IMITATING THE GREAT TEACHER: Effective Use of Questions

Jesus Paul THE EVANGELISM HANDBOOK
Edward D. Andrews
EDWARD D. ANDREWS (AS in Criminal Justice, BS in Religion, MA in Biblical Studies, and MDiv in Theology) is CEO and President of Christian Publishing House. He has authored ninety-two books. Andrews is the Chief Translator of the Updated American Standard Version (UASV).

Luke 10:25 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

25 And behold, a lawyer[1] stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”

A historical note here, “a lawyer” or “an expert in the law,” (HCSB), is not a lawyer, as we would think of one today. A lawyer was someone that was an expert in the Mosaic Law. However, this person would have the same level of education on the law as a lawyer would today, many years of study and memorization. Thus, this man would certainly know the answer to such an easy question as the one he asked. Now, if a believer is asked an easy Bible question, we might be tempted to just offer an answer. Certainly, as the wisest man ever to live, Jesus could have easily answered the question. Instead, Jesus wanted the man to offer his own thoughts, insights or understanding. However, Jesus knew this man was “an expert in the law,” and he recognized the man would have had a certain perspective on his question. In other words, the man was not asked because he did not know. Thus, Jesus asked,

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Luke 10:26 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

26 And he said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?”

The man answered correctly,

Luke 10:27 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

27 He answered: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.

The conversation could have ended there. Again, the man knew the Mosaic Law, but seemingly wanted to see if Jesus would agree with what he knew. Jesus gratified him, letting him feel good, by giving the correct answer. Jesus responded:

Luke 10:28-29 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

28 “You’ve answered correctly,” He told him. “Do this and you will live.”

29 But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

Here again, the man looks to prove himself righteous, and Jesus could have just stated the truth, even the Samaritan. However, Jesus having insight into the setting, the Jews detested the Samaritans; so, while he would give the correct answer it would be disputed in a long, back-and-forth conversation, and the Jews who listened would have sided with the man. Thus, Jesus boxed the man into giving an answer by having him reason on an illustration.

Young Christians

Luke 10:30-37 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

The Parable of the Good Samaritan

30 Jesus replied and said, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and laid blows upon and departed, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by coincidence a certain priest was going down on that road, and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32 Likewise a Levite also, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, who was on a journey, came upon him; and when he saw him, he felt compassion, 34 and came to him and bandaged up his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them; and he put him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 And on the next day, he took out two denarii[2] and gave them to the innkeeper, and said, “Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I return I will repay you.’

36 Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?”

37 And he said, “The one who showed mercy toward him.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”

This man had to admit the elite in the Jewish religion, the priest, and the Levite, had not been neighborly, but the Samaritan proved to be a good neighbor. Jesus moved him to reason out a new way of viewing exactly what “neighbor” meant. Instead of letting the man walk him into a long debate, Jesus made the man do all of the reasoning in the conversation and moved him to admit something no Jew would ever utter,[3] as well as grasp a whole new understanding of what it meant to be a neighbor. Jesus took this approach because the circumstances called for it. However, on another occasion, a scribe, another expert in the law, asked him the same question and on that occasion, he chose to give the direct answer. (Mark 12:28-31) Circumstances vary.

What lessons can we take in from the example that Luke provided us? (1) Jesus used Scriptures initially to answer the man’s question. (2) Jesus proved perceptive enough to take notice of the man’s agenda. (3) Jesus did not simply answer the easy Bible question but shifted the responsibility through a question of his own, by asking the man how he understood the law, giving him a chance to express himself. (4) Jesus complimented the man for a discerning with the correct answer. (5) Jesus made sure the man and the listeners made the connection between the initial question and the Scriptures. (6) Jesus used an illustration that was able to reach the heart and mind, where the answer was kept to the forefront. (7) Jesus moved the man to reason beyond his basic understanding of a neighbor.

