2 Peter 3:9 “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.“
We don’t often think of time as being relative, do we? I mean, there are only so many hours in a day. But according to Einstein’s theory of relativity, the rate at which time passes depends on your frame of reference. Maybe that explains why our good days whiz by, and the bad ones just drag on!
The reality is that if we were to observe time through the lens of velocity or gravity it would dramatically contradict what we assume to be true about the absoluteness of time. That’s why astronauts on the International Space Station age at a slower rate than us here on earth and the GSP systems of our satellites constantly need to be recalibrated. It’s also the reason why your cell phone measures time by the number of vibrations in a stable atom and not the rotation of earth around the sun.
It’s quite mind bending isn’t it? Think of how God sees time. God views time very differently than we do because His frame of reference is far above us. The way God orchestrates our past, present, and future is inexplainable, but it’s important that we remember that God has been, is, and will continue to be, at work in lives of those He is sending us to as witnesses.
As you share the Gospel with your redemptive relationship, you can show them through this Scripture that God will fulfil his promise to judge this world. Share with them that God is patiently holding back his judgment, giving them time to hear his loving invitation and turn to him.
2 Corinthians 5:21 “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
When is it the right time to share this verse in a conversation with someone in your life who doesn’t know Jesus?
This is not the right verse to share when explaining our brokenness and need for God. Nor is it the verse to share when pointing out our guilt before God that separates us from him.
No, the time to share this verse is when you are explaining what the cross is all about. When you are explaining the spiritual connection God makes between the death of Jesus in the past and my faith in Jesus in the present, this is the verse to use.
We need righteousness to be right with God, but what we have is sin (guilt). Since we can’t undo our guilt we have a big problem and face God’s judgement. Jesus, on the other hand, had no guilt; he only had righteousness.
What this verse shares with a person trying to understand the gospel is that Jesus volunteered to take our guilt and give us his righteousness—an incredible exchange that could only come from a heart that loved us, even in our sinfulness, more than himself.
The verse tells us that God the Father accepted this sacrificial trade and “made him [Jesus] who had no sin [guilt] to be sin [guilty] for us, so that in him [because of his death on the cross that paid the penalty for our guilt] we might become the righteousness of God [we receive his righteousness and the good relationship with God that it brings].”
Use 2 Corinthians 5:21 to explain what Jesus did for us at the cross.
“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.”
This blog series aims to help you know the best Bible verses you can use in sharing Christ with non-believers. Craig, Aaron, Josh and Andrew already shared with you the first four Bible verses we can use:
Today, I would like to share the most straightforward Bible verse I often use when sharing Christ with people, a verse that very simply shares two core truths. I understand that many of us sincere and God-fearing Christians struggle to articulate the core truths of the gospel in few sentences because I once had that struggle too. When we grasp the fullness of what Jesus did for us all at Calvary, we cannot help wanting to share it with everyone. We want everyone to have what we have!
We know that the Bible has a lot of great verses to share, but sometimes we hesitate to start gospel conversations with people because we are not sure which verses to use. We feel like we need to memorise heaps of verses to share the gospel with people, so we hold back.
I encourage you to just memorise Romans 6:23 — “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.”When sharing this verse with a non-believer, simply pick out the two core truths of the verse, which are separated by the comma—the first truth is why we desperately need God’s help, and the second is the gospel!
Let me show you what I mean…
Truth 1: “For the wages of sin is death”
Think of a child and a parent. When a child disobeys, the relationship with his parent is strained. The parent’s love remains unchanged; however, the child may experience some consequences like discipline, natural consequences of their behaviour, mistrust and a sense of guilt. So it is with God and us. When we rebel against God’s will, ways and rule in our lives, we earn wages and those wages are “death”—a brokenness that separates us from God, the source of real life!
Truth 2: “But the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord”
Only God can bring healing, love and wholeness. When we turn to God, trusting that Jesus paid for our forgiveness when he died on the cross, God forgives us as a gift. The gift comes “through Christ Jesus”. That is, you don’t have to do a lot of good things to earn it because Jesus already paid for it. You just need to thank God for his forgiveness and receive it. That’s called faith.
As you share this verse, make sure to share your own story of how you have met Christ. This is the most powerful thing you can do, as it says in Revelation 12:11. Be honest, and don’t sugarcoat it. People need to hear how your life was and how God changed your life.
So, if you have someone in your life who doesn’t know Jesus yet, and you want them to experience the fullness of life through Jesus, share your heart and be vulnerable with them. Share your own experience of brokenness and healing that God is bringing. Talk about the way to get right with God, use Romans 6:23 and remember to keep it simple. If you can lock these two core truths in your mind, you will be able to share the gospel with anyone.
