Summary: Message equips believers to share the gospel using the four spiritual laws developed by Bill Bright. Techniques and principles for one-on-one evangelism are discussed.
(What Non-Christians Need to Know) Romans 10:14
We have been talking about evangelism the last couple of weeks. In preparation for this service I began thinking about how I could teach a simple presentation of the gospel that would be easy to communicate and would give the essential information a person might need in order to make a decision to receive the Lord. After working with it for a while I came up with the following four things people need to be told and understand. (1) God loves you. (2) You have a problem. (3) God has the solution for your problem. (4) You must accept His solution.
As I worked with this, I realized the outline was, in essence, the Four Spiritual Laws that I used decades ago. This structure was probably in the back of my mind because of reading a tract written by Bill Bright, the founder of Crusade for Christ It is the most widely distributed religious booklet in history! Over 2.5 billion copies have been distributed.i So instead of using my outline, I decided to simply teach from this tract. It’s entitled “Have You Heard of the Four Spiritual Laws?” That’s why you have a copy of that as your outline.ii
My purpose is to equip you for evangelism. For some of you this will simply be a reminder of the basics people need to know. For some it will give a structure to work with. I never evangelize by just walking through a tract with a person. When I was doing a lot of street evangelism, I would give people a tract so that they could use it as a follow up on our conversation. There are various other evangelistic tools like the Roman Road, Steps to Peace with God from the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, and others that are also good.
Before we walk through this, I want to share a couple of cautions.
(1) Anyone who is truly saved got led to Christ by the Holy Spirit! We can share the word in various ways. And they must hear the message in order to be saved. Rom 10:14 asks these rhetorical questions, “How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?”iii God has called every one of us to be proclaimers or preachers of the good news. People cannot put their faith in Christ if they have not heard the message of Christ. So that is an important element. On the other hand, just mechanically giving the message does not necessarily bring people to the Lord. We must cooperate with the Holy Spirit in all of this. So why am I teaching these four principles? They provide a framework for communicating the message.
(2) There is nothing magical about this tract or any tract. They are just tools we can use. It is the truth revealed to us in the Word of God that the Holy Spirit uses to transform a life. There is and always has been the danger that people would substitute a ritual for a living relationship with God. Water baptism as a ritual does not save you. Yet it is a powerful means of declaring our faith in Christ and making public commitment to Christ. Joining a church does not save you.iv Saying the sinner’s prayer does not save you. This tract leads to a suggested prayer which we often refer to as the sinner’s prayer. It is simply words that help the person ask for salvation. It is a good tool to help people know what to say to God when asking for His salvation. But there is nothing magical about the words themselves. There must be a transaction with God from the heart There is a very delicate balance here when you’re leading people to the Lord. We really have to have the Holy Spirit’s help in the process. On the one hand, simply going through a ritual does not save a person. On the other hand, people usually need help with how to come to the Lord and some of these tools are useful.
Faith is the key ingredient. And faith is not always easy to identify. If I lead a person through the sinner’s prayer, how do I know that person was genuinely saved? I will have to watch the fruit that it produces over time. To be saved a person has to simply take God at His word, ask for the gift of eternal life, and receive it by faith. There may or may not be any emotion at that time. We love it when there is emotion; but emotion is the human response to the event. Some will have emotions; some will not. The real question is not “What did you feel at an emotional level.” The real question is “Did you receive His forgiveness and commit your life to Him?” After leading a person through the sinner’s prayer, I usually ask the question, “Did you receive the Lord?” They are the ones that need to answer that question, not me. When I started out, I would conclude by telling them they had received the Lord. But that’s me putting my words in their mouth. I want them to confess the Lord.