Yesterday, five of us went to Maltby Full Life Church to attend the ‘Christian Life & Witness Course’ organised by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association as part of the preparations for the Franklin Graham tour later this year. This was another opportunity to think about what it means to live as a Christian and how best to share the good news of Jesus Christ with other people.
Jesus gave His disciples the command to make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. (Matt 28:19) The course was divided into three parts: the effective Christian life, our Christian witness and follow-up.
The Effective Christian Life
Our lives as Christian rely on God’s presence with us always (Matt 28:20), God’s Spirit working in us (to fill us, to cleanse us, to bring us into step with God), God’s Word (which we need to hear, read, study, memorise and meditate upon) and God’s power. There are many stumbling-blocks along the way (for we are in a spiritual battle), often connected with our misunderstanding adversities and the battle with our sinful, selfish nature, but our lives need to be the ‘living letters’ which others can read. (2 Cor 3:1-3)
Our Christian Witness
We were encouraged to think of witness as being about 3 stories: the story of the person we are talking to, which deserves careful listening; our story (giving testimony to what God has done in our lives) and God’s story (what He has done through Jesus Christ to save us and bring peace and life to all people.) Witness cannot be something that is forced on people, but is the natural outworking of our relationships and conversations.
The tract ‘Steps To Peace With God’ is also a useful tool in sharing the gospel, for it focuses on God’s purpose, our problem (sin), God’s remedy (the cross) and our response. We all need to realise that a response is required, though we must also understand it can take a long time for people to fully understand the gospel and decide to follow Jesus.
One of the things we can all do at all times is to pray for people who are not yet Christians. We can pray for open doors (so that we have opportunities to speak with them about spiritual truths), for open hearts (that will be responsive to God’s word) and for open mouths (so that we speak God’s word! (Ps 51:15)
One of the objections to evangelistic meeetings is ‘what happens to people who make a commitment to Christ after the evangelist has gone?’ Franklin Graham is working closely with local churches and local Christians will be involved in counselling those who do make commitments to Christ and trying to connect them with local churches. The best follow-up, of course, comes when people are personally invited to the meetings by Christians who will be willing to continue their everyday relationship with these people. 1 Thessalonians shows us Paul’s commitment not simply to founding a church but to caring for the people who had become Christians. He describes himself as a mother (1 Thess 2:6-8) and prayed constantly for these people (1 Thess 1:2-3). He sent Timothy to check on their well-being (1 Thess 3:2) and wrote letters (most of our New Testament is a result of those letters!) and visited them. We need to be prepared to spend time with new Christians, helping them to read and understand the Bible and welcoming them into God’s family. In effect, this means sharing our whole lives with them, which is a challenge!
We would encourage everyone to think about these things and to ask God for opportunities to share the good news of Jesus with those around us – our family, friends, neighbours, work colleagues and everyone with whom we come into contact! We need to realise the urgency of our task and be whole-heartedly committed to fulfilling the Great Commission!