Lead 2-8

Making the Message Clear

One of the remarks I hear from people who have heard about Christ from another student is: "I never understood Christianity like this before. Now it’s clear!" They are talking about the misconceptions that once clouded their minds. Most people see Christianity as a religion of do’s and don’ts, most of which they perceive as impossible to follow. They do not see Christianity as a relationship with Christ. Our job is to make the truth of Christianity clear.  

Principle #1: The Positive Approach

As we look at the way Jesus communicated the gospel, we will see that He talked about four specific principles. The first principle He wanted to make is found in John 4:10-14 where He visited with the Samaritan woman:

"Jesus replied, ‘If you only knew the gift God has for you and who I am, you would ask Me, and I would give you living water.’ ‘But sir, you don’t have a rope or a bucket,’ she said, ‘and this is a very deep well. Where would you get this living water? And besides, are you greater than our ancestor Jacob who gave us this well? How can you offer better water than he and his sons and his cattle enjoyed?’ Jesus replied, ‘People soon become thirsty again after drinking this water. But the water I give them takes away thirst altogether. It becomes a perpetual spring within them, giving them eternal life.’" John 4:10-14 (NLT)

Jesus knew that this woman had serious moral and sexual problems. He could have been critical of her, but instead He chose to be positive. How? By offering her something that, deep down, she really wanted— satisfaction, and a solution to her restless life.

The message of evangelism is a positive message. Yes, we need to make the issue of sin and separation from God clear, but the way that we begin the conversation about the gospel is by being positive.

Here are some Scripture passages that will help you think positively when you talk to others.

  • "For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16 (NLT)
  • "The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give life in all its fullness." John 10:10 (NLT)
  • "God showed how much He loved us by sending His only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through Him. This is real love. It is not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins." 1 John 4:9,10 (NLT)

Principle #2: Defining the Problem

Jesus shows us His second principle in sharing the gospel:

"‘Go and get your husband,’ Jesus told her. ‘I don’t have a husband,’ the woman replied. Jesus said, ‘You’re right! You don’t have a husband — for you have had five husbands, and you aren’t even married to the man you’re living with now.’" John 4:16-18 (NLT)

The second principle is very important: People are sinful and separated from God.

People are not always going to feel comfortable when we talk about sin and morals. But unless the problem of sin is understood there cannot be any real understanding of why Christ died on the cross. Nor is there an understanding of repentance—a willingness by anyone to turn from a self-centered life-style and let Christ be their Savior and leader.

Let’s think about this. How would you define "sin" ?

This definition of sin may be helpful to you:

We were created to have a personal relationship with God, but by our own choice and self-will we have gone our own independent way and that relationship has been broken. This self-will, often seen as an attitude of active rebellion towards God or a lack of interest in Him, is an evidence of what the Bible calls sin.

What do you see in this definition that clarifies the problem of sin?

The consequences of sin are devastating — death and eternal separation from God.

  • "But the trouble is that your sins have cut you off from God" (Isaiah 59:2).
  • "For the wages of sin is death" (Romans 6:23).

Here’s the issue: God is holy and people are sinful. A great gap separates the two. People are continually trying to reach God through their own efforts such as a good life, philosophy or religion, but they always fail.

Jesus cared enough to help the Samaritan woman see her dilemma.

Principle #3: God’s Solution

In verse 20, the Samaritan woman asks Jesus a religious question. This is common. (At the end of this chapter there is a section on how to answer questions as we share our faith.) How does Jesus respond?

He lets the woman come to her own conclusion.

"The woman said, ‘I know the Messiah will come — the one who is called Christ. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.’" John 4:25 (NLT)

The woman had already been thinking a lot about religious matters, and she knew that this one called the Christ was the ultimate truth. She had no idea she was talking to him but she was interested in him. So Jesus pointed her directly to himself (v. 26). He was the message. He was saying, "I am the way to God."

Why, in your opinion, is it absolutely essential that we make Christ the center of our discussion in our evangelism?

In evangelism it can be easy to get off the track and talk about issues that really don’t lead people to Christ. We can talk about philosophies, theology, politics, ourselves, our church denomination, none of which get to the issue of receiving Christ.

