The following is an excerpt from Tell Someone, a 6-session Bible study book by Greg Laurie designed to teach Christians how to share the gospel, combining the truth about Jesus Christ with their own story of redemption. Find more information at lifeway.com.
Always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you. —1 Peter 3:15
The word for “defense” in the Greek is apologia which means “a defense or justification of a belief.” We have to be ready to explain the bad news of guilt and sin along with the good news of grace and forgiveness in Jesus.
Every Christian who wants to lead others to Christ needs to have at least a basic understanding of his or her faith and how to answer difficult and often asked questions. We need, to the best of our ability, to try to answer the difficult questions people ask and then pivot back to our main objective: Jesus Christ and Him crucified. We have to share the gospel and ask for a response.
I never pressure a person to believe and neither should you. As much as we may want someone to believe, we can’t force or manufacture a genuine decision. Nobody can make someone else believe. But we can tell someone the good news and ask him or her to believe.
Our job is PROCLAMATION, not MANIPULATION.
Remember, it’s not a matter of your ability. It’s a matter of your availability. Your job is not to be able to argue someone into saying they believe in Jesus. Your job is to be available for God to work through you.
This reminds me of the biblical story of a man of great importance who came to the city of Jerusalem looking for truth. (See Acts 8:26-40.) Instead of the vibrant faith of the former glory days of Jewish history, he found a dead, lifeless orthodoxy. But this foreign dignitary, no doubt because of his importance, did leave the city with something of great value: a personal copy of the scroll of Isaiah the prophet.
Scripture tells us this man was the treasurer for the Queen of Ethiopia, so he probably traveled in a caravan with a large entourage. As he left Jerusalem, he was riding in his chariot, reading out loud from Isaiah 53, trying to make some rhyme or reason out of it. Isaiah 53 prophetically speaks of the suffering of the Messiah hundreds of years before it happened. And God had the right man in the right place at the right time to intercept him and answer this spiritually hungry man’s questions. Talk about divine appointments.
The man God chose was a follower of Jesus named Philip, and he’d just been directed by the Lord to go to the desert and wait. (See Acts 8:26.) No detailed blueprint. No battle plan. God directed him to just go to the desert and wait. That is how God usually leads us: one step at a time.
Philip may have been frustrated, standing in the blazing sun and wondering how this was a good idea—until he saw this large caravan approaching with this foreign dignitary, identified as the Ethiopian eunuch, reading aloud from Isaiah’s book.
Philip used something that is missing in many evangelistic endeavors: tact.
Tact is saying the RIGHT THING at the RIGHT TIME in the RIGHT WAY.
Philip tactfully asks the man from Ethiopia, “Do you understand what you’re reading?” (v. 30). Philip didn’t push himself on this man; he asked him a simple and straightforward question. Much to his delight, the dignitary responds, “How can I … unless someone guides me?” And then he “invited Philip to come up and sit with him” (v. 31).
Philip explained the Scriptures to this searching man, and it resulted in his conversion that day. He was even baptized on the spot! The man needed someone to instruct him—to show him the way. I love the way the story ends. We read that the man from Ethiopia “went on his way rejoicing” (Acts 8:39).
So be ready to be used by God. You never know when a divine appointment is coming your way.
Proclaim the message; persist in it whether convenient or not. —2 Timothy 4:2
Excerpted from Tell Someone. Published by Lifeway Press®. © 2015 Greg Laurie. Used by permission.