Giving an Answer
A. RECENT SERMON
1. Back in August I preached a lesson on
"Discipleship" where I specifically attributed the lack of the
spread of the gospel to Christians not understanding what being a
true disciple means. We noticed that being a true disciples
meant not only "someone who subscribes to the teachings of a
master (or teacher)" but also one who "assists in the spreading
of those teachings."
2. One point of that lesson that I want to expand on
is that the church needs true disciples. I mentioned that the
church needs those who can and will talk to people about their
souls needs. I stressed the fact that the church needs those who
CAN and WILL. But that, I said, is where the difference lies.
There are those who CAN but WON'T; and there are those who WOULD
3. It wasn't quite fair of me to jump on the fact of
what it means to be a disciple without helping you
understand a the way to ASSIST IN SPREADING THE TEACHINGS OF
JESUS CHRIST. So that is what I want to touch on--SPREADING THE
TEACHINGS or what the Bible refers to as GIVING AN ANSWER.
4. One principle that we must grasp is that Jesus
seems to work the most powerfully in the life of the Christian
who is stepping out in faith to catch men by telling others about
Him. So why is it then that we do not share our faith more
often? Maybe it is because we are afraid we will not be able to
answer the questions we will be asked. Well...there is an
ancient Hebrew device that you can use to help you in all your
answers...it is called the B-I-B-L-E.!! So lets notice how this
device can help us out.
B. LET'S NOTICE THREE PASSAGES OF SCRIPTURE
1. There are three passages in the Bible that tells
us that it is necessary for a Christian to be able to give an
answer in helping spread the gospel of Christ. Let's notice
them. (These may seem like "tall orders" but we must understand
they are not as difficult with a little practice.)
a. The first one we'll look at tells us of
that necessity. 2 Timothy 2:24-26, "And a servant of the Lord
must not quarrel, but be gentle to all, ABLE TO TEACH, patient,
in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God
perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may KNOW THE
TRUTH, and that they may COME TO THEIR SENSES and escape the
snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his
will." Here, this scriptures give us several key elements.
First of all we must all BE ABLE TO TEACH for the reason that
those who are in opposition to God's word may KNOW THE TRUTH and
COME TO THEIR SENSES. This expresses the need for us all to
teach, for there are many who need to know the truth and come to
their senses so that they may escape the snare of the devil. And
it is going to require that we be ABLE to teach.
b. Secondly we need to understand that we
are always to be ready. I Peter 3:15, "But sanctify the Lord God
in your hearts, and ALWAYS BE READY to give an answer to everyone
who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness
and fear." (Certainly we have hammered this verse out in our
classes on Evidences and we can all see the need). The key
phrase in this verse "ALWAYS BE READY".
c. Finally and admonition from Paul that
expresses several principles all wrapped up in a nice little
package of a verse. Colossians 4:5,6, "Walk in wisdom toward
those who are outside, redeeming the time. Let your speech
always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how
you ought to answer each one." Other versions might render it
the first part of the verse this way, "Walk in wisdom to those
who are without, buying up each opportunity..." The last part of
this verse is what we are going to primarily deal with "that you
may know how you ought to answer each one."
3. Someone once said, "If all else fails...read the
directions." So let's open up our Hebrew devices and read
the directions on "giving an answer." We want to notice four
PREPARATION THE CONDITION OF
THE HEARER THE PROCEDURE BE
FAMILIAR WITH COMMON RESPONSES
I. THE PREPARATION
A. WE MUST HAVE A HEART OF RIGHTEOUSNESS
1. Let's see the wisdom of Solomon in
Proverbs 15:28. "The heart of the righteous studies how to
answer, but he mouth of the wicked pours forth evil." From the
very beginning we see that we must have a heart of righteousness.
Righteousness obviously pertains to the character that Christians
are to have--the character or quality of doing right or just; is
was formally expressed "rightwiseness" which gives good insight
on the meaning.
2. Where is this righteousness to come from?
Jesus makes an interesting statement at his baptism in Matthew
3:15. After John tried to prevent Jesus from being baptized
Jesus said, "Permit it to be so now, for this is it fitting for
us to fulfill all righteousness." Indeed Jesus is fulfilled
everything that was right and just for him to do. We should look
to his character to see what it means for us to be righteous;
which means that our heart should have the same qualities as His.
