The Apostle Paul told Timothy, “Preach the Word, be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching” (2 Timothy 4:2, NKJV). Paul added, “Woe unto me if I do not preach the gospel!”(1 Corinthians 9:16).
But how do we ensure effectiveness? There isn’t a guarantee in any method. Ultimately, we plant the seed, but God gives the increase (1 Corinthians 3:6). One thing we can do is to be certain we are speaking the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15).
If you look at the things we most often lie about, you see that, for the most part, we lie so people will not be offended. But it is still a lie. If we change Biblical truth to appease the listener, we have lied (Isaiah 30:8-14).
Scripture says that the “truth will set us free” (John 8:37). The mindset of the truth teller is very important. We must remember the following things when we spread the gospel.
First, we must be uncompromising when we proclaim the truth of God’s Word. However, we must be flexible concerning men’s hearts. Matthew writes, “Whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them” (Matthew 7:12). When we sit down to study with a prospect, we must treat them with the same care and respect we would desire for ourselves (Matthew 7:12).
Second, we must be persistent but patient. John 1:1-3 tells us that Jesus is the Word. We also know that he is the “same yesterday, today and tomorrow” (Hebrews 13:8) While the truth of Scripture never changes, our level of patience must continue to grow.
Having someone overturn our core beliefs is a heart-wrenching process. When we study with someone, we must be patient to allow them to go through the transformation and be understanding when they fail. Not everyone will be willing to take up their cross (Matthew 10:38).
Third, we must be firm but factual. Our opinions and traditions should never dictate what we teach. Matthew 15:14 warns, “If the blind leads the blind, both will fall into a ditch.”
Finally, we must hold the line but be helpful. The purpose of the gospel is to win souls, not arguments. Ephesians 6:10-17 says we are in a spiritual war with Satan and his forces. We are not at war with the sinner, only the sin. The sinner has a soul that needs love and guidance. We should always treat them with the respect and love they deserve. The goal before our eyes is to help them get from where they are to where they need to be. And that is in the arms of Christ where they can find the remission of their sins and the “peace that passes all understanding” (Roman 5:6-11; Philippians 4:7).
We must love the lost in order to convert the lost.