When sharing your faith in Jesus with others you will inevitably come across a Bible critic. Their most common argument will assert that the Bible is an untrustworthy relic that has been altered. Here are some ways to respond and to present the reliability of God's wonderful message.
If you have an extremely important message to convey, what would be the best way to ensure that it was delivered? How about telling the person directly and then leaving a written copy of the message? Essentially, this is what God has done for us, Jesus came and personally shared His message with humanity and now we have a written copy preserved in the Bible. God even sent His prophets to foretell His arrival.
I know what the critics say, “The Bible is just a book written by men that has been pass down and altered over the years.” Could that be true? Do we have a God powerful enough to create the universe but not powerful enough to preserve and protect His written word?
I say He has preserved it and here’s why.
The Bible, was written by approximately 40 different authors who were directed by the Holy Spirit over a period of about 1600 years. Its main theme and message stays uncannily consistent despite the diversity of the writers. It is the most printed and distributed book in the history of mankind despite numerous attempts to ban or destroy it.
What does the Bible say about itself? "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness," 2 Timothy 3:16.
I can hear the critics saying “That’s circular reasoning" but there is nothing wrong with self-authentication if it’s true. Since the Bible claims to be from God how can we test its credibility?
The answer is prophecy.
Hundreds of years before the modern state of Israel was established the Bible prophesied that God would select a unique group of people to be His chosen ones (2 Samuel 7:24). He would give them their very own land (Psalm 105:10-11). Scatter them around the world because of disobedience (Jeremiah 31:10). Regather them back to their land and the city of Jerusalem, which will be a place of international controversy (Jeremiah 16:15 & Zechariah 12:2). All of these prophesies have come to pass or in the case of Zachariah 12:2 are unfolding before our eyes.
Hundreds of years before the birth of Jesus, the Bible prophesied that God would send the Messiah to be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2), a preacher and miracle worker (Isaiah 61:1-2), crucified (Psalm 22:16-18), die as a sacrifice for sin (Isaiah 53:5-6) and be raised from the dead (Psalm 16:10). Precisely what Jesus did as He fulfilled these prophesies.
And for the critics who claim Jesus was just a myth, there are non-biblical accounts of Jesus and the events of his ministry found in the non-Christian writings of Josephus, the Jewish Talmud, Pliny the Younger and Tacitus.
My favorite proof that the bible is of divine origin comes from my own personal experience.
There is no criticism brought against the Bible that can change the fact that . . . after I repented of my sins, put my faith in Jesus and got baptized . . . the words and instructions of the Bible became alive to me.
No longer are they black and white words on a page but words of living color as they now speak to my spirit and soul. Transforming my thoughts and actions in a way that can only be supernatural. Showing me how to walk in holiness and show love to others. No longer bound by unforgiveness, bitterness, addictions or ungodly attitudes. Not only I, but untold millions of others have experienced personal revelation from God’s word after believing that Jesus died on a cross to pay the price for their sins and rose from the dead on the third day. I am now alive to the things of God and understand why Jesus said “Unless one is born again he cannot see the Kingdom of God”. (Ref. John 3:3)
Christians have been accused of having blind faith for trusting the Bible, saying “It’s just a book written by men.” The very same argument can be said to the critic who puts his faith in the writings of other critics. So where will you put your faith?
For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edge sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thought and intents of the heart. Hebrews 4:12
Welcome to Adventures In Witnessing volume six.
For the third year in a row, I visited the annual convention of Jehovah Witnesses. This most recent time, I purposely arrived at the arena just as the final session of the day was coming to a close. This is a great time to engage in conversations as people leave the arena. My friend, Mike, and I would approach people with an opening question like this, “Hello, we are not Jehovah Witnesses, but enjoy coming to events like these to learn more about other beliefs. Would it be alright if we ask you some questions?” Almost everyone agreed to speak with us. My favorite start up question is, “If you died tonight and Jehovah asked you, 'Why should I let you live on paradise earth?' what would your answer be?” I ask this question because most JWs don’t believe they will go to heaven but hope they will be considered righteous enough to live on paradise earth. The overwhelming response to this question is most often based around them counting on their own merit or works such as Bible study or door to door outreaches. I’ve heard many testimonies from ex JWs that said they never heard an accurate teaching on the Grace of God while in the JW organization. I use Ephesians, chapter two to share God’s grace with them.
