When it comes to sharing the gospel, is there ever a time to be silent?

I wanted to share with the readers of DefCon an article by Bobby Gonzales that raises a good question:

“One of the marks of a Christian is a desire to share the good news of the life-transforming gospel with others. In the words of the apostles, ‘We cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard’ (Acts 4:20). But what if a friend, fellow worker, schoolmate, or family member asks us to desist? Does there come a time when we should refrain from speaking to a person about Jesus and Christianity?”

Continue reading the article here on the It Is Written blog.

9 thoughts on “When it comes to sharing the gospel, is there ever a time to be silent?

  1. I read this post a while back on Gonzales’ blog. He is a wise man and I really appreciate his perspective in this post.


  2. This is a very troubling question. I say, “troubling,” because when I first contemplated the appropriate answer, I immediately thought, “Uh, NO!” Upon a more mature bit of reflection however, I was reminded of God’s Word in Ecclesiastes 3:

    “There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven—A time to give birth and a time to die; A time to plant and a time to uproot what is planted. A time to kill and a time to heal; A time to tear down and a time to build up. A time to weep and a time to laugh; A time to mourn and a time to dance. A time to throw stones and a time to gather stones; A time to embrace and a time to shun embracing. A time to search and a time to give up as lost; A time to keep and a time to throw away. A time to tear apart and a time to sew together; A time to be silent and a time to speak. A time to love and a time to hate; A time for war and a time for peace.”

    When we, as believers, share the good news (gospel) from our Lord, we are planters and waterers, correct? We spread seed upon rocky, thorny, and sometimes fertile ground, correct? It’s the Lord Who gives the increase, correct? We, as Christians, are to be faithful stewads (managers) of the truth entrusted to us, correct?

    I want people to know truth as much as anyone. I’m eager to tell people how I, as a former criminal before God, have had my lawlessness and wickedness pardoned. I want people to know they have a controversy with God (from birth), and that if they die having that controversy, it would have been better for them that they were never born. I want them to know The Way of escape provided for sinners. Sometimes I become a little too eager (zealous?), and end up turning-off people to the good news, so as I’ve matured in age and (hopefully) wisdom, I have come moreso to operate under the following verse from the Scriptures:

    I Peter 3:15: “…but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence…”



  3. Todd, I agree with what you are saying. It is a constanct struggle between saying something about the gospel to this person or that person or not saying something…in essessence being quiet about the Gospel. As time has gone on, I have found that I prefer relational gospel sharing. That is to say that I build relationships and work the gospel into conversations and anywhere God opens the door. However, when the person is not receptive, I will back off and occasionally mention it in passing. I try to avoid being the “offense” and let the gospel be the offense as some say. I’m not called to or gifted in street corner witnessing or handing out tracts on the bus like friends of mine do. I transitioned to this way of thinking and witnessing (relationship based) after coming to the belief in the doctrines of grace (election) because I now know I have the freedom to be faithful in the moment and proclaim the gospel as God leads when and with whom – this could be with a total stranger on the plane or at a restaraunt too at times – and God will do the work. I don’t have to have the right words, be convincing, trick them into something, sell them something. Instead, I plant seeds and God grows. This was very freeing for me as a Christian to know that it wasn’t my responsibility to “save souls” but to simiply tell them the Gospel and let God do the saving. So, for me being quiet as the situation requires by God’s sovereign hand is just an act of love and respect to those around me.

    In the matchless grace of God,


  4. This article brings up for me a question/dilemma that has been bothering me lately, in regards to sharing the gospel. My question is, how does one share the gospel with children? I have been praying for some children I know who are eleven years old and come from a very godless home, and just recently the girl has begun showing interest in having a relationship with God and has even begun reading the Bible on her own. I’m overjoyed about this new development, as I’ve been pretty open with her and her brother about my faith and what I believe, although I have never “pushed” anything on them, simply preferring to speak when led by the Holy Spirit and most of all pray for them. The girl knows about Jesus and how he died on the cross and rose again, but I don’t think she understands that He did it to save us from our sins and hell. A friend has advised me that I don’t need to discuss hell with her, and I’ll be honest, I hesitate to discuss hell with children, as I once cared for a little girl who totally flipped out when the subject of hell somehow came up in conversation…..so I guess, more specifically, my question is, how does one effectively, yet tactfully, present the gospel to children in a way they understand, that also won’t freak them out? Is it necessary to tell them about the reality of hell? I would appreciate any input/advice anyone could give me.


