This past Sunday I presented the following question to a congregation in Illinois, “How many of you got saved after hearing the gospel for the very first time?” No one raised their hands. I counted upward but very few hands went up until I got to “five times.”
Romans 10:17 says, “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Some people need to hear the gospel several times before they recognize their need for salvation. One person who will attest to this is Nick Kinn, the evangelism pastor at Living Word Christian Center in suburban Minneapolis. Nick had five different people witness to him before he got born again the day after his 25th birthday. For over 30 years now, Nick has shared the gospel on the streets of numerous cities and countries.
I have a similar testimony. Although I originally asked Jesus into my heart at a Young Life meeting in 1981, I quickly drifted away from Christianity. During the next ten years, God used several people to reach out to me. Among them were a fellow Army platoon member, two preachers holding seminars against secular rock music, Prince’s former bodyguard “Big Chick” Huntsberry (who became an evangelist shortly before his death in 1990), and a college classmate. The prayers and witness of my sister and her husband resulted in me commiting my life to the Lord in 1991.
Last weekend, I went evangelizing on the streets of Springfield, Illinois. As I walked by the state capital, I noticed six women sitting together at a picnic table. I sensed the Lord wanted me to approach them with my “survey technique” but also discerned they wouldn’t be receptive to the gospel. None of the women would answer my question on where they would spend eternity when their lives ended.
Previously when I encountered people who expressed immediate opposition to the gospel, I usually just walk away after saying to them, “Jesus loves you.” But then I recalled 1 Peter 1:23, which says we have “…been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever.” So before leaving the capital area, I told the six women, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.” (Acts 16:31)
About an hour later, I approached an elderly couple sitting near a city landmark. When I asked them if they would spend eternity in "heaven", "hell", or "not sure", their reply was, “no comment.” This time I quoted Romans 10:9, “…if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” Then I told the couple to have a nice day before walking away.
There was also a woman I approached who agreed to take part in my survey but then immediately walked away after I asked where she would spend eternity. Since there wasn’t really enough time to quote a Scripture to her, I simply said, “Jesus loves you.”
As long as we speak the truth in love and avoid getting into strife with people, sharing the gospel is never a waste of time. 1 Corinthians 15:58 says, “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.”
The word of God is incorruptible seed. Look for opportunities to plant some today!
“I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase.” - 1 Corinthians 3:6