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. Ephesians 2:8-9
This year, I felt led to focus on the assurance of salvation. It’s was very sad to us as we heard one person after another say that they were uncertain of what their fate would be when they died. No one thought they would go to heaven, no one had assurance of living on paradise earth and some didn’t even know if they were presently considered right in God’s eyes. They were hoping that their acts of service, knowledge of Jehovah through Bible study and attitudes would allow them to be considered worthy at the end of their lives.
Ex JWs commonly testify that the catalyst for their exit from this organization into a true relationship with God began with a desire to know who the real Jesus is. For this reason, I try not only to focus on the Grace of God, but also on who Jesus is. It was amazing this year, as I was sharing about the deity of Jesus with a new JW convert, she was speechless and visibly shaken as I showed her Isaiah 9:6 from her own bible. She read about the child (Jesus) that was given to us and will be called Mighty God, Everlasting Father and Price of peace. I asked her who can offer eternal life except God alone? Who can forgive sins except God alone? Who can answer prayers except God alone? I proceeded to show her John 10:27-28, where Jesus offers eternal life, something only God can do.
The following is a response to the teaching of the Jehovah Witnesses. Here are some ways to address their misunderstanding of who Jesus is, the True Church and genuine salvation.
There is a messianic prophecy that speaks of a child being born unto us whose name will be Mighty God. (Ref. Isaiah 9:6)
Who can offer eternal life except God alone? Who can forgive sins except God alone? Who can answer prayers except God alone?
Jesus offers eternal life, has the power to forgive sins and answers prayers.
(Ref. John 10:28, Luke 5:24 & John 14:13-14)
Jesus is the image of the invisible God. He offers eternal life, has the power to forgive sins, can answer prayers and accepts worship that belongs to God alone. While remaining enthroned in heaven, God pitched His tent among us as Jesus, the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of His nature. The Lord our God is one but has revealed Himself to us in many ways and most commonly as God the Father, God the Son and Holy Spirit. (Ref. John 1:1, Colossians 1:15, John10:28, Luke 5:24, Matthew 28:9, John 14:13-14, Psalm 123:1, Hebrews 1:3 & Acts 5:3-4)
When Jesus said "before Abraham was, I AM", they picked up stones to kill Him because He was claiming to be God. (Ref. John 8:58-59 & Exodus 3:14)
God says He will not give His glory to another. We read in Revelation, chapter five, where multitudes are worshipping Him who sits on the throne and the Lamb. They are worshipping God the Father and Jesus. (Ref. Isaiah 42:8 & Revelation 5:11-14)
Do you believe Jesus returned invisibly without public fanfare in 1914? Please know that Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels. All the tribes of the earth will mourn as they see Him coming with power and great glory. (Ref. 2Thessalonians 1:7-8 & Matthew 24:30)
Do you believe that the Watchtower organization and the Jehovah’s Witnesses is God’s sole channel(s) of communication? If so, that would mean that the true Church needed to be restored. Please know that Jesus said He would build His Church and that the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. (Ref. Matthew 16:18) The true Church has never needed to be restored. No earthly organization can claim to be the only right way to God. When a person follows the instructions of Jesus and gets born again his name gets written in the Book of Life and he becomes a child of God. (Ref. Hebrews 12:23 & Philippians 4:3)
From Genesis to Revelation God’s primary message to us is how to have a relationship with Him, knowing Him and spending eternity with Him. The main goal is not the prospect of life on a paradise earth. (Ref. John 17:3, 1John 5:20 & John 1:12)
Jehovah’s Witnesses put a major emphasis on their deeds such as multiple weekly meetings and required public canvassing outreaches. Please know that Ephesians 2:8-10 says, "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them." First we get right with God through faith, then He directs our steps and sends us on our own unique outreach.
Untold millions of people from around the world have put their faith in Jesus, who died for our sins and rose from the dead on the third day. They have experienced, without the teachings of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, the transforming power of Christ with the Holy Spirit bearing witness that they are born again children of God.
I hope this post will help you plant some seeds of truth into the lives of those deceived by a dangerous organization.
Welcome to Adventures in Witnessing Volume Five.