Go BIG in praying for your witness. Remember that the Bible is the story of people who prayed, and God answered!
“But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
Surely this is one of the greatest ever Bible verses. It basically sums up the entire Christian message in one short line. While we were still sinners, while we were still at odds with God, Christ died for us. There was nothing we could do, so he did it for us.
The first thing the person you are speaking with needs to know about God is how much he loves them, and that his love reaches past any sense of guilt they may have to bring them into a great relationship with him. This verse will help you communicate that truth.
In many movies, there is this theme of sacrifice. I am thinking of movies like the Avengers movies, Titanic etc. But what these all have in common is that the people in them are sacrificing their lives for their friends and loved ones. Imagine if, instead of sacrificing their lives for their friends, they sacrificed their lives for their enemies. It’s inconceivable! But that is what this verse is telling us. While we were still sinners, that is, while we were still at odds with God and his enemies, Christ died for us.
What we are seeing in the world today through people’s reaction to COVID and the gender issues is that people are becoming more and more absorbed with self – even if it’s to the detriment of everyone else around them. What this means is that when you think of the people around you, this sacrificial love of the Christian faith is becoming increasingly alien to people’s thinking. But I think that just makes it more and more powerful!
When you speak with people about God, think about this verse and tell them about Christ’s love for them. Share with them that they don’t have to ‘fix themselves up’ before coming to him. Tell them that contrary to what the world preaches these days, Jesus will meet them where they are now, in all their hurt and struggles, with all their thorns and with all their struggles and imperfections.
For people who are genuinely seeking God, their sense of unworthiness can be one of the biggest hurdles in their journey towards him—they feel like they need God, but that they are not worthy of him. What a beautiful truth to be able to tell them: God doesn’t want us to be perfect before coming to him; he wants to be the one to help us become perfect…in him!
“I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
Who can you see that is trying to seek fulfilment in life?
Who do you know that is restless and needs inner peace?
Who in your life needs to experience true forgiveness and be set free from guilt?
It’s ONLY through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ they will experience forgiveness, inner peace, and fulfilment in life.
At a time when his close friends and followers are deeply concerned over his departure from this world, Jesus makes this profound and bold claim:
“I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6
This claim Jesus makes brings great comfort and security to all his followers and can help you bring clarity to the people in your life who need to know Jesus.
Just think about what Jesus is saying here…
“I am the way…” – Jesus is saying, I am the way to God, the way for your sins to be forgiven and for you to experience peace, being reconciled to God.
“and the truth…” – Jesus is saying, I am the truth, the promise of God, the Word that became flesh, the promised Messiah, the final word of God spoken to his people.
“and the life” – Jesus is saying, I am the life. Only in me can you know life in all its fullness now here on earth and experience that life for all eternity.
Who in your life needs to experience forgiveness, inner peace and fulfilment in life? Every person who does not know Jesus.
Jesus makes it clear; we can only experience forgiveness, peace and fulfilment if we come to the Father. And there is only one way to come to the Father, “through me” Jesus says. Our need for forgiveness, peace, and fulfilment are just symptoms of the real problem – we need a personal relationship with God.
Jesus is saying there is no other way to be forgiven, no other way to be made right and at peace with God. No other way to enjoy life now and be secure in our eternity after death, no way to escape the punishment of rejecting God, no way of having a personal relationship with God… “except through me”, by personally surrendering to Jesus’ authority in your life.
Today we live in a world where many reject the authority of Jesus or sadly don’t know who Jesus really is. Many believe that truth is relative, and others believe there are many paths to spiritual enlightenment or encountering God. Still others believe fulfilment in life can be reached through various achievements and accolades.
But Jesus sets the record straight. He is Truth in all these matters, and he wants you to help those in your life that need him to see clearly who Jesus is – THE ONLY WAY to come to God.
Some may think that saying “Jesus is the only way” is narrow minded and unfair. However, just think about it for a minute… Jesus being the only way means that God treats all of humanity equally and does not show any favouritism. Jesus being the only way means God made a way that is the most inclusive way for all humanity and does not exclude anyone from being in relationship with him. Because Jesus is the only way it doesn’t depend on our good works, intelligence, social status, or anything else, it depends on Jesus.
The TRUTH is, everyone can experience eternal LIFE starting today because Jesus is the WAY.
