Acts 17:1-4 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
1 Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews. 2 And according to Paul’s custom, he went to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures, 3 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.” 4 And some of them were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, as did a great many of the devout Greeks and not a few of the leading women.
What kind of success have we had in our communities when we have attempted to share the good news with others? If we are not getting the response that we might hope for, could it be that we are not using our Bibles when we evangelize? As we can see from the above, Paul’s success came about from his reasoning from the Scriptures. Yes, the Bible is primarily viewed as a relic today, and even most are not familiar with it, some even detesting it. However, “the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” (Heb. 4:12) Yes, the Bible will expose to us, who have a receptive heart. True enough, we are obligated to do our fair share of reasoning, explaining and proving, as we attempt to persuade them that the Bible is the Word of God, but if we run into an unreasonable mind that fails to accept our reasoning, we now know we can move on to another.
If we and others are not out in our communities, making the Word of God known, it will not be long before it is a relic in some museum. Therefore, our evangelism and especially our evangelism with our primary tool, the Bible, are of greater importance today than in any other. We do not want to adopt the attitude that others can do the work we were assigned or that God will find the ones who are his. As we have clearly seen, God has given us the privilege of serving as his ambassadors of the good news to the world. Moreover, such an attitude would not be in harmony with Scripture. Romans 10:14 pointedly asked, “How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how will they hear without someone to preach?” To use the Bible efficiently necessitates preparation.
When we engage people about the Bible, how will they view us after the conversation? Do we want them to identify us clearly as a disciple of Jesus Christ, who is very efficient with our Bible? Would it not be great if they told their friends, “I ran into a Christian yesterday, and while I may not agree with everything he said, he sure was able to find whatever he wanted from the Bible and made pretty good arguments as well.” If we are to be known in such a way, clearly, we must be able to use the Bible when we are witnessing.
We can begin a conversation by using the Scriptures themselves, touching on the common desires and current events. We might say, “Hello, my name is ________; I am sharing a Scripture that offers hope from Revelation 21:4, which reads, ‘and he [God] will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.’ Do you think that this is even possible?” Therefore, we have offered a Scriptural Introduction and a thought-provoking question.
“Hello, my name is ________; I am sharing a Scripture that offers comfort in these difficult times from Proverbs 29:2 (ESV). It says, ‘When the righteous increase, the people rejoice, but when the wicked rule, the people groan.’ Do you believe that we will ever see a day when there will be no more wickedness?” In both of these Scriptural introductions, there is an opportunity to build on a conversation of what turmoil our planet is in and its need for a solution, but imperfect humans have failed miserably. This will lead to the only true hope, which is Jesus Christ and his Kingdom. For all who want to shut us down and not engage, simply have a Bible tract read, to see if they will at least take that.
Thinking of the immigration issue that is all over the media today, how might we use that in our introduction? “Hello, my name is ________; I am out sharing some thoughts on situations that impact communities around the world, but especially here at home. Would you not agree if people of different backgrounds and cultures could live together in unity, life would be far better?” [Allow an answer] “Would this not also make life more secure for everyone?” [Allow an answer] Look at Acts 10:34-35 (ESV), “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation, anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.” What would this require of us? [Allow an answer] This hot topic can go in many different ways, as polls have shown a variety of different views on the matter. We simply need to prepare ourselves and start making use of the Bible.
Psalm 119:130 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
130 The unfolding of your words gives light;
it gives understanding to the simple.
Jesus referred to the Hebrew Scriptures as his authority over 120 times, from direct quotations to references, allusions, and paraphrases. There are over 960 from the other authors outside of the Gospels. (John 7:16; Acts 17:2) We all should want to copy their example, as we go about sharing the Scriptures. The question we want to ask ourselves is, are we able to use the Scriptures as efficiently as we would like? One of the best ways we can improve our abilities in this matter is through Bible study, personal and family. However, there are other ways as well.
One way to improve our abilities to use the Bible is when we are at the Christian meetings. Many churches today put the Scriptures up on a big screen by way of a computer and a projector. We should not allow the church to take away the one tool that will enhance and maintain our skill of using the Scriptures. Every time a Scripture is mentioned or even fully quoted, we need to look it up in our Bibles. Remember the days before the technology of the cell phone, how we had many phone numbers memorized because we actually had to dial the numbers when we called. Now, if our cell phone dies, we have no clue what other people’s numbers are. Technology in the churches is doing the same to our skills of using our Bibles effectively because of their use of computers and projectors.
Another way is that we stop reading Christian books, and we start studying them. We need to be at a desk or a table with a tablet, pen, pencil, highlighter, and a Bible. Every time a Scripture is referred to, we look it up. We want to begin to build cases for biblical augments in the process. As we start turning to all of these scriptures, we need to start to underline key words, phrases, and clauses that are relevant to making a biblical point. We need to remember the points that are made and eventually we will have a stream of them that tell us something, evidence for a particular teaching.
What we can also do is use those blank pages in our Bible, making a list of topics for Bible discussion. Once we have a lengthy list of subjects, it is only a matter of adding Scriptures as we come to them in our studies. If we make good use of the Bible in every facet of our Christian life, such as personal study preparing for meetings, and at the meeting, we will be able to make proper use of the Bible when witnessing to others. – 1 Timothy 4:16.
The Bible is under attack today, and it is as hated as much any person has been. Thus, we must be careful in our use of it because the mere sight of it can cause some to get angry. Our goal is not to provoke others, but rather to build rapport, so they are receptive to our message. Therefore, if we see any body language from the listener that would indicate the mere mention of the Bible cause frustration, we would want to change our tactics, such as talking around the Bible until the mood lightens. Then, there are those, who are not troubled by the Bible but are of a new generation that knows absolutely nothing about the Bible or theological terms like a ransom sacrifice or a propitiatory cover. We may overwhelm them if we overly use the Bible or do not define and qualify some words that we use.
The apostle Paul told young Timothy to “rightly handling the word of truth.” The same would hold true for us today. We certainly want to copy the good example of Jesus and the New Testament authors, as we too make good use of the Bible in our evangelism. We can do so by opening it and reading from it directly or merely quoting it, or even paraphrasing what the author penned.
This week, find three opportunities at introducing yourself to a stranger as a Christian and share just one Scripture, John 5:28-29, asking them ‘what them what do you think, is the resurrection that Jesus spoke of possible?’ Another exercise for this week is looking up every Scripture that comes before your eyes. Once it is looked up, ponder why the speaker or book used that particular text. Once that is realized, underline the word, phrase, or clause within the text. If the text is a good fit for any of our Bible topics, we should add it. You might want to read a few verses before and after our text if time permits, just so you are aware of the context.
- Why is it highly important that we use the Bible in our evangelism?
- How can we use the Bible to introduce ourselves?
- What are some ways we can improve our abilities to use the Bible?
- Why is it important that we use good judgment in our use of the Bible when evangelizing?
CPH BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS
Translation and Textual Criticism