One of the most effective evangelists I have ever known was a fellow who ran a service station in Arlington, Massachusetts, a suburb of Boston. He never spent a day in seminary or took one course in a Bible institute, but his Bible was well-worn and open near his cash register. He regularly dealt with souls who came into his place of business. He’s now changed locations, but you can be sure, he is still a faithful witness.
This man doesn’t nitpick when he shares the gospel. He focuses on the life of Christ, the hope of eternal life by faith in the Lord, and then he lets the Lord do the work in bringing results. In marvelous wisdom and love he presents the most attractive and encouraging message of eternal life. Through the years, hundreds of people came to know Christ at that little gas station, thanks to this consistent man who leaves the results with God.
What a relief it was the day God convinced me that He doesn’t hold me responsible for how people respond to the gospel.
Your Job—and Mine
He holds you and me responsible for giving and living the gospel; what someone does with it is His business.
Think about the thief on the cross who hung there next to Jesus. If ever there was a deathbed conversion that was it! The thief lived his entire life as a sinner. As he hung on that cross with blood coming out of his hands and feet, he said, “Lord, remember me.” You know Jesus’s response by heart: “Today you shall be with Me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43).
From this scene we witness the exchange of death for life.
3 Truths About Conversion
The dialogue teaches us three important truths about conversion.
- No one is ever too far gone to become a Christian. Can you think of someone you’ve written off? “Oh, they will never come to know Christ. I’ve tried everything I know to win him, and he’s never going to respond.” When you’re tempted to think anyone is beyond the reach of grace, remember the criminal on the cross.
- Your godly life is the most effective tool of evangelism. Socrates once called words “stupid things.” I’ve never seen that more pronounced than when people force a witness with words. The real message is in your life. When your life draws the attention of lost people, you will have sufficient proof to back up the words you use. Let God do the work in their lives and in yours. When He does, you’ll be amazed at how He brings you the appropriate words . . . at just the right time.
- All that God requires and accepts is simple faith. What qualified the thief for heaven? He didn’t perform any good works to earn heaven. In no way did he prove himself worthy of eternal life. So, what had he done to receive eternal life? What did Jesus accept? Faith—simple, unadulterated, and unproven faith in the living Christ. That’s all God requires, and that’s all we can offer when we share Christ.
Like my friend in the little service station, be ready to share the wonderful truth of what God has done for you at every opportunity He provides—not just in the pulpit. God will give you the words of life to share with others right then and there.