This blog series aims to help you build intentional relationships with people because of the foundational principle that the gospel spreads through relationships. John already shared with you the first answer to the question:
How do we build intentional relationships with people?…
Today’s answer that I would like to bring to light is:
Follow Jesus’ example of building intentional relationships by caring more about the needs of others than how they treat you!
It is so easy to care for someone who appreciates you, but it is a whole different story to care for someone who doesn’t deserve your love or when they don’t treat you well. I am guilty of this!
We will always be flawed as human beings, looking at the speck in our brother’s eye, but not noticing the log that is in our own eyes! We easily forget how God has been patient with us all these times! Isn’t it true that God’s patience toward us is greater than our tolerance toward our friends, co-workers or acquaintances or strangers?
So, how do I quickly come back to my senses when I get discouraged with people? Easy! When I am tempted to lose patience with someone, I think how incredibly patient God has been with me! As I reflect on his patience toward me, it also makes me remember that he is still patiently waiting for others. “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). When we freely receive God’s patience, it compels our hearts to share it with everyone around us. When you show unworldly love—a love that is sacrificial and without boundaries, preferences, or condition—God’s character shines forth.
Throughout his life, Jesus demonstrated his care and compassion for people. Jesus thought of others before he thought of himself. He genuinely cared about people, even when society considered them sinners, unlovable or unthinkable. Jesus washed his disciples’ feet, fed thousands of people, healed the sick and breathed life into the dead. He spent a lot of time caring and providing for the needs of others.
Jesus spent most of his time thinking and placing the needs of others before his own. Even in his agony at the cross during his last few hours before his death at the cross, Jesus’ concern was for the forgiveness of the Roman soldiers who mocked him, beat him, spat on him, whipped him, put a crown of thorns on his head and nailed him to the cross! “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). Jesus lived a life of complete humility and led by serving.
If you want to follow Jesus’ example of building intentional relationships, you have to start by getting down on your knees and asking God to change your heart and teach you to love others with kindness and compassion regardless of how they treat you! In Ephesians 2:10 it says, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
As Christ’s followers, we have been sent by Jesus into every encounter with every person, in every circumstance and in every day of our lives. To whom God has sent you to lend a helping hand? To whom God has sent you to pray for or maybe to encourage someone who much needed it? Does someone in your workplace need a ride? Does someone need a simple act of kindness—perhaps a struggling mum at the store or an elderly that might need some help? Be observant to the needs of others. As Christ’s follower, we have inexhaustible opportunities to follow Jesus’ lead to love, care and serve those people around us. If at times we get disheartened, show the world the ONE who is patient with us. Are you ready to answer Jesus’ call?
Some people are opposed to the idea of building intentional relationships with people who need Jesus. They think those relationships are fake. While it is very possible to be non-genuine in a relationship by only using it to tell someone the gospel, it is also very possible to have deeply meaningful relationships that are also intentional. For example, parents love their children dearly and want a deep, meaningful relationship with them. At the same time, parents are intentional in those relationships as they work to develop their kids into the right kind of adults.
In the same way, we are building meaningful friendships with people in our lives who need Jesus, and at the same time we are being intentional about introducing them to Christ. But how do we make sure our relationships are intentional? The biggest way we see Jesus bringing intentionality into his relationships is through questions.
The questions you ask the people in your life shape your conversations and move your relationship in a direction. If the only questions you ask are things to do with pop culture or politics, then your relationships will sit at that level. But as soon as you ask questions about a person’s desires for the future, or their concerns for their family, or the person they hope to become, your conversations move to a whole different level. Talking with people about their personal lives helps both you and them to identify their deep felt-needs in life.
When your relationship is comfortable talking at this personal level it is much more meaningful. At that point, asking questions that lead to spiritual conversations will lead to open discussions that are very real and genuine. That’s when the gospel can naturally fit and will find open hearts.
If you have relationships that you want to become intentional with and move towards God-conversations, learn to ask the right questions that will move that relationship towards Christ!
One of the things that are common to humans across cultures is the need to belong to a community. This is one of the reasons why people look for a community to belong to every time they move to a new place or venture into a new field. God has called me to homeschool our children and we have needed a community of homeschooling families. We have found a group who have been very helpful as we embark on this journey. Now, although I’m still a novice in this field, surprisingly I already find myself encouraging and helping three other mums who have been contemplating whether they would give homeschooling a shot.
A sense of belonging is a human need to survive, just like the need for food and shelter. Abraham Maslow in 1943 proposed that our human need to belong is one of the five necessities required to attain self-actualisation. In fact, after physiological (food, water, warmth, and rest) and safety needs, he placed the need for belonging as the next level in his “Hierarchy of Needs”.
