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Chapter 10

Jump to section:
Can people receive Christ “by themselves?”
Can we know if a person received Christ?
Can anyone receive Christ?
Why don’t people receive Christ?
Does God hear the prayers of unbelievers?
Why is it important to use scriptures?
How do faith and works go together?
Why do some lead more people to Christ than others?
How important are communication skills?
Is it OK for men to share with women, and women share with men?
How important is it to try to share with people with similar backgrounds?
Can I try to prove various parts of the gospel?
How do I deal with cults?
How quickly should I get to the gospel?
Can I trick people into hearing the gospel?
If we are told to leave an area, should we fight it?
What do we do if we are told we can’t share?
Is it OK to share opinions on other issues?
Is being a Christian easy or hard?
How can people receive Christ when the entire gospel is not shared?
If I make a mistake, can I be responsible where someone spends eternity?
Should we ever talk about hell & God’s judgment?
Why do some believers insist on sharing only one way?


For several years after a group of us went out and shared the gospel we got back together to discuss what happened, probably much like the disciples sometimes did, as the Bible says, “And when they were come, and had gathered the church together, they rehearsed all that God had done with them, and how he had opened the door of faith unto the Gentiles.” (Acts 14:27) In the course of discussing what God did, sometimes questions would come up that challenged us. This caused us to think and go to the Bible for direction, and it helped our knowledge and understanding of evangelism.

The information in this chapter is a direct result of going out and sharing the gospel. I believe the information in this chapter is valuable, and I could have included it in other chapters, but I think it will make more sense have you have an a better understanding of the gospel, which you should now. Since we learned this after we shared, perhaps this is the best way for you to learn it as well.

Can people receive Christ “by themselves?”
This was actually the first question that came up so I will address it first. When people are given an opportunity to receive Christ, many say they will pray later by themselves. This raised the question if it was even possible to receive Christ alone, since the Bible says, If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” (Romans 10:9) In other words, do people have to say anything to anyone to be saved?

People can pray by themselves to receive Christ. You probably know believers who have done that. At the same time it’s better to make a public confession. When people say they will pray later—they usually won’t. God wants a strong commitment, and He wants us to make it public. “Let the redeemed of the Lord say so.” (Psalm 107:2) Confessing with our mouth is a response, not a requirement. Otherwise, it would no longer be a gift. The cults try to make this a requirement by telling people they have to witness to a lot of people before they’re saved.

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Can we know if a person received Christ?

One time, two believers returned from sharing and disagreed if someone received Christ. The person they shared with said he wanted to receive Christ, but he didn’t pray because he had to leave. We simply have to accept the fact that we won’t always know. We can know we’re going to heaven, because the Holy Spirit is living in us, but we can’t know if the Holy Spirit is living inside of others. I’m sure we’ll be surprised who is in heaven when we get there. I doubt that many of us would have believed the thief on the cross next to Jesus would be in heaven, or that Zacchaeus was saved like Jesus said, if he just collected your taxes. (Luke 19:1-10)

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Can anyone receive Christ?
The Bible says God is, “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance,” (2 Peter 3:9) and that God wants “all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 3:4) It would seem that if God wanted to save Paul who tried to destroy the church, He wants to save anyone. Some believers feel that a person can reject Christ so many times that they cannot believe. This may be true, but I think we need to approach everyone as though they can receive Christ.

Some believers have a difficult time understanding how God can forgive murders when those they killed may not be in heaven. They don’t understand the extent of their own sinfulness. God sees us all as sinners. Jesus put us all in the same category when He said, “Suppose ye that these Galileans were sinners above the Galileans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.” (Luke 13:2, 3)

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Why don’t people receive Christ?
I believe most people don’t come to Christ because of pride and a lack of faith. Those who are prideful can’t accept that they can’t make it to heaven on their own, and those who lack faith can’t believe God will give them something better. It takes humility for people to admit they don’t qualify for heaven, and it takes faith and humility to believe that God has better things in store for them. Keep in mind that God gives us a choice and sin is attractive. If the choice weren’t attractive, it wouldn’t be much of a choice. Sin is also addictive. Some people can’t see how they can live without practicing their sinful habits. When people are thinking about receiving Christ, Satan is trying to convince them that they won’t be able to live without living in their sinful lifestyle or depending on some vice. This is especially true with sexual sins and drugs and alcohol.

