Many people have big questions about God, faith, Jesus, the Bible, and Christianity as a whole. As a Christian, we are called to witness to others and help provide answers to the questions of the world. It is helpful to have a balance of at least four skills: displaying, declaring, defending, and dialoguing the gospel.
A first and most basic skill is displaying the gospel. One of the primary reasons the world gives for lacking interest in Christianity is because of its followers. People who profess Jesus with their lips but contrast Jesus with their lifestyle is an unhelpful witness to the gospel or God’s word. On some level, everyone is a hypocrite because no one is perfect. Christians are not promoting their own morals but pointing people to the mercy and grace of Jesus – Jesus is our standard, so look at Him. Yet, the “nobody is perfect” mindset is also an easy excuse to minimize the Lordship of Jesus and tolerate sinful desires. Jesus calls His followers to be salt and light – they’re to be different. Displaying the gospel is often the starting point for a public witness.
Declaring the gospel is the ability to accurately and concisely speak about the message of salvation in Jesus Christ. Every Christian needs to learn how to articulate the concepts of: God, humanity, Christ, response. God, the perfect Creator, designed the world with beauty and blessing (Genesis 1-2). While humanity was made in the image of God, we chose to doubt and disobey God’s design for our life (Genesis 3; Romans 6:23). Disobedience against a holy and perfect God requires judgment. As the first man and woman were punished, so all humanity and creation has experienced the affects of brokenness physically and spiritually. But God, rich in mercy and grace, sent Jesus Christ, fully God and fully human, as a substitute for the judgement against sin. Jesus died in our place, so that humanity can be forgiven and reconciled to God. Each person must individually respond to God by grace through faith in Christ. The only saving response is to confess with our mouth “Jesus is Lord” and believe in our God raised Jesus from the dead (Romans 10:9).
Additionally, it is helpful for Christians to be able to anticipate common questions people have about faith and following Jesus. Defending the gospel is often known as “apologetics.” Christians do not need to be professors or scholars, but they should be prepared with knowledge of God and faith in the Scriptures to communicate with skeptics and seekers (1 Peter 3:15).
Our church recently had two teaching experiences for people to better understand their role in defending the gospel and answering common questions. You can access some message notes/video and seminar teaching videos through this LINK.
A fourth skill for the Christian witness is dialoguing the gospel. While this skill is a subset of the previous three, it is important to mention as the missional and relational investment of Christians in the world. Jesus does not call Christians to win arguments as much as He calls us to win people to Himself. If our motivation isn’t love for others, then we are nothing but clanging cymbals and noisy gongs. Dialoguing the gospel understands how to treat others not as projects but as people. The soft skills of noticing/observing, listening, asking personal and probing questions, hospitality, serving needs are all essential to being a good neighbor and building gospel friendships. You can also access some message notes/video of a series on “9 Arts of Gospel Neighboring” through this LINK.