In modern times it is difficult to approach people about saving their souls. Most will scoff at you, and think that they understand everything there is to know about life. That they know more than God who created our universe, our planet, our bodies, and our souls. Most intuitively, have you ever thought about what was involved in the creation of our emotions? How could we for example, as humans, create an emotion out of thin air, that is so powerful, it would cause one human being to give up his very life, his existence, so that another could live? Never mind the creation of various lifeforms in and of themselves, which is awe-inspiring, the creation of our emotions is well beyond human understanding. So if you have a friend who is an Atheist, or is lost, or is someone you care about, or is even a complete stranger… what must you do in order to lead them to the path of redemption? There are three basic steps that you may consider:
1. An awakening to one’s true condition:
This is a tough one. The act of sinning is a form of self-fulfilling prophecy. If you are unfamiliar with the concept, basically a self-fulfilling prophecy is a concept or belief, that by the very nature of being incorrect, can cause itself to come true.
Let me help with the understanding a bit. Let’s say that “Bob” is an atheist, so Bob says “Since there is no God I can not sin” (and therefore be unconcerned for the repercussions of his actions). So Bob runs around sinning all day long because he thinks it is fun. Therefore Bob fulfilled his own ‘prophecy’ that he can not sin, by foolishly believing there is no God, so he can run around doing sinful things and “have fun” by not worrying about “getting in trouble” for his actions.
Every person I have encountered in my life who says they do not believe in God, has at one point or other admitted the possibility that God might exist, they just choose not to believe it. There are many reasons why someone may do so, perhaps a violent past, love for a person who is a sinner, and in whom they desire approval, any number of things; but since they have not placed God at the forefront of their lives, and allowed the Holy Spirit to enter their soul, and the blood of Jesus wash away their sins (and the pain those sins caused), they continue to live in an illusion that they perceive as true.
So how can you help them? Well, first you must somehow show them that the act of sinning, blinds humans to their true condition. What does this mean? Generally people will try to imagine themselves as happy, when in truth they are not. It is a desire for approval from others, and a validation of their existence that is pacified by the blindness of their own insecurities. So when they sin, Satan (who is much more powerful than people realize) hardens their heart from the truth. Imagine slowly wrapping layers of iron or steel around the container of one’s own heart, that will only stop the truth from coming in, but will allow the lies to flow like the wind. By blinding a human heart from the truth, Satan paves his path to victory.
To give you an idea of how powerful Satan truly is, think of the Garden of Eden. The very paradise created by God almighty, in which he placed his children Adam, and Eve, was breached by Satan in the form of a serpent. God only had ONE rule that Adam and Eve must follow, and that is not biting the forbidden fruit. So what did Satan do? He convinced Adam and Eve that God was wrong, in his own garden! How insane is that? In the very paradise created by God, Satan convinced Adam and Eve that God was wrong, with a lie!
So what was the lie? Genesis 3:4 “You will not surely die” … and of course, die they did, after they were kicked out of the garden.
So if we know that Satan is powerful enough to fool God’s original children in his own garden, we know he is powerful enough to fool us in modern times, and he is doing so on a massive scale. How many people in the world today think the things they see and hear in their daily lives through the various mediums we have available are acceptable? Not only accepted, but expected?
It will not be an easy job to convince someone you care about, not to mention a complete stranger that they need to think about the bigger picture of life, and our purpose in this life. Our purpose in life is not to drink, or cavort about with friends in meaningless pursuits, or watch t.v. or play video games, although having fun is certainly one of the things God wants us to do. In a way, our purpose in this life is to prove ourselves worthy for the next one. For example, if your friend is an atheist, does he believe that if someone murders 100 people, that upon their death a punishment will not be enforced? If so, what about “lesser” sins? In other words, if drastic actions have a logical conclusion of punishment, what about those that he may consider to be less extreme?
You must teach them that they are blind to their own condition. Once they accept that, the door has been opened, a breach has been introduced into the shell Satan has placed around their heart. The good news is, that every living being that has received the Breath of Life from God almighty has a hint of truth within them. We all have a mustard seed of truth planted in our souls, that has been surrounded by the weeds of humanity that must be plucked away, so that our seed of salvation can grow into a new garden, tended by Jesus Christ.
2. An honest confession of true sin.
Once your friend’s eyes have been opened, and they begin to see the truth, have them examine their own lives. It is much better if a person comes to their own revelations of the extent of their sinfulness. Ask them, what type of things do you do, or have done, that you think God may disapprove? A common mistake Christians make when trying to help their friends is what I call “Hen-Pecking.” They will pick away at every thing their friend does, and turn them away from God. Remember, God wants his children to choose to come to him. That is why we are here. He wants us to choose goodness over evil, so don’t Hen-Peck your friends, such as saying “Oh my Gosh, you can’t wear that,” “stop smoking,” … stop doing this, stop doing that…etc.. God knows our sins before we commit them, and he accepts our failures, just as he accepts us for who we are.
One of the most basic points that Pastors and Christians miss, is that God loves us not just because he is our Father, but because He knows what He created us to be. In other words, he knows our potential. he knows what we CAN become. Remember, everybody sins. That is a given. God allowed us to retain our free will, he did not have to do so. He chose Moses to lead Israel to freedom, and Moses committed murder in his younger years, BEFORE God chose him to part the Red Sea. So the point here, is don’t hen-peck your friends. Love them. Lead them to the path of salvation, but let them take their own steps, in their own time. The Holy Spirit will guide them when they are ready. Love that is forced will never last. Love that is a choice, taken through free will, can last forever.
3. An actual return to the father.
Romans 10:13 is a common reference point for Redemption: ““Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
I disagree with some interpretations, where people will say that just by saying the words you are automatically saved. What I mean by that, is God can read our hearts. God is the ultimate multitasker. If we as human beings can create super computers that run thousands of cores, with terragigs of memory, how many cores would God have in comparison?
What is important here, is that you work with your friend and try to help him humble himself before God. True humility, the setting aside of pride and hubris, and allowing God to see the shame in your heart for your actions, and by praising him in earnest is the key. Open your heart to God, let Him see your love for him, your thankfulness for the gift of life he has bestowed upon you, your true repentence… Cry our with your heart, mind, body, and soul, and let God know not only that you love him, but that you are thankful to him, repentent to him, and ashamed before Him that you did not see the Truth sooner. Then realize, that now that you do see the Truth, you will not live just for this lifetime, but for eternity.
Have him pray in earnest, something like this:
This is a prayer that I wrote to use in place of what is commonly referred to as the “Sinners Prayer”
“Lord Jesus, I am a sinner and am not worthy of you or your Father’s Kingdom. I know that you had to sacrifice yourself not just to save me, but all of my brothers and sisters. I can not comprehend the suffering you endured for us, but beg that you allow me the opportunity to repent of my sins, and allow the blood of your sacrifice to wash away my sins, and the stain they have placed upon my soul. Please allow the Holy Spirit to flow into me completely, and guide me along the path that you wish for my life to take, so that I can become the person You and the Father wish for me to be. I pray this in your name. Amen”
Here is a common Sinner’s Prayer:
Dear Lord Jesus, I know that I am a sinner, and I ask for Your forgiveness. I believe You died for my sins and rose from the dead. I turn from my sins and invite You to come into my heart and life. I want to trust and follow You as my Lord and Savior. In Your Name.