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 T.A., I’ve been a Christian for a number of years now, and I’m ashamed to admit that I’ve never led anyone to the Lord, except, perhaps, by the witness of my life, or planting a seed here and there. Under that conviction, however, would you give me a model of how I should present the gospel to someone who seems open to it? What is really necessary for a person to truly accept the Lord?”
Tom: This is a really good question, Dave. You know, the gospel is so important, and as the Lord provides opportunities—where we have opportunities, I think we have to step up to the plate and offer what a person needs to do to have eternal life.
Dave: Yeah, well, it’s a good question, Tom. It’s not an easy one, because you can’t just be like the barber, you know, who wanted to witness to one of his customers. He got him all...this was many years ago…got him all lathered up for a shave and sitting there in front of him with a razor, and said, “Are you prepared to die?” (chuckling) Well, there are wrong ways to go about it, you know. You can’t just suddenly walk up to somebody on the street and say, “Are you prepared to die? Let me tell you the gospel of Jesus, who died for your sins…” They’d turn you off and turn away, so I have to use some judgment. Now, are we talking about a friend? Are we talking about family members? Are we talking about someone we’re sitting with and they’re not going to run away? What are the circumstances?
But ultimately, they have to …you can’t just say, “Well, believe in Jesus.” Well, who is this Jesus? Why should I believe in Him?
“Well, you need to be saved.” What do I need to be saved from, and why?
So, I help people to understand why they need to be saved by pointing out that they’re not just a lump of protein and molecules wired with nerves; that they are a spirit being living in a physical body. And bodies are subject to the Second Law of Thermodynamics, but spirits are not, so when they die, when the body is in the grave, where will you, the person who—you know, your brain didn’t decide things for you; you were the one who made the decisions—where will you be? Well, something worth thinking about, okay?
Then we have to move on from there. Are we just the result of a Big Bang and chance motions of atoms and so forth, you know? What we’re saying right now, really, doesn’t make any sense. Some people would agree with that because it’s simply the result of the antecedent motions of the atoms in our brain that all began with a Big Bang billions of years ago. That’s ludicrous.
So I don’t know what this person’s questions may be. We may be talking to someone who really believes in God, who even knows that Christ died for their sins. So we take a different approach with different people. Now, if we’re talking with a Mormon, for example, they can seem to agree with you: Oh, yeah! They believe in God; they believe in Jesus. They can even use the same language. But like the Catholics that we were talking about, Mormons have the wrong god. They’ve got the wrong gospel. They believe that God is a man who was redeemed by another Jesus on another planet. They believe that Jesus didn’t pay the penalty for our sins. In fact, he came to this earth in order to become a god; he wasn’t God when he came to this earth. But he just kind of opened the way so that we could climb this ladder. Spencer W. Kimball said a ladder, you know, that goes on forever. Joseph Smith said it could take eons of time. You’ve got to pull yourself up and go through all this effort and so forth and one day you will become a god. Well, that’s not the Jesus of the Bible. That’s not the gospel of the Bible. So you would have to disabuse them of that.
So, Tom, it depends. You can’t just give someone a three-minute course, you know? It depends: who are you talking to? What do they understand? How seriously are they concerned with this matter that we’re discussing? Life after death and salvation, and so forth.
Tom, I wrote a book just for that purpose. It’s called Seeking and Finding God. It’s not a huge book—what? 150 pages—something like that. And I wrote it actually for myself to give to people. I don’t push it on someone, and I don’t carry it around with me and distribute them, but if I’m talking to someone on an airplane or a cab, or whatever it is, and they evidence some sincere concern and interest, and I ask them, “Would you like me to send you this book?” and they say yes…. I was sitting next to a lady on the plane the other day. And I often say to people, “I can prove the existence of God by who He sits me next to on airplanes.” And I said, “God sat us together.” She had been so interested—just wanted to hear more. And I said, ”How many people on this airplane (it was a huge jumbo jet, about 300 people on it)—how many of them do you think I could have a conversation like this with, that would be this interested?”
She said to me, “This is the most important conversation you could ever have!”
Well, pretty rare, I would say. So, God will lead us to people who are ready. And yes, she wanted the book; she wanted anything that I could send her. So each situation is different. We have to be led by the Spirit of God.
Tom: But it all falls back to—just as you point out in your book—who Jesus is.
Tom: Dave, earlier we were talking about the Jesus of Roman Catholicism and the process of salvation of Roman Catholicism, which is another gospel, and I’m sad to say, but having grown up in it, it’s another Jesus! There’s no way you can come to any other conclusion, I don’t believe.
Dave: I have to be very careful that I present the gospel. And Jesus himself said, “If you do not believe that I am God, you will die in your sins.” So I can’t just present a good, moral, humanistic Jesus. “Oh, you believe in Him. He had some wonderful teachings: Sermon in the Mount, and so forth.” If you don’t believe in the resurrection, if you don’t believe Christ rose from the dead, you’re not saved. This is what the Bible says, okay?
So, it’d be too easy to… “Oh, Jesus! Yeah. There’s some popular books out there, popular movements, huge churches. Oh yeah, we want to believe in Jesus.” They don’t believe in the Jesus of the Bible, and if you don’t believe in the Jesus of the Bible—you don’t believe that He had to die for your sins, because if He didn’t pay the penalty for your sins, you would pay it forever, and if you’re not grateful to Him for that, and you’re not willing to receive the payment He made on your behalf, you’re not saved.