We should have a heart that expresses itself in unselfish
sacrifice, having humility, having an appreciate for the value of
a soul, a love for people, and a readiness to follow where the
Lord leads and directs. This is where we must begin! B. WE
1. Secondly we see from this verse that
those who have a righteous heart STUDIES HOW TO ANSWER. We must
study! No one can develop his abilities and knowledge and
become efficient at any type of work without study. Every
Christians studies should consist of two things:
a. A study of the Bible. Knowledge
of the Bible and its teachings is fundamental and imperative to
be most effective. The whole purpose of giving an answer is to
direct and prospects to a clear understanding of the Bible. It is
most dangerous to try to teach another when we know not what we
are trying to teach. Jesus would call this "the blind leading
the blind" (Matt. 15:14). But don't think you can opt out of
giving an answer because you don't know it. We are required to
know it or find it out.
Why do you think we have Sunday
morning Bible studies and Wednesday night Bible Studies? They
are to give and provide us with information that builds our faith
but also to give us information that we can hand out to others.
Just take the studies that we have done in the past and even now.
The study of Christian Evidences should have provided you with
plenty of information that would make to ABLE to teach to someone
who doubts God or even the validity of the Bible. Did you study
it in a way to obtain that information? What about these lessons
on GOD'S PLAN FOR THE AGES? Are they not capable of building
your defense mechanism and equip you with way to provide MANY
answers to peoples most frequent questions? NEXT time you
prepare for a Bible Study do it with the intent of using the
b. A study of people. To win men
and women to Christ you must know people. We cannot have the
knowledge of men that Christ has but we can know something of
"what is in man". We are one ourselves. We can sympathize, we
can learn. (We will look at this further in another point in the
C. ADD KNOWLEDGE TO OUR LIPS
1. After we worked on having a heart of
righteousness and studied how to answer (basically studying the
answer in the bible), we must do something else. Proverbs 16:23,
"The heart of the wise teaches his mouth, and adds learning to
his lips." Here is where the problem lies. Most of the studying
we do is not taught to our mouth nor added to our lips; and when
it comes time to give an answer, our mouths don't move. We draw
a blank. We don't know what say.
2. The wise will prepare themselves. What
we learn from God's word, we are responsible to teach to our
lips. We must remember that we have been: TAUGHT TO TEACH, WON
TO WIN, AND SAVED TO SERVE. We must exercise ourselves in
applying what we study personally and in bible classes to our
mouths--learn to use what you have learned. Memorization will be
a key element in doing this. Most often we have memory verses on
our lessons sheets. How many of use really take the time to
remember or memorize them? (I will not dare to ask for a show of
hands). What do you think they are there for. They are KEY
verses that, if committed to memory, will serve in our abilities
to give answers to all who ask.
With those fundamental, elementary, necessary principles
laid down, lets consider the... II. THE CONDITION OF THE
A. THE PEOPLE WE ENCOUNTER
1. Getting back to an earlier point, we must
study people in order to know "what is inside them." We are
going to meet all types of people in this world. Dick Blackford
(a good preacher friend of mine) in an article said that when we
encounter people we should not try to project what their reaction
will be or what the probable result might be when we have the
change (opportunity) to talk with them. The gospel is for all
men. But do we really believe the gospel if for all? Well..we
are all guilty at pre-judging someone and not giving an answer.
Would you have taught Saul of Tarsus to be "worthy" of an answer?
2. Although we meet all types of people in
this world all at least fall into one of three different
categories. In most cases they will be one of three S's:
Sincere, Saved, or Satisfied.
3. With that in mind, it leads us to an
important principle in sharing our faith with others...
B. WE MUST START WHERE THEY ARE
1. Each individual may require a different
method of approach. In order to make the right approach to the
various individual it all goes back to studying people. We need
to make it a practice to try and analyze the character of each
person so that we can start where they are. In doing so we will
be more successful in our approach with the gospel.
2. Every one we meet is on a different
plain. Their heart may be in a different condition. We must
approach men where they are at. For instance, we cannot discuss
"theology" with an uneducated man. It all depends on where that
individual is in his understanding. One type must be reasoned
with in a logical, intellectual fashion, while another must be
reached through an appeal to affection or emotional needs in
C. CONSIDER SOME EXAMPLES
1. JESUS. Jesus, of course, is our prime
example of reaching people where they were in their lives.
Consider the adulterous women, she needed to be deal with by
showing compassion and yet with a correction of her lifestyle.
What about the women at the well, the story in John 4:1-26.
Jesus knew where the woman was in life. First of all that she
was a Samaritan, he knew where she stood religiously and he began
in a way to draw her to his teaching. We will use Jesus more
when we get to THE PROCEDURE.
2. PETER. What about Peter on the Day of
Pentecost in Acts 2. He knew his audience and he started
exactly where they were at. The had just crucified the
Christ so he began by reviewing with them the prophecies
concerning the man Jesus Christ. And he told them in
such a way that it pricked their hearts. He began where
he needed to begin.
