At some point in our lives, we’re going to become friends with someone, then later realize that he or she isn’t a believer.
So…what do we do? Do we look past their belief (or unbelief) and pretend we don’t care? Do we just go on with our relationship as though it doesn’t matter?
That’s certainly not the loving thing to do. If that person is not a born-again believer in Jesus, he is heading for hell.
The most loving thing we can do for someone is to share the gospel—the good news—of Jesus Christ, our Savior.
I have had the absolute pleasure of witnessing to my friend. We’ve had deep theological discussions that have definitely deepened my faith as I’ve been forced to think about what I believe, why I believe it, and how to defend it.
But when witnessing to my friends, there are three critical things I’ve been learning to keep in mind, and I want to share them with you today.
1. NEVER EVER COMPROMISE WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS
We don’t want to offend our friends, right? We want to win them to Christ! We don’t want to begin by telling our friends that they’re sinners bound for hell. Who wants to hear that? It sounds like we’re judging them and trying to make ourselves look better.
So instead of telling them truthfully what the Bible says, we try to “water down” the Bible, compromising it. When I started witnessing to my friend, I found myself falling into this trap.
In order to get to the good news of salvation, we must first go through the bad news. And it can be hard for us to tell our friends the truth: that they are helpless, wretched sinners who deserve to go to hell—and, of course, we do too. (See Romans 3:23 and Romans 6:23.)
However, in his grace and mercy, God sent his son Jesus Christ to die a terrible death in our place, paying the penalty for our sins so we can live with him forever in heaven one day. That’s the good news.
When witnessing to your friends, make sure they know you care for them. Don’t be afraid to tell them the truth about sin. Do it lovingly, but honestly. Make sure to tell them that the bad news doesn’t just apply to them; it applies to you and me as well!
This is critically important to remember: Never ever compromise what the Bible says. Never try to fit the Bible to what your friend believes. Never try to fit the Bible to unbiblical teachings. Instead, those teachings must fit the Bible.
2. OUR RELATIONSHIPS WITH OUR FRIENDS MIGHT GO DOWNHILL
It’s true that some people don’t want to hear the gospel, as it’s offensive to many in our culture. Some people are blind to the truth. Some people are afraid of what their family and friends will think if they decide to follow Christ.
Following Christ is far from easy, and “easy” is what people want. It’s hard to be a Christian when we can’t fit in with the crowd. It’s hard to stand up for what we believe.
When we share the gospel with our friends, our relationships with them might go downhill. Now that they have a better understanding of our worldviews, they might look at us differently. They might start backing away from the relationship.Following Christ is far from easy, and “easy” is what people want. It’s hard to be a Christian when we can’t fit in with the crowd. It’s hard to stand up for what we believe. Click To Tweet
But that shouldn’t stop us from taking advantage of every opportunity to share the gospel with them. Who knows? It just might plant a seed in their hearts that will grow one day.
“Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone” (Colossians 4:5-6, emphasis mine).
3. OUR FRIENDS’ SALVATION IS NOT UP TO US
It’s easy for me to start throwing information at someone, trying to convince them of what the Bible says. But even if I’m telling them the truth according to the Bible, I must remember that God alone can open their eyes. The Holy Spirit is the one who works in people’s hearts so that their eyes are opened and they can see the truth of the gospel.
Our friends’ salvation is not up to us. It’s up to God. He is the only one who can change hearts and lives. We cannot open people’s eyes, no matter how hard we try.
Actually, this is reassuring, because since their salvation is not up to us. It’s not our fault if, once we have shared the gospel, they don’t convert.Our friends’ salvation is not up to us. It’s up to God. He is the only one who can change hearts and lives. Click To Tweet
God calls us to tell our friends the good news of Jesus Christ (Matthew 28:16-20), but it’s up to the Holy Spirit—not us—to ultimately change our friends’ hearts.
SO, WHAT ABOUT YOU?
So what about you, my friend? Sharing the gospel with others is scary because we’re afraid of how they will respond.
Will you shrink back in fear when called to share the gospel with an unsaved friend? Will you avoid telling them the truth and ignore the danger that they’re in?
Pray for opportunities to witness to your friends. Pray for the right words to speak. Pray for the courage to tell them the truth even when you feel awkward.
I’m certainly not saying this is easy. I’m just saying it’s what we’re called to do—all of us.
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.” (Romans 1:16)