires to use us to bring others to meet Him. We know that Andrew is not really viewed in the same way as Paul or his own brother Peter and there are no records in scripture that he ever preached a sermon. But wow! He introduced Peter to Christ.  As a result of that introduction Peter preached many sermons.  Some could argue that there would have been no sermons from him had it not been for the faithful, personal soul-winning heart of Andrew. 

Looking at the scripture we can see that Andrew is a very good illustration of how we should be as Christian witnesses for Christ because we read that “The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother…”

There are three points that stand out here:

The word “first”: There is probably no doubt that Andrew won many others to the Lord after he himself came to Christ, the first thought he had was of his own brother.
It is interesting to note that immediately he found Christ he became concerned that others should find Him. When we are born again the impulse to win someone else is born within us. We should nurture this and recognise that witnessing is a matter of very great importance. 
The word “find”: We have no idea of how far Andrew needed to search for Peter, but we do know that those whom the Lord would have us “find” are “lost”, and for this reason they need to be “found”. As believers who have been transformed by Jesus, we should be doing the finding.
“Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbours together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent” Luke 15: 4-7

The simple fact that cannot be ignored is that all the people around us who are without Christ are lost? There is no way to receive forgiveness and eternal life without accepting Jesus as Lord. Once this fact is in our hearts we should all feel that the most important thing is to introduce them to the only One who can actually save them from a lost eternity. If there is any doubt, it is made as clear as crystal in the following scripture.

“Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved” Acts 4: 12

Then, Andrew first found “his brother”: It’s important to note that the scripture says “his brother” and not someone else’s!  The truth sometimes is that it can often be much easier to speak to someone else’s brother, but we must be concerned for those who need salvation in our own families that don’t know Jesus. 

Do you have loved ones who are not Christians? Are you doing anything to introduce them to the Lord Jesus?

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Will you listen?

I was on an outreach recently with the School of World Evangelism in a town in South Wales. Part of the day involved conducting an open air service in the town square. Many of the students were fairly new to this, so before we commenced some time was spent going through how to complete questionnaires that are used on the streets. One major part of the advice given to everyone was simple and to the point: “Ask the question and then listen to the answer”.
That statement may seem quite obvious to you as you read this, but the art of being a good conversationalist is (actually) through being a good listener. It’s not just about being a good talker, but rather it’s about interaction. As a young sales person I was told that “Telling is not selling”, because it is possible for a sales person to talk themselves out of a sale by not allowing a customer to speak.
It can be the same with one to one evangelism. I have witnessed Christians on outreaches that are so desperate to win a soul for Christ that they literally talk the person to death. Then they are left wondering what on earth happened that caused them to lose the person. The art of one to one conversation is of course about talking, but it is about listening as well.
Jesus said this when He was referring to John the Baptist:
“He who has ears to hear, let him hear”! Matthew 11: 15
We can also apply the “Let him hear” part to when we witness and evangelise. It is so important that we explain the Gospel clearly and then ask questions about what we have said. Then, most importantly, we must listen to the answers we receive.
Key Point: Ask your question, wait and listen to the answer
I teach adults on a part time basis. One of the subjects that I cover is helping individuals who lack confidence. People can suffer with this for a wide range of reasons, such as stress, childhood problems, relationship breakdowns, trauma, illness, long term unemployment, situations of violent abuse and much more. In these classes a whole session is devoted to the subject of communication, particularly the art of listening. I go through techniques that can be used to improve listening skills, which in turn help to build rapport with people.
When someone realises that you are a good listener, they will warm to you very quickly. My wife Desiree is an expert at this; in no time at all complete strangers are telling her their darkest secrets! This happens because when they speak, she listens. The person can see she is listening because she nods, makes listening noises like “Hmm” and “Oh”. She also looks at them as they are speaking and then asks questions that demonstrate her interest in them.
The same goes for us as we witness for Christ. If you apply the three points below that relate to effective listening when you share Jesus, you will soon start to have better and more productive conversations.
Don’t be an interrupter: Have you ever had a conversation with a person who asks you a question but as you start to answer, they begin speaking again over what you are saying? It can be very frustrating talking to an “interrupter”. They want to be heard and perhaps are not really that interested in your answer anyway.
If you have this tendency, discipline yourself not to speak when you have asked a question. Bite your tongue or count to three if you have to. Make sure that you give the other person a chance to reply. Remember the best conversationalists are the people who REALLY listen!
Maintain good eye contact: Practice giving your listener your complete attention. If you are not looking into the eyes or face of the person who is speaking, you are much more likely to become distracted, and they will feel you are not really listening.
Don’t stare at the person like a boxer does aggressively before a fight. Just maintain relaxed eye contact.
Pay close attention to what is being said: Maintaining good eye contact helps keep focus on the conversation, preventing distraction. Perfecting this skill helps in ‘reading between the lines’, when feelings are often conveyed in a deeper way than the words which are spoken. It is a well known fact that 93% of communication is nonverbal - meaning that only 7% revolves around the actual words used.
This means listening for voice inflections and the speed of speech, as well as reading body language clues and facial expressions.
There may be occasions when you will need to ask questions to clarify a person’s feelings. Paraphrasing what you have heard back, for example by asking  ‘do you mean that….’ to discern a person’s true feelings demonstrates that you are listening and that you care.
You may have explained, for instance, this scripture:
 “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6: 23
You could than ask, “What do you think of that”? or “Does that make sense to you”? or “How does understanding that make you feel”? Make sure you listen to their answer, then you will need to respond accordingly.
When you need to explain something in greater detail the person will listen to you more readily because they have realised you are a willing listener, by not interrupting them, in paying attention to their reply and maintaining healthy eye contact.
This works effectively when put into practice.







