Welcome to what may be the last week of the evangelism class series of this blog post. This is not the last lecture of the class, but due to COVID-19, we were unable to have our last class. It’d be kind of weird for me to write about a lecture that I didn’t attend, so this will be the last one. Today I’m going to talk about repentance. (It’s more of a hodgepodge of my experiences with sharing about repentance and some points from the lecture that I could work on.)
When I think about repentance relative to salvation, I think of someone praying a prayer of repentance. When I actually share the gospel, I wonder if the person I’m sharing with would ever get to that point of repentance from our brief exchange. That point seems so far and unreachable when I cold contact ev. The same thoughts and feelings occur also when I think about sharing the gospel to someone who I know for a long time. Why the uncertainty? As a Christian, I am called to make disciples and teach everything that Christ has taught, and yet, to bring someone to repentance seems so daunting. What should I be doing?
When I talk to non-Christians about God and the gospel, I usually say something like “does this make sense to you?” This is not a bad question to ask, but I usually stop at that. I don’t probe them any deeper. I was content that they knew what the gospel was, so I thought my job was done. If they knew the gospel, then they could look into it more if they wanted to. This method was really an excuse for my laziness and fear, but there is definitely a better way that is more intentional and loving.
Explaining the gospel to someone and asking them to believe and trust in Christ as Savior and Lord requires more than simply presenting the facts of who God is, what man’s state is, and who Christ is. Knowing these facts are not sufficient for salvation. James 2:19 says “You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe;and shudder.” The demons know these facts about God too, but they’re not with Christ. The chapter continues with v.20 “But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless?” If someone truly believed in the gospel presented to them, then there should be action. This action is repentance. A person needs to realize their sinfulness and that only through Christ that they can be saved. Then, that person must turn from their sin to God and have faith in Christ.
Okay great, so in what manner should this message be presented? After presenting the points of the gospel, you can ask questions about what they understand about the gospel. As you gauge more about where they are at, then you can ask them to repent based off of what they believe. Direct invitation is more loving and intentional than simply doing a fact check. For example, you can ask “Since you say that you believe that Jesus is the only way to heaven, then do you want to repent and believe in Jesus as Lord and Savior over your life?” This gives them a decision to make based off of the information that they know. If they say no, then they most likely don’t really believe and there’s something that’s blocking them from taking that next step. Then, you can continue to help clarify whatever may be stopping them. If they say yes, then you can walk them through what life looks like after believing in Christ. After you help them to understand, you can invite them to pray.
Leading someone to pray was another thing that was scary for me. I say that it’s scary, because I’ve been on the other side where I attended sermons where the pastors would invite you to come up to the aisle to believe in Christ as Lord. I was quite confused during that period of time, and for me to do that with another person feels strange since I don’t want them to be confused. Some of my confusion was due to not knowing if I was saved since I prayed “the sinner’s prayer.”
Thankfully, in the class, I learned that the act of prayer does not bring you to salvation, but instead, repentant faith will cause a person to communicate to God in prayer. The example that my pastor gave was the parable in Luke 18 of the tax collector who was saying “God, be merciful to me, the sinner!” This was in contrast to the Pharisee who believed that he was righteous from his works. The tax collector abandoned his own works and cried out to God knowing that only He can save Him. In Luke 18:14, Jesus said that the tax collector went home justified. In a similar sense, if the person that I’m sharing with wants to repent, then I can invite them to pray to God with their own words and pray with them after. From their prayer, you can know where they’re at, and my pastor said that “listening to their prayer, you just want to sob”(tears of joy). This helped me to know that it’s good to ask someone to pray after they say that they want to repent.
That’s really it. There’s more that I learned from the lecture, but those are the key takeaways that I had. To recap, I learned that I need to ask clarifying questions to see where they’re at, invite them to repent, and pray with them if they repent. I no longer need to be uncertain of what it means to bring someone to repentance. The method is rooted in Christ’s command to “make disciples and teach what He taught.” This act of asking someone to repent comes from a love for God and love for others to know who God is and what He has done for us. I hope and pray that you would continue to be obedient to the calling that God has called us to and that you would know Christ and the life that He gives.