God’s gospel will always be good news in every place, every culture, and every time. God has placed in every man and woman a longing for him only he can fill. Here’s how it looks.
The Testimony of a Changed Life
In John 15:7 God promised to answer prayer according to his will. Psalm 66:18 warns, “If my thoughts had been sinful, he would have refused to hear me” (Contemporary English Version). Unconfessed sin inhibits boldness. While God has promised to forgive our sins, we must stand ready to confess them.
In two surveys of nearly 1,000 Christian young adults who left the church, Dr. Larry Richards discovered that parental gossip and spiritual hypocrisy were primary factors leading to their exodus.
We can’t prove God, nor can anyone disprove him. But a changed life is solid evidence of his existence. Every person believes something, even if they believe only in themselves. So whose truth claim bears the test of life experiences? To claim there is no truth is also a truth claim.
What to Say
Seekers and unbelievers respond more positively to our words when we have made God’s priorities our priorities. Apologetics are helpful. They break down barriers for many and did for me. But greater still, no one can argue with a changed life—the testimony of how God is working in and through us. He changes bitterness into love, greed into generosity, control into servanthood, pride and envy into humility. He heals abusers and addicts and so much more.
At the cultural level, God’s people have ended human sacrifice and slavery. They have provided health care and education. They have restored value to women and children and made justice and rule of law possible—all because God’s people believe we are created equal. Virtually all positive social developments have arisen through Christian cultures and world views.
God wants everyone to be saved. When we accept his salvation we also accept his commission to do all we can to make disciples (see Matthew 28:18 and 2 Corinthians 5:17-20).
God can use any circumstance to share his love. A church in Brazil was started because of a traffic accident. A missionary driving his car through an intersection was struck by another car. Because many drivers lack insurance coverage, accidents often erupt in conflict and fighting. This missionary, however, stepped out of his car and helped the shaken lady who had hit him. Taken aback, she asked why. He explained that he was a Christian. “But so is everyone here,” was her quizzical response. “What makes you different? Can you come to my home for a meal and tell me why?”
Over the meal she heard about God’s good news. She was amazed. She wanted her family to hear and asked if he would return. Many members of her extended family were there at the next dinner.
At some point, nearly everyone experiences a health crisis. How we respond at such raw and vulnerable times can reveal our level of faith. Many people testify that they began to consider God seriously after watching Christians trust him through their trauma.
In her final days my mother was admitted into a hospice facility. Nearby was another Christian lady. When the lady died, her doubting husband kept coming back to talk to my mom about matters of faith. Around the same time, the facility hired a new night nurse. Taking a chance, she awakened Mom during her first evening on duty to say, “I’m told you are a Christian. I’m a brand new one. May I wake you when I come on duty to talk about Jesus?”
Mom cheerfully responded, “Of course.”
In her last recording, her voice now quiet and husky with life’s last breaths, Mom observed, “How do I not know God had me there just for these two people?”
Listening and Asking
Listening and asking questions are essential tools for sharing the good news with those around us.
A college classmate in San Jose, California was closing shop for the night when he was grabbed by the throat and thrust against a wall. His response threw his assailants. He calmly asked if they knew his brother who was watching over him. Surprised they asked, “Who’s he?”
He then told them about Jesus. The grip around his throat relaxed and the four sat on the curb. One made a commitment to follow Jesus, one recommitted his life, the other ran away. Love allows us to look past the circumstances to the person.
I was in Vernonia, Oregon and had just started across a bridge to some retail stores when a woman who looked very distraught drove onto the bridge. I stopped to ask if she was okay. She was experiencing marital problems. I asked if she wanted to talk. “Yes,” she said. and pulled around the corner.
She said that she felt rejected by God. “But I’m here,” I said. And from there I explained to her how God places us where we can share his love with others. We are his hands, his feet, his words, his love. We are his living gospel.
Sooner or later everyone has a need. God can meet those needs through us, providing we remain available.
Where to Begin
Often it’s helpful to direct those to whom we witness to the Gospels themselves. God blesses the reading of his Word. You may want to start by asking the seeker to read the Gospel of Luke, as it highlights God’s compassion and mercy.
Encouragement to Remain Faithful
“But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called ‘Today,’ so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness” (Hebrews 3:13). We all need to be encouraged as we share the good news with those who need it. While we can find encouragement on our own, finding it in the context of friendships and perhaps even a small group can be very beneficial. Satan is quick to find and exploit our weaknesses, so we need to be diligent in our support, encouragement, and prayers for one another.
Loving accountability with other disciples is important. As you meet together, ask one another what you’re learning as you study Scripture. What are you thankful for? What do you need to obey or change? Regularly check up on and encourage one another. To the degree God’s love is reflected in our lives, the world will see God’s good news and doors will open.
Ted Bjorem is a Christian minister, professor, and writer in Sydney, Australia.