Saturday, April 15, 2006

Listen For Gospel Opportunities

Listening for Gospel Opportunities

Have you ever been at a social function, walking in the park, befriending others, being hospitable, etc. when someone spoke to you about a difficult situation they were having? Have you given advise based on your knowledge of the scripture in a practical way or in practical matters? Have you, in any way, given people advise practically, from the scriptures in your thinking without relaying to them your source of knowledge? Have you given advise in this manner and not even known whether the one you have spoken to is a Christian? Probably, if you think closely enough you have. Did you state truth? "Yes". Did you really care that the person knew the right thing to do? "Yes". Did you know whether or not they had the power to change their lives? Probably not.

Just what are all these questions and answers and where are they coming from. What is the point? Well, that is a very good question and seems to have gotten your listening ear. Now for the statement: You cannot effectively give non-Christians counsel and advise merely for the changing of their lives. The non-believer does not have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit to enable them to really change their lives. They may reform themselves in a hypocritical manner based on what you told them. They may do a good job at "sweeping one area their house" but they cannot really change until they are saved by the power of God, receive the Holy Spirit and are energized with the desire to carry forth God's pleasurable will (Phil 2:12-13).

There is a needed first step in the process of giving someone, who is a non-believer, advise when asked. That needed first step is to let them know that they cannot really do what is right in a real life changing way until they come to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. It is only then that you can give them the real answers to their problems and difficulties. It is only then that they will have the help and power which will produce real life changing results deep down where it counts. You see, God changes men from the inside out not from the outside in. Evangelism is what is needed first and foremost when the person is seeking answers to problems and does not know Christ as Savior. The heart / mind must be changed to love the Lord God supremely by the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit thereby causing real change to occur. It is salvation in Christ only, and all that is accomplished in that salvation, that there is power to change lives.

We pass over many opportunities to witness. We, more often than not, give forth biblical precepts and principals concerning life without ever talking to people concerning their lostness. We, in practice, act as though they are already saved and have the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit and all they need is to hear and practice the teachings of the scripture. We know that this will never work. We ought not do this any longer! When we do this we have missed an opportunity to discern spiritually where the person is coming from and to follow up with a solid life changing witness for Christ. We need to understand that people who are talking about their life situations, seeking answers, are probably the most open minded people and will at least listen as you present the gospel of Christ. They are not talking nor asking questions about a problem they are having or facing without being in a position of wanting and desiring answers for change. They see they need help and need to be healed or delivered. In reality we should hear their lostness. We then should take interest in them to graciously show them their natural condition and their powerlessness, in and of themselves, to truly change their lives. Then we can tell them of Christ the Savior and what it means to be a new creature in Christ along with the Holy Spirit's indwelling with power in order for them to will and to do God's good pleasure.

With the love of Christ poured out in their hearts they will love God and their neighbor, will be able to look unto Christ in all circumstances, tearing down any idols of the heart, and right any wrongs that has been done to others or that has caused them hurt and difficulty in their personal lives. They will understand that nothing comes by chance but for the glory and purposes of God. In essence they will be able to learn how to direct all that they do to the glory of God. Thereby they will have a changed life of "salvational substance".

Our evangelism need not be just going door to door, passing out tracts, outreach programs or preaching on the streets to be "effective". We can do these and should use every opportunity. However our evangelism needs to include the everyday part of our lives which includes caring about people enough to listen to them, telling them about the Christ of the Bible so that they may come to love Him in the salvation He has procured for His people. Then we can teach and disciple them in the scriptures (concerning any problems) so that they can have changed lives, by the power of the Holy Spirit accordiing to the direction of His Word, and be conformed to the image of Christ.

May God grant to us that we would be able to stay focused to carry forth the great comission daily in very practical ways.


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