Wanted to share some thoughts in witnessing and preaching the salvation message. The Word does not give a ‘formula’ for the ABC.s of evangelism, but does indeed give us guidelines on how share eternal life to those who need to know the Lord. Before we get stared however, we need to mention no technique or witnessing plan can ever replace the Living power of the Holy Spirit. Having our lives submitted to Him-leading us into our divine works planned in eternity past is always the most effective way to bring others into His light. See Our Road with God, The Son can do only what He sees from the Father.
Ephesians 2:10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance (divinely prepared in eternity past) for us to do.
Zechariah 4:6 So he said to me, “This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the LORD Almighty.
To be honest, I have struggled on how to answer the above question. Should we preach the fire and brimstone-salvation message…or should we point to the Lords love, His great sacrifice on the cross for our sins. If you’re Pentecostal like me, your probably have heard the former more times than you can count 🙂 .
Before I came to the Lord, I was invited to several church services. Those that preached fire and brimstone-or in your face salvation message had an opposite effect for me. I wanted nothing to do with their God or lifestyle. After becoming a Christian, I traveled down the same road. I observed the outcome of the ‘bullhorn preaching’-those shouting to all who walked by that they are sinners and going to hell. One documentary showed a preacher screaming outside of a major cult temple. A Christian street group asked him how successful he was over the years. After decades of ‘witnessing’ he confessed to ‘1’ salvation. The prayed up street group went around the corner and talked with some youths hanging out. The Lord gave them a Word of Knowledge about a physical aliment, then they spoke a healing and salvation immediately followed 🙂 .
What really sealed the deal on ‘damnation’ preaching however was an experience I had at Moody Bible. We loved to get out of our sheltered environment and share the gospel. One night a brother came running down the hallway saying… ‘Bill-you have to come out and check this street preacher out’! I had no idea what I was forthcoming, good, bad or out of this world lol. We walked up to the corner and I saw a middle aged man-somewhat ‘plump’ pointing at anyone who would listen…telling them ‘they all going to hell’-wooee! Wanting to engage-to see if my prior salvation experience was still intact, he asked me my name. Thank goodness, the declaration of damnation was briefly postponed 🙂 . To this day I vividly remembered two things. One, his eyes. They seemed to be on the verge of popping out…really-not kidding. They also had rivers of blood shot running through them. Yes, my fear of the dark alleys faded and was replaced by ‘those eyes’. Two-the closer I came the more intimidated I had become. OK, I was young in the Lord-please cut me some slack. When he spoke to me I fell back and was about sent into eternity. I had never experienced dragon breath like his in my entire life! Let’s just say-the typical fire and brimstone preaching had received an execution sentence that night.
Preaching Solely on the Lords Love
When I first started ministering at the mission, I took the opposite approach. Wanting to ‘be nice’ and not upset those visiting-I only talked about the Lords love as demonstrated by His sacrifice on the cross for us. I never addressed any of their problems so they would feel ‘comfortable’ in the service. Making this my priority-hell was also never mentioned. Sadly, after their 4 month rotation (when they were allowed to come back) they had the same problems as before, nothing had changed. I was in large part to blame. I let them out the door without trying to repair their broken spiritual weapons
Ephesians 6:10-17 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.
They returned beat up and in more despair than before. I vowed to the Lord and to myself, when given the appropriate opportunity, I would never withhold giving the Lords instruction to a brother, sister-or the lost again. If they refused help, did not like the help-ok… I get that-but I never again wanted to be responsible for ‘not trying’ …not telling them how to fix their broken lives.
The Dilemma Still Remained. Do We Preach (Witness) About Hell Or Heaven ?
Obviously, many of you are thinking, preach both. Ever have a problem you could figure out intellectually, but still had unanswered questions in your spirit? I had to resolve in my spirit-how and why I should preach both. I still could not bring myself to morph into an ‘all ya-all’ goen to hell kind of preacher, even part time.
While attending church, the pastor started to mention how the Holy Spirit works on those who do not know the Lord yet. Let’s take a look on the ways scripture is used to reach the lost.
The Lord Loved Us First
Our instincts of having the Lord pull us to His saving grace by His love will always be a foundational truth…Praise God for this!
Romans 5:8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
1 Jn. 4:19 We love because he first loved us.
When we preach the salvation message link, it should never be void of His Spiritual love and calling. While we will reconcile the seemingly opposing viewpoint in a moment, we need to consider some important spiritual steps when reaching the lost.
His Spirit is the one who draws any person to Christ
When we received the gospel, the Holy Spirit has an important part in our salvation process.
John 6:44 “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day. Jer. 31:3, Jn. 6:65
In short, the greater the Holy Spirit is in our lives, initiating His power in the church, the greater the results will be.
Acts 5:12-16 And by the hands of the apostles were many signs and wonders wrought among the people; (and they were all with one accord in Solomon’s porch…And believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women.) 15 Insomuch that they brought forth the sick into the streets, and laid them on beds and couches, that at the least the shadow of Peter passing by might overshadow some of them. 16 There came also a multitude out of the cities round about unto Jerusalem, bringing sick folks, and them which were vexed with unclean spirits: and they were healed every one.
