When you look at the way Jesus does evangelism you notice two things. Firstly he is always being asked questions. Secondly, he is always asking questions. In fact you’ll notice he very often answers a question with a question.
So this then forces us to ask two questions of ourselves when it comes to sharing our faith:
- Do my skeptical friends ask me questions, the same way Jesus’ skeptics did to him?
- Do I engage my skeptical friends by asking them questions that get them thinking?
My guess is that most of us will say ‘no’ and ‘no.’ So, due to popular demand from our first sharing your faith seminar, we are going to do ‘part two’ which is all about answering and asking questions.
Part One – The Provocative Witness…and some tools
In part one we essentially did two things: Firstly we laid out a biblical approach/stance towards evangelism which I call ‘The Provocative Witness’ summarised by the slogan:
“People prepared to give an answer, living lives that provoke a question”
Secondly, we learnt how to share our testimony and thirdly we learnt three simple ways to share the gospel. Do read more about the provocative witness in here or here, and do download the handout from seminar one if you would like.
Part Two – Asking and Answering Questions Like Jesus
The Intro Course that we run, has as it’s slogan: “Asking the big questions of life.” I have written before on the three reasons we should all ask more questions. But a fourth reason I didn’t put on that blog is because Jesus is always asking questions. Famously in Luke’s Gospel he is asked exactly the same question:
“What must I do to gain eternal life?” (Luke 10.25-37 & Luke 18.18-30)
In both contexts his “evangelistic” opportunity was handed him on a plate for him to reel off a simple gospel explanation if he chose:
“God created the world perfect, we sinned, we need to put right with God, we can’t do that ourselves, therefore God sent his son to come and make atonement from our sin, to rise again and to offer us eternal life…so you need to decide what to do with this offer. Yes or no?”
But Jesus didn’t say anything like that!
What does he do? He gives the two people completely different responses. To the Pharisee ( Luke 10.25-37) who wants to justify himself by obeying God’s law and by loving his neighbour, Jesus gives him an impossible standard and challenges him to love his worst enemy at the infinite cost to himself. To the Rich Young Ruler (Luke 18.18-30) who wants to earn his way into heaven he challenges him on the 10th commandment (coveting) and therefore tells him to give away everything he owns (money was his God).
Neither of them could do it and they both get a complete shock as they find they are out of God’s good books. What is Jesus doing? To the Pharisee who is trying to justify himself he tells the Good Samaritan Story and to the Rich Young Ruler who is trying to justify himself he tells him to sell all his possessions. In both stories, Jesus gives a different answer BECAUSE he is getting to the heart and dealing with what is actually stopping the person following Christ:
- He is engaging with the person and making the gospel relevant to them…not just reciting some simple gospel outline!
- And he is exposing the real issue (the sin beneath the sin – the idol – the thing that is REALLY stopping them coming to Christ)
John Stott called it “double listening” – listen to the bible and the word of God, and listen to the needs and questions, the hopes and pains of our world…and put the two together! In a nutshell, how does the gospel meet this particular need/question? But Jesus has something else to teach you also. As I said in my introduction, he asks questions back before he answers. In fact, in BOTH stories Jesus answers their question with a question, which is something he did nearly every time:
- What is written in the law, how do you interpret it? (Luke 10:16)
- Why do you call me good? Nobody is good but God alone (Luke 18:19)
Jesus doesn’t feel compelled to jump to an answer because he wants to get to the real issue, to the heart, to the motivation, to the REAL barrier that is stopping someone follow God. And he does this repeatedly. Just look at his engagement with the religious leaders in Matthew 21:23 to the end of Matthew 23. He has provoked questions…but then he asks questions back to provoke them even more, to get under their skin…to get them thinking and reveal the cracks in their thinking. This is good “inbound” sales skills.
Author Randy Newman has helped us understand with his book Questioning Evangelism. We must engage people’s hearts the way Jesus did. Do listen to this seminar, watch this video he has done outlining his thoughts or read his book.
So I invite you to come on 5th March, after the service (6.15-7.45pm), enjoy some pizza and refreshments, and learn how to answer the tough questions your friends have and how to ask probing questions back.