There is little doubt that THE GREAT TEACHER, Jesus Christ was a master at using questions to get others to express what was on their minds, as well as stimulating and training their thinking. By his effective use of questions, Jesus gently reached and touched the hearts of his listeners. (Matthew 16:13, 15; John 11:26) How can we imitate Jesus, so that we too can make effective use of questions?

REASONING FROM THE SCRIPTURES APOLOGETICS CONVERSATION EVANGELISM

Using Questions Effectively

Many times, if we just give our listeners the answer, it does not stimulate their thinking. The readers of this book have likely noticed that many questions have been asked throughout. Using rhetorical questions before, with a slight pause, then giving the answer, will allow the listener to ponder what is coming. In addition, asking a question; then, permitting the listener to offer a reply will help us to see how we might better get into his or her heart, i.e., the seat of understanding. We could share a Scripture, by having the listener read it or we read it ourselves, pause, and then ask him or her to offer what they understand the author to be saying. They may not have the right answer, so, we may need to ask more leading questions that will enable them to arrive at the correct understanding. By involving the listener, we are helping him to reason on the Scriptures, to see how one arrives at the right conclusion, and to make the conclusion his or her own. For example, read 1 Corinthians 6:18, “Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body.” Now, ask some tactful open-ended questions. Why do you think God condemns sexual immorality, like sex outside of marriage?” “What do you think of God giving this restriction?” What do you think of God’s setting our moral standards?” The person’s response will reveal what they truly believe, let us know how better to approach the conversation. Jesus did the same. – Matthew 16:13-17.

REASONING WITH OTHER RELIGIONS APOLOGETICS

Almost everyone loves expressing what their viewpoint is on things. However, people hate being lectured to or argued with. Just how true this is, we need to look no further than a website called Quora,[4] which is a question-and-answer website where questions are asked, answered, edited and organized by its community of users, which was founded in 2009. Many have projected that it will be bigger than Twitter. As of 2014, it was worth about a billion dollars. Proverbs 20:5 states, “The purpose in a man’s heart is like deep water, but a man of understanding will draw it out.” What did Solomon mean? “People can conceal their real purposes just as deep waters hide objects. But the person who has the understanding offered in Proverbs [or the Bible as a whole] is able to bring even those hidden thoughts to the surface.”[5]

When we ask others a question it needs to be inviting, not as though we are intimidating them. A great example is an open-ended question, such as, “what do you think needs to be done so that the world is full of peace and security, as opposed to war, insecurity, and despair?” After they offer their thoughts, ask, “What in life has made you arrive at that conclusion?” We could then ask about concerns over our children’s future. The questions merely need to be asked in such a way that they do not make the listener feel uncomfortable. Each person that we speak with will be different so we may have to adjust our questions accordingly.

APOSTOLIC FATHERS Lightfoot

In the above, Proverbs 20:5 helped us to appreciate that we need to draw people out. We need to allow those who are willing to listen to us, to speak themselves, sharing their thoughts, while we listen patiently without unnecessarily interrupting. (Jam. 1:19) Once they have shared what is on their mind, we can evidence that we were listening, by reiterating what they said in our responses. We might say, “Your point about ________ is interesting, I would agree with some aspects of it, such as ________. However, let me share a couple Scriptures that might shed some light on it.” If they have been ambiguous in their sharing of thoughts, we might ask some clarifying question, as opposed to assuming we understood. We might say, “When you use the term _________, what exactly do you mean by that?” Once we understand, we can ask more questions to see why they think, feel, or believe the way they do. Some of what they share may be at odds with the Scriptures, but there may be one part where we find common ground. After we agree with the one aspect; then, gently and respectfully explain why we would disagree with the other points made. We can ask if they have ever considered the Scripture _________ and ask how that affects their position. The one thing we never want to be is dogmatic or argumentative. – 2 Timothy 2:24-25.

