Applied Evangelinformatics Tools
Was your journey to faith marked by skepticism? Lots of questions and doubts blocked your way to the truth of Jesus Christ and Him crucified? And was there someone God used to walk you through some of those questions and doubts? Maybe they did not even answer your questions, but managed to point you to what your real question was that had you “kicking against the goads” in the manner of Saul of Tarsus. My experience was one of quite childlike faith, that even though a student of the sciences in a time when naturalism and evolution had become mainstream, I did not question the existence of God. Interestingly, this very thing that seemed to clear the way towards my faith in Christ as God in human form come to save lost sinners, is the very thing that has made it difficult for me to defend my faith and the existence of God to others. Evangelism to me was restricted to a gospel presentation using bible verses, which are certainly necessary in most cases for true understanding and faith in Christ, but leave a prominent gap in reaching people skeptical of things such as the reliability and authority of Scripture as the word of God, let alone the existence of God in the first place. In recent years, I have made more concerted efforts at obeying the call of 1 Peter 3:15 to “always be prepared to give the reason for the hope that you have”, including being prepared to speak with skeptics of belief in God and the Christian faith.
Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with all gentleness and respect. 1 Peter 3:15
A tool I would like to introduce here is something I developed after recently learning of a framework for engagement of people on matters where opinions might differ. This tool is called the Triple Layer Cake and as the name implies, this tool involves learning about 3 layers and of course, the icing on the cake. Our 3 cake layers include engaging people on the following levels:
Put differently, these layers can be described as follows:
If I stack 3 layers of cake on top of one another by themselves, there is not a whole lot of appeal to that image—but if I put icing between each layer, and then cover the 3-layer stack with icing, now I have something I can sink my teeth into. Noted Evangelist/Apologist Michael Ramsden calls this fourth vital part of the cake
Various beliefs and belief systems can be broken down into Theory and/or Thoughts, Feeling and/or Experience, and Doing or Dogma. For example, a physician will have studied certain theories (e.g. germ theory of disease), had certain experiences (e.g. cared for a patient with bacterial sepsis), and done certain things in the practice of their profession (e.g. prescribe Antibiotics for a Staph infection). The same could be said for someone of a specific religious faith. A Muslim will think certain thoughts (e.g. infidel theory), have certain experiences (e.g. Haj, Mecca), and do certain things (e.g. Ramadan fasting). However, when it comes to the Christian, applying the 3 layers of engagement just does not satisfy what it truly means to be a Christian. I may have Christian thoughts (e.g. God created the world), experiences (e.g. Baptism), and dogma (e.g. Thou shalt not steal), but the profound uniqueness of Christianity comes from the icing on the cake, Being. And that Being clearly relates to the very person Jesus Christ. Christianity without God/Christ is nothing more than “morally structured” humanism and is illogical according to true settled atheist standards. So how do we investigate (taste?) this “icing on the cake”?
Was Jesus Christ a legitimate person in history?
Even the most liberal of religious academics would have to admit to this historical truth.
Was he crucified?
Once again, the biblical AND extrabiblical evidences make it a significant leap of faith to deny the historical validity of Jesus’ crucifixion.
Did Jesus experience Resurrection?
Now we are into the realm of the miraculous, not just historical events. And a miraculous event goes against our natural belief inclinations as informed by our day to day experience, or lack thereof when it comes to the miraculous. And this is not lost upon biblical writers such as Luke, Paul, and John. Paul tackles the issue head on by declaring in 1Corinthians 15:20, “But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead!” And John has this to say concerning Jesus in the opening of his first epistle:
That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life—1 John 1:1
Scripture states that in Christ “all the fullness of the deity lives in bodily form” (Colossians 2:9), and G.K. Chesterton described it in this way, “What was a circumference, became a point.” When it comes to man seeking God, he has been given exactly what is needed in the being of Jesus Christ. Man should not settle for wandering aimlessly around the layered circumference of thoughts, feelings, and religious actions, but indulge in Jesus- the only true, focused, and eternal source of faith, hope, and love that “makes the cake”.
