1 Corinthians 9:20-23
20To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. 21To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. 22To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. 23I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.
A young man a few years younger than I once had a very cut and dry detached approach to evangelism. “If they don’t understand the gospel, it’s their fault, they didn’t open their hearts.” The more he read the word, the more he repented of that cold heart and wanted to grow in his theology, his apologetics, his love. Like Paul who became all things to save some, he now grew with a dream to be better at arguing his faith to save some.
Anyone with the strong dream like that, a strong dream of spreading the Gospel, or pioneering a Gospel-centered church in a far and distant land like Paul did on so many occasions in the book of Acts would be wise to learn the language of that foreign country(even if overtime while in active mission). One could reason it be almost equally wise and important to know different styles of communication when spreading the Gospel. If we really are following the God’s direction in our lives, we will meet people from different backgrounds for sure- Acts 2:4-6; 8:26-27
We may not be known to have the gift of to speak with eloquence and fluency, but that shouldn’t deter us. Talents, gifts are God-given but with or without them, we should work on the ability to articulate arguments in various ways to reach various people. A few people I admire for the way they articulate the Gospel would be Tim Keller, C.S Lewis, and well… Jesus himself.
Now, these examples aren’t really displaying individuals who wielded many different ways of arguing or explaining it, but this is a very short list of 3 examples to show various ways it can be done and why we should be of great care in trying to learn how to do it like they did even if we only do it at a basic level.
The first, Tim Keller, he balances grace with academic brilliance. I nicked named him the Bible Nerd because up into I was introduced to him via his books, I never really heard the Gospel or Bible really spoken of in such a brainy academic way. When I would hear him preach, I would always feel like the suppressed scholar in me( that I suppressed with much wasted secular indulgences and doubts) was being fed and lured out of a cage.
Though I now see that there are many others who are much deeper and more articulate than Tim, I still cite him as “Pastor Professor” for his approach. The many arrogant students that I could never quite explain this stuff to would be very blessed to hear a sermon by Tim.
The next man up is actually the last man’s biggest influence. The way Tim helped me see the gospel through his academic style, C.S Lewis helped him. Now, when I said earlier that there are others that are more deep and articulate than Tim, this is one of them. But I cite him on this list for another reason. He was able to influence a whole generation through his books, and not all of them were systematic theology or deep and somewhat perplexing explanations of doctrines by the way. One of my favorites from him is a “fictional” book called The Screw Tape Letters .
Through this, he ultimately teaches the psychology of the temptation of man through a series of letters between two demons who plot on ways to bring people to live and die godless lives and end up in Hell. The more and more I read this book, the more I learn about how man is drawn away from God. I think even the most passionate atheists could read this and see their own train of thoughts laid out in this book, and though its not really a book of direct apologetics, it in directly answers many questions on the nature of the relationship between God and man.
And now, last but never least, Jesus. We all compare and contrast his style of storytelling and picture painting to Paul’s systematic style. And many of us love that. I would have to say that, in the end, believers can be split into two groups. One group needs a vision, a grand map of how the gospel plays out in their lives, whereas the other group needs to see vividly how God loves them. The thing about these two groups is, those on either side have a smaller desire for what the other side has. Even his disciples prooved to need a deep vision casting argument of the cross in the book of Luke where Jesus appealed to the ones on the road to Amaus primarily through the Old Testament. And this is why I have to break my statement that Jesus was the last example and throw Paul in here as well as he likely did this sort of thing best. Hopefully, that is seen as grace.
When Jesus paints this beautiful narrative in a believers heart, they will jump and dance with joy, shameless joy like King David. But what next? Paul helps us see how to apply that thing that was so joyful in our daily lives as a weapon of destruction against Satan who wants to destroy our joy. I think these 4 are great examples of styles of how we can explain the gospel. Depending on who you meet and even your position at the time, the opportunities set before you, you may need one of these styles, or maybe a style other than this. That brings me to how I close this-Expose yourself to many great Christian thinkers, many great leaders. Especially when you have a shepherd over you, pick their mind and ask them to help you first understand, therefore you will be equipped with what you need to help another lamb understand. God bless you.