Greg Laurie - How to Share Jesus with Others
You know, the Bible tells us to be on duty at all times, or as the King James puts it, "Be instant in season and out of season". I mean anytime, anywhere, God may call on you to share the gospel. So a number of years ago, I had to go to the bathroom, I hope that doesn't shock you, but yes, I did. I went to a department store and I walked in and I'm there in the stall and I hear someone clear their throat in the stall next to me, "Ehehem," okay, someone next to me. And then I hear a voice say, "Hi". First of all, I don't talk to people in bathrooms, okay? I don't know what the deal is with girls. "Do you wanna go with me to the restroom? Let's go," and five girls will go in the restroom, guys will never do that.
If we see each other in the restroom, "Hey, how's it going? Let's get out of here," you know? But girls, it's all a different deal. So I'm in this restroom, in this stall, this guy says, "Hi". I'm like, "That's weird". And I said, "Hi". Like it was, it was not a friendly hi, it was like, "Don't talk to me hi". Moment passes, and I hear that voice say, "Were you supposed to meet me here"? I'm thinking, "What is going on here"? I said, "No," and then it dawned to me, "Who knows what's happening here? Well, what is this guy looking for"? I said, "Who is supposed to meet you here"? He said, "A drug dealer". Oh! And then it occurred to me, "Would God use me to share the gospel in a bathroom stall? Or does the Holy Spirit say, 'I'm not going in there? Okay, you're on your own.'"
I don't know. I thought, "Why not"? Jesus said, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel," I think that includes bathrooms. So I said, "I have something better for you than drugs". Guy says, "What"? I said, "A personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ". He says, "Oh, I already tried that". And I'm thinking, "Why am I talking to this guy in a...it's so weird". "I already tried that," he said. I said, "Oh, did you really? Did you ever go to church"? "Oh, I went to church," he said. I said, "Where did you go to church"? He said, "Harvest Christian Fellowship". I said, "Do you know who I am"? He said, "No". I said, "I'm Greg Laurie, the pastor at Harvest". He said, "Oh my God".
So, it's a true story, people. And so I said, "God must really love you to send your pastor to you when you're trying to make a drug buy in a bathroom," right? So I said to this guy, "You need to get right with God. I'm gonna talk to you, but I'm done with this bathroom evangelism. I'll meet you outside". So I went out and I'm just waiting, I didn't know what the guy looked like, he was easy to spot, he was a guilty looking guy. So he stood there and we prayed, and he recommitted his life to the Lord. You never know when God will call on you, right? You have to be ready. You know, when Jesus ministered to people during his earthly ministry, he never dealt with any two people in exactly the same way. The way that he spoke with the very religious and moral and educated man Nicodemus, is different than the way he spoke with a woman caught in the act of adultery, and that was different than the way he addressed Zacchaeus, the tax collector in Jericho, and that was different than the way he dealt with the woman at the well.
But really, we see how Jesus would adapt. There is not a one-size-fits-all approach to evangelism. You need to pray for wisdom and discernment. The Apostle Paul put it this way in 1 Corinthians 9, he says, "I become a servant of everyone so I can bring them to Christ". Listen, "I try to find common ground with everyone so I can bring them to Christ," find common ground. So the woman at the well, as we already saw, initially was cynical. When Jesus is there and he greets her, she comes to draw water in the middle of the day, and he says, "Would you give me a drink of water"? And she said, "Why would you ask a drink of water for me? Don't you know Jews have no dealings with Samaritans"? Jesus said, "If you knew who was speaking with you, you would ask him and he would give you living water". And then she said, "What are you talking about"?
And then he said... and then she goes on to say, in John chapter 4, verse 25, "'We know the Messiah is coming, who's called Christ. And when he comes, he will tell us all things.' Jesus says, 'I who speak to you am He.'" Let me paraphrase it, "Girl, you're talking to him. I am the Messiah". And it dawns on her this is the Messiah and she believes right on the spot, and she goes into her town and she shares her story. John 4:28, "The woman left her water pot, went her way into the city and said to the men, 'Come see a man who told me all things that I ever did, could this be the Christ?'" So I wanna talk to you about how to lead others to Jesus, and here's my first point, if you're taking notes.
Number one, telling your story, that is your personal testimony, is a powerful bridge for the gospel message, telling your story. This woman only minutes old in her faith immediately goes out and tells others, and listen, you have a story to tell. Now I know some testimonies are more dramatic than other testimonies. I have a friend that attends church here, his name is Michael Frenzies. And Michael used to be in the Colombo crime family, the mafia as we call it. And he was being groomed to become the next Don, the next godfather, if you will, of this family. He lived a life of crime, he lived a crazy life that you just see in the movies, and God got hold of him when he was in prison and solitary confinement, and Michael committed his life to the Lord.