Making the Solution Clear

In 2 Corinthians 4:5, Paul said "We don’t go around preaching about ourselves; we preach Christ Jesus, the Lord. All we say about ourselves is that we are your servants because of what Jesus has done for us."

Christ’s death on the cross, His resurrection, and the fact that He is the only way to God are the basics of our message. We put our faith in Christ based on these truths. (See 1 Timothy 2:5,6; John 4:6; 1 Corinthians 15:3-5.)

Principle #4: Asking for a Response

In John 4:26, Jesus gives the Samaritan woman an incredible opportunity:

"Then Jesus told her, ‘I am the Messiah!’" John 4;26 (NLT)

What do you think he is saying?

Jesus was, in essence, asking this woman to accept Him as the Christ, the one she talked of in verse 25. He was saying, "I am the Savior; will you believe in Me? Will you receive Me?"

It appears that the Samaritan woman did. And at that moment, she became a child of God, as promised in John 1:12 (NLT): "But to all who believed Him and accepted Him, He gave the right to become children of God."

Don’t be surprised if asking people to receive Christ seems a little difficult. We are asking people for a decision, and some of us don’t like to do that. Also, Satan, the enemy, is furious when we ask people to receive Christ, and he is going to try to make it difficult for us.

But no matter how difficult it may seem, asking and inviting people to trust Christ is so important that we just have to do it. It’s the question that can change a person’s life . . .for all eternity.

Here are the key truths to remember when asking people to receive Christ:

  • To receive Christ we must admit our need for Him and His forgiveness.
  • We must be willing to turn from our old life-style and let God change us—repentance. (This is why Jesus asked the Samaritan woman to go and get her husband.) We must surrender our will to Christ.
  • We receive Christ by faith. This means that we trust Him to save us and enter our lives by His Spirit.

Faith is an act of our will, not just intellectual agreement with the truth.

  • We do this through prayer—talking with God.

Using Tools

One way you can help make your message clear to others is by using tools—simple booklets designed to help you share Christ. You will find that many evangelistic booklets are patterned after the way Jesus shared the truth in John 4.

Tools and materials are designed to be your servant. They don’t control you. You control them. You will find that they make things clear and help you to stay on track.

Answering Questions

As we share our faith we always want to be available to answer questions. Evangelism is not cramming information down people’s throats. It is helping people understand spiritual truth.

The key to answering questions is knowing when to stop and camp on a question and when to move on and explain the message of knowing Christ. In our story in John 4 Jesus stopped and answered some questions (vv. 20-24), and others he passed over because he knew that the woman really wasn’t that concerned about the answer (v. 9).

If you aren’t sure of an answer to a question, be honest and tell him you will try to find out.

Assure the person that most of his or her questions will be answered as you continue to explain how to become a Christian. And you will find that nearly all questions do take care of themselves as you help people understand how to receive Christ.

Letting the Holy Spirit Work

How much do you think we should encourage people to receive Christ? If a friend says, "Yes, I want to receive Christ!" then explain to him how he can talk to God through prayer. Help him by explaining to him what prayer is (talking to God), and suggest what he might say. Then pray with him.

If your friend says, "No, I’m not ready to receive Christ," answer any more questions he may have and continue to be a warm and available friend. Many people receive Christ further down the road as the Holy Spirit makes their need more obvious to them and as we continue to be available.

Remember to share Christ, trusting the Holy Spirit to use you, and then leave the results to Him.

Putting It All Together

Christ’s discussion with the Samaritan woman in John 4 followed a logical progression of four specific principles.

1. Be positive. God’s love is positive. (v. 10)

2. Define the problem. Sin is the reason we do not know God. (vv. 16-18)

3. God’s Solution is Jesus, the Savior. (v. 25)

4. What’s your response? (v. 26)

Look for an opportunity today to talk to someone about Christ.

From "So You Want to Set the Pace" by Chuck Klein Call 800.729.4351

This material is available on the "ALL That" CD-ROM. 1.800-729-4351
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