William Barclay stated, “The possession of the good news of the gospel involves the obligation to share it.” However, for many in Christendom today there is a serious lack of knowledge concerning the Bible. Amos prophesied, “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord GOD, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD” (Amos 8:11, KJV). We live in a time when the presentation has become more important than what is being presented. Many have clamored for the glamour within our services, and although the experience has left a smile on their face, it has also left a void in their lives. How many followers of Christ are spiritually starving to death trying to exist on platitudes and soundbites? Paul spoke of this when he declared, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears” (2 Timothy 4:3, KJV). Please do not misunderstand me. I too believe that presentation is important. It should be appealing and attractive to this generation. I contend however, that the presentation must continue to be a means to an end and not an end in itself.
One specific reason why our people need to have a clear understanding of this redemptive message is so they can be an effective witness. Consider Paul’s approach to evangelism. In Thessalonica, he entered the Jewish synagogue and “reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and showing that the Messiah had to suffer and rise from the dead” (Acts 17:2-3, HCSB, emphasis mine). In Berea, the Jews “examined the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so” ( Acts 17:11, HCSB, emphasis mine). In Corinth, Paul “reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath and tried to persuade both Jews and Greeks” (18:4, HCSB, emphasis mine). In Ephesus, he conducted “discussions every day in the lecture hall of Tyrannus” (Acts 19:9, HCSB, emphasis mine). The point is, the Holy Spirit used this process of in-depth Bible study to win a great deal of people in Asia. In fact, it is very possible that the seven churches of Asia that are mentioned in Revelation came into existence because of Paul’s in-depth ministry in Ephesus.
You might contend that, “It’s the preacher’s job to understand the scriptures; I’m just a lay person in the church.” Although this is a very common position, it is also absolutely wrong. The primary purpose of the Shepherd is to equip and prepare believers for the work of ministry. This was Paul’s emphasis when he stated, “And He personally gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the training of the saints in the work of ministry, to build up the body of Christ” (Ephesians 4:11-12, HCSB, emphasis mine). It is true that you may not be called into one of the offices listed above, but every child of God has an obligation to understand what they believe. The fact is you have a whole circle of friends and family that God has given you the opportunity to minister to. And as a minister to your world you must be able to reason and discuss the scriptures accurately and effectively. It is you that must field their questions and defend the gospel.
The one added advantage that you have is the Holy Spirit, who will help you to know what to say. “But before all these, they shall lay their hands on you, and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues, and into prisons, being brought before kings and rulers for my name’s sake. And it shall turn to you for a testimony. Settle it therefore in your hearts, not to meditate before what ye shall answer. For I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay nor resist.“ (Luke 21:12-15, KJV, emphasis mine). You may wonder how the Lord will do this. He will bring to your remembrance those things which you have studied and learned. “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you“ (John 14:26, KJV, emphasis mine).
May God help us to win our world. May the Lord help us to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ that our world may hear and believe.
Question: Many say that the two things you should never discuss is politics and religion. What are your thoughts?
Dr. Anthony Adams