Now, Contending for the Faith.In this regular feature, Dave and Tom respond to questions from listeners and readers of The Berean Call. Here’s this week’s question:
“Dear Dave and Tom: How do you guys go about evangelizing? I’m not looking for a method, simply some basics and guidelines from your experience. Thanks.”
Tom: Well, Dave, you’re on a plane all the time, and this is one of the great encouragements we have here at The Berean Call: when you come back from speaking at a conference somewhere, you tell us about the people, really, God ordained them to sit next to you or vice versa, and it’s a great encouragement. But you get into a discussion with them, and evangelizing, I’m sure, is foremost on your heart.
Dave: Well, Tom, there aren’t any rules, of course, and it’s different every time. The Lord wants to lead us to people who are open to Him. And, of course, I may have mentioned to the staff (maybe I didn’t), I’ll never forget the lady sitting next to me—quite a wealthy lady, actually—and she kept saying, “But how do I get saved?” And I’m trying to explain it thoroughly, but I wasn’t saying it fast enough. “But how do I get saved?” So you will meet people like that.
Tom: Dave, I think if you pray and ask the Lord to open opportunities for you, and if you’re willing to present whatever you have, because God’s not going to put you in a situation which He can’t use you if you prayed, “Lord, use me.”
Dave: Right. You can’t push yourself on someone. I’ll never forget the woman—she looked like a madam, believe me. I think her heels were about 8” high, and—oh, my goodness! what she was wearing, and so forth. And I remember before the flight thinking, “I hope I don’t sit next to her.” Well, that’s where the Lord sat me! And I can tell you, it wasn’t long before she was holding my hand weeping over the gospel.
But these are people prepared by the Lord. I remember when the Lord sat me next to a woman—her live-in boyfriend had just tried to kill her! Well, she’s ready.
I remember a guy who had just broken up with his Mormon girlfriend. He just didn’t know what this Mormonism was all about. “Well,” I said, “I wrote the book.” You can’t explain it away, you know. I mean, I could give literally, I think, hundreds of things like this. A woman sitting next to me, very attractive young lady, she was leading a tour; she’s in charge of it. And I thought, “Wow, this is not going to get anywhere with her.” And as we got into a discussion, her comment was, “This is the most important subject anybody could talk about.”
And I said, “There’s about 300 people on this plane. How many of them do you think would say that?”
Tom: But, Dave, how do you go about it? I mean, I’m like the lady you sat next to: Well, come on, Dave, how do you go approach this?
Dave: Well, you’re not like the barber who lathered up a customer and then pulled out a razor and said, “Are you prepared to die?” That’s not going to work.
Tom, I don’t know. The Lord opens the door. First of all, I have to be willing. I have to want to. And I pray, “Lord, this person next to me, I don’t think there’s any hope. But if there’s anything I can do and I can say, please make the opportunity.”
But you know, Tom, I like to present the gospel as Paul did: When he went into the synagogue, he opened the Scriptures and he proved, it says, from the Scriptures that Jesus is the Messiah. Sometimes people are not ready to even think about a Messiah. Somehow we have to get around to the shortness of life, and we’re not here forever, and that when we die, we’re not dead. Our body is dead, but the person who made the decisions… You know, and I use things like, you know, your brain doesn’t think. Well, that stops people in their tracks. If your brain originated your thoughts, you’d be a prisoner of your brain. What’s my brain going to think of next, you know? That catches people’s attention. And, you know, you use your brain like a computer to operate your body, but you are the person who makes these choices and decisions. So somehow we’ve got to move in that direction, and the Lord will work it out. If you can’t, don’t push it on somebody.
Tom: But, Dave, in the past we’ve talked about—we’ve heard the gospel many places, or what was purported to be the gospel and an attempted evangelization, but what’s been missing is conviction of sin. How important is that, to bring somebody to an understanding that they are sinners and they do need a Savior?
Dave: Well, Tom, I don’t start there. As I’ve said, I start with the—well, I don’t start anywhere, just wherever the Lord leads. But first of all, you know, conviction of sin, that’s—okay. “Yeah, you’re not going to convict me of sin, because I’m going to live as I please. You know, ‘Let us eat, drink, and be merry: tomorrow we die.’ And when I die that’s the end of it.” So I like to confront people with the fact that when they die, that’s not the end, and we can do that very quickly.
Then I—you know, the Bible gives all the proof, and we’ve got to get to the proof. I remember a business executive—well, he was a airline executive—sitting next to me, and he said, “When I was in university, I became a born-again Christian. There’s a lot of people out there who’ve been professors at one time, but I don’t know what I believe now.”
I said, “I can prove God exists. I can prove the Bible’s His word. I can prove Jesus is the Savior.”
He said, “Can you do that? Would you help me?” So we have to bring proof and evidence, and we’ve got to let them know they’re going to give an account, and that brings conviction of sin.
Tom: Mm-hmm. Dave, one of the things—we’ve just got a few seconds here—but one of the things that I like to do is talk about Jesus, just exactly who He is. “Do you know why He came? Why did He go to the cross?” just to see where their understanding is, and maybe explain some things.