One important thing in biblical evangelism is the attitude we show to our prospects. II Timothy 2:23-26 gives us good instruction concerning our attitudes.
Avoid foolish questions (II Timothy 2:23).
Not all questions are foolish. Sometimes prospects have questions that must be answered of they are to understand the truth.
Foolish questions are those questions that are asked to cloud the truth or to distract from the issue being discussed. These questions are asked insincerely to create doubt and to stir up strife.
Atheists like to as questions like, “If God is all powerful can He create a rock so big that He cannot lift it?” Jehovah’s Witness will ask questions like: “How can God be one and yet three?” “How can Jesus be God when He prayed to God?” Etc.
You can tell if a question is sincere by the person’s willingness to listen carefully to your answer and to consider the possibility that your answer might be correct. If all the person cares about is giving their opinion and arguing it is better not to wast time dealing with them.
Paul’s example in Acts 17:32-34 shows us how to deal with scorners and with those who want to hear the truth. We separate from scorners and teach those who want the truth. If we don’t separate those who scorn and those who teach false doctrine we hinder our ability to teach the truth.
Proverbs 26:4-5 is interesting because the two verses seem to contradict each other. The first says don’t answer the fool according to his folly in such a way as to be like him. The second says we are to answer a fool according to his folly in and intelligent way so he will not think there is no answer to his foolishness. Only the Holy Spirit can guide us on how to answer the fools questions.
When dealing with those who teach false doctrine we should follow the teaching of Titus 3:10-11 “A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject; Knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself.” Dealing with them twice is enough since it then becomes obvious that it is an issue of the will, not the intellect. By His obstinance he condemns himself.
Sincere questions should be answered from the Bible. If a person is having trouble understanding any time spent dealing with them is well spent.
Be gentle, patient, humble (II Timothy 2:24, 25).
We must always remember that those who are caught in the snare of the devil are incapable of receiving the things of God (I Corinthians 2:14). We should, therefore, be kind, gentle, patient, and humble in dealing with them. Our goal is not to win an argument, but to be a tool in the hand of the Holy Spirit in drawing them to Christ.
We must not compromise on the Gospel or biblical doctrine. We must know what we believe and why and we must stand strong for truth. There is no reason to do it in a manner that causes a fight. Winning someone to the Lord takes time and effort. It is not a five minute presentation. It may take many encounters to get through to someone. We must always leave the door open for the next one if we can.
If we want others to listen to us we must be willing to listen to them. How can we know what is keeping them from receiving the truth if we don’t listen to their reasons? How can we give them biblical answers to what is keeping them from Christ if we don’t hear their objections? Let the prospect say what is on his mind and then give a well thought out biblical answer. If you don’t know the answer tell him you will find and and get back with him. This shows him you know there is an answer. It is also a learning opportunity for you.
Don’t get into a debate. Answer the individual’s arguments and challenges with the simple teaching of God’s Word. If this doesn’t satisfy him, end the conversation by explaining that the only thing you have that will help him is the truth of the Bible and a debate accomplishes nothing.
There is a time to rebuke unbelievers for their hardness of heart. Be sure it is the Holy Spirit that is leading you to do so and not your pride.
Teach and instruct with God’s Word (II Timothy 2:24, 25).
Remember what Romans 10:17 says; “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” You cannot reach the lost by your Christian testimony alone. You must teach the Word of God. It is the Gospel that is the power of God unto salvation (Romans 1:16), not our persuasive arguments.
Our testimony must back up what we tell prospects. They must see gentleness and patience and a good Christian testimony but we must get them to hear Word of God is we want to reach them.
Trust in God (II Timothy 2:25-26).
Remember that we can save no one. The battle is spiritual and it takes the conviction power of the Holy Spirit to bring someone to Christ. We must trust Him to lead us in what we say and how we say it. Then we must trust Him to do the work in their hearts.
Verse 25 says “if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth” This tells us we must depend upon God for the results.
We are to instruct those who have set themselves up in opposition to the truth to their own detriment. The purpose and hope is that God will use our instruction to bring them to repentance. The Holy Spirit will lead us in what we say. He will make application in the mind and heart of the prospect. He will open their eyes so they and see and acknowledge the truth.
The repentance spoken of here is a change of mind concerning the truth. It has nothing to do with what they do when the understand and acknowledge it. That is the decision of the prospect.
Verse 26 tells us than once they have acknowledged the truth they have what is needed to “recover themselves” from the snare of the devil. The truth will tell them they cannot save themselves so they must turn to the Saviour and trust Him and His work for salvation. The choice is still theirs.
Having a proper attitude is important to reaching the lost. We must have a gentle and humble spirit. We must realize that the sinners heart is not changed by our arguments, but by the working of the Holy Spirit. We are not debaters, nor are we there to win an argument. We are tools in the hands of the Holy Spirit. We are not responsible for the results, we are responsible for presenting the truth as we are led by the Holy Spirit.
Copyright 2017 Pierre Coovert, All rights reserved