When we think about the obstacles to faith faced by the cult member we might think of the pressure from the group to ‘stay faithful,’ the reminder of covenant promises that will be broken if they leave, the threat of rewards forfeited if they walk away, blessings lost, a life wasted, an eternity of regret. Our ministry is, in large part, aimed at equipping Christians to deal with such pressures, helping an individual weigh up the evidence of the Bible against the claims of the group. We work to equip the church because, on the doorstep, it is so often the ill-prepared Christian that can prove the greatest obstacle to faith.
If someone is already asking questions it often signals that the hold of the cult is already loosened and a journey has begun. While there will still be questions, doubts, apprehensions, it is the pull of the truth that is an increasingly determining factor in their decision making. This is where a good Christian witness is most crucial; this is where we are most at risk of becoming an obstacle instead of an encouragement to faith. Here are five steps to take to ensure you are that vital encouragement:
Walk in victory: If you celebrate victory on a Sunday be sure to take victory into your week. We can too often sing, ‘The battle belongs to the Lord,’ on Sunday only to find ourselves cowering in the bathroom on Monday when the Jehovah’s Witness knocks on our door. Our very lives are a proclamation of the gospel and if we say we believe then we should live like we believe. Take victory to the door and you will be surprised how the Lord honours your faith.
Demonstrate grace: You have been saved ‘by grace through faith’ (Ephesians 2:8). We speak of this grace, sing about it among ourselves, ‘I come Lord Jesus as I am without a single plea.’ Yet, lost for something to say perhaps, we can end up arguing on the doorstep, bringing judgement instead of grace. Be sure to demonstrate that grace in your week and your life will prove the strongest witness of all.
Trust God’s Word: God has given us the sure and prophetic word of Scripture, ‘to which you will do well to pay attention, as to a lamp shining in a dark place…’ (2 Peter 1:19) The psalmist declares, ‘Your word is a lamp to my feet…’ (Ps.119:105) The person at your door is likely carrying a Bible, and will say they believe the Bible. What an opportunity to open God’s word at their invitation! To bring the light of God’s truth to shine in the darkness of a counterfeit faith. Be prepared to witness from God’s word and you will see its power change hearts as it changed yours.
Tell the good news: When Paul was in Athens he cast about looking for a starting point for a conversation about Christ. Seeing altars to the gods of Greek society, he began there, taking people from a discussion about ‘the Unknown God’ to a proclamation of the gospel (Acts 17:16-34). Like the Athenians, cult members have their own altars, beliefs, and practices. Like Paul, we must be prepared to see and hear things with which we don’t agree. Like Paul, we must resist the temptation to jump to judgement, and instead look for an opportunity to bring the sufficiency of the gospel to meet the inadequacy of their beliefs.
Trust in God: R C Sproul has said, ‘God has entrusted the ministry of the word to us, not its results.’ When Paul left the Council in Athens, there were three groups of people there: those who believed, those with more questions, and those who sneered. (Acts 17: 32-34) Too often we can minister for results when we should be ministering for faithfulness to the call to go into all the world telling the good news. We will sleep easier, prove faithful, and be better prepared for next time, if we are faithful to the call and trust the results to God.
Next time you have an opportunity to share Jesus with someone, be sure you take with you a sense of victory, a message of grace, the lamp of Scripture, the truth of God, and a trusting heart, knowing that all is in God’s hands.