What is Truth?

Latest posts by Naomi (see all)

A surprising answer to an ancient question

(Part One of Two)

Never in history has there been a greater flow of information and never before have so many questioned what is actually the “truth.” We find ourselves swamped with experts, many of whom contradict each other. As debates rage over the pros and cons of various approaches in this pandemic, many more wonder which “expert” is actually telling us “the truth.” I mean, after all, who really knows? People are left mired in doubt and justifiably full of suspicion to any truth claims.

Then the Bible believer shows up claiming to have The Truth. In its defence, we often start with the absolute reliability of the Bible. This can be very appropriate, as any truth claim is only as good as its source. In fact, it is very good to know how to defend the uniqueness of the Bible. We even wrote a booklet about that subject!

In communicating our beliefs to others, especially the skeptical, it seems reasonable to look to Scripture and see how it approaches evangelism.

“…it seems reasonable to look to Scripture and see how it approaches evangelism.”

Looking at the Bible evangelistically, Scripture does not begin with arguments addressing the reliability of Scripture. You don’t find passages on archaeology or manuscript evidence. No time is dedicated to the intricate detail and carefulness with which scribes copied and recopied the autographs. Much could have been written on these topics, but nothing is said.

The Apostle Paul, when dealing with the scholars in Athens, did not start his evangelistic message with a defence of Scripture. Nor did the Apostle John begin his evangelistic gospel with an argument for the reliability of God’s Word. And the book of Genesis simply starts with, “In the beginning God”–the ultimate Source of truth. (1) Over and over again we find that Scripture takes us directly to two spheres of information necessary to trust God: his Identity and his History. In this first of a two-part article, we will look at that first sphere of information, the issue of identity.

“Knowing the basics of God’s identity is key to grasping the Gospel.”

The issue of identity looks at who God is and what he is like. Knowing the basics of God’s identity is key to grasping the Gospel.

Jesus asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” The answer to that question is the ultimate statement on truth. One might respond, “Jesus is God,” and think that communicates sufficiently. But think again. Who or what is God? If a person’s idea of God is something like, “Let the force be with you,” or is mingled with other gods including oneself, then it becomes very important to take a few steps back and allow the Bible to fill in one’s understanding. But is that how evangelism is commonly done? Not usually. 

Most of our gospel presentations are based on 40-year old methods. Back then, assumptions were safely made that people knew who the God of the Bible was. We could say, “God loves you,” and people immediately thought of the God of the Bible. They clearly understood the basics of his identity. But that is not the case today. Today we still say “God loves you,” and we still assume people know what God is like, but more often than not, they don’t. I need not quote statistics to show what we all know from our own experience: that people today have a very garbled perspective of God’s identity. It is a problem in every aspect of our culture and society. 

In such situations we need to imitate what Scripture itself does: take the time to build a picture in people’s minds regarding the identity of God. We must recognize that a big chunk of Scripture is dedicated to defining the character of God. And how does it do that? Not with a dry list of attributes, but through stories that reveal God’s nature. 

“…we need to imitate what Scripture itself does: take the time to build a picture in people’s minds regarding the identity of God.”

That is where the Bible starts, declaring the power and knowledge of God through creation. That is where the Apostle John begins his book, declaring the God who is the creator. It is where Paul began with his esteemed crowd in Athens. As ambassadors of the gospel, we need to make sure people know a little bit about the identity of the God of the Bible before we leap to the events of the cross and tomb. Otherwise we may find that our “convert” is not trusting the biblical God, but rather an impersonal force or a very corrupt concept of Jesus. (2)

“What I believe in my heart must make sense in my mind.”

