Can a church teach the Bible in such a way that it connects those who believe and those who do not believe to Jesus?

Pat asks a great question. Here is a bit of the backdrop to the question…

This question was raised after Pat heard a nationally known pastor give a talk against using this method of teaching. I think the pastor even went so far as to say it was wrong to do and a waste of time.

This is a common objection/question in certain circles of Christianity. Some people believe it is impossible to teach the Bible in a relevant way to those who both believe, and do not believe, in God. The argument says, “Teaching in this manner will always exclude one group at the expense of the other”.

I do not agree with this.

Teaching that seeks to include unbelievers does not have to exclude believers. In fact, I think Tim Keller’s (a well known Presbyterian Pastor in New York City) philosophy of wrestling with the objections of unbelievers while you teach is something that helps both believer and unbeliever.

For example:

Addressing and deconstructing unbelieving objections in your messages helps to clarify the truths of Christianity to those who do not believe and those who do. Teaching this way helps both parties to take a step towards Jesus.

On the unbelieving side, a person might have their heart turned one degree closer to Christ. This is also a great time for the Christian to help people who have experienced false expressions of Christianity to experience a Christ-centered expression of Christianity.

On the believing side, we equip the Christian to understand what unbelievers think about the faith. We help them to understand that there are legitimate concerns and questions that people have about Christianity. While discussing this in our teaching we are equipping believers for Christian Mission, the very mission Jesus left in our care.

It seems likely that God could, and does, use the type of preaching Keller talks about. Think of this from a Biblical perspective. Jesus constantly has mixed company before him as he communicates the truths of the Kingdom of God. The Apostle Paul didn’t start out with Christians in his missionary journeys. He had to teach unbelievers about God. We see clear examples of Paul teaching the truth while being relevant. Paul had to think, and clearly does think, like his unbelieving audience as he presents the truths of the Gospel. This is very evident in Acts 17, and as a result some find God!

So long as we are not diluting or misrepresenting scripture…I would argue we do more damage to the cause of the Kingdom by only preaching to Christians. In the Bible it is clear that the church is the primary way God has chosen to reach our neighborhoods and the nations.

Why would we ever think that preaching/teaching, one of the primary tools of the local church, would be exempt from our call to reach the world?

So, What do you think?

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~ by Anthony Orzo on October 29, 2009.

3 Responses to “Can a church teach the Bible in such a way that it connects those who believe and those who do not believe to Jesus?”

  1. The longer I’ve been a Christian the more I see how much and in how many ways the core truths of the gospel empower and inspire us for living the Christian life.

    The truths we receive and believe to be justified are the foundational truths we must continually connect with to gain the sense of new identity and continual motivation for following Christ. When Paul wrote to the Roman Christians he said, (Rom. 1:15) “I am so eager to preach the gospel also to you who are at Rome”. He clearly says these Romans are believers and saints in the beginning of the book. That means he wanted to preach the gospel to the Christians! So we can preach the Christian life to Christians without compromise and by relating it continually to the gospel as motivation and foundation our messages relate to both Christians and non-Christians. If we do this we will show non-Christians that the Christian life is not just moralism but rooted in the gospel. We will also be honest with them about the ways in which the gospel, when believed leads to a new life to be lived.I think non-christians would get a more holistic presentation of Christianity if this was done in a balanced manner. At the same time Christian get a good diet of Christian life teaching that is rooted in faith with lots of grace and Jesus at the heart of everything.

  2. This may be a little off the mark but I was reading an article today about preaching the gospel and results. The author talks about Paul preaching to the Romans in Acts 28. He states that although Paul preached from morning until night about a Messiah the Jews longed for, some believed and some didn’t. He asks if Paul could not convince this group of the gospel, where should our hope come from? He then goes on to say our hope could come from Isaiah 6:8-13 where the Lord tells Isaiah to tell the people NOT to hear until the cities lay in waste. Isaiah still went out and proclaimed the kingdom of God. I am confused by this passage. Does this basically say to preach the gospel to everyone and let the Holy Spirit sort them out or am I missing something?

  3. Hey Chuck. I hope our face to face helped to answer this question. If not, please let me know.

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