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Does God hear the prayers of unbelievers?
Some unbelievers we have talked to feel that God hears their prayers, but that is not what the Bible teaches. The Bible says, “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.” (Psalm 66:18 ) “But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.” (Isaiah 59:2) See also (Romans 3:12, 1 Peter 3:12, Micah 3:4, Proverbs 1:28 and 15:29, and John 9:31) God hears unbelievers when they confess their sin and ask to be forgiven, but beyond that, there is no guarantee that God considers the prayers of unbelievers. God is not going to acknowledge us until we acknowledge His Son. If God answered the prayers of unbelievers, it could give them a false sense of security thinking they were saved when they weren’t. The good news though is that God wants a relationship and He wants us to answer our prayers. When Paul preached the gospel in Athens he said, “He be not far from every one of us.” (Acts 17:27) Let people know how they can have a personal relationship with God so He will hear their prayers.

For those who have received Christ, God may not answer their prayers if they have sin in their life. David prayed, “Create in me a clean heart, Then I will teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee.” (Psalm 51:10, 13) Peter tells us that if husbands do not dwell with their wife with understanding and give them honor, their prayers will be hindered. (1 Peter 3:7), see also (Matthew 5:23, 24)

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Why is it so important to use scriptures?
The most important thing you can share is God’s Word. I cannot emphasize this enough. I’ve never seen anyone come to Christ when God’s Word is not shared. It’s better to share scriptures and not even share the gospel than share the gospel with no scriptures. I have seen unbelievers completely disinterested when no scriptures were shared and the same unbelievers in tears and wanting to receive Christ when the gospel was shared the same way a second time with scriptures. I’ve seen this enough to know that the difference was not the evangelist—the difference was that God’s Word was shared the second time.

A church we trained asked us to come back and help them because they hadn’t led anyone to Christ for six months. When we went out with them in their neighborhood, several people received Christ. The problem was simple—they had stopped sharing scriptures. This is why every believer can share the gospel. God does all the work. You just need to share His Word.

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How do faith and works go together?
A question that often confuses believers is the relationship between faith and works. The Bible states that salvation is free, “...it is the gift of God, and we do nothing for it, “...and that not of yourselves.” (Ephesians 2:8, 9), but it also says, “...faith without works is dead” (James 2:20). Before people come to Christ, heaven is free. After we come to Christ, we do things that show we have received Christ. James refers to the things we do after we come to Christ as works, but they are not works for salvation—they works from salvation. To put it another way, we are not saved because of our good works—we do good works because we are saved. The following illustration might help clear this up. The spiritual truth that parallels each example is in parenthesis.

Imagine people who are sick (sinners), and don’t believe in medicine (God’s Word), or doctors (believers) who could help them. They have no energy (life). After awhile they change their mind about medicine and doctors (repent), and they go to a doctor (a believer). They get the medicine (the gospel) that will cure them. The medicine works and they get well (saved).

Now they have energy (new life), and they start doing things (works). Everyone around them sees a change in their life. The things they’re doing (works) aren’t why they became well (saved). The things they’re doing (works) simply show that they are well (saved). If they said they were better (saved) but were still in bed with no energy, no one would believe them because there’s no evidence (works). Getting up and doing things (works) is a sign they’re healed (saved), but doing things (works) are not why they’re healed (saved). This is why James says, “Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” (James 2:18)

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Why do some lead more people to Christ than others?
Some believers led more people to Christ simply because they use the Word of God as I just mentioned. Being flexible, and adjusting the message to the situation so that each person understands is another reason. Some believers are more successful because they simply don’t get off the subject and start talking about things, and they leave when people are not receptive and look for someone else to share with. Some believers are more successful because they have a good relationship with the Lord. As I mentioned in the first chapter, leading people to Christ starts with prayer and reading the Bible.