Thursday, 10 May 2012

Leading someone to Christ using F.A.I.T.H.

There are a number of different frameworks or methods that churches and organisations use in order to explain the Gospel. In a previous blog I have gone through the “Roman Road” method which is extremely effective. It helps to keep a person on track and ensures that all of the important areas are covered.

Recently the Southern Baptist Church in America launched a new evangelism program that uses the acronym F.A.I.T.H. to help a person share and explain the gospel. Here are the points and the scriptures they link to them. It is very simple to follow.

F Forgiveness:  We cannot have a relationship with God without receiving forgiveness from Him. We have all sinned and there is nothing that we can do to earn or merit our entry into heaven. As the scripture below states, it is all about the grace of God. Where would we be without it? The shedding of His blood makes a way for anyone who wants to receive Him as Lord and Saviour. Put simply - if there was no cross and no blood sacrifice, we would all be finished.

“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.” Ephesians 1:7

A – Available: Forgiveness is available for all who call on the Name of Jesus. It is not saying His Name like someone who says a prayer religiously, just repeating words – it’s about believing, trusting, accepting and having faith in Him and Him alone to save a person from a lost eternity. He gave up His own life to save us; we must ask for forgiveness, then believe we receive it and accept it in our hearts. When that happens a miracle takes place –we go from being dead in sin to alive in Christ.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16

I – Impossible: It is impossible for God to allow sin into heaven; being the Holy God that He is makes Him unable to look upon sin. When the sin of the world (our sin) was placed upon Jesus, who was the spotless Lamb of God, He had to look away (my own words). It must have been awful for God to do that for us. It is what makes the message of the cross so incredible. God let His son pay the death of a common criminal by laying our sin upon Him. 

“God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
2 Corinthians 5: 21

God allowed all of that to happen to pay the price for us to have eternal life. Incredible, isn’t it? That is why we should be witnessing for Him. It really is the least we can do!

 “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23

T - Turn: A person must turn away and repent from sin and follow God. This is fundamental. We must repent of our sin and wrong-doings. I know that some people like to cover this at a later date hoping to bring a person to the realisation that they need to repent later. However, the Bible says:

“I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.
Luke 13:3
Key Point: Don’t gloss over repentance, it’s a fundamental

I always include repentance in a prayer when I lead someone to Christ. I read this statement the other day. “Repentance is when we agree with God about our sinfulness”. What a terrific description!

When a person repents it means they are sorry for their sin and turn away from it and then start living their life in a way that pleases God. They stop doing stuff that is wrong and try to do the right thing. Like not lying, stealing, lusting and so on. We must repent and turn away from sin!

H – Heaven: Heaven is the gift of eternal life now and then in the hereafter. That means that we can have a blessed life now and an incredible time when we finally end up in Glory with the Lord. After being in heaven for a while we will one day return with Him when He comes to rule and reign.

He made a way for us go to heaven, a place which will be more wonderful than we can ever imagine! It is all about His sacrificial death on the cross. We need to explain it in a way that is simple and easy to understand.

I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. John 10: 10
“Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under His power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God.” John 13: 3

I like this method because it revolves entirely around scripture, which is truth. It is the word of God that convicts hearts, the gospel’s power that leads to a person’s heart being convicted of sin.

Once you have led someone through these points, you can use the acronym F.A.I.T.H.  to help someone give his or her life to Christ. 

Forsaking All I Trust in Him