By Joel A. Hess –
Some time ago I attended a D. James Kennedy Evangelism Explosion training seminar. He’s the one who invented the “if you were to die today, would you go to heaven or hell” evangelism intro question. Nice question, right?
From there, the evangelist talks about how we are all sinners no matter how little we think we may sin. Then, of course, he goes on to say that faith in Jesus is the only way to heaven. But faith is not enough. No, the evangelist goes on to qualify that faith. It needs to be a trusting faith, not just an ascent to historical facts.
The ultimate outcome of Evangelism Explosion is to get the recipient to ask Jesus to come into his heart. To be honest, I’m sure their ultimate goal is to get the audience to have that “saving faith”.
This all sounds good on paper. In the end, that is every Christian’s desire, right? I hear a lot of Lutheran sermons that sound just like that – minus the “ask Jesus into your heart” stuff. “Trust Jesus” they proclaim!
It is true, faith in Jesus is how we are righteous before God and enter the Kingdom of Heaven. To be sure, Christians should desire that their neighbors have such faith.
But I’m not sure talking about faith is how we should go about creating such faith. Instead of posing this intellectual argument and demanding some sort of “signing on” to Christianity, Christians only need to speak the facts.
Jesus died for the sins of the whole world, whether you like it or not. It doesn’t actually matter if you believe it. It happened! Believing Jesus’s promise of forgiveness and eternal life takes advantage of what is already there! It doesn’t create it!
That is how we should tell others about Jesus. Christians need to talk as if it is a done deal. Because it is! We can’t make people believe it by talking about how to believe it, or why to believe it, or the process to believing it. Don’t worry about that! That’s the Holy Spirit’s business!
As Norman Nagel often said, “faith doesn’t talk about itself.” It talks about Jesus. Want faith, more faith, stronger faith? Listen to Jesus. Read His Words. Stop thinking about whether you believe it a lot or a little. Faith is not the center of your faith. Jesus is!
He died and rose for you, whether you believe it or not. He loves you, whether you like it or not. That’s actually really really good news! And hearing that creates, strengthens, and enlivens your faith in Him!