Make Disciples

Acts 17:2-3 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

And according to Paul’s custom, he went to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and proving that it was necessary that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying, “This Jesus whom I am proclaiming to you is the Christ.”

To help others gain an understanding and appreciation of God’s Word, follow the pattern of Jesus Christ and the Apostle Paul. The Apostle Paul established himself as an effective teacher as he reasoned from the Scriptures, and established himself as one whom we should imitate.

While the Scribes and Pharisees of Jesus’ day have taken a beating in the press, as they should, for their part in executing Jesus, they also possessed intelligence, knowledge, and the abilities to convey it. However, Jesus’ teaching proved different from theirs. The Jewish religious leaders despised and shunned the common people. In fact, they viewed them as “an accursed people.” (John 7:49) On the other hand, when Jesus “saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” (Matt. 9:36) He was heartfelt, understanding, concerned, and empathetic. Moreover, the Jewish religious leaders demonstrated no real love for God, it looked like a showy display and ritualistic. However, Jesus loved his father and delighted in doing his will. (John 5:19, 30) In addition, the religious leaders perverted God’s Word to serve their own ends, but Jesus said, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!” (Luke 11:28) He taught it, explained it, defended it, and lived by it. Yes, love filled the very person of Christ, moving him to teach nothing but the truth, letting that same Word guide him in his dealings with the common people. Finally, he taught from the Scriptures, which was his source of truth and authority, while the Jewish religious leaders quoted past Rabbis (teachers).

THE CHRISTIAN APOLOGIST

Jesus proved very familiar with the Word of God, the Hebrew Scriptures that we call the Old Testament. He quoted from it over 120 times in about three hours of dialogue that we have in the four Gospels. (Luke 4:4, 8) Yes, the Jewish religious leaders and even Satan quoted from the Scriptures, as well. Jesus, unlike them, applied the Scriptures appropriately, while the Jewish religious leaders and Satan twisted the Scriptures to suit their own selfish ends. Jesus not only knew the legal aspect of the Law but the spirit of it, as well. We too can imitate Jesus, by buying out the time to understand the Scriptures correctly, and then using them properly, as well as applying them in our lives.

In addition to his having a correct mental grasp of Scripture, he also shared it with all who would listen. People knew him as the “teacher.” (Matthew 12:38) Jesus took his Good News everywhere, such as the temple area, in synagogues, in cities, and in rural areas. (Mark 1:39; Luke 8:1; John 18:20) Moreover, when he taught others, he did so with compassion, empathetic understanding, and kindness, expressing love for the ones whom he helped. (Matt. 4:23) We too can imitate this by sharing the God’s Word with relatives, coworkers, in the market, on the phone, the internet, door to door in our community, and in all parts of our lives.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

16 All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17 so that the man of God may be fully competent, equipped for every good work.

When we engage others about the Word of God, who recognizes the authority of the Bible, we should use the Word of God, as it has the authority. As Paul said in Hebrews, “the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”[1] (Hebrews 4:12)

Thus, some will take the Bible more serious if they see reasons for doing so. Show them God’s initial purpose for life in the Garden of Eden, why God has permitted wickedness since the rebellion in Eden,[2] where he places us in the stream of Bible history and the hope of an unending life in the Kingdom of God. Some people have practical reasons for their skepticism about the Bible. However, these may not have an impact on the atheist, since an atheist does not believe in God. Therefore, you would have to establish this truth of God’s existence with him first.

Psalm 119:130 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

130 The unfolding of your words gives light;
it imparts understanding to the simple.[3]

What if you engage a person in a conversation about the Bible, and he says to you, “Look, I do not believe the Bible to be nothing more than the word of man;” are you to just throw your hands up and allow the conversation to end? He stated what he believes, and has opened the door to the evangelist reasoning with him. He may have learned of the atrocities of Christianity in his history classes at school. He also may have had a bad experience with a religious leader, such as a pastor of a church. This is where the evangelist asks questions to find out why he feels the way he does. You might ask, “If you do not mind my asking, what has moved you to view the Bible as the word of man, while two billion people today see the Bible as the Word of God?’

1 Timothy 2:3-4 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

This is good, and it is acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to an accurate knowledge[4] of truth.

Do not just open the Bible and read Scriptures, but rather help people come to “an accurate knowledge of truth.” An evangelist wants a listener to feel confident that the believer can do that. In other words, we must speak with authority. If one seems timid, stumbling over words, or unsure of one’s self, the listener will conclude we do not have authority on God’s Word. Would anyone get heart surgery from a heart surgeon who could not explain the procedure or seemed unsure of himself? Hardly! Why then, would an evangelist expect someone to invest in the idea of a God, life eternal, and other doctrines like the resurrection hope, from someone that comes off as unsure?

