Form of Gospel presentation important?

Discussion in 'Missions / Witnessing / eVangelism' started by jimc06, Dec 27, 2006.

  1. jimc06

    jimc06
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    Hi,

    How important is it HOW the Gospel is presented? Does it matter at all, or is it only important that people understand enough to make a decision? It seems that some believe that you can just carefully go through the Roman Road (for example), and if someone rejects that, then their hearts must have been hard.

    However, I've been struck lately by how richly the Bible presents spiritual truths, in ways beautifully tuned to the listener's viewpoint. The Lord really pointed this out to me when reading about Pentecost, in that the FIRST move the Spirit made was to enable believers to speak in the listener's tongues. This leads me to think that it's critical how we present the Gospel, and until someone strongly rejects us and it, we should assume that the ball is still in our court.

    Given the cultural diversity in America these days, if a "one size fits all" approach isn't appropriate, then it seems we (and the Holy Spirit) have a lot of work to do to understand how to reach people in new and creative ways.

    Thoughts?
     
  2. gb93433

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    Jesus did not use a one size fits all. He told one person to sell all he has. He dealt with the Sadducees from the Torah and the Pharisees from the entire OT.
     
  3. ichthys

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    From what I've learned and seen (and probably from some of what I have not learned and had to relearn because I'm stubborn :BangHead: ) the Gospel message is the only part that's important. Strictly following a program is hard to do anyway, especially if you have had some conversation with the person and are trying to learn about them before you go into a "spiel." :tonofbricks:

    You just have to have some rudimentary idea of how the person you're talking to thinks about the gospel and communicates so you can talk to them at their level. It's no use trying to tell someone something if all you're doing is confusing them with "churchy" words or in some way they can't keep up with. So "one size fits all" doesn't work, and usually if you do it strictly by a "program" that isn't adapted to their own communication style and understanding, it comes off sounding like a "program" that you have learned about in your head, not something you have learned from your heart.
     
  4. bapmom

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    In some ways I think it does matter how the gospel is presented. Ive seen some soulwinners who talk through their whole "presentation" without hardly listening to the person they are talking to at all. The other person can't get a word in edgewise, and the soulwinner has no real idea of what the hearer does or does not understand. If we are going to take the time to talk to the person, than let that person talk to us in return. Find out what they're thinking, and then answer that person's misconceptions or unbeliefs.

    The caution Id make is that we not be so concerned with the presentation that we scare ourselves out of saying anything at all. God can and does take our weak, feeble attempts and use them to His glory. A Word of the Gospel spoken is better than nothing at all.
     
  5. jimc06

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    Yes, one of the things that's consistently come to mind is that importance of listening to the other person. Really understanding their perspective, their beliefs, their situation (at least spiritual), then responding with that perspective in mind. Again though, this really implies that the form of the sharing is quite important. Of course, the Lord can make use of our least efforts, but I have to remind myself that that doesn't mean I should presume upon that, and not put forth my best.

    Jim
     
  6. John of Japan

    John of Japan
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    Far, far more important than the particular presentation of the Gospel is the work of the Holy Spirit. I have heard the great R. G. Lee preach his famous sermon "Payday Someday" and seen hundreds crowding the aisles at the invitation. On the other hand, I have seen a stumbling, stuttering young preacher preach a sermon that had little point to it and poor theology, and yet God blessed with souls saved. (Witness the stumbling Methodist layman who preached to a young, lost Charles Spurgeon.)

    Remember the words of the old hymn,

    Brethren, we have met to worship,
    And adore the Lord our God;
    Will you pray with all your power,
    While we try to preach the word.
    All is vain, unless the Spirit
    Of the Holy One come down;
    Brethren, pray, and holy manna
    Will be showered all around.


    I would ask each of you who read this thread, are you filled with the Holy Spirit when you serve Christ and witness for Him? If not, why not? Do you even know how to be filled? You can have the most glib presentation of the Romans Road, 4 Spiritual Laws or any other Gospel plan, and present the complete Gospel eloquently, but if the Holy Spirit is not at work you will fail. “All is vain, unless the Spirit of the Holy One come down.”

    “And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness” (Acts 4:31).
     
  7. jimc06

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    Absolutely. And what I was reminded of in the Pentecost account, is that the Holy Spirit works in believer's lives as well. Similar to the sentiments echoed by Paul:

    1 Corinthians 2:3-5 NASB (3) I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, (4) and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, (5) so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.

