The first Christian sermon ever recorded (Acts 2) offers a wealth of perspective in sharing your faith with others. The message is delivered by none other than the apostle Peter, who previously inserted his foot into his mouth more than anyone in the history of Christianity. That alone ought to be a great confidence booster to all of us. :-)
Witnessing for Christ is not about inviting others to your holy club. It’s about presenting life and death when the stakes couldn’t be higher. It’s holding out an invitation for sin to be removed, and guilt to be replaced with a living and abiding hope.
Tip #1: Speak the truth without diluting or watering it down
Peter began by stating the importance of his message. “Listen carefully to what I have to say.” So much of today’s evangelism is couched in wanting to make people feel comfortable or to add humor to get their attention. Gospel preaching is serious because what is at stake is eternity – no laughing matter. There is nothing wrong with an engaging or friendly personality, evangelistic conversations need not be stereotypically Puritanical. However, the topic itself ought to be presented in a manner which informs the listener that the topic is serious. 100% of people die; it’s not a question of if but when. Are you ready?
Tip #2: Do not pander to felt needs
Peter did not ask them if they were happy or fulfilled, or if there was something God could do for them. He got right down to business on the most pressing question for all of us: are you ready to meet your Creator? By all means it's a noble thing to address various needs people have while sharing the Good News; but be straightforward when you talk about Christ.
Tip #3: Steer people to see their great need
Peter spoke directly to the people’s predicament: this particular group showed their indifference towards Jesus and opposition to Him by murdering Him. They were so on the wrong side of the tracks. Likewise, no matter how “good” people today are, they need a Savior.
Tip #4: Speak often and clearly about the Person and Work of Jesus Christ
This is the heart of Peter’s message. These people killed Jesus Christ without knowing who He is. Jesus would be delivered over for sinners and by sinners, but He would rise again! Jesus Christ would be resurrected just as the Hebrew Scriptures so clearly foretold in Psalm 16! “Be assured that God has made this same Jesus both Lord and Christ.” The heart of the Gospel is to know who Jesus is and what He has done for us.
Tip #5: Be clear in your invitation
“Repent and be baptized each one of you in the name of the Lord Jesus.” Repent means to change your mind. These people literally nailed the Prince of Glory to a tree. They needed to waste no time in worshiping Him as Lord and embracing Him as their Messiah and Savior! And, back up your new attitude about Jesus and seal the deal. There is no room for emotional decisions in the moment. When you believe in Jesus, you need to get wet and identify with your Savior through baptism.
Tip #6: Be sincere in your presentation
“With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, ‘Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.’” Peter wasn’t afraid to plead and call them to leave their present company; he knew what was at stake. I don’t mind looking a little foolish in your eyes, if your house was on fire I’d do everything to get you out!
As I was reading through Acts 2 this week, two families close to me are either experiencing the death of a loved one or the very real potential of it. Life is so fleeting! In presenting these principles, I wouldn’t want you to be mean-spirited or “doom and gloom”. Speaking glowingly of your relationship with the Lord is natural and only leaves people wanting what you have. Always speak the truth in love. Have fun in life. But as a pastor, I am always concerned when I see Christians more focused with people’s comfort level than the hell that awaits their unbelief. Take time to thoughtfully read through Acts 2 to gain the Spirit’s perspective on sharing your faith.
- Pastor Colin