It’s Holy Week and Christians all over the world are experiencing this very emotional week of extreme highs and lows. It began with the triumphant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem riding a donkey to fulfill prophesy as the chosen Messiah. The mood then will sink as his closest disciples betray him and Jesus is crucified on a cross after suffering painful humiliation and beatings. The sorrow is changed to joy as Jesus rises from the dead on Sunday and signifies God’s triumph over Evil.
But what happens after that? Are Christians finished with their duty after Easter Sunday is over?
One of the final words spoken by Jesus on the cross was “It is finished” and in the Greek the word was “tetelestai” which means “to bring to an end.” Someone educated in the Greek language once told me that we derive our English word “Total” from tetelestai and the spiritual significance of that is very interesting (Which I’ll get to that later). But was it really finished after Jesus’ death on the cross and subsequent resurrection?
After Easter Sunday, do we go back to our normal lives that are consumed by the world and keep our joy and the secret of the Gospel hidden away until Christmas?
NO!!! That is not what Christians were meant to do. As the blog post I wrote during last year’s Holy Week explains, Christians who have “seen” the risen Christ are now commanded to tell others about this mysterious Gospel so others can encounter the Savior. To put it another way – The true meaning of a life can be summarized by six words and two commands – Come and See, Go and Tell.
The first command – “Come and See” – is the easy part for most Christians but it’s the second command that is much more difficult – “Go and Tell.” It’s hard to enter into difficult conversations with complete strangers and it’s even more difficult when the topic is religion.
So what do Christians do about it? Accept that sharing our faith is very difficult and just hope the Holy Spirit takes over our words and actions when the situation arises? That was my plan until I came face to face with my inability to share my faith to others.
I was in college working an internship with another student and all through the summer he had heard me talk about how I served in the Church, taught Sunday School, etc. and one day when we were alone he asked me a very simple question – “Can you tell me about Jesus?” What better opening can a Christian ask for when sharing the Gospel? So what did I do? I froze. I mumbled and ended up saying something like, “Uh, I will one day but not right now.”
I was totally unprepared to enter into a serious conversation about my Faith and describe to someone (who had never set foot in a church) who Jesus is and why His life/death are so important. I still remember that day, I still remember his name and I regret deeply I was so ill prepared. That very day I vowed I would never take my duty as a Christian so lightly.
Entering into a tough conversation is hard no matter what the setting or the subject matter but I’ve found that getting started is the hardest part and once I get going it’s not near as bad as I had feared. So I needed a way to get the conversation started and I found a great resource from the Evangelism Explosion (EE) organization.
EE was started in the 60’s by Dr. D. James Kennedy and is still used today as churches train their members to share their faith. It has many variants and I’m not a proponent of following a script because that puts the focus on me and not the Holy Spirit speaking through me but I do use two important questions to start the conversation and they are given below.
“Have you reached the point in your spiritual life where you know for certain that if you were to die tonight you would go to heaven?”
“If you were to die tonight and God were to ask you, ‘Why should I let you into heaven,’ how would you answer?”
Interesting questions, right?
The first one is a yes-or-no answer and you shouldn’t take any answer other than those two words. Either you are for certain or you aren’t. There is no “I’m pretty sure” or “I don’t think anyone knows for certain” type of answers. It’s either yes or no.
The second question is more difficult and will require more words but generally the answers fall into one of two categories I call “Works” and “Faith” type answers.
A typical “Works” answer goes something like this –
“Well, I try to follow the Ten Commandments and I’m sure I do better than most.”
“I always try to treat people like I want to be treated.”
“I teach Sunday School, I sing in the Choir, I give 10% to the church every month.”
“I tried my best to live up to the teachings of the Bible and think, for the most part, I’ve done that.”
Notice a pattern here? A person who gives a “Works” answer is placing his/her salvation on their life measuring up to God’s pass/fail grade. There’s just one problem with that salvation plan, even one sin committed in your entire life is enough to drop you below God’s passing grade.
Romans 3:23 – “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
On the other hand, a typical “Faith” answer goes something like this –
“I’ve accepted the death of Jesus as full payment for my sins and trust in that sacrifice to allow me to be seen as spotless in the eyes of God.”
Notice the difference in those two types of answers?
Ephesians 2:8-9 – “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.”
Jesus paid the total sum of our sins on that cross and all we have to do to gain the confidence that we will spend eternity with God in Heaven is accept that grace as ‘tetelestai’ payment for our sins. Of course, after someone has come to the realization that Jesus died on the cross for his sins then his natural reaction is to follow his teachings and tell others about Him! That doesn’t mean that we have a ‘get out of hell’ card and can continue our old ways – The transformation that occurs once someone realizes their sins are forgiven compels them to change their life.
These two powerful questions do wonders to open the door to a conversation about Jesus. The questions cause people to look deep into their spiritual life and assess where they are and the questions also give a clear spiritual position to the person sharing the Gospel. I have personally used these questions to engage friends and strangers into conversations about the Gospel and have witnessed the Holy Spirit using my feeble talents to lead someone to a belief in Jesus as their Savior.
There is much more to EE and you can go here to get a power point style slide of a typical outline that works well for sharing the Gospel if you aren’t comfortable using your own words. Again, it isn’t meant as a script that you must follow but it does equip you with talking points and important scripture that you can share with someone during a brief conversation.
Once you have become a Christian, the most important thing you can do is equip yourself so that you can effectively communicate the Good News to others. You wouldn’t enter into a big project at work without being prepared so we shouldn’t enter into the most important job we can do as Christians unprepared. There are situations in life when ‘winging it’ is called for but evangelism is not one of those situations.