Well, that's a pretty radical testimony. I've talked to guys not even that long ago who are gang bangers and served time in prison as well, and they talk about how Jesus has changed them. And then you talk to someone who was a drug addict, or an alcoholic, or had some other issue, and you say, "Wow, I don't have anything to compare to that. I was addicted to Ding-dongs in the third grade, but I mean, you know". But listen, your story's valid, everybody's story's valid. Not everyone is a criminal, not everyone's a gang banger, not everyone's a drug user. Some people live nice moral lives and one day they just discovered they were sinners who needed a Savior. Everybody has a testimony, including you. Here's your testimony in a nutshell without even knowing you, as that one man who was healed by Jesus said, "Once I was blind, but now I see," that's your story.
So that story is powerful, and people believed because of this woman's testimony. Look at John 4:39, "Many of the Samaritans of that city believed in him because of the word of the woman who testified, 'He told me all that I ever did.'" Your personal testimony. Remember, the courageous believers in the book of Revelation who overcame the devil, and how did they do it? Answer, from scripture, "They overcame him by the word of their testimony and the blood of the Lamb, and they did not love their lives until the death".
Next point, when you share your testimony, don't glorify or exaggerate your past. Don't glorify or exaggerate your past. I bring this up because I've heard some people share a testimony, and then ten years later, I hear it again and I'm like, "Wait, it's a little different, it's a little more dramatic and I don't remember all that stuff. Did you just remember that or are you sort of exaggerating"? Now you be accurate in your testimony, and the key is don't glorify the past.
I've heard some people share their testimony and their past sounds more interesting than their present. They'll be talking about the old of, "The old life, man, we partied, we had so much fun, and then all the stuff we used to do and then I came to Jesus," and they even talk like that. "Wait, what"? "I came to Jesus and I carry the old rugged cross. We don't party anymore, we go to bed at 7 o'clock after reading our Bible for four hours straight". Your old life sounds better than this life, so you're missing it. Let me tell you what your old life was. You were separated from God, you were empty, you were lonely, you were afraid to die, and you were headed to a certain judgment.
Paul summed it up perfectly when he described his old life, when he said in the book of Philippians, "Those things I used to think were so important are gone from my life compared to the high privilege of knowing Christ as my master, everything I once had going for me is insignificant dog dung. I've dumped it in the trash so I can embrace Christ and be embraced by him". It's a modern translation, dog dung, we all know what that is, right? People were talking about poop. Yes, I used the word poop in church, and that is the word that Paul used. Excrement, my old life compared to my new life, it's like excrement, I've dumped it in the trash. So don't make your past sound better than your present. And when you tell your story, it's not about you, it's about him, you see. Your story is just a bridge to get to the most important story. And the most important story is a story of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Now, a big challenge we have in sharing our faith is overcoming the language barrier. Because sometimes Christians engage in what I like to call Christianese. It's our own unique language that is not understood by a non-believer. Example, you walk up to someone who isn't a Christian and say, "Hey you! Uncircumcised Philistine, come here. You're a sinner and you need to repent, and you need to be sanctified and justified and washed in the blood and become a part of the body of Christ". You're gonna freak them out, because first of all, they don't know what you mean when you say be part of a body and then get washed in blood, "Wait, blood? What are you talking about"? I'm not suggesting we not use biblical terms, but I am suggesting we understand that people today are largely biblically illiterate.
There's power in the message of the gospel. But what is the gospel? We throw this word around a lot. Preach the gospel, I believe the gospel. Do you actually know what the gospel is? I would suggest to you that most Americans have never heard an accurate presentation of the gospel. Example, seven out of ten American adults have no clue what John 3:16 means. In case you don't know what it means, of course, it's "For God so loved the world, He gave his only begotten Son, and whoever believes in Him will not perish, but have everlasting life". Barely one third of all adults, even know the meaning of the expression of the word gospel.
So what is the gospel? What elements must be in play for the gospel to be the gospel? It's very important because there are false gospels out there. So you can't go to the essential gospel message and remove parts of it you might be uncomfortable with, then it's no longer the gospel. Like, if I'm gonna make a chocolate cake and I get the recipe out, I can't say, "Well, I don't wanna use chocolate, I wanna use liver instead. People will enjoy a liver cake". No, they won't. Maybe someone would. But to make a chocolate cake, you have to follow the recipe. For the gospel to be the gospel, you have to follow the biblical recipe, which is given to us clearly in scripture, because there is a false gospel. Paul writes about it in Galatians 1:6 and he says, "I'm amazed that you guys are deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ, and you're turning to a different gospel, which is really no gospel at all".
