Rules for Religious Discussions

Bible Study

But sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence” (1 Peter 3:15).

It is incumbent upon all Christians to be ready to teach others. There are many potential ways to do this. The passage above describes teaching that is done in the course of a discussion – someone “asks you.” These discussions take place in different environments – friendly or hostile, public or private, in person or online, etc. How do we make the best use of our opportunities to discuss the Scriptures with others?

On one hand, we are to “contend earnestly” (Jude 3); on the other hand we must speak “the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15). We are to “demolish arguments” (2 Corinthians 10:5, NIV), but “must not be quarrelsome” (2 Timothy 2:24). How do we strike the right balance? We do so by remembering some rules for religious discussions.Continue Reading

Book Review: Tactics

Tactics: A Game Plan for Discussing Your Christian ConvictionsAfter hearing this book recommended at least a couple of times and since it dealt with a topic I wanted to learn more about, I picked up a copy of Tactics: A Game Plan for Discussing Your Christian Convictions by Gregory Koukl. I read it a few weeks ago and it was excellent.Continue Reading

Regular Christians (Part 3): Onesiphorus

Regular Christians

Onesiphorus was one who took advantage of opportunities to do good. We can read about him in Paul’s second letter to Timothy.

The Lord grant mercy to the house of Onesiphorus, for he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains; but when he was in Rome, he eagerly searched for me and found me—the Lord grant to him to find mercy from the Lord on that day—and you know very well what services he rendered at Ephesus” (2 Timothy 1:16-18).

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The Christian and the World

Man in Forest

One of the more interesting books I have read was The Stranger in the Woods by Michael Finkel. This book describes a man – Christopher Knight – who disappeared in 1986 and was not found until 2013. For twenty-seven years, he lived alone in the woods in central Maine without any contact with others. The way he was able to survive in the woods – not just for part of a brutally cold Maine winter, but for almost three decades – was fascinating, despite his unethical methods (stealing in order to acquire supplies).

One reason why a book like this was so popular – it was a national bestseller – is because we are intrigued by the idea of one who was able to disappear into the woods and continue his life without interference from the world around him. There may be times when we wish we could escape from the world, yet we know that this is not practical or realistic. We all live in a society and necessarily need to interact with others.

As Christians, there is a “relationship” that we have with the world. Jesus described it in the following verses:Continue Reading

Evangelism, Converts, and Bearing Fruit

Apple Orchard

Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, that they are white for harvest. Already he who reaps is receiving wages and is gathering fruit for life eternal; so that he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together” (John 4:35-36).

I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit” (John 15:1-2).

In many different passages, the Bible talks about the importance of bearing fruit. While there are many ways in which we bear fruit as Christians, it is common to connect this to the work of evangelism. This idea can be represented by the following statement:

Evangelism + Conversions = Bearing Fruit

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Hindrances to Evangelism

Invitation

Generally speaking, Christians recognize the importance of evangelism – the practice of taking the gospel to those who are outside of the body of Christ so they have the opportunity to hear it and obey it. Yet what often happens is that there are certain obstacles (real or perceived) that hinder our efforts in this vital work.

In describing the work of evangelism, Paul wrote, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth” (1 Corinthians 3:6). His point was that he and Apollos were simply to be engaged in the work and leave the “increase” (KJV) in the hands of God. The reality is that there are certain things that are out of our control – especially when it comes to the interest of those whom we are trying to reach. But Paul was not focused on final results, he was focused on his work – what he could control.

It is tempting to focus so much on results that we are either tempted to compromise the gospel in order to win more “converts” or we get discouraged when we do not see the fruit produced that we hope to see. Like Paul, we simply need to focus on our work. One of the ways we can do this is by trying to see what is hindering our work in evangelism. In this article, I want us to consider five of these potential hindrances and see what we may be able to do to overcome them.Continue Reading

“Come and See”

Philip and Nathanael

Philip found Nathanael and said to him, ‘We have found Him of whom Moses in the Law and also the Prophets wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.’ Nathanael said to him, ‘Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?’ Philip said to him, ‘Come and see’” (John 1:45-46).

In the first chapter of John, the apostle introduced his readers to Jesus. As this chapter unfolded, we read of others being introduced to Him as well. After Jesus called Philip (John 1:43), Philip told Nathanael that they had found the one who was the fulfillment of the prophecies contained in the Law and the Prophets. At first Nathanael was skeptical, so Philip offered a simple invitation: “Come and see.” Nathanael came and saw which led him to believe in Jesus (John 1:49).

In this article, we are going to consider this “come and see” type of invitation and how we might be able to use it to help reach others with the gospel.Continue Reading