This article is an excerpt from Intentional: Evangelism that takes people to Jesus, the fifth in Union's series of short, friendly theological books in partnership with 10ofThose. You can buy it online today here.
In just one week, I learnt one of the most valuable things I have ever learnt about answering questions. When I was at theological college, I was invited to be part of a university mission, led by a very able evangelist, Paul Weston. Before we went on the mission week, we had a few training sessions in which Paul encouraged us to try and answer any question from the lips of Jesus. I don’t think I realised then just how helpful this idea would be.
Similarly, John Stott wrote:
In all evangelism … our chief and overriding responsibility is to point people to Jesus. In every evangelistic proclamation, the wisest evangelist keeps bringing the conversation back to the person and work of Jesus Christ.
The gospel is about Jesus Christ, and so in every evangelistic conversation we should try and take people to Jesus. He is the one we want to talk about. He is the one person that everyone needs to know about. He is the way we know God, the way we come to God and the one in whom we can have life.
So, whenever we’re asked a question about what we believe – whatever the question – we’d do well to ask ourselves, ‘What did Jesus say on this issue?’ or, ‘How can I answer this question from the life or lips of Jesus?’ Answering a question like this does three things:
- When I take people to Jesus, I am taking them to the one who is the focus of the gospel.
- If the questioner doesn’t like the answer, their issue is with Jesus, not me.
- Having spoken about Jesus, it’s then very natural to talk more about Jesus as the conversation progresses.
Continuing to point to Jesus is what we want to do. Yes, we want to answer the question put before us. Yet it is even better if we can take the initiative in a conversation and help our friend understand the gospel of Jesus’ death for sins and his resurrection as Lord. So, my first principle in answering difficult questions is to take people to Jesus.
Before we go any further, though, let me tell you what I am not saying here. I am not saying that I think that Jesus’ words are more inspired than the rest of the Bible. The whole Bible is inspired. All Scripture is God-breathed. The gospel of grace runs right through the Bible from the first page to the last. The entire Bible is about Jesus – Jesus himself said as much. Answering those who were questioning his testimony, Jesus said:
You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life. (John 5:39–40, italics mine).
The whole Bible has one unifying theme and Jesus Christ is the focus of its message. Therefore Jesus is the one we want people to be considering in evangelism. And once we’ve started speaking about Jesus Christ, we’re presenting the One who is at the very heart and centre of life.