The truth is the way people respond to our questions will be based on how well we evidence that we have listened to them. They will know if we are listening with our heart, really seeking to understand what they mean and why they feel the way, they do. If we unnecessarily interrupt, this will close them down. If we are merely waiting for the moment, they stop talking so we can start talking to share what we want to share, this will be very clear to them. On the other hand, if we do not interrupt, but actively listen, and then acknowledge their comments in our remarks, we will be evidencing a willingness to listen patiently, which will attract the listener to us because they will see that we had warm, personal interest in them. When we actively listen to others, we are showing them honor, which may move them to listen to us in return. – Romans 12:10.

Mosaic Authorship HOW RELIABLE ARE THE GOSPELS

The Significance of Questions

Whether we are going to be successful in helping a critical unbeliever to accept the Bible as the Word of God will depend on the effectiveness of our questions. Whether we are going to be successful in helping the skeptical unbeliever to accept a divine Creator will depend on the effectiveness of our questions. Whether we are going to be successful in helping the unbeliever to accept the faith will depend on the effectiveness of our questions. Whether we are successful in teaching someone in a Bible study to grow in knowledge of God’s Word, will depend on the effectiveness of our questions. Questions can help us to lead the listener’s mind from one point to the next. Questions can help the listener to see how the parts or aspects of something related to one another, and in the end, arrive at the correct conclusions.

Our use of questions will force our listener or student to think for themselves and to answer in their words. If they are explaining things, as they understand them, this will help us discover if they fully grasp what is being said. Note in this book that at the end of each chapter, there are review questions, which are designed to help the reader get the overall point. These questions make sure the reader understands the material and sees how to make practical application of it. Below are different types of questions that we can use in our teaching.

  • Closed-Ended Questions: These are designed for a one-word answer or a short phrase answer. They can be used to begin conversations, which allow the listeners to be involved without contributing too much. However, closed questions that require simple short answers, yes or no answers can also be used to control the conversation and to lead.
  • Do you think the Bible is actually the Word of God?
  • Have you always felt that way about the Bible?
  • Do you believe that this is all there is to life?
    • Open-Ended Questions: These are designed for longer answers. They require our listener to think and ponder. We will better understand their beliefs and feelings, their wants, needs, and problems. They allow the listener to have some control in the conversation. We can use an open-ended question after we have a few brief answers from our closed-ended questions.
  • What is it that leads you to believe the Bible is not the Word of God?
  • What about the world today that troubles you the most?
    • Leading Questions: These infer that there is but one correct answer and it guides the listener to that answer.
  • Q: After reading Matthew 7:13-14, does this not suggest there are two courses in life, one that leads to destruction, which many are on and on that leads to life, which few are finding?
  • A: Yes
  • Q: After reading Matthew 7:15, does this not suggest there will be some who appear as innocent as sheep, but really are false prophets to the point of being ravenous wolves?
  • A: Yes
  • Q: After reading Matthew 7:16-20, what is it that will help us identify these false prophets?
  • A: Their fruit
  • Q: After reading Matthew 7:21, whom does Jesus say are the only ones who will enter into the kingdom.
  • A: Jesus said only those doing the will of the Father.
  • Q: After reading Matthew 7:22, will there be those who believe that are doing the will of the Father?
  • A: Yes
  • Q: After reading Matthew 7:23, will Jesus accept their excuses for failing to do the will of the Father?
  • A: No
    • Clarifying Questions: These questions can be used in one of two ways. First, they can be used to clear up something that the listener  Second, they can be used to clarify that the listener fully understands what something means.
  • NOTE/Q: The term prophet has two basic meanings. First, it means one who proclaims a message. Second, it means one who foretells the future. What does the term “prophet” mean here?
  • A: It means one who proclaims a message.
  • Q: What did Jesus mean by many being on the path of destruction? Was Jesus referring to his disciples (i.e., Christians) and those of religions other than Christianity, or was he referring to his disciples?
  • A: The many Jesus referred to was his disciples, coming Christians.
  • Q: How do you know that the many who are on the path to destruction are the disciples of Jesus Christ?
  • A: Just after Jesus talks about the two paths, Jesus said ‘be careful of false prophets.’ Then, a few verses later he says “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven …”
  • Q: Are these false teachers found within Christianity and why are they so hard to recognize?
  • A: If it is the many Christian disciples, who are on the path to destruction; then, the teachers who taught them must have been Christian teachers. They are hard to recognize because Jesus compared them to sheep. In other words, they come across as innocent appearing.
  • Q: What did Jesus mean by the term “fruit”?
  • A: In other words, we would recognize them by their words and deeds.
  • Q: Based on who you said could enter into the kingdom, ‘those doing the will of the Father,’ what should we know?
  • A: What the will of the Father is?
  • Q: Did the many on the path to destruction believe they were doing the will of the Father?
  • A: Yes
  • Q: Jesus started out by talking about two paths and false teachers, correct.
  • A: Yes
  • Q: False teachers imply false teachings, correct.
  • A: Yes
  • Q: What did Jesus say he would say to those who thought they were doing the right thing or thought they were teaching the right thing but were not?
  • A: ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’
  • Q: We have false teachers, who are difficult to recognize, as they appear as innocent as sheep. Recognizing them can only be accomplished by recognizing their fruit (words and deeds), as well as knowing the true will of the Father. Does it not then seem prudent on our behalf that we should apply 2 Thessalonians 2:10 and 2 Corinthians 13:5?
  • A: Yes, the ones, who are deceived by these false teachers, will perish because refused to be receptive to the truth. Therefore, we need to be in a constant mode of examining ourselves, as well as our beliefs, to see whether we are really in the truth.

