“Jesus didn’t really exist.” “The Bible was written by a bunch of illiterate goat herders.” “Christianity just borrowed from other religions.” Have you ever heard any of these objections from people when you are attempting to explain the gospel to them? I have. These and several others tend to be the standard roadblocks that people will use to shield themselves from the truth of God’s word. In most cases, the person who is asking these questions really is not all that concerned with the actual answer. If you establish that Jesus really did exist, or that the Bible has the single greatest number of manuscript copies in antiquity, or that 80% of people, locations and events described in the Bible have been archaeologically proven, then they will move to “Well, what about slavery?” Or, “you’re supposed to stone your disobedient child, why aren’t you doing that??” Quite simply, these questions are not to elicit an actual response, they are actually roadblocks to get you off course and so tied up, the asker can then feel he has taken the intellectual high ground by asking you questions you did not have an answer for.
So what is the Christian supposed to do with these questions? Well, first off, attempt to recognize whether they are asking genuine questions or not. Believe it or not, there are some folks who are genuinely trying to understand how we Christians can believe such stuff. They are being raised up in a culture that has told them religion is nothing but a personal experience, so truth really is not a consideration. When they hear the name Jesus, they think along the lines of “Zeus” or “Thor”. It’s just mythology. So when they are presented with the belief that Jesus existed and the Bible records what He said, they can’t believe we believe this. So allow them the opportunity to ask questions. In time, either by the rapid fire nature of the questions, or by the fact they simply ignore the answer, the sincerity of the questions can be determined.
But I would encourage my fellow Christians to start learning some basic apologetics knowledge. While proving Jesus really walked the earth, or knowing the number of manuscripts in existence cannot convert the wicked rebellious heart, it can demonstrate that our faith is not blind or unreasonable. It can demonstrate to the unbeliever we take what we believe seriously. We aren’t just “ignorant goat herders” following a myth like blind lemmings. Such evidence can provide structural support to the overall understanding of the gospel message.
Now, as I mentioned before, most questions and objections brought up really will have little to do with gaining actual understanding of the Christian faith. Rather, they are like the infamous smoke screen released by James Bond’s Aston Martin to blind his pursuers as he made his getaway. Just like the smokescreen would cause the pursuers to lose sight of the road and likely drive off of it, these questions are designed to side track you into secondary issues. Discussions regarding who actually approved of what books in the Bible, evolution vs. creation, and that somehow today we are far smarter than those poor souls 2000 years ago, really aren’t about raising genuine concerns they have so much as they do not want to discuss the core issue of Christianity, that they are sinners in the hands of a righteous, holy God.
The heart of the unregenerate is bound up in sin. It’s daily appetite is for the things of this world. It can be a full dive into hedonistic pleasures or it can be the simple life where white lies and coveting are a daily occurrence. Yet, the heart of a lost person cannot see these actions and thoughts as the sins that they are. Just as we once did, they will compare themselves to each other and think, “I’m not so bad.” Or they might feel the sting of regret when the consequences of such actions bear fruit. But in the end, there is no real sense of conviction for sin being sin. Yet, when the law of God, His righteous standard, is brought upon them, they cannot but feel the weight of His judgment upon themselves. The unregenerate man must find a way out from under this or be crushed by it. Thus, the peppering of questions is but one method a person may employ to achieve this.
So how does one handle this situation. I suggest that there are a few ways that you can address it. First off, you can politely suggest that those questions be tabled for a short time. This is not a means of avoiding the questions mind you. We should be willing to go back to them if needed. However, in doing this, we can continue in the addressing their core problem, which is their sin against God. Once they understand the nature of sin and the need for grace, if they truly wish to discuss those matters, we can return to them.
Another way was once demonstrated to me by Tony Miano, a member of the Living Waters evangelism ministry and an open air preacher. He asked the person he was talking to a simple question. “If I answer every one of your questions, will you then be willing to bend the knee and worship Jesus as your Lord?” That person indicated they would not. Most likely, the questioner you are talking to will likewise confess that the questions were not really all that important, allowing us to once again address where they stand before the Lord.
A final means is, if a person is simply unwilling to engage in a intelligent discussion without lobbing loaded accusations and questions, is to break off the witnessing encounter. The simple fact is that there are some hearts so hardened that they simply will not listen. You could have all the answers, you could take them to every single scripture and prove it to be true, you could overcome every obstacle, but this person may have only one goal in mind. To tie you up and keep you from doing your God given duty to share the gospel. While I cannot tell you at what time you have to make this decision, because each one is different, there has to come a point when you determine that there are a lot of lost souls out there that need to hear the gospel as much as this person. If they are not willing to hear, then graciously move on. Remember, we are but the messengers, it is God who does the converting.
So as Christians who are commanded to evangelize the lost, remember this: there are questions out there that you have to deal with. Some are genuine, others are smoke screens. Develop a basic knowledge of apologetics, not so we can win people through them, but to strengthen our witness encounters. Be prepared for those who are attempting to obfuscate the issue and stay central to the matter at hand. Also, and I cannot stress this enough, learn to to witness biblically. The Bible makes it clear, the law of God brings conviction to the heart of the sinner, the grace of Christ is what converts him. Show the person the nature of their sin, that it is an offense to God that must be judged. When he feels the heat of judgment upon him, bring him to the foot of the blood stained cross, showing him this is where his sin was paid for. Lead him to the empty tomb, to show him his Savior’s power of death. And show him the gates of heaven that are open if he would but repent and place his faith in Jesus Christ alone.