Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Always Being Ready

During times when we are in town, it is not uncommon for someone to come up to us and either make a comment about our dress and/or demeanor or to ask questions about our faith, what church we go to, etc. This has been a learning and growing experience for me!

I love discussing Scripture with others and sharing about the Lord, but sometimes if I am not expecting it and if my mind is preoccupied with other things, it can be a little challenging to know how best to respond or to be able to switch my focus and thought processes to sharing about and/or defending the faith. So each time one of these opportunities arises, I try to learn from it and then prepare better for the next time!

Well last week, we had another of these opportunities . . . Leah and I were in town mailing packages and picking up some business supplies, when a man approached us in one of the stores and asked the question “What church do you go to?” That question opened the door for about a fifteen minute conversation with this gentleman.

Towards the beginning of the conversation, we explained the basics about what we believe, and he shared that he belonged to ‘The Church of Jesus Christ Apostolic’ (There was more to the name, but I can’t remember the rest of it. I looked up the denomination online afterwards, and found that they have some significant doctrinal error . . . in addition to what we had already realized from our conversation with him.)

He seemed really interested to hear what we believed, and a little debative too, which made it interesting! We shared about the gospel for a brief time, and then the conversation turned towards the Trinity and the deity of Christ. This gentleman believed that while Christ was the Son of God, He was not God, but was instead just a great prophet and the first apostle.

We talked together cordially about this for around ten to fifteen minutes asking questions, sharing Scriptures (including some of the ones where Christ Himself testified that He was God), and gently challenging him a bit, before he turned to go. As he left, it was our hope and prayer that something we said might encourage him to question his false belief and then turn in true faith to Jesus Christ.

Once the conversation was over, I began going over it in my mind . . . seeing what I could have said more clearly, thinking of other Scriptures that could have been brought up, what things that he mentioned that would have been good to address, etc. Basically, analyzing the conversation in order to learn and grow from it so that I will be better equipped for the next time as there is much room for improvement!

Since then, I have continued to give all of this a great deal of thought, prayer, as well as discussing it with my family, and have been evaluating my own heart. The Lord has called us as His children and as disciples of Christ, to “always [be] ready” (1 Peter 3:15.) Are we? Are we always ready to defend, teach, and share God’s truth with others? Are we prepared? How can we grow in this and become better prepared and equipped to effectively share God’s truth with others? For we should know what we believe, why we believe it, and then be able to articulate it in an understandable way and with “gentleness and reverence” (1 Peter 3:15.)

I came up with several ways to grow in this, and I would love to hear any advice or thoughts that any of you may share! Here is what I have so far . . .

--Read, study, and become very familiar with Scripture

This is one area that I am very thankful that my parents ingrained in me when I was young! How important it is to read the Bible from beginning to end over and over and over, and especially the New Testament. A good goal would be to read through the entire Bible every year and the New Testament twice. The more we read and become familiar with Scripture, the better our recall and ability will be in order to defend it and share it.

--Memorize key Scriptures that explain and teach the basic tenets of the gospel

I am seeing ever more how important this is! And then when the verses are memorized, to use them. To use not simply our own words (“I think . . .”, “I believe . . .”, etc.), but instead, “God has said in His Word . . .” or “Scripture teaches . . .”, etc. (and this doesn’t mean only using word-for-word quotations, but includes explaining what is taught in Scripture.) God’s Word is effective! It is “living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (1 Peter 4:12.)

--Seek counsel from others, and especially older men and women in the faith.

In Scripture, the older are to teach the younger, instructing them in the truths of God’s Word. There is so much to learn from the wisdom, knowledge, and experience of older men and women of God!

--Prepare our hearts and minds in advance for when situations do arise (I think this one is key for me!)

Before going to town or to places where situations such as this can come up, pray and prepare our hearts and expect something to happen. Then if/when it does, it doesn’t catch us off guard or unprepared, but we are equipped both mentally and spiritually for it.

--When situations arise, immediately turn to the Lord and ask for His wisdom and for the Holy Spirit to lead and guide. 

This is vital! For we need the Holy Spirit’s guidance, leading and wisdom, and He can bring to our remembrance His Word and Truth in order to know what and how to share.

--Do mock mental ‘run throughs’ of various conversations that could take place.

Such as, if someone asks about why we dress the way we do, what answer would we give? How could the conversation be turned to sharing the gospel? What about if the Trinity is brought up and challenged, what Scriptures could be used to defend that Jesus Christ was indeed God in the flesh? What if someone says they believe that physical works (baptism, obedience, etc.) are necessary for salvation? How would we use Scripture to accurately show the error in this belief? What questions could we ask to help lead them to see that what they are holding to is not true?

For me personally, there are some areas I am better prepared to discuss than others . . . the error of baptismal regeneration for example. The reason why, though, is from a great deal of study on this topic and writing about it extensively. What if I/we did the same with other, or even all, major tenets of the faith? How much better prepared we would be for when different circumstances and conversations would arise!

Just writing these thoughts down convicts my heart and makes me excited to pursue (and continue to pursue!) these different ideas. I am sure there are other ways to grow in this, too, and I would love to hear any ideas that you all may have!

-Posted by Sarah

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