A Tale Worth Telling Some More Of
When we'd learned the verses Doug had assigned us, he then grabbed a blackboard and showed us how to weave them together into a conversational presentation of the gospel.
Our approach was always to engage someone in conversation about things in general. Where we knocked on a door, we'd tell them we were businessmen, out in the community, sharing our faith, and we'd ask if we could visit with them a few minutes. We'd always ask where they worked, did they have kids; we'd just talk about their lives and ours, their town, etc. Then we'd ask them an important question:
"Are you also interested in Spiritual things?"
Almost everyone is; we never had someone tell us they weren't, back then. And Ed Stetzer's book Lost and Found pretty much confirms that folks, even unchurched folks, do still want to talk about Spiritual matters.
The next step was to ask them what, in their opinion, a real Christian was. After they'd answered .. an answer for which we always thanked them .. we'd ask what they'd tell a little kid who said "How can I become a Christian?" Then we'd ask them if they'd mind if we shared what we saw as the Bible answers to those questions. And the following is pretty much they way we'd tell the story (with maybe a few embellishments I've stumbled onto in the past 35+ years).
Note, of course, if we got solid believer's answers, we'd rejoice and fellowship, and then go on to another house. We'd also ask them if they knew any neighbors who needed a witness.
We'd start by saying that God walked and talked with man, in the Garden of Eden. But something happened, there, that drove a wedge between God and man, and left man on one cliff, as it were, and God on another. That something was sin, and it left a great chasm between them.
SO .. what does man have going for himself? Three things, right off the bat, per the Bible:
- SIN ... Romans 3:23: "...for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God"
- DEATH ... Romans 6:23: "..For the wages of sin is death..."
- JUDGMENT ...Hebrews 9:27: "..Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment.."
WELL. Man wouldn't have to be a genius to figure something is wrong! So, man does a lot of things to try to "get right" with God. In fact, as I've heard, there's no tribe of men, anywhere, that doesn't have a "God image", and that doesn't try to do something to "get right" with that God.
At this point, we'd have drawn a little picture with man on one side, and God on the other, and this great sin-generated chasm between. Then we'd solicit input from the folks we were talking to, as to what some of the "bridges" (for lack of a better word) there are that man might try to build, to get over to God's side of the chasm. Following the Golden Rule, going to church, praying, loving people, feeding the hungry .. all good works in themselves, but not a "bridge" long enough to reach God.
We'd then turn to nature .. and talk about how things are. Dirt can do nothing to become grass, but grass sends down roots and takes part of the dirt into itself. Likewise, grass cannot become cow, but the cow eats the grass, and makes it part of itself.
The same goes for the cow and man. Cows are powerless to become people, but man eats the cow, and makes part of the cow, part of the man.
The same thought applies to man and God. Man cannot build a bridge long enough to reach to God, so we must ask what God has done to bridge the gap to man.
Simple.: "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8. NIV)
Jesus. He's the only thing God did, to give us access to Him. Jesus put it this way:
"I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life." (John 5:24, NIV)
Wow .. that takes care of the judgment to come, and the death that comes as a result of sin. Plus, when you add 1 John 1:9...
"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness."...
.. you take care of the sin problem, and that pretty well squares us.
So, what do you have to do about it? Simple. You simply have to receive the gift He has provided for you, and Revelation 3:20 says how..
"... I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me."
Sure, I know that was spoken to a particular church, but it might apply to us; that is, Jesus might really save us if we just ask Him, in faith. Nonetheless, the real message there, to me, is that He wants to save us, and we must receive Him. And I might add that I differ from this a bit, in that I go to Romans 10:9 and let them read what they must believe and confess to be saved. And I also explain that the word "believe" in John 5:24 is from the word "pisteuo", which means to have faith in, to entrust.
If they're wanting that, then we pray. And I'll usually throw in a few other verses, such as Peter's instructions in Acts to repent and be baptized. And we can discuss what repentance really means.
I like this presentation .. which shares a lot in common with an old Billy Graham tract .. as it sets forth man's problem, God's solution, and man's requirements, pretty clearly. And I take some guidance from the fact that I learned this 39 years ago, and the outline and the verses still simply roll out when I need them. I figure God must want me to remember them.
I'll give you a pretty good example of how that played out, in practice, in the Nassau Airport. But I'll save that for next time. I might even show a picture of the very confusing diagram I draw out when I have paper, a blackboard, or something else on which to write.....