I once heard a speaker say this about Lutherans and evangelism: “We Lutherans have a great theology. We can teach all day about what Christianity is and what the Bible says and what it means to be a Christian and so forth. But we are not very good at evangelism. When someone becomes interested in believing in Jesus, most of us do not know how to invite them into the faith. We are not very good at closing the deal.” That is a rather crude way to put it, but I know what he means, and I am sure you do too.
The most famous evangelist of the 20th century was Billy Graham. He proclaimed the Gospel to more people than anyone else in history. And he knew how to ‘close the deal.’ After his sermon he would invite people to come forward and give their lives to Jesus Christ. Trained helpers would be up front to pray with them, and they would be saved. It was a simple method– sometimes too simple. Many theologians and pastors didn’t like it, it confused many people, and many ‘conversions’ did not even last until the new convert got to the parking lot. But millions of lives were changed, just like Louis Zamperini’s in yesterday’s meditation (#633).
Today’s meditation contains the entire four-step system used by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association since 1954, reprinted from:
During Billy Graham’s landmark 1954 London Crusade, his team developed a simple system to bring people to faith known as Steps to Peace with God. Since that time, and in various printed and electronic forms, this clear presentation of how to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and experience peace with God has been translated into dozens of languages and shared with millions of people. Steps to Peace with God is natural overflow of the Gospel message Billy Graham has given around the world. It clearly conveys God’s love, forgiveness, and plan for each person’s life.
STEP 1: GOD’S PURPOSE: PEACE AND LIFE
God loves you and wants you to experience peace and life—abundant and eternal. The Bible says …
“We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
“I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”
Why don’t most people have this peace and abundant life that God planned for us to have?
STEP 2: THE PROBLEM: OUR SEPARATION
God created us in His own image to have an abundant life. He did not make us as robots to automatically love and obey Him. God gave us a will and a freedom of choice. We chose to disobey God and go our own willful way. We still make this choice today. This results in separation from God.
The Bible says …
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
People have tried in many ways to bridge this gap between themselves and God …
The Bible says …
“There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.”
“But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.”
No bridge reaches God … except one.
STEP 3: GOD’S BRIDGE: THE CROSS
Jesus Christ died on the cross and rose from the grave. He paid the penalty for our sin and bridged the gap between God and people.
The Bible says …
“For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Jesus Christ.”
—1 Timothy 2:5
“For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God.”
—1 Peter 3:18
“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
God has provided the only way. Each person must make a choice.
STEP 4: OUR RESPONSE: RECEIVE CHRIST
We must trust Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and receive Him by personal invitation.
The Bible says …
“Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.”
“Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.”
“That if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”
Where are you? Will you receive Jesus Christ right now?
Here is how you can receive Christ:
- Admit your need (I am a sinner).
- Be willing to turn from your sins (repent).
- Believe that Jesus Christ died for you on the cross and rose from the grave.
- Through prayer, invite Jesus Christ to come in and control your life through the Holy Spirit. (Receive Him as Lord and Savior.)
How to Pray:
Dear Lord Jesus, I know that I am a sinner, and I ask for Your forgiveness. I believe You died for my sins and rose from the dead. I turn from my sins and invite You to come into my heart and life. I want to trust and follow You as my Lord and Savior. In Your name. Amen.
God’s Assurance: His Word.
If you prayed this prayer, the Bible says …
“Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. ”
Did you sincerely ask Jesus Christ to come into your life? Where is He right now? What has He given you?
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.”
Receiving Christ, we are born into God’s family through the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit who indwells every believer. This is called regeneration, or the “new birth.”
This is just the beginning of a wonderful new life in Christ. To deepen this relationship you should: 1) Read your Bible everyday to know Christ better. 2) Talk to God in prayer every day. 3) Tell others about Christ. 4) Worship, fellowship, and serve with other Christians in a church where Christ is preached. 5) As Christ’s representative in a needy world, demonstrate your new life by your love and concern for others.
P. S. This four step system is not the only way to become a Christian. It is not the way I became a Christian. I was baptized into the faith as an infant, and though my walk has been far from perfect, I never left the faith. I did not have to go forward at a Billy Graham meeting, or any other kind of meeting, to become a Christian. Someone once asked Billy Graham if that kind of faith was valid, or if everyone had to have a ‘conversion experience’ as an adult. Billy Graham said, “Of course that is valid. That is how my wife Ruth became a Christian. She was born and baptized in a Presbyterian home and just grew up in the faith.” Billy Graham does not object to the way I came to faith, and I do not object to his way of evangelism. God uses all kinds of methods to bring us into his family.
D. L. Moody (1837-1899), the greatest evangelist of the 19th century, was once criticized for his methods of reaching people with the gospel. His reply was “I agree with you, I don’t like the way I do it either. Tell me how do you do it?” The woman who had criticized replied “I don’t do it.” To which Moody responded “Well, I like my way of doing it better than your way of not doing it.”