Matt’s* living room was full of people. A mixed group of about a dozen international students plus other men and women from the small college town had been there every Thursday night for the past six weeks. Some had literally never read the Bible before. Others only knew bits and pieces. They had all learned a lot as Matt guided them through the Bible from creation to the cross in a course called Worldview Rethink.
Now, as the course was nearing its end, Matt desperately wanted each person to trust in Jesus Christ—to believe the gospel and be saved! At the same time he knew it had to be God’s work, not his own efforts to coerce or convince people. (Revelation 7:10)
Here are five ways Matt let God work in the minds and hearts of those in his group.
1. He taught the Scripture objectively
From day one of the course, Matt kept the course objective. He would say, “What I believe about the Bible is my choice, and what you believe is up to you… the question is, does the story make sense so far?” It was a gentle, respectful way to help people see what the Bible says. (1 Peter 3:15) It was not unlike Philip’s question to the Ethiopian eunuch when he asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” (Acts 8:30)
Matt knew everyone in the group had tracked well up to this point—the story was making sense. What he didn’t know was whether everyone was believing the message or not. That, he had determined, was God’s department–not his.
2. He used visual aids as a tool for review
Matt began the last evening of the course with a review of the Bible’s main storyline. He didn’t teach it, though. He simply brought out a visual aid for each account in the Old Testament—a stone altar, the ark, a Passover house, the Tabernacle—items the group had seen earlier in the course. He invited the group to recall whatever they could remember about each item. Excitement rose as each person not only related what they remembered about the Old Testament story but made important connections to Jesus Christ. It was incredible how much they could recall with the help of visual aids right before them.
Using visual aids as a review tool is a great way to allow the Lord bring truths to mind from Scripture.
3. He gave opportunity to respond in writing
Matt then handed out a sheet with four questions and gave them 15-20 minutes to respond:
A. Based on what you have heard in this course, if you were to die tonight, where would you spend eternity?
Hell / The Lake of Fire
I am not sure
B. Why did you answer question #1 the way you did?
C. Based on what you have heard in this course, why did Jesus have to die?
D. In what way has the course been beneficial to you?
Writing is an effective way for people to formulate their thoughts and express exactly who or what they are trusting in. It is often the first time they conclude that they believe the Bible’s message.
4. He invited sharing
Matt invited anyone who felt comfortable to share their answers. Not everyone spoke up, but those who did indicated with utmost clarity that they truly understood and believed who Jesus is and what he did for them on the cross. Their simple, yet profound testimonies were clear evidence God had done a work through his Word and Spirit. They understood and believed in Christ alone for salvation. Matt was thrilled-to say the least.
There is a marked difference between people expressing their own thoughts or opinions and people sharing God’s thoughts and opinions. Getting out of the way of the gospel includes inviting people to share what they believe God has done for them through Jesus Christ.
5. He confirmed comprehension
Matt could not determine the sincerity of each one’s faith. No man can. “Man looks on the outward appearance but the but the Lord looks on the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7 ESV)
There was one thing he could do, however, and that was to check their comprehension. He asked further questions to determine if they were adding or taking anything from what Christ had done for them on the cross. Were they thinking that good works play a part in being right with God? Were they relying on religious activity? Or did they believe that there were some sins not paid for by Christ’s death?
If there are those who indicate on their handout that they don’t believe the gospel, this is a good time to find out why… do they have questions? Is there something in particular in Scripture they aren’t clear on?
Taking time to confirm comprehension drives people to be clear in their own minds what they believe and why—based on Scripture. In the end, Matt knew that he had done his part. He had taught the gospel clearly as he should. He also knew he stayed out of the way, allowing God to do what he’s so good at-saving people who clearly understand and believe in the good news of Jesus Christ.
You may be wondering…
“How did Matt get people to join a course?” “What resources did Matt use to guide the group through the Bible?” “How did he get started teaching in this way?”
(*Names changed as per GoodSeed policy)