If anyone comes and perverts this gospel, I don't care if it's an angel from heaven, let them be eternally condemned. Listen to this, any gospel presentation that promises forgiveness without asking for repentance is not the gospel. Any gospel presentation that offers the hope of heaven without warning of the reality of hell is not the gospel. Any gospel presentation that tells you that God loves you but does not tell you that you need to change is not really the gospel, see. See, we like the good news part, but we don't like the bad news part. But for the gospel to be appreciated, you gotta give the whole message. Sort of like when the jeweler takes the beautiful ring or whatever it is they're offering, they put it on black velvet, why? To display its beauty. For us to fully appreciate the beauty of the gospel, I have to see the dark backdrop of my sin and realize what God has done for me.
Now, we all know that the word gospel means good news, it's good news. Before I can fully appreciate the good news, I have to first know the bad news. The good news is God loves me. The good news is I can go to heaven. The good news is I can be forgiven of all of my sin, but the bad news is I am a sinner who have broken the commandments of God and I desperately need the Savior. The Bible says, "All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God". 1 John 1:8 it says, "If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us". Now, if you tell a non-believer there are a sinner, they're gonna say, "I'm not a sinner," so you're probably gonna have to define it.
The Bible uses multiple words to define sin, but over in Ephesians 2:1, it says, "You were dead in your trespass and sin". Two words, trespass and sin. The first word is pretty obvious, trespass. You see someone's property, you have a fence up, "No trespassing". Yeah, go over that fence, you're trespassing. So when I trespass, it means I cross a line. So God has given me the ten commandments, I know what right and wrong are. If I cross that line, if I break that commandment, I have committed a trespass. But then there is the other word for sin, "Harmatia," is the word in the Greek, it means to miss the mark, to miss the mark. So let's say you and I were having an archery contest, and the goal was to hit the target.
So let's say that you went first and all of your arrows hit the target, but none hit the bulls eye. Okay, then it was my turn and none of my arrows hit the target. In fact, one went in a tree, one went into a cow nearby, one went somewhere else. Okay now, did you do better than me? Yes. But did you hit the mark? No. And even though you did better than I did, we all fell short. So God has set a mark for all of humanity. And what is that mark? Perfection. Jesus said, "Be perfect as my Father in heaven is perfect". You say, "Well, how can I live that way? No one's perfect". No, that's where Jesus comes in. That's why I need Jesus, because I fell short of God's glory, because I intentionally crossed that line, and fell short of his standards, I need a Savior. And a person will say, "Well, I don't think I've sinned". And I might ask them, "Well, have you ever broken any of the ten commandments"? "No". "You're breaking one right now, 'Thou shall not lie,' right"?
In fact, this is exactly what Jesus did with someone that we call the rich young ruler in the Bible. So he came up to Jesus, he's wealthy, he's young, he's successful, he has a super cool customized chariot, lowered custom wheels, holding a lavender latte, I don't think they had those back then. But what is the deal with lavender and lattes now with oat milk? Okay, so anyway, no, it was matcha, he had matcha, right? Even better, matcha. So he's standing there. I had a matcha earlier. I actually like it quite a bit, I'm not mocking it. But anyway, he says, "Teacher, good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life"? You think Jesus will say, "Hey buddy, I need you on the team". And so he says, "You know the commandments"? And he lists some of the commandments, and the guy says, "All of these I've kept since I've been a young man".
And we read, Jesus loved him. He looked at him and loved him. It would've made more sense if we read that Jesus looked at him and smacked him, because this young man had not kept the commandments from his youth, that was a lie. Why did Jesus quote the commandments to him? Because by keeping the ten commandments and living a good life, I can get to heaven? No. He quoted the commandments to show this man he fell short. The commandments are not given to make me righteous, they're given to show me I'm not righteous. The commandments are like a moral mirror. You ever looked in the mirror and not like what you see? I have a magnifying mirror at home.
So I shaved this morning, thank you very much. And I thought, "I'm good. I'm clean shaven". Then I looked in the magnifying mirror, I missed spots, what is that all about? That's an old man thing, right? See an old man, why did you miss that spot? 'Cause he needs a magnifying mirror. So I look in God's magnifying mirror and I see myself as I really am, and I say, "Oh, man, I fall miserably short of God's standards". The commandments show me I need Christ. They open my eyes and they shut my mouth. A person will say, "But I'm a good person". And you know, there are good people. I've met good people who are not Christians.
