The Expository Files


A Conversation Leading To Conversion 

John 1:43-51

Many Christians I have met through the years have an unjustified fear of talking to others about the Bible or, specifically, Jesus Christ. Many have told me that they are afraid they will not know what to say, some have told me they don't know where to start, and others still have told me they are simply "too busy" to take out the time to teach a lost soul. Too busy? But I believe that these are, for the most part, simply poor excuses for avoiding what is not such a dreadful experience, after all. From all indications, the unnecessary fear is simply the result of rarely or - in far too many cases - never sitting down and talking to others about their soul.

But the matter of what we call "personal evangelism" is not as difficult as our minds make it out to be. Talking to others about their souls is really a simple task and can be done in a matter of minutes. Yes, it may lead to hours-long discussions, but if you need assistance, I am sure there are many willing volunteers who will be glad to help you if you need it. Many good brothers and sisters would love to sit down with you, if for no other reason than moral support, so we should utilize these opportunities instead of letting them slip by.

And when it comes to the starting point - that should not be so difficult, either. I believe if we consider a short passage of Scripture, we may see for ourselves how simple it really is. In this text, we see a simple conversation between two men [and then a third], but the result is the salvation of a soul. Let's follow this example!

First, the Believer Tells the Unbeliever He Has Found Jesus. (vv. 43-45) In the context, Philip found Nathanael [that means he was looking for him] and said, "We have found Him of whom Moses in the law, and also the prophets, wrote - Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph." Wasn't that simple? Philip did not go into a lengthy oration that demonstrated his voluminous vocabulary and he didn't try to bamboozle Nathanael with difficult theological theories and lectures; he simply told him about what all believers have discovered: Jesus!

We need to quit fretting over all the possible questions we might face when speaking to unbelievers and simply tell them about the first thing they need to hear: our Savior. When Philip the evangelist met the Ethiopian eunuch, he began at the Scripture where the eunuch had been reading and taught him Jesus (Acts 8:35ff) - nothing more and nothing less. We can do the same.

Then, Skepticism is Answered. (vv. 46-48) When Philip told Nathanael about Jesus, Nathanael didn't jump up and run after Him; he had some serious doubts about this man called Jesus and even made some very disparaging remarks. But Philip didn't hang his head and say to himself, "I knew he'd never listen"; no, Philip said, "Come and see."

In this regard, I believe we often will simply give up too quickly when others seem skeptical about our faith. Often, at the first sign we get that people are uninterested, we surrender and give up without a shot being fired. Why? Do we not realize we are in a battle for souls? Are we giving up this easily? Don't do it! Keep in mind that this soul may be skeptical because, like Nathanael, he simply does not know the Jesus we know. Many people today have some idea of Jesus or even their own [misguided] view of Jesus, but it is not the correct view of Jesus [the Jesus of Scripture]. Don't assume they are completely uninterested; it may just be that they don't have enough knowledge to make a reasoned decision. Give them the opportunity to gain the knowledge they need by asking them what Philip asked: "Come and see."

And when Philip came to Jesus, Jesus gave him the irrefutable evidence that He was, indeed, the Christ. To Nathanael, Jesus said, "Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you." Jesus did not enter into a long discussion of unimportant issues or even issues of lesser importance; Jesus gave him the evidence he needed to be convinced.

Again, let us follow the example found here as we go out and teach the lost. Let us not seek a fight, but a discussion; let us not seek to prove ourselves right, but to prove that Jesus is the Christ. Let us get right to the point and give the lost what they need to know, and let us use logic and reason as we present our evidence that God has given us. We cannot afford to use unsound arguments and "traditional" defenses; since every soul is important, we must handle the word of God rightly and argue reasonably and logically and answer their every skepticism. That is not to say we start "chasing rabbits" like answering "What happened to dinosaurs?" but answer from the Scriptures the doubts they may have. Once answered, it is then they are without excuse for obeying the gospel.

Confession and Conversion. (v. 49) In this particular example, when Nathanael heard the words of Jesus [the irrefutable evidence], he said, "Rabbi, You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!" Without a doubt, Nathanael believed in Jesus and he was truly converted. [Understand the new covenant is not yet in effect.] No, not everyone will be convinced as easily as Nathanael, but you never know!

Yes, we live in difficult times and I know few really want to hear about Jesus, but I also know there are lost souls still out there who are looking for the truth and looking for salvation. Who will tell them of Jesus? I do not know which ones will believe and which ones will remain skeptical and neither do you, but that is the point of this article: tell everyone! Some may "come and see" and some may refuse; some may be convicted in their hearts and some hearts will coldly reject the plain evidence; some may confess Christ as their Lord and some will continue to deny Him. But that is not under your control. Speaking to them is, though.

Why not tell someone about Jesus today?


By Steven C. Harper
From Expository Files 12.11; November 2005