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Called to Win Souls - not Arguments

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We’ve seen it over and over again: Christians with a desire to share their faith getting into heated debates with non-believers. Far too often, these debates are about everything besides the main issue of the gospel - Jesus Christ. There’s a question I’ve been thinking about that should cause us to rethink our evangelism: what would we accomplish if we “won” the last 5 debates we’ve had with unbelievers?

Think about the last conversation you’ve had with an unbeliever about spiritual things - what was the main subject of the discussion? If you had completely convinced them of your side of the argument, would they have been born again in that moment? Maybe the topic was important, but was it focused on the Jesus and the Gospel?

We have so much to learn from Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus in John 3:1-21. One of the main parts of that passage that makes me rethink my evangelism tactics is verses 11-15:

“11 Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know, and bear witness to what we have seen, but you do not receive our testimony. 12 If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things? 13 No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. 14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.”

Jesus made the issue about Himself and what it means to be born again. He could have discussed with Nicodemus the work of the Holy Spirit (it’s what Nicodemus inquired about in John 3:9), but He knew that Nicodemus could not understand those things unless he was first “born again.” Nicodemus first approached Jesus because he wanted to ask Jesus about the signs He was performing. Jesus could have gotten into a conversation about where He gets the power and authority for such signs, but He completely redirected the conversation to the issue of being born again. Why?

Jesus knew that the thing that Nicodemus needed before he could understand or believe anything else, was to believe in Him. This wasn’t about winning a debate, it was about winning a soul and debates don’t do that - the Holy Spirit through Gospel proclamation does.

So the next time your conversation with an unbeliever shifts to anything besides Jesus and the Gospel, bring it back to the main thing. Those other topics are highly important, but they are secondary. Furthermore, lost people will not understand spiritual matters until they are first born again - we can’t have spiritual conversations with spiritually dead people. They need the power of the Holy Spirit to work in their hearts to being them to life as the Gospel is proclaimed. In the words of Jesus, “unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3).

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