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How important are communication skills?
It is always good to try and organize our thoughts and speak clearly and tactfully, but this is not as important and simply giving the message and using God’s Word. I encourage believers to speak up, speak clearly, and watch those you’re talking to so you can have the right tone and know when you need to pause and let them think. Speaking clearly and distinctly has its place, but God is the One who speaks to hearts and does the work. Make sure He gets the glory, not your ability to communicate.

It’s even more important to have the right attitude when you share. This includes not being pushy. People will think you are cramming the gospel down their throat. Be passionate, but not pushy, be confident but not arrogant, and speak the truth in love. (Ephesians 4:15) When believers have a good attitude, good communication skills often follow. Unbelievers are more likely to notice your attitude than your communication skills.

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Is it OK for men to share with women, and women share with men?
Jesus didn’t make any rules about who to share with; He just said to, “Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.” (Mark 16:15) Jesus talked to the woman at the well (John chapter 4), and He talked to Mary and Martha (Luke 10:38-42). God has given us freedom to talk to anyone, but you also need to use common sense and be cautious. A woman will probably feel more comfortable if another woman is sharing with her. In the back of her mind she may be wondering if a man has ulterior motives. Similarity, some men could be distracted, or even tempted, by talking with women.

Some churches make rules about this in order to avoid problems. When this is the case, submit to their authority and follow their rules even when you think there are opportunities. God will send someone else to talk to them, although some situations cannot be avoided. Remember in chapter eight where a woman followed a believer out of the grocery store complaining that he was sharing the gospel? He didn’t initiate the conversation, but he was in one whether he wanted to be or not. Some would say, “Don’t look for trouble, but sometimes trouble will have a way of finding you.” If I am speaking with several people, and all the men leave, I would usually continue sharing so long as there were others around. Be cautious, be flexible, be gracious, use common sense, and let the Holy Spirit lead, “giving no offence in any thing, that the ministry be not blamed.” (2 Corinthians 5:21)

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How important is it to try to share with people with similar background?
It’s valuable but it’s not vital. For example, if I’m sharing with someone that has spent time in prison and someone sharing with us that day has a similar past, I might have them come over and share with them, but if they’re busy, I am going to take that as my clue that God wants me to share with them even though we come from different backgrounds. God can use you if you have nothing in common with people. Perhaps you have noticed that God has used people in your life that had nothing in common with you.

The same thing is true in doing various ministries. For example, if you are thinking about doing prison ministry, it may help if you have been in prison, or you have a past that could have sent you to prison, but it is not a requirement. Pray about it and see how God leads. Keep in mind that many believers who have been to prison cannot go there to minister. God can use you if you’ve never got a traffic ticket. Don’t get in the habit of thinking of all the reasons why God can’t use you. The main thing is to share the gospel and use God’s Word. God’s Word is what speaks to hearts. Trust in God’s Word more than your ability to connect with people. You will find that God will use you to lead people to Christ that you have absolutely nothing in common with other than you are both alive and you are both going to die.

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Can I try to prove various parts of the gospel?
Absolutely. Some believers are very interested in giving evidence that supports the gospel. I would encourage you however to not be argumentative, confrontational, or condescending as you do. I have found that most people don’t need anything proven to them; they just need God to speak to their heart. One pastor shared how he had written a paper when he was a student that proved the validity of Christianity. His professor complemented him on how compelling his paper was and even said that he was convinced Christianity is true. When he asked his professor if he accepted Christ, the professor empathically replied, “No, or course not, that would mean I would have to change my lifestyle.” I think you will find that this is the real reason behind many objections and excuses people give. At least this particular professor was honest enough to admit it.

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How do I deal with cults?
If you want to be able to answer many of the questions of cult members, you will need to look into other resources. Knowing how to deal with cults could take some time, so it may be more productive to simply share the gospel. The same is true with many false religions. It could take years to learn how to deal with some groups. Perhaps God wants you to do this, but keep in mind that cult members are usually not very open, and the Holy Spirit will often tell you to leave.