2 Thessalonians 2:10 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

10 and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved.

2 Corinthians 13:5 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!

  • Refocusing Questions: These questions can be used to get back on track. In talking to people about the Bible, they tend to jump from topic to topic. It is best to stay on one topic, resolve those issues and then move on to the next topic. We can use questions to refocus people back on the topic.
  • Yes, but how does Jesus’ words relate to __________?
    • Viewpoint Questions: These questions can be used to find out how our listener feels about particular biblical truths.
  • Does this sound reasonable?
  • Would it not be helpful if you applied these things in your life?
  • Do you think God wanted the world to be like this?
DEFENDING OLD TESTAMENT AUTHORSHIP Agabus Cover BIBLICAL CRITICISM

The questions that we use can help the listener to better reason on the information before him. For example, what is a ransom? What ransom price did Jesus pay? Why was Jesus’ ransom price needed? It was Adam who sinned, so how is it just that his descendants must also pay the price of death? Why did it have to be Jesus, who paid the ransom with his life? What has the ransom made possible for every human?

Our questions as a teacher are asking who, what, when, where, why and how. It is our goal that our listener grows in Bible knowledge and gains a correct understanding of God’s Word. This is the case whether it is the first time we have talked with him, or we are doing a regular Bible study. What he says in response to our questions will help us to gauge how well we are accomplishing our goals. Many in the world have a callused unfeeling conscience because they have regularly violated it. Our questions can be used to sensitize the listener’s conscience, enabling him to sense the difference between good and bad. (Gal. 3:1-6; 1 Cor. 9:1-14.) In addition, our questions can get into the heart attitude of the listener so that he sees the practical benefits of God’s Word. – Isaiah 25:9.

is-the-quran-the-word-of-god UNDERSTANDING ISLAM AND TERRORISM THE GUIDE TO ANSWERING ISLAM.png

[1] That is an expert in the Mosaic Law

[2] The denarius was equivalent to a day’s wages for a laborer

[3] Notice the hatred ran so deep between Jews and Samaritans that when asked by Jesus, who was the neighbor I the illustration, he did not say, the Samaritan, but rather, “the one who …”

[4] https://www.quora.com/

[5] Anders, Max (2005-07-01). Holman Old Testament Commentary – Proverbs (p. 107). B&H Publishing. Kindle Edition.

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