OceanSide church of Christ

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Victor M. Eskew


            Most Christians understand the responsibility they have to evangelize, that is, to take the good news of salvation in Christ to the entire world.  However, many Christians refrain from doing personal work.  Occasionally, they might speak to a friend about religion in a sentence of two.  They might carry on a conversation with their unbelieving spouse for a few minutes.  They might make a comment or two on social media about religion to their friends.  They might invite someone to worship service once in a while.  However, every Christian in most congregations is not eagerly and actively engaged in setting up Bible studies with others.

            When we mention this neglect, members of the church will often say:  “We need a class on personal evangelism.”  Sometimes the preacher quickly responds with a class.  Sometimes the church will contact someone involved in teaching personal evangelism such as Fishers of Men.  They will come and host a twelve week study in soul-winning.  The church might recommend books to read on the subject, and many have been written.  Yet, it seems that once the class is over, we go back to our normal routine that does not involve spreading the good news to the world.       

            All of us need to learn how to set up a Bible study with someone.  There are several techniques that can be used.  First, we just need to ask others to study the Bible with us.  Door-knocking campaigns are based on this method.  Every door that is opened is invited to have a Bible study with those on the campaign.  It is interesting to look at the results of such campaigns.  During the course of a week, several Bible studies are usually conducted.  This tells us that there are individuals who will study with us, if we just ask.  It takes a little courage to ask.  It may take several “no’s” before you get a “yes.”  Eventually, someone will be interested enough to have a study.

            A second way to engage others in a Bible study is to ask questions.  In Acts 8, Philip asked the Ethiopian eunuch a question that all of us can ask our friends and neighbors.  “Then the Spirit said unto Philip, God near, and join thyself to this chariot.  And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest?  And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me?  And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him” (Acts 8:29-31).  There are a lot of people who read their Bibles.  However, they have not been trained to really study the Bible.  They read, but they do not understand.  We can simply ask them:  “Are there verses or chapters in the Bible that you do not understand?”  They may answer us just as the eunuch did Philip:  “How can I, except some man should guide me.”  We can type them an answer to their question.  We can send them a text.  We might be able to give them a tract that addresses the issue.  Too, they may allow us to come to their home and study the matter with them. 

            Another question that we can ask is:  “What does this verse in the Bible mean to you?”  We can pick almost any verse we want to pick.  We can begin a Bible discussion from any verse.  There are some people who like to display their knowledge of the Bible to others.  As they speak to us, we can ask questions about their positions trying to get clarity for ourselves, but leading them to the truth.  Here are a couple of examples.  We could ask a Catholic about Matthew 8:14.  We could ask a Calvinist about Galatians 5:4.  We could ask someone who rejects baptism as necessary for salvation about Mark 16:16.  All we have to ask is:  “What does this verse mean to you?”

            Still another way to begin a Bible study is by taking small things in life and making spiritual applications of them in our conversations with others.  Jesus was the Master at such teaching.  In John 4, Jesus spoke with the woman at the well.  Let’s look at the first part of this encounter.  “There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water:  Jesus saith unto her, Give me to drink.  (For his disciples were gone away unto the city to buy meat.)  Then saith the woman of Samaria unto him, How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria.  for the Jess have no dealings with the Samaritans.  Jesus answered and said, unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water” (John 4:7-10).  Jesus moved from a drink to living water.  The conversation continues for several more verses.  Yes, simple, everyday items can be turned into spiritual discussions with our friends.

            The easiest way to get someone to study is to invite them to the worship services.  You will not be doing the study, but one will be conducted.  They will hear a lesson from the pulpit.  They will sit through a lesson in Bible class.  This counts as a study.  Often individuals are extremely receptive to God’s Word in such situations.  They are in a new environment.  It is not familiar.  Therefore, they are listening very attentively to the things that are said.  They may not agree, but they are attentive and open. 

            There are probably hundreds of other ways to get Bible studies, but these are a few simple things we can do immediately.  We must remember that the results are in the numbers.  Paul tells us:  “But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully” (II Cor. 9:6).  We are sowers of the seed of God’s Word (Luke 8:11).  We can sow the seed to one individual or to a thousand.  Results depend on the numbers.  If we want tens of people, we may have to go to thousands.  If we want thousands, we may have to go to millions.  If we want millions, we may have to go the entire world.  We will reap what we sow.  In fact, we are presently reaping what we have sown.  How is that working out for us?  Dear readers, we must be out actively seeking Bible studies.  Jesus commanded us, saying:  “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” (Matt. 28:19).  Set a goal to suet up one or two or three Bible studies this year.  That is not asking a lot, but it is more than we are doing now.  God has promised an increase to those who sow.  “They that sow in tears shall reap in joy.  He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him” (Ps. 126:5-6).