If you find yourself talking to a cult member you can always tell them that you have peace and you know that you are going to heaven. The only people on the planet that have peace from God and know they are going to heaven are those who have received Christ, because they are the only ones who have the Holy Spirit living in them. It doesn’t matter how confident, arrogant, intelligent, or committed they are. This may cause many to take notice because they have strife and emptiness. You could also explain how salvation is free and share Ephesians 2:8 & 9.

The more you evangelize, the more you will learn about the some of these groups anyway, and you will probably learn faster. In the meantime, here are some basic things I’ve learned about cults:
  • Every cult, as well as every false religion, believes people can only get to heaven by good works.
  • Cults try to prove their points with scriptures out of context, misinterpreted scriptures, re-defined words, personal experiences, or nonsense that can’t be proven.
  • Cult members often deny their organization has ever been in error even when you show them in their own books.
  • Cult members often monopolize the conversation and then accuse you of not listening if you want equal time.
  • Some cults refuse to read the Bible without their materials, which gives a false interpretation.
  • Many cults claim to serve God, love God, or even believe in Jesus, but they always discredit Jesus in some way, which is one of the main things that distinguish them as cults. Jesus said, “He that hateth me hateth my Father also.” (John 15:23)
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How quickly should I get to the gospel?
If you go out for the specific purpose of sharing the gospel, I believe it’s usually better to get right to the point. Jesus did not waste any time in proclaiming the truth and neither did His disciples. When Jesus sent His disciples out He said, “As ye go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’” (Matthew 10:7) That sounds like He wanted them to get right to the point to me. I have found that God is either leading you to share with people or He isn’t, and people are either receptive or they aren’t. People who aren’t interested at first won’t be interested later. You may as well find out sooner rather than later. Get to the point; ask them if they would like to know about Jesus, or how they can go to heaven.

On outreaches you may have to approach a dozen people in order to share with one. If you drag your feet, you will not talk to many people. This is one of the reasons why some believers consistently lead more people to Christ than other. Once believers share with people, and they see God working, they usually pick up the pace and don’t waste any time telling people why they are there. Considering that eternity is at stake and the labors are few, we need to use our time wisely.

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Can I trick people into hearing the gospel?
Paul said, “We have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully.” (2 Corinthians 4:2) God gives even a stronger warning in Jeremiah. “Cursed be he that doeth the work of the Lord deceitfully.” (Jeremiah 48:10) Tell people why you want to talk to them, and let them decide. The same is true when you invite people to church or a Christian event. The Holy Spirit doesn’t need you to trick people. What you consider being a little sneaky, others could think you are a liar. If how you share is misleading, people will feel what you share is misleading. If people can’t trust you, why should they trust in the God you are representing? People resent being deceived and they won’t be as open the next time someone wants to talk to them.

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If we are told to leave an area, should we fight it?
You need to ask the Lord what He wants you to do with this one. When I have been on missionary trips, when the police told us we couldn’t preach the gospel somewhere, the place we went to, or the place they directed us to, always ended up in being much better. It’s usually not a good idea to take on the authorities of foreign countries and you probably won’t have enough time anyway. Keep in mind that God can blind the eyes of the authorities if He wants. God usually did with us until He wanted us to go somewhere else. “And when there was an assault made both of the Gentiles, and also of the Jews with their rulers, to use them despitefully, and to stone them, They were ware of it, and fled unto Lystra and Derbe, cities of Lycaonia, and unto the region that lieth round about: And there they preached the gospel.” (Acts 14:5-7)

At the same time, in the United States, we have the right to free speech, even on private property. They cannot stop two people from talking to each other. One brother who was sharing with several people outside of a theater was asked to leave by the manager of the theater. When he told them he had the right to be there, they said they would call the police. The police came and told the manager he had the right to be there. If you feel the police are wrong, submit to their authority and appeal to them later if you feel the Lord is directing you to do so. You may be able to share there later without being interrupted or questioned any further.

