Summary: Sermon examines 3 mysteries in life that are significant for all humans, and are springboards for evangelism. This message came in answer to the question: How do you evangelize someone who does not believe the Bible.
Last week we used a simple, little tool called The 4 Spiritual Laws to talk about evangelism. In that booklet were scriptures that we can share with non-Christians to help them understand the way of salvation.
At the end of that message, Diana asked an astute question. Sharing scriptures may be effective for some people, but how do we minister to people who do not believe the Bible? Quoting a scripture verse is not convincing to those people. It’s a good question because in today’s world most non-Christians do not believe the Bible is inspired of God. Tragically, many people who go to church on Sunday morning don’t believe it. And even more tragic, some people in the pulpit don’t believe the Bible is infallible and inspired by the Holy Spirit. So we do need some insight on how we approach people other than quoting scriptures to them.
There has been a major cultural shift during the last 40 or 50 years. In the early 70’s you could walk up to almost anyone and talk to them from Scripture. That generation had gone to Sunday School as a child. Most said prayers at their public school and came from Christian homes where the Bible was revered. Regardless of the sinful lifestyle of the person, most had a respect for the authority of Scripture. That is not the case today, and that makes evangelism more difficult.
Just throwing out verses to unbelievers who don’t believe the Bible has limited effectiveness. It is like a farmer throwing his seed on hard ground. A little of it may take root, but the odds are against you. That farmer has to plow the ground, so the seed can find place in the soil, germinate, and take root, and grow. Quoting Scripture to people who reject the authority of the word is like throwing seed on hard soil.
So how do we approach those people? I pondered that question last week, asking the Lord to show me the answer. As I prayed God impressed this thought on my heart. The answer is in the book of Ecclesiastes. So I began reading Ecclesiastes with that question in mind. How do we approach people who do not believe in the authority of the Bible? What needs to be addressed in order to prepare them to receive the message?
Before I proceed, let me just say that philosophical arguments alone will not bring people to Christ. People must at some point hear the message. They must at some point embrace the truths in the gospel, as we talked about last week. But we have to meet people where they are in order to engage them. So what I’m going to talk about this morning comes from the word of God; it is found in the book of Ecclesiastes. However, it is preparation that is needed for some people before they will receive what we talked about last week.
Three subjects every thinking person wants to know.
I. The Mystery of Death
Our society does its best to push this reality into the background. Not many years ago when a family member died, you laid the body in the front room until time of burial. In many societies today, the family digs the grave for their loved ones. We have shielded ourselves from this harsh reality as much as possible. But in spite of all those efforts, death is real. It has happened to just about 100% of the human race. Death is universal. It is a common concern. Every time someone dies, the rest of us are reminded that we might be next. Is there anybody foolish enough to argue that he or she will not die? The empirical evidence is overwhelming. Someday life, as you currently know it, will end. You don’t know when, but you can be extremely certain it is going to happen.i
This is not a minor event that is going to happen to you either. It’s not just that you’re going to move from Kansas City to St. Louis and then carry on. It’s a pretty profound occurrence. So it merits some thought. What do you think is going to happen to you when you die? That is a question we should be asking non-Christians. At this point, I don’t care what answer they give. I have got them thinking; and that is a step in the right direction.
The unbeliever who tells you he doesn’t care about that is either lying or is of an extremely low IQ. Why do I know that? Listen to what the Bible says in Heb. 2:14-15. “Since the children have flesh and blood [we’re talking about people], he [Jesus] too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death-that is, the devil- 15 and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death” (NIV). Ponder with me for a moment verse 15. Jesus came to “free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.” Every thinking human being has a fear of death that must be resolved in some way. When you talk about the reality, the certainty, and the significance of death you are talking about something every human being is concerned about, whether they admit it or not.