Preparation that Leads to the Ability to Reason

One can start by following the Christian Publishing House Blog Next Generation Bible Reading / Study Program. (https://christianpublishinghouse.co/) Reading the Bible daily will familiarize someone with the content of Scripture, but if we read and study the Bible daily, we will know and understand the content of Scripture. We have devised the ultimate Bible reading and study program, which will train anyone whose desire, focuses on knowing the Word of God thoroughly, so as to be more effective in evangelism work.

CONVERSATION EVANGELISM

In addition, prepare for Christian meetings by studying the assigned literature. Sit down, read, and study it, looking up every cited Scripture, as well as, seeing what a commentary says about it. When one attends a meeting, if a teacher sets it up as question-and-answer, participate by sharing insights learned from the Scriptures.

Sharing new and interesting items one learns implants them into one’s long-term memory. Consider, for example, when Samson ripped out the gates of Gaza, which likely weighed several hundred pounds, he then carried them to the top of Hebron. One’s in-depth study will discover that this proved to be a 37-mile hike, uphill! (Judges 16:3) Knowing these details will undoubtedly affect a believer’s heart and mind, moving one to feel an awe over the power of God.

When speaking with others about the Bible, use it, and have them read from it, or read it in front of them. The listener would know the evangelist does not offer his or her opinion, but rather the authority of the Bible. When one goes out with others, prepare what will be said to people to start conversations. Determine what to share from the Bible and how to introduce it. Take care of two points by asking a question that also encompasses what an evangelist does: “When we are out talking to people about the Bible, most are curious about what happens to people when someone dies. Have you ever thought of that?” People have dozens of questions about the Bible, and many of them would love to know what it says.

Literal Bible Translations Preferred

Bible translations range from being very close to the original languages in good English (known as literal or word-for-word, ASV, ESV, NASB, and HCSB), to those that take liberties (known as dynamic equivalent or thought for thought, NLT, GNB, CEV, and TNIV), and others with an interpretation of what authors originally wrote. We will take some space to deal with this subject, as it is truly an important matter. See chapters 18-20. There will be no questions and exercises in chapters 18-20, as these educate readers about the differences in the Bibles available and the process of translation.

Expounding on Scripture

While we must refer the listener to the Bible by reading a text, and even better that the evangelist helps him follow along, but more is needed. One can build their anticipation of looking into the Bible by asking a question that universally catches people’s interest. Stress the Bible’s answer to the question, and then leave a little pause. The evangelist could ask, “Have you ever wondered why there is so much pain and suffering, when most people if asked, would wish for peace?” (Pause.) The Bible answers that. (Pause and then read the Scripture.) Another, “Scientists say that every seven years we have new organs from cell regeneration, but in the thirties, it starts to slow down, but they do not know why.” (Pause) The Bible answers why. (Pause and then read the Scripture.)

THE EVANGELISM HANDBOOK

When one reads the text, hit the part that one will focus on reading it differently, slow with a deeper tone. Look at Matthew 24:14, “And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” If the evangelist makes a point about the gospel, hit “gospel” harder. If one makes a point about the kingdom, hit “the kingdom” harder. If one makes a point about the extent of the proclamation, hit “throughout the whole world” and “all nations” harder. Here is an example of great emphasis. If the point centers on the end of times, hit “then” pausing before saying “the,” then pounce on “end will come.” A word of caution, do not stress more than one aspect of a verse or the stress will lose its impact on the listener.

When one talks about the Bible, do not say, “I think,” “I feel,” or “I believe.” This gives the evangelist authority. Give the authority to God’s Word. You would say, “the Bible says,” “Peter says,” or, “the Apostle Peter says,” or, “the book of Matthew says.” If the evangelist knows he or she is dealing with a person that has absolutely no knowledge of the Bible, it will have no effect to say, “Paul said,” or the book of Exodus said.” In this case, stick with, “the Bible says.”

Use the context of a text to demonstrate the right way to arrive at its correct meaning. A Bible critic may make a point about a verse, thinking he has the evangelist in a bind. Show the listener the context that he is the one mistaken, not the Bible, nor the believer.

For example, at times you may have two writers who write from different points of view.

Numbers 35:14 (NIV): Give three on this side of the Jordan and three in Canaan as cities of refuge.

Joshua 22:4 (NIV): Now that the Lord your God has given your brothers rest as he promised, return to your homes in the land that Moses the servant of the Lord gave you on the other side of the Jordan.