Let me say something that might surprise you. I've met non-Christians that I think are better people than some Christians I know. And when I say better, I mean they're kinder, they're more considerate, and the kind of a person who, if your tire was flat, they'd help you change your tire, while the Christian would say, "I'll be praying about it, bye". They'll actually help you. I've met non-believers who are moral, they have integrity, they live an upright life, and I'm very impressed by that, so they're good people in a broad sense. So it's not a question of if you're a good person or not, the issue is, are you good enough? Are you good enough to get to heaven? And the answer is absolutely not. No one is, because heaven is not for good people, heaven is for forgiven people, and one sin is enough to keep you out of heaven.
So we need to share this news with people, and then we also need to tell them the whole story. There is the promise of heaven. Here's the problem. We'll say to someone, "Listen, Jesus can come into your life and forgive you of all of your sin and fill that void deep inside of you and give you purpose and meaning". Is that true? Yes. Is that the whole gospel? No. It's an important part, but it's not all of it. It's the same thing Jesus said to the woman at the well, "Drink of the water I give, you'll never thirst again". He's appealing to her inner thirst, but there's also an afterlife, there's also a future judgment. And just as surely as there is the promise of heaven, the Bible warns of hell. In fact, Jesus spoke more about hell than all the other preachers of the Bible put together.
You say, if I bring that up, man, that would kill the conversation. Yeah, but that's still the gospel because you might be sharing with someone, "Well, Jesus has changed my life and he has given me joy and purpose and peace". And the person says, "I'm good, man, I don't need that. I'm pretty happy with my life". So the non-believer asks you, "So what happens to me when I die"? "Do you like warm climates"? Wait, tell 'em. Well, I'll tell you what happens, "You reject the promise of Jesus Christ, you'll face judgment in a place called hell". "Ooh, really"? How could a God of love send someone to hell? That's the question, isn't it? But the simple answer is God doesn't send anyone to hell. Hell is not created for people, according to Jesus, it was prepared for the devil and his angels.
The last thing Christ wants is for any man or woman made in his image to spend eternity separated from him in hell. That is why Jesus died on the cross for our sin, you see. And so we have to tell 'em that, listen to this, Jude 1:23 says, "Rescue some by snatching them from the flames of judgment". Listen, some people need the hell scared out of 'em, they really do. Now, I know we've heard, "Oh, I don't like all these hellfire and brimstone preachers out there". Really? I haven't heard one in a long time, have you? Go watch television and the preachers, when is the last time you heard a hellfire and brimstone message? Probably not in a long time. I'm not saying we should only talk about hell, like you're at Harvest, it's all hell all the time. But I'm not gonna back away from it.
And when I speak in a crusade, I'm not gonna delete hell 'cause I might offend someone, because if I don't give them the whole counsel of God, I'll be held accountable for that, you see. So I have to tell 'em. But I don't say it with a smile on my face, I warn them of it. That's the gospel message. But here's the heartbeat of the gospel, it's the cross of Jesus Christ, that's where the power is. Sometimes in our attempts to crossover, we don't bring the cross over, and a crossless message is not the gospel.
Paul said in 1 Corinthians 2:1, "When I came to you, brothers, I didn't come with eloquence or superior wisdom, for I'm resolved to know nothing else among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified". And then Paul said in 1 Corinthians 1:17, "Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel," listen, "Not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power". If I don't give this message as God gives it in scripture, you have a powerless message. Paul said, "The message of the cross is to those who are perishing foolishness, but to us who believe it is the power of God".
Listen to what I'm saying to you right now. What I've shared with you in this message, and I'm sure you've heard these things before, but what I've shared with you, if you will take these truths and implement them, you are already armed and dangerous in a good way, to use these truths to share with others. Someone once asked the great British preacher C.H Spurgeon if he could sum up the gospel. He says, "Yes, I can sum it up in four words. Christ died for me, that's it". Can you remember that? Of course you can. Christ died for me, that's the essential gospel message.
I watched a video this last week, Gigi Tchividjian, one of the daughters of Billy Graham, was talking about her last moments with her father, he wasn't long for this world, he was on his deathbed, and she was spending time with him holding his hand, and he would fall asleep, then he would wake up for a moment and fall back asleep. So when he was sleeping, she quiet easily, carefully slipped her hand out from under his and was walking toward the door, had her hand on the doorknob, and she heard a voice, the voice of her father say, "Gigi," she said, "Yes, daddy". He said, "There's something I want you to focus on". She said, "What do you want me to focus on"? And Billy said, "I want you to continue to focus on the person of Christ and on the cross of Christ".
Wow, that's Billy Graham for you. And he said something like that to me years ago when I was in his home in Montreat, North Carolina. We had had lunch and I turned to him and said, "Billy, if an older Billy could speak to a younger Billy, what would you say to yourself? What would you tell a younger version of you what you should speak on more"? Without missing a beat says, "I would preach more on the cross and the blood of Christ, because that's where the power is". I never forgot that. And you shouldn't forget it either.