3. PHILIP. What about Philip and the
Ethiopian Eunuch in Acts 8. Where was the Eunuch at? The
Scriptures says that Philip came to him and heard him reading the
prophet Isaiah. Then he simply asked him a question, "Do you
understand what you are reading?" So Philip began at the very
Scripture that the Eunuch was reading and preached Jesus to him.
We too can do the same, whenever we hear someone discussing
religious matters, ask them questions.
4. PAUL. Here is a good example. What I
want to notice about Paul is something he specifically said that
sheds good light on what it means to start where people are.
Paul said in I Cor. 9:19-22. "For though I am free from all men,
I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more;
and to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win the Jews; to
those who are under the law, as under the law, that I might win
those who are under the law; and to those who are without law, as
without law (not being without law toward God, but under law
toward Christ), that I might win those who are without law; to
the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become
all things to all men, that I might by all means save some."
Paul became all things according to the requirements of their
particular cases. Paul put himself in the place, or rather into
the view or feelings, of those whom he endeavored to win to
Christ. He clothed himself in their feelings and reasoned form
their standpoint. That is the way we must be.
5. THE GOSPEL WRITERS
1. What about the gospel writers?
Each had a different audience to write to and each brought forth
a different side of the life of Jesus that they might win their
2. Matthew wrote to the Jews as to
express the kingly nature of Jesus Christ and prove to them that
he was indeed the Messiah. Why? Because the Jews view Jesus as
a stumbling block. Mark stresses the works of Jesus possible
because he was writing to men of high position and they could
relate to the superiority of Jesus authority. Luke wrote to a
Gentile audience and stressed the humanity of Jesus. They were
unfamiliar with the prophecies concerning Jesus so he had to take
a totally different approach. John writes for all nationalities
stressing the spiritual nature of Jesus, yet without minimizing
His humanity. John basically uses his writing to prove the deity
of Jesus by making use of the testimonies concerning the deity of
Jesus (i.e. at Jesus' baptism when we see the testimony of John,
even the testimony of Jesus himself and God the Father).
3. We could go on to much greater
detail with the epistles, but you see it is important to start
where people are that we might be most effective.
III. HOW WE OUGHT TO ANSWER
A. GOD'S WAY
1. "There is a way that seems right to man,
but its end is the way of death" (Prov. 14:12). Normally we use
this scripture in different light but I think it also applies to
the way we answer man. We must always answer according to God's
ways and the principles outlined in His word. He methods work;
for they have been tested and proved. If we use our own methods
the end may very well be death to the souls of those we are
B. WITH MEEKNESS/GENTLENESS/PATIENCE
1. We can go back to I Peter 3:15 and see
that we are to give an answer with meekness and fear. 2 Tim.
2:24 reminded us that we must be gentle to all and have humility.
There are other Proverbs of wisdom that help direct our minds
toward our answers and how they ought to be.
2. "A soft answer turns away wrath, but a
harsh word stirs up anger. The tongue of the wise uses knowledge
rightly..." (Prov. 14:33). Our answer to men must be friendly
and gentle. A soft answer is not a weak answer, nor should it
compromise the truth or righteousness. It is to be firm in
SUBSTANCE but soft in spirit.
3. "He who has knowledge spares his words,
and a man of understanding is of a calm spirit." (Prov. 17:27).
Notice that all these scriptures point back to one thing. You
must have KNOWLEDGE. And with that knowledge, you will not be
lead to strike at anyone in answering them.
C. WITH SEASONED SPEECH
1. "A wholesome tongue is a tree of life..."
(Prov. 15:4) This idea of wholesome speech is that which
heals because it is filled with goodness, sympathy, humility and
also words whose fruits are healing. Go back to Colossians 4;5,6
and notice that Paul said your speech is to be" seasoned with
salt." Literally meaning words that win with pleasantness.
Words that are wholesome and healing to the soul. Why are they
wholesome? Because they direct the heart to the word of God.
D. WITH REASON AND EXPLANATION
1. Notice Acts 17:2,3. "Then Paul, as his
custom was, went to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with
them from the Scriptures explaining and demonstrating that the
Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying,
'This Jesus whom I preach to you is the Christ."
2. First of all we see that Paul made use of
a good opportunity and went where he knew would be a likely place
for his words to be received. Then he REASONED not argued with
them; and he also EXPLAINED and DEMONSTRATED. This is what we
must do sometimes. We must REASON with people only from God's
word. Then we might have to EXPLAIN it further or even
DEMONSTRATE by some means, the point that we are trying to get
across. (Our Studies in Sunday morning Bible class prepare us to
do this very thing Paul did here).