It's time to look at some common objections to our faith. Have you ever been called for jury duty? I, like most people, dreaded receiving that letter until I realized how great of a witnessing opportunity it is. Normally you are stuck in a crowded room for about 8 hours with almost nothing to do except converse with each other. On one such occasion, I was having a spiritual conversation with someone who made a statement that I had never heard before, she said, “Jesus never said I am God, worship Me." I now know that this is a very common objection to the deity of Jesus. Yes, it is true that He never said those exact words but did He claim to be God in other ways?
Here is the short answer first.
Who can offer eternal life except God alone? Who can forgive sins except God alone? Who can answer prayers except God alone? Who can offer rest for the soul except God alone?
Jesus offers eternal life, has the power to forgive sins, answers prayers and offers rest for the soul. (Ref. John 10:28, Luke 5:20-24, John 14:13-14 & Matthew 11:28-29)
By His own words and actions Jesus demonstrated His deity. He allowed people to worship Him without rebuke. (Ref. Matthew 28:9) God says He will not give His glory to another. (Ref. Isaiah 42:8) We read in Revelation chapter 5 where multitudes are worshiping Him who sits on the throne and the Lamb. They are worshiping God the Father and Jesus. (Ref. Revelation 5:11-14) When Jesus said “before Abraham was, I AM” they picked up stones to kill Him because He was claiming to be God. (Ref. John 8:58-59 & Exodus 3:14) Jesus said "I and My Father are one." (Ref. John 10:30)
His earliest disciples called Him God. Thomas said to Him “My Lord and my God!” Paul wrote that we should be looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ. Peter makes reference to Him as our God and Savior Jesus Christ. (Ref. John 20:28, Titus 2:13 & 2Peter 1:1)
Here's a good question to ask, if someone presents this objection to you. “If I or another human being walked up to you and said 'I am God worship me' what would your response be?” Almost everyone's response is “you are crazy” so why would Jesus make a statement like that knowing how people would respond?
The Trinity, or as Dr. Michael Brown calls, God's Complex Unity, is also commonly objected or misunderstood. Here's a few ways to explain this to others.
The word trinity is commonly used to describe God. However, this word is not in the Bible. What is the trinity? What is God’s complex unity?
The Holy Scriptures affirm that the Lord our God is one. Adam and Eve are two that become one. The Tabernacle is made up of many parts that become one. (Ref. Deuteronomy 6:4, Genesis 2:24 & Exodus 36:13) God who is enthroned in the heavens yet at the same time can fill the earth with His glory and have His spirit move about the earth has revealed Himself to us in many ways. (Ref. Psalm 123:1, Numbers 14:21, Genesis 1:2 & Psalm 51:11)
He communicates to Moses from the burning bush. He went before the Israelites by day in a pillar of cloud and a pillar of fire by night. His glory appeared in the cloud. They saw the God of Israel and under His feet as it were a paved work of sapphire stone. (Ref. Exodus 3:4, Exodus 13:21, Exodus 16:10 & Exodus 24:10-11)
God has a conversation with Abraham while in human form. (Ref. Genesis Ch.18)
While remaining enthroned in heaven, God took on the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of man, as Jesus, the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of His nature. The Lord our God is one but has revealed Himself to us in many ways and most commonly as God the Father, God the Son and Holy Spirit. (Ref. Philippians 2:8, Hebrews 1:1-4, Colossians 1:15-20, John 1:1, John 1:14 & Acts 5:3-4)
God created water, the very substance we look for when looking for signs of life. Water comes in three forms: liquid, ice & steam. Jesus referred to Himself as Living Water, which again is a way in which He is revealing Himself to us. And if one man made computer can run multiple programs and multi task at the same time, why do we limit what the creator of the universe can do?
I recently heard Matt Slick explain the Trinity by looking at the concept of Time. Time is only made complete by The Past, The Present & The Future, three in one.
A Muslim or Jehovah Witness might ask, “If Jesus is God, how can God die? Why did He pray to Himself? Why did He say “My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me?”
God did the most loving act imaginable. He took on the form of a man to experience human life first hand. Jesus taught us how to have a relationship with God by praying to and worshiping the Father. He was tempted like us but did not sin. His human flesh died but was raised on the third day. His spirit never died. While on the cross Jesus cries out “My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me?” because He was pointing people to the messianic prophecy of Psalm 22 which describes His crucifixion experience. He demonstrated His love for us by paying the price for our sins.
Until next time, keep on witnessing!
Since we have looked at Sharing the Gospel, Using the Law and Tracts in previous posts. Let's now look at some easy conversation starters.