Ravi Zacharias

Sharing the gospel in the context of the biblical story line, from creation to the cross, declares a personal, supernatural God at work in history. It clearly defines who God is and what he is like—his identity. More often than not, in today’s world, that is where we must start.
With the passing of our brother in the Lord, Ravi Zacharias, we are reminded of the importance of knowing not only what we believe, but why we believe it. Ravi spoke again and again to the importance of bringing reason to what we believe: “What I believe in my heart must make sense in my mind.” (3)

It is only when we have the nature of the biblical God clear in our minds that we can make sense of the world around us and understand what Scripture has to say to mankind. We will look at that in our next post.

(1) In the Bible, the truth of what is written is assumed and taught as such. Only prophecy seems to be used as an apology for the reliability of Scripture (Isaiah 42:8-9).

(2) For example, Islam, Hinduism and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormonism) all speak of Jesus, but the Jesus they present is not the Jesus of the Bible.

(3)”Bridging the Heart and Mind”. Interview with Danielle DuRant, rzim.org. July 28, 2011

New tool for Sunday School and Small Groups

 Are you looking for an evangelism training resource for your small group or Sunday school class? Do you wish to see your group grow in their passion and confidence in the gospel?

TERM for small groups is an easy-to-use course to equip, excite and establish believers in their approach to outreach.

TERM is an acronym for The Emmaus Road Message which finds its origins in the events recorded in Luke 24:13-49, specifically verse 27: “And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.”

Upon completion, believers will be well on their way to being equipped for their role as Christ’s ambassadors.

TERM for small groups has all the components, both written and video, that you need to host a meaningful group study of the Bible as it pertains to personal growth, evangelism and discipleship.

Using an open Bible, video and discussion guide, TERM for small groups:

  1. Strengthens Faith: One catches a fresh glimpse of the depth and breadth of the gospel and is renewed in spirit to the wonders of God’s grace.
  2. Builds Confidence: TERM grows your confidence in scripture to do its job, to change lives by the power of the Holy Spirit.
  3. Boosts Resolve: TERM helps a person gain certainty in sharing the gospel, using a crawl, walk, run approach.
  4. Clarifies Message: TERM breaks the Gospel message down into easy-to-remember components. You come away with a clear sense of knowing what needs to be said when sharing the gospel.
  5. Multiple Options: TERM can be learned on your own at your own speed, in a weekly Sunday School class or during a saturation weekend with a whole crowd of people.
  6. Modular Learning: One can investigate as many TERM modules as you wish, spread over a few days or many months.
  7. Genuinely Practical: TERM for small groups gives a person hands-on experience using heavy doses of scripture, with tools that are dynamic and simple to use.

See samples pages, video and scope and sequence on our website: TERM for Small Groups

 

Using the Worldview Survey, Part II: Discovering your friend’s worldview

In Using the Worldview Survey, Part I: Sharing the gospel when time is short, we shared how the Worldview Survey questions can be used as a springboard to sharing the gospel when you only have a short time with an individual (perhaps in a waiting room, interacting with a door-to-door salesman, or in a street evangelism context). In this second article, we share more specifically on how you can use the questions to discover the beliefs of the individual before moving on to share the gospel.

The conversation was going so smoothly. The young woman in front of me seemed to be eagerly digesting each point I made as I walked her through the gospel message. She was nodding her head, agreeing with me when I’d ask her questions and assuring me she understood. Great! Next up, the sinner’s prayer, right? We’d been conversing for some time when she finally began to open up more about her own worldview, extinguishing my optimism. Apparently she was exploring a pagan religion. She worshipped the earth. She wasn’t terribly bothered by her sin. Surely God could be expressed in many forms and there were many ways to seek him.

It was surprising to me that she could both agree with what I’d been saying, while at the same time hold to these very opposing viewpoints. She was, by definition, a post-modern thinker.

As she walked away from me a little later, I realized that I’d spent a long time sharing the gospel to a woman who did not have the foundations in place to understand it. While I knew God could still bless and use my feeble efforts, surely I could be more effective if I’d had an idea of the worldview of my listener before I dove into sharing the Bible’s message.

