Often, the majority of
effective witnessing is listening. After a nonbelieving friend has viewed The
Passion, engage him or her in
conversation. I suggest two simple questions you can ask:
First ask, “What
did you think?” People’s response to this simple question
will likely reveal the level of their understanding concerning Jesus
and His saving work. Nonbelievers are in a variety of spiritual
conditions. Some are seeking spiritual truth. Others are indifferent
or even hostile. We need the Holy Spirit’s wisdom to respond
appropriately to each person.
Then ask, “How
did you feel?” This question will address people on an emotional
level and give you a sense of how the Holy Spirit is dealing with
Let people talk …
and listen carefully! The conversation can lead to discussing two
more critical questions.
Who and why
In their preaching, both Peter and Paul addressed two vital questions
about Jesus. Peter’s preaching in the Book of Acts3
always answers these two basic questions: Who was Jesus? Why did
He give His life? Paul answered the same two questions when speaking
to the Jews, but in the opposite order: “According to Paul’s
custom, he went to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them
from the Scriptures, explaining and giving evidence that the
Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying, ‘This Jesus whom I am proclaiming
to you is the Christ.’”4
To the Corinthians, Paul wrote that his message was simply “Jesus
Christ, and Him crucified.”5
Being prepared to discuss
these same two questions will equip a person to simply but effectively
share Christ with those who have attended The Passion.
They are the two most penetrating questions a person can consider.
In recent years, Jesus has been a prominent focus of attention
in the media. Cover stories about Jesus have appeared in almost
all major national news magazines. Television programs and miniseries
have featured Bible characters — especially Jesus.
has been produced with great care to be true to the New Testament
record. Other accounts of Christ’s life by secular media almost
invariably question or even deny outright the historical reliability
and accuracy of the four Gospels. Jesus is sometimes presented as
just a mythical figure. At other times He is shown as a historical
person, possibly as a great teacher or even a prophet — but
only a man.
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Jesus was much more than
a teacher and prophet. He was God in human form who was conceived
by the Holy Spirit, born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, died
for our sins and conquered death by rising again to offer us the
gift of everlasting life.
If Jesus Christ was not
who He claimed to be, if He is not the crucified and risen Son of
God, then as the apostle Paul declared, our faith is useless. Paul
wrote, “There is one God and one mediator between God and
men, the man Christ Jesus.”6
did He give His life?
The Jews and the Romans cannot be blamed for Jesus’
death. His life was not taken from Him. He gave it. Jesus said,
“The Father loves Me because I give
My life, so I can receive it again. No person takes it away from
Me, but I give it because I choose to give it. I have the authority
to give it, and I have the authority to take it again.”7
John the Baptist clearly
announced the purpose of Jesus’ mission in coming to earth
when he said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the
sin of the world!”8
Jesus gave His life because each of us has sinned and is separated
from God. The punishment for sin is death.9
The death the Bible is talking about is not just our body dying.
It means our spirit, which lives forever, will be in everlasting
punishment in hell. Jesus explained that hell is like a “lake
of fire,” and that everyone who goes there is separated from
God forever and burns in fire that never ends.10
But, God made a way to
forgive us, save us from everlasting punishment and bring about
His plan for our lives. He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to pay the
penalty for our sins. Jesus was born as a man, but He lived His
life without sin. Men lied about Him and judged Him guilty of things
He had never done. Then they hanged Him on a cross to die. Jesus
never sinned, but He was punished for sin. So death had no power
over Him, and He came back to life after three days.11
Now He gives everlasting life to anyone who receives Him.
To nonbelievers with no Christian background, I suggest first focusing
on the question "Who was Jesus?" in a historical context,
speaking of Jesus incarnate in human form 2,000 years ago, before
progressing to "Who is Jesus?" — the living, resurrected