Almost everyone loves to talk about their background. Ask a stranger this question,
"If you don't mind, can I ask where you are from?" Most people are glad to share their story.
This leads to a simple transitional question.
"Did you grow up with any type of spiritual background?" The most common answer is "Yes."
No matter what their background is you can give them the Good Person Test by asking,
"Do you think those spiritual teachings have made you a better person?" Most will say "Yes."
"Do you consider yourself a good person?" Continue with the rest of the Good Person Test.
If the person is not a Christian and not from the United States, welcome them to America and ask them,
"Have you ever heard why Christians say Jesus died on a cross?" Many will say "No", which gives you the perfect opportunity to share the Gospel. It's important to ask "...why Christians say Jesus died on a cross" to avoid them telling you their misconception of Jesus. It's amazing how many people living here in the Bible belt have never heard the Gospel.
If you happen to know someone is not a Christian, just say to them,
"I'm a Christian and love learning about other peoples beliefs. Can I ask you a few questions?"
MY FAVORITE QUESTION:
Here's what I believe to be one of the best questions you can ask someone.
"If you died tonight and God asked you, "Why should I let you into My kingdom?" What would your answer be?" Most people's response will focus on their good deeds, which will give you the perfect opportunity to share about God's grace.
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,not of works, lest anyone should boast. Ephesians 2:8-9
I like to share with people this illustration of God's grace by Ray Comfort.
A criminal, standing before a judge, has been given a choice of 'life in jail' or a 'million dollar fine'. The criminal doesn't have the money so his only option is prison. Unexpectedly, a stranger walks into the courtroom, hands a million dollars to the judge and says I love this person and will pay the price for his crime. The judge is satisfied with the payment and the criminal is set free.
This is a picture of what Jesus has done for us, by paying the price for all the ways we have broken God's law.
If you know that the person has an alternative view of the afterlife, rephrase the question based on their view.
If you died tonight and Jehovah asked you, "Why should I let you live on paradise earth?"
If you died tonight and Allah asked you, "Why should I let you into my paradise?"
If you died tonight and God asked you, "Why should I let you be a god and have your own planet?"
Again, most people's response will relate in some way to their own works.
More conversation starters:
People wear and promote many of their beliefs with Jewelry, tattoos, t-shirts, hats and bumper stickers.
Ask, "I see you are wearing a cross. What does that mean to you?"
"You have a very interesting tattoo. What does it mean?"
"I saw your 'Coexist' bumper sticker. What does that mean?"
Discussions about major news events can very easily be transitioned into spiritual conversations.
"That was a terrible plane crash in Asia. What do think happens the moment someone dies?"
While having a yard sale, my neighbor informed me that his friend's father had passed away unexpectedly.
I asked him, "where do you think that person is at now?" and that was the beginning of a very fruitful discussion.
To hear about more conversation starters like these go to http://markcahill.org/home/
Are you a good person?
Most men will proclaim each his own goodness, But who can find a faithful man? Proverbs 20:6
In the last Adventures in Witnessing we looked at the usefulness of Gospel tracts. Now let's look at the Good Person Test.
People need to know they’re lost before they can be saved, they need to see their sin problem so they will understand their need for a savior. Just like Proverbs 20:6 states, most men will proclaim their own goodness, they believe that they're a good person and that’s all God requires. As Way of the Master ministries demonstrates so well, taking someone through just a few of the Ten Commandments quickly reveals their position before a Holy God.
Here’s a summary of the Ten Commandments found in Exodus chapter 20.
1. You shall have no other gods before Me.
2. You shall not make for yourself a carved image (idols).
3. You shall not take the Lord’s name in vain.
4. Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.
5. Honor your father and your mother.
6. You shall not murder.
7. You shall not commit adultery.
8. You shall not steal.
9. You shall not bear false witness.
10. You shall not covet.
God's law acts as a mirror reflecting His standards back to us.
The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul; The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; Psalms 19:7
By His own example Jesus shows us how useful the law is when speaking to others about spiritual matters.
