I have been thinking a lot about this topic. My concern for gospel presentation goes very deep because of what I have seen as results of the gospel being presented en mass and incomplete.
I am not what I would consider a skilled evangelist. I know the Romans Road and the “proper” presentation of the gospel. I have been trained how to present the gospel in many ways and I don’t use any of them. For the record, I have had the privilege of being used by God to lead people to Christ- not hundreds, not even 20, maybe not even 10. I don’t keep score.
The weight of the salvation decision is obviously great. It is what separates the sinner from heaven and hell. Due to improper presentation of the gospel, I believe we have churches full of unconverted people all trying to work out a salvation they do not even possess.
I have seen people walk an aisle or raise a hand when they are asked if “they want to receive Jesus as their savior.” I have seen those who have embraced a prayer without having any other clue as to what was supposed to happen, or what supposedly did happen to them in that moment. We have churches full of people who are confused because their lives have not changed one bit since they have prayed that prayer. They have no new desires, no new direction, and they cannot understand why “God does not work for them.” They are defeated and miserable, waiting for this joy and jubilation they see among others at their churches.
In the counseling room, I have a unique opportunity to meet with people who are not saved, people who think they are saved but are not, people who are saved and who are living in deep unrepentant sin, and people who are saved that are not sure they are saved for a variety of reasons. My counsel relies 100% on the activity of the Holy Spirit in a person’s life for change and if there is no Holy Spirit, there will be no change.
This may shock you, but I am not willing to try and press someone into getting saved. I generally do not push for a decision. I want them to know (if they are not saved) about the power of the Holy Spirit to change hearts and lives. I want them to know that if God wants them, He will have them.
I am not so prideful to believe that I am their only hope of hearing the gospel, and if God intends to save them He will do so before they take their last breath- even if it is not at our first counseling session. I want them to understand that their presenting problem is what God is using to bring them to this point of decision in their life- to reveal the real problem. It is a tool that He is using to reveal that they are in need of a savior. I give them hope that the Bible has the answers to their problems and that I am confident that we could discover them together if they decide to go on with counseling.