Bible Study with a group of people, follow these simple rules to benefit a discourse on religious or faith issues. Twenty-five years in ministry from the Pulpit and Lectern have taught me some simple rules to follow when visitors come by. These practices are best because Scripture bears them out.
As Christians who want to share our faith, we must realize that we are in the communication business. Communication is necessary to share the Gospel. Three practices, when applied, provide a blessed opportunity for visitors coming by. These practices are general and not exhaustive.
Rule #2 of 3 – Stick to the Bible
We get into more problems and emotional turmoil because we go from discussing what the Bible says or doesn't say about a matter to judging opinions, habits, traditions, and feelings. For example:
In commenting on the Roman Catholic practice of having a religious service at midnight on Christmas morning, someone will call it "crazy," "useless," or "dumb." However, such a comment would be highly insulting, hurtful, and unproductive for those who grew up with this tradition and practice.
As Christians, our task concerning other people, whether fellow Christians or people who follow other religions or complete atheists, is always the same. It's easy to understand, but it's not always easy to do because of our sinful natures and ignorance.
Our task is given to us in Matthew 28:20 by Jesus, and He says that we must "teach them to observe all that I commanded you." This task does not involve our feelings or opinions, only the Word of the Lord – the Bible. There are some critical reasons for rule number two.
A – It's Biblical
Sticking to the Word is how the Word itself tells us to debate and discuss with others about faith.
All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness;
- II Timothy 3:16
B – It keeps the debate in perspective
When a religious discussion gets ugly and bitter, it is usually because the exchange has become personal. Comments like, "what a stupid idea," or "that's not the way we do it at my church," or "my preacher says that you people are all going to hell."
Religion and faith are deeply personal things and just discussing them with someone else is dangerous. You're afraid of being wrong or looking ignorant, or being rejected. Try to remember that the discussion is not between
Religious discussions that are productive, non-confrontational, and informative, a religious debate should be framed in the following perspective: "How do our respective beliefs, faith, and religions line up with the Bible?"
On one side is Jesus and His Word; the other side is ourselves and the people we are discussing religion.
Jesus is on one side, and we are on the other. We hold all of our beliefs, including our own, to the light of God's Word. That makes us partners in the search for truth, not adversaries.
So, a simple example of this type of approach would be discussing baptism with a Baptist or a Methodist friend. The debate never ends when approached with the idea that we would argue what the Church of Christ teaches versus what Baptists teach. If we put it into this perspective, the discussion becomes more fruitful and less contentious. "Let's study what the Bible teaches about baptism and discuss what we've learned."
There may not be immediate agreement. The other side may not accept certain conclusions that we readily approve. Still, communication will happen, God's Word will be read and discussed, and perhaps the discussion will end well with the desire to continue because of mutual respect.
If you keep discussing people's beliefs and God's Word (and not between your idea versus their idea), you have a better chance of teaching God's "Word and Will" rather than your own.
That brings us to Practice #3. Check this blog out in a week to look at these three practices in the coming weeks. In summary, remember 1. Give people some credit where their sincerity is concerned; 2. Study God's Word, not your opinion, and have no other agendas; 3. Be patient because teaching the perfect way requires it.
Beliefs need to be Bible-grown and matured if one is to have peace and salvation. We must remember that we have not cornered sincerity and zeal of faith.
See you in the next blog, and check out the links below.
Barry G. Johnson, Sr.
An Evangelist at the Church of Christ which meets in Brookfield, IL.