  5. beijaflor77,

    Great question. Since you are in a relationship with this child and have the ability to talk here and there and converse over time, you are right on the money. At 11 years old, I wouldn’t hesitate to speak on hell. My 6 year old and 9 year old are both well versed in Hell, sin, the cross, etc. I choose to keep some of the adult content (i.e. sexual related stuff) vague at this point, but not the sin/hell/salvation/heaven doctrines as those should be explained with any conversation about Jesus. What are we saved from? Why don’t our good works get us to heaven? Why don’t all people go to Heaven? What happens to those that don’t? These are all questions that we should discuss with an 11 year old. They can understand law, covenants, failure, sin, punishment, subsitution of Christ for us, salvation from punishment, etc.

    I hope this helps some.

    In the love of Christ,


  6. @beijaflor77

    I heartily agree atg’s response above. Children are spiritual beings, and they have the Law of God stamped upon their hearts and consciences. They intuitively know right from wrong, and they know they’re a creature who’s accountable to the Creator.

    With my three kids, when they were youngsters, when it came time for spanking them (oops….did I just admit that I spanked my kids?), my wife and I found that prior to physically administering the physical discipline, it was a “prime time” to address their sin in relation to the payment for the sin(s) for which they were about to be punished. We explained that we, as their parents, were instructed by God, in His Word, to be his “agents” if you will to administer the punishment, and due to the fact that we love them, we really didn’t have any choice in the matter.

    Additionally, I would encourage you to offer to take these children about which you spoke to church with you – provided it’s a church which preaches the whole of Scripture. Trust me, if these children sit under a faithful minister, they’ll hear of Hell, and realize they don’t want to go there. At the same time, they’ll hear of their controversy with their Creator (due to their sins) and how Christ provides The Way to eternal life.



  7. This book is one of the BEST, putting Todd’s perspective to work and providing a solid theological basis for instruction in the Word and in proper discipline: http://www.amazon.com/Shepherding-Childs-Heart-Tedd-Tripp/dp/0966378601

    I am reading this book currently, in which the author does a good job outlining the compatibility of God’s sovereignty and our responsibility as regards evangelism: http://www.amazon.com/Evangelism-Sovereignty-God-J-Packer/dp/083081339X


  8. Thank you so much everyone for the insightful and helpful replies. I think each of you is correct in encouraging me to share about the reality of hell. As much as I don’t relish the thought of talking about it, I know it would be the most loving thing to do. After all, I don’t want this young girl to have an improper view of God nor a watered-down version of the gospel presented to her.

    To todd3588: I don’t see these children on a regular basis, and so far I have not had an opportunity to take them to church with me (though I would love to if I could, because I attend a church that has excellent, Biblical preaching), but I do know their mother has started taking them to various churches (mainly an Espicopal one), which surprised me, because their mother is not a Christian. This is a recent development, as prior to this year I think they’d only been to a church a few times their whole life. Anyway, their exposure to the true gospel, except through me as far as I know, has been and continues to be very limited. They simply need a lot of prayer. (By the way, todd3588, I was spanked as a child, and I am so grateful my parents loved me enough to not spare the rod!)


  9. Amen @ Todd3588 with Ecc.3. Yes there is a time to be silent~

    “A patient man has great understanding, but a quick-tempered man displays his folly”-Proverbs 14:29.
    Are we trusting in ourselves or are we trusting in the LORD who alone is SAVIOR of all men? I know how it is. I get so excited in sharing and praying and caring and crying and nothing,, just nothing. I ask the LORD NOT for money but for people to be saved. Why hasn’t God saved people I’ve shared and prayed for? I think for 1 he’s most concerned in my relationship with HIM more than a warrior. The Battle is the Lord’s.

    I just know that we are to “be wise in the way we act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity”. so I try and find ways to be creative inn presenting the Gospel. Mostly I KNOW that NOTHING I say -any fine swelling words or arguments can save anyone–God forBID 2Cr 3:5 “Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God”.. Paul even said in “1Cr 2:3 “I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling. 4 My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, 5so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power.

    The ONE thing I DO know is God’s WORD is living and active” and his word does NOT return to Him void but accomplishes His will– so I ALWAYS try and speak God’s word in my sharing whether I can get to sharing the Gospel or not. ~


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