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How to Witness to Atheist’s with Grace and Truth

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Do you struggle when talking with atheist’s about your faith, Jesus, the Bible, the Gospel, etc? Sometimes it can be a challenge with witnessing to atheist’s, and how to share the faith with each person is not always the same. Not all atheists are like Richard Dawkins, but all atheists are like Richard Dawkins in that they have been deceived believing there is no God, Bible is not relevant and that it does not matter if you believe in Jesus or not. I have witnessed to people who are like Richard Dawkins, and that can be a challenge but not impossible. The reality is that everyone is different and how we share the gospel with people will at times vary depending on the person.

Over the years I have learned 3 important lessons on how to effectively share the gospel and witness to atheist’s about who Jesus is. In Colossians 4:2-6 we are encouraged to be devoted to prayer and to pray for one another, to conduct ourselves with wisdom toward atheist’s (non-Christians), to make the most of our opportunities, and to speak words of grace seasoned with salt so that we know how to respond to each person.  Evangelism is not a formula, but a way of life when lived out in our daily lives.

The 3 key lessons to be learned from Colossians 4:2-6 on evangelism and reaching the lost with the message of Jesus Christ will help you in how to witness to atheist’s and non-Christians.  The first lesson is to be devoted in prayer with alertness.  The second lesson is how we conduct ourselves towards non-Christians with wisdom in our words and our actions.  The third lesson is how to share the gospel with grace seasoned with salt.   Many Christians do not realize how simple it is to share their faith and their testimony.  But there is hope on how to make the most of our opportunities in our everyday lives.  A close friend and brother in Christ used to say to me that it is not about our ability, but about our availability.

Problem With Evangelism

Evangelism for some Christians can be difficult, fearful, and hard to apply in their daily lives.  I believe one of the main problems when it comes to evangelism is the heart of the believer.   Listening to a sermon preached by K. P. Yohannan at church some years ago I remember him asking some very specific questions.  K. P. asked, how many of you believe the Bible is the Word of God? Literally all hands went up in agreement that the Bible is the Word of God.  K. P. then asked, how many of you believe that Jesus is Lord, that He died upon the cross and rose again, and that salvation is found only in Him? Again, all hands went up in agreement. K. P. then asked, how many of you believe that a person who is not a Christian goes to hell when they die? Again, all hands went up in agreement. K. P. then asked, how many of you are sharing Jesus with lost people?  Very few hands went up.  

Evangelism for Christians does not seem to be a genuine concern.  This is not describing all Christians, but this is very common among Christians with their lack of sharing the faith.  It has been suggested that 95-97% of Christians do not share their faith![1]  Why is evangelism so low among Christians?   To have a heart for the lost is to know what we have been saved from.

Making The Most Of Your Opportunities

Prayer should be first in all that say and do, especially when it comes to sharing our faith with atheist’s (non-Christians).  What does it mean to be devoted to prayer keeping alert with an attitude of thanksgiving (Colossians 4:2)?  Bible scholar W. E. Vines wrote being devoted (proskartereo) in prayer means to continue steadfastly, to be strong toward, and to persevere in.[2] Prayer is not something suggested to take place once in a while, but to be a way of life for our daily well being and our communication with the Lord.  W. E. Vines also states to be alert means to be keeping awake, to be watchful, and to be vigilant in prayer with a spiritual alertness.[3]  Paul wrote in Ephesians 6:18: “With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints.”  Prayer is more than words.  Prayer is being thankful in our everyday lives while trusting the Lord (Philippians 4:6-8).

In Colossians 4:3-4 we see that Paul asks for prayer himself for the doors to open for him while being imprisoned for the faith, and for guidance in how he ought to speak for the mystery of Christ.  Paul demonstrates humility and unity among believers, and this shows the power of prayer for Christians to pray for one another in the opportunities they have to share the gospel.  Paul said in 1 Corinthians 3:6-9 that one plants, one waters, and God is the one causes the growth.  Paul also said in 1 Corinthians 12:14, “For the body is not one member, but many.”  Prayer demonstrates our reliance upon the Lord and not in ourselves, and the body of Christ unites together in prayer to glorify the Lord and see people come to know Jesus personally.

