It is easy for us to overlook the important role personal conversation has in the conversion of the world. We long for days like that Pentecost when the response to preaching resulted in 3,000 conversions. That was not the normal happening as the church grew. We must never overlook how often lives were changed when Jesus and the apostles had one-on-one conversations with others. The world will always be saved by the preaching of the gospel, but so much of that teaching involves private studies with others.
Jesus changed the lives of so many, but think of the fact that He personally talked with others. Is it possible that He changed more lives in personal contact than in His public teaching?
How did Nicodemus learn about Jesus? Obviously, he had heard of Him before he came at night to visit with Jesus, yet the change Jesus wanted him to make came about because of their personal conversation. That conversation changed Nicodemus. He learned about the new birth, which involves water and the Holy Spirit. We may have forgotten that the first person to hear the “Golden Text” of the Bible was this man who talked to Jesus at night! That text begins, “For God so loved the world that He gave…” Important contacts are so important!
The change in the life of short Zacchaeus did not happen as he talked to Jesus from the branches of the sycamore tree—it came about when Jesus went to his house and talked to him. There are so many who have been converted by private teaching sitting on sofas or around the kitchen tables.
There were ten lepers who met Jesus, but the one touched most was the one who was a Samaritan and who returned to thank Jesus. As he glorified God, Jesus talked to him about his faith and its place in salvation. It is so often in private teaching that one learns the true meaning of faith.
Jesus had individual conversations with Andrew and Peter (John 1:41); with Philip and Nathanael (John 1:43, 45); with John the Baptist about baptizing Jesus (Matt. 3:14-15); with the woman of Samaria (John 4:7); with the woman taken in adultery (John 8:4-11); with Matthew as he collected taxes and later in Matthew’s house (Luke 5:27-29); with the crippled man healed beside the pool, and Jesus later sought him out to teach him (John 5:13-14); and so many more!
What do we need to learn from this? It is very simple—private conversations so often change the lives of others. I urge you to pray that God will use you to privately talk to those around you, hopefully changing their lives. Is there any week better than this week to begin doing this!