Moses speaks about the east side of the Jordan when he says “on this side of the Jordan.” Joshua, on the other hand, also speaks about the east side of the Jordan when he says “on the other side of the Jordan.” So, who is correct? Both are. When Moses wrote Numbers the Israelites had not yet crossed the Jordan River, so the east side was “this side,” the side he was located. On the other hand, when Joshua penned his book, the Israelites had crossed the Jordan, so the east side was just as he had said, “on the other side of the Jordan.”

Bible Background

Bible background information demonstrates the level of knowledge that an evangelist has with the Scriptures, and builds confidence in the one listening to you. However, do not get lost in Bible background to the point that where an evangelist strays from the point.

A common Bible expression is that of placing one’s foot on the neck of your enemy. Both the Egyptian and Assyrian monuments have depictions, where monarchs are pictured in battle with their foot on the enemy’s neck. We find this with Moses replacement, Joshua, the leader, and commander of the Israelites.

Joshua 10:24 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

 24 When they brought these kings out to Joshua, Joshua called for all the men of Israel, and said to the chiefs of the men of war who had gone with him, “Come near, put your feet on the necks of these kings.” So they came near and put their feet on their necks.

YOUR GUIDE FOR DEFENDING THE BIBLE_Third Edition

 In addition, the removal of one’s hair and beard represented imminent destruction. The Ancient Near East viewed hair and a beard as a prize. The Israelites viewed the beard as manly dignity. (1 Chron. 19:5) Israelites would mutilate or remove their bears only during extreme sorrow, shame, or humiliation (Ezra 9:3; Isa. 15:2; Jer. 41:5; 48:37) Therefore, one can better understand King David’s strategy.

1 Samuel 21:13 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

 13 So he disguised his sanity before them, and acted insanely in their hands, and scribbled on the doors of the gate, and let his saliva run down into his beard.

Now that we have this Bible background, we can better understand the conquest of Assyria:

Isaiah 7:20 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

20 “In that day by means of a hired razor from the region of the River,[5] by means of the king of Assyria, Jehovah will shave the head and the hair of the legs, and it will sweep away the beard as well.

Assyria was going to invade and conquer Judah like they had Samaria and the rest of the region, but for the fact that . . .

Isaiah 37:33-38 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

33 “Therefore thus says Jehovah concerning the king of Assyria: He shall not come into this city or shoot an arrow there or come before it with a shield or cast up a siege mound against it. 34 By the way that he came, by the same he will return, and he will not come into this city, declares Jehovah. 35 For I will defend this city to save it, for my own sake and for the sake of my servant David.”

36 Then the angel of Jehovah went out and struck one hundred and eighty-five thousand in the camp of the Assyrians; and when men arose early in the morning, behold, all of these were dead. 37 Then Sennacherib king of Assyria departed and returned home and lived at Nineveh. 38 It came about as he was worshiping in the house of Nisroch his god, that Adrammelech and Sharezer his sons killed him with the sword; and they escaped into the land of Ararat. And Esarhaddon his son became king in his place.

The destruction of Jerusalem had finally arrived at the hands of the Babylonians more than a century later.

Review Questions

  • Explain why an evangelist would follow the example of the Apostle Paul and Jesus Christ in helping others understand and appreciate the Word of God. What should believers use as the authority when engaging those that recognize the authority of the Bible, and why? How should the evangelist react to someone that rejects the Bible as the Word of God? How does one project confidence to those whom they speak regarding the ability to convey truth?
  • What are some things that will make evangelists more effective?
  • Why are literal translations preferred? When one reads a text while witnessing, how should the evangelist do it? When one talks about the Bible, how should it be read? How can context help us? Explain and give an example. What is Bible background, and why is it important? Give an example of Bible background.

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[1] “This vivid expression of the power of God’s message provides the explanation for the strong warning of verse 11. Because God’s message is alive, active, sharp, and discerning, those who listen to God’s message can enter his rest,” rest from trying to prove oneself righteous before God by our works.―Thomas D. Lea, vol. 10, Hebrews, James, Holman New Testament Commentary; Holman Reference (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1999), 71.

[2] See Appendix G.

[3] “As the psalmist looks within God’s words, the light of truth, understanding, and discernment is revealed to him. This divine illumination of Scripture increases his desire to pant with longing for more of God’s Word.”―Anders, Max; Lawson, Steven (2006-04-01). Holman Old Testament Commentary – Psalms 76-150 Holman Reference. Kindle Edition.

[4] Epignosis is a strengthened or intensified form of gnosis (epi, meaning “additional”), meaning, “true,” “real,” “full,” “complete” or “accurate,” depending upon the context. Paul and Peter alone use epignosis.

[5] I.e., the Euphrates