If you walked into biology class knowing there was a test, it would be smart to review the information and not just walking in with a text book; The book wouldn’t be very useful if you hadn’t studied it. Likewise, when we study bible topics with people, we can’t just walk in with a bible without first preparing ourselves over the information. Depending on whom you study with, subjects could come up that you’ve never considered. Searching the scriptures for answers is the only way to follow God’s commands; if you know what the instructions say, you can follow them.
The most dangerous thing spiritually a person can say is “I think.” As members of the body of Christ, we have a duty to teach others about the word. I know some people think, “Why bother, when no one will listen to me anyways?” Well, I’ve thought that a few times too, but let me share a story with you. My friend (I am not going to use this friend’s real name, so let’s pretend she’s Sam) grew up in the Baptist church. At the age of 12, I wasn’t exactly equipped with all the biblical knowledge I needed, but I tried my best to stand up for my beliefs. Being the only member of the church in my group of friends at a public school was hard, but manageable. Two of these friends didn’t attend anywhere, but believed there was a God; one was Cumberland Presbyterian; the other (Sam) was baptist. When we would have free time and hang out, we would talk about music and movies, but every once in awhile we would talk about religion. I remember one time when they asked me why I “didn’t believe the old testament” and said that I was being hypocritical. That was the first time I’d ever been exposed to something like that, so I didn’t know what to say. I went home and talked to my dad about it, and after that time, I made a goal for myself: I was going to study and lead others to Christ until I was proven wrong.
Now, 6 years later, I see the impact I have had on people. I invited my friend, Sam, to Wednesday night Bible class, and soon she started coming on Sunday nights. A year or so after she started coming with me, we went to Bible camp. After long discussions on what the Bible says and taking away what man says, she realized that, although with good intention, she had been taught false doctrine her entire life and that week she decided to become a Christian.
Even if Sam is the only person I ever lead to Christ, I will always try. If I had ever decided I wasn’t going to share my faith with everyone I knew, there is a very good chance Sam would have never found the truth. Believe me, evangelizing and bringing hundreds (or just one) to Christ is worth the discomfort and difficulties.
It’s hard to be prepared. That is why I want to share with you some things that can help you know what to say in certain situations. I’ve put together a few popular discussions that come up in Bible studies, but by no means will this article cover them all, and each one will likely need further research. This is just a starting point for those of you who don’t know where to look and need to know more about what the Bible says.
If you’ve grown up in the church, you’ve probably sung a song or recited something along the lines of “hear, believe, repent, confess, be baptized”(the 5 steps to salvation). But, can you prove they are necessary? The Bible tells us in Romans 10:17 that “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” It’s common sense that in order to believe something, one must hear it. Most people don’t have a problem with the first few steps on our list, with belief being taught in John 3:16 and repentance in Acts 2:38;17:30, and confession in Matthew 10:32 and Acts 8:37. The issue usually springs on the topic of baptism. Now, it really is a mystery to me why baptism is such a problem while the other Bible-based steps are encouraged within the denominational world. The last recorded words in Matthew of Jesus were “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19). Why would Jesus lastly command baptism if it wasn’t even essential to salvation, when he could’ve emphasized believing or confessing? Looking further, in Acts 2:38 we see that the purpose for baptism is “for the remission of sins” and the very first Christians were told it was what they must do to “receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” There are many verses to discuss on this subject, but a person could conclude after reading these few verses that baptism was a very important part of becoming a Christian.
Once Saved Always Saved
One popular belief in mainstream denominations is that once you’re saved, you’re always saved. While that is easy to believe and makes people feel better, it has no scriptural truth. My response to that would be to point them to Galatians 5:4. This passage tells us that these Christians (1:2) attempted to justify what they were doing by the old law, and had fallen from grace. These people were under the law of the New Testament and no longer the old, so they were not “justified by the law”. The Christians in Galatia were separated from God’s grace, but if they decided to change their ways and follow the new law, they could be reunited with God’s saving grace. Ephesians 2:8 and Romans 5:2 tell us that we have access to the grace through faith; when there is no more faith, there is no more access to grace. Jesus’s death gave us access to the grace (John 1:17), but we only get that reward so long as we are faithful and obey Him. Since the Father gives grace, we are no longer receiving grace when we have continued in sin and ignore His teaching. (1 John 2:23, 2 John 9)
In Hebrews 11, we are given more than 10 examples of people who pleased God. Was it because they believed in Him? Partially. It was because, in their faith, they did works. None of the faithful examples mentioned only believing, but rather all of them showed actions that directly came from the faith. Abraham’s faith alone meant nothing, but when he “obeyed when he was called to go out to the place”, he became the father of the faithful. Hebrews 2:14-17 fully explains why we must have works with our faith. Faith alone or works alone will not merit salvation. When the two combine (“I will show you my faith by my works” James 2:18), they become effective.
Old Testament / Law
The question “why don’t you believe in the Old Testament?” has come up numerous times in discussions I’ve had. This misunderstanding of scripture is understandable when people use the old law to prove their actions as biblical, but fail to realize why we no longer practice it. Almost anyone you study with will agree that we don’t offer sacrifices anymore. Why not? Because those sacrifices were rolling over the sins of the past generations until Jesus came and was the ultimate sacrifice, carrying all of their sins and all sins in the future (1 John 2:2). The Old Testament’s purpose is for our learning of the past. Hebrews 8:13 tells us that there is a new covenant that took the place of the old. The new law to follow became enforced after Christ’s death (Hebrews 9:15-17). So, we no longer are under the Old Testament law, but can use the Old Testament to learn the nature of God and about the past of humankind.
I encourage you to pick up your Bible (and probably a concordance and dictionary) and study whatever topics necessary to answer the questions presented to you. Remember, study your book before you have to take the test!
“Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.” 2 Timothy 4:2
By Lydia Todd