Paul wrote in Colossians 4:5, “conduct yourselves with wisdom towards outsiders,” what does that mean?  William MacDonald states:  “Christians should walk in wisdom toward those who are outside.  In their everyday behavior, they should realize that they are being carefully watched by unbelievers.  The world is more interested in our walk than in our talk.”[4] The second key to being an effective witness is being aware of how you conduct yourself to those around you, and how to do so with wisdom.  What kind of wisdom?  This wisdom is, “the knowledge of how to regulate one’s relationship with God.”[5] In Colossians 1:9-10 Paul prayed for them to be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding so that they would walk in a worthy manner unto the Lord.  Paul wrote in Colossians 2:3 that in Christ are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.  Paul wrote in Colossians 3:16 for the word of Christ to richly dwell within you with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another.  Therefore this wisdom is found in Christ, and Christians are to walk in Him and in His words on a daily basis making the most of their opportunities.  

A third key lesson on evangelism is speaking with grace and having our words seasoned with salt so that we may know how to respond to each person (Colossians 4:6). There are 2 important applications in this verse.  The first one is that our speech is to be spoken in grace.  Grace means undeserved kindness or something that is given unconditionally.  When someone comes to know Jesus personally they experience His grace and understand that they have been saved not of their own merits or righteousness, but saved based upon what Jesus Christ has done for them through His death and His resurrection (Romans 5:6-9; 10:9-13).  Grace is a gift, a free gift, and it is not earned.  Paul wrote in Romans 6:23 that the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of eternal life is in Christ Jesus.  Paul also wrote that we are saved by grace through faith in Jesus, that it is the gift of God, and it is not a result of our works (Ephesians 2:8-9). Therefore speaking words of grace should naturally flow from our mouth when speaking to atheist’s (non-Christians).  Second, our words should be seasoned with salt. Salt preserves foods and enlightens the taste of foods.  When sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ with atheist’s (non-Christians) our words should be leading them to a genuine relationship with Jesus, and in our conversations helping them better understand what it means to know Jesus Christ.  The lesson of grace is to know what you have been saved from, and to be gracious to those around you who need to know Jesus Christ personally. 

Conclusion

Making the most of our opportunities is for the whole body of Christ.  Evangelism is not something only pastors to do or for those who are called to be evangelists.  Every Christian has a testimony to share of who are in Christ, which can be very effective when witnessing to atheist’s and non-Christians, even people like Richard Dawkins.   

It is a matter of the heart, prayer, and obedience.  Jesus said go to all nations and make disciples (Matthew 28:19-20). Peter taught that we are to sanctify Christ as Lord in our hearts and to always be ready to give an answer to everyone who asks us of the hope that is in us with gentleness and respect (1 Peter 3:15).  There are many instructions in the Old and New Testament on being lights in a dark world pointing people to know the Lord, but are we willing to obey?  

We need to learn how to set our minds on the things above, for they are much better (Colossians 3:1-4).  Paul asked for the Colossians to pray for him to have the words to share when he spoke to people.  We should also pray for one another, and we should ask for people to pray for us.  May we heed what Paul said in Colossians 3:17:  “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.”  If we do this, we will be people of prayer and we will make the most of our opportunities. 


[1]William McRaney Jr., The Art of Personal Evangelism, (Nashville, Tennessee: B&H Publishing Group, 2003), 5.

[2]W. E. Vines, The Collected Writings of W. E. Vine, (Nashville, Tennessee:  Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1996), 371.

[3]W. E. Vines, New Testament Word Pictures, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2015), 594.

[4]William MacDonald, Believers Bible Commentary, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1990), 2016.

[5]Spiros Zodhiates, NASB Hebrew-Greek Key Word Study Bible, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 1990), 1875.

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