Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Always Being Ready

I had posted this over on Follow in His Steps, but as it is a more 
personal post, I thought I would share it here as well . . . .

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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 also 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!

10 comments:

  1. I think we all find that the words come later,, long after the conversation. That's when we think of the ideal replies. It is hard to suddenly be put on the spot, but your ideas for preparing for that are excellent.

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  2. This is an awesome post, Sarah. I think you covered everything. One thing that we did years ago that helped was do a study of some of the cults. We didn't go into great depth, but covered just enough to show and be able to defend the main differences and where their beliefs are contrary to Scripture. Bank tellers don't study in great depth counterfeit money, they handle and know the real thing so well, that when a counterfeit comes along, they can spot it immediately. Hence, studying and knowing the Scriptures is the main point here. We should know it so well, that we can defend it and spot something contrary to it immediately.
    God bless you,
    Anne♥

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  3. What a neat opportunity you and Leah had talking to that gentleman! I really, really enjoyed this post, Sarah. Thank you for sharing it!! All of your thoughts and ideas on this are excellent! Doing mock mental "run throughs" is a great tip! It's also fun to do practice conversations, with someone you know acting as a person with questions or different beliefs. After reading this post I am encouraged even more to work hard to be prepared...to study, memorize,and never stop learning. I like what Anne mentioned above - the more we know and study the truth, the easier it will be to identify and confront error.
    Sarah, the second to last paragraph you wrote really challenged me...I want to study in depth the "major tenets of the faith" because I know that is key to "being ready!"
    Thank you again for this post! It was a blessing.
    Karen

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  4. A wonderful reminder of how opportunities to share our faith more often come when we're not expecting them! You seemed to handle these quite well, despite being caught off guard. One thing we've done in the past is to have a large collection of tracts on many different Biblical topics in our car. Whenever we go somewhere, I tuck a few of these in my purse before exiting the car to enter the store, mall, or whatever. Then if the opportunity arises, I have something that I can leave with someone as a follow-up to discussion. It has been startling at times, how relevant to the occasion the tract in my purse turns out to be!:-)

    ~ Betsy

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  5. I have found that to be so true, Elizabeth! Which is one reason why I am seeing the need to be better prepared and equipped . . . and then to continue learning from each of the different situations!

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  6. Thank you for your encouragement, Mrs. Anne! And thank you for sharing that excellent idea about studying some of the different cults. That would be very helpful! My Mom has done that with Mormonism as fro awhile we were so often having Mormons come up and talk to us and especially one lady in particular that we kept seeing in town, but I haven’t done a great deal of this kind of study myself. I need to!

    What a good analogy about the counterfeit bills! Very true. The more we know of Scripture and the truths therein, the more equipped we will be able to discern those things which are false and know better how to expose/refute them.

    Thank you again for all that you shared as it was encouraging to me!

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  7. Thank you, Karen, for your comment as it was a blessing to read! I was so thankful for the opportunity we had, and I am glad that the post was a blessing and encouragement to you. You’re welcome for sharing! That is an excellent idea about doing practice conversations . . . Leah and I should try that on each other. I can see how that would be very helpful!

    Thank you for sharing your heart . . . just reading what you wrote encourages and inspires me even more. Thank you for that!

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  8. Thank you for your encouraging comment, Betsy! That is a great idea about the tracts. I had intended to get some awhile back, but had forgotten about it until you mentioned it. So thank you especially for sharing that! And it was also encouraging to hear about the opportunities you have had with sharing these tracts with others. Many seeds planted, and we can be praying for their growth!

    You mentioned the tracts being good follow-up . . . that reminded me that another thing I try to remember to do if a person seems genuinely interested, is to give them the addresses of either our home church or family ministry site (or both.) That way, they can explore things further and there is contact information on those sites so if they have questions, etc., then they can contact us!

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Thanks so much for your comment! Each one is read and enjoyed. :)