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What do we do if we are told we can’t share?
If the government makes a law that you can’t share the gospel, God’s commandment to preach the gospel takes priority. The disciples never stopped sharing the gospel when they were told not to. When the authorities told Peter, “Did we not strictly command you not to teach in this name?” Peter responded by saying, “We ought to obey God rather than men.” (Acts 5:28, 29)

If you are told that you can’t share the gospel, for example, in your workplace, they may be infringing upon your rights. Some workplaces know they can’t prohibit it, so they discourage it by making general threats or harass people with disapproving looks, extra work, or bad evaluations, etc. Find out what your rights are. It’s better to share the gospel than get the approval of man. As a former schoolteacher, this happened all the time, but God blessed me in other ways that exceeded any benefits of trying to please unbelievers. I have never been sorry for sharing the gospel at work, but I would have regrets if I hadn’t.

Let the Lord lead because He may not want you to share at some places. “Now when they had gone through Phrygia and the region of Galatia, they were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word in Asia.” (Acts 16:6) Jesus told Paul, “Make haste and get out of Jerusalem quickly, for they will not receive your testimony concerning Me.” (Acts 22:18) Jesus talked to those who had “ears to hear,” and kept moving so He could talk to others who were interested.

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Is it OK to share opinions on other issues?
My opinion about opinions is that you should not have many opinions. Some believers are more passionate about politics than sharing the gospel. The objective is to reach the world, not the fix the world. No human government has been able to do that yet, and it never will, even if you were in charge. Paul said, “We preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord” (2 Corinthians 4:5), or as someone said, “Share the good news, not good views.” The goal is to try to find common ground and share the gospel. Paul said, “I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.” (1 Corinthians 9:22)

Opinions lead to arguments and turn unbelievers into the enemy rather than the mission field. We never read of Jesus and His disciples taking up causes that did not relate to the gospel. If someone brings up an issue that goes against the Bible, speak up about it, but instead of trying to win an argument, see if you can share the gospel. If they come to Christ, God will change the way they think. Don’t expect unbelievers to have the same values and opinions you have.

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Is being a Christian easy or hard?
Jesus said, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 1:28) David said, “In thy presence is fullness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.” (Psalm 16:11) Jesus also said, “Ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake,” (Matthew 10:22) and Paul said, “All that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” (1 Timothy 3:12)

So which is it? In some ways being a Christian is easy and in some ways it’s hard. God takes away our sin and guilt, we know we are going to heaven, we have peace, God gives us new life, and leads us in ways that are far better than we can lead ourselves. At the same time, Christians are called to deny themselves, take a stand for the truth in the face of opposition, and go through spiritual warfare that unbelievers know nothing about. Think of spiritual warfare as spiritual weight training that gives us resistance and makes us strong.

God often wants us to do the hard thing first so our life becomes easier. For example, if you are upset or angry with someone and you know that God wants you to forgive them, is that easy or hard? It’s hard. It’s easier to stay mad. If you do the more difficult thing and forgive them, your life will become easy because you are not angry or bitter. If you are angry, it’s easy to become bitter, and that makes your life hard. This is the basic message of the “Sermon on the Mount.” (Matthew 5:3-12) Don’t give the impression that being a Christian is easy and all their problems will go away. It’s been said, “God promises a safe landing, not a calm passage.”

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How can people receive Christ when the entire gospel is not shared?
You may have seen people come forward to receive Christ after a pastor or an evangelist did not go over sin, Christ, repent and receiving Christ. I know believers who have people repeat the sinner’s prayer without sharing much of the gospel. Coming forward to receive Christ or praying the sinner’s prayer doesn’t mean they received Christ if they don’t understand what they are doing. If they did receive Christ, it’s because they already knew the gospel, and they are putting their trust in Christ. This can happen, but it’s better to make sure they understand. I have talked to people who thought they were saved because they went forward in a Church service, but they never repented. They were living in sin, they had no conviction to stop, and they had no assurance they were going to heaven. It’s better to cover everything and not lead anyone to Christ, than pray with people to receive Christ without explaining the gospel to them. Those who pray the sinner’s prayer without repenting may think they are saved when they aren’t, and have a false sense of security.