The Holy Spirit Will Convict the World of Sin
It is undeniable however, the Holy Spirit also convicts of the world of sin-points their sin out to them.
John 16:8-11 When He (The Holy Spirit) comes, He will convict the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: about sin, because people do not believe in me… and about judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.
1 Corinthians 14:24-25 But if an unbeliever or an inquirer comes in while everyone is prophesying, they are convicted of sin and are brought under judgment by all, 25 as the secrets of their hearts are laid bare. So they will fall down and worship God, exclaiming, “God is really among you!”
These verses (along with others) without question teach us the Holy Spirit points out sin, convicts people of their sin…and people are brought to sincere repentance because of this. Does this mean I need to be at least part time-ya-all goen to hell type preacher? Let’s hold off on this verdict until we examine more scriptures regarding this truth 2 Tim. 2:5.
Isaiah 28:13 But the word of the LORD was unto them precept upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line.
Unifying The Word When Witnessing To The Lost
One of the coolest things about God is He teaches us in various ways. Sometimes I am blow away by-woow-I learned that lesson without even knowing I had that particular window for it to come through 🙂 .
This lesson for me came through another ones example. Years of trying to figure out the correct balance came together in less than two hours.
While working on another related teaching, I listened to a video by Ray Comfort.
I personally believe his mastery in witnessing does not come by complex techniques, but by presenting divine truths in the simplest but most convicting way possible. He followed 3 scriptural principles, making presence of the Holy Spirit a priority Jn. 16:8, preaching the correct witnessing methods Acts 26:28-29, and encouraging the final step-faith in the salvation work of Jesus Christ Eph. 2:8-9.
1. The Holy Spirits Work, His Call
Pastor Comfort understood unless the Holy Spirit shows up, our effectiveness in witnessing is going to be minimal. Yes, anyone can present the gospel and it will not return void, but how great a move of God will be when the church is flowing in the power of Holy Spirit Is. 55:11 See Living Water, Fellowship or Friendship
Acts 2:17-19 “ ‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.
18 Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy.
19 I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth
All throughout his witnessing time on the street he was using the Word, uplifting the Lord through the scripture and in testimony (bringing in the Holy Spirit). As important, he laid a foundation for the Gods love by proclaiming truths from scripture…The Lord loves you…that is why He send His son to die for you on the cross…you are valuable to God-He has a destiny for you Jer. 29:11. I began to realize, the Lord never intended for to us to become-in your face-ya all goen to hell-type of preachers. Yes, the Spirit does convict of sin in a powerful way-explained later- but with the exception of a righteous anger usually directed to religious leadership hindering the gospel, Jesus reached out to the lost as their shepherd Mk. 3:5, Mt. 19:8
Matthew 5:3-10 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4 Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted…see through vs. 10
II The Preachers Work
As mentioned earlier, we need to be flowing in the Holy Spirit when we go out. We have to be abiding in the Lord-having His radiance showing through us Jn. 15:4-7. Pastor Comfort was also prepared. These particular interviews were with young adults, full of self confidence. He wisely simplified areas of life, scientifically showing how a Sovereign God who created the universe must exist and how we have all sinned before Him-thus needing a savior.
It was amazing, through the Holy Spirit and the preachers questions-by the end of the interview almost all of them had changed.
Romans 10:17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
They were brokened, admitting the evidence shows there is a God and that they have sinned before Him. See web page.
Pastor Comfort did not create an environment to show them how awful they are because they are sinners…but showed them how much God loves them by sending His Son to die for them ‘WHILE’ they were sinners-offenders of God.
1 John 4:10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning (amending) sacrifice for our sins.
To be effective then we are to earnestly be prepared-prayed up and ‘in the Spirit’ before we give the testimony of Lord Jesus to the lost. See Preaching to the Lost Explained in 98 Seconds
Setting this as our foundation-the Lord loves us even though the Word shows we all have sinned and need a savior-opens the door for true repentance-see below.
III. The Final Piece, Salvation Faith-Receiving Jesus
Matthew 7:7-8 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
This last piece is where those with extreme election views error, and where Pastor Ray I believe has it completely right. He knew the Holy Spirit was present and he was prepared to show them the way. He did something I found incredibly interesting however. All through out the message he was confident and sincerely guided them to the truth. The ‘last part’ however, their act of faith-he treated with respect and demonstrated great patience.
