Paul played an enormous role in the growth of the early church. His missionary journeys took him through Antioch, Syria, Turkey, and Greece. And wherever the Spirit of God propelled him to go, he led people to Jesus.
Here are three tips we can learn about sharing the gospel from Paul’s example.
1. Your experience matters
Toward the end of Acts, we see Paul in a difficult position. The Jewish community has leveled charges against him, and he is brought before Herod Agrippa to answer for them before he’s sent off to Rome.
Paul answers for himself by reminding Agrippa how enthusiastically he persecuted the Christians.
“On the authority of the chief priests I put many of the Lord’s people in prison, and when they were put to death, I cast my vote against them” (Acts 26:10, New International Version).
But then he points to his dramatic experience with Jesus.
“On one of these journeys, I was going to Damascus with the authority and commission of the chief priests. About noon, King Agrippa, as I was on the road, I saw a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, blazing around me and my companions. We all fell to the ground, and I heard a voice saying to me in Aramaic, ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’
“Then I asked, ‘Who are you, Lord?’
“‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,’ the Lord replied. ‘Now get up and stand on your feet. I have appeared to you to appoint you as a servant and as a witness of what you have seen and will see of me’” (Acts 26:12-16, NIV).
Paul was always willing to debate people about the gospel, but throughout his letters, he pointed to his experience as the most compelling proof of Christ’s significance.
As believers, we need to be ready to reason with others about the validity of the gospel, but we can never lose sight of the power of our own testimony of God’s goodness. Someone might argue with us about the authority of the Bible, but it’s a little more difficult to debate someone whose message is, “I once was lost, and now I’m found.”
2. Your example matters
In Paul’s second letter to the Corinthian church, he finds himself defending his apostleship. He does this by appealing to the example he and the apostles have set.
“I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation. We put no stumbling block in anyone’s path, so that our ministry will not be discredited. Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left; through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors; known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything” (2 Corinthians 6:2b-10, NIV).
Paul reminds the Corinthians of the hardships he bore to bring them the gospel. Their relationship with Jesus exists because of what the apostles were willing to suffer-not to mention the kindness and patience they showed.
As followers of Christ, the same is true for us. How we treat others and what we’re willing to endure gives us credibility, and inspires people to truly listen.
That’s why Paul tells the Colossians, “Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone” (Colossians 4:5-6, NIV).
3. Jesus matters
Paul was intelligent and capable of crafting strong, persuasive arguments. You can see this in his discussion with the Athenian philosophers (Acts 17:16-34), or in any of his epistles. But when push came to shove, it was all about Jesus.
“And so it was with me, brothers and sisters. When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power” (1 Corinthians 2:1-5, NIV).
Jesus is the gospel. His sacrifice saved us and His resurrection empowers us. It’s a simple message that isn’t improved upon by adding frills or forceful arguments. When we share the story of Jesus, miracles happen-lives are changed.
That’s why when people begin cropping up to preach the gospel out of selfish ambition, Paul doesn’t try to shut them down.
“But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice” (Philippians 1:18, NIV).
It’s easy to think that you’re not ready to share your faith. But you don’t need to have an answer for every question or a counter for every argument. You just need to be willing to open your mouth and talk about Jesus and what He has done for you.
You can share your faith
Courage is the key to sharing your faith. Let people see your example, and tell them how Jesus has changed your life. It’s a simple message that we occasionally over complicate.
We would do well to memorize how Paul sums up the gospel to his protégé, Timothy:
“Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners-of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display His immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life” (1 Timothy 1:15-16, NIV).