In our series on Conversational Evangelism, we're investigating
four types of conversations we have with people, when talking
about God and His church.
So far in this series, we've talked about the first two
types of conversations:
- Learn about people and their religion.
- Identify common ground, based on God's word and authority.
In this article, we'll explore the third type of conversation:
- Help them understand what they believe.
Ask Questions To Help Them Learn About Their Religion
God commands us to walk wisely toward outsiders, making
the most of our opportunities with gracious speech that's
seasoned with salt (Col. 4:5-6).
Asking questions is very important to carrying out this
Jesus used questions to teach people.
- Matt. 16:13-16 He used two questions when teaching
the apostles about His church.
- Lk. 20:1-8 He answered the Jews with a question
when they confronted Him.
Paul also used questions when communicating with people.
- Acts 21:37 He asked a commander if he could
speak, before addressing the commander and subsequently
addressing the Jews.
A "no pressure" approach to evangelism is usually the most
effective. Asking questions is one way to help us speak
with others without pressuring them.
- Acts 18:24-27 Aquila and Priscilla took Apollos
aside and explained that his teaching on baptism was wrong.
Their approach was one of gentleness; they didn't embarrass
Apollos or make a spectacle of him, but took him aside
and explained his error.
- Acts 21:37-21:1 Paul asked to speak, and politely
waited until he had permission, before addressing the
commander and the Jews. He was polite, gentle, and courteous.
His speech was gracious, as though seasoned with salt
- Acts 24:1-11 Paul displayed the same character
when making his defense before Felix, after the Jews falsely
Questions Help Us. . . .
To bring people to Christ through the gospel, we must have
a strong desire to understand their beliefs. Asking questions
is critical to getting to know people well enough to help
Questions help us clarify religious terms, so we
can communicate effectively. Terms like faith, believe,
repent, confess, and baptize must be
understood before a person can understand salvation.
Questions help us clarify beliefs, so we understand
what a person thinks, and why they think it. Questions like,
"When is a person saved?" or "Why are we baptized?" or "Does
someone have to repent before they're saved?" or "What does
a person have to confess before he's saved?" help us learn
about their beliefs regarding salvation.
Questions help us expose uncertain beliefs, so we
know their doubts. Sometimes, people question or disagree
with doctrines in their church, such as once saved always
saved. When we uncover these uncertainties, opportunities
for Bible study may result. When we hear someone say, "I'm
not sure about. . . ." or "I don't believe. . . ." we should
pay attention. We can also ask questions like, "What does
your church believe that you don't believe?"
Questions help people see discrepancies in their thinking,
and hopefully realize their religious thinking is incorrect
in some way. It often encourages them to investigate God's
word to discover the truth. We can ask questions like, "If
once saved always saved is correct, can a Christian
engage in blatant sin, refusing to repent, and still expect
God to save him?"
Questions help us introduce, and teach Bible principles.
Questions like, "What does Jesus tell us to do to be saved?"
or "What does 1 Peter 3:21 mean regarding baptism?" or "When
were Paul's sins washed away in Acts 22:16?"
Questions help us stimulate thought and interest in
Bible study. When people have questions about the things
they believe, realizing there are discrepancies in their
thinking, they often want to search God's word for answers.
At this point, we should let then know we're available to
help them find the answers in the Bible.
Questions help us place the burden of proof on individuals
espousing false doctrines. Sometimes, people want us
to prove them wrong, alleging they can believe something
unless it can be proved wrong. This is not a Biblical approach
to God's word (1 Cor. 4:6; Col. 3:17; 2 Jn. 1:9). Asking
pertinent questions, helps people espousing false doctrine
to prove it with God's word, as Jesus did when the
Jews confronted Him (Lk. 20:2-4).
Questions allow us to discuss religion in a non-defensive
way. Most people get defensive when someone tells them
their beliefs are wrong. By using questions, we can help
people consider whether their beliefs are right or wrong,
without telling them. This provides a non-defensive way
to communicate. Make sure your questions are from your heart,
truly caring about the person and their thoughts, rather
than being accusatory in any way.
Help People Who Are Misinformed
By asking questions, we can help people understand what
they believe, often helping them discover where they've
been misinformed (taught wrong, or made false assumptions).
Paul's sermon on Mars Hill helps us analyze the process
whereby people may discover they've been religiously misinformed.
- Acts 17:22-23 Paul began by stating what they
- Acts 17:24-25 he showed the inconsistency of
- Acts 17:26-27 he showed them why they were doing
what they were doing, although their worship was wrong.
- Acts 17:28 he quoted their own poets to prove
his point secularly, in addition to the religious proof.
- Acts 17:29 he then concluded from the religious
and secular evidence, that God was not an idol made with
- Acts 17:30 he proclaimed that God now requires
all men to repent.
- Acts 17:31 he introduced a hot topic to stir
their minds (resurrection).
There are many instances today wherein people learn they've
been misinformed. Two of the most common ones are:
- Some people believe they were baptized, but
learn that baptism is immersion, discovering that they
were not baptized but rather sprinkled.
- Some people believe they were baptized for the remission
of sins, but discover their church does not believe
that baptism is for the remission of sins, identifying
an incorrect assumption.
Help People Who Are Inconsistent
On Pentecost, the Jews learned they had been misinformed
about Jesus, understanding their religious beliefs were
inconsistent with Scripture.
Peter, in his sermon, went into great detail, proving that
Jesus was the Messiah from scripture, convicting the Jews
of killing the Messiah with lawless hands.
As a result, people with good and honest hearts asked,
"Brethren, what shall we do" (Acts 2:38)?
Peter exhorted them to be saved from that perverse generation,
commanding them to repent and be baptized for the remission
of their sins. That day, about three thousand people received
the word and were baptized (Acts 2:39-41).
Gospel: The Power of God
While conversing with people, asking and answering questions,
remember that the gospel is the power of God to salvation
It's important for us to bring everything back to the
gospel of Jesus Christ. Nothing else has the power to change
a person's heart, and convert him to Jesus.
Therefore, it's important to be good Bible students, studying
the things we're discussing with people, from God's word.
Then, talking about them, from God's word.
Let Then Know You're Available For Bible Study
When people begin to realize they've been misinformed or
made false assumptions, it's a good time to let them know
you're available for Bible study.
Most of the time, it's best to introduce the idea of Bible
study in a way that doesn't require a yes or no response,
just let them know you're available to study with them,
if they're interested.
If a Bible study materializes, you can study with them
yourself, or ask another Bible teacher to teach the class.
Either way is effective. Most importantly, use questions
to stimulate spiritual conversations, and everything else
will work itself out.