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If I make a mistake, can I be responsible where someone spends eternity?
God doesn’t need us—He uses us by His grace. If you don’t share the gospel, God will find someone else who will, or He will speak to people Himself. One pastor had the courage to tell us that one time when he didn’t share with someone when God told him to. Later, he saw another believer sharing the gospel with him. He told us that the Lord spoke to his heart and told him that He didn’t need him, but He would use him if he wanted. It was his choice.

God knows the mistakes we make even before we make them, and He uses us in spite of our mistakes. We have the responsibility to be accurate and represent the Lord correctly, but don’t stop sharing because you’re worried about making mistakes. Do your best, trust the Lord, and learn from your mistakes. Peter made mistakes, but he learned from them and he kept going. One woman stopped sharing because someone who felt the gospel could only be shared one way told her that if the person she shared with never comes to Christ; it would be her fault, because she didn’t share one particular illustration. When she saw God using imperfect people sharing in many different ways she saw how ridiculous this was and she started to share again.

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Should we ever talk about hell & God’s judgment?
Some believers never want to talk about hell and God’s judgment and others talk about it every time they evangelize. Jesus talked about hell on some occasions, but not every time. The key seems to be if people understand they are sinners. Jesus told the Scribes and Pharisees they were hypocrites, fools, and blind, and they were going to hell. (Matthew 23:13, 17, 33) When Jesus told the story about Lazarus, and described some of the conditions of hell (Luke 16:19-31), He was talking to some Pharisees who did not believe they had a sin problem. Jesus had just told them, “Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knows your hearts.” (Luke 16:15) On the other hand, Jesus did not tell the woman caught in adultery she was an adulterer, or a prostitute, and she was going to hell, I believe, because she was humbled and she knew she had a sin problem. (John 8:4-11)

As I have already mentioned, some need to hear more about God’s love and compassion, and others need to hear more about God’s judgment. You need to be flexible and share differently with different people. “And of some have compassion, making a difference: And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire.” (Jude 22, 33) When you talk about God’s judgment, don’t be judgmental as though you are their judge. God takes no pleasure in judging people.

The goal is to share the truth in love. Don’t overemphasize love so much that you leave out the truth, like sin and repentance, and don’t overemphasize the truth to the point you don’t share about God’s love. Think of a titer totter that needs to be balanced with truth on one side and love on the other. What makes this even more challenging is some people need to hear more about the truth, and some need to hear more about love. In other words, the center point of the titer totter is different with different people. This is why you need to be discerning and share the gospel differently with different people.

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Why do some believers insist on sharing only one way?
There are probably many reasons. One reason is that many people are a creature of habit and don’t want to change what they are used to doing. There are others who really believe they have the best way, or possibly even the only way, to share the gospel, as though God only speaks to, and through, them. Paul addressed this when he told the Corinthians, “What? Came the word of God out from you? Or came it unto you only?” (1 Corinthians 14:36) God uses all kinds of people and approaches. Just think about all the different ways people have come to Christ. If you asked a thousand believers how they came to Christ, you would hear a thousand different testimonies. This alone should tell you there is are a multitude of ways to share the gospel.

Nevertheless some believers insist that there is only one way to share the gospel. Some feel they need to use a particular script, others think you have to go over the Ten Commandments, others feel they have to get to know people first, and the list goes on. God can use all of these approaches. The fact that they don’t believe God uses other believers doesn’t change anything. If people criticize you for not sharing the gospel the way they do, discuss it if you want, but remember the only person you are accountable to is Jesus. Even though you may not end up agreeing, don’t discount everything they say. You could end up using some of the good things they are doing, which could give you more ways to share, which is a little ironic.

People have a tendency to become territorial. When the Apostle John told Jesus that they had told someone to stop casting out devils because they weren’t with them, Jesus said, “Forbid him not: for he that is not against us is for us.” (Luke 9:50) It all boils down to one question, “Are they for us or against us?” When people preached the gospel to be contentious and annoy Paul, Paul did seek to argue with them, he rejoiced that the gospel was being shared, and said, “Whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea and will rejoice.” (Philippians 1:18)

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