I realized I needed a method of quickly determining one’s worldview and finding a way to discern their true understanding of the Bible’s message, so that I could know how to proceed with the truths of the gospel

The Worldview Survey (originally published in the book And Beginning with Moses), a list of nine simple and objective questions, is designed to give a person a good idea of what their student believes. It’s a helpful tool for many situations, but especially handy if you’re not sure how to approach sharing the gospel with an individual or what tool would suit them best.

Continue reading “Using the Worldview Survey, Part II: Discovering your friend’s worldview”

Reaching out to an unbelieving housemate

Kaoru* learned about the upcoming Bible study at a local church. The elder explained that the course would be good for everyone: experienced Christians, new Christians, non-Christians and Christians who wanted to share the good news with their friends.

Her thoughts turned immediately to Bronwyn, her housemate. Yes, I want to learn how to share the gospel with her, her heart sang. So, Kaoru signed up for the course and dutifully attended it. The course used the book The Stranger on the Road to Emmaus. During the course, one leader read the commentary, while the second leader read the Scripture verses. They also showed video clips that helped explain the Bible’s story. This way, the leaders explained, those attending the course were already practicing the teaching style so the participants could also lead a study on their own.

Kaoru had been in Australia only a short time on a working holiday visa. Searching for a place to rent, she ended up as housemates with Bronwyn, a local. As a believer, Kaoru also sought a local church where she could worship God with other believers. “It’s pretty rare in Japan to be brought up in a Christian home,” she explains, “but I am from a Christian family and I myself have been a Christian for 15 years.”

Continue reading “Reaching out to an unbelieving housemate”

Using the Worldview Survey, Part 1: Sharing the gospel when time is short

Five full days of street evangelism! Under normal circumstances, if someone had suggested this idea as a potential evangelistic pursuit, my response would have been, “No thanks! Not for me!” However, here I was in a large van heading to the big city. My husband, Troy, and I were the designated leaders, no less, for a dozen or so college-aged students. And we’d be standing on a street corner in no time at all, attempting to get into deep spiritual conversations with all kinds of scary strangers.

The first day went by much as I expected. Many were closed to hearing about the Lord, a few were willing to get into a discussion and most walked by completely indifferent. That week on bustling city streets was quite the adventure, arming us with stories and experiences that still effect our approach to sharing the gospel when time is short.

Even if you never participate in street evangelism, it’s good to be prepared for the moment when you have a quick opportunity to share the Bible’s message with a passing stranger. Your brief opportunity may come while sitting in front of your hairdresser, or with the salesperson at the door, or while you’re passing time in a waiting room. No matter the scenario, there are certain common obstacles that brief interactions present, as well as good ideas to navigate those obstacles.

Continue reading “Using the Worldview Survey, Part 1: Sharing the gospel when time is short”

The best weekend of my entire life!

church-378654_1280It’s an idyllic village nestled in an out-of-the-way corner along the north Atlantic coast. On this early spring evening, a group of about 15 people, ranging from teenagers to middle-aged, have just completed a weekend retreat. They are eagerly anticipating an upcoming missions trip to Central America. The weekend has proven to be pivotal in their preparation as they have spent two and a half days together, getting to know each other and being established in the message of the gospel.

“I wanted to join the mission team to increase my faith in God. This weekend has done that for me.” This comes from Vicky, one of the teenaged participants who is typically very reticent about expressing herself in public.

Samuel, a man in his 50s, is even more enthusiastic: “This weekend was literally the best weekend of my entire life.”

What made this weekend so special? For one thing, it was a great group of people. It was also a well-planned event. But the backbone of the weekend—and the highlight for everyone—was what they studied together: the gospel itself, from creation right through to the Cross.

Continue reading “The best weekend of my entire life!”

You don’t need to be a rocket scientist in evangelism to do this!

space-shuttle-launchWhen Barry* called the GoodSeed office to order resources, he asked if he could pop in for a visit. “I want to share with you what I’ve been doing since the TERM Seminar,” he said.