    It is my prayer that He guide and empower my part in His work. But what of Paul's statements in Philippians 1:18? That almost seems to imply that as long as the Gospel is proclaimed correctly, nothing else matters:

    Philippians 1:15-18 NASB (15) Some, to be sure, are preaching Christ even from envy and strife, but some also from good will; (16) the latter do it out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel; (17) the former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition rather than from pure motives, thinking to cause me distress in my imprisonment. (18) What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed; and in this I rejoice.

    So what is the believer's role? The way I've come to understand this is that we should approach evangelism with much prayer and dependence on the Spirit's power. But, even when we fall short of what we are able, God is able to use anything to accomplish His work.

    My concern is the ease with which one can move from dependence on God, to presumption on Him.

    Jim
     
  8. John of Japan

    John of Japan
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    Good post, and I can see your direction here. We are on the same road! :thumbs:

    Along this line, it is worth pointing out that the Gospel itself has/is power, according to Rom. 1:16.

    However, whatever method is used, it is important to make sure the complete Gospel is given, especially on the mission fields of the world where there is no history of Christianity. Here in Japan they worship their ancestors. I heard of a Japanese young lady who heard the story of Jesus with no resurrection mentioned. She said, "Why should I worship another dead person?" Indeed.
     
  9. jimc06

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    Great reminder to not forget the cross; it's easy to get caught up in just seed planting. Especially when trying to be "creative". :)

    Often these days, it seems that even here in America there are mission fields with less history of Christianity than one might think. I've run across polytheistic hindus, nature-worshipping wiccans, and self-deifying new-age adherents. Their very concept of God isn't even close to truth, let alone sin, so starting with Romans 3:23 doesn't get very far.
     
  10. christianyouth

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    www.wayofthemaster.com is an excellent website on how to share your faith, biblically and effectively.
     
  11. DHK

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    Study the Book of Acts. See how Paul addresses an unsaved Gentile audience as compared to those who have a background in the Bible, such as the Jews. They are different.

    Generally speaking I would never use a method as simplistic as the Roman Road or the four spiritual laws with a World Religion like Islam or Hinduism.
    First establish who God is: "In the beginning God created..."
    He is the Creator. If one can't get past Gen.1:1, it is probable that he won''t be able to get much farther.
    Second, and perhaps most important work from the basis of forgiveness of sin. God is your Creator. He is holy. You have sinned against a holy God. How can you obtain forgiveness from God in your religion. In Islam there is no provision for forgiveness. It is a religion of fatalism. When they end up before Allah, if Allah is in a good mood he may allow them into paradise, if not he may consign them to Hell. They have no assurance unless they die a martyr.
    How is it possible to gain forgiveness of sin. The answer is only through Jesus Christ who died to take the penalty of our sin upon Himself.
     
  12. LeBuick

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    Can it be called the Gospel if there is no cross? Or if we leave Christ in the grave?
     
  13. John of Japan

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    Every time we go back on furlough America looks more heathen. You folk can easily do cross-cultural evangelism almost anywhere you live in the States. :jesus:
     
  14. John of Japan

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    Good post, DHK.

    To add just a note--it may not take as long as some think for a "heathen" to grasp the concept of one just, eternal God. Remember that some were saved even in Athens where Paul told them of the "unknown God." In Japan I use verses from Romans similar to the Romans Road, only I start in Rom. 1 and tell them how sin separated mankind from a just God. Oftentimes they need lots of time to grasp this, but I have seen folks saved the first time I presented the Gospel in this way. :type:
     
  15. jimc06

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    Exactly, this is what prompted the thread in the first place. And not just in Acts, but throughout the New Testament, and the Bible as a whole, God used great richness and individuality to communicate spiritual truths. This implies that the form of presentation is important.

    In view of John of Japan's reminder that it is really the Holy Spirit at work in all this, might it be that one way He desires to work through us is with diversity of forms, just as He did throughout scripture?

    As I am led to reach out to the "more heathen" people around us, it is increasingly my prayer for Holy Spirit leadership and impowerment to share the Gospel in ways that other people will be able to hear.

    The reality of God, our need for a Savior, the sufficiency of Jesus' death, and the fact of His resurrection, do not change. The power of that message, and the need for people to hear it, do not change. But in view of the way the Spirit has worked in the past, perhaps we sometimes need to prayerfully revisit how to share those truths?
     

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