God has created us as relational beings, who need community with others. Some meet their need for belonging in their family, friends, or church, and others on social media. However they do it, people are searching for meaningful community. For those who don’t find it, although they may be surrounded by people, their loneliness has taken a toll on their self-esteem. God reaches into these people’s lives and brings them into the Christian community where they find healing and wholeness.
Why is the Gospel relevant in today’s age? Because people are searching for community more than ever!
That means that we need to build meaningful relationships in two directions. On one hand, we need to be building strong spiritual relationships with people who love the Lord and, on the other hand, with people who haven’t encountered God in their lives so we can walk with them towards Christ.
Isn’t that one of the huge marks of Jesus’ way of life? As we read the Bible, we see how he regularly spent relational time with those who didn’t follow God and who didn’t bother to attend organised religious activities. Because of that, but he was branded a “friend of sinners”. Jesus’ actions in spending time with sinners were in perfect accordance with his mission to seek and to save the lost (Luke 19:10). He went to where the need was because, “those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance” (Luke 5:31-32). He knew that what motivates a person to move towards God is almost always a meaningful relationship with someone who already knows him.
If we are followers of Christ, we must imitate this massive feature of his life. People are searching for community more than ever. God wants us to reach the people we know to let them hear that it’s ONLY through the price Jesus’ paid on the cross for our sins that we can have peace with God and become a part of his wonderful family on earth.
Sometimes when I am having a spiritual conversation with someone and they are questioning why I believe what I believe, I like to turn the conversation back on them and ask them, “What about you? Don’t you feel that something is missing in your life, that things are not right, not the way they are supposed to be? Aren’t you searching for something that your current life is not giving you?” It’s easy for them to dismiss Christianity when talking in third person, but when confronted with the outcome of their own life and worldview, they pause. Those who are honest often answer in a subdued voice. “Well…yes.”
We know that, as the church father Augustine said to God, “Thou hast made us for thyself, and restless is our heart until it comes to rest in thee.” We call the headlong pursuit of the secular goals of money and success ‘the rat race’. But the rat race is not the right race, because the prizes it gives will never give a person what they hope it will give them. At the end of the rat race, even if you win, is just more emptiness, loneliness and disappointment.
The rat race is a big lie. It’s important to ask people those questions that reveal the lie. On the surface people may be ‘successful’ and seem to have it all together, but under the surface they know that the rat race is taking them nowhere. Talking openly about that suddenly makes the gospel more relevant. The reason we are never satisfied with the things of the world is that we were made for God and only he can make our lives whole. As Jesus said, “What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his own soul?”
Do you want your gospel conversations to be relevant to someone who is in the rat race? Ask them the questions that will help them recognise that the rat race will take them nowhere and point them to Jesus.
There have been many times when I have tried to start a good spiritual conversation with people, but their reaction shows that they are not interested at all in having that kind of conversation. As believers, we know that the gospel is the most important message a person could ever know and come to grips with. But there is a big difference between important and relevant!
Getting right with God and knowing what happens when you die just became much more relevant to our society than it was a few weeks ago. I am part of a Facebook group of pastors in our area. One pastor said that because of the restrictions on gatherings, they moved to sending a live video feed of their Sunday service to their congregation online. So none of the congregation showed up for church. But in spite of the restrictions, two non-Christians showed up looking for answers, looking for hope, looking for God.
The coronavirus changes everything for us as witnesses. Don’t miss this change, because it demands a change in your thinking too! Here is what needs to change:
You need to stop assuming that nobody really wants to talk about spiritual things or about God and start assuming that everybody wants to have spiritual conversations and is looking for answers and the hope that only God can bring!
Now is not the time to simply pray and hope that God might do something to open a person’s heart to him. Now is the time to act on your prayers and start talking with everyone you know, everyone you encounter, about life and death and God and forgiveness and hope and peace. Be bold. Ask people, “How are you dealing with all that’s going on with the coronavirus? If you were to catch the virus and die, do you have confidence that you are right with God? Can I share with you how you can have that confidence?”
Then share the gospel with them. When you have shared the beautiful truth of what Jesus has done to make a way for us to be right with God, ALWAYS ask if they feel like they are ready to take that step right now. If not, ask what is holding them back, and then have another great conversation about that.
Maybe you don’t see many people right now, because you are staying at home as we try to help contain the virus. But you can call people to check on them and have these same conversations. Don’t assume that because people have not been open in the past, it means that won’t be open now. Be bold, take action, trust God, and start spiritual conversations, then move those conversations toward the gospel!