You have heard the saying that it is possible to “win the battle and lose the war.” That sometimes characterizes our evangelistic efforts. If evangelism is a debate, then we can win if we just have good enough arguments… but we may lose the opportunity to connect with that person again. Evangelism is not a contest to see who can give the best argument.
Scripture speaks specifically to this situation. “Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity. Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned, as it were, with salt, so that you may know how you should respond to each person” (Col. 4:5-6). There is supposed to be a gracious spirit about our conversation when we evangelize. The gospel might be offensive but we don’t have to be (1 Corinthians 1:23; Galatians 5:11).
With that in mind, there are several principles that should govern our thinking:
1. You can’t argue someone into God’s family. Our job is simply to deliver the message with passion and commitment to others. We don’t have control over another person’s response to the gospel.
2. A person’s salvation is not dependent on how good you argue… redemption is the work of the Spirit of God and the Word of God. You don’t have to be a master debater in order to do evangelism.
3. A non-Christian is not your enemy… don’t fight with them. They are not the problem… sin is. Regardless of how bad a person might be, they are an individual for whom Christ died.
4. We have an unfair advantage. The gospel which is “the power of God unto salvation” (Romans 1:16). It doesn’t matter how smart we are or how good we debate. God’s Word is far more powerful than anything we could say.
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