If given the opportunity, what would you tell someone he had to do to be saved from eternal condemnation?
Why This Is Important
If someone gives the wrong directions to heaven, it is more than frustrating. From a human standpoint, false gospels are leading people away from everlasting life, not toward it.
Compare John 5:39-40 and John 6:28-29. Even very religious people can be on the wrong path. The Pharisees thought that one had to work the works of God in order to make it into the coming kingdom (John 6:28). Jesus taught that there was but one work to do to enter the kingdom, believe in the One whom the Father sent (John 6:29; compare John 5:24)!
How to Evangelize Like Jesus Did
Read the map! The Fourth Gospel gives many examples of how Jesus evangelized.
Here are three Biblical examples.
John 3:1-18. Jesus evangelized Nic at night. He told him that whoever believes in Jesus will not perish but has everlasting life.
John 4:10-26. Jesus told the woman at the well that He would like to give special living water (= the message that He is the Messiah who guarantees everlasting life to all who believe in Him) to her. She came to faith and then went to the village and evangelized others.
John 6:22-40. In the Bread of Life Discourse, Jesus showed that He gives everlasting life to all who simply believe in Him for it.
All these examples have this simple declaration: the one who believes in Jesus (drinks the living water, eats the bread of life) has everlasting life that can never be lost.
The Lord conditioned everlasting life solely on believing in Him for it. His method of evangelism was to share the truth. He was not like a salesman trying to get people to sign on the dotted line. He was like the doctor who found the vaccine for polio and was trying to convince parents to believe in the effectiveness of the vaccine for their kids. (Of course, in the case of polio, believing was not enough. One also had to submit to the shot. But the point is that evangelism the way Jesus did it is not a sales job. It is informing people about the promise of everlasting life that Jesus made.)
But Why Should Someone Believe That?
The Lord Jesus taught that they should believe it because of the evidence that He is indeed sent from God to give that very message.
In John 5:31-47 the Lord Jesus gives four proofs that what He says is true: 1) John the Baptist’s testimony about Jesus (we could add in the apostles, vv 33-35), 2) Jesus’ works (raising people from the dead, healing the sick, sinless life, death on the cross, bodily resurrection, post-resurrection appearances, v 36), 3) the actual word of God the Father concerning Jesus (both external and even an internal witness, vv 37-38), and 4) the OT Scriptures (v 39).
Note that Jesus does not spell out all the works He has already done or the works He will do in the future. He just says that His works prove His message. That should have been enough for His listeners.
His greatest work, the work most likely to lead people to believe in Him for everlasting life, is His finished work on the cross and His resurrection from the dead. He removed the sin barrier (John 1:29). People do not need to deal with their own sins. They simply need to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Who Needs Evangelizing?
Short answer: anyone who is not sure that he has salvation that cannot be lost simply because he believes Jesus’ promise of everlasting salvation.
Faith-plus-works thinking will not get anyone to heaven.
The truth is, moral people may well be unsaved.
Who needs evangelizing? Most people do!
Jesus Never Made Discipleship Issues Conditions of Eternal Life
Jesus never mixed the messages of the free gift of everlasting life and the costly life of discipleship. He never made following Him a condition of everlasting life. See John 6:28-29, 35, 37, 39-40, 47.
Jesus Never Gave Evangelistic Appeals
Jesus shared the message of life. He never gave any appeals. Not once. He never even invited people to believe in Him. He just told them who He is and what He promises to all who believe in Him.
Keep It Simple
One reason evangelism for many is hard is because it is so unnatural. If you think you must share lots of verses, the message gets complicated. If you think you must read through an evangelistic booklet with someone, the encounter becomes awkward. Have you ever read through a booklet with someone about any other subject? Probably not. (It is fine to give people literature to read. But when we talk with them, our conversation should be natural, following the example of our Lord.)
Tell people that Jesus Christ guarantees ETERNAL life to all who simply believe in Him. No strings attached.
John 3:16 is a great verse for evangelism since it presents the promise of life in just a few words. Whatever verse you use, I suggest you have one main verse. You do not need to put unbelievers through a Sword drill!
It is a privilege to share the message of life with people. Evangelism does not need to be weird. Just tell people that Jesus guarantees eternal life to all who simply believe in Him. It really is that simple.
Questions will often come. But all legitimate questions are opportunities for dialogue and clarification. Remember. You are not selling. You are educating. Do so prayerfully and leave the results up to God.