"What if someone says, ‘I’ve broken every one of the Ten Commandments’?"
Do not take this statement to mean that the person has seen the gravity of his sinful state before God. He may say something like, "I’m a really bad person!" It is often used as a way of shrugging off conviction. Say to him, "Well let’s take the time to go through them one by one and see if you have." As he is confronted with the righteous standard of God’s Moral Law, pray that the Holy Spirit brings conviction of sin.
"You are trying to make me feel guilty by quoting the Ten Commandments."
Ask the person which one of the Ten Commandments makes him feel guilty. Simply state, "The Bible says, ‘You shall not steal.’ If you feel guilty when you hear that, why do you think that is? Could it be because you are guilty?" God gave us our conscience so we would know when we break His Law; the guilt we feel when we do something wrong tells us that we need to repent.
"What should I say to someone who acknowledges his sins, but says, ‘I just hope God is forgiving’?"
These people could be referred to as "awakened, but not alarmed." explain that God is forgiving—but only to those who repent of their sins. Ask him, "If you died right now, where would you go?" If he says, "Hell," ask if that concerns him. If it does concern him, ask, "What are you going to do?" Then tell him that God commands him to repent and trust the Savior. If it doesn’t concern him, speak of the value of his life, the threat of eternal damnation, and the biblical description of hell. Caution him that he doesn’t have the promise of tomorrow, and plead with him to come to his senses.
"I believe I will go to heaven because I live by the Golden Rule."
Much of the world knows the Golden Rule simply as "do unto others as you would have them do unto you" (see Luke 6:31). According to this verse, if we can live by this rule and love our neighbor as much as we love ourselves, we fulfill the Law. Ask those who claim to do this if they have ever lied, stolen, hated, or looked with lust. If they have broken any of these Commandments, then they haven’t loved those they have lied to, stolen from, etc. This will show them that they have violated the Golden Rule. They are under God’s wrath (John 3:36), desperately needing the Savior's cleansing blood.
"I have broken the Ten Commandments, but I do good things for people."
Many people do similar things. They may steal from their employer or cheat on their taxes, then give to a charity or spend Thanksgiving helping at a soup kitchen. They think they are balancing the scales: they have done bad, and now they are doing good. However, the Bible reveals that the motive of guilty sinners is one of guilt (see Hebrews 9:14). They are at-tempting to bribe the Judge of the Universe. However, the Judge in this case will not be corrupt-ed. He must punish all sinners. Good works cannot earn mercy; it comes purely by the grace of God. He will dismiss our iniquity only on the grounds of our faith in Jesus.
"How can you know that you are saved?"
A two-year-old boy was once staring at a heater, fascinated by its bright orange glow. His father saw him and warned, "Don’t touch that heater, son. It may look pretty, but it’s hot." The little boy believed him, and moved away from the heater. Some time later, after his father had left the room, the boy thought, "I wonder if it really is hot." He then reached out to touch it and see for himself. The second his flesh burned, he stopped believing it was hot; he now knew it was hot! He had moved out of the realm of belief into the realm of experience.
Christians believed in God’s existence before their conversion. However, when they obeyed the Word of God, turned from their sins, and embraced Jesus Christ, they stopped merely believing. The moment they reached out and touched the heater bar of God’s mercy, they moved out of belief into the realm of experience. This experience is so radical, Jesus referred to it as being "born again."
The Bible says that those who don’t know God are spiritually dead (Ephesians 2:1; 4:18). We are born with physical life, but not spiritual life. Picture unbelievers as corpses walking around who, by repenting and placing their faith in Christ, receive His very life. There is a radical difference between a corpse and a living, breathing human, just as there is when sinners pass from spiritual death to life. The apostle Paul said if you are "in Christ," you are a brand new creature (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Those who now have God’s Spirit living in them will love what He loves and desire to do His will; they will have a hunger for His Word, a love for other believers, and a burden for the lost. The Holy Spirit also confirms in their spirit that they are now children of God (Romans 8:16). Those who believe on the name of the Son of God can know that they have eternal life (1 John 5:12,13).
Paul wrote to the church at Corinth, "My speech and my preaching were not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: that your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God" (1 Corinthians 2:4,5). What Paul was saying was, "I deliberately didn’t talk you into your faith, but I let God’s power transform you." He didn’t reach them through an intellectual assent, but through the realm of personal experience.
Suppose two people—a heater manufacturer and a skin specialist—walked into the room just after that child had burned his hand on the heater. Both assured the boy that he couldn’t possibly have been burned. But all the experts, theories, and arguments in the world will not dissuade that boy, because of his experience. Those who have been transformed by God’s power need never fear scientific or other arguments, because the man with an experience is not at the mercy of a man with an argument. "For our gospel came not to you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit, and in much assurance . . ." (1 Thessalonians 1:5).