And a certain ruler asked Him, saying, Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? And Jesus said to him, Why do you call Me good? None is good except One, God. You know the commandments: Do not commit adultery, do not kill, do not steal, do not bear false witness, honor your father and your mother. And he said, I have kept all these from my youth up. And when Jesus heard these things, He said to him, Yet you lack one thing. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you shall have treasure in Heaven. And come, follow Me. And when he heard this, he was very sorrowful, for he was very rich. Luke 18:18-23
"You have heard that it was said to those of old, 'You shall not commit adultery' But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
So how do we use the Law when witnessing? Just give someone the Good Person Test.
Here's an example:
Do you consider yourself a good person? "Yes" (Most people will answer "Yes")
Have you ever told a lie? "Yes"
What do you call someone who tells lies? "A liar"
Have you ever stolen anything, no matter how big or small? "Yes"
What do you call someone who steals? "A thief"
Have you ever looked at a woman with lust? "Yes"
Jesus said if you look at a woman to lust for her you have committed adultery in your heart.
Have you ever hated someone? "Yes"
According to God hatred is the same as murder. By your own admission you are a liar, thief, adulterer and murderer at heart and that’s just a few of God’s commandments. If God judged you right now would you be innocent or guilty for breaking His laws? "I guess guilty"
Would you go to heaven or hell? "I guess hell"
Does that concern you? "Yes"
Do you know what God did so you don’t have to go to hell? "No"
God sent His son Jesus to come and die on the cross to pay the price for your sins. He was raised from the dead on the third day so that who ever believes in Him will have eternal life with God and escape hell.
The most common objection when asked if they would go to heaven or hell for breaking God’s law is that they would still go to heaven because nobody is perfect and God forgives. Here’s a good place to explain God’s justice. We expect earthly judges to be upright and prompt when executing judgment on law breakers so why should we expect anything less than perfect justice from God. A good question to ask is, “Do judges let criminals off the hook just because they say their sorry?” No, and God doesn’t either. Explain that forgiveness is available but only to those who have put their faith in what Jesus has done on the cross. He paid the price and gave His life as a ransom.
We see in Romans 3:19-20, that the Law of God brings the knowledge of sin, reveals guilt and stops the mouth of a sinner. Using the Good Person Test is a powerful way to bypass intellectual arguments and go directly to a persons conscience. When you give this test, often you will see someone's demeanor change. I've seen people literally stop talking during this test as they fell under conviction. One man said to me, "I'll just stop talking now." On one occasion, the hands of the gentleman I was speaking with started shaking as we went through just a few of the commandments.
This technique is Biblical and an extremely helpful way to reach the lost. Click on the link below to see video clips of this in action.
Welcome to Adventures in Witnessing Volume Two. In our first post, we looked at how easy it is to communicate the simple but powerful message of the Gospel. Now let's look at some more ways to engage people.
Evangelist Mark Cahill has a great book called One Thing You Can't Do In Heaven. What is the one thing?
It is the opportunity to witness to a lost person. Now is the time for us to reach the lost.
Gospel tracts are great conversation starters. These small flyers or leaflets are easy to carry and pass out during your everyday routine. In some circles, the distribution of tracts is criticized for being old fashion. However, we live in a unique time of multiculturalism where many people have never seen a Gospel tract or heard the Gospel. Acts 8:27-30 gives us an example of how useful it is to get God's word into the hands of others. Philip was sent to witness to and then baptized the Ethiopian eunuch who was reading from the book of Isaiah as he traveled.
As I go to the grocery store, gas station, restaurant or anywhere else I will hand out a tract to someone and say "Here's something for you to read in your spare time today." Almost everyone will take it. Many times people will actually read it on the spot. So I'll wait for them to finish reading and ask them "What do you think?" and often that's the start of a great spiritual conversation.
Once, while getting gas, I handed a tract to the man filling up next to me. He read it on the spot and immediately fell under heavy conviction. As I spoke with this young man from India, he confessed that he had done something terrible. I shared the Gospel, the mercy of God and how God will forgive us if we turn to Him. He was new to America and had never heard the Gospel message before.
If you want to impact someone's day, give a tract along with a five or ten dollar bill. This really gets their attention.
On the rare occasion that someone refuses to accept a tract, just leave them with one question, "Are you 100% sure you would go to heaven if you died tonight?" This question has haunted many until they turned to the Lord.
You never know what can happen by just handing out a tract and saying “Here's something for you to read in your spare time.”
Get tracts from Living Waters or Pinpoint Gospel Tracts. Click on links below. Contact Scott@shofarouteach.org for the custom tracts pictured above.
Follower of Jesus