There are friends that I have in my life who I know aren’t Christians. Maybe you have some of those friends too. I don’t really bring up my faith as much to them. Some don’t even know I’m a Christian, but I do my best to be a positive person in their life. It’s the hope in my doing that that they see Christianity as something positive through the Godly character and attitude I’ve displayed towards them as a Christian. But I’ve been pondering lately the question, “how do you convert an unbeliever?” What does scripture tell us or show us on how we can potentially successfully do that?
Well, let’s look at the examples of the Apostles. We had the first Christian converts in Acts 2. Now granted, it would be hard for anyone not to believe in God and decide to become saved after the people you see in front of you spoke in a native language of yours that there’s no possible way they could have just learned. But I would suggest to you that it wasn’t just the miracle. Apostle Peter spoke to them passionately about Jesus. You can read the full speech by Peter for yourself in Acts 2, but two particular verses I think are of important note
Act 2:36-37 states, “Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ—this Jesus whom you crucified.” 37 Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brethren, what shall we do?” I think it’s interesting here where it says they were pierced to the heart after Peter’s passionate plea to them about Jesus. Perhaps that suggests to us part of converting an unbeliever into a believer is appealing to them emotionally. Maybe we can speak to people with genuine passion about the truth of Christ and perhaps impact their hearts. Acts 9:28-29 states of Apostle Paul, “And he was with them, moving about freely in Jerusalem, speaking out boldly in the name of the Lord. 29 And he was talking and arguing with the Hellenistic Jews; but they were attempting to put him to death.” Hopefully you don’t necessarily have to argue with someone, but it continues with the point of speaking with some passion about Christ to others.
Persuasion and reason
Acts 17:1-4 states “Now when they had traveled through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews. 2 And according to Paul’s custom, he went to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures, 3 explaining and giving evidence that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying, “This Jesus whom I am proclaiming to you is the Christ.” 4 And some of them were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, along with a large number of the God-fearing Greeks and a number of the leading women.”
Acts 18:4 states “And he was reasoning in the synagogue every Sabbath and trying to persuade Jews and Greeks.”
When you observe Acts you see often Apostle Paul trying to persuade people to the truth of Christ. In a sense one could say that was what Apostle Peter was doing back in those verses we looked at in Acts 2 as well. An important thing to recognize is Apostle Paul was doing his persuading through the scripture. He was reasoning with them based on what scripture said. Perhaps it’s an indication to us that’s the most powerful tool we can use. Scripture has a lot of the answers to the deeper questions a lot of unbelievers (and sometimes believers) have about life, the world, believing in God etc. We just have to study up and learn these answers to help people understand and see that Christ is the way.
1 Cor 14:24 states, “But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or an ungifted man enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all; 25 the secrets of his heart are disclosed; and so he will fall on his face and worship God, declaring that God is certainly among you.” As you know, I have my own questions about people who profess to have an ability to perform miraculous gifts. However, anyway God wants to go about someone becoming saved is a great thing. So with this verse I conclude by all means if someone can prophesy to an unbeliever that enters their local assembly, go ahead, and then as the verse states the secret of that person’s heart will be disclosed and turn to worshiping God. That would be welcomed and quite amazing.
Acts 18:6 states, “But when they resisted and blasphemed, he shook out his garments and said to them, “Your blood be on your own heads! I am clean. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.”
Acts 19:8-9 states, “And he entered the synagogue and continued speaking out boldly for three months, reasoning and persuading them about the kingdom of God. 9 But when some were becoming hardened and disobedient, speaking evil of the Way before the people, he withdrew from them and took away the disciples, reasoning daily in the school of Tyrannus.”
Acts 28:24-27 states, “Some were being persuaded by the things spoken, but others would not believe. 25 And when they did not agree with one another, they began leaving after Paul had spoken one parting word, “The Holy Spirit rightly spoke through Isaiah the prophet to your fathers, 26 saying,
‘Go to this people and say,
“You will keep on hearing, but will not understand;
And you will keep on seeing, but will not perceive;
27 For the heart of this people has become dull,
And with their ears they scarcely hear,
And they have closed their eyes;
Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
And hear with their ears,
And understand with their heart and return,
And I would heal them.”’
As we can see in these verses, Apostle Paul walked away or people walked away at times. You had lots of people speaking out against the Apostles throughout Acts as they were sharing the gospel. It seems pretty harsh to think that you should walk away as if you’re giving up on someone, but it’s not a matter of you giving up on anyone. It’s a matter of ultimately everyone has to decide on their own to obey the gospel after you’ve given them the truth. The simple fact is some unbelievers aren’t going to become believers, and that’s just a reality we have to accept. But hopefully we can help as many as possible choose to become saved.
As I expressed in the beginning of this post, I do my best to be a positive person in every person’s life I encounter. In doing that I hope they can see Christianity as something positive through the Godly character and attitude I’ve displayed towards them as a Christian. Apostle Paul seemed to suggest this way of interaction with others to Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:24-26. Perhaps it’s an example we can all do our best to reflect in an effort to be helpful in the conversion of unbelievers.
2 Timothy 2:24-26 “The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, 25 with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, 26 and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.”
Peace to all those who are in Christ.