We seem to be fully embedded in the information age. Mass produced technology and the internet have created an insatiable information attraction, many times leading to information distraction, and on to full-scale information overload. Whether part of your business, your hobby, or your faith, information sources abound and we are all making choices about what information we consume each day. In addition, choices are made all day about what information is important enough to us to remember. From a very practical standpoint, you probably have these items memorized: ATM/Debit Card PIN code, Phone passcode, Home Phone and Spouse Phone Number (or at least where they are on your speed dial), e-mail account password, Amazon/eBay/Netflix account password, Home Address, Social Security Number, Work Address, Work Phone Number, etc. Perhaps you are already getting my point. If you are reading this, you have the ability to remember many pieces of information, especially information important for daily use. Daily use helps with this memorization. Should not the reality of the kingdom of God be manifested in us moment by moment. Our affluent, seemingly self-sufficient lifestyles are blinded to the value and benefit of daily poring over and thus memorizing God’s Word. Just a brief review of some verses should lead to a conviction to change:
“It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” Matthew 4:4
All Scripture is God breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness. 2 Tim 3:16
Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth. Meditate on it day and night so that you may be careful to do everything written it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Joshua 1:8
So then faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God. Romans 10:17
The precepts of the Lord are right giving joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes. Psalms 19:8
I will walk about in freedom, for I have sought out your precepts. Psalms 119:45
But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect. 1 Peter 3:15
The born-again Christian should live life drastically different from “the world”. Where you place the Word of God (the Bible) in your information/memory priority list needs to be considered a key element of this difference. There is no information that should be of higher priority to the Christian than God’s Word. So repent and believe that Christ has died for sin, and that the Holy Spirit delivers power from on high to you to prioritize God’s Word so that nations can be reached (Acts 1:8).
Jesus, during his temptation in the desert (Luke 4), Peter at Pentecost, and Paul before King Agrippa showed that the Word of God through Moses and the prophets was the most important information tool in their toolbox. Let us follow the example of Jesus, our Savior and King, and his faith-filled disciples.
Here are some tips to jumpstart your renewed passion for God’s Word followed by some downloadable tools specifically aimed at Evangelism.
• Any verse that helped lead you to Christ
• Verses of special significance or encouragement to you
• Topically oriented verses such as from the Navigators® Topical Memory System or a Bible Promises book or resource (e.g. Promises “in Christ”)
• Larger section of Scripture (e.g. individual Psalm, Ten Commandments, 1 Corinthians 13)
Write them down
• Index cards or blank business cards or Powerpoint slides
• Write Citation before AND after the verse
• Choose Bible version you will be most comfortable with speaking with conviction
• Use different colors, underlines, or markings to help identify natural memory-helps in the verses
• Carve out time in your “busy” life
• Set standing phone alarms/reminders because we are lazy, forgetful, people that don’t do what we want to do (Romans 12)
• Practice the verse by writing, speaking in your mind, AND speaking out loud
• Strive for memorizing verse exactly as written
• Eliminate some affluent activities from your life in favor of God’s Word (Media, Sports Events, Hobbies, Dining Out)
• Have a friend, spouse, or child assist you in practicing
• Look for every opportunity to share a memorized verse (e.g. during prayer, testimony, family phone call, etc)
No Evangelist’s toolbelt is complete without a memorized gospel presentation grounded in the Word of God. I was once taught a variation on the Navigators Bridge™ Illustration that grouped the verses into a little jingle; “S-D-S-D, All Chapter 3”. The table below shows the 4 verses that encompass this tool. The files below provide the illustration and verses in a variety of formats that I pray God may use to help you “be prepared to give an answer…for the hope that you have.”
|Man's Situation||Romans 3:23||For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God|
|God's Desire||John 3:16||For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.|
|God's Solution||1 Peter 3:18||For Christ died for sins, once for all, the righteous for the unrighteousness, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body, but made alive by the Spirit.|
|Man's Decision||Revelation 3:20||"Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me."|