Believe it or not, I have found that most non-believers agree with almost all of what the Bible says – especially when it comes to the pitiful state of humanity and the need for transformation – as long as they don’t know that the Bible says it.
For example: Take anyone struggling with any kind of addiction or self-control problem. Chances are if you said, “I know what you mean, it’s like that which I want to do, I don’t do and that which I do, I don’t want to do!” they would say “exactly.” You could then follow up with something to the effect of, “wouldn’t it be great if we could just be totally changed into a new person, almost like being born all over again with a second chance?” Likely, you’ll get a positive response. And if that person seems to be jiving with what you’re saying, you now have a perfectly open door to humbly, gently introduce them to Jesus with a “you know, that’s what my faith is all about – being made new.”
I could give 1,000 examples like this, and not one of them might fit a situation you know of. However, I’m sure you have someone on your heart that needs to hear the Truth of the Word. Just remember that the power of God’s Word isn’t dependent on making sure someone knows that they can turn to page 2,597 of the KJV to read it. God’s Word is powerful. Period.
In I Cor. 9:20-23, Paul talked about adjusting his approach of sharing the gospel so that he could be as effective as possible and not needlessly offensive.
“To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the Gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.” (ESV)
Last week, I wrote about how the Bible stands the test of truth and relevancy, regardless of whether a person thinks it is of God or not. This should give us confidence to use the messages of the Bible in “normal” conversation. If we are going to become weak (and I use the word “weak” here to describe not physical weakness, but spiritual or emotional weakness) in order to win the weak, we need to meet the weak humbly, and on their level.
When a person is struggling with life, family, spiritual or other problems and you have a chance to comfort or counsel them, it might not be the best idea to lead off with “Well, the Bible says…” Some people aren’t always ready to hear that. Some people have been hurt by Christians, others might be skeptical and others might just want to feel like someone is actually listening and cares for them and isn’t just trying to convert them.
This does not mean we can’t share the truth of the Word with them. In fact, you can still quote relevant Scripture, just don’t give a reference immediately. Have you ever been reading your Bible and come across text that all of the sudden is in a completely different font and format? Chances are, you’re reading a Biblical author quote another part of Scripture, but they might not give you the reference for it and you’ll have to look at the footnotes to find out where that quote comes from. It happens a lot in the Bible!
We need to be able to help people understand what the Bible says – this idea fits with the very nature of the writing of the New Testament itself!
Jesus spoke primarily in Aramaic. I’m sure he spoke Hebrew and probably some Greek and Latin as well. However, the entire New Testament was originally written in Greek! Why? Because it was the lingua franca, the common language, of the world the NT writer’s lived in. When translating and telling of all Jesus said and did, it would have been impossible to translate everything from Aramaic to Greek in a 1-to-1, word-for-word basis. But it was definitely possible to convey the meaning of all Jesus taught in one language, to another, and the disciples and Paul wanted as many people as possible to understand, not just know the good news. We know that God’s Word does not “return void,” (Isa. 55:11) but does that mean that if we walk into downtown Little Rock quoting scripture in Norwegian, and nobody around speaks Norwegian, that it will produce an abundant harvest?
I am convinced that memorizing Bible verses is important, but not nearly as important as grasping the concepts and principles they convey – and those principles are universally understood by the human heart.