Taking Advantage of Conversation Prompts in Scripture :: Gospel Fellowship Association Missions

Taking Advantage of Conversation Prompts in Scripture

Forrest McPhail
2:39 read

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is an enigma. On the one hand, what Jesus did for us through His life, death, and resurrection is beyond our comprehension. On the other, the Gospel in its essence can be understood by small children. Its message is truly unique.

God has designed the message of the Good News of Jesus to be understood in every tongue and by all people. As cross-cultural missionaries, we understand the need to communicate this message clearly. We give ourselves to learning languages and cultures and looking for natural doors to conversations about spiritual things. We are serious about proclaiming Jesus well. That is our heart’s desire. For our moments of opportunity to speak, we can become more effective witnesses as we understand the many ways Scripture provides for us to approach the Gospel.

Taking Advantage of Brief Opportunities

Each of us wants to be as effective as we can be, to make the best use of our time and resources in service to Christ. All of us would agree that the best-case scenario for evangelism, no matter what the cultural context, is a regular Bible study or someone regularly attending church. Only then can we explain the Gospel thoroughly. But we also know that such Bible studies are relatively rare. Most of our opportunities for proclaiming the Gospel come through brief conversations. In our zeal for the best circumstances for evangelism, we can often miss moments of opportunity in many types of conversations.

Taking Advantage of Message Options

Some of us—through the way we were trained in evangelism, through our own lack of creativity, or through a misapplication of a strong desire for carefulness—greatly narrow our options in conversation. We might find ourselves always trying to explain the Gospel to unbelievers in exactly the same way.

For example, those of us convinced of the need to explain the Gospel through a Creation-to-Christ approach might think that we must begin with Genesis 1:1 and creation. Others, convinced of the power of the law to convict of sin and prepare hearts might rely exclusively on the Ten Commandments. Or we might use a learned formula such as the Romans Road, the Two Ways, the Four Spiritual Laws, or the standard question, “If you died today, do you know where you would spend eternity?” This tendency to choose a favorite approach for evangelistic encounters can work against us if we hesitate to speak unless we can give our presentation.

Using An Arsenal of Conversation Starters

God has provided a vast arsenal of conversation starters to help us express gospel truth. By His grace, we can pique the interest of some to hear more as we use these. Have you ever taken the time to study the New Testament to see the ways that the message of the Gospel or salvation through Jesus Christ is described? Have you identified the word pictures used to get at gospel truth? Such studies are eye-opening. Paths to a gospel conversation are numerous. Let’s explore this in the Gospel of John.

Using Conversation Prompts from the Gospel of John

The Gospel of John is my favorite book (at least for the last number of years). I greatly appreciate the many word pictures and comparisons found here. Each one is appropriate for us to use in conversations with unbelievers.

Jesus is Life, the Giver of Eternal Life.1

Jesus is the Light of the World.2

We must be born again spiritually to become children of God.3

The cross is representative of what Jesus came from heaven to accomplish.4

Jesus is the Truth, the Giver of truth.5

Jesus is the Lamb of God, the sacrifice for our sins.6

Jesus gives salvation from sin and judgment.7

God demands righteousness, good works, fruit.8

Jesus is and gives Living Water to give life to satisfy the thirsty soul.9

Jesus is the Bread of Life to give life to satisfy the soul.10

Jesus is the Promised Messiah.11

Jesus will resurrect all mankind, either to eternal life or eternal judgment.12

We must possess God’s love and love Him and others.13

Jesus sets free those who are enslaved in sin.14

Some have spiritual sight while others are spiritually blind.15

What a tremendous amount of truth is in this Gospel! These truths are just as relevant and useful in our evangelism today as they were in the days of the disciples and the early church. Our “developed” world with all its advancements in technology and cultural shifts has not erased the immediate applicability of these truths to real life. As we seek to proclaim the Gospel, particularly in daily conversational evangelism, we must learn how to put these word pictures and concise statements of Gospel truth to work.

Pray for a Word to Give

I would like to share a recent brief opportunity for witness.

Our family rode in a van taxi here in Cambodia. Next to me were some tourists from Switzerland. The man next to me spoke very good English, so we talked a good bit. When he understood I was a Christian missionary, it was obvious he did not want the conversation to go in a spiritual direction. Our family was to get off at a stop before the Swiss couple did. As our stop approached, I prayed for God to give me a word from Scripture that I could share briefly with the man before I departed. God, in His perfect providence, had placed a Swiss man next to an American on this van in Cambodia for a reason.

John 14:6 came to mind. I turned to him and said, “I wanted to share with you why we are serving as missionaries in our city. It is because Jesus said, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’ Because this is true, we serve God there so those folks can know Jesus.” His face wore the expression, “This is what I was trying to avoid!” I wished him well as they continued their vacation, and he responded in kind. Moments later, we got off.

Will this brief word bear fruit? Was that the first time he had a Christian speak with him about the Gospel? Was I watering where others have sown? I don’t know. I don’t need to know. But I believe that the Word of God does not return empty—even when it’s a brief word! 


1 John 1:4; 3:15, 16, 36; 4:14; 5:24; 6:22-23, 27, 32-33, 40, 47-51, 54, 57-58; 8:51-52; 10:26-30; 11:25-26; 14:6, 19; 17:3
2 John 1:4, 5, 9; 3:19; 8:12; 9:5; 12:35-36, 46
3 John 1:5, 8, 12-13; 3:3-7; 6:62; 8:47; 14:16-17; 16:13
4 John 3:15-16; 12:32; 19:30
5 John 1:17-18; 4:23-24; 8:32; 14:6; 16-17; 16:13
6 John 1:36
7 John 3:17; 4:22; 12:45
8 John 3:21; 5:29; 15:1-8
9 John 4:14; 7:37-38
10 John 6:35-59
11 John 4:26, 42; 11:27
12 John 5:29; 6:39-40; 44; 11:25-26
13 John 5:42; 13:35; 14:21, 24; 15:9-10; 16:27; 17:26
14 John 8:32-36
15 John 9:39-41