D. E. asks,
In your March 14 blog entitled, “Is It Wrong to Evangelize by Telling Someone to Confess His Sins And Invite Jesus into His Heart?” [see here], you write that the “Biblical answer” to the question “what must I do to be saved” is to “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31). While this statement is true, without additional information, the average person, who may have limited knowledge of the Bible, won’t know what you are talking about. The person likely will wonder and ask the question, what does it mean to Believe on the Lord…? Believe exactly what?
He is correct. While it’s possible an unbeliever will understand Acts 16:31 and be born again without additional explanation, most will not. Of course, I was not writing that blog to unbelievers. Believers know what Acts 16:31 means and that it is true. But I love the question.
First, my go-to verses in evangelism are from John’s Gospel. Those include John 3:16; 5:24, 39-40; 6:35, 47; 11:25-27. However, I might also cite Acts 16:31 if I was talking to a person with a strong church background. An unbeliever who believes in works-salvation, but who wants assurance and is open, just needs enough evidence to convince him that salvation is secure and is by faith alone, apart from works. That was me in 1972 when Warren Wilke kept quoting Eph 2:8-9. Eventually, I saw that what he was saying was true. Through his emphasis on the free gift of salvation, I believed in the free gift of irrevocable salvation.
Second, I love D. E.’s last two sentences. What I want in evangelism is a discussion. I do not want to lecture someone. Very few people wish to hear a sermon from a friend or loved one. Most people like to interact. So, if someone asks, “What does it mean to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ?” I’m delighted. If he asks, “What exactly must I believe in order to be saved?” I know I’ve hit a nerve.
D. E. seems to imply that we want to share the saving message in such a way that no questions would result. But no matter what verse we share, there will be questions unless the person is already ripe fruit. Say we share John 3:16. An unbeliever might ask the following questions: Doesn’t true faith include turning from sins and commitment of life? Isn’t your interpretation of John 3:16 easy believism and cheap grace? What does everlasting life mean, anyway? When Jesus says, “whoever believes in Him” doesn’t the present tense prove that we must persevere in faith and good works until we die?
We should delight in questions when we are evangelizing. Of course, if someone is hostile to what we are saying, then that person’s questions are not those of an honest seeker. He may ask mocking questions to ridicule us and our position. I’ve witnessed to people who turned around and shared with me their concern for my salvation since I didn’t believe in the need to repent and commit. When I realize that I’m speaking with someone who is not open and who is being rude and hostile, I typically end the conversation because it is not fruitful to go on.
But if someone is asking honest questions and is open to the truth, I am happy to keep the discussion going. Aren’t you?