A short time later, he dropped by at lunch time. He had driven for over two hours but was eager to tell his story. Barry was a busy businessman but with a big heart for evangelism. He had been looking for a simple way to share the gospel but struggled to find the time to train himself to be an effective teacher. But after attending TERM, he realized that the Dynamic Leading-Reading-Modelling method that had been taught was something he could do.

“The first impact [of the seminar] was how it helped me. I’ve been a Christian for many years but never seen it put together like this. The whole concept of atonement, the tabernacle, Adam and Eve, the covering, all coming together is remarkable,” Barry shared with the GoodSeed staff around the lunch table.

He went on to say that, as he sat through the three days of TERM, his level of enthusiasm grew. He saw how easy it was to lead a group with the leader’s guide and after the seminar wrapped up, he asked to buy the curriculum.

Unfortunately at that time, the By This Name leader’s guide had not yet gone to press. So he waited. And waited. In the meantime, he bought copies of By This Name to give to others. When his first case of books arrived at his doorstep, he pulled them out of the box and started handing them out. He ran out before long. When he called to order more books, it happened that our proof copy of the By This Name leader’s guide had just arrived that day. When he learned that there was a physical copy in the office he asked, “Can I buy that one?”

Our office staff sold him the one copy we had. When he received it, Barry wasted no time in organizing groups to teach.

Continue reading “You don’t need to be a rocket scientist in evangelism to do this!”

The hidden danger of syncretism

Colour mixing

Time for a pop quiz. Look at the following statement and ask yourself if it is biblical:

Love means being tolerant, accepting and non-judgmental.

Would it surprise you to learn that… it’s not!

You may be inclined to think there is an element of biblical truth in that statement and therefore the whole statement is valid. But that’s not the case. It’s actually a mixing of non-biblical ideas with biblical truth. This is called syncretism.

Syncretism happens when someone mixes what they think the Bible says with their inherent culture-influenced worldview. Combining these two very different views leads to them adopting a third, mixed belief system that is unlike the first two. As believers, we need to recognize that syncretism is a very real problem. Not only does it trip up our spiritual lives, but when we try to share the gospel with others, we can also unwittingly contribute to syncretism in our listeners by how we explain the good news.

Because it is so pervasive, it’s important to examine syncretism’s causes and how we can battle it in our own lives and when we share the gospel. To help you do this, we have produced a 32-page ebook entitled, “The Hidden Danger of Syncretism.” We trust you will benefit from reading it.

Download The Hidden Danger of Syncretism

Dynamic Reading-Leading-Modelling… What is it? How does it help me?

Infographic: Dynamic Reading-Leading-Modelling

(Download this article in a handy PDF format for printout and sharing.)

When Cheryl began a study with three women, she dismissed the notion of just sitting down and reading By This Name together. To her it seemed so basic and uninteresting. Surely a lecture format with some good discussion thrown in would be a more compelling method for teaching the same material.

Cheryl was not alone in her thinking. GoodSeed staff are often asked:

“Why do you just read the book together? Isn’t that boring? A turn-off to well-educated students? What about breaking things up with times of discussion? Why not just give it to them to read on their own?”

Continue reading “Dynamic Reading-Leading-Modelling… What is it? How does it help me?”

This can’t wait! There are only hours left

time“Ming Wei, you need to come home urgently. Your grandmother might not last long!”

When he received the phone call from his parents, Ming Wei’s* heart grew heavy. Not only was he concerned about his grandmother’s health, he had a much deeper concern—he was worried about the spiritual state of his grandmother.

As an overseas Chinese student, Ming Wei had the opportunity to learn about Christianity and had become a believer just a couple of years ago. Now as he packed to go home to China, he was anxious about how to broach the subject of the gospel with his ailing grandmother. Since coming to Christ, he hadn’t found himself in this position before and he was at a loss as to how to talk to her about Christ. One thing he did know—time was short and this would be his one and only opportunity to address her eternal destiny.

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