As Easy As ABCBy Dan Vis
June 18, 2017
Many years ago, when I was first being discipled, I was asked to write out my testimony--and given various tips on how to do that effectively. And then, once everyone in our team was ready, a special meeting was scheduled to role play sharing our testimony conversationally with three people we didn't know, one after the other. In time, the designated evening rolled around, and I went to it, ready to share my story.
All three presentations went reasonably well, but the third one ended with a twist. My partner turned to me once I had finished and said something like this: "Wow, that's a great story, Dan. I would love to have an experience like that. Could you tell ME how to become a Christian?"
I was caught by surprise. I stumbled around awkwardly trying to come up with some response--but soon realized I was woefully unprepared. My answer came out confused, and garbled; my ideas disconnected and jumbled. I had plenty of information about the Gospel, but I didn't have a good presentation.
That was, of course, the exact purpose of the exercise: to show those of us being trained our need. Learning to share the plan of salvation was the next objective in our training, and the experience was designed to make me eager to learn more. It worked!
Over the years, now, I've met thousands in exactly the same situation. They may be able to argue tiny details of theology--but when it comes to telling a friend how to come to Christ, they are at a loss for words. I suspect it is one of the major reasons many believers are reluctant to share. They don't have a simple, yet compelling way to present the plan of salvation.
The ABC's of the Bible
I've spent countless hours examining this question, and have become convinced what's needed today is less focus on theological wrangling and more focus on applying the Gospel practically. That is, our churches would be healthier, if we were more intentional about equipping our members to share the gospel clearly and simply to unbelievers. Notice this quote:
[We] need to have a more clear, simple manner in presenting the truth as it is in Jesus . . . There are many who want to know what they must do to be saved. They want a plain and clear explanation of the steps requisite in conversion. Evangelism, p. 188
After experimenting with different presentations myself, I finally settled on one I call the ABC's of the Bible. It's easy to learn, and easy to share, and I've used it many times myself. You may find it helpful too!
The letters stand for the following three words:
A. Admit - Admit we have sinned.
B. Believe - Believe Christ died for us.
C. Claim - Claim the promised Holy Spirit.
There's quite a story behind how I stumbled on to this, but there shouldn't have been. It is essentially the same Gospel Peter preached on the day of Pentecost.
Remember when his listeners cried out: "Men and brethren, what shall we do?" (Acts 2:37Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?). His answer consists of three main steps: "Repent, and be baptized every one of you [ADMIT] in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins [BELIEVE], and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost [CLAIM]" (Acts 2:38Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.). Different words, same basic process.
The Roman Road
Sometimes I call this the Roman Road, because it is easy to attach a few key verses to this outline from the book of Romans. Sharing the Gospel is then just walking through a single book of the Bible. Here are the verses I like to use:
For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.
These verses are all short and easy to memorize. And you can use them to quickly highlight the critical points: We have all sinned. Jesus died for us. His Spirit is supposed to lead in our new life. It's about as tidy as you are going to get.
Looking at it from a different perspective. The ABC's of the Bible address three common obstacles that keep people from coming to Christ.
1) I'm not a bad person...
It's easy to compare ourselves with others and think everything is ok. Or that if we do enough good things, we would somehow deserve eternal life. As a result many don't see their true need. It's only when we begin to understand the holiness of God, that we can see how far short we have fallen. Or as another verse in Romans puts it: "There is none righteous, no, not one" (Romans 3:10As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:). We must admit our need.
2) God could never forgive me...
Some go to the other extreme. They see their need clearly, but struggle to believe God could forgive them. The enormity of their guilt, and their inability to correct themselves, have driven thousands to despair. The only true path to forgiveness is the sacrifice of Jesus. "Being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ" (Romans 5:1Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:). We must believe He died for us.
3) All I have to do is believe...
Another common misconception is that as long as you believe, you can live however you want. But faith in the Bible is more than intellectual assent to some historical fact. It is a living connection that taps into transforming power through the indwelling Spirit. A connection that should lead and direct us day by day. "If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his" (Romans 8:9But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.). We must claim this promised Spirit.
The ABC's, of course, are just one approach to sharing the plan of salvation. The Bible itself uses many types and symbols. And if you do a bit of research, you will find plenty of other presentations. In fact, you may find one you like better! If so, great.
What is important, however, is that every believer has at least one presentation in their back pocket, ready to go. You never know when God will tap you on the shoulder and open the door for you to share with a friend.
All over the world men and women are looking wistfully to heaven. Prayers and tears and inquiries go up from souls longing for light, for grace, for the Holy Spirit. Many are on the verge of the kingdom, waiting only to be gathered in. Gods Amazing Grace, p. 26
CommentsWhat about you? Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you wanted to share something, but didn't quite know how? How important is it to "be ready always" to share our faith?
|Posted by Dan Vis on 06/25/17|
|God has used other illustrations like the Bridge and the 4 Spiritual Laws to reach many thousands of people. These and the ABC's definitely have a place in personal witnessing. But as you point out Ann, we must go on to do the follow-up work of discipling. The work of the Holy Spirit (the C) is to teach us God's principles and lead us into obedience (John 16:8,13And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: . . . Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.). Without the C, I don't believe the A & B are enough. Thanks for your thought!
5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
|Posted by Dan Vis on 06/23/17|
|I'd forgotten that verse was in Peter's sermon at Pentecost, Debbie. Very cool. I've found it quite illuminating to trace the ABC's (and D) through that sermon...|
|Posted by Debbie Jones on 06/23/17|
|I hear you Dan! Thanks for the Romans 10:13For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. reference. It is so similar to Acts 2:21And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved. that I've memorized since beginning the Journey but falls in line with the Roman road. 😊 Love the D for decision as well.
Have a wonderful Sabbath when it comes.
|Posted by Dan Vis on 06/23/17|
|Great verse John! I think it makes that point quite eloquently. Along with Daniel 12:3And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever....
Debbie, you are exactly right. I didn't mention, but in my mind, I always add D for Decide. And I just scoot right on over to Romans 10:13For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.. It is a nice transition to making the appeal.
But that's a whole other subject, for a future blog post. Or maybe even a whole challenge. Have been wanting to put together a course on this for a long time. Just haven't been able to squeeze it in. One of these days...
|Posted by John Gilmore on 06/23/17|
|I just reviewed Proverbs 11:30The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise., which confirms in my mind your point that we need action, not just knowledge.|
|Posted by Laurie Wissink on 06/20/17|
|Interesting! I just shared this Bible study at Vespers two weeks ago. (Using my marked Bible from one of your training lessons). This memo will make a great follow up!|
|Posted by Angie Leimena on 06/20/17|
|Hi Lilian. Great we are in the same mindset. Thank you for commenting.|
|Posted by Lillian E. Cepeda on 06/19/17|
|The ABC outline it's very simple and easy to grasp.
I have been in similar situations. We are caught up so much in the Bible theology that we forget to present the Author of it. I like this presentation and I intend to be prepared for a next time, which I hope would be soon. I will share this challenge with some of my friends that are looking to learn how to present Christ to others.
Thank you, ~dan
|Posted by Angie Leimena on 06/19/17|
|Hi Dan, thank you for the out line. It provide clearness. As we all hope to share correctly, to me so crucial to realise "it's only when we begin to understand the holiness of God, that we can see how far short we have fallen. Or as another verse in Romans puts it: "There is none righteous, no, not one" (Romans 3:10As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:). We must admit our need". Thank you to point this, to prepare my spirit and focus with the correct perspective. Please give more. Thank you again.|
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