E. WITH DISCRETION IN DUE SEASON
1. "A man has joy by the answer of his
mouth, and a word spoken in due season, how good it is!" (Prov.
15:23). This tells us that not only to we consider the matter of
our answers but also the manner of our answers. If means we
refrain from striking back if someone lashes at us. We must not
view disagreement personally.
2. Primarily this verse that a word spoken
in season is a word spoken at the right time. We should always
look for the most suitable moments. This includes times of
sorrow when the heart is softened, in leisure time when the mind
is open; after mistakes have been made to correct and save; and
when someone is in doubt, that we may remove all doubt.
3. We learn from the parable of the sower
that the heart must be in a right condition for the seed to be
accepted. You do not throw seed in the heat of August, nor
during the frost of January.
4. It is not always easy to find the word
"in season". But one way to try to secure it is to have
SYMPATHY. Put yourself in their place. Take great THOUGHT AND
CONSIDERATION that you may choose the right word, and when it is
spoken that it may be at the right time. We must also take
COURAGE. Sometimes it is easier to preach to a congregation of
people than to talk to someone directly. Yet personal
conversation if more fruitful. It was Christs method with
Nicodemus and the woman at the well. We must have courage.
FINALLY...to be better able to give an answer we must.
IV. BE FAMILIAR WITH COMMON RESPONSES
NOTE: Anyone who shares his faith regularly soon learns
that certain questions about Christianity surface over and over
again. With basic preparation to these we can answer at least
90- 95% of them. But when you talk to someone about the Bible
from the beginning you might get some of these familiar
responses. (Responses taken from Dempsey Collin's book on
The following are a list of responses you will
commonly hear when the truth is taught. Beneath each one is a
Bible principle we can use to focus their attention back toward
the scriptures and personal responsibility.
A. "I'm satisfied with my religion"
1. "I am sure you but isn't the real
question whether or not Jesus is satisfied with it? There is only
one way to know." "By this we know that we know him if we keep
His commandments. He who says, "I know Him," and does not keep
His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him." (I
B. "You're too narrow in your religion"
1. "Truth is narrow and I don't want to be
any narrower or broader than truth. Do you? "Enter by the
narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads
to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because
narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life,
and there are few who find it." (Matthew 1:13,14)
C. "That's just your interpretation"
1. "Your statement implies that there can be
many interpretation, but how many does God allow? "Now I plead
with you , brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that
you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions
among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same
mind and in the same judgement." (I Cor. 1:10) How do you know
your interpretation is right? "There is only one way to know."
"Be diligent to present yourself a approved by God, a worker that
does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth."
(2 Tim. 2:15)
D. "I just feel I am right."
1. "Are you sure feelings are a safe guide?"
"There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way
of death." (Prov. 12:14) Ask them, "How tall am I?" Different
answers reveal the fallacy of trusting feelings. The measure of
standard reveals the correct answer.
E. "Are you saying I'm lost?"
1. "What difference does it make what I
think or say. If I say you're lost, does that make you lost? If
I say you are saved, does that make you saved? What does reveal
the answer--the Bible. "He who rejects Me, and does not receive
My words, and that which judges him--the word that I have spoken
will judge him in the last day" (John 12:48)
F. "I believe God is a God of love and wouldn't
1. "Yes, He is a God of love and He lovingly
reminds us, if we love Him we will keep His commandments. "If
you love Me keep my commandments" (John 14:15).
G. "I believe I am a good moral man."
1. "Do you believe you can be saved apart
from Jesus' precious blood?" "I am the way, the truth, and the
life. No one comes to the Father except through Me" (John
14:6). "And having been perfected, He became the author of
eternal salvation to all who obey Him," (Heb. 5:9)
And there are many more which we commonly hear, that we
need to write down and search the Scriptures to find the answers
A. Brethren, we must be aware that we are obligated to give
an answer, we must be able to give an answer, and we must
always be ready to give an answer.
B. Hopefully we will prepare ourselves more thoroughly to
have a heart of righteousness, study the Bible and study
the people we have a chance to give an answer to. May we all
consider the condition of those who hear and realize that
everyone is in a different spot in live and each need a different
approach AND ALL NEED SOME BIT OF PERSUASION. And remember the
proper way to go about giving an answer that you might save a
If you find anything worth salvaging from this sermon take it.
The reason it looks like a mess is because I pasted it from
WordPerfect. If you import it into your wordprocessor it should
clear some things up.
Mark R. Wadlington
944 South Geyer Road
St. Louis, Missouri 63122
(314) 821-8230 home