He knew he could not force their decision on the final piece to the salvation process –their faith. He clearly explained to them they will have to choose-to act-upon the truth given to them Jn. 3:16, Rm. 10:10. Their will to act upon their faith was not forced because the Lords nature-Divine Love-cannot force-bully or coerce someone into a relationship. DIVINE LOVE can only work within it’s nature. Many, with a broad smile, said…I am ready…right now, I do not want to wait to receive eternal life…Praise God!! See Predestination-Free will
Important Note: Not understanding this divine principle is undoubtedly the gravest mistake the lost could ever make. Gods righteousness cannot abide with sin in eternity and His divine love cannot force us into a relationship where only absolute love abides. God cannot commit an injustice of coercion and violate His nature. See If You Were God for 1 Day
2 Timothy 2:13 if we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot disown himself.
When the Spirit is present and His love is flowing, we have a heavenly anesthesia that can open the hearts of the lost and truly convict them of their sin. This is important! The greater the Holy Spirits loving presence is engulfing the congregation-the greater ability we will have to convict them of their sin.
Romans 2:4…knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?
‘God cares about you, He sent His Son to die for you. We all are sinners and need His saving grace-those not abiding in Him are absolutely heading toward a fiery furnace-that will last for ETERNITY!! STOP, receive HIS LOVE…LIFE FOREVER WITH THE LIVING GOD!!’
We are seeing that the salvation message has a process.
1) The Holy Spirits Work We need the Spirits presence flowing by using the Word, prayer and the witness team that is truly ‘abiding’ in Him 2 Chron. 7:1-3, Acts 2.
2) The Preacher(s) Work While abiding in the Lord, have your message ready and present the Gospel with a strategy, being flexible to the Spirits leading Rm. 10:17, Jn. 15:5
3) Those Receiving the Salvation message. When the Spirit is flowing and the Lords love is present, we then can indeed convict them of sin in a meaningful way. Gods love points them to His direction of eternal life, the opposite way they are going. Gods message of eternal wrath because of their sin, shakes them ‘to turn them to Gods love’ in which they can actually experience because of our answered prayers. Both eternal directions have to be ‘in full view’ in order for the repentance-salvation message to be effective!
Just explaining to the lost about the Lords love is wonderful…but many times does not convict them of the true urgency about having to make a decision for Jesus before it’s too late. Telling someone how they have sinned without showing them the Lords infinite love will seldom cause one to leave the ‘desires of this world Mk. 4:13-20. The greater the Spirits power and presence, the greater the manifestation of ‘both’ eternal directions come to light!
2 Corinthians 4:4 In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.
Note: While some articles are written for those who have not yet accepted the Lord, this one was written mainly for Christians preparing to reach the lost in the evangelical field. For the ‘specific’ gospel message to the lost-to those whom would like to know the Lord, please see Knowing God.
A Historic Example
Let’s take a look at the background of a pastor who preached what some considered the most fire and brimstone sermon ever given, Jonathan Edwards (some of his biography is from other sources).
Revival began to spring up again (the Great Awakening in the 1730’s), and Edwards preached his most famous sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God“, in Enfield, Connecticut in 1741. Though this sermon has been widely reprinted as an example of “fire and brimstone” preaching in the colonial revivals, this is not in keeping with Edward’s actual preaching style. Edwards did not shout or speak loudly, but talked in a quiet, emotive voice. He moved his audience slowly from point to point, towards an inexorable conclusion: they were lost without the grace of God. While most 21st-century readers notice the damnation looming in such a sermon text, historian George Marsden reminds us that Edwards’ was not preaching anything new or surprising: (it was part of the revival-the salvation message).
He loved the tranquility of nature and chose his wife because of ‘a cheerfulness and servitude’ that he thought Godly. He was convicted by the Lord that slavery was in injustice-and felt he had done wrong being part of it-and began to preach against it. He lost is pulpit because of this and in became a missionary to the Indians. The Lord was with him however, and after time people were convicted when he preached to all the classes of people. Many times during his preaching, the lost would stop the service and ask, how can we be saved.
Yes, the Lord used him to reach the lost and give him a an incredible sermon on how utterly horrifying it is to reject the Lords sacrifice for us, eternal life . He was not however an in your face hell fire type of preacher. Quite the opposite, he lived a life of humility and spent his life and pulpit demonstrating and teaching about the Gods grace and love for us, sending His Son as our Savior who knows us by name Jn. 3:3-17, Jn. 10:3.
Note: If we review Stephens final testimony, or the Lords bold statements against the pharisees, we begin to realize that the comments of condemnation were directed to leadership fighting against their message of the gospel Acts 7:51-60, Matt. 23:27-28. Some explain that the Spirit gave the Lord, Stephen and the prophets discernment into the hardened hearts of the wicked Jn. 2:24 KJV. The ‘hell fire’ message then to religious leadership-those hindering the gospel-was not about salvation and repentance, but judgment, in which I am inclined to agree.
John 6:37 All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.
I hope we all can learn from Godly men women, both in the Word and from those who came before us. Their directions were pointing us to a time when the church will flourish as never before, creating a radiant church sprouting to the heavens Mk. 4:1-20.
Matthew 5:14 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.
Ephesians 5:27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.
We are in a special time in the church, in which the world has never seen. The Lord is united the true remnant church with the same glory Jesus has with His Father-this is simply amazing.
John 17:22 And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:
God bless you as you pursue His truth!
Please see the following links to receive an overview on how the Lord is moving in todays Church