"I was once a born-again Christian. Now I believe it’s all rubbish!"
When a person maintains that he was once a Christian, but came to his senses, he is saying that he once knew the Lord (see John 17:3). Ask him, "Did you know the Lord?" He will then be forced to say, "I thought I did!" This gives you license to gently say, "If you don’t know so, then you probably didn’t." If he didn’t know the Lord, he was therefore never a Christian (1 John 5:11–13,20).
Explain to him that the Bible speaks of false conversion, in which a "stony ground" hearer receives the Word with joy and gladness. Then, in a time of tribulation, temptation, and persecution, falls away. If he is open to reason, take him through the Ten Commandments, into the message of the cross, and the necessity of repentance and faith in the Savior.
"I’ll wait until I am old, then I’ll get right with God."
You may not get the chance. God may just lose patience with you and end your life. Perhaps you don’t think He would do such a thing. Then read Genesis 38:7 to see how God killed a man who was wicked. Jesus told of a man who boasted that he had so many goods that he would have to build bigger barns. God called the man a fool and took his life that night.
Those who say they will repent in their own time lack the fear of God. Their understanding of His nature is erroneous. If they caught a glimpse of His holiness, His righteousness, and His consuming justice, they wouldn’t trifle with His mercy. Such arrogance needs to be confronted with the thunders of Mount Sinai. He is not wise who thinks he can outwit his Creator, enjoy a lifetime of sin, and repent at the last minute. Deathbed repentance is very rare. God killed a husband and wife because they told a lie (Acts 5:1–10). He lost patience with them. Most people think that God’s patience is eternal. It evidently is not.
The Bible says that it is through the fear of the Lord that men depart from sin (Proverbs 16:6). If they don’t fear God, they will be complacent about their eternal salvation (Matthew 10:28).
"Will people who have never heard the gospel all go to hell because they haven’t heard about Jesus Christ?"
No one will go to hell because they haven’t heard of Jesus Christ. The heathen will go to hell for murder, rape, adultery, lust, theft, lying, etc. Sin is not failing to hear the gospel. Rather, "sin is the transgression of the Law" (1 John 3:4). If we really care about the lost, we will become missionaries and take the good news of God’s forgiveness in Christ to them.
"You are using scare tactics by talking about hell and Judgment Day."
In the late 1980s, TV commercials in the U.S. asked, "What goes through the mind of a driver who is not wearing a seat belt in a head- n collision?" Then they showed a crash dummy having its head crushed by a steering wheel in a collision, and said, "The steering wheel!" Those were scare tactics, but no one complained because they were legitimate scare tactics. That’s what happens in a head-on collision if you are foolish enough to not put on a seat belt. To warn of hell is fearful, but it is absolutely legitimate, because the Bible says that it is a fearful thing for a sinner to fall into the hands of the living God.
"Is ‘hell-fire’ preaching effective?"
Preaching the reality of hell, without using the Law to bring the knowledge of sin, can do a great deal of damage to the cause of the gospel. A sinner cannot conceive of the thought that God would send anyone to hell, as long as he is deceived into thinking that God’s standard of righteousness is the same as his. Paul "reasoned" with Felix regarding righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come (Acts 24:25). This is the righteousness that is of the Law and judgment by the Law. Felix "trembled" because he suddenly understood that his intemperance made him a guilty sinner in the sight of a holy God. The reality of hell suddenly became reasonable to him when the Law was used to bring the knowledge of sin.
Imagine if the police burst into your home, arrested you, and shouted, "You are going away for a long time!" Such conduct would probably leave you bewildered and angry. What they have done seems unreasonable. However, imagine if the law burst into your home and instead told you specifically why you were in trouble: "We have discovered 10,000 marijuana plants growing in your back yard. You are going away for a long time!" At least then you would understand why you are in trouble. Knowledge of the law you have transgressed furnished you with that understanding. It makes judgment reasonable.
Hell-fire preaching without use of the Law to show the sinner why God is angry with him will more than likely leave him bewildered and angry—for what he considers unreasonable punishment.
"I hope I’m going to heaven when I die."
Of all the things that you should be sure of, it’s your eternal destiny. To say "I hope I’m going to heaven" is like standing at the open door of a plane 25,000 feet in the air and, when asked "Have you got your parachute on?" answering with "I hope so." You want to know so— and you can, simply by obeying the gospel. If you repent and place your faith in Jesus Christ, He will give you eternal life and you can know that your eternity is secure. These verses also make clear that those who refuse to trust in the Son of God can likewise know that they do not have eternal life—they will remain dead in their sins.
This concludes our 31 Days of Evangelism Tips and Training. I hope it has been a help to you and has given you a new zeal to win the lost and build up the kingdom of God.
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